Ever since I came home from my two month stay in France, I’ve been craving a little bit of calmness, quiet and nature. You see, living in France for those two months, even though I was in the city, was still a constant getaway. There was calmness. There was quiet. There was nature. I loved that kind of life and I got used to it rather quickly.
I never missed the big city that is Metro Manila, I never missed any of the traffic, the unbearable pollution, the chaos — I mean, who in their right mind would? It couldn’t possibly be at all healthy for you physically, mentally and emotionally — but this was my reality, and a weekday getaway was the best we could do to get away from it all, even if for two nights only.
On the early morning of Thursday, Gab and I packed up the car with our bags of clothes, some groceries, my portable vinyl player and some old and new records to listen to. The night before we caught the last screening of The Revenant with his family, so we got home pretty late. We usually aim to leave for the beach by 4-5AM, but we tend to oversleep an hour or two. That morning we were on the road by 7 AM and got to their beach home in Lobo, Batangas by 10:30AM. I slept majority of the car ride.
Gab slept when we arrived, while I tried to get some work done with editing my vlogs on Adobe Premiere Pro, a video editing software completely new to myself. It’s the reason why vlog editing has been taking so long. Admittedly.
At an hour past noon, I quickly cooked some grilled vegetables and steak for lunch. The grilled vegetables were good. The steak was not. Gab and I have been struggling with cooking steak perfectly, for years now. Always a hit or miss. It’s honestly a lot harder than it looks. Damn Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey make it look easy on YouTube. Don’t be fooled. After stuffing our faces, I went back to edit my vlogs, then took an hour nap. Gab woke me up at 4PM so we could go snorkeling, but by the time we were in the water, the waves had gotten too strong and the water was already a bit too murky.
We decided to get back on land to just relax and watch the sunset instead. Gab finished his book, and I sat around taking photos of him and the sunset.
The next day we were up by 10, had a quick picnic brunch under a big tree to shade us from the sun with the view of the sea while jazz music played from Gab’s phone. We had sandwiches with french bread, cold cuts, and mozzarella cheese. I was enjoying the moment too much to even bother capturing photos, but I did get in a quick vlog or two. After waiting a few hours while listening to vinyl records, Gab and I decided to go for a swim and snorkel. And thank goodness for waterproof bags, I was able to bring my cameras on the raft so Gab and I could take some photos and vlog footage.
The water was crystal clear and still this time, making it ideal for snorkeling and just floating around. Gab and I swam and snorkeled for two whole hours. Every time we snorkel, we always see something new. This time we saw rainbow fish, neon blue and neon purple fish, a moray eel (freaked me out) and a weird creature I was saw on the weird part of YouTube — after researching when we got on land, it turned out to be an egg mass from a squid. I caught it on video, so it’ll most likely end up on the vlog too.
After two long hours under the sun, Gab started to get hungry and as much as I hated to admit it, I was starting to feel tired from swimming as well, even though I’m always such a happy little camper when I’m in the water (must be cause I’m a Pisces?), so we headed back to shore to freshen up and cook an early dinner of steak rice — one of mine & Gab’s favorite meals. Quick, easy, tasty. Not at all healthy, but eh, what ya gonna do?
One of my favorite things about being in the province is getting to watch locals go through their everyday lives. In Lobo, we’re obviously always surrounded by fishermen. This particular fisherman was preparing for a night of fishing because the moon was going to be completely covered in clouds. That means artificial light can be used to lure more fish near their boat to be caught and sold in the early morning markets in town. Don’t worry, Batangas has a “catch & release” program where the fishermen are taught to release all the fish that aren’t meant for eating or selling, just to help preserve the marine life in the area.
With the gloomy sky looming, the tide coming in and a new printed scarf, we were a little inspired to do a quick portrait session by the water. I don’t entirely know if Gab was inspired by The Revenant for these photos, but it reminds me so much of the movie… Mostly because when I look at the photos as a whole, I’m reminded of a Native American girl, and well, I happen to be a teeny-tiny part Cherokee-Irish.
I’ve always believed in the importance of discovering and knowing your history as a person, your bloodline from generations ago, where you came from… It helps explain so much of who you are today as a person.
Two years ago, I learned on my maternal side, I had a Filipino ancestor who was from Batangas too, was a katipunero, and had left an ancestral home that we could visit… and that me being related to the “Mercado” family meant I was somehow related to our national hero, Jose Rizal. I mean, how cool is that? I’m pretty sure they’d be rolling in their grave if they knew how much I wanted to live abroad, though. Sorry grandpa’s!
On my paternal side was the Cherokee-Irish ancestry, but all the information our family has stops at my 3x grandfather who came to the Philippines from North Carolina before the second world war. Someday I hope to visit North Carolina and start researching on my family history… It’s just way too interesting to pass up.
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
After two whole days in Lobo, Gab and I packed our stuff back into the car to head home for Manila. We wanted to extend another night but had already made prior commitments for a dinner gathering with some friends and acquaintances. Besides, it’s only a few hours away and knowing Gab & I, another weekday getaway wont be too far ahead.