I WAS SITTING inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Departure Lounge early this week, killing time while waiting for my airport contact. An immigration officer, my contact would facilitate my entry pass to receive a visiting friend from Ireland (for a fee, of course). I couldn’t help but notice the throng of well-wishers sending off their loved ones to far away places. For some, it would be goodbye for a couple of months; for some, for good.

While watching the unending exchanges of hugs and kisses and tears overflowing, I had this crazy idea. If only some smart bloke could tap all those love and smiles into usable energy, the airport would no longer need to pay a single centavo for electricity. Imagine a breadwinner off to some Middle East destination hugging his four-year-old daughter goodbye. That would probably be enough to light an entire floor of the airport for a day.

In such a scenario, the love of a married couple would maybe generate more power than that of lovers; the love of Filipinos more than that of foreigners since leaving one’s homeland is never easy; an adult’s more than that of children, as kids adjust quickly; family members more than friends; women more than men. If you think about it, there’s no power greater than a widow leaving the country for the first time for an overseas contract, tightly embracing her children aged no more than 10 perhaps for the last time in years.

We tend to underestimate the power of love. People don’t believe in anything anymore. For most of us it’s as pedestrian as taking a drink or tying one’s shoelaces – automatic – the intense feeling of selflessness and longing entirely lost in routine, familiarity and responsibility.

– o –

I REMEMBER an incident when I paid a friend of mine a visit a month ago. During our conversation, I noticed my friend’s five-year-old son looking at his father’s face, his eyes and his lips as he spoke. There was something familiar with the way the boy looked at his father. All I remember was that the boy was smiling a little, his small, thin lips also moving, silently mimicking his father’s. And then, without warning, the boy jumped on his father and had him on a tight embrace.

“Oh, oh, what’s the matter, R.J.,” my friend asked his son, puzzled and a little embarrassed by the interruption.

“Nothing, Daddy,” the boy said, still tightly holding his father, his tiny head resting on the adult’s broad shoulders. “I just love you.”

– o –

GOING BACK to my airport story, at some point, I saw my airport immigration contact approaching, grinning ear-to-ear, outstretched arms ready to envelop me like a lover.

Yes, there’s so much love going on in an airport. But his kind of “love” won’t even light up my day.

(airborne thoughts)

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