Weekend in La Union: Eat, Play, Love

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I haven't published anything on my blog for a long time now. I still write, more often actually, but I just don't feel like sharing them. Though I have an intention of keeping this blog alive, and maybe someday publish some, if not all, of my write ups. What you will read in the next few minutes are excerpts from my personal journal birthed from one of my recent travels.

To you guys who sent me DMs and Emails asking me to update my blog, this is for you. Thank you!

18 February 2017

The bus engine was fired up as soon as every seat was occupied. And we're on our first minute of a five-hour ride. I talked to my friends, had a little bit of catching up. I put my earpods on, lose myself on Paper Kite's Woodland album, and drifted to sleep.

I wonder since when I became comfortable in sleeping on the road, and be at peace about it. I remember when every cell in my body didn't want to succumb to sleepiness though I was dead tired because I was so scared of losing any of my stuff. But as I traveled along, I learned that the world isn't so bad all; that there is goodness as well as villainy - but less of the latter.

Dusk faded too soon to dawn. Sunbeam danced through the curtains and slowly woke me up. The cold pierced through my bones and froze me. What a bad time to be wearing a tank top, my thick bombers doesn't count either. I took my earpods out of my pocket, and played Terrapin by Bonobo. I closed my eyes, and started to meditate, then suddenly peace came rushing in. Unaware of what could happen, but the calmness and northern breeze assured me that I am in for a good ride.

We arrived at the hostel too early for check in, and not even a single hostel crew was in the reception area. But other travelers welcomed us in, they told us to we can pick our own lockers and we can hang out at the communal area, or do our things whilst waiting for the owner to arrive.

My body was longing to embrace the bean bags in the common area. They promised healing to my sore body from sitting up straight for five hours. But my stomach growled and demanded feeding, so we decided to go out for breakfast.

As we were walking, looking for a place for breakfast, the proud ocean was singing loud. She caught our attention, and so we decided to pay her homage. My face lit up to the crashing waves. And just like that! My complaints vanished and flew with the wind. That cliche comes back to life again, there's nothing that salted water and fine sand can't heal.

We rested on the sand. I closed my eyes to a quick prayer, and thanked the Universe for always pulling me to great experiences.

We took a tricycle a few miles south of San Juan to San Gabriel- where the Tangadan Falls reigns. We met our guide, and started to trek. We carved our way through rice fields that soon shifted to bluff muddy trail. At some point we had to remove our foot wears because we had to cross rocky slippery rivers. We brisked through the greenery until the view changed into crisp cliffs, deep-blue lagoons, and smiling people. We wanted to cliff-jump right away but Mark, our guide, lured us into seeing the first the falls.

I couldn't believe the beauty my eyes feasted on , a lagoon in between waterfalls. I smiled and got lost somewhere in the pacifying sounds of waters crashing.

"1.. 2.. 3.. JUMP!" My friends shouted, and so I jumped in! I felt tiny needles of cold water percolating throughout my whole body as I swam and danced with the energy of the water. I was shaking but I wanted to jump again. The second time Janel, Apple, and I jumped together. We held hands, Janel stretched out her GoPro, and we jumped! We share an echoing laugh at this whole scenario because God knows how long it took us to earn the courage to jump. Another beautiful fleeting moment I uploaded in my heart.

We lied down on top of a massive rock, basked in the warmth of the shy sun, and soaked up the moment. My mind was so present in that moment. It's amazing how our spirits were overflowing with gladness at that time. We couldn't stop smiling. I once again sent my gratitude up to the heavens. 

"Ten times a day something happens to me like this  some strengthening throb of amazement  some good sweet emphatic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know; that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness."  Mary Oliver

We head down of the lagoon to the falls. As I dipped my body to the cold deep-blue water, my eyes admired it's colour, for I know it's birthed from the magnificence of nature. That moment was perfect. I froze this image in my head, down to my heart.

We went back to the hostel.

I was so physically drained that I didn't mind cleaning up. I embraced the bean bag at the communal area, and succumbed to deep slumber as the night was rolling in.

We went out of the hostel for dinner, we discovered and affordable restaurant a couple blocks away. I stuffed my face with Chop suey and Eggplant omelet my favorite dish, I can eat them all my life.

I remorse on the glass of pale mojito I traded for bottles of beer. It was expensive and tasteless. I paid quite a price I could've used for an extra hour of surfing. Though I was ending this long day frowned face but the soulful, husky tone of a young local singer calmed my senses and snapped me out of my negative trance. Her music pulled my lips to smile again.

Coming here in La Union I promised myself the solitude I've been longing for to just drift away from the noise of the city, of people. So I wasn't really in the mood for making new friends.

"Where's the switch for the fans?" asked Katy a solo traveler from Poland. "I don't know. Just look around." I answered rather snotty. I know that was a snob answer, but only because Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck was playing on Spotify, and I wanted to be by myself that evening.

"I'm Katy." She came back with her shy smile after she switched off the fans.

What? Didn't she notice my earpods? Wasn't she offended by my snobbish answer? I thought to myself.

"Hi! I'm Keevin." I stretched my hand to shake hers. I was honestly hoping that she'd let me be, so I could enjoy my audio book.

"Where you from?"
"Manila. You?"

She started telling me about her travels.Now I wasn't in the mood but I ain't rude, so I listened, and answered "yeah, cool, really" any one-line-response. 

Until, I didn't notice but I was sharing my stories to her too. 

I haven't realised we've been talking nonstop for hours now. We talked about every random thing that crossed our minds. About how she convinced me that China is a good destination for travelers too, that she considers it her second home despite the terrible air pollution. And I convinced her never to leave the Philippines without going to Siargao since she's headed to Surigao City in a few days. She showed me her spectacular drone shots. About how she's had mini heart attacks whenever her drone gets disconnected whilst flying on the sky. We giggled on our common experience playing with the whale sharks in Oslob. We both confessed our infinite love for the Earth, and to always listen to our never-ending wandering spirits.

We just have this effortless positive energy toward each other that I think made us to comfortably open up. That sense of acceptance when you can just be your true self and not worry about judgement or rejection.

Katy invited me to party at a nearby pub, I wanted to go but my body was dead tired, so we said our good nights to each other.

19 February 2017

I woke up freezing. I checked my phone; it's just 5AM! WTF! I told myself I got to get back to  sleep, but thoughts about what I should do with the remaining 10 hours raced through my mind. I tossed and turned around in my hammock but I just couldn't go back to that dreamless sleep.

I put my earpods on, and went out for a morning walk. There's something about early mornings that I love. When it feels like the rest of the world is still fast asleep, and you're the only one who's awake and everything feels like it isn't really real and you kind of forget about all your problems because for now it's just you, the world, and the sunrise.

SURFING!! The time I've been waiting for..

I fell in love with surfing the moment I rode my first wave three years ago. Euphoria fills me up every time I play with the ocean waves. There are just no words that can adequately transcend my perpetual love for the waves.

"Paddle, paddle, paddle! Stand up!" I pushed my upper body away from the board, hopped quickly, stood sideways right foot at the back, and maneuvered through the rhythm of the wave until it crashed  The best feeling. ALWAYS!

"Let's go further, to the bigger waves." I asked my surfing instructor who's so cautious about me. "That's not a beginner's spot" he answered. "Trust me." I assured him. He surrendered and we went away from the crowded spot.

After more than an hour of exhilarating surfing, I sat with my friend Apple and we rested on the sand. She smiled at my warmly. I can feel the happiness spilling out of her skin, and I am happier seeing her happy. I am a friend to this amazing (understatement) woman now for quite some time. We've been through ups and downs, we'd faced our own demons, and here we are, alive and surfing!

"Let's do this every month!" We agreed to yet another plan. Imagine if we had bottles of ice-cold beers that moment, it would have been more perfect.

I mediated on the raw sounds of nature waves crashing, wind whistling, birds singing, and distant hazy conversations.

What a time to be alive! To really live, and not just breathing. You know what I mean. It's still worth living this stupidly beautiful life. Worries? Oh dear it's nothing compared the magic that's vibrating around us.

I felt the warmth of the sand on my back as I lied down, and locked the sky to my arms. It's a sudden escape into another realm blurring the lines between the real and imagined.

People were incredibly friendly! I played beach volleyball with completely random set of people-local and travelers alike. I couldn't keep track of how many miss I had when attempting to hit the ball. It's definitely not my sport (shut face emoji), but it has always been appealing to me so it's worth the try, and the falls a lot of them.

Now this is my game, ehem, table tennis. I learned to play at a young age, and joined the varsity in grade school. So when I played with new friends, no one can seem to take my spot (smirk emoji). Challenge the winner, that's the rule, you keep on playing as long as you win. I played 10 consecutive sets I think. I've lost track, really. LOL! Thank you for letting me brag a bit. Haha!

I joined my friends for swimming.

We had our last meal at Tagpuan, a laid-back food park in San Juan where they serve luscious burgers. During the final hours of our trip, we filled ourselves with good food, good conversations, and the best, good memories.

We said our goodbyes to the people at the hostel.

I looked at Katy who was busy presenting her drone video to the owner of the hostel for advertisement. "See you again, somewhere." She uttered her last words.

We took a bus across the street back to Manila. As I always do, I put my earpods on, and drifted to sleep as La Union was turning into liquid and ran through my hands.

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