[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]