It is Splendid

The Taal volcano, the most famous thing here (taken by my sister)

The Taal volcano, the most famous thing here (taken by my sister)

29 December 2013
10:05 PM
Tagaytay

M.–

Writing this while waiting for dinner. A very late dinner. We didn’t get a lot of things done today, but I really didn’t want to do anything else except be here.

Some things from my journal:

9:30 AM
Crosswinds

Had a quiet breakfast with my sisters. Put on Oscar Peterson–tunes for Christmas…We went out to the balcony. I had a smoke, they took pictures. It is really lovely here. Peaceful. I wondered if they would be fine if it’s just the four of us. I don’t know–maybe we can buy a house here, just the four of us. They can make this their vacation home, go back to the city. I’ll stay. Ha.

***

12:30 PM
Aguinaldo Highway

Stuck in traffic…One thing I don’t miss doing is taking pictures. No longer a tourist, then?

***

1:55 PM
Aguinaldo Highway

Still stuck in traffic. Is everybody in Manila here this weekend?

***

2:30 PM
Viewsite Restaurant

Finally arrived here for lunch. My father is looking forward to eating bulalo (beef marrow stew), meanwhile, my heart is set on adobong hito (stewed catfish), and it is splendid. There is live music as usual, and I requested for Moon River.

The wind in my hair again. This weather–it feels like an embrace. The sun is out but it feels all good. Now let me enjoy my mango shake.

***

3:30 PM
Bag of Beans

Having coffee and (good good so good!) strawberry cheesecake. It melts in my mouth, and I am thinking that life doesn’t get any better than this. Of course, I am easy to please.

Finally some laughter, which makes everything better…People should learn how to let things go–to roll with the punches and take what you can get while you’re at it. In retrospect, I should take that advice and apply it to my own troubles. The situation here is like a microcosm of my life.

…My sisters are already talking about next year. I am telling my father, don’t you want to live here? This place is perfect. We can start again. We really can.

***

6:20 PM
Robinsons Supermarket

Here at the parking lot, writing in the dark. Little light is available, but my window is open, and the wind is wonderful…This trip seems to be all about compromises, and being able to move forward despite the setbacks. Perhaps the universe is talking.

Now, I’ll put on some Philip Glass and will take a nap. Hopefully when I wake up, we’re back.

***

10:28 PM
Crosswinds

Dinner is closer to existence. Perhaps in thirty minutes or so. It feels like noche buena. But I like C.’s theory better: when we’re here we lose our sense of time.

We’ve just been hanging out watching TV. I am trying not to fall asleep. I came here to work on my poems and think about some things, but that hasn’t happened yet.

***

12:45 AM
Crosswinds

We had dinner around eleven. The bottle of merlot was fantastic. I finished almost the whole bottle and no one seemed to mind. Washed the dishes. I liked the warm water on my skin. Took a bit of a break to watch the tail end of The Dark Knight Rises, then it was back to the dishes again. Wore an apron but the front of my shirt got wet anyway.

Waiting for everyone to get to bed so I can sneak off a smoke outside. Last night and all. You know. Jazz is playing–I think it’s Ella Fitzgerald singing Someone to Watch Over Me. I told C. that when I grow up, and when I’m living alone, perhaps my nights would be like this.

View from our balcony this morning (taken by my sister)

View from our balcony this morning (taken by my sister)

C. didn’t capture everything, so here’s an old shot (from a less stellar camera):

I will never get tired of looking at this, being here, I mean (taken May 2012)

I will never get tired of looking at this, being here, I mean (taken May 2012)

I can’t stop talking about the wind, I know. You must understand–smog has descended on the whole of Metro Manila, and the air we breathe is very polluted. I’ve learned to live with it–we all have. But it’s not something to be proud of.

As for bulalo, it’s my father’s Holy Grail. Every time we go here, it is an absolute must-eat, even if we can prepare it back home. That’s because this dish is native to this place. Everywhere you look there’s “original bulalo” on signs. It’s on every menu in almost every restaurant. We spent the better half of the morning getting to the restaurant. And it was worth it.

Also, I could almost forgive the traffic because of the wind. (Ack, there I go again…)

Here is a poem I carried in my pocket, the same poem I carry with me each time:

The Letter
Linda Gregg

I’m not feeling strong yet, but I am taking
good care of myself. The weather is perfect.
I read and walk all day and then walk to the sea.
I expect to swim soon. For now I am content.
I am not sure what I hope for. I feel I am
doing my best. It reminds me of when I was
sixteen dreaming of Lorca, the gentle trees outside
and the creek. Perhaps poetry replaces something
in me that others receive more naturally.
Perhaps my happiness proves a weakness in my life.
Even my failures in poetry please me.
Time is very different here. It is very good
to be away from public ambition.
I sweep and wash, cook and shop.
Sometimes I go into town in the evening
and have pastry with custard. Sometimes I sit
at a table by the harbor and drink half a beer.

Goodnight,
T.

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