The sunsets of our youth

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By Gabby Fernandez

Of Snapshots & Zeitgeists

Thursday, July 17, 2014

HOW strange it is that lately, I’ve found myself enjoying the early morning sun in ways I never did when I was younger.

This newfound fascination with early mornings, and especially of sunrises, is unfamiliar to someone like me: a life-long night owl whose typical daily waking hour used to be 10:30 am.

Why do I write about this now? What does that have to do with the city’s zeitgeist? Many of you young readers probably will not get the whole point of this piece but something tells me it will have echoes of resonance within you and to those of my generation I know that even if they do not share these personal musings on such an esoteric topic as sunrise, I know with certainty that they will understand the roots and basis of these reflections.


How did a person like me who used to loath mornings become raptured and captivated with its charms?

It began this way. Eight years ago I started an annual commitment.

Once a year starting the first Saturday of July, and for 10 succeeding Saturdays I do my pay-it-forward/ penitence/ good karma thing. It is called by different names or phrases, this fundamentally-spiritual act of giving generously of oneself for the betterment of others.

During these Saturdays, I wake up at about 4 a.m. and by 5 a.m., I would already be comfortably seated in a provincial bus, headed for my destination, or one can say, headed for my “pay-it-forward-thing.”

The bus takes me to a school two hours away from the city.
There in a mid-sized provincial college, I teach film to eager students who otherwise would not have had access to this form of arts education.

It is something I truly enjoy as an educator.

During those Saturday road trips, on clear days when no rain or storm threatened, those two-hour bus rides gradually became a revelatory experience for me. It is through these trips that I have come to appreciate this thing I call “the splendor of sunrise.”

For splendid it truly is – the way the darkness subtly turns pale-blue and all the while above it, the dark shades of the evening sky gently giving way to the faint light.

By around 5:30 a.m. just as the bus exits the “city proper,” the sky, with its soft blues and grays, begin to fade under the placid hues of oranges and ambers. Soon after that, faster than one would expect, the skies transform into glorious yellows and tender reds and in the east, one sees it: just as a faint source of light at first and then as strong rays of brightness and then, finally, at last the sun emerges on the horizon.

By this time, my bus ride would already have taken me out onto the countryside fields now richly-colored by the dawn.

It was on one of those bus rides that I realized: I was never a “sunrise-person” before. In fact, I was a real sunset fanatic.

Those countless late afternoons spent along white-sand beaches in the company of loved ones, watching the sun until it totally sank far off in the horizon. The many vacations spent in the mountains with the old college gang, watching the fog seep down from the mountain ranges and in between gulps of beer and shared laughter, how we would steal glances behind the darkening clouds to witness the faint sunset say goodbye to another day. And certainly how can one not think of sunsets without remembering Sunday afternoon parties or happy-hour drinking sessions spent with good friends.

But of all the sunsets, my favorite will always be those late afternoon skies in Bacolod during the late months of the year. There is a certain quality to it, its colors unique: of hazy purples and light vermilions—the changing colors coupled with the comforting amihan breeze that seemed to embrace you.

Those were the best. Perhaps because I associated them with college life in La Salle, those afternoons waiting outside the school theater for play rehearsals to begin, just hanging around and enjoying as the day expires.

Those sunsets of our youth were amazingly, unbelievably joyous moments that would later turn into loving threads of memories, often embellished but never untrue.

Those were the sunsets I loved. The sunsets of our youth.

But time marches on, endlessly. Relentless in its passage, dragging us along as it moves rapidly from the tomorrows that soon become our yesterdays.

It happens to everybody. Time crushes us all in its wake.

But in my newfound love for early mornings and sunrises, I have come to know a truism that speaks clearly to me: that as much as we hate time for its incessant creation of the yesterdays we can never again reclaim, we also reluctantly love it to for all that it has given us in its passage through our lives.

It seems so contradictory for one to associate sunsets with youth and sunrises with growing old. How utterly strange it is to accept this “sunrise equated with growing old” thing. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just me.

But I must say with all the truthfulness that one’s heart can muster, that for all its unfamiliarity and seeming strangeness, this discovery of dawn’s magical experience feels as true and as honest and as genuine a feeling as any that I have ever felt.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 18, 2014.


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