I am back in the Philippines. It is surreal! But then I woke up, oh it was just a dream.
In my dream I was in Sampaloc, Manila, in the home I grew up in. I saw our chairs made of Narra wood with rattan solea for its seat that we have in the living room. There was also the chunky Akai stereo component we had. I could even hear in the background the children playing in our narrow street.
Maybe I am just homesick.
I was supposed to fly back to the Philippines last year. But because of this COVID pandemic, everything was scrapped, and future plans of visiting home is still up in the air.
Dreams, some people say, are the manifestations of our inner desires. Whether it is true or not, I don’t know. Renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud suggested that dreams revealed unconsciously repressed conflicts or wishes. Dream interpretation was not taught in medical school or even during my Sleep Specialty Training. We are only taught how to read and interpret EEG (electroencephalogram or electric brain waves tracings) and the different stages of sleep it can represent. We can decipher Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep which consist 20-25% of our sleep time, and wherein most of the dreams happen, but that’s it.
The science of sleep and dreaming are such complex phenomenon that we don’t fully understand even in our current technology. Yet we know that they are important for our body and our mind to function properly. One area of the brain that is thought to be involved in dream generation is the hippocampus which is also believed to be associated with memory formation.
There was a time when I was in high school that I recorded daily in a notebook all of my dreams for several months. Perhaps I wanted to know what my inner desires were. I don’t remember any dream of going overseas nor living in America a part of any of my dreams that I wrote down. Though there was one theme that always recur in my dreams: I was flying. Not in an airplane, nor in any kind of aircraft. But flying like Superman. Some of the details were so graphic, and I don’t know how my brain could have generated that bird’s eye view, for I could really see from above the trees while I was dodging Meralco’s electric lines.
Few of the dreams I jotted down had come true. One relative that I dream would die, actually died. But not after more than a year that I dreamed of it. It was kind of scary. Obviously, my dream of flying like Superman has not happened yet. Maybe someday.
Back to my dream last night, I ventured out of our house and rode on a public bus plying the streets of Metro Manila. I even asked the bus conductor to tell me where to board off as I was not familiar where I was going. The bus was a little crowded with some people standing in the “estribo,” so definitely, not a pandemic kind of scenario.
The last part of my dream sequence last night was I was in front of the mirror in my tiny room in Sampaloc. I was trying to comb my unruly thick and luscious hair, and I cannot fix it the way I wanted to. I thought of going to the barber shop in Stop and Shop to have my hair trimmed, where they would apply some green hair tonic after the haircut and give you some face and neck massage.
Then I woke up.
It was all just a dream. I am not in Manila. The home, the street, and the city I wanted to see again are gone. Everything is gone. Including my hair.
(*Love Buses in Manila circa 1970-80’s; photo taken from the web)