“Carlo nasaan ako?” Amor woke up a few hours after Manang Fe left. Carlo was watching TV while seated at the sofa in the hospital room.
“You’re awake. Kumusta ang pakiramdam mo?” He immediately stood up and went to Amor, concern all over his face.
When he saw Amor’s questioning stare he further explained.. “You’re in the hospital. Dinala ka namin kasi nawalan ka ng malay kaninang umaga. Tapos binigyan ka ng doctor ng gamot so you just slept the whole day. How do you feel?”
“Okay naman ang pakiramdam ko. Carlo si Sunshine. Kailangan na nating umuwi.” She was getting upset and worried that she was in the hospital and Sunshine was not by her side.
“Amor, Sunshine is okay. Inaalagaan siya ni Leah at Manang Fe. Don’t worry about her. Magpahinga ka muna at magpalakas para bukas makauwi na talaga tayo.”
She just stared at him. She was teary-eyed.
“Hey okay si Sunshine. Wait. tawagan ko sa bahay para makita mo.”
He automatically called home and instructed Leah to do facetime so Amor could see her baby.
She had been calm after seeing Sunshine asleep in her crib with Manang Fe, Sabel, Leah and even Abby with her in the nursery.
She managed to smile and told Carlo that she was hungry.
Carlo prepared the food Manang Fe brought earlier.
“Carlo ako na. Kaya ko na yan.”
“Ako na. You just stay there. Mabilis na to. Mamaya you have to drink your medicine na rin.”
She just nod her head, too weak to argue.
After finishing her food, Amor requested Carlo’s assistance as she needs to go to the bathroom. She was still groggy from the medicines given her.
“Rest ka na ha. I’ll just make a phone call.” Carlo said as Amor already settled in bed after brushing her teeth and washing her face.
“Sige Carlo. Okay na ako dito. Baka may kailangan kang puntahan, okay lang sakin.”
“No. ill just be outside the door. Tatawagan ko lang si Liza. Medyo mahina yun signal dito sa loob ng kwarto.”
“Okay lang Carlo. Sige na.”
Carlo was on the phone for about ten minutes. He called Liza and informed her that he can’t attend his meetings tomorrow. He also gave instructions regarding the delivery of the new paintings for their hotel in Tagaytay. He was supposed to personally supervise the deliveries and installation but after what happened to Amor, he needs to delegate the task to his trusted staff.
He also called home to check on the kids Sunshine and Abby and is relieved that they are sleeping already.
He returned inside the room and found Amor, trying to wipe her eyes and hide it from him. She had been crying.
“Wala to Carlo. Sige pahinga ka na.”
“Amor…Hey tell me.”
She was just staring at him but she could no longer control the tears and she broke down in front of Carlo who automatically gathered her in his arms.
“Amor? May masakit ba? Do you want me to call the doctor?”
But she ignored his question and instead asked him what has been in he mind eversince she saw the pics in Carlo’s office.”Bakit inilihim mo sa akin? Bakit hindi mo sinabi yun tungkol kay Philip?”
Carlo wasn’t surprised because he was aware that Amor already knew. He just doesn’t know how to answer her. He doesn’t know how to comfort her. He could imagine what Amor feels and no words or hug could remove the pain of losing the father of her child.
“Amor, I can’t tell you. Binilin nya na wag nang sabihin sa’yo. Philip wanted you and Sunshine to be safe.”
“Safe? Bakit ba? Ano ba ang nangyari? Why was he always talking about my safety?”
“Amor, you wouldn’t understand. Alam mo naman na I also just met my brother. We’ve been estranged for 43 years. Di ko rin alam. I couldn’t answer you because I don’t know what to say.”
“Pero ano ang nangyari sa kanya? Did he get sick? May nakaaway ba siya? Nabaril ba sya? Nung nasa China kami, nabaril siya pero mistaken identity daw. Naulit yun?” She was crying while asking him questions but Carlo couldn’t break the promise he gave his brother.
Philip made him promise that whatever happens to him, he wouldn’t let Amor or anyone else know about it anymore. He also made Carlo promise to love Amor and treat their child as his own.
Amor wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t been careless to leave the pictures in his office.
“Amor…”was all he could say.
“He’s unfair. Your brother is unfair. Was I not that important na basta na lang nya akong binalewala. I know where I stand and we talked about it. Okay lang naman sa akin na we weren’t committed to each other. Pero …” then she sobbed louder.”
“Amor hindi ganun yun. Philip had his reasons. Alam nya na yun ang makakabuti sa’yo, sa anak ninyo. Kapag nalaman mo, alam nyang masasaktan ka.”
“Pero nasaktan na ako Carlo. You just don’t know gaano kasakit not to be able to see and talk to him for the last time. Hindi mo alam gaano kasakit na hindi ko na siya maipapakilala sa anak namin.”
“Amor, I’m sorry. It’s my fault. Hindi mo naman dapat nang malaman. I should have been more careful. Tama si Philip. He was right when he said that you would be affected once you find out.”
He was still hugging her. He’s now seated beside her in the hospital bed to be able to give her the comfort she needs.
“I love him Carlo. Mahal ko si Philip. Mahal na mahal ko siya. Takot lang akong sabihin yun sa kanya kasi alam kong hindi nya magugustuhan yun. Pero when we had out baby, I was waiting for the time na masabi sa kanya that I love him. Di ko na iniisip kung magagalit siya or kung ano ang magiging reaction nya. I just want to tell him I love him pero ngayon, hinding hindi ko na yun masasabi sa kanya.” then her sobs became louder that she was even trembling.
“My brother loves you so much. Philip loves you so much Amor. That’s his reason for keeping everything about himself away from you. He had a complicated life, which I also don’t know much about. Pero when he unexpectedly paid me a visit after 43 years of being apart, you were the main reason he did it. Ganyan ka kamahal ng kapatid ko. Please know that.”
“Kung mahal nya ako, bakit nya ayaw nyang ipaalam sa akin ang nangyari sa kanya. I need to visit his grave Carlo. Gusto kong makita kung saan sya . Marami akong gustong sabihin sa kanya.”
“Amor my brother loves you. He did things out of the ordinary, things he shouldn’t be doing because he loves you. Sige I’ll arrange so you can visit him pero for now you have to rest and regain your strength. Sige na.”
She tearfully stared at him. She was at least able to let out the pain and burden she’s been feeling. She nod her head and settled in bed. Carlo fixed her blanket and pillows then caressed her hair. “Everything will be okay Amor. I’ll make sure of that. ”
“Salamat Carlo sa lahat ha. Salamat. I don’t know what I’ll do without you. Hindi mo naman kailangan gawin to pero hindi mo kami pinabayaan ni Sunshine.”
“Amor, you’re my family now. Kayo ni Sunshine pamilya na kayo namin ni Abby and I will do everything I can to protect both of you.”
“Sige na. We should rest para makauwi na tayo bukas.”
Carlo made a very important decision. He needs to do it soon for Amor and her baby. Amor needs someone to take care of her and Sunshine, someone who could give her a secured family life. She deserves to be happy. He will give her that.
“Liza, please book me a flight to China tomorrow.”
“But Sir, di ba in two weeks pa yun scheduled visit nyo?” Liza who takes care of his plane tickets and hotel accommodations reminded him.
“I need to go there earlier Liza. Also please call Atty. Ryan. I need to talk to him.” he further instructed Liza.
“Ah Sir, Atty Ryan has a seminar today and tomorrow but he already brought the annulment papers for you to read. That’s the folder on top of your table Sir.”
“Okay Liza.Thank you. Tawagin na lang kita if I need something.”
He is at this place again. He’s been visiting regularly for several months now.
Unknown to Amor and everyone else, this is Carlo’s reason for always visiting China.
But he prematurely visited this month.
After what happened to Amor, he knows that he must make a big decision for Amor and her baby’s sake. He must give her the family she needs, the happiness she deserves.
He needs to ask his permission.
He lit the candles he brought and sat on the grass beside the grave.
He spent a couple of minutes praying.
He also needed guidance in whatever he was bound to do. He is certain that it is the best decision to make.
While touching the engraved name on the tombstone…
“Wǒ yào wèi nǐ zuò zhège Philip.”
“I need to do this for you, Philip.”
At the Qincheng Prison, a maximum security facility located in Changping District, Beijing, China, the leader of the once organized and feared smuggling syndicate was in his quarters reading a very thick book when someone approached him.
In a whisper…
“Carlo Asuncion visited the grave two days ago.”
“It was not his schedule of visit yet. He goes there every 25th of the month. Our men must have been mistaken.”
“There was no mistake. It was confirmed. Our men even took pictures. Do you want them to do something about it?”
“No. Just leave him alone for now.”
“Do you want him monitored? His business seems to be doing well. Do you want our men to check on it?”
“No. I said leave him alone for now. I will give instructions on what to do but now is not the time to do that.