Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Weekends in Water

Weekends/July 2005

A synoptic guide to several weekends in a row where I managed to make up for being incredibly landlocked in June.

July 2, 2005.
A day trip took me, Regine, Noelle, Didoy and Monching to La Luz (Batangas) for a day of scuba-diving and snorkeling. It was my first time at La Luz and let me just say how pleasantly surprised I was by the quality of marine life in the area. Apparently, the resort houses a marine sanctuary.

We saw, among other things, a lion fish at about 15 feet... giant parrotfish... and more Picasso triggerfish than I had ever seen in one spot. For photos CLICK THIS

July 10, 2005.
We enjoyed our Saturday in La Luz so much that the following Sunday, I felt the need to go back. This time Regine and I were with Monica, Binky, Candy, her son Luis and their friend Eileen.

It was Luis' first time to see the ocean and to feel real sand between his toes. At first he recoiled from the whole experience with questions like "Where is the swimming pool?" and protestations about the sand ("Make it stop! Make it stop!"). But, within an hour, we could barely bring him to leave the shoreline for meals.

Highlights from the snorkeling expeditions included: a school of squid, two juvenile moray eels, and a puffed up puffer fish that allowed me to annoy it. For photos of this trip: CLICK THIS

July 17, 2005
All the snorkeling and lounging on the beach was fun... but you really cant beat a day of good surfing with your buddies. So it was perfect that on a Sunday morning thirty surfers from Manila convoyed to a distant secret "somewhere" for a day of swell and stoke.

After three wrong turns... and several attempts at locating the break, we found it. The best part? We were the only people there. Alternating between paddling for waves, sitting on driftwood washed up on the beach and catching up with each other, we managed to while away the day.

We returned to Manila with just enough time to have dinner and rest up for the Monday looming ahead. For photos CLICK THIS

What all these trips had in common was that they never took me away from the city for more than a day... but they were enough to wash away the madness of Manila... leaving us "rebooted" and ready... and, of course, hella tan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Meeting Neil Gaiman: A Moment in The Dreaming.

July 11, 2005.
It was a day that played out like a novel. I had gotten to Gateway much later than I had planned. (That thing called work can be quite bothersome when it wants to be -- as when you intend to meet Neil Gaiman and have your books signed.)
Iarrived at Gateway and it was nearly noon. By then the line had snaked down three flights of stairs and out to the streets. I felt a ball of dread and disappointment beginning to knot in my chest. I fought back tears at the thought that I would miss out on the chance to meet the father of The Endless. And then I get a message from my friend Pia. She was sitting somewhere in line surrounded by teens. I rang her and eventually found her. As I stood there in front of her, chatting about how long the line was... how the protocols had changed... and about my chances of getting anywhere near Neil Gaiman... it happened. Fortuity.
Dare we say... Destiny or should I play it safe and simply call it a bout of good luck?
The girl sitting in line across from Pia suddenly stood up and walked away. A berth had suddenly opened up in line - one that would put me about 100 people ahead of my original spot! And so I sat... and this is where the tale really begins. -- kage
We sat, Pia and I, chatting about this and that... wondering about our chances at getting our books signed... munching on donuts her husband had lovingly (and generously) provided for us. Being in line for eight hours with one friend and a hundred strangers as we waited for the gates of Fully Booked to open was less trying than I had expected.
For one, our social bubble built for two slowly expanded to include two college-aged boys sitting beside us. I was not to know their names til much later in the day but for this story's sake, I should tell you now that they were Andre and Bryan. The longer we sat there, the more companionable we became. We traded books to read, we shared the sugary donuts... and of course, we told tales. What better way to pass the time than to talk with like-minded pilgrims? So in between chapters and snacks, we chatted. And in between the words, the real tales were told.
Bryan was the more bookish of our two new companions. More prone to think before he spoke, his tale involved genorisity as he not only lent his book out to Pia for her to read... he later on offered to have her book signed as he only had one on hand and Pia had four. Never mind that we would eventually be told that we were each given only one book for signing. That is a detail that doesn't mar the essence of his story.
Then there was Andre... quick to comment and eager to be heard. He enjoyed the art of the novels more than the novels themselves. Or at the very least, that is how he portrayed himself to be. A true "fanboy", he knew all there was to know about Gaiman's world. Ah but there lay a twist in Andre's plot... for of course, there must be at least one unseen circumstance to all stories. For all his words in the nine hours in line, he was struck dumb at the sight of his hero. Frozen in place, he mumbled unintelligibly as Neil Gaiman scrawled a message on his book (which was Neverwhere if you must know).
Lastly, the tale of Pia, whose love for Neil Gaiman had brought out the Girl Scout in her. Armed with a portable DVD player, a bookbag and the aforementioned loving husband, she was ready to camp out. Her plan was to have him sign one book for her, another for her daughters. A third book (I am unclear as to which one) would go with Bryan. In the end, when we were told that we had to choose only one book per person, she wisely picked Nocturnes... his very first in the Sandman series. (As a post-script to Pia's portion of this story: I could not have had a better companion on this adventure than her).
All four, now journeying together in an interim alliance, kept ourselves entertained throughout the day. As we neared the doors of Fully Booked, the nervousness set in. And even then, only minutes til our journey's end, we brought in one more pilgrim to our fold. Her name was Ana... and she offered to let us use her camera for our photos with Neil Gaiman. As she put it "We Gaiman fans need to stick together."
And so, we each took our turn... meeting the man thousands of others had waited to see. A full day spent in line for 20 seconds in Neil Gaiman's presence. Each of us awestruck in our own way.
I, for one, was rendered speechless. Unable to think of something that did not sound trite, boring or cliche, I could only say "thank you sooooo much" in a manner best described as 'desperately grateful.' To which Mister Gaiman replied "No, thank you. And sweet dreams."
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I know not what he said to Bryan... nor to Andre ... or even to Ana for that matter. Because with our books signed, we each walked back out into the real world and, simply put, went on our separate ways. I only know what happened with Pia because at the end of it all, there was only myself and Pia... grinning at each other like loons.
I doubt I will ever see Andre or Bryan again. Ana I may manage to keep in touch with from time to time. She has photos for me on her camera... and I have got some photos for her on my phone.
People have asked me, "why didn't you trade numbers? why didn't you exchange email addresses?" Frankly, I think how it ended was rather apt for our communal experience -- quite like the way World's End wraps up when the storm blows over and the travelers all go off into the rest of their lives.
There were more stories I was told of the following day -- of the girl who drew up handwritten adoption papers for gaiman to sign, of the fan who gifted him with efficascent oil for his aching hands, of the photographer that had a chance meeting with the author inside the lavatory.
But those are are tales told around other tables, in other inns, at some other world's end. I am certain that there are more stories like these than there are stars in the sky. If you have one, send it my way... I would love to hear about it. As Stephen King (another great writer I hold in high regard) once said "It is not the tale, but he who tells it."
And are we not all the same kind of storyteller - with stardust in our eyes and the dreaming on our minds?
Quite coincidentally I chose to have Neil Gaiman sign my copy of World's End... primarily because it was the first of the Sandman series that I had read years ago... and also because Stephen King wrote the foreword. It all ties in very nicely dont you think?

Tag! I'm It!

If I’m getting this right, Ala tagged Cat and then Cat tagged me. So here we go!

Three names you go by:
1. kage
2. g
3. pretinha

Three screen names you have had:
1. tigerlily (old email)
2. thirteendreams (old chat name)
3. travelkage (for my blog)

Three physical things you like about yourself:
1. the arches of my tiny feet
2. the thickness of my hair
3. my boobs. Haha.

Three physical things you don't like about yourself:
1. my thighs. (hello ham!)
2. the constant struggle for abs.
3. the calluses on my feet from skating

Three parts of your heritage:
1. Filipino
2. Chinese
3. Spanish

Three things that scare you:
1. not living life to the fullest
2. losing the use of my body
3. house lizards

Three of your everyday essentials:
1. mobile phone
2. internet access
3. a camera

Three of your favorite musical artists:
1. The Beatles
2. Jack Johnson
3. The Indigo Girls

Three of your favorite songs:
1. littlewing
2. here comes the sun
3. tiny dancer

Three things you want in a relationship:
1. passion
2. trust and respect
3. compatibility

Three lies and truths in no particular order:

1. I hate watching reality shows
2. I do not like to read books
3. I can not stand being still

1. My father was (and continues to be) the best father I could have ever asked for.
2. I am a huge Stephen King fan. I border on being a junkie.
3. I am in awe of this universe.

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeals to you:
1. That pelvic line/cut that disappears into the waistbands of their jeans/boardies
2. Great shoulders
3. A smile that reaches their eyes

Three of your favorite hobbies:
1. traveling
2. photography
3. reading

Three things you want to do really badly now:
1. surf in Hawaii
2. have a nap
3. get my hands on the new Neil Gaiman book

Three careers you're considering/you've considered:
1. kindergarten teacher (and I nearly was!)
2. marine biologist (then I found out about all the math)
3. travel show host (Ian Wright! Ian Wright!)

Three places you want to go on vacation:
1. Hawaii
2. South Africa
3. Greece

Three kid's names you like:
1. Elijah
2. Tuesday
3. Noah

Three things you want to do before you die:
1. discover a new marine species (tough one, I know)
2. travel all over the world with my loved ones
3. own a house on a beach where the view is spectacular and the memories we make in it, more so.

Three ways that you are stereotypically a boy:
1. I love Science Fiction and Fantasy
2. I play basketball
3. I had my own GI Joe and Transformer toys

Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl:
1. I have shoe fetish
2. I like sparkly things
3. I have an enormous crush on half of Hollywood. Haha.

Three celeb crushes:
1. Jude Law
2. Seth Green
3. John Cusack

THREE people I would like to see take this quiz
2. dicey
3. amz

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hotel Rwanda: A Journey Into Humanity

In 1994 the tension between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes of Rwanda reached a critical mass -- and what ensued was not so much a war as it was a massacre. It was genocide on a scale that should have caused global uproar. Operative phrase: should have. It didnt. In the words of a journalist that covered the Rwandan events of 1994 "the world turned its back on Rwanda."

Left to fend for themselves, refugees fled into the jungles... others made their way slowly across to their respective tribes' front lines. Tutsis ran from the machetes of the Hutu insurgents. Hutus, from the guns of the Tutsi rebel militia. Those lucky enough to find refuge in the UN camp were sheltered as best as a desperately undermanned United Nations force could.

And, of course, there was the Hotel De Mille Colines -- the focal point of the film "Hotel Rwanda." Within its four-star walls, one Hutu man kept safe over 1,000 Tutsi refugees. When the world turned its back, he opened his eyes... and his heart... and let as many people into the safety of the hotel as he could.

If you havent seen the movie, you should. Not because Don Cheadle gives one of the most moving performances of the year. Not because it is the "cool art film du jour." Watch it because it will open your own eyes... to the atrocities we perpetrate on each other justified by our passions and political beliefs ... to the apathy of the so-called 'civilized world' ... to the importance of humanity.

And then, when you leave the theater... discussing the film's merits with your friends... bear in mind that you can make a difference in this world. Think Global, Act Local. Go online (you already are if you are reading this) and find out how you can help somebody that thinks the world has turned its back on him/her. It might be an orphanage down on its luck. It could be an NGO devoted to preserving what is left of our rainforests. Or it could simply be the son of your labandera that needs a new pair of shoes for school. It doesnt matter... just... dont turn your back. Dont close your eyes.

Be well pilgrims and gypsies of the world!

ps I am well aware that my synopsis oversimplifies the events of 1994.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A Dog and His Boy

June 25/26, 2005
Manila was making me cranky, restless and unhappy. It was clear that a trip was in order.
Noelle, Didoy, Regine and I headed up to La Union for the weekend. The waves were less than ideal. But for the surf hungry (and patient) there were rides to be enjoyed. And I? Was surf hungry. So under a sunny sky that quietly turned gray, we paddled and waited... paddled and popped up... paddled and wiped out... you get the idea.
As sunset approached I was once again torn between staying on shore to shoot a La Union sunset (something I have never done. Ever). Or take my board out and see if I could catch a few more rides before it got too dark to see. The water was choppy. The swell was small. To top it all off, a slight drizzle had started so the wind was getting chilly.
I decided to surf.
I don't regret it because, from the line-up, facing the shoreline, we could all see a complete rainbow hovering over the kubo ... and above it, another one, barely visible but just as complete. A double rainbow to the East as the sun sank to the West. And I managed to catch a good wave to boot. Niceness!
That weekend's mood I think is best encapsulated by the following photo of Rua and Pointbreak:
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