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“Tawalisi, let’s play Congkak” The owner of the voice was a pretty girl with her hair tied in a ponytail and there was flower on her hair.
Do… I know you?
“Go, Tawalisi! Win and Beat Akak again!” It was another girl with eyes that tells her laidback persona. She was wearing a Gumamela flower on her head and she was waving a fan around as she cheered.
Who are you?
“Waah! Tawalisi wins again, so amazing!” She heard the smallest girl with the short curly hair say. She was being carried by a boy with sharp eyes and glasses who congratulated her.
Are you talking about… me?
“Congratulations, Tawalisi.” She turned her head, only to find herself alone with the speaker. She saw his smile, she saw his figure, and his long ahoge as Japan would put it. But that was it. He was familiar, his essence and his voice was. But… why couldn’t she see his face?
Who are you? Who is Tawalisi?
“Hehe,” she heard someone giggling, and she searched for the source. She found herself staring at a smaller version of her holding the boy’s hands. But… it couldn’t be her. She couldn’t be wearing that. Because… brother Spain had said it was uncivilized.
Could it be… that you’re me?
Philippines woke up with a start. She looked around, confused. She found herself on her couch with the TV still on. She must have fallen asleep while watching a Koreanovela again. She stood up and closed the TV.
She looked at the time, it was 7 AM. She knows that she should be working or something by now, but she was badly disturbed right now. She entered her room and plopped on the bed. She buried her face on the pillow, not knowing what to think about now.
“What’s going on with me?” she asked herself.
She had another dream. She was confused and disturbed. This was the third consecutive dream. But… this one was different. This was the vaguest dream she had yet to have. The previous ones all seem to just be snapshots of her… her uncivilized self with different other nations. But three of them were in most of the pictures.
“Just… who were they? They seem to know me quite well.” She closed her eyes, trying to remember the dream and what had happened there.
She wanted to ask someone about her dreams, but she knew it’ll be a waste of time. Her brother Spain wouldn’t tell her, she sometimes hated him and his secrecy. And America wouldn’t know much about it. She scoffed, she honestly doubt he would know much about her before he colonized her.
Philippines groaned in irritation. What was she to do? That was when it hit small nation faster than the bullet trains in Japan’s place. She couldn’t believe she didn’t think of it sooner. Why didn’t she think of it earlier? How stupid has she become that she forgot about it?
She jumped off her bed and knelt down to search for something beneath her bed. She furrowed her brows in concentration. Where is it? Oh, she was sure she placed it there. She aimlessly groped for it. That was when her hand touched something solid.
Philippines couldn’t help but let out a euphoric grin. She pulled out a box. It was plain, a bit bigger than the normal shoebox that she places her old pictures, and it was filled with dusts. She blew them away, coughing as some of the dusts flew at her.
She waved the dust away from her face. “Yeesh! I’ve already forgotten how old this is.”
The embodiment of Philippines eagerly laid the box on her bed. Slowly and dramatically, she lifted the cover and peeked inside. She wasn’t disappointed. There were many old things there. Many were old papers, yellowed from its old age. She tried to read it, but to no avail, she couldn’t understand a single word from it.
Philippines sighed in irritation, sitting cross-legged on the floor. She focused her eyes on the small writings. What were they? What do they say? She has so many questions, but she has no answers at all. She bit her thumb, and held the paper at an arm length. What language was this? Arab? Chinese? Hindu? Wait…
Something about that triggered something in the embodiment of Philippines. The writing there was Hindu, Sanskrit to be more precise. But… how did she know that? She never learned Sanskrit. Well, not that she knows anyway.
She held her head on her hand, it was hurting quite badly. What was happening to her?
She was feeling quite down. She felt, unlike her sibblings, she was next to nothing. And somehow, that made her tears fall down her cheeks. She was walking around the Sumatra beach, her family was meeting on her Ate Indonesia’s home. She wiped her tears away, but someone had seen it.
“Tawalisi!” it was the boy, the one with the ahoge. He ran towards her and embraced her comfortingly.
She heard different calls of her name and she turned to find her family running towards her. She saw them all with different expressions on their faces. Worried was the common denominator on their expressions.
They all shared a look, apparently knowing the reason for the small’s nation’s distress. And they were going to help her, in one way or another.
“I wanna be just like Queen Urduja of Tawalisi kingdom!” It was the small girl with the Crescent moon on her forehead who suddenly announced.
“Eh?” Said Kingdom looked quite confused.
“Yeah! If there’s one Queen I wanna be like, it’s gotta be her.” The ponytailed nation grinned.
“I agree with Akak. Tawalisi’s queen shows that us females don’t need males to be saved.” Nodded the Gumamela wearing nation.
“But… I think Ate Indonesia and Ate Malacca have many Queens that are much amazing.” Tawalisi said, appraisingly, although she was quite flustered with all the praise her sisters were giving her. “And I think Ate Nesia’s female warriors are much more amazing.”
“Well,” Blushed Indonesia as she sheepishly rubbed the back of her head. “That is kinda true.”
“But,” Malacca had elbowed their elder sister. “Tawalisi is special.”
“I-I am?” asked a baffled Tawalisi.
“Of course you are.” The glasses wearing one said. “You are our Tawalisi after all. That itself is something you should be proud of.”
“Yeah! What Temasek said.” Malacca said, intertwining her arms with him. “You’re our Tawalisi.”
“Ate…” she was in near tears.
“I think that Tawalisi is really great!” Timor Leste, the small girl, smiled.
“Timor…” her voice trembled.
“Tawalisi,” called the last nation. “You shouldn’t look down on yourself. You are special, in many ways than we can count.”
“B-B…” what did she say? Why couldn’t she properly hear it?
“Everyone,” she smiled a watery smile. “I love you all!” and she hugged them all.
They laughed and hugged her as well.
“Ah! I know!” Indonesia suddenly cried out from inside their hug. “Let’s make a list of why Tawalisi is special!” she took out a piece of paper and something to write with and coaxed each one of them to share something about Tawalisi.
“A-ate!” Tawalisi cried out, blushing. But there was a grin on her face as she held the hand of him. He who was closest to her heart.
Philippines opened her eyes to see that she was still on the same place as before, albeit her body was limp. She looked around, her eyes slightly glazed as small tears trickled down her cheeks.
“Ate Nesia, Ate Malacca,” she whispered the names, it was warmth in the midst of the cold room. “Why… why did I forget you?”
Philippines wiped away her tears, searching for other things that may trigger anything of her past. It was after looking at a couple of papers with sides crumpled and the writings were already fading from its old age, that she saw old papers compiled by a thread. Curious, she took it and unwinds the thread. What she saw wasn’t what she was expecting.
On the first paper, there was a sketch of a beautiful girl with a Hijab. She was holding a Gumamela flower and on her face was a small gentle smile. Philippines was in awe at the drawing. It was drawn using charcoal but it seems so real, almost as if… the girl will look at her and smile any moment now.
“Ate Malacca!” Tawalisi called. “Ate Malacca, where are you?”
Tawalisi was worried. She heard that her Ate Nesia was in trouble and that many white men were after her. And she knew that if things come to it all, they would be after her and her Ate Malacca.
“Ate Malacca,” she cried. “Please be safe, ate.”
She continued to tread her Ate’s place, calling for her. She was about to lose hope when she heard her ate Malacca’s ever familiar voice calling for her. She turned her head to see her Ate running towards her. She opened her arms and welcomed the suffocating hug with a smile.
“I was so worried about you, Ate.” She said.
“I was too, Tawalisi.” Malacca cried. “I was too.”
“A-ate…” she whispered. “Ate Nesia… is ate Nesia going to be okay?”
Malacca stiffened, but she relaxed a moment later. “I’m sure she will be.” She said, forcing a comforting smile on her face. “She’s strong. She won’t go down that easily.” But by the way she said it, she was trying to reassure herself more than anything else.
Philippines sniffled; she wiped the snot that was threatening to fall her nose. With light fingers she touched her Ate Malacca’s portrait. She wondered who drew it. It was obviously not her, because even she knows the limit of how she can draw.
She lifted the paper and laid it on the bed. Her eyes widened further when she saw the next drawing. It was of another girl with a much more mature eyes but she looked quite young with the smile on her face. She was holding a basket of something out to someone. She had her hair in ponytail and a flower was pinned on her hair.
“My little angel!!” she heard someone shout. Tawalisi turned away from the work she was doing to see her Ate Nesia jumping off the boat she was in. “My Baby sister!! Are you all right?” she ran towards Tawalisi and hugged her in a death defying hug.
“I-I’m okay, Ate…” she let out. “Hard to breath…”
“Ooops, sorry.” she let go of Tawalisi and rubbed the back of her head sheepishly.
"What are you doing here, Ate?" Tawalisi asked. "Did something bad happen?" her brows furrowed in concentration. She was worried for her family. Oh, she hopes her Ate Malacca, Temasek, Timor and... and... Who was she thinking about again??
"No, no," Ate Nesia shook her head. "Everything is all right. Perfectly... all right." her voice dropped when she said the last words, and it made her worried.
"Something happened, am I right?" Tawalisi asked, her eyes wide, her fingers about to reach for her Bolo Knife. "Did... Did they come to harm us again?" there was fear lacedin her voice, but she put on a brave front. Now isn't the time to be scared.
"No." The embodiment of Indonesia shook her head. "Actually, I just wanted to make sure you're all rught."
Tawalisi couldn't help but smile. She patted her Ate on the head and hug her. "I'm all right, Ate. I can protect myself. I'm more worried for you and Ate Malacca."
"Many White men are after you and your spices, so they would want to conquer you first and foremost out of all of us." Worried, Tawalisi whispered to her sister. "And they would have to go to Ate Malacca's place first before they reach you. I'm worried they'll take you away from me."
She hugged her back."I'll- no, we will never be taken away from you, Tawalisi."
Philippines sucked in a deep breath. But they did take them away from her. Or maybe, it was her herself who abandoned her family. Philippines shook her head, not wanting to think about it. If there was something more important to her than life, it was family. And the fact that she forgot about them... that hurts her, but she knows that the one that was hurting the most would be her family.
She sniffled, wiping her eyes. Philippines placed the paper on top of the previous one. The next drawing, she suddenly let out a chuckle. She didn't know why, but she just did. It was drawing of Ate Malacca and Temasek. Malacca wasn't wearing her Hijab and she was asleep, her head on Temasek's shoulder. Temasek looked handsome. He was holding her hand, staring lovingly at her.
They were at Ate Nesia's place and she prepared a meal for all of them. The foods were all delicious and she ate a lot. But compared to the other two... Well...
"This is really great, Akak." Ate Malacca said, mouth full with food. She beamed at Ate Nesia with a glittery background as soon as she swallowed the food.
"Close your mouth when you talk." Temasek commented, chewing the delicacy Ate Nesia made with the ingredients she caught from Yolngu's place.
Tawalisi watched in awe as her Ate Malacca and Temasek cleaned 3/4 of the table. Even she, a notorious food-lover, couldn't do that and still stay fit. The only reason she was still her small size was because of all the work she has to do.
"Hah! That was good. I'm full." Ate Malacca let out a sigh of content as she leaned back and patted her stomach. "What time is dinner?"
Tawalisi couldn't help but giggle. That was so like her Ate to say such.
"Ah, Malacca," Tawalisi looked up to watch Temasek call for her sister. Malacca cracked an eye open, lazily asking a, 'Whu?'. "Y-you have a,"- he stifled a laugh. "There's a stain here." he pointed at the left side of his lips.
"Eh?" she fervently rubbed the side of her lips. Although, she rubbed her right instead of left. "Is it gone?" she asked.
Tawalisi didn't answer. She has no idea what Temasek was planning, but there wasn't any remnants of the food she ate on her face. She wouldn't admit it, but she was curious as to what the rule-abiding Temasek was doing.
She looked at the rest of her family members. She saw Timor Leste trying to muffle her giggles with her hand. Ate Nesia was watching the whole scene with brilliant shining, shimmering and glittering eyes, the same way she do when she screams about romance. And then, the other boy chuckled. When he looked at her, he smiled.
"No, over here." and Temasek leaned forward and placed a chaste kiss on her lips. "There, gone." he had a lazy smirk on his face, before he continued eating.
"Ga... Ga... Wa... Ha... E..." Ate Malacca stuttered. She was red faced and not one coherent word entered her mind. Tawalisi thought she'll stay that way for a while, but that was until she heard her family.
Tawalisi snorted, Timor Leste giggled uncontrollably, the other boy disguised his laughter with coughs, and their Ate Nesia... Ate Nesia was full out shrieking things about True Love.
"That was my first Kiss!"
Philippines let out a short laugh. But her mirth was short lived. As she flips the pages of papers, memories came back to her one after another. And by the end of it all Philippines could do was hung her in shame as she cried. She... She was once a marvelous kingdom. She once was part of a family, despite not being perfect, was still magnificent. And all of it, she traded for some... some...
She couldn't even finish her thoughts as she let out more unshed tears. She sniffled and looked up in a direction even she doesn’t know. That was when she caught sight of something glistening with the light. She scrambled up to see what it was. And when she did, her voice seemed to have lost all its power as it dried in her throat.
It was a comb made out of Porcelain and Rhinestones. There were small writings on the handle that she shouldn’t have understood, but she did. It said:
‘You are my world,
You are my life,
You are my love,
I love you, My Tawalisi’
“I… I remember.” It was all that she could say as tears were falling uncontrollably. “I remember you… Brunei… My Love…”
And she did remember. All of Philippines's memories cleared up. The face of the boy who holds a special position in her heart was back. And her heart clenched at the sight of it. She remembered that face on her first UN meeting. She didn't know how, she just did. The face of hopefullness. The face filled with joy. And... the face of dissapointment when she did not remember him.
She cried. She cried and she cried. Clasping the comb closer to her heart, she let it all out. How… how could she have forgotten? Her Family? Her sister? Her love? How? How in the world could she… she have forgotten the most important part of her history?
Philippines sobbed. She didn't know how long it was until she stopped. Her body felt weak, she couldn't stand up. It wasn't like her to show such weakness, but she didn't care. No one was to know and see her in her weak state. She looked up, her face pale, her eyes read and puffy, and she stared out her window.
She stayed like that for a while until she heard her phone ring. She looked at the IPhone 5 her Kuya America gave her for her birthday. Taking it, she looked at the message. It was a message from America saying that there will be a meeting at England's place on Thursday.
The news of a meeting, for the first time, seemed to please her. For the first time, she wanted to hurry up and have a meeting. Philippines stood up wobbly, she held onto her bed for support. She had a small smile on her face, she has a plan for the meeting. And that plan involves a reunion with her family, hugs with her sisters, and a tearful confrontation with her beloved.
For the first time since she can remember, Philippines wished she could go back in time and stay with her family. For the first time, Philippines wanted everything to return to how it was, she wanted to stay with her past. But she didn't. Despite her heart's protest, she knows that despite the fact that the past is over, her future is still unwritten. And she will make sure that her future involves her family. But there was no doubt with that. After all, her future and her Ate Malacca's and Ate Nesia's are intertwined.
And even if she isn't Tawalisi, or any other of her past self, they were still her. And she isn't going to allow her past kingdoms lose their glory and bravery by acting like a chicken.
Philippines left her room, her hand holding the comb. Her heart ached, because she refused to listen to it. Because despite her deepest desire to do so, she didn't look back.