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Allegory of the Bantay-Abot Cave and Timmangtang Rock » Is there such a thing as end-of-the-road?

"When you're at the end of the road, And you lost all sense of control, 
And your thoughts have taken their toll, When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul
Your faith walks on broken glass, And the hangover doesn't pass, Nothing's ever built to last
You're in ruins"
[21 Guns – Green Day]

They are wrong. It is not a "Lover’s Rock," it is a metaphorical monument for our wrong choices in life. Bantay Abot Cave and Timmangtang Rock are solid reflections of us being victims of our own poor choices. Sometimes in our foolish search for greener pasture, adventure and material happiness we struggled to leave the protection and safety of the cave only to get stuck in the middle of nowhere, drowned by the sea of human ambitions, leaving us confused and beaten.

But would you rather leave and experience pain than stay? How would you know what’s the right choice? Is there such a thing as end of the road? Ahhh, another bouts of my dusty foot philosophy. Allow me to expound.

The prodigal rock

Timmangtang rock is like the prodigal part of the Bantay Abot Cave. He left the cave for foolish adventure, only to get stuck a few kilometers away from the protection of the cave, now immobilized along the shore and partly by the sea. This sad rock is now looking at the cave, longing to fill that hole he foolishly created when he left, longing to come back but he can’t, even if he is so near. That is the prize he pays for the poor choices he made. Then like the Timmangtang rock I realized that life is a one-way ticket – there’s no coming back.   

That feeling of apprehension was what struck me on that particular day on our Ilocos tour as I approached and captured that scene along the seacoast of Sitio Gaoa, Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. It wasn’t really intentional and I actually hate it when I see things differently. But I can’t help it, and maybe that’s the whole point of this mania for wandering. We travel to see things differently – others are just afraid to admit that.   

Or maybe I travel to hunt and confront my own demon, because you can actually find your demon in some tropical paradise – those self-righteous priests who told us demons are in hell are fools. However, that thought makes me feel unsettled because when I find my demon I am not sure what to do with it. Say hi perhaps? Ask for guidance or wrestle with it? Because the last time I met my demon, it almost killed me by stoning me with regrets.

The hole in the mountain

On the far side across the dark waves is the Bantay Abot Cave. It is not your typical cave but actually a hole in the foot of the mountain like a mysterious gateway to the netherworld or some unknown universe. Then again I put the meaning of this cave into question.
I put the pieces together and realized that this hole was left by Timmangtang rock in his pursuit for pleasure, which bring him pain and misfortune. If we carefully examine this metaphor we will realize that we are actually connected with each other.

Ironically, when we try to get away from the discomfort by pursuing the supposed solutions we crafted, or to just pursue that nagging sense of adventure, we leave a hole in the heart and soul of those we left behind. So precious we are, in our physical imperfections - unique in our myriad selves that we leave behind us a gaping void when we breakaway for whatever reason. Sometimes it becomes like a tiny black hole, a vortex that can pull demons.

As long as we pursue the false hopes of finding happiness on worldly attachments, as long as we flee the infinite stillness that our personal cave can offer, how can this emptiness, this hole we created by separation be truly filled?

Many died without finding that missing piece, leaving this physical world without really discerning the true image of the puzzle.

But some find the answer and filled that echoing emptiness. How they do it, I don’t know.

Like a liar

So would you rather leave the cave and explore the world? If you find there’s really that end of the road would you come back?

And, if you return what would you find? Who would be there, at the center of the hole you created?

Maybe the pursuit of such questions in contemplation while visiting places will give us some answers.

Or we will end up "like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone…."


Citations and Notes:
» Ending quotation was lifted from the lyrics of the song "21 Guns" by Green Day
» All photos are taken by the author: Samsung Galaxy S mobile phone photography
» Note: This post is the last part of the PAGUDPUD TRICYCLE TOUR SERIES.(Part III of III)

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