I was in grade 5 the last time I remember taking a dip at the brook at the back of our house in Cabanatuan. I’d still check on the river every time we’d go back, but the most I’d do was just wade in the water and see how much it has changed over the course of the years.
The brook out back is a minor tributary to the much larger one found in Valdefuente, but unlike that river, this one’s pretty small. About twenty five meters across at its widest, with a depth ranging from an inch to ten feet deep. Trees surround both banks, and only the warbling of birds disturbs its otherwise quiet environment.
I recall being brought here early in the morning by my mom and dad. We’d sit on the banks as the sun wakes on the far horizon; the water misty, yellow rays passing through the trees and the air crisp with morning dew. She’d ask me to breath in the fog from the water, to boost my resistance and improve my health she says.
I’m not sure how effective those morning sessions were, but aside from secretly enjoying those times we visit the brook, I hardly get sick even now.
We’d spend our whole summer here in our grandma’s house and everyday we’d beg our aunt if we can swim at the sapa out back with our cousins.
We usually get to do so, spending hours and hours at its murky water swimming, skipping stones, spraying water over each other, laying on our back at its shallower parts and diving from a high ledge on its deeper areas. Not a few slippers were lost on its current, but Buliran’s brook was where I learned to swim.
I miss running from a high ledge, jumping down and making a splash at this stream. And yesterday, while having a quiet time at its bank, I saw a family swimming at the far end of the river. I suddenly had the urge to swim too, and why not?
I quickly went back and brought my cousins along with me and jumped in its water. The sun was bearing down hard but we found a spot where a huge tree shades a portion of the brook and we swam ‘til we dropped.
A lone carabao wading at the far edge watched us as we did all the things I did back in the day; we jumped from a ledge, we skipped stones, we dived, we swam and we swam and we swam. The water’s pleasantly warm, the exact same warmness I remember when I was still a kid.
There had always been lots of reasons why our swimming sessions at sapa ended; either the water’s too high, or it’s too murky, or there’s a kapre living there, or leeches abound, or the current’s too strong, or we were too old.
We are never too old to swim at the sapa. And after twenty long years, I’m glad I came back to my senses and started swimming on its water again.
Brgy. Buliran, Cabanatuan City
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