Friday, May 19, 2017

Tales from My Travels: Boatman

During my solo trip in Pangasinan, I went on a tour of the Hundred Islands National Park. For a solo traveler like me, tours like that were costly. They usually charge per boat and the more people there are in a group, the less you pay. I tried haggling but the fees where standard. At first, the tourism center offered that I could join a group if I wanted to spend less on the boat tour. I considered it at first but when I saw that the group was composed of mostly senior citizens, I had second thoughts. Not that I had something against old people, but I felt like they weren't the type who'd go on side activities. When the boatman in-charge of this group informed me that they only wanted to tour the islands, then I declined. I had a few activities in mind like cliff-jumping, snorkeling, and riding the zip line. So I ended up renting a boat on my own.

It was where I met kuya Ray. He was a middle-aged man who worked as a boatman or operator of one of those wooden bangkas that they use to tour travelers in the islands. He didn't speak much unless I would ask him questions. Being the chatty and talkative person that I am, I still did my best to chat him up. Eventually, he told me his story. I learned that operating the boat is his only means of earning and making a living for his family. It was his way of life. He didn't even own the boat. So whatever money that he'd make out of a boat tour, he still had to split it with the boat owner. He said that it wasn't much but he still manages. He has two daughters who are still in school. He said that life was difficult but he's getting by and that he is happy with what he does, being able to meet different people through the boat tours. 

There are people in this world who are making an honest living with whatever resources, skills, and talents that they have. There are still people in this world who would rather work hard than resort to stealing and other ways of making easy money. There are people in this world who are simply happy and content selling their craft, which probably took a lot of time and effort to make with the little profit that it gives. 

And this is why I no longer haggle. It is a way of helping them out. These are the people who choose to look at what they have, count them as blessings and be happy with it, rather than look at what they don't have and feel discontent. These are the people who know the value of hard work and diligence. These are the people who give you your money's worth, not because of what they sell, but because of the good vibes and optimism that they bring. 

Which is why when a kid on the streets tries to sell you something which you are interested in buying, do not haggle. Your money could buy him his first meal of the day or could be his baon for the next day. Do not haggle, because you'll never know. If you can give them a small tip, then better. :)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tales from My Travels: Line-Up

It was morning. It was the start of a new day. I woke up, still hungover from partying the night before. As much as I would love to curl in bed some more, I knew that it was the perfect day to catch some waves. That and getting some much needed saltwater would definitely cure my hangover. So I hurriedly changed into my swimsuit, put on some sunblock, grabbed my rash guard, and made my way down to the beach.

That morning was perfect. The sun was up and the beach was already bustling with activities. Swimming, sunbathing, walking on the shore, taking photos and posing for photos, and having surfing lessons. I sat on the sand, sank my toes in it while feeling the hot sun on my skin. I loved every minute of it. I sat there watching the people going about their beach activities. 

After I while, I decided to grab a board and walked to the ocean. The moment I felt the waves kiss my feet, I knew I was home. I walked further until I was in waist-deep waters. The water was cool but not too cold. I got on the board and paddled my way to the line-up. The line-up is the spot in the ocean where the surfers literally line up to catch some waves. It's the spot where they wait for the wave that's perfect for them to ride. There were already many surfers that morning and I joined them, calling out hello's. We were all waiting for our turn, for our wave. 

You see, when the right wave comes along, you can see it from a distance. You anticipate it as it approaches you. And as it inches even closer, you feel the adrenaline rush. Now, you have to have that perfect timing so you can start paddling to move forward, then stand, and ride that wave all the way back to the shore. The ride may only last a few moments but there's nothing quite like the feeling of riding a wave. Sometimes, you will get wiped out but that's a part of it and to be honest, wipe-outs are fun as long as you don't get injured. Once the ride is over, then you get back on the board and make your way back to the line-up again, and then repeat.

In a way, life is like a huge line-up and waves are opportunities that just keep coming. There are some that you deliberately miss. There are some that you really want to ride, but you end up missing by accident. But when the timing is perfect, then you get to ride it. When you do, own it and relish the feeling. At first, it may be scary because you are in open water and you'll never know what's down there, but if you have guts, then you can conquer that fear. If you have guts and if the timing is perfect, you can take on any wave that life throws your way.

Monday, May 1, 2017

No Longer a Stranger

Dear you, 

Two months ago, you were a complete stranger that I just saw walking around and lugging a surfboard. You smiled at me, and I smiled back. Two months ago, you were a total stranger whom I had no intention of seeing again. As far as I was concerned, we had a couple of drinks, talked for a few hours, and bid our goodbyes the next day. And I thought that was it.

Until we talked again. We didn't talk about what transpired the night we met but we did talk about a lot of other things. You were leaving and you gave me a promise that I had no intention of holding on to. It was all too good to be true. I mean, why will you make promises to me? You are smart and funny, and you are easy on the eyes. Why would you be interested in me? Why? Why will you choose me out of all the other girls, far prettier and more interesting than I am, who were all clamoring for your attention? Why? I could never fathom.

But as weeks passed, we continue to talk and I learn something new about you every single day. You let me into your life and told me stories I'm certain you have never told anyone, except those who are really close to you. You told me about the skeletons in your closet, and I was sorry that I couldn't tell you mine at the time. You let me into your life and you told me about your hopes and dreams, and your fears. I am thankful for that, but I can't open up to you the way you did to me. At least not now. You have to understand that I am still learning to trust people again. I am still in the process of learning how to rely on people again. Because in my existence, people have, time and again, let me down and ended up hurting me.

I am that box with the label that says "handle with care", and inside is twenty-something years of heavy baggage collected over time - over dozens of disappointments, of rejections, of being let-down, of betrayal, and of heartbreak. 

When I met you, I was just getting out of one of the darkest points in my life. It was a difficult time for me and somehow your presence made it easier. Our conversations gave me a reason to smile every single day. You made me laugh. Now, you are giving me something to look forward to. But as much as I would love to believe everything you say, I still cannot. I will when I see it. You have to understand where I am coming from. 

As early as now, I am telling you that this won't be easy. Nothing is ever easy in life. But if you are in it for the long haul, then thank you. If not, then no worries. People come and go, and that's a fact that I have already accepted. When we met, I expected never to see you or speak to you again after that night, yet here we are, riding on this huge wave called "life" on different time zones. The rule is that we meet, and then go back to being strangers again. You staying in my life is the exception. So if your promises turn out to be too good to be true, then it's okay. It's just the rule.