GPS waypoint: 14°39'04.5"N 121°02'57.4"E Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
After Vipassana Coming out of my 10-day meditation course, I defaulted back to my Dad's house in Quezon City where I practically had the entire house to myself. I wanted whatever bliss I got from the meditation to linger a little longer...no meat (until I devoured a matang-baka goto) and no alcohol (until I stepped foot on a blues bar...oh well). I thought I'd be hanging out with my new Vipassana friends, but it seemed like we all took off in different directions. After the initial 'miss you all' in Facebook, it took the natural course of dissipating into thin air. I'm sure they all resumed life with increased self-awareness on their daily toils.
Iyengar Yoga with Jessie Former Vipassana Prez, Jessie, was kind enough to invite me to a free Iyengar yoga class he was regularly conducting. I welcomed that. I haven't done yoga in a while and even if I wanted to get started again, it was prohibitively priced in Manila - P400 cheapest I've seen. It was a pleasant surprise to see some Vipassana meditators and friends join the practice - Jepoy, Robert and daughter. I would have continued with the 3x/week practice, but a trip from Quezon Circle to Mandaluyong in rush hour takes a painful 2.5 hours wading through a throng of 9-5ers...sigh!
My Semi-Beloved Charlene I haven't seen nor communicated with Char in more than 2 years. I wasn't even sure if it was a good idea to meet. But we did for a brief 30 minutes. She looked much better than the last time and in better spirit - I'm glad, afterall, she's still special to me in some quasi-platonic way. She's one of the most intelligent people I've ever met (UP magna cum laude, the only one who looked at me straight in the eye and in all matter-of-factly seriousness said, "I'm smarter than you"). As noble as her cause and crusade is in uplifting the beleaguered farmer from his indentured lot, I didn't think it was the best use of genius nor the best use of Civil Engineering - and I callously said so - probably why the conversation only lasted 30 minutes (not to mention I didn't get any reply from my subsequent text). There was a big elephant in the living room and somebody had to make the call. Me and my big mouth...but I can't help it. Moving on...
Chikoy Pura and 70s Bistro I've long avoided 70s Bistro before due to bad roofing and bad ventilation. But since 2 years back, they renovated with new owners - that was the shot in the arm this iconic 70s music lounge needed badly. I checked-out The Jerks with Chikoy Pura. Chikoy, given his mileage in the rock scene, has refined his act along superlative lines. He is as iconic as 70s Bistro itself. It was a treat hearing him belt out familiar songs from back in the day. I've always felt in the presence of greatness when I listen to him perform. More power to you, Chikoy!
Marist High School 50th Homecoming The homecoming didn't really interest me - I mistakenly thought it was just a gathering of guys from the same school who'll just get drunk in their little corners and rant locker-room tales about make-believe girls they banged. I was on my way to check-out Elwyn's scene in Shaw when high school buddy, Ferd Aguilar, texted me about the homecoming. I don't ignore signs. I had to make it to the homecoming. Meeting some batchmates at Tony's Greg and Sally's Garden Café was a pleasant experience - specially meeting Dodo Fernandez. We slugged it out in high school and never saw each other again. Now, we drink beer together and laughed it all out. I saw my high school teacher, Ichie, who was the hottest teacher at that time - told her how I had a crush on her sister (yes, after all these years, it can be told). Saw Armin Bernardino who also partyed at Burning Man. The event was much more spectacular than I imagined. The Dawn Band performed and brought the house down, girls in skimpy bikinis paraded on stage, beer was free, and everybody was friendly. Lastly, there was Michael Tud who once again was my Good Samaritan for being my ride home - thanks man, I really appreciate it. And thank you, Tony Ancheta for being the gracious and generous host, and more importantly, for being the nexus that holds our batch together.
Leslie Interestingly enough, me and Leslie starting hanging-out. I met her years ago in Baguio shortly after she walked from Sagada to Baguio. I didn't ask how many days it took her or where she found lodging for the night. Like me, she's a seeker - pursuing elusive answers to existential questions. And like me, she's weird to normal folks - but that's more of a compliment really. I think she's just beyond their comprehension. So we would meet up for coffee, beer or at one time, a full bottle of wine. It's great to be in the company of someone you somehow resonate with - two lone riders crossing paths, sharing insight and celebrating life, knowing fully well, we'll soon go about our own separate ways. Godspeed Leslie.
Hooking up with Old Friends Apart from web updates, my time was spent mainly on hooking up with friends and meeting new ones in the process. It was great seeing old friends I haven't seen in years - my Vipassana sis and Francophone Leah, Elsie from my Survivor Philippines days, the Hutchinsons - Greg and Viveca, bluesman Elwyn or hanging-out with new ones - yogini Ayee, lone backpacker Trish, etc.
Moving Forward I didn't get to see all my old friends - it was more like a hit-or-miss thing. In my private world view of the changing peoplescape within my immediate orbit, as long as I've done due-diligence to make a connection happen, and if it still didn't happen, then it was not meant to be - the purpose for the acquaintance probably has been served. I try not to lose sleep over it. Time to broaden the horizon to make room for new possibilities. It's not as clinical as it sounds - let's just call it traveling light.
Ending Thoughts 16 days is not a long time. But I think I made the most out of it. Now that I'm venturing into other shores, I have to gradually wean myself from the 10 years of traveling the Philippines. I'll be serving at Cambodia's Vipassana course - cooking meals, cleaning up the kitchen, mopping floors, etc. After that stint, I have no idea where I end up or where I make my money to sustain myself. I don't even know if I ever get back to the Philippines. The wonderful thing about all this, is, I don't really want to know.
Check Them Out!!!
Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe
145 Ipil St cor Champaca, Marikina Heights
Charlene Tan (18 Sept 2014) Our meeting wasn't abrupt because I was offended by your comment. I had really intended to meet with you much earlier before my run but the logistics weren't in our favor. I did kinda squeeze in meeting with you because I figured my schedule would just get more hectic in the coming days. So there, and I clarified the non-response above. Please don't take me too seriously. I can't afford that, haha!
Have a wonderful adventure in Southeast Asia and beyond, I'm sure. I have to say that I admire your fidelity in writing your experiences. Hope life opens and opens for you.
Anna (16 September 2014) Too bad I didn't see you! No response re coffee yet, but will let you know how that goes. May the force be with you.
Ichie Borromeo Castillo (16 September 2014) Keep safe!
Elsie Yang (16 September 2014) You're leaving na?
Elwyn Zalamea (16 September 2014) 'til the next pit stop
Sep 1-16, 2014