Working in the operating room, I am accustomed to the sight, smell and feel of blood. In the sterile setting, I carefully monitor, measure and replace blood loss as needed. It is a totally different thing when the fresh blood in my hands is gushing profusely from a young woman's lacerated head and face right on to the smouldering asphalt of Siquijor's market road. The girl was hysterically crying out "Si Ma'am! Si Ma'am! Kasab-an ko ni Ma'am!" as she continually brushed away the crumpled denim jacket a man was trying to press on her badly cut up face.
That she was able to stand and wail was a good sign that her injuries, though grossly bloody, were not acutely life threatening. She was thrashing and trembling by the open passenger door of a sedan that had rammed into an electric post, the car's hood wrecked into a V and the windshield totally shattered. With the keys still in the ignition, it looked like it was a freak accident where the car's parking brakes somehow got disengaged and the vehicle, with the girl in the passenger seat and the driver out, careened downslope and slammed into the post.
I held her flailing arms so I could look closer at her wounds. They were stellate and some were deep but she was showing good coagulation. If only she would stop jumping about there wouldn't be so much blood thrown around. Soon her "Ma'am" arrived, an elderly woman, obviously bewildered, who kept asking, "Ngano man ni? Naunsa man ni?" looking at her smashed car and not minding her bloodied girl. Onlookers quickly bundled girl and Ma'am into a pedicab that brought them to nearest hospital for debridement and suturing of wounds.
With sticky blood drying quickly in my hands, I went on my way to find the habal-habal driver that would take me to the mountains and to the sea. Thus began my sojourn in la Isla del Fuego, the Island of Fire that glows in the dark, Siquijor, one shimmering hot April day.