I regret one thing: not looking back.
They re-ordered the sequence so that I'd be the last to enter the quadrangle. The air smelled of summer and the century-old cobblestones made the the already scenic afternoon even more romantic. The marker at the entrance said that in one of the rooms surrounding the open space, the revolution's secret was confessed. It used to be a seminary. And that day, I was to end a calling.
The march began and as us kids went in, flashes tried to capture that juncture in our personal histories. I remember clutching a folder with some notes in it. Some ramblings for the customary time alloted for the last one to enter the grounds. I was one of the few kids with a corsage pinned on our clothes. From the rows you could see the drama kids from the school play. Ribbons tied the orchids on our chests. It was a thoughtful surprise from our director who became a kuya and a friend.
The rites went on. And the sun set as each kid went up the stage. By the time my classmates were called, yellow light filled the old space. Soft and sleepy... it was a peaceful glow. Most were already tired, even more were starving. Perhaps that's why when the last name was called, the unexpected cheer made me want to cry. Applause and a couple of hoots. The best thing was, it was unsolicited, given freely.
When I got back to my seat, after passing through familiar faces that I almost didn't recognize because of their smiles, a friend told me, "Congrats friend, we did a standing ovation."
And then it hit me, I didn't look back.
I should've looked back.
To them who stood with and by me that day, and to you who reads this, I am humbled. No words will measure up to the generous time you freely give for this space. I am indebted to you and I don't know if it will suffice but yeah, with all the sincerity I could possibly muster...