The Morning HushMarch 13th, 2020 / by Dr. Elvie Victonette B. Razon-Gonzalez
All my life, I have been awakened by the incessant ringing of an alarm clock in the midst of the bustling Metro Manila, the sky still asleep with the stars, at daybreak, when the sun’s light barely filters through. As far as I can recall, an alarm clock has been my daily mortal enemy, my sleep irreverently cut short without mercy and apology.
At first grade, I got up at five o’ clock in the morning during schooldays. Breakfast would always be tasteless and forced, each spoonful mechanically chewed and hurriedly swallowed, half-masticated at best. Oftentimes, breakfast consisted of pan de sal glazed with peanut butter or margarine downed with a gulp of fresh milk. I had to eat, bathe, dress up in school uniform with clock-work precision and military accuracy, lest I would be, tragedy of tragedies, late for the school bus that would take me, along with twenty other schoolchildren to our school.
It did not get any better in high school as I had to ride a mini-bus from our village down south to the heart of Manila. Riding the bus, I would glimpse at tall grey rectangular buildings, their monochrome occasionally broken by yellowish-green palm trees, that is, if I were not half-asleep from chronic sleep deprivation. I remember that I would barely make it to our flag ceremony everyday, with a little bit of luck or prayer or both.
In the Metro, traffic congestion is considered the worst enemy and one must devise ways not only to beat it but to embrace it. Leaving early is sometimes not good enough as the volume of motorists and cars is overwhelming. I cannot count how many times I have been late for an examination despite waking up earlier than most of my classmates and despite studying the night away. Early on, I would learn to use it to my advantage by sleeping most of the trip or even studying inside the poorly-lit bus. It is a rat-race and everybody is a random player.
Two years ago, my husband and I made the best decision for us and our family: we moved to the beautiful province of Iloilo. It was a giant leap of faith for me, and hope foretold, my mornings have never been the same again.
Living in the province, I experience the simple joy of witnessing the sun unfold to reveal its golden rays in a blanket of blue. I often wake up on my own time and rely on my natural body clock when it is time to start the day anew. Quality of sleep has been a luxury denied to many and one of the graces that I truly enjoy each day.
Here at home, I eat my breakfast slowly and in peace. There is time to savor the individual flavors and enjoy the local delicacies such as bibingka, suman latik, and pan de sal. I can sip my strong brewed coffee with a touch of sweet cacao to counteract the harsh, bitter taste. I can still read the local newspaper or watch the morning program to be abreast with reality. Here in the province, there is time to walk or jog around in the morning, to listen to the melodious chirping of the birds perched in the branches of trees, to read devotionals, to water the plants in the garden, to write in his journals and to listen to the voice of his thoughts. My husband has ample time to bike, to walk the dogs around and to do some high-intensity interval training exercises. Our children, meanwhile do not have to leave at dawn and can eat full breakfast as they please. As a family, there is time to talk each morning at the dining table and discuss the day’s planned activities.
In the province, plants are everywhere. Our garden has a wide variety of succulents and cacti, philodendrons, bromeliads, adeniums, bougainvilleas and my personal favorite, boxwood. In the streets of Iloilo, there are colorful flowers in every corner and every color imaginable, some even considered as wilds that thrive ubiquitously. The trees that line up the streets provide a virtual canopy against the obtrusive heat of summer. In the country-side, the multiple hues of green in the fields are set against a canvass of white and blue at daytime and the patina of gold surrounding each afternoon, either way a breathtaking masterpiece!
I am a city girl now living in the province. There is no more morning rush but a morning hush of gratitude. The pace may be slower here, the place regarded as bucolic, especially those unaccustomed to quiet life. The state of tranquility is a cherished gift that each morning never fails to bring.
The grass is not greener on the proverbial other side. I have found out that in the province, there is more grass and there is more time to see its greenery.