An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

07 January 2007


I like driving to Bicol. Fellow Bicolanos, however, avoid driving the almost-400-kilometer Bicol-Manila route as if it were the plague, and I might be the only Bicolano I know who actually takes pleasure in driving the eight-hour trip all by myself, and in utmost silence.

Driving from my parking slot outside my apartment building in Makati to my mother's garage in Naga City is part of my quiet thinking time, a time when I am not in front of my computer, or attacking a heap of drafts on my desk, or reading yet another book on warfare or literary theory, or on the phone with someone talking about possible directions to go for a post-graduate thesis, or running after yet another hard-to find book or file for a research, or all the other activities, conversations, routines, and general chaos that make up a writer's life. On these drives, I allow my thoughts to wander as far away as it can from thoughts of duty, and just concentrate on the drive and the changing landscape that I pass by. Like a ceremony in honor of my solitude, before the trip I take a shower, dress up in a tank top and sweat pants and jogging shoes, tie my hair into a bun, carry my two bags to the car, and then drive off, munching on Choc-Nut while patting my steering wheel and telling my car, Spooky, that she can do it. At the Petron Station along the South Luzon Expressway I gas up, check my tires and water and brake fluid, stock up on more chocolates, and then I'm off to a day-long leisure tour of the Maharlika Highway.

My drives are always uneventful. I have never yet been in an accident (knock on wood) and have not had a breakdown with my trusty 13 year-old Mazda along the Manila-Bicol route, save for the occasional running over of chickens, one dog, and a large rock. There are horror stories, of course, as a 400-kilometer stretch of Philippine road cannot be without its prey, but these involve other people. I have seen assorted trucks toppled over on their side, buses that have colided with other vehicles, cars that have rammed into roadside huts, jeepneys that have plunged into a clump of trees, and one unforgettable maroon utility vehicle overturned in the middle of the road, its windshield and windows in a shiny mass of tiny glass pebbles lying on the pavement around it. But as fate, or perhaps my own personal sense of timing, would have it, I always come upon them later, after the moment of impact, after the first draw of blood, after the victims have all been rescued.

My aunts are seriously convinced that I will meet my death this way, their concern directed not so much at a route fraught with danger but at the fact that I am a young woman driving alone at 120 kph, never mind that I have been driving for almost 14 years. My uncles, on the other hand, think it's cool, and one of them even rode with me once to Manila, sleeping soundly in his seat most of the way. (I suspect my own father used to worry until that uncle told him he had nothing to worry about, and as for my mother, she has pretty much let go of all worries about me ever since I turned thirty, bless her soul.) I have been taking these drives regularly for over two years, and my aunts have pretty much stopped trying to convince me to either take the overnight bus or ask for a male person to drive me, but I get the feeling that somehow they have not yet completely accepted the fact that a nice young woman properly brought up in Catholic schools and on fairy tales and ballet classes and voice and piano lessons and taught proper table manners would be so improper as to drive like a madwoman across six provinces all by herself in that old little car of hers that she hardly ever cleans. Dios mio! Perhaps the fault is partly mine, because I have never really tried to tell them why I actually do it. But as driving the Manila-Bicol route all by myself is my escape, so am I escaping any need for further justification, except to say that it is my escape. All other things, I face. This, I have let go of.

I choose my own dangers.

02 January 2007


I have decided not to edit and re-post my previous entry. Let the whole world know that I have had tremendous backlogs and have exerted a decent enough effort to deal with them before the end of the year.

Because I have! All writing backlogs have been dealt with, save for three. Now let me welcome the new year and the smell of the freshly-cut grass of the new sunny morning with this new post, and this new desktop:

No more need to post about how my life was in 2006; it's all in my blog archives. Suffice it to say that I did okay. My blog, with its over fifty entries, has had seven thousand five hundred-odd hits. I, on the other hand, have written ten chapters, two unfinished short stories, almost seven hundred pages worth of handwritten diary entries, articles for two issues of a magazine, and about four speeches. I have bought forty-five new books, two new fountains pens for myself, and eight bottles of ink. I have read twenty books and countless newspapers, transcribed ten hours' worth of interviews, eaten over two hundred packs of Choc-Nut, watched the last episode of Friends eleven times, made about two dozen new friends, stayed up late for over two hundred nights. I have lost one boyfriend and gained another, have caught cold four times, dropped my phone thirty times, and locked my keys inside my car seven times. I have been to Old Manila twelve times, have drooled over the same insanely unaffordable book four times in a bookstore, have been gifted with two new pairs of combat boots by two different persons, tripped over my own shoes five times a day, walked twenty-three kilometers in one night, and had driven approximately ten thousand kilometers.

And underneath all that math, there's a life lived.