The Lights at España


Photo by Madeleen Saguid/THE FLAME

Why is it that most of us tend to prefer celebrating the season of Christmas at home? How is Christmas tied to the feeling of familiarity— to the touch of homely warmth, of hearth by the lanterns hanging at the entryways of our house?

I had this thought during the afternoon when I woke up to traffic noises. The 19th of December 2022 never sounded as loud as it did then. It may have been an overture to the approaching Paskuhan event. España had always been buzzing with energy— chaotic in its very nature, crowded and fast-paced. 

I lay awake. A dilemma occurred inside me: should I attend Paskuhan? Or should I hail a tricycle to Legarda station and return to my province? I never told anyone about it. Despite my excitement, I was conflicted about attending Paskuhan then. 

There is a different kind of struggle with social interaction the moment you leave your hometown. College is a large-scale stage, spanning as wide as a stadium. You are out there with thousands of unfamiliar faces, far from home. You are distant from the familiarity of your hometown.

Rather than rotting away in bed, I chose to get up and dress myself in the outfit I planned for weeks. It was not much; it teetered between the lines of stylish and simple. Similar to how I was skirting around the experience of Paskuhan and the comfort of my home before my little dress-up game. 

How nice it would have been to have my friends from home judge my outfit and enjoy the festivity with me. But then again, I was three hours away, and college was supposed to be new in almost every aspect of my life.

Time flew by fast that day; at noon, I was going back and forth with my decision to attend the event. But there I was at six in the evening, finally roaming around the cobblestone pathways of the campus with a friend.

A friend is a word that holds so much weight. But at the same time, it is lightly given.

What kind of person is a friend to us anyway? Someone who keeps us company on quiet days? What happens when the quiet days leave? What happens to that friend?

I was there. I did nothing but walk because I was never an interesting person to hang out with. I did not fancy crowded spaces and live performances, yet I was not alone; there she was, with her pastel purple and green fit. I thought about how that color complemented her a lot— there was this vibrant yet soft demeanor in her, much like the color she was wearing. Even if the sky turned gray, she was still pastel-colored, much better when the Christmas lanterns around campus shone upon her.

Adie was performing in the grandstand. Probably more than half of the attendees were there, but my friend and I talked, telling stories about our childhood or random facts about each other that neither of us seemed to care about. But we still talked over a Frappuccino and a milkshake from Seattle’s Best Coffee— neither of us cared much about the content of our conversation, but we still stayed. It was a different level of comfort, talking about something of lesser importance, something we probably will not remember later. But we were comfortable enough to still blabber about it and chose to be there.

The lights at España never appealed to me until they glistened in my friend’s eyes. España is not my home, and I do not think it will be unless my friend is there. 

The boulevard was still a strange place to me, but when night came, and we were sitting on the ground at around quarter to midnight, I thought: this feels a little bit like home. It was reminiscent of sitting under the Christmas lanterns outside our house, talking about anything and everything. All I heard were her stories despite the buzz of the night.

When I turned to my friend, her hazel-colored eyes reflecting the lights at España, I thought she was not just someone who kept me company that night— she is a friend, my friend. F

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