So much has happened and yet not that much, since I last wrote. All and all the trip to San Juan in the last week and a half was fantastic. I took in a lot, just being by the ocean, visiting the falls (a challenging encounter with my own ego and the beauty of the environment around me). An other example of an encounter with my ego is surfing. I was scared and also curious to try. Yet I let ego-fear triumph. During a first ocean swim in San Juan I majorly ate sand while getting pulled in by the undertow. I wasn’t in any danger but I got scared, and my ego hurt because Fred seemed to be having such a great time in the sea and not at all overwhelmed by the height and strength of the waves. I ended up not trying out surfing this time around. Anyway, I should be headed back in San Juan soon, so I can do a take two…At the end of the day, a major point to this year in the Philippines is to do things, go for it… But to also be gentle with myself and my hesitations…those are legitimate too! Hey, I guess that means I still have unfinished business with San Juan which promises to keep things interesting an stimulating as we travel there every few weeks for work. I also hope to use the office in La Union as a jumping off point to go to Baguio and Sagada and generally explore northern Luzon.
The trip to Singapore has turned into a planned trip to Singapore and Malaysia with Fred. I really hope that I manage to do some solo travelling this year, but I am scared about that too. I will try and write about those fears more some other time.
The time between the La Union trip and now have felt really slow, with boredom settling in. Yet, so many opportunities and precious moments have presented themselves. I guess I am hitting this point in my travels where things are slowing down, the city isn’t so new and I have a decision to make weather to settle down in Manila or push myself to go on adventures further and further out. I can also push myself to enjoy what is being offered to me in the day-to-day while letting go of some of my expectations of constant travel and always more exciting experiences. This is a year for me and it’s totally ok to take it easy, or at least strike a balance.
For instance, I finally met up with Shaina, a friend from Montreal who is living here for a number of months. She leaves again in June though after having been here since January. She organized a “Gender Blender” open mic night here in the city. Gender Blender is an event I have attended numerous times in Montreal. It is an initiative created by Kama LaMakerel a favourite poet of mine. The event has been really powerful for me in Montreal as it allowed me to present my poetry to a supportive crowd. It is in fact one of the few places where I have publicly performed my work so far. Shaina has also been to, and performed at Gender Blender in Montreal before. I was excited to go to the Manila edition, because it felt like a connection to home and to art that grounds and nurtures me. I aslso like to be able to offer support to friends by showing up when they organize events. About a week after Gender Blender Manila, Shaina and I met up for brunch at a vegan restaurant Edgy Veggie. It was delicious. We then we went to a near by art bookstore. We browsed around and I picked up two zines. In other words you don’t have to go very far to have adventures and not all adventures must be epic to be valuable.
I also added myself to a billion mountaineering face book pages based in Manila as a means to take part in organized hikes, connect with community and learn more hiking-related skills. I went and completed a day hike at mount Manalmon, Goa with this one mountaineering group. We also explored a small set of caves and took a lovely river swim all in the same day. There are so many scarcely populated mountainous or otherwise remote areas here and everything in nature feels fresh and new to me. Humongous bamboo shoots we meandered among, the blistering heat and buzzing cicadas, the palm trees, the pineapple trees, breathless views and perpetually yellowing brush held me in constant awe. Through this adventure I also made potential new friends. I hope to go on other adventures with Them in the future. For more information on the hike itself see http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2007/10/mt-manalmon-196.html
Fred and I continued to swim in the pool and have breakfasts together in the mornings before he begins work in the afternoon. We went to Rizal park and mega mall. Going to Mega Mall has allowed me to get a better sense of what mall mania looks like here. It’s quite something. I am told that a good portion of it had to do with many people not having air conditioning and the malls then offer a sweet reprieve from the heat.
Rizal park is enchanting really. As most public places in Manila it comes with a side order of piles of garbage, but the great central alley leading to the huge sculpture/effigy to Rizal and the Filipino people’s museum and the side gardens and orchidarium are pretty neat. Last weekend, we stayed at Rizal Parc until the late afternoon. Around 4:30 the regular Sunday evenings classical music concert was on. We laid down in the Chinese garden overlooking the pond and floating bridge, holding hands and reading our separate books, amidst beautiful opera singing and the setting sun’s subtle orangey hues.
I am also continuing to read magnificent books. I am done with reading Lolita in Tehran and I am still mesmerized. I’m truly glad for having read the Great gatsby and Daisy Miller ahead of time as they are referenced in Nafisi’s book and these readings were a missing piece to my previous reads of Reading LOlita. I am excited to move on to Guns Germs and Steel and The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Can’t wait!