Sunday, April 29, 2007

Climbing & reaching

One of the many things I liked about Guimaras was its people. I can say unequivocally that they embodied Filipino hospitality at its best. Marnie and I were walking to one of the beaches early one morning, too early for the stores to be open. We both of us were craving a cuppa, but there was nowhere we could buy one. She approached one of the local folk and asked in the local dialect where we could buy some coffee.

[N.B.: The Philippines has more than 100 dialects. I can understand some of the languages spoken in certain regions, but I'm by no means fluent. In Guimaras, they speak Ilonggo, a caressing-sounding language. I can follow an Ilonggo conversation, but I can't speak it.]

The man Marnie spoke to informed us that there was no coffee to be bought in the immediate vicinity. So, since we couldn't buy any, we experienced an even better thing: we were given some. Well, we could've had as much as we wanted, but we didn't abuse their hospitality.

This man brought us to his household, introduced us to his family, and bade us to sit down. A minute later, his wife brought our coffee -- and breakfast besides. Complete strangers breaking bread with other strangers in the early morning, bathed in the new light and the sunshine of provincial camaraderie and hospitality -- with nothing expected in return from us. Man, what grace and dignity these simple folks imparted. Contrast that with the behavior of many city folk. Never mind their money, their educational achievements, their social status. Many times the "haves" are boorish and uncouth compared to the have-nots. If the "haves" lose their money, with which they believe they achieve better status than others, what happens? The poor folk in the provinces have nothing by way of material possessions. Their existence isn't measured in a major way by the size of their bank accounts. Their hospitality and goodwill aren't dependent on market fluctuations or the strength of the dollar. Many of us can learn a lesson or two from them. That a person needn't be rich to make a stranger feel welcome and at ease, that maybe a sense of humor, sincere interest, manners, and a listening ear go a long, long way -- and make a more memorable impression at that.


New things can be daunting sometimes. What I perceive to be a mountain is but a molehill to some other people. In the event I want to climb that "mountain" (which in Guimaras was actually just a hellishly big rock) it's most reassuring to know that I have people around me who support me and are cheering for me all the way.

Sometimes I can't help but look with envy at how people seem to do certain things with a minimum of effort (my friend Marnie, for instance, navigated the rocks and ravines with the surefootedness of a mountain goat without breaking a sweat, while my city bones went through hell to try to do what she was doing). The road to my dreams may be hard, steep and uncertain. Sometimes I'm unsure about my foothold (getting to the top of that rock in that part of the beach entailed climbing up and down some sheer rock faces) but getting advice about where I should place my feet was helpful -- even when I ultimately decided just where I should step and which outcropping I should hold on to. It's just like many other aspects of life in a way: people can give you advice, but ultimately you're the one to decide the steps you'll take. And no one will be happier for you when you reach the spot you want to go to. It's either they'll be waiting there for you or cheering you endlessly on (although sometimes it may seem they're not).

These people aren't afraid to step back and let you move and grow on your own. They cheer you on, help you in every which way possible to enable you where you want/need to go, accepting of the fact that at the end of the day you're ultimately the only one who calls the shots. All they can do is lend you their support, their laughter/tears, their sympathy, their encouragement, silently providing a feeling of comfort in times of peril (like when the vehicle you're riding up a steep hill stalls and you're rolling towards a cliff, murmuring (calmly) in your mind "Fuck, I'm about to die" -- or something like that).

So, thank you. You know who you are. I appreciate your help, support, encouragement, and laughter (and your awesome good looks) more than words could ever say.

[As expected, my thighs and calves hurt something awful the morning after the climb]


houseband00 said...

Hoy! Nagpasalamat ka ba, Liz? =)

kyels said...

I really have the applaud the hospitality given by the Pinoys!


Daddy papersurfer said...

There's someone else out there with awesome good looks.........well,well,well, what a small world. I'm sure you'll make a perfect mountain goat- if that's what you want.

lizza said...

HB: Syempre naman!

Kyels: It's a great experience. :-)

DaddyP: All my friends have awesome good looks (saying otherwise would probably get me killed). And yes, becoming a perfect mountain goat is right up there in my list of things to do before I die. :-D

tutubi said...

is this place near alubihod? the only place i visited in guimaras 3 years ago on a sidetrip from iloilo

Turnbaby said...

Ahhhhh So beautiful your words and thoughts and countenance. And that fact that you sat in a vehicle rolling toward a cliff and only murmured 'fuck' in your mind makes you admirable as well *grinning* I would have said that out loud--very loud!

The photos are amazing--I love the story about the coffee--it's so true in all parts of the world.

I love this post--and as usual I am inspired by it as well. Thank you sugar

Bond said...

You take the tale of a day and weave it into a life lesson... This is your way Lizza and it is the main reason I continually come back here again and again.
Thank you so much.

H said...

Ah! and some get thanked for their awesome good looks and laughter. sigh. ;-)

Very very inspiring little holiday, saucy Liz. Now I'm absolutely salivating over the thought of visiting the Philippines. Inshallah. Some day.

it's the little things... said...

What an excellent post....I felt as if I were there too...

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

All the posts of your trip were facinating. Selfishly, I think we are all glad you're back. Now do something, say, solve world peace. That's if you have the time. If you don't I'll understand.

Scott from Oregon said...

Rough terrain requires confidence and the willingness to pretend you are dancing...

ShadowFalcon said...

Wow sounds like you had an awesome time :-)

I'm very jelous, will have to get over to the philipines soon!

Debo Blue said...

See? This is what keeps us coming back, writing like this.

How awesome is your gift, Lizza. O to have a just a piece.

I'm gonna try something like this on my site. No, that will take too much effort. Maybe I'll just copy this, post it to my site and call it my own work.

Just kidding!

Matt-Man said...

Yeah the story was well written and poignant as always, but when I read that a stranger invited two chicks back to his house "for coffee", I was expecting a more pornographic post. Damn....Cheers!!

Natalia said...

I love that hurt that you feel in your muscles when they have been properly challenged by exercise. I don't get it too often.


Odat said...

All I can say is Wow to those pics!!! Glad you got some time to spend and reflect and meet new people...awesome post.

Lizza said...

Tutubi: Rumagangrang beach in Cabalagnan (these pics) and Yato Island (pics below) are some 30 minutes away from Alubihod. Unlike Alubihod, there are no resorts there, though.

Thanks for dropping by. Sana makapunta ka ulit doon; ang dami pang islang puwedeng bisitahin. We're planning to go again, next year pag fiesta ulit. :-)

Turnbaby: Thank you, you sweet thang. I am flattered beyond words.

Bond: Thank you, your kind words are touching and are much appreciated.

H: Dearest soul sis, I love that word/phrase: Inshallah. Aside from the mystique and dignity it imparts, it rolls off the tongue quite prettily. May we hit the beaches here someday, you and I. Inshallah.

Marlayne: Thanks. Coming from a terrific writer like you, that means a lot.

Bud: Thank you. I missed reading your funny and wisecrack-y posts. I will do my part to promote world peace soon -- via the most lovely Meme Queen's Peace Globe initiative.

Scott: That it does, that it does. And maybe also sing as if no one's listening. :-)

Shadowfalcon: I do hope you grace our islands with your presence someday.

Debo Blue: Thank you. It still perplexes me when I hear other people say that. But I hope you know that you do possess the "gift," too. Oh, go ahead and copy/paste my posts. I don't mind if it's you. :-)

Matt-man: Haha! They were absolute dears...but no porn-like anything! :-D

Natalia: It's been a long time since I felt those somehow gratifying aches and pains. :-)

Odat: Thank you! Yes, the people and the scenery were terrific.

Tammie Jean said...

Wow, Lizza! Great photos, awesome adventure and wonderful metaphor. Perfect post!

Lizza said...

Thanks, Tammie Jean!