Home is where the waves meet me

Hannah Giron Daygo

Home has four walls and a roof, but for me, home is where the waves meet me, where the sun-rays tan my skin, and then I feel peace. People may have their own “home” in mind, where beautiful moments are created and treasured. Like everyone else, I have a home in mind where just thinking about it relieves my stress and anxiety.

I grew up believing that I am truly blessed because I get to see breath-taking scenery every day. I always enjoy seeing how the light begins the day, with the bluish-green sea, the tall green bushy mountains, and the ocean water mirroring the perfect blue sky. Indeed, this place will forever be known as — the “Pearl of the Orient Seas.

As the sun rays began to warm my face and tan my skin, I could hear a local vendor shouting, “tahoo!” from a distance. I can see him approaching my seat in slow motion while carrying a wooden pole with two large aluminium buckets hanging from it. He then asks if I’d like to have one.

My inner child couldn’t say no to my favourite morning snack. He prepares to open his magical aluminium bucket. He then lifts the lid of the first bucket, which contains fresh soft silken tofu, and takes a plastic cup hanging from his pole. Scoops the tofu with a thin metal ladle, transfers it inside the cup, and opens the second bucket. It’s as if I’m watching him open my childhood “Pandora’s box”

There were three sections in the second bucket. One for tapioca pearls or sago, another for Arnibal, a sweet syrup flavoured with pandan leaves and a hint of vanilla, and a third section for extra cups and straws. After a short wait, he mixes the ingredients and serves my warm Taho with a big smile on his face. It’s nice to get a good start in the morning like this.

As I slowly savour the sweetness of my warm Taho, I quietly enjoy solitude in front of the beach, sitting inside a small house made of bamboo materials and palm trees, which we call a “Kalapaw” or a Nipa hut. I can’t reach the sandy floor because the seat is too high, so I’m just swinging my legs like a five-year-old eating her favourite morning snack.

I enjoy nature and the beautiful balmy music of the ocean waves — it is so soothing that even when I close my eyes, I can hear the waves brushing against the seashore. It makes me happy that it raises my dopamine and serotonin levels.

A full day here is insufficient because there are so many memories to be made. I mentioned earlier, that watching the sunlights begin the day amazes me — but, sunsets are even better to watch before the day settles down.

Normally, people would sit quietly and watch the sun disappear behind the clouds from afar, but my cousins and I would go for a swim at the beach. Swimming before sunset is ideal because we can enjoy the perfect warm temperature of the water, while watching the changing colours of the sky that turns to yellow, pink, orange, and purple. It even matches the blue colour of the ocean. Doesn’t that sound like the makings of a core memory? I’m channelling my inner Moana, it’s as if I’m the main character of the movie in my head.

Sunsets in Nalvo

Swimming while watching the sunset is a scene I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Listening to people speaking in our Ilokano accent, kids running and giggling in the background, random dogs barking, and the booming sounds of passing vehicles — these sounds make my heart sing.

As the sun disappears behind the clouds, I can feel the cold breeze on my skin, and I can see my grandmother wave at us from a distance, inviting us to come home for dinner. I slowly get up from the beach after swimming, wash my feet with seawater, and collect my thoughts before heading home. While appreciating the soothing sound of the ocean waves, I gradually realise that I won’t be able to witness this beauty again like this. I’m not only on my way to my dinner, but also back to reality.

Nalvo, Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, Philippines — a long name to remember but only one word to describe, “home.” Nothing beats being at home, where I’m the happiest. Even when I’m at my lowest, Nalvo will always be my home. So, how about you? What’s your home like in mind?

Photos by: Hannah Giron Daygo