Written by Lourdes Suico
I have seen more sunsets than sunrises in my 28 years of existence. This is owing to the fact that I will never trade my 8-hour requisite of sleep every day for anything other than reading a good book. But on my second day during my first visit to Sagada, I found myself agreeing to climb up the Kiltepan Peak where, as I was promised, was the best seat in the house to catch the sun rise.
Still dazed from lack of sleep and disoriented as a result of our 13-hour trip the day before, we started our 45-minute trek up to the peak a little past 4:00 A.M. It was still dark when we got to the top and the place was blanketed by a heavy fog. Aside from our headlamps and flashlights, the only source of light was the bonfire created by our host. We were told that it was still a good 30 minutes before the sun would start its grand appearance, and so we decided to settle around the bonfire while waiting.
Just be with it, and soon enough, the dawn will break.
Sitting on an improvised log bench, drawing warmth from my mug of instant coffee and gazing at the mesmerizing dance of the bonfire, my mind drifted to the main motive of my trip: to put an end to all the turmoil and torture brought about by a recent heartbreak.
Dramatic or theatrical as it may seem, I had chosen to stage the culmination of my “heartbreak saga” during the Holy Week and in Sagada. The Holy Week being a good time to reflect on love, forgiveness and redemption and Sagada being a good place to contemplate and converse with myself.
The past year had been a constant battle between holding on and moving on. A small part of me was still harboring thoughts of the past, of what I did and how I could have done better. But a bigger part of me was looking forward to the surprises that I believed the future and the Universe had in store for me.
With these confounding thoughts of the past and the future swirling around me, I was surprised to find in myself a sense of calmness, just sitting in that time and space I now refer to retrospectively as the “in-between”. That time wherein the darkness of the past night is slowly and almost hesitantly giving way to the light of the new day. That space between what was and what will be.
And sitting in that space and time, I was reminded of a crucial lesson: that for a new day to begin, the darkness of night must fall. Each is a natural part of the cycle of life. We need to embrace the dark moments and to always bear in mind that just before dawn is the darkest night. Just be with it, and soon enough, the dawn will break.
Everything passes, even our troubles.
I was standing on a rock jutting out of an incline when the sun started to slowly peek over the horizon. I couldn’t recall how long I was rooted to that spot, but I will never fail to remember the surreal scene I had witnessed at that moment.
With the dark blue sky and dark gray featherlike clouds as backdrop, the sun slowly spilled its golden light upon the rice terraces below, across the mountains in front and penetrated the dark forest of pine trees behind me. As the sun unhurriedly ascended with its light reaching further out, the dark blue sky turned powder blue and the light from the sun colored the clouds pink and orange.
Beholding this amazing occurrence, I didn’t realize that my hands which I had tucked earlier inside my jacket’s pocket for warmth, were now clasped in front of my chest and in that instant I couldn’t help but utter words of gratitude to God for giving me the opportunity to witness such a miracle. With my face turned towards the sun, eyes closed, breathing in and embracing the magnificence of it all, I was reassured of my firm belief that nothing is permanent: not friendship, not even love, not joy, and most especially, not pain. That in this wicked, wicked world, everything passes, even our troubles.
We can always start all over again.
Going down the mountain, despite our group’s mockery of calling out to Edward Cullen and Jacob Black to come out of the dense jungle of pine trees, I found myself thinking again of the past. Sagada was one of the places we had dreamed of visiting together. He would have loved this place, and he would have been elated to see what I had just seen and to experience what I had just experienced. But instead of quickly shrugging off those thoughts, I allowed the nostalgia and melancholy to encircle me during that hike down.
This time, I did not deny myself the sadness of loss because the majestic sunrise I had just witnessed had reiterated a valuable message: that it’s okay to fail and to be defeated, because you can always start afresh. Failures serve as platforms for us to grow, for us to know who we are and what we can rise from. If we fail, we can always pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and we can always start all over again.
God and the Universe often find a way to deliver us there.
When we got back to the house, I went directly up to my room, lay down on the bed and cocooned myself inside my comforter. And despite being enfolded in darkness at that moment, everything seemed clearer: I am where I’m supposed to be, I am in this time, place and position because I am meant to be here.
Oftentimes, we tightly cling to an idea of how we want our lives to be, but God and the Universe have a plan for us that is braver and better than the one we have for ourselves. And if we just stay open to it, God and the Universe often find a way to deliver us there.
A new day will come.
My first trip to Sagada certainly served its purpose. I won’t say that I have completely moved on from my past relationship and the hurt that it caused me, but I am positively and undoubtedly in a much better place right now. I know that there is no guarantee that I will not get hurt again, but still I am courageously preparing my heart for a new life and for a new love, because I have faith in myself and in my capability of loving many times more.
It took witnessing a Kiltepan Sunrise to indelibly fix into my whole being that it is virtually impossible to get through life without grappling with hardships. But no matter the setbacks, I just need to keep on going and to never give up hope because ultimately, a new day will come.
Published on preservesagada.wordpress.com (2014)