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The shorter road to getting another book

Remember that Las Piñas book I was looking for back in February? Well, I picked it up today--also for free! My signed (by Congw. Cynthia Villar, I believe) copy of "Las Piñas: A City with Heritage" is now sitting right next to my "Captured Culture: An Interpretative Portrait of Parañaque City" on my study table. That puts the Villar Foundation on the list of people and groups I'm dedicating my thesis to.

My Las Piñas book experience wasn't as eventful as my Parañaque book one. It was still fun, though. Partly because it came so easy.

I'd been hunting this book down since I first read a press release that the Villars were publishing a book on Las Piñas City. The article said it was going to be in bookstores early 2007, and so I looked for it in all the bookstores I went to. I turned up with nothing.

After getting the Parañaque book, I realized I was too desperate for the Las Piñas book. So I let it go and just imagined myself having it, and for free too. And then I acted on it by first finding out how to reach the Villars' office. I sent an email to the Pinoywriters Yahoogroup, figuring that if anyone was to know how to reach the private office of the Villars (since the book was funded by their foundation, and not their public offices), it would be freelance writers, journalists, and the like.

A few days later, I got an email from the Villar Foundation. One of the members had forwarded my email to them, and they wanted to know my contact details because they wanted to send me a book. I told them I lived in the city, and I offered to pick it up.

The main highlight of my getting the book was when I decided I was too early (I'd texted the contact person I'd be dropping by in the afternoon, and by my standards, a little past 2.30pm is still closer to noon) so I treated myself to a stick of banana-que before heading for Congw. Cynthia Villar's District Office at Masibay Street, BF Resort Village in Las Piñas City. It was yummy, as expected. I mean, how can one seriously mess up deep-fried bananas?

Actually, buying the banana-que was also a way for me to chat up the vendor.

"How do I get to Masibay?" I asked her, as I paid P8 for my snack.
"There," she replied, raising her arm to point somewhere.

I turned to the direction in which she was pointing, half-expecting a moderately tall building, like most of the structures in my city, bearing a sign proclaiming it as Congw. Villar's office. I saw nothing. Well, actually, I saw a huge campaign poster of her reelectionist husband, Sen. Manny Villar, but no office.

"Where?" I asked her again. "You mean I can walk?"
"There!" she said, this time pointing clearly to the tricycle station. "Take a tricycle."

She told me the fare was P12. That's already like a ten-minute trip in my village. So when I got on the tricycle, I settled in for the ride. The driver asked me, "Masibay left or right?" pertaining to which direction of an intersection he was going to have to turn and I had to say, "I don't know" which I hate saying to anyone who's driving me anywhere, but I figured they'd know the Congresswoman's office, so I told him that was where I was headed.

I had only started to think about getting lost in my thoughts when he stopped in front of a gate in the right side of the intersection. So much for left or right.

I only got as far as the office entrance, because Jewel, my contact person, happened to be there too. As she fished out a form for me to sign, I took a quick look around and saw that it looked more like a house than an office. It looked pretty, from the outside. The happy transaction was over in three minutes, maximum.

Going back to the village entrance, I took another tricycle. I expected it to bring me back to the station, so when he stopped in the middle of the road, before the short island that divided the road into exit and entrance lanes, I stayed put. I must have been sitting there two minutes--during which he must have assumed I was gathering my things or rummaging through my purse for money to pay him--when he said, "Ma'am, this is as far as I can take you."

I got out, paid the driver, and walked to the jeepney stop--which I promptly found out was not in front of the barbed-wire wrapped balete tree that seemed so huge and frightening when I was a child and now only looks sad and confined. I took the book out from the brown envelope it came in and opened it as I was walking. I read the dedication. Closed the book. Smiled.

And then I lived happily ever after.

Until I start actually writing my thesis.

Wish me luck--and power, courage, and commitment! :)

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