June 1, 2006 Thursday
Me and my ka-meaning-an - a Tagalog-English word I coined to experience the meaningfulness of what seems like an unfavorable situation. Convenience is stripped down to Spartan levels in pushing the boundaries way beyond my comfort zone just enough to feel the edge - then I begin to feel my ka-meaning-an - like a junkie getting his fix.
My stay in Antadao fulfills all that. Instead of turning the faucet, water is fetched from the
spring source and
carried back to the house. Instead of turning the stove knob to cook food,
fire is built from the chopped wood*. During the initail days, I'd go hungry since I couldn't sustain the fire. But hunger is a good motivator to learn new things...and learn fast. Instead of a heated shower, there's the
chilling outdoor bath with mountain spring water. Likewise,
dishes are manually washed using a basin outside the house.
Rain water is collected from the roof run-off for dish washing and bathing. Once it gets dark and there's no moon, it's pitch black outside the house. A flashlight is mandatory.
That One-Off Mosquito
If at all, the only semblance to luxury I afforded was a mosquito net. Not that there's a lot of mosquitos in Antadao. In fact, it's so cold in the early morning, I get warm by putting on my winter jacket...no mosquito likes that. However, there's always this one-off mosquito who'll unrelentlessly buzz into your ear the entire night...a sure-fire guarantee you'll wake up on the wrong side of the bed. At P150, it's dirt-cheap for a good night's sleep.
Life in Antadao has its challenges but at the same time it's easy - there's no reason to go hungry here. Chayote runs wild. All I have to do is
pick it off the vine, chop it up, build fire,
toss it on the pan and voila! A meal as fresh as it gets, it's fit for a king.
To conserve electricity, cooking dinner and all the washing are done while there's some light left. Then it's lights out around 8 pm. Yes, the day ends early and starts early in Antadao. I'm forced to sleep right. All-night partying back in Manila is but a distant memory.
Morning Has Broken
The day starts with a few
yoga stretches and a mild workout. My main workout is the mountain bike climb to the Poblacion where I spend most of my day - call it a forced workout (by design). For breakfast, I enjoy fresh-baked bread and
smoked bacon (prepared by Aklay), mountain tea, honey and fruit preserves, all from the bounty of Sagada/Antadao. No McDonalds, no Jollibee. Here, I can carefully watch what I eat...no shit goes into my mouth.
With my laptop, I continue to study my french, read up and do exercises from the book "Awakening the Third Eye" and write about my latest local on-going for this site.
Lunch is whatever produce I get from the market. Of course, no lunch break is complete without
siesta on the hammock.
The afternoon may afford me a nice bike ride to the surrounding trails. Sometimes, I get lucky and get invited for a trail ride by the mtb community at the Poblacion.
Trail rides here are always kick-ass...no kidding!
It wasn't too long ago when I dreamed of a personal tagline: Do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be, go where you wanna go. Of course, I was just dreaming then. Little did I know that with every passing day, that aspiration would come about. With my departure from UP last March and drifting for 2 months with no permament address to Batangas, Boracay, Hong Kong and Baguio, and now landing in Antadao, I've come as close as I can get to that reality.
There are so many conveniences we take for granted. Taking a step back to experience rawness the way it used to be, takes a form of re-awakening - food tastes better, colors are more vivid and the strides get an added bounce. Cold showers anyone? Yes, this is everything I've bargained for.
* It would have been more meaningful if I had actually gathered wood from the mountain and chopped it down for kitchen use. But credit on that goes to Colas and Erikson. I guess they too, need their ka-meaning-an. Ha-ha. It's ka-meaning-an to me, but to them, I think it's just chopping wood.
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