The year was 2012. I was fresh out of high school and had just entered the University of the Philippines Cebu. The last time I went to Leyte was five years ago (the base year is 2012) when my mother, aunt, and I along with four other Filipinos and one Japanese were stranded until past midnight at Limon on our way to Ormoc from Tanauan.

My final project in History 1 was about the Archdiocese of Palo. I cannot remember the instructions my professor gave, but it was along the lines of researching the history of our  family’s hometowns. My mother’s side of the family has roots from different parts of Leyte: Palo, Tacloban, and Tanauan (among others). Since my maternal grandmother came from Palo, I decided to focus on that area and talk about the seat of Roman Catholicism in Leyte armed with my handy digital camera, my film camera, and an overnight duffel bag stuffed to bursting.

I’d type my findings here, but there’s a better alternative, and that would be you checking out my 2012 self’s video-making skills *cue wince*. I spent 72 hours working on it with Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe After Effects, Audacity, and Windows Movie Maker. Until now I still wonder how I survived that ordeal.

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I’ve taken a lot of trips in the past, but this one’s worth mentioning because that was the first time I rode a plane alone. My thoughts upon landing were pretty cliche, but after I breathed in a lungful of fresh Leyte air, I thought, “The air might be different, but one thing’s for sure – we’re all still under the same sky.”

I fondly remember my History professor who once caught my classmate playing with one of the cranes I made in class, and she called it an albatross. Those days I used to create cranes whenever the urge struck me (which means all the time).
My aunt (by marriage) and uncle: Mr. and Mrs. Malou and Alejandro Esperas without who my socially awkward 16-year-old self would have withered.
First stop: the Archbishop’s Palace
Admiring the view of the tennis court with undisguised longing. I learned to play tennis a year after this photo was taken. In the picture are Fr. John Paul Pedrera, myself, and my uncle, Alejandro Esperas.
View from the balcony
Next stop: the Cathedral, 74 days before their Diamond Jubilee
The Cathedral, pre-Yolanda
The altar of the Cathedral
My relatives live a stone’s throw away from the sea at Tacloban. Before my flight back to Cebu, I ran to the shore to have my picture taken. I have faint memories of San Jose, but the sea is something I will never forget. When Yolanda came, nothing in the barangay was left standing. The waves are finicky: they give, but they also take away.
A post-processed photograph of the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park taken with my film camera. Not one of my brightest moments, considering it was dusk (pun intended).
My great-aunt and great-uncle waving goodbye. I wonder how this house looks like now.

Thank you to my aunts, uncles, great-aunt, great-uncle, and Fr. John Paul Pedrera for the success of this trip. This marked the beginning of my first “hell week” in UP, and now I’m at the brink of my last.


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