EASTERN JAVA, INDONESIA. As we faced heavenward to admire the constellations that reminded me a lot of a city’s nightscape, we felt the soft arrival of the ashes in our face. This is how we arrived. This is how Mt. Bromo welcomed us. Outside our bare room, the railings were all covered in ashes. Even the terrace’s tiled floor was no exception. We curled and bundled up inside. *** A dog played with a dead pigeon on an ashen field of leeks. It rained ashes once again. The nase goreng by Mt. Bromo’s viewing deck tasted good. We brought our […]
I remember it well: I was busy writing a travel assignment on my phone. Nassefh—a handsome poet from Mindanao and my guardian during my drunk nights in the 54th Silliman University National Writers Workshop, the most sought-after writer workshop in the Philippines—approached me and said that I was not enjoying the moment at all. Indeed, he was right. We were aboard a big boat on our way to Manjuyod Sandbar as our midweek escape from the slaughtering called writing workshop. And there I was glued on my phone, finishing a deadline! Writing a 1000-word travel article on my phone was […]
“Where are you now?” “In the middle of the bridge?” Yes, with a question mark because I was really on the bridge at four in the afternoon, yes, with a question mark because I could not really believe that I was on the bridge and had not checked in yet. I was kinda embarrassed to admit that I totally overlooked the simple truth that all travel guides I have read on Guiuan were pre-Yolanda (Haiyan). And that’s the thing about places hit by the supertyphoon. These places have now modifiers “before” and “after Yolanda” attached to their names.
It takes time to love big cities. Its character is not fixed, its face varied, it is or can be unpredictable. To love a city is to linger, to stay for months or years perhaps. It is not meant for place sniffers, those who can only afford to stay for three days, a week utmost: visit the Petronas Tower on the second night, go to Batu Caves in the morning, haggle at Chinatown in the afternoon. To fully love a city is to abandon the self’s restlessness, the self’s hunger for the places one has never been to. To love […]