This is a two-hour movie, and this is Part 1 – about six minutes. “Insightful Journey” the video is long for a standard movie. The urge of putting all the shots and scenes, no matter how bad, stupid and inconsequential they are, almost tempted me. If I didn’t restrained myself, if I succumbed to the insistence of those who starred in the movie to put every little non-sense scenes, I could probably made a movie with an equal length of the “Winds of War”, a 15-hour TV Mini Series of 1983. Even then, much as I wanted to trim it down, “Insightful”, ended up two-hour still.
“Insightful’s” length posed problem. For family and friends length wouldn’t be an issue as they love their own, of course – even if they gorge on their eyes watching. But to venture out the movie to “WWW,” – to the unattached – two hours watching can be a gruelling and a wasteful experience. “Insightful” is about a bunch of unknowns – surfers couldn’t probably relate to. It is not even about celebrities surfers can gossip on. So, unless I make “Insightful” compelling, worthy of the “WWW’s” surfer’s time – that’s my challenge!
I thought of two approaches to make the movie seem interesting – at least. One, use music’s magic to harmonize “Insightful” with tunes reflecting the mood of every scene. On this, however, I’ll have to make a disclaimer. Although some of the music I had put in is already in the public domain, some are fairly new and copyrighted. I would have to hold on the “fair use” of the copyrighted materials. There’s no intention on my part to use them commercially but just to enhance my creation. Asking permission for the use of the copyrighted material can be daunting, as there are many to ask, and I have no clue as to its procedure. I think I have just to acknowledge its use through this blog as many like me are doing for their own movie project. Second, make the potential “www’s” surfers to feel and experience the excitement and enjoyment we had, virtually making them as part of our entourage – by giving them historical backgrounds, insights of things experienced and observed, and human interest commentaries: complemented, of course, by this blog.
Part 1 of this two-hour video is segmented in three parts. 1) Our departure from Winnipeg. 2) The hasty nostalgic trip to my place of origin and 3) our close encounter with road accident going back to Mabuhay Manor, the hotel we’re booked in.
Our tour to London and Paris in 2007, in an answer to promotion by Globe and Mail as subscriber initiated us to the adventure of traveling. Our London-Paris tour had been a success, and that initiation paved the way for my wife on becoming a good vacation planner. She had been so itchy trying once more her new found vocation, so we planned to have a trip – this time, to the Philippines. The last time we had our trip in the Philippines was in 2005, but we just stayed in one place. We didn’t really get into exploring. To think that we have opportunities to explore ( as now, we have resources, unlike before where we had none) just staying foot would be a disgrace – not venturing on those most talked-about beautiful spots of the country. Also, exploring would expiate our unpatriotic guilt. So, here we come to the grandest vacation planned by my wife which includes our two daughters who would be their first time to set foot on the country of their birth, twenty years after they were born there.
We enplaned from Winnipeg, December 26, 2009. Thirteen hours later, we landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. As we waited for our ride at the holdover office of the Mabuhay Manor, the hotel we’re booked in, that familiar humid smell of Philippine’s air filled my chest. And as my sweats soaked my undershirt and underwear, somehow I thought this is one thing I missed about in the Philippines: The easy sweats minus the gym. The cacophony of horns blaring without let up, the pulsating noise of people bustling around, the commotion of the midday traffic, the swishing of wind unable to mitigate the hot atmosphere – I was back to the rambunctious Philippines I knew!
The Mabuhay Manor Hotel is nestled on an area in Pasay City, South side of Metro Manila, where one would think the City Planner abandoned the use of Zoning Variance. Our ride steered us to Ortigas Street, a narrow street which is more of a back lane. On the left side, are rows of motels for quick carnal excursion and on the right are garment factories. Along this “back lane,” the lobby of the Mabuhay Manor Hotel is situated. Further up the street after the Mabuhay, is the FB Harrison Street, a main road bigger than Ortigas, but then it gets smaller because of the flea market crowded with stalls of merchandise. Walk further down of FB Harrison lead you through EDSA, a stretch of highway coming from the North. This part of EDSA is filled with rows upon rows of bars and other “night” establishments. The Mabuhay Manor is on a block surrounded by disrepute establishments and hodgepodge of out of synch business entities. The smorgasbord is a sign that the block escaped the notice of City Planner. The Mabuhay Manor is clearly out of place on this location. The image the hotel emits through the internet – middle range, in a nice environs, family oriented kind of hotel, is different from the actual. But the hotel, on the time we arrived was bustling with activities; people come and go – Filipinos and other nationalities. The lobby has been so busy, and it gave you sense that staffs got their hands full.
Whatever misgivings I have of the “Mabuhay” had been swiped by the splendid array of their free breakfast buffet. It was a complete local breakfast. The kind you always dreamed off when you’re away from your country. The tuyu, tinapa, itlog na maalat, the pancit, the sopas, fruits for the season, the dips – everything you could ask for. On this alone, I said to myself, it worth my stay. Also, they have this restaurant which offer “Sutukil” they called it. A combination of ways you wanted the fresh sea foods in display to be cooked – with soup, like “sinigang”, charcoal broiled, “ihaw” or just dipped in vinegar with other spices, “kilawin” – I ordered two live “talakitok,” sinigang sa miso with some veggies. I’ve never ever tasted “sinigang sa miso” for as long as I can remember. Then it came. Wow! Then, “inihaw na pusit.” And we ate beside the swimming pool. This is life: “feeling rich” I said to myself.
The next day I arranged transport for us to be taken to Baliwag. We had some baggage to drop off to my cousins’ house, and we have to withdraw money from the bank – the proceeds of the rent of our house, which we will use for the rest of our adventure.
“Rilis” the name of the barrio where I was born which was changed to Bagong Nayon, which means “new barrio” – as then, the barrio has this ghetto kind of reputation, rose up, disrobed the image it had before. “Rilis” then were just a mere adjunct of Sto Cristo, one of the bigger barrio of Baliwag. Now “Rilis” grew as a newly built city within Baliwag, which housed SM Supermart, JolliBee, Pure Gold, and different chic business establishments found in Metro Manila.
Faye and Farrah were so anxious to see where they spent their kindergarten and grade school days, so we visited St. Paul School at San Rafael, the nearby town of Baliwag. Under the Mayorship of Ricardo Silverio – at the time of our visits, an inauguration of San Rafael’s new municipal building at the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway is about to take place. Before, the San Rafael Municipal building was buried deep in a remote barrio, where St. Paul School is located. With the relocation of its new municipal building along the highway, this once sleepy town, would become the bustle of commercial activities, like what happened with Pulilan, Bulacan when some enterprising politician, lobbied the government to reroute Dona Remedios Highway to pass by their vicinity.
Having our business done in Baliwag, on our way back to Mabuhay Manor, at the North Luzon Expressway, as our rented van cruised along the inner lane of the highway at a speed of 80 km/ hour, the van’s rear right tire run out of air. The van chugged and wiggled. Our driver with good instinct and presence of mind steered the van in a calculated reduced speed to the right shoulder. At the hotel, earlier, when I saw the van that we’re going to use, I already noticed that the van’s rear tires are bald, as I seemed seeing outline of its fly, and the front tires are as nearly bald. It struck me then, the usual aversion of Filipinos to preventive maintenance. We are a kind of people who, if ever a thing is still possible to use up to its last breath, we squeezed dry the juice out of it, rather than spending for its maintenance. We see so many examples of these in the sea and road transport industry.
Five minutes after, as our driver began dislodging spare tire to change the flat tire, A Highway Patrol truck pulled up, and came down to our rescue two uniformed personnel of the NLEX. Good they came, because, our driver didn’t have the necessary tools to change the tire. They helped our driver to change the tire. “You’re fortunate guys, your driver is good. If he’s a mediocre, things can get ugly,” One of the guys said. I was surprised of their quick response, so I asked them, how they saw us having problem. They said the highway is being monitored by a satellite. Hmmm … so they are techie, too, in here, huh! But I said to myself, this is where probably, NLEX spend some of the proceeds of the toll fees … makes sense. As we’re about to go, one of the rescuers handed me a company’s card with their names on it, saying if we could email a commendation of the services they did to us. I planned to do that. Maybe, I would email this blog.
Lesson learned: Aversion to preventive maintenance can kill.