Irie

Irie (I-rie \I ‘ -ree) is a word in Jamaican Patois that can mean 1: powerful and pleasing 2: excellent, highest n 3: the state of feeling great. 

Rhythm and darkness and heavy raindrops press in on her, and she sways along with the music with her eyes closed and her ears open. The rain was cold, her skin was warm and her thoughts were a hazy mess of half-thoughts, but it was not entirely unpleasant.

She hadn’t planned on being here tonight, so far away from where she intended to be. However, she found that she was enjoying herself far more than she would have been able to on her own, as is usual with other random nights like these that are used to fill her calendar.

“Let’s dance,” he says in her ear, a welcome sound above the clamor of carefully constructed beats and melodies. When she opens her eyes, his smile is bright and his hands spread before him by way of invite.

She hesitates, lip between her teeth. He was a stranger by all accounts, and she had sworn to herself not to dance with strangers anymore. Not after all the trouble it almost always leads to.

But then again, random nights like these always begin with strangers, and they always end up with a new set of friends.

“Come on. What are you afraid of?” he urges once again. This time, she smiles back and takes that first step forward.

And then his hands were on her waist and suddenly the floor was no longer beneath her and she was flying, flying, weightless and unshackled from the gravity that held her down.

Free.

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The Green Line

A busy last day, it was.

I have been everywhere and nowhere all at once, flitting from one place to another, a crazed butterfly eager to visit every part of this strange, foreign garden before flying home.

So much to do, so much to see, and yet still so very little time.

And so there I stood, the tracks rumbling beneath my feet as I took the time to soak in every detail, committing them all to memory.

It will be a while before I’ll be here again, if I even do return. It would cost quite a lot to go back you see. I’d gladly do it if there’s something worth going back for, however. No one knows, really.

I would very much like to come back, of course. Perhaps even stay. I like it here. It’s clean. Quiet. Structured.

Safe.

The train came to a screeching halt, signalling the end of this ride, and the beginning of my next.

And then, above the din of unfamiliar tongues, I hear my name. Through a sea of strange faces, past the rushing feet and shoving arms, I see you smile.

And a photograph just won’t be enough to capture that moment.

Photo credit to trappedinreality

–end–

Author’s Note: Hardly anything inspires me to write these days, but my recent out-of-the-country trip was one of those rare things that brings me back to my muses. Here’s to hoping it happens more often.

Wanderlust Series 1: Corregidor Island

Corregidor is one of those places that I’ve been itching to go to for the longest time. A friend of mine mentioned a long time ago that there were affordable tours for the island but I just never got around to going there.

We got the opportunity to finally visit the island during my dad’s most recent vacation here in the Philippines. You see, his stay was short so we didn’t really have the time to book something grandiose. Fortunately, Corregidor is quite near and we’ve never gone there before so it’s still something new to experience.

Inside M/V Bay Cruiser.

Sun Cruises is the provider of tour packages and transportation from Manila to the Island. Booking and reservations for the trip was quite a breeze. Most of the instructions and details about their packages are already found on the website, so from visiting the site you can already get an idea of what package you want to avail.

Corregidor isn’t as popular as, say, Boracay or Puerto Galera, as a vacation destination, so scheduling wasn’t difficult. We called Friday afternoon for a scheduled day tour and overnight stay on the following day and we got slots with no problem.

There were two basic packages to avail of: the guided historical tour and the walking tour. The main difference between the two is the mode of transportation within the island. The guided historical tour lets you visit the main points of attractions via tranvia.  The walking tour on the other hand is a bit of a hike. You visit the main points on foot, plus you have the option of going inside caves and woodland trails and all that fun stuff that you cannot reach via tranvia.

The tranvia; which is basically a bus with open sides. (Photo credit from http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html)

We took the walking tour at my insistence because we gorged ourselves too much over the holiday. I figured we could use the exercise.

I wasn’t able to take any photos of the cave exploration part, so I’m borrowing one from http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html

Excuse the footwear, it was a walking tour and I didn’t want to ruin my other pair of shoes.

Greetings from the Lighthouse.

How many stories can these old walls tell?
(Photo credit: http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html)

If you’re staying overnight, there are several activities you can do on the day after the main tour. We opted for a round of Zipline, and then just went petiks on the beach. The beach quite rocky though, so not really an ideal site to sunbathe on.

A very rocky beach

Pre-Zipline!

What I loved:

The history. Their guides certainly knew a LOT about what went down in every site. They can tell you which craters were made by bomb hits and shrapnel, which trails were caved in and whatnot. Probably my favorite part would be the bat cave and the Malinta Tunnels, where you can find Manuel Quezon’s old office, hospital ward tunnels and the secret passageway that McArthur used to escape from Corregidor. I think it was also where he uttered his famous words “I shall return.”

The rustic feel. Though airconditioned and clean, Corregidor Inn’s interiors were not too glamorous. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that it didn’t feel like a hotel. In fact it looked pretty much like an old house, which went with the whole history thing. The island is powered by solar energy and generators; only one TV can be found in the whole building because the generators won’t be able to sustain TVs in all 31 rooms.

Corregidor Inn

The view from my window. Now wouldn’t you want to wake up to that?

The two-bedroom suite. (Photo credit: http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html)

What I didn’t love so much:

The food. I was severely disappointed with La Playa’s menu, which didn’t offer that many choices. My father was looking forward to some fresh seafood. I suppose he thought seafood would be easy to come by since we’re on an island and the sea is so close, but he was disappointed by that as well. Turns out, the food and ingredients they have on hand were also from Manila, and their generators can’t sustain superfreezers that can keep the seafood fresh. For the price range of 150-400php, the cooking was bleh. “Southwestern Fried Chicken” is literally just fried chicken. Chef’s Special was fried fish. The Spare ribs tasted like tocino. They have excellent churros though, but other than that, everything else on the menu isn’t too good.

The rather sad menu. No further food porn because I do not like lies.

Recommendations:

History enthusiasts and nature lovers would have a blast here. I think even RPG geeks would have a heck of a time with all the canons, weapons and war memorabilia. I swear, I couldn’t stop associating inane words like “Quartermaster” with World of Warcraft. “I am ready to exchange my Arena Points now. Where be my Wrathful Set?”

DEFEND THE CITY, WE ARE UNDER SIEGE!

– If you’re a first timer, or if you’re not too fond of long walks and hikes, go for the bus tour.

Bring your own food if you’re planning on staying overnight. Save your money and avoid disappointment. But do try the churros.

– Seems like a nice place to hold team buildings. No videoke though, but I think they’ll have a “recreational area” up and running soon. Though the lodging and food weren’t too classy, I didn’t really mind. I came here for the experience and for the history, and what an experience it was indeed.

 

Budget:

Historical Walking Tour Package: PHP 1,788 per head [incl of roundtrip ferry transfers; shrine, entrance and terminal fees; guided walking tour, packed lunch and tour kit, fuel surcharge]
Accommodation: PHP 4,000 per room per night (2-br suite), max 4 persons per room
Food: PHP 150-400 per person per meal
Misc  Activities:
– Sunset Viewing – PHP 250 per head
– “Ghost Hunting” – PHP 250 per head
– Zip-line – PHP 150 per head
– ATV – PHP 500 per hour

The Wanderlust Series

It began with the family trip to Corregidor.

That trip awakened my long-dormant desire to travel. The fact that I like traveling, experiencing new things, seeing sights and learning about other cultures and history was reawakened during my visit to the historic island. However, travel can also be quite expensive, so I never really had the chance to do this (save for my business trips to Davao).

Thanks to corporate level wages, seat sales and group buying sites, the dream of traveling didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.

After Corregidor, there was Boracay, the first out of town trip that I had with friends that was not within Luzon. A long time ago, we all made a wish, saying that we hope one day, when we say let’s meet up, we mean meet up in Boracay. Despite the monsoon season, we made the trip happen, and still had a blast.

As an early birthday present for myself, I booked a trip to Singapore with one of my best friends. I am planning on going to Cebu before Christmas.

I do not know whether it’s just part of my quarter life crisis, or I really am just a born wanderer (in spite of my abominable sense of direction). Either way, it looks like I will be traveling a lot after this. I am not by any means rich; every trip I will make will be on a very tight budget. The Wanderlust series will be my means of recording my experiences.

Wish me well. 🙂

Come away with me.
Photo credit: http://giovannisantostefano.deviantart.com/

Ripples

We write our story on water.

Nary a photo to immortalize any moment. No souvenirs to mark the milestones.

No traces. No prints. Nothing to burn, or discard or donate when all this mess is over. No ashes to clean up. The world shall turn still, business as usual. When it ends, it’s as if it was all in my head. Just memories of a distant past life, so hazy it seems like it was all imagined.

Just a story for the books, an idea to fuel poetry and art. Just fiction. When it ends, its like it never happened.

Only…

It did.

On the Bookshelf: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room is one of the very few books that I judged by its cover.

It was white, with only the title and author’s name written across the front using a multicolored childish-handwriting font.

It was a refreshing sight from all the vampire-themed young adult books that dominate the display cases these days. Room looked like a light read, Fully Booked was on sale, and I had gift cards to spend. I grabbed a copy right away.

Upon entering the story, all you know is that to a kid named Jack, Room was the entire world, and this is where he lives with his Ma. You can see that he is happy with the arrangements,  his whole day mapped out for him, with meals and play and treats toward the end of every week. The story progresses and, together with Jack, you find out more about this tiny, highly structured world that he lives in.

You find out that to his Ma, Room was not the whole world; it’s  a prison. You find out about Old Nick, his regular visits, and that Jack should always, always be in the closet when Old Nick arrives.

Immediately you find yourself trying to read faster to answer all the “Why??”s.

The story was written in Jack’s point of view. This, I feel, is what really drew me in. You see, Jack is five years old. It was amazing, how Donoghue wrote the entire thing using his voice and made it sound convincing. Peppered with toddler-isms, I felt like Jack really was talking me through the whole story. The narration had the attention span of a toddler as well, one minute eavesdropping on adult conversations that revealed important plot turners, the next he’d be thinking about how much he needed to poo, and you’d go all “Aww, come on Jack FOCUS!”.

While the first half felt like a suspense thriller, room is not so much an escape story as much as it is an unconventional portrayal of a mother-and-child bond, and a socio-psychological commentary of survival and growth.

Through Jack’s entertaining narration, the plot points unfold gradually. Donoghue’s writing gives you enough details yet still left much to the imagination. I don’t know about you, but personally, love it when an author let’s you think for yourself instead of being tongue-in-cheek. It makes me feel like she thinks her readers are smart enough to piece the plot together.

Audrey Niffeneger’s review said “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When its over, you look up: The world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.” I agree with her completely; I felt the same way after I was done with it.

This post doesn’t do the book any justice, but I must say, it’s one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a long time. If you liked Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Anne Frank, you just might like this one too.

Find out more about Room the book here.

2012: Quarter-Life Crisis Year

When the clock struck twelve last New Year’s Eve, one of my very first thoughts was “I’m turning twenty-five this year. Twenty-five. A quarter of a century.” 

Needless to say, it threw me into a fit of panic. A slew of questions wouldn’t stop nagging me, questions like “What do I want with my career?” “Why am I not a manager yet?” “Why don’t I have a freaking car yet? Or my own place?” “Do I want kids? Marriage? Oh good lord please don’t make me think about marriage. If I want kids, I should get them before I’m thirty because it’s hard to conceive past that age right? But if I want a baby by the time I’m thirty, I should take all the risks I want and travel the WORLD like…NOW. Unless I go for adoption, which is a wholly different story. ”

ANYWAY. I digress.

Point is, I have realized, now more than ever, that time time really does fly. Thus I made a solemn promise to myself that I will make this year count, in terms of career plans and personal growth.

And so, I dub 2012 as my Quarter Life Crisis Year. Join me on my anti-aging obsessions, home and body makeovers, travel plans and other such panicky things expected from a twenty-five year old girl trying to keep up with this fast paced world.

2012 will be amazing. Whatever the stars say, I will make it so.