Baler


1.

There is a guttural sound, an almost violent disengagement as the plane struggles with gravity. Inside, I feel the weightlessness of my emotions as if my love had sprouted wings. I am flying away from you, unrequited, unhinged. Without you wanting to tie my heart to the ground, it flees from the hurt. I pray that it never kisses the earth again, that it will fly tirelessly, relentlessly. I fear that if it ever forgets and lands even for a second it may want to perch on your heart again.

2.

Up in the air I stare at the clouds and wonder if I could dump all my sorrows in the sky. But I knew I was being dramatic (and corny) so I thought maybe the plane could do a pirouette instead? I looked down and saw this beautiful mountain covered in trees. I asked my seatmate if he knew the name of the mountain. “Sierra Madre,” he said. Isn’t that where Magsaysay’s plane went down? No, it was in Mt. Manunggal in Cebu.

3.

The instructor teaches me how to balance myself on the surf board, how I should pull myself up and glide into the wave. But really, you could only find the real balance within you. Eventually, I learned how to wait for the push of the water, to feel the propulsion at the tip of my toes as a signal to stand up and ride through the surf. At best, it felt like I was flying. There was so much pleasure knowing that I had outwitted the sea and had conquered the surge that wanted me submerged underwater. It was very therapeutic. Suddenly, I realized the joys of surfing.


after surfing with our photographer and editor


4.

I carry a heavy heart as we are shuttled around the town where Manuel and Aurora met. I learned that they were second cousins but even before I came to Baler I knew a bit about the couple: How Manuel had once sent Atang dela Rama straight from the vaudevillian stage in Manila to travel through thick forests and long, lonely rivers just to have the famed singer serenade his Aurora in Quezon. Once, on Aurora’s birthday I think, Manuel took her on a long ride from Malacanang to a desolate hill in the outskirts of Manila, knowing that she preferred the countryside to the hustle and bustle of the city. The hill overlooked a grand piece of land where, Manuel probably thought, Aurora could have her peace and quiet. He had bought the land for his beloved. Eventually, that very land would be known as Marikina.


the media group on the junket, photo courtesy of http://outoftownblog.com/

5.

Inside the museum, I stare at a series of portraits of fallen Spanish officers. The men looked sullen and sore with their features made almost grotesque by the artist. There was something funny about the whole thing because it appeared as if the dead officers were angry at being dead.

6.

We were taking the bus on our way home and I couldn’t wait to get back to my dogs. Everything about the trip was a blur. I feel as if I had brought an entire continent with me.







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