Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wisdom from a La Sallite

Hello from somewhere in Palawan.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I'm a photo-finish traveler as far as checking in for flights is concerned. Well, today was no different -- and perhaps more so this morning, as I was so sleepy I could barely wake up for my pre-breakfast flight from Manila to Palawan when my alarm rang.

This is one time I actually thought I might miss my plane. I've probably taken thousands of flights by now and this was going to be a first.


Well, thank goodness my airline found a way to get me onboard -- and I'm so glad it didn't involve running breathlessly through terminals, even if I was still at the check-in counter 5 minutes past initial boarding time. And now, here I am in beautiful Palawan. It's a work trip but I really intend to have a bit of Me Time to just hang by the beach with my iPod. Fingers crossed on that, although it's more likely that I'll have to be editing articles on my Mac by the infinity pool or on the beach. And that won't be so bad either.

In fact, very unusually for me, from Palawan by text today I was griping a little bit to M, my forever La Salle friend, about some bit of work. But after a couple of Ateneo-La Salle quips that I dare not repeat, he replied with some straight talk -- or rather, straight text: "Look at the positive and enjoy your day. You're in Palawan and doing what you love. I'd trade places with you if I could." I forgot to ask him if that included switching school alma maters.

That's true; if only everyone should be so lucky. So it put a bit of perspective into the tough schedule and the early morning wakeup call, and some kinks in my new project. Besides, by then I'd had a delicious lunch in a beautiful restaurant, seen some interesting art works and even bought a couple of wooden figurines carved by one of Palawan's indigenous tribes. And then I was headed for a forest and then due on a beach. I'd even gotten on a flight I really should have been bumped off from, considering I'd tempted fate so much by checking in past boarding time. My day certainly could have been much worse.


And in the afternoon, I'd met a really interesting businessman from Costa Rica, with a Filipino father, who was undertaking all sorts of businesses in Palawan, one of which is truly wondrous. Read more about this in the October-November issue of TRAVELIFE Magazine and see it on Travelife TV soon.

After work was over, we sat sipping coconut juice and talking on a large bamboo sofa in his open-air terrace until sunset -- and all around us was simply nature and peace. After my never-endingly eventful and event-filled life in the Big City, and these especially busy weeks, it was so nice just to chill in this manner.

"You have no idea how far this is from my reality," I finally said to him. All around me was virgin forest and it was so nowhere that my phone didn't even work. And for once I had no idea of the time, except that it was getting darker and therefore closer to dinner.


But in Manila, my days are counted in minutes and I can't even remember the last time I actually sat in front of a TV for a full quarter of an hour -- or just sat doing nothing, for that matter. In fact, sometimes I get into my car in Manila and my driver asks me in Tagalog: "Nagmamadali ho ba tayo?" He basically wants to know whether he should zigzag through Makati traffic like a maniac or drive as if it was a Sunday afternoon in the park. And I always say: "Kailan ba tayo hindi nagmamadali?"

But this afternoon, there I was in the middle of nowhere slumped lazily on a bamboo sofa. Wow.

"Well, I've traveled all around the world and all around the Philippines," he shared. "But I found that Palawan is closest to Costa Rica in terms of environment and way of life. Palawan is also generally very safe, and it has a low crime rate. That's the same as Costa Rica. We don't even have an army in my country. And this is why I love it here in Palawan -- it reminds me most of home."


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