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Ajie stared at her in disbelief. How could he leave them alone in this mountain? They were already old and no one would take care of them.
"No, nay. I will not leave you. There is a state college in town so I will be enrolling there. "
Issa shook her head as she held his son.
"Listen to us, son. Your future is much brighter there. Look for the best university. We would be happy to see you successful someday. "
Leo stepped in as he heard his son's reluctance.
"Son, don't worry about us. I have asked one of my relatives to stay with us and be your mom's companion while I will be in the farm during daytime. " He patted his shoulder, assuring him that they would be alright even if he would be away.
None of them knew that few months after they took Ajie into their home, someone came to their barangay captain to look for a lost child. It so happened that their barangay captain was a relative and he knew how the child brought joy into their lonely home.
While he was on the farm supervising his farmers, their Brgy. Captain who was his friend and distant cousin of her wife came over.
"Leo, the man left me a calling card of the father. I will leave this matter to both of you to decide. I think they are addressing their search to all the barangays in the country. I can't imagine how much this child's parents spend in looking for him, not to mention their anxiety. You can call them anytime should you wish to return the child."
The horse which his cousin rode on had already galloped away but Leo was still pinned at his position, staring at the card as he got lost in his thoughts.
He thought about his wife's excitement and happiness as she thought about another toy she would buy the next weekend. He thought about his own joy as the child hopped on to his shoulder laughing as he ran around the lawn. And that inexplicable joy everytime the child called him, 'tatay'.
Ajie grew up as the darling of their home and now his wife was finally setting him free. He knew that the amount of money they had acquired through the sales of their properties for his education would not be enough to pay their sin in hiding the child. He knew very well that he came from a very prominent family. He may not know the extent of his power in the business world nor his status in the higher society but his name alone was frequently heard in the radio networks he was listening while working in the farm.
Ajie was already teary - eyed. How could he live away from them? He was already used to the comfort of their lavish display of love and care.How would he ever survive alone?
"Son, all these time, I am praying that may God will allow your path to cross with your true family. "
Leo choked upon hearing this. He knew all these time who his true family was. He even kept the calling card safely into his safety box. He may had been haunted with his guilt many times but he always lost the courage everyme he held the child in his arm. And now Ajie had grown up into a brilliant, young man and had already graduated in high school. It was already too late to tell the truth. He could no longer imagine his anger and hatred if he would know the sin that he had kept all along. He didn't want him to harbor hatred in his heart against him for stealing away the luxurious life he should have been enjoying in the comforts of his real home.
The only way he thought he could pay it was to give him a bright future by sending him into the best university. Issa did not know about his dark secret but the idea of selling their properties for his education and sending him away were his.
Ajie's tears were already falling silently as his mom mentioned about his real family. He knew about the story of how they found him sleeping in a bench few hours after the festival ended but how could a three - year - old child remember it all?
"You and Tatay are my family, Nay. Please, don't mention them anymore."
Leo always hated that topic whenever Issa brought it up. He just couldn't bear the guilt. Hearing it again now, he butted in to end it up.
"How I wish you were our true son, Jie. Nevertheless, we never thought you were not our own. We would be happy to see you succeed in the future so pack your things now so that you will not be late for the enrollment. We will leave early in the morning. I'll bring you to your uncle and you will be staying with them. "
Ajie nodded and as he turned back to his mom, she was already holding her tears back. When he pulled her towards him in a tight hug, she instantly broke into a sob.
"I don't want you to be away from us, son, but we also want you to be successful."
Ajie couldn't hold it anymore and he was now crying with her. " Don't send me away, please, nay. "
Issa shook her head. "No, son. You have to go."
"Ajie, this is for your own good. You can always come home if you miss us. " Leo said as he stood up and pulled him gently to his room to pack his things up.
After packing up all the necessary things that he would bring, he lied down in his bed wondering what happened thirteen years ago.
13 Years Ago
All the news portals of the Philippine Television Networks were broadcasting about the Musical Fireworks Display that would mark the end of the festivities.
"Cebu City Councilor Arvin Mendoza, over-all chairperson of Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI), announced that a thirty-minute musical firework display will mark the end of the festivities on January 20."
" This segment, sponsored by a top luxury yacht builder company in the world, is worth P2M. This is on top of a synchronized fireworks display to be initiated by three large malls in Cebu City. "
Mr. Angelo Lopez, the sponsor of tonight's musical fireworks display checked in a nearby five - star hotel with his family to witness the event. While he and his wife got occupied with the dignitaries who accomodated them, the nannies of her two children ran outside as the first firework display erupted into the sky, bringing the children along with them.