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Manila SojournSeptember 10, 2008

Manila Sojourn
A Retrospect - March to August 2008

A 6-Month Flow
When I left Sagada in March on a month-long backpacking into the south, I didn't realize I'd be gone for 6 months, taken by the Flow to the most surprising episodes - hmmm....that sounds like an understatement. Let me rephrase - the Flow took me to turns and twists far beyond my wild expectations. As I've mentioned in my previous blogs, when the Flow calls, I never say 'No'. Instead, I brace myself for one magical ride. For all its peaks and valleys, this one left an indelible mark.

UP Area
After arriving Manila in April from backpacking the entire March in Iloilo, Guimaras, Davao City (climbing Mt. Apo in the process), Samal Island, Cebu, Boracay, Coron and Anawangin Cove, I settled in the UP area to decompress, party, hook up with friends and meet new ones.

Like my previous visits to Manila, I defaulted in the company of my Mt. Pinatubo buddies - Reggie, Aarone and Xtine. I met them on my climb to Mt. Pinatubo. Since then, common friends call us the Goodies. When I'm around, they tag me along - this time, on a road trip to Ilocos. They're always around in times of need...and for that, I'm grateful.

Night Life
Nights would find me at Mag:net Café and Route 196 where I became a regular audience to solo rock performer, Noli Aurelio. His vibe is just chill. Sometimes, it'll be just him, his partner Bessie and myself. Hanging out in his gig was like wearing an old just fits.

Another rediscovery for me was the retro-80s band, The Ronnies and their friends - Ene, Ronnie, Waya and Fran. I'd hang out with them on every gig as well but their sched was always in confict with something I've already lined up...not exactly tragic, but sayang.

Of course, for laid back Blues and cool company, there's Backdoor Blues Café with hands-on owner, Elwyn. When I want good food (not just beer!), a place to have conversation (where piped-in blues doesn't take center stage but provide laid-back ambience in the background), listen to good blues, or just plain chill-out, Backdoor Blues comes to mind...always.

Hail Oblation
I also caught wind of the Hail Oblation project in celebration of UP's 100 years. It's a photo shoot of 100 UP people (students, faculty, staff, alumni, etc) wearing a specially designed trunk with a built-in fig leaf, posing ala oblation. It was to be part of a coffee table book. After submitting my abs picture, I qualified. It was just a matter of waiting out the date. The date was pushed and pushed again. I waited 1 more week in UP for the event, showed up on the day, only to be informed that it was moved...ooops, they forgot to inform me! It was badly organized. I begged them to take me out of their list.

Survivor Philippines
Then came the biggest curve ball of them all - Survivor Philippines . When I passed the initial audition in May, I prioritize it, being a chance in a lifetime. I put everything either on hold or dropped it. Complying to all requirements as a would-be castaway was particularly taxing, demanding of time, energy and patience. I wrote about the entire process, but GMA disapproved its posting. Consequently, as they might give short notice about shipping out, I could no longer work or accept new projects, which meant lean times.

With the castaways revealed to the public last night (Sept 9), I was deluged by text messages and phone calls from friends and well-wishers. It was touching getting that kind of support...also 15 minutes of fame. In a way, I'm glad to be in Sagada when this happened. With no internet (it's been down) and no tv, I'm completely oblivious to what's happening in Manila.

Like Burning Man before it, I feel I have taken changes with me from my Survivor experience. What they are, or what other doors it opens up remain to be seen.

House Crasher
To save up on rent, I also gave up my house in Sagada. I thought I had a place to stay in Manila...oops, wrong thought. I knew I opted for a life of nomadic mobility, but looking for a place to crash at 12 midnight was not exactly what I had in mind. Fortunately, I had good friends who offered shelter. That went on for a while - waking up in the morning not knowing where I'll end up for the night. At times, I was thinking, " I nuts living life this way? I'm not exactly spring chicken!" - although deep inside, it's what I bargained for. Initially, I found a room, moved out, drifted again, and finally, I found bedspace in Kruz na Ligas, a nondescript part of QC, near the UP area. We were 4 guys cramped in a tiny and poorly vented room. At least I had a place to rest my head on at the end of the day, and a place to wash before I'm off to where the day takes me.

A Spade is a Spade is a Spade
I also came to head with my own tenet about family and of what it takes to stay real. If I see a spade, I have to call it a spade no matter what. By deciding based on logic (not of sentimentality, conjecture, co-dependence, material safety net, or blind loyalty), I practically jumped into the abyss, hanging on to dear faith that by staying real, the Flow will guide me through. It was an acid test that made me walk away from people I've respected and admired my entire life. But the fork on the road was compelling. By choosing logic, I had to walk alone, severing the last vestiges of blood. I have never felt so alone...and free. I could despair, but the open road is before me, calling. I need to move on, thinking about the looming possibilities instead of the pain. After this, very few things in life will hurt. When I resigned to living the rest of my life alone, just passing through people's orbit as a transient, I may have embarked on a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Paying For My Sins
I found myself working out hard and intense - more than my usual routine, often at the pool tambayan. Whatever angst I had inside me, it came out there. I trained like my sanity depended on it. I'd skip rope fast and long, interspersed with weights before hitting the rope again. This would go on until there's nothing left to give, or when my calves tell me to stop. At the end of the day, whatever I wanted to exorcise is gone...for the time being. I come out of it cleansed - a baptism of adrenalin. Shortcomings, sins, bad calls - all forgiven...until the self-doubt reawakens...then the process repeats itself.

UP Mountaineers
Being in Manila also meant being with my beloved UP Mountaineers friends. After my induction in 05, I've never really participated in any official function except to hang out. This time, I felt the need to involve myself again. With the new batch of applicants, I reached out by doing some of the lectures - Leave No Trace, Fitness and River Crossing. Of course I had to review and read up, sometimes, just being 24 hours ahead of them. It was also a good re-learning process for me. I was with them on their Level 2 climb to Pantingan Peak, at the Outdoor Skills training, and last, the mafia-themed bash they put up for us. Through their effort, I get a glimpse of what it was like for us when we were applicants ourselves. I'm optimistic about this batch...a little raw on the edges, but so were we. Whatever bond I made with them before I left, I hope it stays...perhaps even grow.

This visit also allowed me to bond with UPM '06, the Rumble Reggae, after the joining the Outdoor Skills training for the applicants at Ipo Dam. It's a tight batch whose members know each other too well. Hey, the outdoors has a unique way of bonding people. Likewise, I hung out with my own batch mates. Not getting to be with them regularly, I noticed how much they've matured into their roles as UPM members. I continue to feel privileged in their company.

Ending Thoughts
Now back in Sagada, I am able to find a new place - my old house was given to a Korean family. My new place is bigger - too big for one guy. A little more money, but I have no choice - it's the only house around. It's a beautiful wood paneled house facing the same Ampacao ridge. On my 3rd day, writing as the rain pelts my roof, covered by a blanket to keep me warm, I am once again at peace, resuming my old life, decompressing from the intensity of my Manila sojourn.

--- TheLoneRider

Metro Manila Blogs by TheLoneRider

September 10, 2008

Reader Comments:

(Sept 19, 200) welcome back! do you have a new bike?

Karen VirataKaren Virata
"when the Flow calls, I never say 'No'. Instead, I brace myself for one magical ride"
(Sept 17, 2000) Just read your latest entry and i love it! That line will take me to and thru my next grand adventure. Thank you for sharing the spirit.

(Sept 17, 2008) enjoy your stay there LoneRider! i know you need a break badly. Elsie and I see to it that we watch the Survivor Philippines every night. c',) ps: you registered well on the screen...hihihi.

"Backdoor Blues comes to mind...always"
(Sept 17, 2008) Man, gandang umaga! Great to read how you feel 'bout Backdoor... at salamat sa exposure! haha! Take it easy, man...

PJ Villarta
"A Spade is a Spade is a Spade"
(Sept 17, 2008) ....tough call dude.. ;)

UP Mountaineers Environmental Committee
(Sept 17, 2008) ...see you soon LoneRider!

(Sept 17, 2008) ...those were good times, LoneRider. good times.:)

(Sept 17, 2008) Ika nga ng isang piniratang sci fi movie, May the Flow be with You ;-D

(Sept 17, 2008) nasa sagada ka na!? good luck on your new journey LoneRider! hope to see you soon! =D

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