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“I left my phone in the bus,” I cried out loud as I was crossing the street and entering our gate, where the warm weekly welcome from my three sources of joy did not happen because it was already nine o’clock in the evening, and Sebastian, Kenshi and Savannah were all asleep.

I was bothered because my sling which I’d tied to my pants was disconnected, meaning that my cellphone must’ve been left or, worse, snatched inside the bus. But whichever way I lost it, I was just playing Regine Velasquez’s “Free Spirits” and “I Know” ten minutes ago, so I couldn’t believe that it’s just gone in a breeze.

“Please ring my phone, so that whoever can hear its ringtone will pick it up and know that I need it back,” I panicked as I was begging my family members to do so. 

To cut the story short, concerned neighbors, who were inside their homes watching their favorite telenovelas, flocked to the street when they heard some chaos going around outside: me, whimpering, heeding a good suggestion that I rent a “habal-habal” (read: motorcycle) and chase the bus down the road.

But the “habal-habal” was not in its best shape. My goodness, its light was broken, so my nephew and I had to keep holding a flashlight, focusing it on the road, while the driver tried his best to pursue the bus. Half of me thought that if others driving a well-conditioned motorcycle met an accident in a broad daylight, all the more we’re vulnerable to the same, what with our speed and lack of light. So I decided, “Ading, please slow down a bit. I don’t mind going all the way down to the south, to the end of the route, so long as we’ll be coming back home later—safe, sound, complete with all parts of our body.” 

At a gasoline station en route, a kibitzer commented by asking: “What’s the brand of the phone? Is it expensive?”

I responded, in the vernacular, “Dude, it’s not the cost of it that’s driving me to go and run for it now. It’s the sentimental value—more than my contacts or my blogs or my random thoughts saved therein—that I can’t afford to think being expunged. It’s a gift from my cousin-in-law James Pimentel, an international seafarer who I will never forget bought it in Victoria Island, Nigeria, when his ship docked there three years ago.”

Miserably enough, there was no hint of the bus, and indeed, we reached the garage of Ceres Liner in Bato, Santander, some twenty-five kilometers away from my hometown, Gawahon, Malabuyoc. What made it indeed more miserable was that I couldn’t find my phone, even if I crawled under the seats on the bus. To ring it would be useless, because of its silent mode. 

I may have reached as far down as the tip of southern Cebu, but then, I didn’t reach the point of regretting over the money and time I’d spent, the effort I’d exerted. At least I tried.

On our way back home, a cousin’s phone which I’d borrowed (in case of emergency) kept ringing and ringing. So I answered it, only to be told: “Ariel, we searched your bag in your room, and your phone is just here!”

What? Couldn’t believe my ears. I’ve braved the drizzle and the darkness of the night, no helmet on, until almost midnight, in four far-flung towns—Malabuyoc, Ginatilan, Samboan, and Santander—looking for something which was just in my bag. 

What an onerous yet hilarious experience!

Malabuyoc, Cebu