yesterday i almost knocked over a huge flower centerpiece in the lobby… (ca. june 2004)

…but that doesn’t stop me from hovering all around the place like an apparition. i’m in bohol.

travelling alone all the time has leveled my head. it has proven that the bottom line is we have to fend for our own hide.

ormoc. i was down with the flu, but it was too late to cancel. so all red in the face, i lug the training manuals, the binder of transparencies as heavy as concrete blocks and that gargantuan overhead projector into a tricycle (yes, tricycle. some cities don’t enjoy the luxurious volume of taxicabs that manila and cebu take for granted). the tricycle jolts as it negotiates a pothole and hurls the bag of manuals and transparencies into the busy road. i yell “HUNONG SA!!!” to the unknowing driver, pounce dangerously into the street, play patintero with a swarm of oncoming vehicles, retrieve my precious cargo, and sprint like mad back to the tricycle.

minutes later, i try to figure out how to set up the ohp i carried from the medieval ages. when i finally get it poised and ready, i hit the switch. no light. i visualize pushing it off the pedestal.

dumaguete. feb. 14, valentine’s night. i was hungry like hell. i walk the whole boulevard stretch. i must have seemed like joseph in bethlehem, moving from house to house, asking kindly for lodging. and getting refused over and over again. “sorry, ma’am. fully booked ang restaurant.” i hate valentine’s night as lovers out on the most hackneyed date of the year shoot pathetic glances at me. they think, “awww…kaluoy niya, wa siya’y date.” i wish they all choke on their carbonara.

miles later of walking back and forth, i end up in the same restobar i usually haunt. no more spaces at the tables, so i to squeeze into the bar. and i mean squeeze. i’ve never seen so many foreigners within a few square meters of me before. i don’t look up as i eat my fries and pasta. i ignore the waitresses rushing past me as i drink my beer. this place is busier than an anthill. a foreigner tries to strike a conversation. i pretend not to hear. i was hungry like hell.

same place. i’m not hungry anymore, but i’m bored like hell. randall (a&h marketing officer) and i have finished our respective obligations by lunch. now we have four hours to burn before the boat ride back to cebu. we check out of the hotel at twelve noon and take our lunch. now what? i buy me a pack of luckies and a bottle of bubble solution. we find a shady spot where we could sit along the boulevard by the sea. just to see if it works, i try to blow smoke into bubbles. you know what, it does work. and it’s so wonderful watching those smoke bubbles float listlessly and pop in the air, releasing isolated puffs of lucky strike menthol. randall laughs at me because he thinks it’s ridiculous.

later on, we’re still bored. we drink two rounds of stong beer at shakey’s. and it was still 2:30 pm. i propose a bet as to what sort of movie will be shown on the vessel. he says war movie. i say superhero. winner gets a bag of popcorn.

“just married” starring ashton kutcher and brittany murphy. so we split the popcorn bill.

bogo, cebu. the satellite office is still under construction, so we had to book a place for a seminar. this one we got is a function room by day, discobar by night. naturally, our closest neighbors are videoke joints. i talk about risk factors and underwriting guidelines while an amateur belts “AAALLLL BYYEEE MYYYEEESSEH-EE-ELFFF…” so the proprietor (a rotund british guy who seems genuinely concerned), hands me a microphone so i could be heard above the poor wailing woman. just as i speak through the mic, some guy from the other side of the street sings “oh baby baby… my baby baby”… so i sing with him. really, i did.


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