Bilbo-ing

or How I Saved on Airfare, but I’d like to call it Bilbo-ing in honor of my favorite hobbit Bilbo. I believe almost everyone is familiar with him now, what with the successful The Hobbit trilogy that came out starring the handsome Richard Armitage and Orlando Bloom.

Here I’ll talk about my adventures and misadventures trying to look for the cheapest way home during the Christmas season 2014. It was like home alone plus a few hobbit-like tricks on certain people with a little bit of luck and a lot of help from friends and family.

So last December 2014 was supposed to be my last chance to be able to spend Christmas at home and so I scoured the websites of Cebu Pacific and PAL for promo fares almost everyday, but as any constant traveler would know, it is always futile to get a cheap flight at peak seasons like this. I almost was going to take a boat! You know, those old school Super Ferry (“sakay na!”) that would take me about 2 days and 2 nights to reach home, but thank God I had a godmother who loves me like her own child. I honestly didn’t have money anymore, I used all of it drinking unlimited amounts of coffee so I’ll pass all my examinations before Christmas vacation. My ninang was going to go to Cebu with her nephew and so she volunteered to buy my tickets for me and just pay her later on (which in other words would mean, whenever I can). So my plan now was to fly Manila to Cebu then take a ferry ride to Dapitan City (the town where Rizal was shot), then take a tricycle home. It was a great plan, I was sure of it.

Little did I know, as I was waiting there at the Manila Domestic Airport for the now Cebu Pacific-owned TigerAir planes, that my plan would suffer a setback. It was my first time in Cebu, and I was an excited child. When we reached the arrival area, the amazing voices of carolers welcomed us. Also, it was very noticeable that a lot of foreign visitors were arriving from Manila. I was almost sure they were going to spend Christmas in the many breathtaking beaches of the Cebu province (which I will all visit one day, hopefully).

I spent my first night at the home of my godmother’s brother and his family. The next day, my ninang accompanied me to the ticketing office to book for my ferry ride to Dapitan but there were no more available ferries for that day, or the next day, or the day after that. I felt weak. I asked all the available ferries and they were all fully-booked for 3 days. I didn’t know what to do!

I texted all of my high school classmates who had regularly been to Cebu and I learned that it is almost always impossible to book a ticket during the Christmas break. You’d have to reserve 1-2 months ahead. They told me I could try being a “chance passenger” but I had no idea how to do it so I went back to the house I stayed at and tried to think.

I learned, from all my previous misadventures, that at times like these you just have to keep thinking and to have creative ideas, eventually something’s bound to happen that could get you what you need. My father called me up (all the way from another continent beyond the Pacific Ocean) and he said a relative of ours can pick me up and I can stay there for a while. I haven’t met that uncle of mine before so it was a chance to know him too. I spent Christmas Eve with my uncle’s family. It was nice, they were very kind to me, but I still wanted to get home. I was getting tired too and lost my knack for adventures but before I slept I made a decision. I was going to take a bus ride from Cordova, Cebu up to the town at very end of the province, then cross the sea by barge and get to Dumaguete City where I’ll ride a ferry that would then take me to Dapitan, and finally to Dipolog City.

The following day, about lunch time, my uncle and his wife took me to the bus station. I was happy to have met them and couldn’t be more thankful for receiving me during Christmas Eve. It felt like a nativity scene, but I wasn’t in labor and I had no husband. I was inexplicably excited to start with this adventure. I always have that certain euphoric feeling everytime I go to some place I haven’t been to and discover it in a very unconventional way. The ride wasn’t at all boring, I had the window seat and no seatmate. I also had with me a copy of “Fools Rush In” which I delightedly watched on the road.

I reached Dumaguete around 11pm. The city proper was still around a 5-min tricycle ride from the bus terminal. My friends already gave me names of lodges and hotels I can stay at so I just told the driver. The first one I went to had no more available standard rooms. I wanted the cheapest one possible (with the premise that it is reputable and not a motel) since I would just stay for 6 hours. I told the driver to take me to Harold’s Mansion near Silliman University and I got a room there. It was neat and the price was right. It was what I can call a backpacker’s place. I showered, oh how heavenly it felt to be clean, and rested for the night.

When I woke up and looked at my phone it was 5:30! My mind said F****. I was supposed to go to the ticketing office 5am to catch the 6am ferry ride. I packed at a record time, ran down, threw my keys to the guy at the front desk and waited for a tricycle. When I got to the port I was so nervous.

There at the ticketing area was a line of passengers that curved like the Amazon River. However, when it became apparent that no tickets were going to be sold for that day, everyone forced themselves to the window and to the door. Everyone tried to beg and bargain. I knew I had no chances there so I left the crowd. I tried to think again. I was so desperate, so I did the first thing that came to my mind.

I walked to the gate of the port. I looked straight towards the guard and called to him. I said my story, then my eyes started to get teary. I wiped a little then looked down. I kept talking to him and tried to maintain eye contact. He listened. He swallowed, I saw his thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) move. Then he opened the gate and called at one of those fixers who can illegally get a ticket for me.

Apparently, when the say “fully booked”, they hide 2-3 tickets they can sell at a higher price. However, I had to wait until everyone gets on board. The captain of the ship or whoever is the boss, won’t let me in cause technically it’s full but when he’s gone they can smuggle me in and I have a ticket to show for inspection later.

So to make this very long story short, I got home – tired and with only P20 in my wallet. My sister and my grandmother picked me up at the port in Dapitan City and I have never been so happy to be home.

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After the fall

I always build a wall around my emotions. I am proud of this, and that’s why it was such a great slap in the face when I doubted the strength of this edifice. I felt scared. I felt lost and was so afraid of the truth unraveling in front of me. The memory of a cold dark night as the tears dampened my pillow is still vivid on my mind. Trembling hands and random thoughts – this was what happened during the darkness as everyone slumbered.

I didn’t know what to do so I pictured out several scenarios. The first one required strength which at the moment was slipping off of me. The other one was easy, but it was slow death. I pictured out the details of every situation. If I had the strength to tell the truth, two things could happen. Things might still go on as they used to for the truth may no longer matter (since maybe, just maybe, time has already killed the bitterness and pain) or I might prepare myself for new circumstances.

Choosing slow death is better, i guess. First, because you don’t die immediately; You just prolong agony. In fact, one might be lucky enough to get used to the pain that it wouldn’t matter anymore. Also, slow death can kill the feelings in time. This for me is a fitting end to the tragic story that cupid has caused. It started out sweet and slow, thus it too shall die a slow bitter death.

I chose the latter. I need not say why.

I thank God I am no longer plagued by the pain. I thank God I am rational. I thank God I let time do its work and now I’m mended. Yes, the scar is still there but it now remains as a memory. At first, remembering those things gave melancholic feelings. I once said to a friend that it was as though I lost something I could never recover. Somehow, there’s truth to it but hey that’s life. You win some, you lose some.

I won too, just so you know. Winning came in the form of wisdom and experience. It’s cliche, I know, but it’s true. How else will one know how it really feels unless it did happen?The painful part was losing a connection that no amount could ever equal. I didn’t think it would come to that. In truth, I didn’t think at all. My spontaneity and emotions won over rationality.

I was mad at a lot of things. Mad at myself for being weak. Mad at you for being able to dominate. Mad at the way it went – happy, fun, smooth, bumpy then stuck in the mud. I blamed it not to myself at first and then my accusing hand went back to me.

And then reality struck me. I had to sort out a lot of things. Distance had done me good. Time had healed me well. Friends kept me company. And the sad songs slowly changed from making me feel as if they all referred to me to becoming just random words.

Now, millions of seconds after the fall, I can already strike a funny note. I can already tickle stomachs with jokes. The clown is back in town! I thought I’d be tied to the heartache, but now that it’s gone all I can say is “C’est la vie!” and laugh.

I believe it is but normal that I remember fragments of the memory. As I went to a familiar place, as I see a familiar face, as I hear a familiar note. The good thing is that it would now make me smile. It was good while it lasted. For the record, I’m thankful all of it happened. It made me smile, but I’ll never fall for you again. I’ve no hate left for you. But I’ve no love left too.

If the proper time comes, maybe I’d tell. Or maybe not. I guess I’ll just wait for serendipity. I hope you reached this part. I bid you au revoir.

[originally published on July 2010]

Somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond

There is this poem that I first heard in a song. It was spoken so beautifully by this masculine voice that ever since the first time I heard it, I loved that piece of poetry. I was still twelve years old then but already a hopeless romantic. The words were so captivating, but I never knew what it’s title was nor who the author is. Four years later in college, during one of my classes, I encountered the author E. E. Cummings. We were made to read his work entitled “pity this busy monster, manunkind”. His style was different and when I saw his other works, I recognized a familiar line. I felt like I found something very special.

ee cummings (as he wants his name written) is one notable poet with such a style you can’t say classic. Here’s the poem in how it is actually written. It is such a beauty!

Somewhere I have never
travelled, gladly beyond

somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gestures are things which enclose me,
or which I cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though I have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, I and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(I do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

In case you are wondering what the song was, it’s called “The First Time I Loved Forever”. Now let me suggest for you to play this song and read the poem again 🙂

Changed

Changed
~ H.W. Longfellow

FROM the outskirts of the town,
Where of old the mile-stone stood,
Now a stranger, looking down
I behold the shadowy crown
Of the dark and haunted wood.

Is it changed, or am I changed?
Ah! the oaks are fresh and green,
But the friends with whom I ranged
Through their thickets are estranged
By the years that intervene.

Bright as ever flows the sea,
Bright as ever shines the sun,
But alas! they seem to me
Not the sun that used to be,
Not the tides that used to run.

Faces

This is a celebration of faces;

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Of childhood and innocence;

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of discovering simple joys;

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of friendship

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and contentment, oblivious of the world’s sorrows.

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This is a celebration of transient smiles,
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fading as fast as it was given.
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This is a celebration of creativity;
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of motion
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and emotion.
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A celebration of living day to day
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uncertain, but still moving on
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because it is going to be fine.
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We jump in, that’s life
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and this is a celebration
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