travel

Introduction to “Searching For Earth Rainbows”

(This is Part 1. Succeeding posts will be published in the following days.)

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“Oh dear lord, we still have 3 nights to go,” Kat said.

Like me, she was shivering from the cold. Underneath the Day-Glo orange blanket wrapped around her, Kat wore three layers of clothing. She’s wound a scarf around her neck, too. She had a pair of socks on, and like a topping on a sundae, she had a crocheted cap that was unintentionally color coordinated with her entire getup. Fashionably toasty warm, you’d think. But the cold was relentless in its attack, seeping through the very marrow of bones used to the stifling heat of the city. And Kat was from the city. And I don’t think she’d make it through the night. And she was right, we still had three nights to go in this place where the fog easily kisses the ground any time of the day and the rains beat down mercilessly on everything and anything that stood on its chosen trajectory.

We were in the heart of Mt. Kitanglad, the fourth highest peak in the Philippines’ host of mountain ranges. We were there not by active choice. We were there because of the nature of our work. This time, the goal was for the campers to intensely experience village life in this country, and the camp administrators chose this place smack in the center Mt. Kitanglad as the ideal spot for our grand vacation.

I’ve heard some say that working as camp counselor for Camp Half-Blood is a dream job. But that evening while I searched for ways to avert the frostbite threatening to attack my toes and while monitoring Kat’s condition (mentally reviewing my knowledge of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, just in case…), I wondered if being camp counselor is the stuff from which nightmares are made.

I actually shared Kat’s apprehension. Three more nights of watching over a herd of hyperactive campers. The conditions were not optimal. It has rained non-stop since we got there. We had to walk some distance to take our meals. Meandering through the village could have been a walk in the park if the rains let up. I’ll give you keywords to help you to visualize our daily situation: mud, slippery, slide, dark, rain, curses, growling stomach, faulty flashlights, pitch black, cold, screams, howls, thuds.

“You know, the more you count the days, the more you’d want to extend your stay by the time you’re supposed to leave,” I told Kat. I’ve overheard that line somewhere, and I wanted to cling on to that idea, so I passed it on to my fellow counselor who I really assumed would not last through the night.

Ah, Mt. Kitanglad. There were rainbows here. We just had to find them.

It turned out, I wasn’t wrong on both counts.

(To be continued…)

Saved by the Beach

It has been a hectic time at work the past few weeks.

Although our group didn’t really render that much overtime, each day of last week was spent slogging off and agonizing over complicated files that seemed to be written by authors not of Earthly descent but may have come from planets Jupiter or Mars or from Galaxy 6-O-991. It was no surprise that output was low and group morale was lower than Marianas Trench’s depth could go.

blue overall

To save my sanity, I proposed to the family that we head off to the beach at the closest weekend. They all readily agreed, especially Tata who, for the past weeks, had been taking the brunt of my stresses at work (sorry, baby!)

Sunday morning shone bright; the skies had the blue hue of an ideal summer day. The clouds were scattered above just so, and the breeze picked up nicely as we went down from our mountain home to the beach. Faith had a new yellow lifesaver.

Tata with the new lifesaver

We took off with a few friends who were also eager to do something that would herald summer for them. Our slice of beach was not in some commercialized resort lining the shores of this side of the island. I’m very pleased to know that there is actually, in Bacong, a little clearing — free from cottages and the omnipresent hawkers and vendors — with a strip of sand and shade from coconut trees, which is very much like the beaches of my childhood memory: untainted, unspoiled, and isolated.

cool summer

Nevertheless, our group’s elation at being the only ones on that deserted beach lasted until a couple of hours before lunchtime. By then, other beach goers — families, couples, kiddies, grannies, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins all — came in and invaded our sanctuary by the truckload and busload. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who knew of that strip of beach’s existence.

faith by the beach

Still, that didn’t stop the fun that we were having. The tide was coming in, and the waves crash to the shore with such force that took my breath away. I swam over, under, and into the waves, appreciating how powerful such force of nature really is. I think I already have an idea how it is to be punched on the abdomen. I was screaming and laughing and swimming along with everybody. We body surfed and built sand castles. We buried someone in the sand! I realized that I never had such fun in such a long time. I’m all brown and a bit of sunburnt from staying under the scorching Great Yellow for a great many hours; Faith and Ta are browner as well.

I could really say, from experience, that a little unwinding could do wonders for wage earners such as moi. A little break can be all we need before tackling another grind on the work mill.  Ask me how I’m feeling today, and you could already guess that my reply is, “I feel good!”