That night, I told him how I dreamed of planting timber trees.
“I want to plant timber, Pa, I want to collect them all,” I said, “I will cover the land with molave, Philippine teak, dipterocarp, Philippine mahogany, even the old lauans which used to thrive here.”
I told him how I loved indigenous trees and had already befriended someone who knew where I can source the Red Lauan. I said I knew where I can find the seedlings of Ilang Ilang and all kinds of trees, including what other people think are useless ones. I said there is no such thing as a useless tree. I’ve been hunting for a tree called Makuno, or Ironwood, which an environment director once described to me as a wood so hard it could replace real iron needed for an important part of a ship engine; and in one area hit by a landslide, people talked about the fall of an old ironwood tree, which caused the number of the dead to swell. There, people began to fear an ironwood as they feared something evil but I figured out, the ironwood was only getting back what had been taken from the environment. After years of neglect and abuse, the soil where the ironwood stood, had loosened; causing it to fall.
I remember Pa beaming with excitement. In the morning, I had set out with my camera. I found him sitting in the sofa and I said, I’m going outside to take some pictures, are you going with me, Pa? He smiled. I must have sensed him wanting to go. I must have seen something in his eyes. But I only planned to go somewhere near the rice fields, where for an hour or so, I lay crouched under a rectangular trellis, the one used perhaps for ampalaya or upo or other crawling vine, which was not there anymore.
I was trying to compose a picture, experimenting with different angles, while a farmer or two had passed me by, wondering what I was doing there.
When I went back to the house, someone from the farm had been calling on my phone. “Are you coming? Your Pa is here, looking for you.”
He expected me to go to the farm.He must have been excited by my dream to plant timber. But my love for images, the impulse to capture the world through the lens of the camera, got in the way.