Tuesday, March 03, 2009

weekends, long weekends and week-breaks part 2

I felt like Maria with a hat and a suitcase on the way to the Trapps for the first time.

Pakanta na ako eh: "What will this day be like? I wonder...."

Was supposed to go to Subic last Saturday for the entire
weekend with my officemate and her husband and some pals, but cancelled at the last minute because they woke up late and her hubby had a lawyers' meeting to catch by lunchtime.

Since we were already on the road, I decided to take another adventure and go to MOA for a morning brisk walk and see if it was really a good place for running. I was, in fact, in jogging gear already. The gentle morning sun, however, suddenly felt like the sweltering sizzle of high noon by the time I reached Blue Wave. I went the other way around and headed for CCP. Maybe today, I'll finally teach myself how to bike.

Lo and behold, as I drove into the pay parking area beside Harbor Square, there were no more bikes for rent in the area. The ticket lady said it had been a while since the business was eased out of CCP. Oh well, back to Plan A: jog. But by then it had already been 10:00am, while my outfit was best suited to foggy weather just before sunrise. So I did what every girl would do in such dire situations: I shopped for a costume change.

Within minutes I was wearing a striped racerback tank and comfy shorts. I ignored the occasional catcalls (I forgot that shorts rode up one's legs with every stride) and bewildered remarks ("tanghali na, miss!") and walked around the kingdom of Imelda: CCP, PICC, and Coconut Palace. I also jogged a bit around the amusement parks (Star City and Boom na Boom), and strolled along the bay.

As I neared the end of the baywalk beside the old Gloriamaris, I found myself walking into a small group of streetfolks. Some had fishing poles cast into the murky water, others seemed to enjoy swimming in the polluted sea. A lone boat lay motionless in the black water. A stocky boy in his board shorts precariously stepped on one wobbly rock at a time until he got to a portion of the wall low and angled enough to climb up on. He didn't look like he was one of them (for starters, he looked well-fed). A toddler ran around the path, oblivious to the danger of falling into the rocks. Amidst all this life bubbling around me, I was engulfed by the peaceful lullaby of the movement of the vast sea.

It was quiet. And beautiful. I paused to look out and see how far I've walked (and how far I was from Rosy's Pancit Malabon where I planned to have lunch). MOA is the distant island almost straight ahead; the building on the left was the Philippine Plaza (now Sofitel). On a whim, I walked back to land and proceeded to the hotel. I breezed through security (I only had my cellphone with me; they mistook me for a booked guest who took a leisure walk). In moments I was listening to house music, imagining I was in a resort a few steps away from the powdery sands of Boracay.

I confidently strode into the poolside. I walked to a vacant sun chair near the edge and found myself inside the caged luxury which I saw from afar only a few minutes ago with the poorest of the poor. Now I was surrounded by the elite, all but one appeared foreign to me. Look at the boy on the rightmost edge of the picture. It was the same lad who was tiptoeing on the dirty waters! Perhaps he tried to save a toy that inadverdently got tossed into the muck.

As I lay on the sun chair and closed my eyes, I tried to bask in the comfort of the rich. Somehow, the solitude was not as profound as what I experienced from outside. It seemed superficial and fleeting. I did not feel free. Or maybe I was also worried I might blow my cover anytime and be shamefully escorted out of the hotel premises. At any rate, I was done.

I walked back to my car, drove back to Macapagal, met S in MOA who just wowed a client, and was gleefully treated to Rosy's. I almost ate rice again, but just allowed my taste buds to appreciate the pancit malabon solo. Just the way Dad and I ate during our Saturday trips to the palengke in Concepcion in the 80s, I consumed my pancit with a piece of camachile-shaped cookie and a bottle of regular coke, with a hearty serving of tokwa't baboy on the side. YUM!

Can't wait for the next weekend vacation! What will my future be? I wonder.... ;)

Monday, March 02, 2009

weekends, long weekends and week-breaks part 1

This is becoming a habit.

I've always loved going places on foot, especially since I don't know how to bike (*hint, hint!* paturo naman!), and now driving has taken me to greater distances beyond my walking threshold.

Lately, I've found myself making excuses to take long trips on the road, or long walks on familiar pavements. I make it a point to walk around the UP Oval at least once a week for a couple of hours or so, not just for the exercise (after all, it's beach season), but also to have some quiet time for myself.

Last Monday, I took a roadtrip to Antipolo, my second attempt to explore the famed "Pilgrimage City". The first one a few years back was too disappointing that I almost didn't want to go there again. I took a gamble. On a Monday. On People Power Monday.

There still was heavy traffic, I had to drop off something at work, I barely slept the night before and breakfast was skipped, the trip started a few hours late, and the summer heat was upon us as we walked. I realised that there was a choice to be stressed out or to overwhelm oneself with the excitement of a fresh adventure. It makes a world of a difference to choose the latter. I think I got to discover more things. Went to MMLDC to see birds of all sizes, sampled some nuts and ate a man's adobo. I've consumed gazillions of suman in my young life, but somehow the enticing invitation of "tikim bago bili" just made the sticky rice sweeter than usual. (Yes, I ate rice. Sweet, sugar-coated sticky suman rice. BAD.) And arnibal-covered pinipig bars! It's been ages since I sunk my teeth into a crunchy bar. I felt like I was 8 again :)

Antipolo Church was quieter than the last time I was there -- then again, it was a regular weekday so I guess more people were too busy filing paperwork to go on a pilgrimage. I was educated on the huge structure that adorned the focal/altar area. The design was adapted from traditional but didn't quite meet Vatican standards as it probably was drawn from memory by the local artists. The paintings had muted colors which might have resulted from a strictly imposed (read: impossibly cheap) budget for the impoverished yet skillful Angono painters.

Nevertheless, I could see how the church could easily harness its exotic beauty in wedding photographs and glisten like a lone crystal clear waterdrop of what was once a glorious waterfall. Not unlike Hinulugang Taktak, which we steered clear of after seeing its pathetic state just by the entrance to the "national park".

The day was capped by a sandwich and chips and (watered down) iced tea merienda at the UP Ampitheater. The sun was still shining brightly while it slowly made its descent into the horizon; the acacia leaves shimmering like a bejeweled canopy above the Oval. It was such a perfect scene, I had to say it to be heard.

I almost forgot how lovely the campus looked like in the afternoon! I wish I had this moment when I was still in college. Maybe things could have been pleasantly different.