Feb 22, 2016
Location: Metro-Manila, Philippines
After an extended 2-month stay in Manila, I finally packed-up once again to pursue the call of the open road. This Manila episode was marked by the shifting sands of my peoplescape, the vibrant Blues Music scene and the personal challenges that have come and gone.
Sadly, Manila has continued to deteriorate as a city. I am reminded of why I left this city many years ago. Traffic is worse, pollution is horrible and congestion leaves no elbow room for personal space. This hardship consequently takes it toll on the people. Friends remain friends - that's part of the culture and not really subject to change. What I find unsettling is strangers don't give a damn anymore about other strangers. The 'kapwa tao' is no longer evident in the culture. I somehow believe that a society's moral compass in benchmarked by how people treat other people - specially the ones they don't know. Their fuse are considerably shorter now. Given what I've seen around the world, I put the blame squarely on the inept, corrupt and lazy politicians we have. I have seen first hand, what good leadership can do to push a country forward. Sadly, we don't have that here. Enough said.
Making the most of my Manila stay where live bands are aplenty, I did my rounds catching up gigs of friends and acquaintances, mostly the Blues players. Saw Chickoy Pura's gig a few times, been introduced to Dong Abay's music, hooked-up with Julia Clarette on her farewell show and hardly missed any of the Ian Lofamia Blues Band gig. I also drifted into Catch 272/Boho to catch bluesman Hoochie Coochie Mikkie. Of course the Blues Friends and its 'every other week' open mic jam was penciled-in to my calendar. All good...I can't get enough of it and glad I had plenty.
Quezon Memorial Circle
Since my QC digs is just a short jeep ride from the Circle, I make the trip for my morning workout. The park used to be a lovers' lane for those with no motel money, back in the day. It was just a piece of neglected prime real estate then. Now, it's a destination for people looking for a piece of green in a congested city. You see the serious fitness junkies, the wannabe fitness junkies who come in workout clothes but just socialize, the lovers, of course, the city hall officials who seem to talk deals always, you get all kinds, mostly from the middle to upper-middle class (the rich probably go to Serendra).
I noticed though that a ton of garbage is being swept by the maintenance people every single day. These park goers just dump their garbage anywhere and everywhere. This is where Manny Pacquiao's "mas masahol pa sa hayop" one-liner is apt - 'coz even a dog wouldn't shit in his own backyard.
Serye Cafe and Resto
Inside the Circle, you see lots of eating places. One cafe is interesting - Serye Cafe Resto - from the lineage of the iconic Aristocrat Restaurant. For its amenities and the location, it's a bit pricey. But having eaten there with friends, everyone was unanimous that the food was great. I got to talk to the owner who said that they would rather sell at the higher price to sustain the quality than cut corners to meet a price point. Interesting. I would recommend their Rice Wine.
Move to Guijo St.
With Chinqui organizing a yoga workshop in her digs at Guijo St., Makati, I met Adrien, a French guy who invited me to be his house guest. That somehow started a new chapter for me, leaving Quezon City, and consequently, not seeing my QC friends anymore given the traffic and ordeal of commute. I got to explore Guijo's upscale-gentrification with its trendy cafes, restos and bakeshops. I also got to bond with Chinqui, Adrien and some of their friends. It would be my last address in the Philippines before my Bangkok departure.
People have always shaped my experience in any place I go to. Or perhaps I can say that people define the place. My 2 months in Manila have been one of a shifting peoplescape - old friends who vanish in the horizon, long-gone friends who show up from nowhere, volatile relationships gone sour and meeting new friends who bring promise of good things to come. It's too bad I met most of these interesting people during my last few days when things where too hectic for me.
Julia has been an off-and-on friendship. As a celebrity, she often changes her number and I don't know who's facebook account is really hers. We've lost touch and I would come and go to Manila w/o touching base with her. This time, things went well. We hooked-up at Chickoy's gig and she also invited me to her farewell gig. Still beautiful after all these years, she seem more at peace with herself - unless that was just the mood of the moment. Julia has always been her person - calm with mercurial spikes, ungraspable and almost etheric. I hope her bold move to leave Eat Bulaga to pursue a normal life is sustainable.
Chinqui and I go back 5 years meeting her after I left Dumaguete to venture into Cebu. We would have a brief hi-hello through the years, but this time, she organized a half-day yoga workshop for 3 of her friends. When I moved into her building as a house guest of Adrien, she would invite me for brunch and that would be our bonding.
I met Adrien when he attended Chinqui's yoga invite. Learning I was a nomad, he offered me a vacant room in his unit, which I gladly accepted. He would not accept my rent money. I became his house guest until I left for Thailand. He would prepare sumptuous French meals and also invited me to join his friends in Cafe Curieux for a party gathering. Adrien was my Good Samaritan during my last days. Merci monsieur!
I met Monica while surfing in San Felipe, Zambales with common friends back in Jan 2010. I never saw or talked to her since. But FB somehow reconnected us and we did some catching up over coffee at UCC Park Cafe, at Cafe Curieux with Adrien's crew and at Alchemy Bar to catch some Blues with the Ian Lofamia Band. Being on the same page, we didn't need to explain too much of ourselves - a refreshing change.
I'm glad we both found a way to have quality time. Usually, it's with a group or the place is too noisy. We go back from 2005 during the Fine Arts days in UP and we'd always have a passing Hi and Hello over the years.
We were introduced by a common friend who suggested that we get acquainted since we travel a lot. We hung out a few times, caught a Chickoy Pura gig, had coffee chats and I even met her lovely daughter. It's nice to meet a new friend you resonate with.
It was a chance meeting when I got invited to a reunion of artists who met at Danjugan Island who somehow found the experience transformative, that they held a much awaited reunion. I met a lot of people that night. Karen, being introduced as a healer, caught my attention. We met up and became friends, talking about many things outside healing. She would have facilitated a guided meditation for me, but with my move to Guijo St. in Makati, the distance became too much.
No visit to Manila would be complete without a meet-up with Elsie, a friend from my Survivor Philippines days. We always find time for coffee and catch-up. No telling when the next one comes, but I'm always glad to see an old friend.
Fresh from Dumaguete, the ever-so-bubbly Menka would soon be pursuing the culinary arts in Madrid. We never hooked-up in the last 2 times I visited Dumaguete, but this time, we both found time to make it happen. Glad to have seen her after all these years. I made her promise to cook me paella when she comes back!
Janice heads the School of Fine Arts in FEATI. We met back in UP when I was still teaching at the College of Fine Arts. It was uncanny that we would see each other again by way of my yoga modeling for her students and faculty. I tagged along their art and food gigs. Really nice!
I had no clue she and Janice were working together in the School of Fine Arts. I've only known Ronna as one of the many in the excited era of Survivor Philippines when I was castaway, back in 2007. Now, with her invite for me to do yoga modeling, I rediscovered her in her own light, independent of the DotCom group.
Being mindful of what's been happening and taking mental notes of outcomes, I've learned a few things from my Manila stay.
- Say Yes to Life - life unraveled for me because I always said yes to invites and opportunities. Those opportunities in turn would open up more opportunities. If I said no to Chinqui's yoga workshop invite, I would not have met Adrien and consequently I would not have moved to his Guijo digs and explore a new scene. I also said yes to an invite to sit for meditation - that snowballed into a teaching job in Thailand. Opportunities beget opportunities.
- Follow your Bliss - I was staying at a place that lost its magic already. I could have continued my stay for free lodging and food, but that's not what my journey is all about. Without hesitation, I decided to leave and take my chance. Almost immediately, I got an offer for a place to stay - it was a sigh of relief. The energy was dialed-in. I was in a better environment where good things began to happen all over again. The universe provides if you stay real.
I'm off to Thailand with no idea when or if I come back. I've said goodbye so many times but I somehow keep coming back. This time though it feels ominous - a deeply rooted relationship has been severed, I emptied my bank account, and the horizon outside looms ever broader with an invite for greater participation. I'm open to possibilities and consequences. Life, bring it on!
(Feb 25, 2016) Hope you have an awesome time in Thailand, Git! Looking forward to reading more of your adventures!
(Feb 25, 2016) Haha! Read it. You make me sound like a ghost. Haha! Greatest of journeys and until I hug you hello again, Gigit!
(Feb 25, 2016) sa uulitin! Salamat sa bahaginan. You are a sage, haha
(Feb 25, 2016) Was a pleasure to meet you. All the best for your trip in Thailand !
Greg & Sally Tree Garden Cafe
(Feb 25, 2016) The journey continues... May the force be with you amigo
(Feb 25, 2016) Come back sooner than later
(Feb 25, 2016) Have peaceful fun in Thailand!
(Feb 25, 2016) Great hanging with you Gigit! Oh, and actually it is the Quezon Memorial Circle, not the Quezon City Memorial (unless you think Q.C. is already dead)
ha-ha, correction done! Thanks Ricky, great hanging out with you as well :) -- TheLoneRider
(Feb 25, 2016) Next time, let's meetup with Janice Liuson- Young. Havent seen her for a long time already.
Spencer Carlyle Rymonte
(Feb 25, 2016) Til your next venture to the PH again Git!!
Feb 22, 2016
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