Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 1 in Tacloban, Leyte


This is me, enjoying my first meal in Leyte. I'm hoping to make quick daily updates on this trip from my phone. I'll add the pictures when I'm back home, and maybe edit and rewrite some of the post, me being me.

In the meantime, check out my Instagram feed.

Day 1 officially started at 7.30pm with a slightly rough landing at Daniel Z. Romualdez airport. We had a good laugh, because a few minutes earlier, the Air Asia Zest pilot had announced we were about to land at Tagbilaran, earning him a few snickers from the passengers. For a minute I thought the pilot had really gotten the route wrong, since he said Tagbilaran several times, even saying we could expect good weather!

The thing is, after the earthquake last Tuesday and the hundreds of strong aftershocks, I don't think I'm ready to return to Bohol just yet!

Anyway, at the airport, Marchie and I stopped at the Tourism Center desk to ask about vans leaving for Catarman, Samar that evening. The last trip was at 7pm, we found out, so we had no choice but to stay in Tacloban for the night. Not bad, really, because that way, if I am awake for the trip to Catarman, I can enjoy the view from the van. I'm so excited to cross the San Juanico Bridge! It's the stuff of grade school textbooks!

We asked for directions to a good hotel, and the people were very helpful. Armed with commuting tips from locals, Marchie and I walked outside the airport and took a jeep with an Imelda sign board (P13 per head) and got off at GV Hotel. A standard room for two is at a promo price of P650. We had to pay upon check-in, which was fine by me because we were leaving very early in the morning the next day anyway.

GV Hotel is a budget hotel, but I was happy to discover that the hotel is clean, secure, and energy-efficient. The room has a bathroom (three times bigger than the bathroom we had at the Chunking Mansion in Hong Kong), and it's also clean, with the plumbing intact. Not bad for P325 per head.

After freshening up a little, we stepped out for dinner. We were just an hour behind the itinerary I made, so I was feeling pretty good. We took a "multicab" (a tricycle, really) to Leyte Park Resort to get to Pier Tres, which I'd read about while doing research for our Leyte-Samar itinerary. The multicab driver was an old man, very friendly. He chatted with us, first asking if we were really Tagalog, then telling us about the languages in Leyte. I had expected people to speak Visayan, which I still understand, but they spoke Waray! The trike ride was P30, but we gave him P50.

Dinner at Pier Tres was great for P705. We had fried shrimp, baked mussels, and fruit shake (watermelon-mango for Marchie and mango for me). Pier Tres is an above-water seafood restaurant that's all lit up with pretty lights at night. Across it is Bar-ko, also lit up in pretty colors and featuring, at least that evening, a live band. So we enjoyed a quiet dinner at Pier Tres and the live music from Bar-ko. Did I mention the moon was full?

After dinner, Marchie and I walked out of Leyte Park, passing by the nice little nice bars near the gate. It was a Sunday night, so there weren't a lot of people, but the area was still lively. I found the bars really quaint -- each one had its own style and, I'm guessing, draw.

We took a multicab back to GV Hotel (P50), calling it a night because it was already "leyt" in Leyte. We should be off to Catarman, Samar early tomorrow morningm

I haven't seen Leyte in daylight yet, but I already love it!

Biri Island is on the itinerary tomorrow. It's a six-hour trip from Tacloban to Catarman. That's why we want to leave at 5am. Good luck to us!

Entering my final full week at 35

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life--well, valuable, but small--and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around?" - Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Busy days, joyous days ahead

Last week, I accepted Marchie's invitation to watch The Legends and the Classics, a restaging of the concert that brought together Cecile Licad, Lisa Macuja, and Lea Salonga on one stage.

It was magical. I'd never been a fan of Cecile and Lisa (I liked their work; sadly, I didn't follow their careers as much as I did Lea's), but seeing the three of them performing together just woke up this longing in me to create something beautiful so someone sitting in the audience could feel the way I felt that late afternoon.

Before all the literary theory, the literary criticism, the workshops, the BA, the pursuit of an MFA, the occasional snarky encounter, the practicality of gainful employment, there was that: the desire to connect with one reader's heart simply because one author connected with mine.

At the end of the show, Lea talked about how the three of them shared one thing, which was that they've lived all their lives doing what they loved. I was reminded of that quote from Annie Dillard that was going around Facebook recently: "How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives."

I really, really don't want to be that person saying at the end of my life that I'd done everything wrong. Just making the easy choice to watch that concert was reminder enough of the many, many things I can do to just break out of this creative rut!

Excuse the drama. I'm in my last two weeks of being 35. Busy days, joyous days ahead!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dream: Benedict and me in Italy

BEST. DREAM. EVER. I was introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch. And no, it doesn't end there.

We had a project together, and we got to hang out. I got to know him "as a regular person, not a star" and found that he wasn't really as cute as I had imagined him to be, but liked him all the more for that. His parents loved me.

He found out I liked him, and he rejected me. I fled to Italy to heal my broken heart. He regretted losing me, and looked for me all over the world, Sherlock-style. I hid in a bell tower, but he found me. And no, it doesn't end there.

He organized an elaborate marriage proposal in front of my friends and family. He gave me a platinum ring -- no diamond, just a cute little heart in the middle -- and gave me a completely rational reason why we should be engaged even if we hadn't even started dating yet. He demanded I wear the ring all the time because he wanted the whole world to know I was his, especially because he would be away most of the time, making movies and all.

I held the ring up, and I found myself thinking if I could wear it while doing the dishes. And that's when I knew I could marry Benedict Cumberbatch: he had just pursued me in Italy and proposed to me in front of family and friends, and I was still grounded enough to think of doing the dishes.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Morning

I took this photo in May 2012. I was going home very early in the morning (it was past 5 am; I can't remember where I was from), and I liked how everything was dark, almost purple, except for this yellow little shop. I snapped a photo with my mobile phone. I wish I had a better camera!

This week, my goal is (again) to be a morning person.

I usually go home late at night, but I really do feel more energetic in the mornings. Plus, it feels good to wake up to the scent of people cooking breakfast.

Good luck to me!


Thursday, October 3, 2013

One rainy night

Last night, as the cab neared the apartment, we could see water on the street glimmering ahead of us, waves lapping at the speed bump that marked my stop. The speed bump had acted as a barrier to the flood, and I could get off the cab and go to my room without wading in flood water. In front of the apartment, people -- two tenants and their friends -- were huddled, waiting, I assumed, for the water to recede or a safe way to leave. 

Three parties were blessed the moment I arrived: me, because I could go home without walking through water; my neighbors' guests, because a suddenly empty cab just happened to arrive in front of them; and the cab driver, who was visibly worried he'd have to drive through flood in unfamiliar streets to bring me to my destination.