i’ve always thought of inking on names of bands or musicians that changed my life. jack’s mannequin would most probably be one of those that would top the list. back in high school, a friend introduced their song “dark blue” to me. like most school “buses” in the country, ours was a van. we’d play music that we wanted to share with the other riders by making mixes and burning them on CDs. our driver would always ask for a copy of whatever we had on the player. “dark blue” became one of our anthems. the intro is impossible not to like.
the time when i discovered jack’s mannequin, the only album out was “everything in transit”. every. song. is. love. i don’t know why but all of andrew’s songs just appealed to me. i would doodle “into the airwaves“‘s lyrics all over my notebooks back then. i would cry to “rescued” whenever i was depressed. i’d listen to “spinning” whenever i was confused, (aagghh. i love jack’s mannequin.) i’d also cry to “you can breathe” all because of its melodic piano intro—and the great lyrics of course!
listening to them is just like watching a movie. their lyrics are always telling a story. i absolutely love all their albums but “everything in transit” and “the glass passenger” came with such great timing in my life. the thing about my love for jack’s mannequin is that i don’t always play their songs. about a month or two would pass but a night will always come where i would just infinitely play their music on itunes. and tonight is one of those nights!
though the band’s retired. their story is still very inspiring. especially andrew’s. being a cancer survivor and all.
to you younger people out there, if you haven’t listened to them, you should check them out! download their first album “everything in transit”. you will not regret it!
desperate for life, i knew i had to leave. i needed to go somewhere far and alone. not that life threw so much at me that i was drowning in work. no, not really. i was just tired…
with all that’s happened, where do i even begin?
after having a death in the family, i started over thinking my life. it hasn’t done me any good at all. after about two months of doing “stuff”, a thought of having a solo vacation entered my mind. i mean, i’ve always overplayed movies like “the holiday” and “eat, pray, love”. in fact, right now, the holiday just went on hbo. so yes, i’m watching it again. right this very minute.
so, i was tired and uninspired. i was desperate to be in awe of something. i considered talking to God and prayed for this decision i was about to make.
out of the blue, el nido popped into my mind. i knew nothing about the place but i heard it was beautiful. in the next hour during this thought, i’ve already read numerous blogs about it. i was also considering traveling out of the country or having a road trip to the hundred islands, but then i came across this blog. after reading nathan allen’s story about el nido, i was even more inspired to escape from this city. even for just a couple of days. please do take time to read his blog, filipino or not. it may also change your life. i came up with two plans to present to my dad. which ever of the two places he approved of, that i’d go to. obviously, el nido was the choice. i was ecstatic.
it wasn’t until the day of booking my flight to palawan that i told of my plans to the rest of my family. we ended up having a little bit of an argument and i wasn’t able to book my flight that day. it was a sunday. suddenly i thought my trip wasn’t going to push through because of some family issues. the hotel i was trying to book canceled my reservation since i wasn’t able to deposit my payment on time. discouragement crept in slowly. especially because after tweeting about my plans, my friends thought i was crazy. some went to the extent of texting me, asking if i was “alright”. in other words, some thought i was about to kill myself. gosh. so anyway, my dad encouraged me to fix this little fuss i had with my mother. my dad is a faithful man. he urged me to do what God would want me to do. he said if the trip was really for me, it’ll all work out perfectly. and what i should do first was to obey God.
so i tried to talk to my mom. it wasn’t an ecstatic yes that i received. all she said was “take care”. that was good enough for me. the following day, i booked my flight. this other resort that i actually preferred over the one i was supposed to book suddenly sent me an email saying that the room i wanted was free on the dates i gave. in one hour, everything was booked. with this, i’ve already learned something new. i thought, maybe God allows some delays in life for a reason. maybe He wanted me to have the right heart for that moment so that i’d see how His ways are different from mine and be all the more joyous when things unfold. and that following his commands does bare fruit.
a week before my flight, a friend of mine wanted to hang out. so we did. i told her about my plans of traveling alone. my parents still hoped that i had someone to go with me. a bigger part of me wanted to have this trip all to myself but i actually prayed that God would allow me to have a travel buddy so that my folks would be less worried. my friend was careful not to put my hopes up. she said she was interested but she had a business to run, and her parents were not in the country. days passed and she still didn’t confirm. four days before my flight, one monday morning, i prayed again. i asked that He just grant peace in my parents’ minds. alone or not, i was ready. but somehow, i was expectant that my friend would tag along. lo and behold, a couple of hours after my prayer that morning, my friend called me up. it was no longer a solo trip. we booked her flight that very hour.
finally the day to leave for a very short vacation arrived. i was all set. i had a little bit of sleep. i was restless because of excitement. (the post is already too long omg).
i wish i could share how God answered every single detail of my prayers. i was emotional when the plane took off. i remembered my grand mother who just passed away. also, i was just so happy that my plans materialized. my decision was so spontaneous, i couldn’t believe it pushed through.
our flight took about an hour and a half. it was another five-hour drive from puerto princessa to el nido. upon seeing the great limestones from the van, i had to pinch myself. “i can’t believe it, it’s so beautiful” were the words i uttered when we arrived.
i left manila with a desire to fall in love with God again, and to be in awe. through the people of palawan, these desires were satisfied. they were perfect models of showing God’s genuine concern towards our every need. i booked a resort that was about a 10-15 minute walk from the town proper. upon arriving at the terminal, a woman who saw that we were a bit confused with what to do helped us with directions and even gave her number just in case we needed any more help. still, my friend and i got a bit lost on our way. but a kid who was walking home from school walked with us and showed us the way to our resort. we saw her mother when we reached her house, which was about 2 minutes away from our resort. we told her mom that she should be proud of her daughter. she was so young and small. only about three feet tall. she already knew so much about life. it was a memorable 10 minute walk that we had with her. the people there seemed to care about tourists without asking for anything in return. i had so much interaction with the locals. i could go on forever with the kindness they showed. they offered to cook meals for us so that we wouldn’t spend much.
i came across two vendors who were walking around (a mother and her son) selling pearl necklaces and bracelets. we weren’t interested in those stuff so we just offered to give them a few pesos without actually buying. they told us that they weren’t beggars even if they were poor so they couldn’t accept the money. we urged them to just take it. but they said no. they said that if they were to accept our money, we had to get something in return. we ended up buying a few of their products. they were so happy. they gave us discounts even if we didn’t bargain. but something really touched me with my encounter with them. we gave them a few slices of pizza since we were having dinner when they approached us. my friend and i were seated on a table and they were hiding under it because they were not allowed to sell there. they each took a bite of their individual slices then kept it. they said they wanted to save it for later. we told them to eat it while it was hot but i guess they really wanted to save it for later— when they get even hungrier. it broke our hearts. they left, but a couple of minutes later they went back and gave us more products for free. it was the son that came up to me, he wanted to thank us for buying from his mother. it meant a lot to them. we told them to just sell it to someone else, so that they’d earn more but they were persistent in letting us have it.
we became friends with a family who stayed at the same resort as ours. they’ve already been staying in el nido for a month. our first conversation took place during our first tour. having them tour with us was an unexpected blessing. we were supposed to be charged a little bit more because at first it was only my friend and i who were going to book the boat. it had to have a minimum of around four passengers. but helen, a beautiful norwegian mother of two children, decided to tag along just for fun. they’ve already been to all the tours but they randomly decided to take another one that morning. we didn’t have to pay extra because of that. our conversation got deeper through the tour and we found out she was a pastor’s wife (what were the odds of being with a fellow believer on the same boat!?). her story was very very interesting.
also, for some weird reason, where my friend and i decided to go during our stay at el nido, we’d find them there too. we also met her husband who was a pastor. her kids, two adorable young boys didn’t speak much english but they would greet us each time we ran into each other. el nido was such a huge place but we’d always end up in the same area. they were such a model family. we had fun hanging out with them. we learned so much each time we were with them. they’ve practically traveled everywhere.
while motorbiking around el nido, we came to this beautiful spot overlooking las cabanas beach. we stopped on the side of the road next to a hill. a girl who looked like she lived in an unfinished gazebo that sat on top of the hill told us that the view was better if we went up to her. she called us out from some sort of viewing deck. we went up to her and indeed it had one of the best views of el nido. the place looked somewhat like an abandoned lot with a skeleton of a gazebo. she was an interesting character. at only age 21, she’s traveled the entire philippines. she also opened our eyes on how el nido is slowly losing its beauty. people put too much strain on the city’s natural resources. the corals near the shore have died. so much construction was going on around the city. the mountains are carved to make way for roads, and more resorts and hotels. she made me realize that el nido may lose its splendor sooner than i thought.
our topic of how el nido is getting urbanized bothered me so much that it actually took the joy out in me. other locals also told stories of how el nido was much more beautiful before the influx of tourists. but then i thought, this is bound to happen. i remember that part in genesis where God gave the earth to man for him to do what he wanted with it. i also remembered how nothing will ever get better, rather chaotic. and that nothing in this earth will last forever. though the bible also says that we are supposed to be good stewards of our treasures.. but i guess man is simply stubborn. myself included.
God’s artistry was so evident in el nido. the limestones were so beautiful and the treasures of the ocean were so magnificent and vast. i swam into open water with only a pair of goggles. i am so thankful for the swimming lessons i took as a kid. i owe it to my folks. i loved how i could freely swim even if the sea was 30 feet deep. for the most part of my stay, i was in awe. we swam and kayaked to different islands. we had the chance of kayaking to a shore that we had all to ourselves. it was one of the best trips of my life so far. i actually think it’s the best.
leaving el nido was difficult. saying good bye to the locals was just waterworks for me. i got so attached. when we boarded the van, each time i looked back to the limestones, i teared up. five days were not enough. the girl we met at the gazebo told us about unknown parts of el nido that we weren’t able to see. she knew palawan so well. she gave me a reason to come back.
with “the holiday“‘s ost playing on my ipod, each glance back to the city and to the ocean had me in tears. i wasn’t ready to leave. though i obviously had to. but God has proven so much of Himself that my fears are stilled. on the plane, i was hoping to be transferred to a window seat. and once again, God answered my prayer by having the entire row of chairs next to me unoccupied. i was transferred to a window seat before taking off. up in the air, i had the best view of the islands. the people who worked at the airport were waving goodbye when we were taking off. it made my friend and i extra emotional. basically, the whole trip back to manila was filled with tears of joy. we couldn’t believe the things God has revealed to us during this trip. too many to mention!
not that anybody is actually reading this, but i hope my humble story.. a story of a five-day trip out of the city, could inspire you. i was depressed. seeking God, and really being sensitive to His instructions through His word will make a difference in your life. just having the assurance that everything will be alright no matter what, is one of the best feelings ever. seek and you shall find. God is always there for us. sometimes, it is hard to see. especially because we want things to be done our way. the human way. we start putting Him in box when our plans don’t happen even if we pray for it. but He is so much bigger than we could ever imagine.
getting away from the man made concrete jungle is always a good idea. nature does things to you. good things. haha! there’s still so much i want to share. but i’ll have to cut it for now. this post has gotten longer than i expected. God bless you all!
i’m planning on uploading photosets soon! will update this entry with the links.
More links coming soon!