Last weekend, John was invited to do editorial travel photography of a resort in Matabungkay (Batangas). I must admit that I don’t have fond memories of the place (of Matabungkay, not of the resort), and I hope that will change soon.
When Kathy was about five or six or seven (I don’t even remember exactly), and she was still known as “Ann Kay,” we took the family to the beach. The cleanest beaches were no longer in nearby Paranaque or Cavite, so that we had to drive about two or three hours to go to Batangas – Matabungkay, to be exact. It was summer, so the beach was crowded with families frolicking in the sea and on sand, and there were food kiosks and ice cream carts right on the beach.
We were just a meter or two from the shoreline, and were having fun, jumping each time the wave came. When the wave passed, our heads would still be above water, so I did not think that it was unsafe. I don’t remember who was paired off with Ching Ching and Sacha, but I was with Kathy. It was exciting to jump every time the wave came, and to anticipate the peak of the wave as the precise moment for us to jump. Kathy and I held hands, but I was not alarmed even if we didn’t, because we were in the shallow part of the sea, and we were taller than the water level, without the wave.
But, suddenly, after a wave passed, I could not see Kathy. I looked in the water, as maybe she lost her balance and could not stand, but I could not see her. Frantically, I called out – shouted - her name. When she did not answer or reappear even as I kept shouting her name, John who was farther away, and people around me, even if they did not know us, soon became alarmed and joined me in searching for Kathy. I was in tears, and my heart was pounding, but between sobs and prayers, I still called out “Anne Kay,” “Anne Kay,” “Anne Kay.”
I remained in the water, nervously and anxiously surveying my surroundings for a glimpse of Kathy, when John shouted that he had found her on the beach. Running while looking up to the sky to say “Thank you, Lord,” I rushed to her. She was smiling, unmindful of the stir that she had caused. I was just so relieved that I did not have the energy to scold her or to even ask where she went (I’m sure I did scold her later, and I did ask her why she left the water). I just wanted to order her to come with me to shower up and get dressed – right away! After that harrowing experience (to me anyway, as she seemed unperturbed), I just wanted to make sure she didn’t get near or in the water again. Not again that day, anyway.
Seeing her in dry clothes, I relaxed a bit and no longer insisted on keeping a tight grip on her. But in a few seconds after I let her go – she was gone again! This time, John spotted her right away – where he found her the first time – talking to the ice cream vendor.
That’s what took her out of the water, in the first place. She told us that she saw the ice cream cart and the food kiosk. She did not think she needed to tell me, but since she did not have any money, she was going to go back to the sea to look for me. The beach was crowded, and the shore was wide, and well, she did not find me.
It was not a big deal to her. It was to me.
We have not gone back to Matabungkay in the 30 years since then, and I feel that maybe, I need to replace my memory of that place to something more positive and pleasant. Indeed, It’s time to go back. J