Seulgi wasn’t contented with our celebration of monthsary with our friends, because she is too extra and she wanted the celebration to be intimate.
Kaya ngayon ay nasa byahe kami papunta sa Tagaytay because she requested the place. Bigla bigla ito kagabi na nagsabi habang nasa shower kami na mag-Tagaytay daw kami ngayong araw. Mabilis akong pumayag dahil akala ko noong una ay day trip lang ang gusto niya. But when we were already getting ready for bed, she suddenly said that we will be going for an overnight trip so I had no choice but to comply.
Besides, bukod sa pumayag na ako, ito din ang unang pagkakataon na pupunta kami sa Tagaytay simula nang mangyari ang aksidente noon, at simula nang maging kami.
“Aren’t you hungry? I made a sandwich, just incase.” si Seulgi na nag-abot sa akin ng sandwich habang traffic at nakatigil ang sasakyan dahil sa stoplight.
“Hindi ba bawal kumain ang driver?”
“Yeah, in the States.” she rolled her eyes. “But we’re in the Philippines. Walang bawal dito.”
True enough, masyado ngang strict sa ibang bansa. You will be fined if you drive without a seatbelt, you will be fined for eating while driving, even drunk driving. Of course the law does not permit that, even here in the Philippines. But it’s just a fact that foreigners are more obedient than Filipinos that they follow even small regulations.
“I’m fine, ‘Ga. Besides, malapit na din naman tayo so hindi na kailangan kumain.”
Lumiko na ako sa Nasugbu Highway dahil nag green na ang stoplight. Not long after, nakita ko na ang signage ng restaurant na kakainan namin ni Seulgi. Lampas lang ng konti sa isang branch ng Bag of Beans kung saan kami nag dinner the last time we were here.
“Ang bilis ng byahe!”
I checked my phone for the time. Mabils nga ang naging byahe namin dahil halos isang oras lang ang drive ko papuntang Tagaytay. Inabot ni Seulgi ang slip na ibinigay ng guard upon entering the gate. Protocol kasi nila ngayon na bago makapasok sa restaurant ay mag sign up muna ng contract tracing form online bago sila tatawag para i-confirm ang reservation. 12PM na pero hindi pa naman ganoon kadami ang mga sasakyan sa parking kaya sa palagay ko ay hindi gaano marami ang tao.
It was only after we received a phone call from the reception when we stepped out of the car. Seulgi still finds the regulations amazing because people are laxer in California than here in the Philippines. Understandable naman dahil mas kaunti na ang kaso nila, kaysa sa Pilipinas, kaya mas relaxed na ang mga tao doon.
"Miss Seulgi Kang?" tawag ng receptionist kay Seulgi nang makarating kami sa receiving area. "This way, please."
The server led us to the stairs, so I'm guessing we won't be taking the ground floor because we were lead to the second floor, and at the tables outside. Al fresco dining.
"We have made this area exclusive only for you, Ma'am. Please enjoy your stay!"
Seulgi assisted me to my seat before helping herself. Tulala ako at gulat dahil pina-reserve niya ang buong balcony, itong space sa labas na open-air at kitang kita ang Taal.
"You reserved this whole space?" hindi makapaniwalang tanong ko.
"Nag-iingat tayo. I don't want anyone else close to us while we're here. So.." I just chuckled as she shrugged.
"Tapos ay nagre-reklamo ka dahil sa nearly twelve thousand na ginastos mo sa dinner kagabi?"
Last night's dinner with our friends was hosted by Seulgi. Kaya siya talaga ang nagbayad ng kinain namin. Walang discount na ibinigay sa kaniya, and she was fine with it. Pero pag-uwi sa apartment ay nagre reklamo siya dahil ang laki daw ng nagastos niya, konti lang naman ang kinain ng tropa at hindi naman din ganoon kadaming whisky ang in-order nila. Masyado yatang nasanay si Seul sa mga restaurant abroad na hindi ganoon ka-pricey, kaya medyo nagreklamo siya sa binayaran niya kagabi.
"Iba naman ang kagabi, sa ngayon. Besides, it's only us two so this is extra special." hindi na ako nagtanong pa at hinayaan na lang siyang pumili ng kakainin namin mula sa menu.
While she was busy directing the server about our orders, I took the time to feed myself with the beautiful view nature is offering. No wonder why Tagaytay is where busy people from Manila come to unwind. Sometimes nature is enough for rejuvinating, and to get away from the busy life in the city.
We are dined in a native-themed restaurant that serves Filipino cuisine. The interior itself is very Filipino. The materials used to build the house were mainly wood and bamboo - a typical house of pinoys. And it overlooks the Taal Volcano, especially in this part of the restaurant that we are in.
"How did you find this place?" I asked when I felt her beside me.
"This restau was basically here three years ago, too. It just happened that I chose Bag of Beans. Dahil iyon ang available during that time." inabot niya sa akin ang isang baso ng champagne which I gladly took. "Matagal ko na din gustong kumain dito. I like the theme of the restau."
"Dapat the food should not disappoint you, too." she chuckled. "Ganda ng Taal. I should have brought a film camera.
"I have one!" nakangiti ko siyang tiningnan habang bumabalik siya sa table namin kanina para kuhanin ang camera mula sa bag niya. "I knew you would love to capture the moment, pero walang time to prepare so I prepared everything myself last night.."
Gulat akong napatingin sa kaniya. "Last night? Sabay tayong nagshower at natulog after--"
"Masyado kang napagod sa seven rounds, 'Ga. Kaya tulog na tulog ka at hindi mo namalayan na bumangon ako."
"Wow, nakakahiya naman kasi sa'yo diba."
Pinaikot ko ang mata ko habang natatawa lang si Seulgi sa pagyakap sa akin.
Last night's dinner ended at 11PM dahil 12AM ang curfew under the general community quarantine. Kaya kinailangan naming makauwi before 12AM. Pagkauwi sa apartment, nagsimula ang part two ng celebration namin ni Seulgi. Siyempre, kagaya ng palaging ginagawa tuwing lumalabas ay naligo kami agad pagkatapos ay hindi pa agad natulog dahil sa 'business' ni Seulgi kaya inabot kami ng almost 3AM. Hindi ko naman namalayan na bumangon pa pala siya pagkatapos noon para mag-ayos ng ibang mga dadalhin namin.
Medyo maulan sa Pilipinas nitong mga nakaraang linggo, kaya mabuti na lang at hindi masyadong maulan ngayong nandito kami sa Tagaytay, kung hindi, ruined ang balcony date na ito na pinlano daw ni Seulgi. I'm not just sure how we've been friends for 11 years pero she still never fails to amaze and surprise me. Hindi siya nauubusan ng surprises.
The foods were served kaya bumalik na kami sa table pagkatapos na magpicture. Seul ordered a variety of Filipino dishes and it made me think that there is a feast. Hindi ko sure kung mauubos ba namin itong dalawa.
"Don't judge me." nakangusong sabi ni Seul dahil sa pagtitig ko sa kaniya ngayon.
"I'm not judging you." I defended.
"You are!" sinamaan pa ako ng tingin. "I just missed Filipino food, 'Ga. Today lang naman ito."
"Wala naman akong sinabi."
Seulgi is not really strict when it comes to her diet. Ibang iba siya sa akin. I can control myself when I eat, pero siya ay hirap i-control ang sariili. She would eat as long as her tummy wants it. Titigil lang siya kapag hindi na talaga kaya ng tyan niya, o kaya kapag nasaway ko na. Pero kahit ganoon, she is also very strict with exercise. Noong nasa California pa siya noon, she would jog every morning. Walang malapit na park dito sa lugar namin ngayon kaya hindi niya iyon magawa. In exchange, she bought a treadmill para kahit paano daw ay makatakbo pa din siya.
Nauna akong matapos kumain sa kaniya, kaya pinanuod ko lang siya hanggang sa maubos niya ang dessert na nasa table namin. When it's time to pay, she was supposed to give her card pero nauna ako. Sinabi kong siya naman na ang nagbayad kahapon so she let me pay today. Besides, hindi naman ako papayag na siya lang ang laging nagbabayad tuwing umaalis kami.
"Saan tayo, 'Ga?" tanong ko nang makabalik na kami sa sasakyan.
"Follow mo nalang instructions ng GPS, 'Ga. Surprise na sa'yo kung saan." Inirapan ko na lang ang natatawang si Seulgi habang nagsusuot siya ng seatbelt niya.
Wala naman na din akong magawa. kung hindi ang mag drive na lang dahil ayaw niya namang sabihin kung saan kami pupunta. So I just drove and drove and followed the GPS. It was another 20-minute ride plus the traffic. Hindi ako pamilyar sa mga dinadaanan namin dahil hindi pa ako nakakarating dito. So when I finally saw a signage of the place where we're going, I had to stop the car to make sure that that's where we're really headed.
"If I follow the directions, we'll arrive at Tagayatay Highlands." pag-anunsyo ko habang nakatigil ang sasakyan sa gilid.
"Uh-huh?" I tilted my head, still confused. "That's where we're going."
"That's an exclusive resort and is for club members only!"
Parang hindi pa yata maintindihan ni Seulgi na hindi kami pwedeng basta basta pumasok sa resort dahil itinawa niya lang ang sinabi ko.
"I am a member, 'Ga." gulat akong tumingin sa kaniya. "Let's go, para malaman mo na."
My jaw literally dropped when we were welcomed and catered in the reception, dahil too ngang member si Seulgi dito! Not really, her, Tito is. Apparently, dito pala nag-golf si Tito with his business partners at may binili din na Condominium kaya doon kami magi-stay ngayon.
I was amazed by the terrains upon driving to the location of the condominiums. The cars I passed by were either expeditions, fortuners, or montero, and other luxurious cars that I felt small for my tucson! Ang mga member kasi dito ay mga high-end na tao at mayayaman, kaya't ang mga sasakyan ay luxurious din. The whole resort itself is luxurious, and it makes me feel like I am not in the Philippines. Ang malamig ang hangin at kung titingnan mo ang paligid ay aakalain mong nasa Switzerland ka. Parang walang bahid ng Pilipinas sa lugar na ito!
"So, what are we doing here?" tanong ko kay Seulgi nang makapasok na kami sa condomenium ni Tito para ibaba ang mga gamit namin.
"We should try all their amenities." ngumisi siya. "Or we can stay here for the rest of the day?"
Binigyan ako ng makahulugang tingin ni Seulgi. Alam ko na kung ano niyang mangyari sa mga ganoong tingin niya kaya inirapan ko na lang.
"We should just try the amenities. Sayang naman kung nandito tayo tapos hindi natin ma-enjoy diba." iniwan ko na sa kwarto ang ilang mga gamit at pumwesto na sa may pinto, so she had no choice but to come after me dahil palabas na ako.
Highlands is famous for having cable cars and European-themed trains that you can use as a mode of transportation within the resort. We wanted to try the cable cars, first, but we couldn't figure out how to go places after places after getting off the cable car, kay nag decide kami na i-skip muna iyon at pumunta na lang sa bowling center para iyon ang unang pagkaabalahan.
Seul wanted to make a bet that whoever wins will grant the other's wish, pero agad niya din iyong binawi nang malaman kung sakali na matalo siya ay wish kong hindi kami maging intimate at physical the whole time that we're here. Hindi siya pumayag sa gusto ko dahil luging lugi daw siya. Hindi pa nga siya natatalo ay sumuko na siya agad! The next thing we tried was horseback riding. Ayoko sana noong una dahil hindi naman ako mahilig sa ganoon, but she was able to convince me at sa iisang kabayo lang naman kami sumakay. It was sweet and intimate.
"Should we swim, too?" tanong niya dahil nadaan namin kanina ang outdoor pools at para siyang na-engganyo na itry din iyon.
"We're here to enjoy, so why not?"
We got dressed with our swimwears. I applied sunscreen, too, because I didn't want to tan my skin. It was Seulgi who prepared our clothes so she packed a bikini for me, while hers is a rashguard.
"Napaka- unfair mo talaga, alam mo 'yon?" I whined before eyeing her.
Seulgi chuckled. "What now?"
"I didn't even know that I had a bikini! Hinalughog mo wardrobe ko?"
"No, of course not! And what's wrong about wearing a bikini, babe? You should flex that body."
Para akong kinilabutan sa sinabi niyang iyon, using a very seductive tone. I know we're in a pool and it is supposed to be cold but I felt damn hot after what she just said.
"Damn you, Kang."
I softly said, like a whisper before my lips automatically touched hers.
I am not the type of person who would engage in any ual activities in public. I hate it. Meanwhile, here is Seulgi whose motto in life is to break all the rules I've set for myself and make me do things that I hate.
"Do you really think no one's going to see us?" I whispered.
"Shh.. Almost done, baby, don't worry."
Seulgi went back to my lips and devoured it again while her hands were playing with my down there. I had to constantly bite my lower lip just so I couldn't moan loud because there are other people swimming! We just went to a kind of isolated part of the pool because Seulgi wanted to try something.
"This will be the first and last time we're doing this." I marked with finality.
"If you say so." then she stole a peck from my lips. "I love you!"
Ah, I hate that she always gets away with saying she loves me!
Papalubog na ang araw. We went back to the condo to shower after swimming and changed into comfortable clothes. Mayroon kasing overlooking café and restobar kaya doon na lang kami magdi-dinner, sabi ni Seulgi. Agree na lang ako sa kaniya dahil wala naman akong masyadong alam sa lugar. May live band din daw kasi doon at gustong makinig ni Seulgi. She is still into Filipino opm bands even today. Paborito niya ang Autotelic at Ben&Ben dahil hindi na ganoon ka-active ang favorite band niya noon na Spongecola.
I took a sip from my cocktail while looking at the view. Maganda ang ideya ni Seulgi na magbakasyon kami sa lugar na ito para sa first monthsary namin. The scenery makes things look more romantic and intimate. Just the reason why she wanted to do this.
"Your first time in Tagaytay too since the incident happened?" I nodded at her question. "I missed this place."
"I couldn't bring myself to revisit this place again without you. So for three years, I didn't come."
"Would you want to live here? In this place?"
Seulgi looked serious with her question. My forehead creased. Tagaytay, really is beautiful. This is one of, if not the most famous place in the province of Cavite. Living in a place like this would be great.
"May iba ka pa bang gusto na makasama?" natawa ako sa tanong niya.
"Of course, I only want you. And yes, we could live in a place like this." ngumiti ako. "Pag-ipunan muna natin ha."
"They say that you cannot heal in the environment where you got hurt." napakunot-noo ako sa biglang pagse seryoso ni Seulgi. "I wanted to change that. I wanted to expose myself to that environment. I wanted to relive those moments and reopen the wounds, because that may be the only thing that would help me heal."
Seulgi, although a very jolly person and someone you would think is strong, has her own scars too. Her lips could smile, but her eyes would sometimes look troubled, in pain.
I know that just like anyone else, Seulgi have scars she haven't opened up to me, yet. And if that scar turns out to have something to do with what happened to us in this place three years ago, I wouldn't know how to react.
Tawagin natin itong: Mga Eksena bago ang Sakuna :>
Ikalawa, skl... I have been listening to redmelocamp space on twitter recently and their topics (and voices) are therapeutic and relatable. 🥺 It made me realize that I still have more to learn and improve as a writer. So I just want to thank you all for giving me an opportunity to grow, as a writer, with this fic. Thank you for reading this, too!
Stay safe, everyone!