I’ve been to Puerto Princesa City in Palawan numerous times. Yet I haven’t really seen the beauty of this bustling city in the middle of a vast rain forest. All work, no play. Though I thank my work, if not for it I wouldn’t be able to see Palawan. Of all twenty-four, city and municipalities, I’ve missed just eight. Most of these are island municipalities and are very difficult to get to during rainy season.
One trip I had lasted for more than a week. We were doing inspection work and we have to visit all the city and municipalities of Palawan. The team was split into two to cover the whole province at lesser time. The other half of the team got the island municipalities where the best beaches and resorts are. Lucky bastards! My team on the other hand, got the main island including Puerto Princesa City and farthest ones, Balabac and Cagayancillo. From the main island it will take you eight hours on a boat to get to Balabac, and seventeen to Cagayancillo. So I guess we got the bad deal. Anyhow, the experience was phenomenal. I would never return to those places but I can say I’ve been there and returned ALIVE. Then again, never say never.
Funny story. In one of the places we visited, Quezon, an acquaintance gave me a Myna. They had it delivered to where we’re staying in Puerto Princesa City. It was a beautiful bird, maybe a week old when I got it. You had to feed it with your fingers as if you were the mother feeding its young with her beak. When we were set to leave Palawan, I decided to take it back to Manila, which is illegal by the way. I emptied a big bag of potato chip and had the bird placed in it. I instructed our aide to get some cough syrup (Loviscol) to help the bird sleep. This slightly slow aide got the wrong medicine, he bought a vitamin (Clusivol). So the bird ended up drugged like she was on meth. Therefore, I can’t take a noisy bird on a plane. Eventually, the bird went to the care of the dumb aide instead 😀
I’m putting my foot down, I will go back to Palawan and see all its glory in this lifetime.
10:32pm, 10 January 2010.
The year 2009 started gloomy for me.
A big promotion in my former office opened up. Fought hard for it. The appointment was held from February until August due to legal actions I have coursed, still favoritism prevailed. If I was in prison, you can say I was gang raped. I was knocked off by a subordinate! Talk about leadership, obviously, they have NONE. Once, I was dubbed as “The Bright Hope of the Regional Office”, Ha! Vile leeches and wannabe preachers. I picked up myself and moved on.
In the middle of all this work mess, I found time to clear my head. In Singapore! Three days with my sister, Tinay and brother, Jeng. A birthday celebration for me and the latter. Grand time if I may say so. The trip cleared my head of everything. It was just the moment and the Lion City, that was it. Perfect vacation.
After the Singapore trip, I began to up my SMS to a certain someone. A very special lady. I still have some of the more memorable messages on my phone. Now, we laugh about it.
June 19, 2009: The Big Date. I was giddy-anxious, if I could put those two words together. That day made me smile the biggest for a long time. It was a long drive to Makati, due mostly to the ongoing Skyway construction at the South Luzon Expressway. Which is projected to be finished by May 2011. Bummer! I left my former office in Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba City at exactly 5:00pm and I got to Glorietta at around 7:15. Waited for her at Powerbooks on the 2nd level of G4, her favorite store. Seated at a rounded couch with two random people. I don’t recall what I was reading though I remember it had pictures in it. It must be the nerves of excitement. I specifically positioned myself facing the entrance/exit of the store to see who comes in/out. She emerged after 15 minutes or so with a “Hey!” I smiled back. We exchanged pleasantries, chit-chat as we headed for the movie house. While we’re standing, checking out the big overhead board for movie schedules, somebody intentionally bumped into her. For a second, I thought it was an office strife. For real. Happy it was a Force of Nature with her fiancé. Hi’s and hello’s. We went on to choose The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, a remake featuring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. The movie has already started and I’m not a fan of starting a movie in the middle. In my mind I thought, let’s just go to dinner. Yet we still decided to go for the movie. Both nervous of what we’re doing? For me, yeah. The movie was short plus add to it that we came 15 minutes into the movie. At that point, I was starving. We went to North Park in G5 for dinner. She ordered her North Park staple, salted garlic squid. I picked the lapu-lapu fish fillet. Dinner conversation: So-so Love Saga of 2009. Nothing else. My favorite part of dinner, I got to revel at her lovely face. I drove particularly slow going home, an average of 50kph. My selfish-self wanted the night to last longer with her. Said good night’s before their gates. No kiss on the first date, she’s not the type.
Next significant thing of 2009, my transfer to our Central Office in Makati. It was the 9th of September when I received a facsimile instructing me to report to my new post. I was very happy to oblige. The very same day, I went to our Central Office. Coincidentally, it’s our 43rd founding anniversary. Raffles and Rivermaya. As for Rivermaya, only the drummer is the original member of the group, who is also the son of our Vice Chairman. He had Jolens, his girlfriend, with him. She even graced us with a song. After all the hoopla, I appeared before my new boss and he said I should come in on the 16th to have everything cleared from my former office. After the band sang their last song, I picked up Abbie, the Big Date in the story above. We had dinner at Pancake House, Petron SLEX to celebrate. I even remember her saying “So, you’re happy na. I can go na. My job here is done.” Of course, she was kidding. I think. I say my special thanks to my mom for helping me throughout my transfer process. I would also like to acknowledge the guidance of Dir. Edna Costa, Atty. Owen de Luna and Atty. Reynato Alberto who were very instrumental in relating my concern to our Vice Chairman Comr. Eduardo Escueta. I am humbled.
A sad episode entitled: “It’s not you, it’s me.” – 20th of September, 2009.
I really thought that was it. Still have the text on my mobile. However, it turned one-eighty after she invited me for her mom’s birthday the very next day. We got to talk and crawled back into it. I somehow knew, she also has this thing for me but she can’t make out anything off it at that time. We agreed to take it slower. I smiled again.
October 16, 2009: The Happiest Day in my Life for a Long Time. A regular workday. After office, I went to Ayala Avenue to pick up Abbie. This time I walked. From Buendia Avenue, I walked across to Makati Avenue and turned right to Paseo de Roxas Avenue. It was a nice evening. Not humid as what usually is. I got to her building early. Played Scramble on my iPod Touch while I wait. She came out 30 minutes after. We were hungry and both agreed to have dinner at North Park in G5. She had her usual. I got the pork spareribs in oyster sauce. It was the first time we didn’t have any leftovers. After dinner, she said YES! She green-lighted the idea of us being an official couple. Girlfriend-Boyfriend. Boyfriend-Girlfriend. North Park in G5 is beginning to be my favorite restaurant ever. This was the first time I felt her hold my hand so tight, I couldn’t feel my fingertips. I was in 8th heaven! We were walking along a pedestrian lane towards the Intercontinental Hotel to go to the parking area where the shuttle services were when she spilled this disclaimer, “Di ka naman agad magyayaya magpakasal, di ba?” I laughed hard. Getting married was far from my line of thinking at that time.
My good friend Allan got married to Caren on the 26th of December. He had chosen our common friend Pey, who’s working/living in Hong Kong, to be his best man. But schedules didn’t pan out. He couldn’t leave work. So I got an early call from Allan saying “Pare, upgraded ka na. Di makakauwi si Pey.” This call made me feel great. I know Pey is the true first choice of Allan since they were together for the longest time being high school buddies and all. But second choice made me feel great because he could have chosen another from the gang but he still stuck with me. See, Allan and I had a falling out. Due to some circumstance I will not divulge here. He once said to me “Sinungaling ka! Kala ko matalino ka! Bobo ka pala!” He literally disowned me as a friend, as a person. But time really heals all wounds. I say SORRY to you, Allan. I have failed you before, never again. I embrace him as my friend and as my brother. Here’s my wedding toast: “Good evening, everybody. Christopher was supposed to be the Best Man of Allan. But he can not make it since he is working abroad. So I was upgraded. Matagal ko na rin namang kilala si Allan. Cute pa sya nun, magkalaro na kami. Cute pa rin naman sya ngayon, pero mas mukha na syang konsehal. Could everybody please stand up and raise your glasses for the newlywed. May you be blessed as a couple, as you were blessed as individuals. Cheers!“ This time I didn’t fumble. Good luck guys. Best wishes.
Let me end this blog with a photo that says it all for me for the year that was 2009.
Goodbye, twenty-o-nine! Hello, twenty-ten!
Happy New Year!!!
10:55pm, 31 December 2009.