Excerpts from Sunsets at Puerto Galera

SAPG high res cover

So this book is coming out in about a week!!!!!!!!!!!!! While I haven’t been online as much, these duck feet had been paddling so freaking hard beneath the waters to make this launch happen. 🙂 Between long nights, impossible schedule, work pressure, PR stuff and book cover issues, this momma is ready for some pineapple-clad drinks and a vacation!

Anyhow, how’s about some excerpt from this baby about to be born? If you’re into heartfelt, contemporary reads, this is for you! And I hope you like it!!!!

P.S. Hey, go easy on me – it’s my first book! 😉

Part 1

Prologue

February of 2013

Lena shifted in her seat and reached for her long-stem glass of French Riesling from the rickety rattan table. She swirled it two times and took a tiny sip. It didn’t help much. With unsteady hands, she set it down, paused and took the deepest breath of warm briny sea air. She felt as though she were running out of ways to calm her nerves down. Up ahead, the glorious orange, yellow, purple, and salmon sky hovered. The sun, aureate and grand, looked to be saying its last words, and all the colors in the world arrived to bid a magnificent farewell. The seagulls, the crashing waves, and subdued mirth and clanks from diners not far away symphonized in the background. A thin crowd at the shore was bathed in a fiery glow.

She looked down and the deep bronze taint was also engulfing her pale skin. The ends of her long, wavy brown hair glinted auburn. She was always good in belying how thunderous her pulse galloped within, or how rattled her whole being was. People had complimented her on how even-keeled she always was no matter the situation. Today was the pinnacle, she thought as she sat there in cross-armed, cross-legged stillness. With her cheeks warm and with some sweat dotting her white dress, she longed to splash her face with what seemed like invigorating seawater nearby, but instead, she took off her beige platform sandals and dug her burgundy toes in the kindred cool feel of the fine white sand. It felt good to be reunited with the sands she’d known all her life until it triggered a shiver and pangs of bitter reminders. At that very moment, a nippy gust of wind came from nowhere and sent another strong shudder through her bare arms. On an impulse, she scanned the perimeter once again. She had been wondering if he would come. She exhaled with such depth and yearning, closed her eyes and hoped to God he would.

Chapter 1

March of 1997

The hallway could not be more empty and vapid. She felt as though the school was bidding her the most sullen farewell, as her polished black Mary Janes echoed against the painted concrete floor all throughout the white and expansive two-story building. Her blue and white plaid midi skirt – their school uniform – swished around her. It was the last day before her high school graduation. Everyone had already darted out. She and her friends were that way the previous years – who wouldn’t be excited on the first day of summer vacation? Today, she was the exception. She was just wiping away her tears in one of the ladies’ room stalls while waiting for everyone to leave. She made sure no one noticed her.

She finally reached the gate of her school and stepped out into the scorching sun. The narrow two-way road was pale and newly cemented last year. Right outside of the school were a few tricycle cabs that one could ride for about five pesos, depending on the distance to your destination, or if you were lucky, you could get to be at the mercy of a sly driver’s meter-less haggling. Street vendors with their carts stood right by the tricycle cabs, selling fried fish balls, grilled pork and chicken skewers of all parts and trims, snow cones, homemade ice cream, homemade tapioca drinks, fried peanuts and so forth. She picked up her pace to avoid a handful of other seniors she was familiar with, who were jostling about gaily around the street vendors. Neighboring the school was a mix of small brick houses, commercial spaces for small eateries, salons, gift shops, and apartments or rooms for rent. It was a sight of a typical afternoon bustle, where it was about eighty degrees Fahrenheit year-round, and the roads reeked of diesel, fried and grilled street food and early suppers being made.

There weren’t many clouds that afternoon, but she kept on foot in a trance without hailing a tricycle cab, or a jeepney (jitney). As she trudged along, she noticed unfamiliar faces, tourists she supposed, in the sari-sari (general) stores and eateries, based from their wandering eyes and uneasy manners. Most of them, she was sure, were from Manila, what with the relatively close proximity for weekend getaways. Depending on the time of the day and time of the year one was traveling, the commute from Manila took only five hours. This included a four-hour bus or car ride and an hour-long ferryboat ride.

She hated the crowd from Manila the most because of how careless they could be with their refuse and obscenity. Her parents had taught her better, she thought while remembering seeing a group of college-age kids leaving cigarette filters and empty water bottles all over White Beach. She had overheard them mentioning their university in Manila in between curse words and unrefined manners. Since then, she had always volunteered at the science club at San Lorenzo High to help preserve what was left of this beloved place.

Sleepy town Puerto Galera is indeed starting to go on full swing again, she thought with a sardonic twitch on her lips as she continued on foot.

But how could anyone resist this place? This is the place to be, especially in the summer. She sighed as memories of the beach, the deep waters, and the falls suddenly hovered around her. It had been five years since her family moved to this beach town, and tomorrow she was finally graduating from high school. We’ve been here for five years – five beautiful years, she thought as her eyes started to well again. All these things to do in one tiny and humble town she had called home since she was eleven. All these meant only one thing. Chris.

She could have fetched a tricycle cab, but she decided to take her time to perhaps organize her hazy thoughts as she walked absently towards the meeting place she and Chris had called their “little island.” It was one of the small pockets of ensconced white sand beach at the western edge of the town. She was used to walking a couple miles from their school to get there. She’d done it a few times, but today was a little different. This time, she traipsed on with her head and shoulders stooped and her eyes bloodshot, all by herself. Random snippets of memories continued flinging by.

“This beach is now officially ours, Lena,” he had softly whispered by her earlobe, almost kissing it, as he ran the edge of his fingertips over her wrist and then her hand.

She remembered how impossibly electrifying it was at that time, and it zapped a strong tingle down her spine to the hairs all over her as she continued to walk in the hot sun.

Each step she was physically taking was belligerently feeling like a strong wrench in her heart, tightening up slowly, rendering everything else in her body numb, as she drew a step at a time closer to their meeting place. She never realized how very much Chris meant to her in a short period of time.

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