home land, home sky
It was nice to be back in the Philippines! From the moment the fields and flats of Negros Island emerged from the storm clouds…
to the moment I murmured a teary goodbye to the lights of Manila…I felt cradled by the sights and sounds of home.
This was what I knew best: the green of sugarcane and palm trees, the colours of bougainvillea and kalachuchi (frangipani or plumeria), the calls of the bato-bato (zebra dove) and the maya (Eurasian sparrow)…they were bone deep.
The drenching, warm rain was far more familiar to me than the thin, freezing rain of a London January.
And the blazing sun, its hazy fingers reaching under the eaves and into the rooms of our house, was the aggressive sun I knew from childhood Sundays wishing for the pool.
When David Hockney moved from England to LA, he was stunned by the disparity of light. The sunlight in Los Angeles was brilliant, sharp and clear. Everything was in focus, everything was spotlit.
Tropical sunlight cannot be compared to the harsh desert light of the Los Angeles hills. But going from my adopted home of London, in the dim grey light of winter, to the Philippines…was a shock.
The sunrises and sunsets were almost too garish, so dramatic they looked like movie backgrounds. Even the moon was not the same.
It was closer, big and round, a bit more real than it seemed in the Western temperate zones. Easier to catch without a zoom lens.
And if it was closer, it was also brighter. The moonlight in the garden was sometimes bright enough to read by.
Back in the good old United Kingdom where the daylight is often diffused through a solid screen of clouds, the baking, humid days seem far away. But it’s good to know we can always come home.