There’s Sand in My Pants
(How to Survive the Wheels of the Bus Going Round and Round)
I never expected I’d be asked to make a travel article, I don’t think that’s in my area of expertise considering that I can’t survive the turning of bus wheels. Or the turning of any vehicle’s wheels, for that matter. But I might as well try. Hi, this is The-Girl-Who-Almost-Threw-Up-But-Didn’t and we all just went to Ilocos together!
As I’m sure you’re aware of, *insert school name here* took time off the busy schedule to play – er, I mean to go out and seek knowledge – during the days of *insert two day dates here*. And where better to learn about culture than the Home of the “Hey, isn’t this where they shot that scene from ____?” Sights: Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. To those who were not part of this EXCEEDINGLY BRILLIANT AND MUST-NOT-BE-MISSED 48-hour adventure, go be a masochist and read on; it’s going to hurt.
Experience #6: Each and every time we go off to some foreign land, there is a constant debate raging within each and every one of us: to eat or not to eat. We are plagued by questions such as “Do I really want to take a bite out of that empanada-disguised egg ball?” or “Why are these sausages tied to each other? Was this really cooked? Is that string edible?” Or maybe you’re one of those rare types who have the stomach of a mighty Spartan warrior and have no trouble dining in hell. Of course, the people you share a bathroom with, also hope they can stomach the hell you’ll be unleashing afterwards. They have orange empanadas; we have browns. They have really weird tasting vinegar; we have our trusted Datu Puti. We say po-tay-toe; they say po-tah-tah. There’s really not much difference unless you’re digestive tract is as sensitive as Sheldon Cooper’s wherein even the smallest nibble of new food sends your systems to go haywire. I was on the safe side of things and went to the vintage McDonald’s in Vigan.
Experience #5: If, by any chance, you were as unfortunate as I was during the stroll around the abode of the Marcos’ and you had to listen to a sceptical, schizophrenic water buffalo, you were probably bombarded by his exclamations of wonder like “Hey, is that real?”, “He did what? REALLY?!”, and “Oh! Is *that* real?!” And you’d think he’d respect the peace inside Marcos’ burial place, but NO, he gets even more annoying. If you had a conversation similar to the one that follows, there’s nothing else to do but bang your head against the wall.
Hulk (because he’s a buffalo and the guy who played Hulk in The Avengers was Mark Ruffalo, get it? GET IT?): Oh, is that Marcos? Really?
You: Yes, really.
Un-Green Hulk: Is that really real?
You: Yes, it is.
Brown Hulk: REALLY? That’s real?
You: Oh, for the love of – YES, it’s real.
Non-muscular Brown Hulk: I’ll bet you it’s not real.
You: THE TOUR GUIDE ALREADY SAID IT’S BURIED UNDER SEVEN LAYERS OF WAX.
Hulk: Are you sure it’s real?
You: Oh, deities that art thou in heaven. Do YOU want to be BURIED UNDER WAX, YOU LITTLE –
Hulk: *points at spears* Cool! Are those real?
You: Let the head-banging commence.
That aside, the Marcos residence was a sight to behold. I don’t get what was so special about Imelda’s filipinanas, though; sure, they were better than my prom dress and stuff, but they looked kinda’ sorta’… plain. Appreciation for Marcos was definitely built up though. Another sight to behold was the Malacanang of the North and it’s man-made lake. Unlike Imelda’s dresses, the Malacanang of the North wasn’t too shabby. Also unlike Imelda’s dresses, the structure was beautifully constructed. Teenagers don’t necessarily care much for museums and old stuff, but those two places really hit a mark.
Experience #4: How do you sleep when there are drunken male strangers who have a strength that exceeds your fragile, feminine body outside your very door? Easy, you don’t. After the initial shock and fear felt by most – oh, please don’t tell me I’m the only paranoid parrot around here – of the female population who were dropped off at the ALLAD resort, the panic subsides after a period of time. That and the realization that the men have left by 11 o’ clock really helps soothe the nerves. But for those of us who were still paranoid to sleep in a resort’s bed sheets – for reasons I can not say in hopes of keeping this PG-13 – thank heavens the television set was there to keep our minds at ease. We watched, uh, we didn’t really watch a specific show, yeah? We just kept channel surfing until we found something… and no, we didn’t find anything. No, sir-ree. I can’t say much about how the freshmen and sophomore spent the night, I wasn’t there. Go ask someone who was.
Experience #3: Pretend I’m Dora. That was fun last time! What was YOUR favourite part? [Awkward silence ensues] That was my favourite part too!
No, seriously, the Bangui Windmills would win my vote any time. No, I don’t care for the windmills. The dumb windmills were the inspiration for our on-field trip assignment. No, no, there is always a more romantic idea than that. I liked the…body of water found there. That was the sea, right? I’m no daughter of Poseidon – for reasons too embarrassing to be shared – but the blue hue of the waters, the soft lull of the waves, the slightly retarded laughter of my peers as they run towards the edge of the shore then run away from it as the wave crashes in; I liked that stuff. And I know you did too. And we were all just dying to jump into the water, as if we were Hylas and water nymphs suddenly got a huge crush on us and were baiting us near the water so that they can grab hold of us and be able to kiss us. As deathly as it may be, we wanted to be sucked in.
Experience #2: There’s sand in my shoes. And in my shirt. And in my pants. And in my hair. And, oh merciful gods, in my eyes. And, as though the sand was a virus, YOU HAVE THEM TOO! Yes, ladies and gentleman, the time has come. WHO ELSE WAS SINGING “PEDRO PENDUKO NA NAMAN” IN THEIR HEAD WHILE DANCING LIKE JANO GIBBS WHEN THEY WERE IN THE SAND DUNES? No one? Really? Gosh, you guys suck. Fine, who was thinking of that scene from that Filipino love story movie thing? Good for you. Of course, I don’t think anyone was thinking straight while riding those badas – uh, awesome-looking – 4x4s. Like life, the 4x4 adventure had its ups, its downs, its slipperies, and its omgimgoingtodie moments. Here is where we experience just what it’s like to be in possible danger, the fact that the 4x4 tends to make this nerve-wracking noises when making a turn helps that cause! Here is where we grab onto the railing, grab onto each other, grab on to other people’s hair, and grab on to anything for dear life. Here is where we shout, loudly, at the top of our lungs, obscenities we have never dared utter before. Here is where we get all those new bruises that we’ve never seen before. Here is where our soul dies little by little until there is nothing left and we have been reduced to crippling vegetables. On the Brightside, there is a gorgeous view of the sea near all this mayhem and that is our only consolation.
Experience #1: Not in a mansion nor in a house, but in the bus may we find our salvation! In the painfully long 6-hour ride to and fro Ilocos and back to Nueva Ecija, and the moments in between when we were cruising through the (almost) whole of Ilocos, my peers have managed to start a Tap Tap competition, hold a concert while majority of the bus residents were sleeping, WAKE ME UP to ask what Heath Ledger sung in 10 Things I Hate About You (to which, I groggily replied “At long last love has arrived, and I thank God I’m Alive…” and so forth then proceeded to go back to my drug-induced slumber), persuade Sir Marlon V. Nolong to sing, hold a competition for Best Pick-Up Line, play a game called Guess the Song, WAKE ME UP AGAIN by pointing a flash light to my eyes, twice (if you’re curious, the culprit received a well-deserved punch in the back), eat everything in sight, whine about the lack of gravy, whine about how lost we got, whine about pretty much everything, sleep, make non-pick up line jokes, tease each other of how bad they were at telling jokes, tease each other about how often they sleep, tease each other about everything, persuade a certain Junior boy to write them a fan sign from the bus next to ours, and finally, feel dramatic about how this was the last one.
I’m sorry if I seem self-absorbed, darling reader, but you have your memories and I have mine. I do hope you like yours as much as I like mine. If you’d permit me to be sentimental, then yes, yes I did enjoy the field trip. I didn’t enjoy it for the sights, no, we could’ve gone and got ourselves lost in nowhere and I’d be good. If the field trip were a book, I’d rate it a mere three stars for lack of action and lack of wisdom in the characters. But it’s not. And while books have thought me everything I know, it has not thought me companionship. No, that’s a lesson learned in the real world. And to my dear companions, nothing can take the pleasure of sharing this memory with you from me. Not sword, nor blood, nor tears, nor Alzheimer’s. And while I may not believe in an eternity, an infinity, a forever in the numbered days, I will allow myself to believe in “as long as we can.” And I know that’s not the most romantic idea out there, but it’s what I can promise. This memory, these people, this familiar warm and fuzzy sensation of contentment… I’ll make fun of you, I’ll tease you, I’ll argue with you, I’ll laugh with and at you, I’ll trust you with my life, I’ll love you.
For as long as I can.
And for as long as you’ll let me.