Sayonara, Manila!

Nearly 12 months of communicating mostly online, patiently waiting for school holidays to come around, and traveling thousands of miles to be together for just a few days, and this is what it comes down to.

purple luggage
“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…” All the possessions that I’m allowed to take packed tightly in a couple of suitcases.

While the last three weeks have been absolutely stressful, thanks to having to deal with red tape and braving Christmas traffic to get from one point of Metro Manila to another (hello, Pasay to Kyusi in a day!) to run after certifications and official documents, I still count myself absolutely lucky to have the chance to be with The One and to be given the opportunity to work in another country. Things fell into place just when I was about to give up and embrace life-long singledom (nothing wrong there, mind!) or accept the prospect of working in the same city until for the rest of my productive years. And so after feeling like I’ve gone a decade older pleading with all sorts of powers-that-be to give me a piece of paper, sign statements or give me a clean bill of health, I’m flying tonight to be with my love while waiting for the right papers to come along for a pending post thousands of miles away. They say that luck is when preparedness meets opportunity, and I guess this is just as true in my case in spite of many lingering doubts about my own capabilities.

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Travel is Life

“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country.

Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world.

Travel is… a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is “Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.” 

— Nick Miller, New Girl

Last year was the only one in the past six that I didn’t leave the country. Maybe it’s time to get a new visa or use up what’s remaining of what I still have. Or maybe it’s time to dust off my old camera and drive hundreds of miles to capture the beauty that my country is known for: its rich traditions, its people, the kindness of strangers whose languages I don’t even speak.

sgplane

Travel brings out the worst and the best in us. In it, we find ourselves and realise how strong and brave and patient we can be. Along the way, we find friends and along the way, I may find what and who I have been searching for.

Travel opens our eyes to certain truths: are we there for the whole journey or are we just tagging along until the next pit-stop, the next station? Are we travelling with the right companion and going in the right direction? Travel has its perils, too: wasted time, false promises of a good adventure, lost resources, physical threats, heartbreak.

Sometimes, these pitfalls make me wonder if some travels are worth taking. Not all travels are equal, and we cannot keep on making reckless decisions with our limited time and resources. Maybe some journeys are better taken towards other directions.

Take the next or the first step; bring out the map; take with you only what is necessary. Keep it simple. Follow your inner compass. Sing if you are afraid, dance when you are happy. Meet fellow travellers; treat them kindly and respectfully.

Travel is life. Have faith. Find your courage. Travel is why I don’t have nice things. But oh, I would not want it any other way!

Have the courage to fail big and stick around

Elizabethtown is one of those films that showed promise but didn’t do well amongst mass audiences. Maybe one has to go through some real issues in one’s life to really appreciate the message behind the film. For others, may be it is enough to be a fan of Orland Bloom, who is reprising his role as Legolas in the next installment of The Hobbit.

Following the arch of its more successful predecessors, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, this is the story of Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) who gets sacked for costing his company nearly a billion dollars on a terrible shoe design. To make matters worse, his father dies while on a visit to Georgia, and he has to make funeral arrangements that conflict with what his extended family prefers. On the flight to the south, he meets bubbly attendant, Claire (Kirsten Dunst), who has relationship issues of her own, but remains on the brighter side of things. She falls for him, he is too focused on his troubles to care.

What follows captures the idea of a supportive partner, the courage to break the rules, and the are we/are we not a couple conundrum.

Back in the day, Orlando Bloom was one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood, following his portrayal of Legolas, possibly the most gorgeous elf that strutted in Middle Earth and slayed hundreds of orcs with a flick of his bow and arrow. His fame was then confirmed with the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean, although he was outshined by Johnny Depp and even Keira Knightly, both of whom were eventually nominated for Oscars in succeeding roles.

Relatable.

Elizabethtown didn’t do well in the box office, but if you can see past the less than stellar chemistry between the two leads; or Paula Deen’s appearance as Drew’s aunt; or holes in the plot line, you just might end up feeling good about this film, which after all is about love, courage, and redemption.

Side note: In the real world, how a shoe model that has no way of getting sold goes to mass market is unthinkable; more so is the idea of blaming everything on the shoe designer and not on someone higher up the pecking order.