Today, I am grateful or the opportunity to participate in a forum on electronic waste. It made me realize (for the nth time) the importance of policy work because it affects the lives of people. I met several incredible people during that forum who inspired me to make the most out of this life, pursue my passion, and be the best that I can be in my chosen field.
Watch out for a separate entry about this topic.
Today, I am thankful that I was able to finish my enrollment in one whole day. That would have been an impossible feat during my college days. Although the schedule for this semester is suicidal, I would gladly embrace the challenge since I already made that decision when I entered law school.
Today, I am grateful for the safe flight from Batanes to Manila. I still had a vacation hangover because I really missed Batanes but I know I had to get back to work. I am simply grateful for the whole experience. I hope I can re-live the dream again. For now, I'll have to content myself with photos and stories. ;p
I am also grateful for the gift of dance which I got the chance to share with a good friend who's getting married on Friday. She requested me to do the choreography for their couple dance and I willingly obliged. Its always a pleasure to help people learn a new skill and see them sharing this skill with other people.
As promised, I'll be giving you a blow by blow account of our Batanes escapade. ;)
Warning: This will be a VERY lengthy post!
I have always wanted to go to Batanes that's why I included it in my 30 Things to do Before I Turn 30 List. One thing that's hindering me from doing so was the steep airfare price. A regular roundtrip ticket to Basco would cost around P15,000 pesos. So last February, when Seair announced a promo that they'll be selling these tickets for half the price, hindi na kami nagpatumpik-tumpik pa, we immediately grabbed that opportunity even if our scheduled flight is still in June. With a roundtrip ticket worth P7k, we were all set to fly to Basco on June 2 - 5.
However, two days before our scheduled flight, I received an email informing me that I was bumped off from the June 2 flight and they're moving me to a June 3 flight and that would mean that my stay in my dream destination would be cut short. So I requested the personnel to move my return flight to June 6 so that I can still spend 3 full days there. He informed me that I would have to pay P1,000 for the re-booking. That's when I blew my top off. In the first place, it was not my fault that my flight from Manila was re-booked and now, they're charging me if I wanted to change my return flight. The personnel told me to calm down and said that he has to consult with the boss. Well, to make the long story short, he consented to my request for a free re-booking. So, I still got to spend 3 full days and 3 nights in Batanes.
The (Perfect) Company
Well, we call ourselves the Philcoa hotties. We're blockmates in law school who share one thing in common: passion for travel. During sembreaks, or even mini-breaks within the sem, we usually plan out-of-town trips just to get away from the crazy world of lost school. We looked forward for finals week to be over because that would mean that June is just around the corner. I could say that they're the perfect company for this journey because we were always open to any adventure and we never backed down from any challenge, from climbing mountains, jump shots, buwis-buhay shots, crawling through the hills littered with cow and goat dung, even riding on top of a jeepney. You can't get more adventurous than that. ;)
Batanes is everything that the travel books have described and more! It was truly breathtaking. Every view is better than the previous one. Even if one is not a good photographer, its easy to capture an award winning photograph due to the sheer beauty of the place. I just couldn't help but sing at the top of my lungs - the hills are alive with the sound of music! When we were on top of a mountain enveloped by the clouds, I also wanted to belt out Hiraya Manawari's theme song:
Gusto kong abutin ang tayog ng ulap
Gusto kong sisirin ang lalim ng dagat
Gusto kong akyatin ang tuktok ng bundok
Tuklasin ang hiwaga sa puso ko'y, bumabalot ;p
I can go on and on and on about this beautiful place but it would never do justice to the beauty of Batanes. To a certain extent, it has been touched by time and civilization since most of the houses in Basco were already of modern design. I just love the simplicity of it all. The main street is just one lane and you can see different people from different walks of life riding bicycles everywhere.
God must have spent a little more time in Batanes because it is truly magnificent.
The Ivatan dialect sounds very different to my ears. Its not quite like any dialect that I've heard. But one thing I noticed about their dialect is that it seems to be infused with the word God. Here are sample phrases:
Dios mamajes - Thank you. Literal translation: God will repay you. Kapian ka pan Dios - Good Morning. Kumusta ka? Literal translation: Nasa atin ang Dios Dios machivan - Goodbye. Literal translation: God be with you.
Did you notice the beautiful translation of these ordinary phrases? For me, it was purely a linguistic bliss. It tells a lot about the simple faith of these ordinary folks and their unshaking belief in the Divine Being.
I had a eureka moment when I went to mass last Sunday. I did not understand any word since the mass was in the local dialect. Fortunately, the priest spoke in Tagalog for the homily. But during the singing of the Our Father which was in Ivatan, I sang along with them using the English version. I noticed that even if I did not understand their dialect, they put the same emphasis on the same words so I still understood them. It amazed me to realize how universal our faith is. We might come from different geographical backgrounds and worship with different dialects but we still share one faith and worship one God and that is enough to unite us in this journey.
The Ivatan People
Another thing which I observed in Batanes was that everybody was working! During mornings, I didn't see anybody just loitering around doing nothing. They're a bunch of hardworking people who needs to use their muscles (read: magbanat ng buto) in order to earn a living and provide for their families. But they also know how to have fun and relax in the afternoon. I was surprised to note that they had a huge baseball field and they were actually playing baseball, not basketball. Pretty sophisticated for a small town like Basco.
The Ivatans are also goodnatured and to prove that point, Basco has zero crime rate. Sarap siguro ng buhay ng mga pulis dun! ;) We actually met a police officer who was tasked to accompany one tourist as he goes around Basco. See, wala na talaga silang magawa.
'Tis for a fact that I gained several pounds during my 3-day stay in Batanes. Thanks to the gastronomic Ivatan meal that our guide usually prepares for us. A traditional Ivatan meal usually consists of ovod balls (meatballs made of ground pork and banana heart or even trunk), lungis (pork adobo) and pako salad (fern). Of course, our Batanes food trip experience would not be complete without a taste of their famous coconut crabs. Where can I get the courage to resist that? ;p
Today, I feel so alive! Every cell of my body is a-buzz. Atop a mountain which is several thousands of feet above sea level, I felt closer to heaven and free. This majestic scenery will remain etched in my memory for eternity. Even if I was hammered by a gigantic wave which gave me scratches and bruises, I'm just grateful to be alive!
This will be a quick post since I'm making good on my promise to update you on my journey towards accomplishing the 30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30 list. Tomorrow, I'm finally going to Batanes. I just realized how much I wanted to reach this place since I've mentioned it three times in this blog - here, here and here.
I'll tell you more about it after I've explored my dream destination. Gotta go!
Today, I am grateful for the gift of family. We may not be a perfect family but this is the only family I've got and its perfect enough for me. Being the eldest, the responsibilities may sometimes get the best of me. But if that's what it takes to keep this unit intact, then I'd gladly embrace it with all my heart.
Today, I am grateful for my mother's wake up call every morning. She ensures that I get out of my bed so that I wouldn't oversleep (which I usually tend to do). I realize that not everybody has this chance so I might as well enjoy the love and attention.