I’m seated at the lobby of the pension house after having lunch at SM. Yup. That’s S and M in capital letters. A place I’m not normally associated with.
I arrived here in General Santos city (GenSan) just before noon. I could have stayed another day at Lake Sebu as I don’t fly back to Manila until tomorrow afternoon but I need a day to transition from the quiet of Lake Sebu to the chaos of Manila. GenSan is my half-way house.
I could also have stayed a wee bit longer looking out of Oyog’s bamboo veranda to the lake waters. However, as I sat on the porch of the big bamboo house while all around me the family members who have since become my friends after many visits went about their business, my heart began to break. I had to make my exit. I wondered how Martha, the Taiwanese guest, felt upon leaving?
So instead of being surrounded by the happy sounds of children playing the t’nonggong, I am barraged by noise from tricycles. I inhale fumes instead of fresh air. I see grey not green.
My many visits to Lake Sebu has come to mean more than data gathering so I can earn a graduate degree and be respectable. Each time I visit, I feel I am coming home. It is an inevitable fate that a researcher’s life, if he has truly immersed himself in the community he studies, becomes intertwined with those of his subjects. Stone-hearted is he who sees informants and not people. Who gathers data and not friends. Who writes a paper and not a story.