Forces of Nature

When I was in college, at one of our bonding moments at Mindpro, my good friend Rieshia and I made up a list of the "Romantic Moments" we would like to experience with the person we love. Top on my list is being stranded on a shelter during a downpour. I completely forgot about that list until very recently when it was God who actually reminded me of it. And the Lord could really cook up a love story because He did get us stranded not just once but three times during our first time together. 

You see, I went to Zamboanga to facilitate a household heads workshop during the SEAL Weekend of the SFC Zamboanga City and Zamboanga Sibugay. I was asked to do the said workshop a month before the schedule but I did not commit because of the very reason that he is at Zamboanga and that for sure, if their tactics would give them passes, he would want to accompany me. I do not like that I will be the one to go to him. What I really wanted was for him to come home for me. But days before the SEAL Weekend, I was forced to make a decision because the three full time workers were already bombarding me with pleas.

He, on the other hand, on that Friday night when I with my mother and two sisters arrived at Mercedes, was anxious. The reason for this was because a day before we went to Zamboanga, I told him that its ok with me if he accompanies me provided that my father will also agree. He asked me still very early that evening whether my father consented . He also asked if I will tell "sir" that he is courting me and that its ok with him if I do so because "sir" has the right to know. I told him that I will tell my father but that I am sure that he has an inkling already of what has been going on. He made me laugh by honestly expressing: "Patay na jud ko ani ni sir…" I told him to not be afraid because I am sure that my father will no do such a thing. Then he made me smile again by saying: "Dili man ko mahadlok ni sir, mataha lang ko." 

So, I gathered my courage and asked Pang if he would allow him to escort me. It took a long time for my father to react so I also told him that he has been courting me for quite some time already and that in order for me to test the waters, I would like to spend time with him. My father agreed and that night while we were watching the Smokers Night and Beer Busting Ceremony of the PNP Scouts, I narrated to Papang the things he has been doing in order to win me. I also openly expressed my thoughts and feelings regarding him and my father listened intently. I did this because I know of all people, it's my father who knew him very well. He did not discourage me nor say anything bad about him but instead, he expressed his opinion regarding the whole matter then later on narrated to us the story of how he fell in love with my mother. 

The following day, when my escort arrived at Mercedes, my mother and 2 sisters went outside to talk to him. However, my father did not budge from his seat and was just there in his office, fidgeting something on his laptop and just listening to us. When I was finally ready, I went to Papang and kissed him goodbye. He just told me to take care then continued with whatever he was clicking on the laptop. When I went outside to join them, seeing that I was all set, my escort too went inside Papang's office (alone) to tell him that we are now leaving. Dad told him to take care and drive safely.

It was a one hour drive to the venue and when we got there, I introduced him to Kuya Chrisitian, Kuya Marlowe, and Kaloy. He also joined in our conversation and befriended the CFCs who were with us. I let him sleep that afternoon while I was facilitating the workshop and then at about 5:30pm, we were already on our way home.

It started to drizzle in Sangali. So that he will not worry about me getting a little wet, I told him even before he asked that the drizzle is ok with me. I don’t mind a little rain and that its also ok with me whatever he decides- whether to continue or not.  I know that he is more trained at situations like these (he just finished his FTX ) and that his senses and reflexes are much more alert than mine. But he wanted to continue because he doesn't want me to go home very late.

And so we prodded on. But 10 kilometers from Mercedes, at Manicahan, the rain started to come down heavily and we were finally forced to stop at a small waiting shed. It was just the two of us on that shed and the first thing that came to my mind when I finally settled down was that list Rieshia and I made years ago. I honestly looked to the heavens and gave God a bemused look. In order to hide my shocked expression, I checked my cellphone and saw Mamang's message. She asked our location and as I didn't have a load that time, I asked him to text Mamang.

We were companionably quiet at that little shed. He was always looking at the horizon and I guess estimating and guessing whether it was also raining there at Mercedes. I, on the other hand, was having a one-on-one with the Lord. I asked God whether He is telling me what I think He is telling me.

You see, that time, I haven't made up my mind yet when I would finally say yes to him. I like him too, that I know, but I cant help but want to suspend the moment first. My heart and mind was on a battle. My heart was saying that I should no longer make him wait but my mind was saying that I should spend more time with him first. So to end the struggle, I finally decided not to decide yet. Let the circumstances lead me to the correct answer.

After awhile, the rain abated and he told me that it is now safe to continue. But after about 5 minutes on the road, the rain started to pour more heavily and we were again forced to stop at the nearest shelter we could find. It was still a waiting shed but there were a lot of people there who were also stranded.  We sat very close to each other (for the first time) because the benches were already full.

At that second stop, I told the Lord that He is such a joker.  I thought we could now continue without delay but He still intervened.

Same as before, we were still quiet. Not because of lack of anything to say, but because we were both concentrating on something.  And mind, I did not feel awkward with our silence. I didn't feel burdened with the necessity of entertaining him by talking nonstop. Nope, I felt perfectly at ease even if we weren't saying anything.

I looked at the people in front of me and some were mulling over their condition while others were staring at us. I looked at him beside me and he too was deep in thought. He kept looking at his watch and then at the horizon again where there was Mr. Sun slowly hiding behind the mountain. The clouds apparently were just on that part of Zamboanga and Pueblo it seem, does not have even one drop of rain. Observing him then, I felt very safe. His objective obviously was to get me home unscathed. Right then and there, I just knew in my heart that I'm protected and safe around him.

We stayed only for about 10 minutes (the shortest) in that place because the rain suddenly stopped and we immediately continued with our way.  At the next barangay before Mercedes, we observed that the road was dry and that there was not a sign of a single drop of rain anywhere. I commented that we will finally be able to arrive home before dinner as I was already hungry and wondered aloud what Mamang could be cooking at that very moment. But without any preamble, the clouds unleashed its full force and the rain came in big drops that we have to stop immediately or else we will be soaking wet. Good thing there was an abandoned boarded store nearby that has a small protruding roof on its front.  We ran towards that feeble of a shelter and pressed our backs hard against the wall in order not to get wet. I told the Lord laughingly  this time that I clearly got His message now (couldn't be more clearer than that!), I completely understand, I won't question or doubt anymore, I will finally surrender to His promptings and end the battle between my heart and mind. However, I will not say it at that instance. I will do it later when I feel it to be the right moment.

Having finally made that conclusion, I was talking and laughing with him this time. The rain was showing no sign of stopping and we thought we might be  there for a very long while so we chatted about anything we could think of. And mind you, he did not say or do anything unpleasant. Nor did he try to ask his standing in my life or even solicit an answer. In fact, the whole time that we were together, the subject was never brought up. (He later told me that since I already knew what he feels, there was no need for him to ask my immediate answer. He would just wait when I would finally decide). We were also amused that we were already very near Mercedes yet it still feels so far away. Just a couple more bends and we would have arrived already had it not been for the sudden rain.

But I did not really mind the "interruptions" because I knew it was God who took control over the situation and I knew also that He would, in time, allow us to continue. And we did finally continue our journey and arrived safely albeit cold and wet at around 7:30 PM.

At the first opportunity my sisters got, they cornered me and asked our status. I told them not yet but that I already made up my mind to do so anytime I feel it to be the right moment. I laughed because of the disappointment on their faces. They actually made a bet amongst themselves (my 2 sisters and mother) that by the time we arrive, we would announce to them our change of relationship status.

That evening after dinner, Papang invited my escort, two other strikers and some policemen to drink beer and have videoke with him. My escort of course, responded to my father's invitation but did not sing and drank only very moderately. My mother also invited him to sleep there at our payag but at around 9 PM he asked our permission to go home to his barracks at Pasunangca since he did not bring extra shirts and he was still a little wet. But he promised to be back on the morrow, drop by the market to buy pork and fish for the sugba and kilaw we planned to have for lunch.

That night, before we settled at our beds, my father being a little intoxicated, was so talkative and cheerful. I was his topic. He recalled all the things that happened to me when I was still a child and of all the crazy things he did for me. He told us that I was always a "Papa's Girl".  I always run to him at times when I needed someone to talk to or just someone to hang out with. My father said he is proud of me and of what I have become. 

I couldn't help but be flattered and confused at the same time. I kept glancing at Mamang and my sisters were giving me "the look". I completely understood my father so I also laughed with him. But at the back of my mind, I couldn't help from thinking that I am only having a boyfriend, not getting married!

That night as well, as soon as he settled on his bunk, he asked our condition. He asked if we have already settled for the night and if we were comfortable there at the classrooom. I guaranteed him that we are all ok and that Papang at the moment is talking non-stop about me.  He told me that "sir's" reaction is only natural because now that he is around, "sir" can no longer do the things he used to do for me, like fetch me or bring me somewhere. "Sir" is just protective of me and a little jealous of him. And I couldn't help but agree. My escort knows how close we are in the family so he is slowly showing my family that his intentions are good and that he isn't going anywhere.  And I couldn't help but be flattered as well with the care he displays to my family. When he asked our condition, it wasn't just about me he inquired, but all of us. He is concerned not only with me, but my whole family as well.

When Papang fell asleep, Mamang asked our status. I told her I haven't said yes to him yet and was surprised when she asked me why.  I couldn't answer and I too asked myself that question. Why didn't I not say it? Because I feel it wasn't the right time yet? When is the right time anyway? I will be going back to Pagadian on the morrow and I am not sure when I will see him again. I definitely don’t want to say yes to him on the phone. So that night before I fell asleep, I told the Lord that He would have to help me because I will finally make it official on the morrow.  

As agreed, the following day, he went back to Mercedes and stayed with us the entire time. All of us were supposed to go to Mindpro after lunch to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 on the big screen but did not proceed with the plan because it was raining. We just stayed at Mercedes instead and amused ourselves. As a result, I didn't have the chance to talk to him apart from my family. I wished for the rain to stop but the clouds did not seem to be on my favor until finally at about 3PM, I told God this: "Lord, I'm leaving for Pagadian. If You want me to do this, then cooperate with me. Please make the rain stop." I then went inside the payag to get my bag and asked Pang if he has an umbrella. When I joined them again on the front porch, lo and behold, there was no longer a need for the umbrella because the rain suddenly became a drizzle.

Seeing that I am all set, automatically, my escort got ready his motorcycle. I kissed my mother and father goodbye. Pang again, just stayed inside the payag and did not see us out. My escort also took leave of them and although everyone knew it already, he still informed my family, my father specially, that he shall bring me to the terminal.

When we went out of the camp, the rain completely stopped.  I noticed that his driving was a bit queer. His speed was so slow that it seemed like we were only leisurely strolling. Our silence as well was awkward and deafening. He tried to ask me a question but I only answered briefly and we were again quiet. I was, at that time, silently recalling the line I practiced that morning in order for the unspoken matter to surface. Finally, I prayed for courage and then addressed him thus (in Visaya of course): "Do you remember what you told me about that thing...? It had been quite awhile already and I said I will think about it... Well I have really given it proper consideration and now I have finally decided. I am ok with the idea of us. You have been consistent and daring enough and I can sense that you seem to be really genuine. So its ok... I trust you enough to make me willing to take a risk with you."

That was it. He just laughed and thanked me. But he surprised me by confessing that the whole day, he had been gathering his courage because he wanted to formally tell my father that he is currently courting me. He just didn't get an opportunity and he was still a bit shy around him.

Now instead of directly going to the bus' station, we went to Fort Pilar , lighted some candles and prayed. After that, I no longer lingered but instead asked him to finally bring me to the terminal. My bus left for home and he in turn joined his buddies at Mindpro .

But the Lord's surprises didn’t end there.

I changed bus at Ipil and was seated around men who were talking loudly. There were about 9 or 10 of them and they were all heavily built. My seatmate was wearing a jacket that I recognized immediately as one that could only be given to a policeman. So in order that I will be protected, I engaged my seatmate in a conversation and then asked if he is a policeman. He was surprised that I knew so I confessed that my father is also a policeman.  He asked the name of my father and when I told him my surname, he announced to all his buddies who I was. They gave me friendly smiles and signs of recognition. However, the   person seating directly behind me repeated my name and tapped me at the back so that I turned to face him. He inquired again whether I was who I said I was and where my workplace is. I affirmed him and told him where I work. He then gave me a really big grin. He said that his cousin sends his regards. I asked the name of his cousin and when he gave me my escorts name, I laughed.

The cousin added that my escort planned to come home to Pagadian that weekend but since I was going to Zamboanga, he cancelled his trip. What was there to go home to when I wasn't there anyway? The policemen around us were smiling and teasing me. My seatmate commented that love is really like that. A policeman cannot do anything if it’s the "bathala"" that gives him orders.

The cousin further asked if its ok with me if I marry a policeman. I told him innocently that as long as we are both in agreement, its really not a problem. He then said: "Good. Because we will ask for your hand in marriage this June 15 when he graduates from his training." My jaw dropped to the floor. Imagine, the relationship hasn’t even lasted for 5 hours and now I hear this joke! The policemen around us teased me again and waited for a reply. I flutteringly addressed the cousin that its ok as long as it is not that sudden and brief. I would prefer that he finish all his trainings first and then only after that shall the subject be brought up again. The cousin just smiled and did not say anything anymore. When we arrived in Pagadian, the cousin was thoughtful enough to volunteer to bring me home but I declined the offer because my brother was already there waiting for me.

Now, I am basking in the Lord's goodness and I feel overwhelmed with the blessings that He has been giving me. And my escort and I are in agreement that I should not stop my service as long as I am still single. He will support me and encourage me in my work and missions.  And I might as well add this that now that we are officially together, my escort didn't stop in his quest of really trying to win me. It feels like he is still courting me and in this still very short period of our being a couple, he has been completely brutally honest with me to the point that he has already started telling me some of the mistakes and sins he had committed even if I did not ask him to do so. And I am grateful for the trust and love he has been giving me. I know I did not make a mistake when I chose him because it wasn't just me that decided the matter but it was also God who orchestrated the events to fall into place.

And I am excited with the many surprises that the Lord still has in store for me. To borrow the words of my escort, I will "expect the unexpected" from Him and him.

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