Below is the last entry of my American Diary I was not able to upload earlier.
September 17, 2005
San Francisco Airport
It’s cold even here inside the airport. The America West airline desk is not yet open. I have to wait for a night here sitting beside a family of Indians. I cannot understand what they are talking about. We are the only ones here in the America West check-in terminal. My flight is at 6 o’clock tomorrow morning. It’s a long wait but I want to make sure that I will be here early.
I checked out of my hotel at noon today. I left my luggage in the hotel storage and walked a block to take the famous San Francisco train on Powell Street in front of Union Square. I was excited like a child. I even smiled and took my own picture. A black man volunteered to take another one for me. The car climbed the steep streets. My destination was the Fisherman’s Wharf. I paid $5 for the trip. Midway to my destination the car stopped. “We lost power,” the operator said. The passengers waited. I waited for almost 30 minutes. I asked how far is it to my destination. The conductor said it would be a 20-minute walk. It took me more than 30 minutes.
Alan earlier said I should look for a statue of a crab. I did not see one. I saw Alcatraz. I saw the Golden Gate. I saw the sea and memories of my hometown came back. There were many shops on the shore and on the streets near the beach. I walked and walked and looked at the shops. I still had no meal but I tried to forget about it. It was past two in the afternoon when I felt hungry. It was too late. I was too far from the restaurants.
I watched the old ships anchored on the harbor. I did not climb any one of the ships. One has to pay a few dollars to board the ships. I entered a museum. There were pictures of ships and shipping gears. I was so hungry. I saw a lot of ships and beaches in Mindanao. I decided to walk out of the museum and watched people playing with their Harley-Davidsons. There were also firemen and policemen. There was a ceremony to commemorate the 9/11 attacks.
I went to the beach and watched the birds. I watched the fog descend on Alcatraz and the Golden Gate. I watched two big cargo ships pass below the Golden Gate. I wonder where they came from. I am sure there were Filipino sailors aboard the ships. Filipinos are all over the world. We are like birds.
I started walking back to the restaurant row and decided to enter one, which has a sign that says “Since 1946.” I asked for soup, a glass of Coke and ordered crab legs and crab cake under the appetizer section. It cost me $21. Our crabs back home taste better.
I went around the block and looked for a toilet. They call it restroom here. I think it’s more prudent. I was able to rest and relax my complaining stomach. I entered a Barnes and Noble shop and bought a book with my remaining traveler’s check so that I could have cash. I only had $16 in my pocket and some loose change. In another shop I saw old newspapers that date back to World War II. I bought two. One proclaimed that the war has started, the other announced that war was over. I folded the papers and inserted it in my luggage, hoping that it would not be ruined.
I took a bus back to Union Square past 6 o’clock in the evening and stayed in the Square for some minutes. I went up to the column in the middle of the square and read how America defeated Spain during the battle in Manila Bay in 1898 and later put the Philippines under “subjection.”
I walked back to the hotel and waited for the airport shuttle. The ride cost me $20.
There’s a full moon tonight. I saw it on my way to the airport. Its reflection was clear on the waters of San Francisco Bay. I remembered a scene when I was young. I don’t know where we were going then. But I was with my father, my uncle and my sister. We went to the mountains, to Ilaya, a barrio in Dapitan, to visit my grandparents. My uncle was driving. There was a full moon that night too and I was fascinated with it because it followed us wherever we went.
The moon here in America looks like the one in Dapitan when I was young. It also looks like the one in Manila. Unfortunately I seldom see the moon in Manila. I seldom see stars there too. There are more stars in Dapitan than in Manila. The moon is larger too. Like the one in Bungiao, in Surabay, in Basilan.