April 4, 2011

On travel

When I was a kid, I’ve always dreamt of going to places. I had 2 boxes of encyclopedias which I got as a gift from my parents when the salesman bartered them for a rifle that my dad made. Those thick and heavy blocks that are almost bigger than me opened my mind. I saw pictures of different places in the world, including the moon. I wanted to go to the moon. That enlightenment led me to dream of becoming a flight stewardess, which, by the way, never came true because I grew up short of at least 5 inches to pass the minimum height requirement. But I was able to travel.
It started as those mini excursions with my parents when they go to hunt for birds or bats. My parents are hunters and shooters, they shoot for their sport which earned them national titles, and they hunt for their hobby. They, my parents and their club members, would go out at least 3 times a month nearby hunting spots for bats or birds, and some far flung places when it’s season for specific kinds of birds. They got invited to hunt in Kapatagan for wild ducks, but I never got the chance to go with them. Well, that started my love for travel. I’ve been to key places in Northern Mindanao, mostly in Misamis Oriental and Occidental. I’ve been to Butuan for my 1st year highschool trip and we saw museums and historical places in the city. I love to travel, but there are some parts of it that I hate. I think that’s an understatement. Despise is more likely the correct term here. The long bus hours, the clammy plane times, bad air conditioning, long lines, long waiting time, crappy crap rooms (rest rooms that will make you feel restless), character passengers and those little things that get thrown in the pot of travel. I remember one time I went to Subic with my then-boyfriend, we both worked graveyard shift so we went straight to the bus to Subic after work. I can’t remember now if it was just one bus going there or we changed buses along the way, but almost the entire time we spent on the bus we were fighting. It was uncomfortable enough to be trying to sleep on an upright seat, much more be with someone I loved to hate at that time is really something that just blew me. But when we got there, the scenery just changed our moods and we were better. We checked in at Crown Peak (I think I got that right) and thought we were lucky because there’s only one room vacant and it was huge! We could have a party for 30 people and still have space for them to sleep in. It was the family room and since we were only 2, the front desk staff (he looked more like an inn keeper) decided to give it to us for only PhP2,000/night. It was a steal! So we decided to take it. After the rough ride, we started to relax in the room and reflect on our luck. Since it was afternoon when we got there, we planned on just chilling out until the next day when we go to the Zoobic Safari. The room and the area in general was quiet since we were at the top of the hill and we just got lulled to sleep. When we woke up, it was 11pm already and we searched for food. The restaurant was closed but good thing the staff pointed us to the convenience store which was open 24 hours. We saw it full with foreigners who looked like they’re from India and judging from their accents, well, we felt like we were in Mumbai or somewhere. We bought ice cream, chips and milk and headed back to our room.
The next day, we went to Zoobic! It was a blast being there! We got to see tigers and we even had a picture of this baby tiger that’s 3x bigger than me! We had a tour around the park and I just enjoyed being one with nature. Oh I loved it there! There was also this tiger feeding where we were in this caged jeep and we went around in the safari with chickens on a string and fed it to them. The tour guide also tried to provoke the tigers and we felt how they pounce! I could just imagine how it would feel like it I were the one who was pounced on. Not a good thought, but it can happen.
We went back to the hotel after Zoobic and started to head back to the city. The taxi driver who took us to the terminal shared with us the story of Crown Peak. Somebody died in the place which makes for the creepy atmosphere of the hotel. Good thing we were already out before we heard this story or else we could have spent the night shivering at the thought of scary things that might happen! I felt sorry we couldn’t stay long in Subic, we promised to go back there, well, hopefully we could in the future. And the sad thing is, we didn’t have a camera with us to document that trip! The only picture we had is the souvenir photo with the baby tiger.
That is only one of the memorable trips I had. I have traveled to Batangas on team building, Davao and Dapitan on family trips, Bohol and Camiguin on holy week vacation, and Siargao on a mini vacay, which lead to my decision to move out there. The place just felt right. The beach called out to me, telling me to stay, and I couldn’t turn my back. So now I’ve found my new home, until another place calls me again. ‘Til then, I will stay and make the most out of this place, maybe for a year or two, until the island pushes me out and brings me to another island or city.
I’ve lived in Cebu where I was born, in Cagayan where I grew up, and in Manila where I worked. Cebu is a place that I could connect with, even though I don’t really know many people here only spent at least half a decade when I was a baby and when I studied Fine Arts for 2 years. Maybe because I was born in Sibonga that’s why I have this deep connection with the place. I also tried to live in Manila when I worked for 2 call centers there, but the city just ate me whole. I allowed it to. The jobs, consumerism, party scene, fast food friendships and dalliances: all too fast paced for my liking. Cagayan, the place where I grew up, formed lasting friendships and planted roots, is the place I could always go back to when everything else fucks up anywhere else.  I know it’s unfair for the place, but I get to recharge and push myself again to live someplace else.
Why am I writing this on a travel post? Because I think travel is not only visiting places, but actually living there and getting the feel of the place. Travel and places change us and we must welcome that change as part of living. A lot of people may not appreciate our decision to hop from one place to another, but hey, if we don’t, we’d be cooped up in a corner for too long that we forget that the world we live in is a big one that’s waiting to be discovered. There are at least 193 countries in the world, and some authorities argue that there are more. I am waiting for the time that I will be able to travel all of my country and also step foot in another to fully experience life and how it is to live. It is good to be patriotic but sometimes notions of patriotism somehow bring about crab mentality. We live in one world, we should be happy to share this with others who live with us.
I love to travel. I may hate what comes with it, but it’s all part of it. It’s not perfect, or glamorous or living large. Travel is life crammed into that bottle of time that you actually spent while travelling. :-)

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