Category: Travel

Still Alive. Summer Has Begun

I wish I were still on an out-of-t0wn vacation. I was so travel-deprived in the past 15 months, that anything that could give me a reason to file a vacation break and hie off to the next relaxing spot outside Manila eventually became sacred. Working day and night could take a toll on anyone, and that included my restless self, and so after making sure that I had saved enough money for a trip, I booked the next promo flight and practically arm-wrestled my sister to go with me to Boracay. It was worth it, sunburn and a rough flight back to Manila, and all.
It was a fun three-day, two-night break to the island, and our schedule was just right. Being there on weekdays meant avoiding the weekend crowd, though it also meant being just one of the few “native” visitors. We stayed at the Villa Sunset Inn where I reserved a room four weeks in advance via Directwithhotels.com, a service created by the company that I used to work for. Because I was part of the initial team that produced the online booking service, I knew that DWH was safe, fast, and convenient. Flight was booked with Zest Air or formely Asian Spirit; thanks to its P788 all-in promo, our round-trip flight cost a total of only P5,100+. I’m not a huge fan of flying, but unless we are talking about a road trip to a place at least 200 kilometers away from Manila or having to travel by air, it’s not a vacation at all.
A couple of friends asked me if I did anything Bora-worthy, but suffice to say that I remained a fine (i.e., boring) lady. There was no run-in nor drunken flirting with total strangers, as it was just improper when (1) you’re with a much younger sister and (2) you’re supposed to act maturely when you reach a certain age. I know that 30 is the new 20, but I’d like to think that I have left my wild ways behind.
What makes Boracay a fun travel destination is that it has about everything that one could ask for: sun, sand, sea, and a rather dynamic night life. The beachfront is absolutely beautiful, yet Boracay still offers a one of a kind island lifestyle. For anybody looking for casual meet-ups, the bevy of tourists offers a good chance to build whatever kind of relationship, temporary or otherwise. I don’t do that kind of thing, but hey, there are people who are into it. Bora has its pockets of shopping centers too, so deciding what to wear to the beach or to the evening party is just a short run to D*Mall or the trusty D*Talipapa for el cheapo garbs and souvenirs. Plus, there are ATMs everywhere and almost all establishments accept major credit cards. It’s a tranquil island that offers all the conveniences of a city.
I just wish that Boracay denizens would do more to preserve its natural beauty. The algae (or is it moss? what’s the difference?) that marr its shores is a sure sign that its blue waters is not as pristine nor as healthy as it should be. As the influx of summer tourists take a toll on the island’s capacity to renew or maintain its health, a little help from the local government and its residents is just expected.
On another note…

I don’t know if it was because I was good or if I just knew how to sell myself, but I became “billable” just as I was getting worried about all that “right-sizing” that had been happening since the start of the year. See, I had to get off the previous stepmothership due to the economic slowdown, to put it nicely. The months in between that I spent doing in-house work and for which I was not billing clients were fun, but fun could only last for so long and if it had ended sooner, I would’ve had to sweat buckets over the next payment for rent and utilities. One could imagine how I had to work on getting onto the next stepmothership; I wanted it so bad, I could not even tell anyone outside the deal about it until it was safely approved. Things have so far been alright, albeit a bit slow, but I would rather start something new this way, process-wise.
Business travel would have been much welcome, and heaven knows I need a new stamp on my passport, but who am I to complain? I still have a job and some side projects that eat up my personal time. So the plan now is to finish all side stuff, master the day project and please the PTBs and hope that the project will grow, and manage my vacation days as much as I can. A resort room has been booked for the Holy Week, and I have bought a Central Luzon roadmap for a pending assignment as navigator extraordinaire to Paul lest we want our entire party to end up in Bataan instead of Zambales. And then there is a possibility that I would visit Nueva Ecija while everyone who has had to fly in from Europe or the US is still there, and that means more sun exposure, rough winds, alcohol overdose, and karaoke till the witching hours.
And because I do care for a number of people, I’d like to be able to do some random acts of kindness. We are all in this crisis together, and just because I am presently gainfully employed doesn’t mean that I should stop caring for those who have been shown the exit door. I’d like to put into use my existing networks if only it means taking baby steps in the right direction. Who knows, a little bit of networking could make a lot of difference in a good way. I hope it all pushes through. Please don’t let anybody spoil my wanderful wishes.
I don’t know, something happened tonight that shook me a bit. I guess it helps that I go to a different workplace nowadays, so I am shielded from much of the worries that stare others in the face every.friggin.day. However, if there is anything that I have learned in the past 10 years that I have been working is that it’s a jungle out there and it is not just the fittest who survive, but also the luckiest. No matter how good you are, you never know when you will be put on the chopping block. You just have to keep on going and hope that things will work for the better. Still, another important lesson that I have learned, and mind that I learned it the hard way too, is that you should take care of the healthy relationships and networks you have built over the years. And yeah–never put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.
(Et vous, vous savez qui vous êtes. Tout va bien.)

Back in Manila, Back from America

After a month in NYC and nearly 20 hours of flight from JFK, I’m back in Manila. It feels weird to be back, but here I am.

One good thing happened on my flight back: Cathay Pacific upgraded my flight from coach to business. Too bad, I was already too tired and too sleepy to enjoy the softer and wider seats and more leg room. After downing a glass of champagne and finishing fruits and a slice of cake, I doze off and woke up with just a couple of minutes to buckle my seat belt before touching down at NAIA. Glad I signed up for Asia Miles, which I think was responsible for the upgrade.

Thanks to Mary for showing me around Central Park, Union Square and Bryant Park; for joining me at Sephora and helping me find the perfect foundation and lip color; for taking my photos. Dude, we should have hit Duane Reade first for the much cheapo Revlon/Maybelline stuff.

Thanks to the people from the mothership for endorsing me to the client, arranging the travel and accommodation details and making sure I would survive my first taste of winter.

Thanks to mothership-New York for being responsible for the account and the trip, and for the Christmas party.

Thanks to le client for this wonderful New York experience. The CAs, the bosses and the rest of the colleagues there have been wonderful.

Thanks especially to friend Keng for picking me up at JFK, spending Thanksgiving with me, showing me around Midtown East, taking my photos, talking with me about life’s bigger issues, the dinners, for lending his Metrocard credit and the Millionaire book, for the bag, for being a shopping buddy (I spared him the agony of watching me try on a dozen pairs of shoes), for the sweater (LOL! Good thing you forgot it in the hamper), for bringing me to the airport and…and… everything! I’ve lost count. Sometimes, you just don’t understand things the way you ought until you talk to someone who went through the same experience and felt the same pain. Kitakits ulit, wherever.

Thanks, Scott, for Wintuk and the Radio City show.

Thanks, too, to those wonderful strangers who helped me figure out the commuting challenges as I rushed from New Jersey to downtown Manhattan and back.

Thanks to offshore TDPM for…Hmm…I don’t know. Well, just thanks.

I’m waiting for my pizza and coke order before attempting to nap. I can’t even afford to prepare a decent meal because the apartment looks too depressing, as if a tornado tore through it while I was away. So there’s a note to myself to hire a cleaning boy/lady from the homeowners’ association since there’s no way that I could clean the place without contemplating suicide. I’m not suicidal and I have better things to do in my life.

Things to look forward to: badminton, Christmas break, hanging out with friends, finding the time to read, deliveries and TV series. And oh–January.

Good Lord, it even feels weird now that I don’t have to wrap myself in four layers of clothing to go out. I miss wearing winter boots already. I even miss the sub-freezing cold.

Leaving on a jetplane

new york

I’m packing my stuff for my flight back to Manila tomorrow at 9AM. I have to be at JFK by 6, so I have to be on the road by 5. I can’t believe I had accumulated an extra luggage-full of clothes, mostly pasalubong for my mom and sisters, plus the two winter coats and the winter boots that I bought, courtesy of the mothership’s winter allowance for its staff who travel to certain destinations where temperatures drop below 17 degrees Celsius. I arrived with a one large luggage and a small bag last month. But thanks to the bulky purchases, I had to buy an extra huge maleta yesterday in Chinatown. It was also my fault, because I brought loooot of clothes from Manila, afraid that I would run out of things to wear. I could have left about half of what I had packed.

As if this was a reverse of last month’s events, Keng would bring me to JFK. I remember joking with Keng a few years ago that I’d be knocking on his door for a surprise visit. We were sharing a bottle of wine and cigarettes at Greenbelt gardens, looking at the stars, dreaming of what life could offer. That was in 2003 and I was well on my way to a full-on quarter-life crisis.

I wished then that it was that easy to get to NYC. In the years between then and now, all I could do was dream, have my heart broken, slog through my days, figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

Four years later, I got a taste of the dream. A month later, I’m going back to Manila. I miss NYC already.

But for now, I miss my life in Makati–the friends, the pizza-and-wine dinners at my apartment, my sister, badminton, the ideal December weather, the colorful clothes, my cable channels, laptop, my room, my extra gigs, the walk to and from the office, the wind on my face as I walk back to the apartment while listening to my favorite tunes on my mp3 player and dreaming of what could be.

A few thousand words on the streets of New York

New York City
A typical midtown New York street

grand central station, new york city
Inside Grand Central Station

the next time you buy one, it will be for me
I want one

grand central, chrysler building, new york city
Grand Central and Chrysler Building

Times Square, New York City
Times Square

rockefeller plaza new york city
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge from South Street Seaport