The Strangers We Meet

Six days after getting back to Manila, I hopped on a bus and went to Baler, a small surf town in the north-eastern part of Luzon. The weather wasn’t perfect, I just wanted to get away. It was definitely unplanned and I had no place to stay or anything. I’m glad I had friends who covered me for the first few days, who also kept me sane and company. I moved to a hostel on my third day and kept pushing my stay. I ended up spending a lot of time in the cafe of the hostel, working or just hanging out and having beer. One local called me out on it as when we met the night before I had a bottle in hand, and when he saw me the following day, I have one again.

Being alone actually felt nice, of course some days are shittier than others and the nights are the loneliest, it’s when I miss TinderBoy the most. But also, being alone allowed me to meet and talk to people. As I was having a conversation with someone I met one evening, he asked, “Do you always talk to strangers?”, and I realized I have been talking to a lot of strangers. I met a really nice Burner, a Filipina – who by the way we’ve already interacted through FB, the stranger who asked me that question, and a group of friends from Manila.

I’ve been to Baler so much but that last trip was by far the most interesting experience, believe me when I say that, I’ve stayed in Baler for a little over a month, but this two week trip beat that. One extremely busy night in the cafe, I had no place to hang out since I no longer have a room to stay in, and I intend to travel back to Manila that evening, I ended up bussing tables, talking to customers, handing out utensils, calculating tabs, and even taking and serving small orders, all the while I was downing bottles of beers. As I was having a cigarette outside after what seemed like a very long night of just trying to kill time, someone greeted me and talked to me. We ended up having more beers, and he thought I was working for the cafe as he said I gave the menu to their party. We had a couple more beers and he invited me to meet his friends, all were very nice. They were concerned when they found out I had plans of leaving at midnight and insist on me staying in their room. Such sweet kids they were, I asked why they trust me so much. I ended up staying two more nights and hitching a ride with their group back to Manila.

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Five weeks.

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Five weeks seemed like a short period of time, looking back, it actually flew by faster than I hoped. Two weeks turned three, three turned five. It wasn’t my plan to stay in Baler for five weeks. On my fourth week, I was contemplating if I should extend or if I should go back to Manila. I decided to leave, I said I wanted to miss Baler. I wanted to keep coming back for more. It’s only been a few days and I’m finding myself regretting that decision.

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Miserable Manila is back.

I don’t know whether it’s the air, or the traffic, or the hustle, or the people that’s making me miserable in Manila. I have not left the house ever since I got back last Monday evening, only because I don’t feel like going out. The thought of the crowdedness and all the vehicles and whatnot stresses me out. It’s only been a few days and I already can’t wait to leave.

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On the simple rural life.

When I got back, my dad and I were catching up and he remarked “Maybe that’s what you prefer, maybe you like the rural life”, and I do. I really do. I love going out on trips to different surf spots, going on picnics, being able to swim in the ocean whenever I want, walk to places, ride motorbikes, hangout on a friend’s house because they’re your neighbours, playing with kids. I mean, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies in the province, but I like how I don’t have to rush. I like how everything I need is accessible, and I don’t mean the luxuries within reach here in the city, but my necessities – like food to cook, water to drink, ocean to play on.

Indefinite plans for the future

I have this strong feeling of wanting to go back, but I feel like I would on the time (?). I’ve yet to plan it, but in my head, Baler is one of the places I would want to settle down in.

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How it’s like living with eight boys

The other day marked my second week here in Baler, this is the first time I’ve been away from home for that long. I’d usually only go on trips for a week at most. Since John left me here, the boys kept me company.

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I grew up with two (WAY) older brothers, so I know how things pan out when it comes to teasing, annoying each other and even playing rough house. But even that did not prepare me for this kind of living setup.

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I am now living with at least eight boys, age ranging from 21 to 11. I’m gonna say it now, it’s fucking crazy! From  stinky toilets and smelly farts, trash talks during pusoy dos, smacking the shit out of everyone (them, not me), swearing, rough houses and take downs and tickle wars. I have come in to terms that by the end of this trip, I could identify their farts. CRAZY.

Some days are crazier than others, some days with voice raised we all would piss each other off. Demanding wifi password, phone password, movie marathon on the laptop. Calling each other out for not taking a bath or brushing their teeth. Making the youngest cry, you know, from trash talks to actually physically hurting each other. 

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Thank you Kuya Nico for taking care of my underarm. LOL 

Some days are more mellow, like male cats who like straying away, these boys would go out on minutes, hours or even days at a time. They always go back here, tho. Which I’m extremely grateful for. They would watch out for me, making sure that I’m with someone or I’m okay in being alone.

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Above all that, they’re treating me well. They’d help me around the transient I’m staying in, cook food for me, do the dishes, give me motorcycle rides for errands. Some days I’d tidy up the room, but once in a while they would surprise me with a better or lazier way of tidying it up (depending on who did it).

The other day the transient we’re staying at had guests, some of the male guests were staring at me, which annoyed the hell out of Neil. I thought he was just being picked on, so I told him to just ignore it. When we got back, the guys flocked together stared at me at the same time, I snapped at them saying “hi” with a sarcastic tone (which didn’t help). Neil was on game face on. I’ve seen that look, I know how far he’ll go. But I’m very much thankful that he’s always looking out for me.

The past few days had been quiet, not everyone is ‘home’, which kinda makes me sad. But it’s okay, they live a stone’s throw away from me anyway.

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I MOVED (WELL, NOT REALLY)

I’m taking a mental health break from all the back log of work(s). Yes, I have two jobs and another on the side. I always thought freelancers have it easier, and now I hate myself for judging them. I now have high regard for people who work outside of the office. They don’t have it easier, they just have control of their time. Everyone is fighting their own battles, be it commuting to work or juggling online work.

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I arrived last Saturday in Baler, and between catching up with the kids, working, doing mundane tasks such as helping in the kitchen and tidying up the room and barely surfing, everything’s been well. I am liking this simple life. We got invited last Monday to a birthday party of a girl who we didn’t (personally) know! Been eating well thanks to those who cook for me, and I’m enjoying the “family dinner” we’ve been having every night. I am extremely blessed I have these kids who take care of me. Sleeping is another story tho, we’re all cramped in my room, but no one has been complaining.

The other night, the power went out. We did what we could to amuse ourselves, singing our hearts out, talking about food before eventually one by one they managed to sleep.  The power went back as soon as some were almost asleep, one managed to sleep through the humidity. I was the last one to sleep cause gotta adult first. 

I’ve been *trying* to vlog. It’s just that some moments aren’t meant to be missed fiddling with my phone or camera just trying to capture it. Safe to say, I kinda suck at vlogging. I still have a few weeks to go. 

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I tried surfing again after x months of not surfing + wrist pain from typing too much. I did manage to reach the lineup, the current just was too strong and I got too exhausted so I just decided to paddle in.

Some days are more laid back than others, I don’t have a routine. Some days you’ll find me in Charlie Does (a coffee shop here) or in Smart (a resort) or just at home. I feel like all my mother’s lesson has been helping me, preparing food, tidying up just a little bit, being more responsible and considerate to others too. Speaking of mother, she’s been constantly texting me asking me when I’ll come home,  my reply is always “indefinitely”.

I realised that this is my life now, I’m away from the comfort of my home and away from my family, which still makes me sad, I miss my parents, my brothers and my nephews. But I feel like I have to do this.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know how I’ll end this entry. Maybe I’ll start writing again. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Maybe I won’t. Who knows?

xx

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