bayside. the pleasing warm breeze on your skin. the light air kiss-brushing your hair away. the calm waters seemingly mirroring the stars of the coming evening. the play of bright-to-dark orange in the horizon. the perfectly contoured visage of the lone Mountain from afar. and its lover Sun on His way down with rays so blinding they’re beautiful.
and then there’s the people. crowds of them. so, you realize you’re not alone. or you are alone.
parks and baysides can eat up a solo stroller. last sunday on my home from a nearby province, i decided to drop by this mall by the bay and get some snack. i knew it would be a crowded afternoon with families, groups, and romantics “enjoying” each other’s company. still, i thought it would be a good chance to have some sunset-viewing. but being surrounded with people who, beforehand, knew they came because they wanted to feel fun, forced me to question my own purpose for being in the same place as theirs, and eventually, my own purpose in the place called life.
but is it a sin to not have a purpose? i’ve heard of setting goals, aspirations, and dream-boards to get what you want. my school echoes to always strive for excellence. to be successful. to be happy. but why do we, humans, crave for “happy”? why do we need to be happy? is it not okay to just experience things as they are? or is happiness only a trick to escape the usuals and to gear us up for misery?
science might have an answer. but what does it matter? i came only for the sunset, and i stood amazed of it.
“There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”
– Charles Dickens
The lamp posts heading to the cobble-stoned streets of the Heritage Village in Vigan, Ilocos Sur were not the kinds that could illuminate all of the place’s dark corners. Although my companion and I barely knew the place, and it was at night, we still felt safe trying to locate the historic Calle Crisologo. While doing so, interesting Christmas lights displays and old lamp posts provided a sense of awe that kept us away from the fear of getting lost. Most of all, the friendly Ilocanos we asked for directions lit our way making us truly appreciate the place and gain another valuable experience.
The Bangui Windmills (second to the last photo) are one of Ilocos’s energy resources, the power that provides light to homes in this part of the country, while, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (last photo), through its flickering light at night, guides seafarers in this part of the South China Sea. The topmost part of this structure, though, is already close to visitors. Our guide mentioned that the province is planning to put up a new lighthouse in one of the hills near the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Let there be more lights then.
The Stand of Lapu-lapu, Rizal Park Manila
(A monument of whom we consider as our nation’s first hero. In the books, we know Lapu-lapu as the brave ruler of Mactan- an island in the Visayas, Philippines- who resisted the first wave of Spanish colonization particularly led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. On the streets, ask any one the question “Who killed Magellan?” and you’ll immediately hear his infamous name. After him, many have followed vowing to protect our gentle little nation.
Despite the controversy this 40-foot bronze statue stirred when it was erected in the park named after another national hero, it will always serve as a reminder of how we should be as Filipinos– standing tall.)
And below is not my not-so glam stand as reflected inside this lamp pole’s globe in my fun attempt for the challenge: a portrait of that globe and the encapsulated landscape of the place by the entrance gate of the Manila Zoo.
For more interpretations, check out the Weekly Challenge.
I can already see
or the wonder from His hands these little buds tease.
Do you remember that boy or girl in your street or class who became your first ever buddy? Or the time when you were really excited to tell your mother about a new kid you met? I don’t either. But I sure remember a few who left some special place in my mind: that little curl-haired girl who was fine with sharing packed snacks with me even if hers was way more tasty; that boy in first grade who helped me have an easy time conquering my shyness being my assigned partner doing that first field dance; my cousins who raced some kilometers with me from our school to our house just to get rid of the thought of the distance we had to take; and that kid neighbor who always went with me to that lone farm house with the big aratiles (Jamaican/Panama cherry) tree to fill a can of those sweet, tiny, red fruit at the expense of being scolded, or hit, by a strict mother upon going home.
Some people who started as our forced or random companions eventually become our friends and, if luckier, partners in life. You’re the luckiest if you get to keep those companions over time. As for me, I’ve lost a lot. Leaving one town or school or work for another because of personal circumstances means having to leave, too, those that already became more than mere companions. The good thing is that there are new ones that always come. And I guess despite all the other harsh facts of life, the fact that the cliche “No man is an island” bears will stay as the most assuring one. We are always forced to get our self that someone or something to be our buddy (e.g. Wilson, the ball, for Tom Hanks’s character in Cast Away). Especially at present, with all the technologies and ways, I don’t think the word “alone” still have the same meaning.
Sometimes though, moving away or location is not the reason why people once very close to each other have to part ways. Sometimes, it’s just growing up. Or sometimes, some people are just meant to be companions at some short time in our life. But that doesn’t mean they have the less impact. We are even surprised in some instances that those who come and become part of our life the shortest time are the ones who affect us the most. Long-time or short-time companions though, we know these people will always make us smile when our memories bring us back to those moments when they make us feel safe, special, and most importantly, happy.
And if you miss them? There’s always that thing called Facebook. 🙂
Tomorrow, June 12, is another celebration for you. It is just fitting then to pay tribute to you and try to the best of my ability to “feel” the significance of this celebration– the commemoration of your, as they declare, 115th Independence Day.
How are you now with that independence?
First of all, 14 years of schooling me about how you achieved that independence instilled in me that pride I know you wish all your children to have. Yes, I still remember po how you were almost fooled by one conqueror from Spain when you welcomed him and his troops in one of your pristine islands that one sunny day in 1521. Thanks to our brother Lapu-lapu who successfully took care securing that almost lost independence. And as an act of appreciation to this brother, we, the succeeding generations, graciously named a place and one fish after him, and sometimes fondly use him in some of our jokes’ punchlines.
After that bloody battle in Mactan that Lapu-lapu led, numerous other battles took place because several other “visitors” posing as “friends” took over you, raped you, and killed many of your children who would not let you to be totally broken.
And then, as history puts it, with the bravery (most resulted in death) of your men and women, we succeeded. You prevailed.
Or have you?
Hundred years more later, are we still proud of you? Are you proud of what we have become? Do you still feel our care?
I am happy to say, motherland, that we still enjoy the freedom that the past has passed on us. But I hope you don’t mind that despite rejecting the idea of being a part of another nation, we’ve not been selfish entertaining remnants of these conquerors’ influences, like how we adore the pop cultures of the West and some of our neighbors in the East more than our own kundiman and OPM (original pinoy music) and Tagalog films, how we spend our hard-earned money on Starbucks instead of the simple kapeng barako, and how we live a Western lifestyle far different from our grandparents’ traditional ways. On the contrary, you should be proud because unlike your fellow Third World “mothers,” we’re updated with the present technology, only that that technology is not ours. Facebook, Instagram, Hollywood buzz… we are ahead in these nonetheless. We really take advantage of the Internet the West has introduced to us. But don’t worry, we’re not going to give in to these pleasures and give you up. Yes, we entertain “visitors” with our well-known sweet Filipino hospitality but we know our limits. Of course, we can’t just easily give your lands to them; we only let them manage those lands. For taxes. We would not also let someone from the outside to come in and bring bad things, like that some African guy in the news the other night who tried to bring drugs in your land by swallowing them up so the immigration would not see. Government would not let him though. They are housing him now in some clinic, feeding him with papaya for him to poop those capsules of drugs. Poor guy. And that Dan Brown who declared your city as “gates of hell” in his book? We don’t believe him, of course. But he should thank us because he’s sold many copies here since the controversy.
On a sadder note, motherland, many of your children have chosen to go to other lands for a better pasture, they say. I know they should not leave you like that, but I could not really blame them. I admit, I, too, have that desire of leaving you for the same reason and for other personal reasons. Apparently, many of your children do not have enough trust in our present “heroes,” those who are chosen and are supposed to take care of those underprivileged and forsaken. Sadly, most of those “heroes” just battle each other in debates and petty arguments instead of fighting the bigger enemy of the present time, poverty. With your independence, we have the freedom to choose our leaders, but for decades now, the same problems just tend to multiply.
I am at a fault, too. I once promised you to help educate my kind, but I opted to take a different path. We all have our share of neglecting you, I know. And I will not be surprised if one day history repeats itself– loss of independence because of land grabbing. We don’t know how to fight now and whether we still have that ability to battle. We ought to be scared and to prepare because of some silent threats, but we’d rather update our online profiles.
Please don’t be depressed. It’s not all bad. I know like me, you have faith in each of us, that we only need a point to trigger our unity and courage once again. I, we, just hope that that point does not anymore entail bloody battles. We have enough monuments for the heroes of our past. Help us have leaders who live the right path and help you be vibrant once more.
For now, let us celebrate. It is your day, in the first place. There will be official celebrations for you in the higher seats, but for most of us, whom you grant a day off our exhausting jobs, we might just be enjoying tomorrow by waking up late and later on, being in some karaoke bar belting our lungs out to Frank Sinatra’s I Did It My Way, or crying our broken hearts out to the local song Pusong Bato. For some of us, the nation’s woes are way too big to put our hands on. Pardon if we’d shamelessly wallow on our little personal issues rather than really taking care of your bigger concerns for our own bigger benefits. Because sometimes apathy can be quite comforting. But please, don’t let us stay in that useless state.
Take care of us, motherland.
Floating… that fleeting moment.
roses oozing red, fields scattering greens, sunset on a horizon of orange, sheets of clean white, balloons smiling yellow, skies and seas of blue serenity, the deep brown in my grandma’s eyes that even though do not anymore behold this beauty the same way that i do, still reflect life… these are just some of my favorite things that bear the colors i love to see and that i goal to capture more of soon.
for now, here’s my take on this week’s challenge. being part of the crowd of these colorful people enjoying a dolphin show last year in Thailand brought a different kind of joy in me. as a kid who grew up with mostly the colors of poverty, i never dreamed of traveling outside my country because i knew it would be one of those dreams that would just leave me disappointed. when this undreamt dream came true last year, the joy it brought me inspired me to never underestimate the power of dreaming and working hard for it. much more joy when i got to blend with people of different colors. it was a humbling, challenging (with the language barrier), and enriching experience. sometimes, this kind of color that race brings sets boundaries, elicits fear and hatred, and even fuels wars. opportunities like this when you get to meet and be with different “colors” lessen if not totally remove the prejudice. but i hope that even though not all people get the same chance, we would all see that not one color is more vivid than another. white, black, brown, yellow… let us just appreciate the difference and stop the indifference. like the song goes, it’s a small world after all. and it should be a colorful world.
there should only be one color that shines through the world, and that is the color of love.
I want to participate in this week’s “A Day In My Life” challenge; however, since a typical day for me is something that does not interest me so, i don’t have the energy yet to share about it. I hope though I could still share something about it that what is worth of words. I still have a week.
For now, I have a post about a break from my typical days, which gave a sort of life to my everyday living because this day gave me some joy being away from work, city life, and stress. I don’t hate my usual days; even stress drives me more, but that feeling of BEING away and not seeing the usual things gave me a sense of self-love. I so needed this break, too, after undergoing a minor surgery and surviving it, thank you Lord (I might also write about that ordeal as a follow-up to my ‘medical paranoia’ post).
So where did I spend that much-needed break?
Rizal province. A little more than two hours away from Manila, specifically from Shaw Starmall where my brother, our cousin, and I kick started our mini-day-tour with a commuter van costing us 70 pesos each to our first destination, Daranak Falls in Tanay. I just want to put the photos now before this post is again taken over by my usual wordiness.
I thought we were still early coming in at around 8 AM, but the place was already crowded. It was a holiday, so we expected this. I myself was making the most out of the holiday that was why I still decided to go. The noise was a bit frustrating because I didn’t feel that much the serenity I was craving for, but the feeling this natural beauty gave me overshadowed that minor setback.
I wasn’t able to go to main part of the falls though since I was afraid to make my way to it. I can’t swim. I wouldn’t trust my life on the “salbabida” I rented. Just the part of passing and walking through the slippery rocks almost made me give up to even touch the falls’ water. I overheard the policeman telling a guy asking that the water on the main part is 30 feet, or 13 feet maybe… either one of them, it is still way more than twice my height. I just contented myself feeling the moment of being close to that natural wonder, shooting anything that caught my eyes, and watching some people with their “tricks.”
I left the place with a satisfied feeling. I might visit Daranak again (or its sister falls, Batlag) on a less crowded day. So far, this is the most affordable and nearest tour I had.
I didn’t forget that this Friday was also the Lord’s Day. When I was a child, my folks told the children to just stay at home and sit on this day because Jesus died for our sins. I saw that that tradition was totally different now based on the people in Daranak maximizing the day taking their vacation and the busy streets and roads we passed through going home. I don’t know how to feel about that since I myself was not anymore just sitting on this day, but I would never fail to thank God for His love and sacrifices on any days. Before we left the province, we went to Antipolo Church and I thanked God for giving me this day to be closer to Him through His gift of nature, to feel His presence in His home, and to appreciate His gift of life more.
I hope everyone has a fruitful Holy Week. God Bless.