My lola is a historian of sorts. After her retirement she went back to our small town in Surigao and spent her days going through the old books in the town hall. She did this until she passed away a month ago.
I don’t remember much about my lola. We lived so far away that I would only see her on the holidays, but she would always have the best stories. The one I would always remember was about the bell of Busay.
“The pirates are coming.” I could almost hear her say. That was the best part about the story. Lola had the talent of being able to change her voice when it suited her and this made her storytelling much more vibrant. “Be careful of pirates.” Was the last line from her story sessions. I never liked that the bad guys won in her story but I guess the ending wasn’t as important as the middle.
I had a few days off work so I took the trip back to Dinagat island and it was the same as it always was, quiet and tranquil, the perfect place to think. Walking around the area, you could feel the sense of history around you. It was almost infectious.
I decided to go to Busay and see the bito from my lola’s story. It was smaller than I imagined, but that’s always what happens when imagination meets reality. I take a picture and I think about my lola. About how her eyes would light up when she started on the part where the pirates stole the bell of the chapel and tossed it down this bito, and how they mercilessly slaughtered the Dinagatnons after. I never realized how dark that story was until now.
I say a little prayer by the bito before I leave, partly for my lola and partly for the people in her story. The bell spent so many years protecting people. Hopefully, at the bottom of that Bito, it can finally rest in peace.