#RPintheRP: A Travelogue

DAY 2-4: THE NAGA WE KNOW

Since arriving back in Montreal, I’ve been reading this book called “The Naga We Know” (eds. Santos and Cordero), which is a series of essays by renowned Naguenx authors about the homeland. (Note: Unlike the editors, I refuse to default to a masculine Nagueno when a perfectly fine non-binary term like Naguenx exists.)

It was definitely a nostalgic trip, however not as much as I would have expected. Mostly because of the authors (a lot of which I respect, including my literature professor Dr. Aureus), were speaking from a viewpoint of the 60’s, the 70’s, and maybe even the 80’s. I appreciate the history lesson, including the rise of underground journalism in Naga as well as the fall of the kalesas, however there are certain sections including how one author described Panganiban Drive as a “drive because no one could walk it” due to the lack of buildings as it was mainly a farmland.

And I’m like. I went to school in Panganiban Drive!

I think the book would be a suitable gift for someone who knew Naga from pre-war all the way to the start of Jesse Robredo’s term. I’m not saying that a millennial is incapable of appreciating it — I did! — but the emotional intensity of reading about the collapse of the Colgante bridge will be greater for someone who is invested and who was alive at that time.

This wasn’t the Naga I know. This was the Naga my mom and my grandmother knew. And they’re both gone now.

***

I arrived in Naga around 4am. I took a cab to Starmark Hotel where I sweet-talked the cute front desk clerk into checking in early. I took a quick shower and lay in bed contemplating the concept of homecoming and what it means to actually be “the exiled queen of Naga City” (citation withheld).

I will admit I was both nervous and excited to see family members I haven’t seen in five years. I wonder what’s new, what’s changed, and, to hold on to nostalgia more, what remains the same.

Early morning, I decided to take a walk around Centro. From Starmark Hotel, I made my way to Jollibee (again?!) and had Tosilog. Extra fried rice. I also noticed there were flies. There are flies in a fast food establishment. Am I the only one who’s seeing these? Is something wrong with me — I’ve never noticed these before? Why are there flies in a fast food esta —

I finished my meal, went back to the hotel, lounged around for a while (scoping out the boys of Naga — interesting that I saw someone who I thiiiiink is one of my exes? But I can’t really be sure. Gave him a ‘sup’ on Grindr for good measure.)

When the sun rose, I took a tricycle to Panganiban Drive to get my birth certificate from one of the offices. Side-note about tricycles:

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***

The less I say about the process of getting a birth certificate in the Philippines, the better. (Plus I don’t really think I remember it in full. You know. PTSD and everything.)

***

With that affair handled, I needed to now go to my grandmother’s wake. But I was feeling a bit hungry and unsure if there was food there.

You know it. JOLLIBEE!!

(Riley, you ate Jollibee three times in a 24-hour time period.)

(…)

(…)

(I regret nothing.)

***

While at Jollibee, I noticed — to my dismay — that the humidity was not just doing weird things to my body and mind, it was doing weird things to my (permed) hair!

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que horror!

***

For personal reasons, I am going to gloss over what happened at the funeral home. Suffice to say, it was very nice to meet up with family members (it was slightly awkward in the beginning, but we all warmed up eventually!), we shared a few laughs and stories, and even had an estate meeting. As my mom has passed, it was my duty (DUTY?!) to represent her interests. Unfortunately, I was jetlagged af and I fell asleep halfway through the meeting. (I was told I snored.)

Also, Me: You know what, I’m gonna vote for whoever ends this meeting fastest.

We were surprised later that night by the funeral home for they prepared a short program. It was a very emotional moment. I initially elected to *not* do a eulogy, however, my ninong convinced me to.

I’m Aquarius I’m not very good with expressing emotion. So I did what I do best. Make people laugh. I talked about how most of the people were my cousin Trina’s friends (gently reminding her that it is not a contest). I read song lyrics from Ed Sheeran’s Supermarket Flowers (joking that the old people in the audience have no idea who the Irish singer is). I even talked about one of my grandmother’s funny but lovable habits. It was, pretty much, a stand-up comic set, except, well, you know, sad.

I was supposed to sleep at the chapel (a traditional Filipino custom), however my body was rebelling — I really needed my bed — so my aunt drove me to the hotel where I crashed, expecting to wake up just a few minutes before the funeral and —

— and I woke up just two hours later and couldn’t go back to bed.

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