The next day was a bus tour around the island of Oahu. Two buses, ala Maria de Leon, stop by the hotel, to pick up the guests. Quickly, the first bus filled up as they rushed to get in. Luckily, he was able to snatch a seat on the second bus, courtesy of his boyhood friend, Buddy.
He thinks Buddy embodies of what is a Vintarinian. He was educated and finished school in the Philippines, then moved his family to Hawaii. For many years he labored in Hawaii and made a name for himself as a successful building contractor. He made a good living. For most of us, he thought, that would have been enough. In a true fashion of a Vintarinian, Buddy looked back. He spearheaded an O’hana group of fellow town mates to help Vintar in one way or another, be an ambulance, infrastructure, or police apparatus for the town’s health care, security, and safety.
For some reason, Buddy knew that he was coming to the reunion, and saved a seat beside him nearest the window of the bus so he could take pictures of the countryside. But that is not what surprised him about his boyhood friend. It was what he said, “Do you remember?”
Of all these years that they have not seen each other, he expected that they would fill up the hours with what and how they did with their lives. But, no it started with a “Do you remember?”
“Do you remember, when we crossed the river and went to Nelio’s house in Diaton?” Buddy asked him.
“I sure do,” he replied. “There was a dozen of us boys in our teenage years who went to Diaton.”
“Nelio butchered and prepared a pig for us,” Buddy continued.
“And we had a feast. Nagpulotan tayo! Drank Basi and sang to our heart’s content! We had a good time.”
“But, that is not why I remember it.” Buddy interrupted.
“What? Is there something else?”
“Yes, of course. Remember when we were on our way home, and we have to cross the river again?”
“Oh, yes. Dimmakel ta karayan!“ He exclaimed.
“We didn’t know while having a feast nagtudo idiay Surong.” Buddy explained. “There was a flash flood!”
“But, we were not scared because we know we were strong swimmers and we could swim the raging currents.”
“Yes, but remember how terrified we were when we found out that Manning did not know how to swim. So what did we do?” And they started laughing together re-living their Huck Finn adventures.
Both of their hands were now mimicking how they built a ‘pataw’ made of ‘kawayan’ debris they found on the river shoreline. They remembered putting him belly down on the ‘pataw’ and pushed him off into the raging currents as they initiated their swim across the swollen river.
All of them floated down across the river until they were able to get onto the face of the dike. But, as they hopped onto the dike for safety from the raging waters, they discovered that Manning was not one of them. Where was he? They scanned the dark yellow water of the river with their horrified eyes and faces, but their dear friend was nowhere to be seen.
“Malagip mo ti but-buteng tayo. Impagarup tayo nga nalmesen.”
Later on that evening, they received the good news, that Manning crashed landed on a sandy shore on the west side of the Simba-an.
The joy of reliving that particular event, made him feel as if he had come home, once more. That part of him as a child had evaded him for such a long time since moving to the States. From then on, he got caught in the daily grind of work and had been caged in the mundane part of living, day in and day out. Now, in talking with Buddy, it is all coming back to him in cascading drops of memories and he realized that the way he looked at the world as a child, his perspective as a child had a great deal of influence on his character building which made him fully aware of his own virtues and values, and how he applied them towards his life and the world around him.
During the time he was laid off from work, he flirted with photography. He learned to shoot panoramic landscapes by stitching together sets of individual shots to create a picture of a whole landscape. The frames he produced were different perspectives of the landscape that he figured out before he took the shots.
A man’s life, he thought, is a landscape full of diverse perspectives. Like a landscape, he is a tapestry of stitch perspectives and the main patch of it is a child’s perspective.
It becomes all clear to him, now. The ambiguity he had at the hotel lobby was this feeling of being a child again. This was the “something else” that he was not able to get a handle on. In his own tapestry or landscape, the one he forgot but now re-discovered was his childhood perspective of Vintar.
It is a childhood perspective that defines him as a man. As a human being. As a Vintarinian. The guests at the lobby were re-living their childhood memories of Vintar. With this extraordinary bit of serendipity, he now can go back and tell his son, what is a Vintarinian.
But, is it enough? He knows very well that his son is irresolute and doubtful until he can pin down the facts. He must, therefore, strengthen his reasoning. He felt the fire in his belly is getting warmer. When this happens, he knows, he is on the right track. He is aware now that a childhood perspective has a lot to do with who he is. Buddy inadvertently led him to it. Is there more to it? He wondered.