EVERY corner and street of Binondo is awash with scarlet; from the way the people are dressed, down to the ampao that is handed out to their friends and loved ones. From above, the lanterns give light to everyone’s path — even to the ones who are lost.
Eliza stands out against the crowd of carmine textiles with the flowy white dress her parents dressed her with. People pass her by like she is dust in the air. She is pale and gloomy, and the only colors emanating from her are from the fruits her Achi gave in a white porcelain bowl.
She looks up to the lanterns, knowing that it will be the last lights she will see. As tears pour down on her pale cheeks, she knows she will never be able to find her way back home anymore.
She knows what Nong Li meant. The drums will wreak havoc and the lion will dance as the firecrackers scream. Eventually, Eliza will fade away along with the smoke left by the fireworks.
The ashes from the incense will be cast away by the wind, and so will Eliza. Most of the people whose pictures are being offered fruits had also become ashes themselves—the rotten, the forgotten, and the beloved ones. F PATRICK V. MIGUEL