Tag: Travel

Sayonara, Manila!

purple bagsNearly 12 months of communicating mostly online, patiently waiting for school holidays to come around, and traveling thousands of miles to be together for just a few days, this is what it comes down to.

While the last three weeks have been absolutely stressful, thanks to having to deal with red tape and braving Christmas traffic to get from one point of Metro Manila to another (hello, Pasay to Kyusi in a day!) to run after certifications and official documents, I still count myself absolutely lucky to have the chance to be with The One and, upon learning that I was relocating, to be given by the mothership the opportunity to work in its main country. Things fell into place just when I was about to give up and embrace life-long singlehood (nothing wrong there, mind you!) or accept the prospect of working in the same city for the rest of my productive years.

And so after feeling like I’ve gone a decade older pleading with all sorts of powers-that-be to give me a piece of paper, sign statements or give me a clean bill of health, I’m flying tonight to be with my love. They say that luck is when preparedness meets opportunity, so I guess this is just as true in my case.

I wish I had the time to have a proper send-off party of sorts with friends or a nice dinner with my family, but the last few days have been a blur of rushing projects, completing presentations, attending meetings, gathering personal documents, and letting go of my most precious belongings. It was not at all easy to say “bye” to Voltron, my car of nearly 18 months and my fist big ticket purchase; to scramble for someone to take over my nearly new mattress because I wasn’t in the mood to give it to my landlord who refused to reimburse my two months’ worth of advance rent; to let go of the shoes, books, and clothes that would not fit into the 40-kilo limit the airline imposes on luggage; and to end my gym membership which has sustained me through tough times, that instead of tearing my hair like a mad woman, I would attend combat classes that encouraged me to throw imaginary punches at  phantom enemies while burning hundreds of calories in the process.

I have lost count of how many times I packed and repacked the precious few things that I could bring, but it has been a great exercise in letting go and focusing on what’s ahead. I decided to take with me only the clothes I see myself wearing a lot to work, runs, or strolls around the city and elsewhere. I packed my most precious bags and purses (read: mejo mahal), a few accessories, and a couple of books that might look nice on a library that I hope to rebuild in the future.

And so here I am waiting for the driver whose service my soon ex-boss lent to make sure that I would reach the airport on time safely. In this mad Christmas traffic made worse by the Metro Manila Film Fest parade, who knows how long it would take me to get to the airport which is not even that far from my now-former apartment.

I hardly had any sleep since last week, but nothing compares to the excitement of starting a new life with the love of my life. I have indeed been lucky.

Travel Is a Lot Like Life

Air Travel
Somewhere over the West Philippine Sea

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realisation that you may have been born in the wrong country.

Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world.

Travel is… a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” 

— Nick Miller, New Girl

Last year was the only one in the past six that I didn’t leave the country. Maybe it’s time to get a new visa or use up what’s remaining of what I still have. Or maybe it’s time to dust off my old camera and drive hundreds of miles to capture the beauty that my country is known for: its rich traditions, its people, the kindness of strangers whose languages I don’t even speak.

Travel brings out the worst and the best in us. In it, we find ourselves and realise how strong and brave and patient we can be. Along the way, we find friends and along the way, I may find what and who I have been searching for.

Travel opens our eyes to certain truths: are we there for the whole journey or are we just tagging along until the next pit-stop, the next station? Are we travelling with the right companion and going in the right direction? Travel has its perils, too: wasted time, false promises of a good adventure, lost resources, physical threats, heartbreak.

Sometimes, these pitfalls make me wonder if some travels are worth taking. Not all travels are equal, and we cannot keep on making reckless decisions with our limited time and resources. Maybe some journeys are better taken towards other directions.

Take the next or the first step; bring out the map; take with you only what is necessary. Keep it simple. Follow your inner compass. Sing if you are afraid, dance when you are happy. Meet fellow travellers; treat them kindly and respectfully.

Travel is life. Have faith. Find your courage. Travel is why I don’t have nice things. But oh, I would not want it any other way!