Saturday, September 26, 2009

Remembering the Heavy Rain

I'm supposed to meet some PC3 friends this evening, with balikbayan Joyz, as the special guest. Too bad, Ondoy just ruined our excitement to be all together. It's raining so hard outside and I can see over the window - the flood, the people and their vehicles, stranded! Everyone gets stuck, even those who are a little luckier being under a roof (like me and Dot). Thanks to our stock of noodles, de-lata, crackers and coffee. We're safe from starving.....well, for the next 24 hours at least, if the situation worsens.

Being literally trapped in a room and has not much to do aside from watching Adrian Monk all day, I decided to go online and be somewhere else. Not in Facebook, flooded with agonies of stranded friends. Nor in YouTube, filled with disappointing news of Metro Manila being completely submerged in water. For not-so-good times like this, there's no better cyber place, in my den.

I remember being so defensive the other day for not making any post over the couple of weeks due to the challenges of my new job and the busy schedules of my life outside. So, as promised and since I have the time now, I will tell one story - my first ever long drive with Big Love. I choose this to be the first to share because the sound of the raindrops I'm hearing now reminds me of the same unfavorable weather we had on that day.

That was September 5, a date that should have marked my first ever trip abroad, but was not pursued because of a lost passport. Lai and other college friends, had been planning a road trip to Tagaytay since summer, when I was still part of the country's rising unemployment rate. It was just this one rainy Saturday that everything fell to its proper place. I could say it was somehow a blessing in disguise - my supposed trip to Bangkok would be replaced by an equally exciting experience. And by the way, my friend Lai, whom I truly respect as being this humble genius (graduated CumLaude and topped 13th in CPA Board Exam) also chose to wander the "bum" life in exchange of letting go of the unhappy and unhealthy energies caused by work. She left PWC after 5 years of service plus a potentially illustrious career in the firm (she was lined up for promotion already). You see, everybody has this crisis. And our "out of work" days made us both feel that getting out of town, even just on nearby places, might lead us to the way of finding ourselves.

Lai, Meg, Baby and I met at Mcdo Valero. The agreed time was 7:30am but it was already 11am when we finally took off. We waited long for Lai (coming from Bulacan) who was awakened only by Baby's call, not by the alarm clock she set the night before. Hmmm.....familiar, huh?! I knew then how it feels to be waiting for me, hahaha!

There's was no rain yet, just cloudy outside. We were on the road for less than 5 minutes but I already committed my first blooper. Along Makati Ave., I turned right instead of left. Maybe because I was so occupied telling the girls about my novice driving, my unfamiliarity of routes, my close encounters with the police, etc., insinuating that being my passenger is a stressful experience. Good thing Baby was there to guide, who appeared to be the route expert among us. My second fluff came few minutes after, when I took the bus lane in EDSA. Well, the next scenes were already familiar - an officer approaching the car, asking my license and then returning it for P100 after some "negotiations". These friends I'm with were cool and just laughed out on my every mistake.

We were welcomed by traffic in Alabang but there was no dull moment. We took pictures inside, played an MJ CD and continued sharing stories.
The heavy downpour of rain started upon reaching SLEX. Meg also began talking about her "stalker" boss, on how frightened she was that she ended up tendering her reignation. We were a bit carried away by her story that we almost passed Sta. Rosa exit. Since that was already past lunch time, we wished that we could find Sonya's Secret Garden fast and easy. But, we got lost again - passing the downward road to the sought place and unnoticing the landmarks we should see before making a right turn. We already reached Calaruega when we turned back and came across this cute vintage car.

It was 2PM when we set foot on the place. And the four of us agreed why it was tagged a secret garden. We were served with the "healthiest set of food" I could ever remember. For the first time, I enjoyed a green leafy meal (totally no rice). Their tea was another must-taste. And in between our crunches and sips, were each other's life updates on family, work, health, love life and others.

We spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures of the small, forest-like paradise, its flowers, chandeliers, candles, chairs, and of course, ourselves. I brought with me my Precious and Lai brought her Leila. Who won't respect this lady? Behind that magnificent mind are still tons of other talents (a photographer, a writer, a guitarist, a painter, etc.)? I learned a lot from Lai that day.

We headed to Caleruega at around 530PM. The rain had stopped. The road on the highland was rocky and rough but the cool breeze made our eyes open for some breathtaking landscapes. The Church is indeed one of the best places to spend a peaceful time - somewhere closer to nature, closer to God and definitely closer to one's truest self. We had a great view of the mountains on the side and the farms beneath, of simply - the world, on its most genuine state. Inside the chapel was also a grand wedding ceremony. We took some pictures before finally ending the short visit.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the trip was our way home. As we climbed the cliff again, with the sudden rainpour and lightning, Big Love stopped. I should have shifted to first gear when we got closer to the peak. We felt backing down. There was a little panic inside. I could remember the same uncomfortable feeling when I was in Market-Market's basement (but Carol was there) and in Fair View Center Mall (a kind Manong was there). That time, on top of that mountain, with 3 nervous passengers, there was no one to trust than myself......and Big Love. Thank God we survived. I believed our nearness to the sky and to Him also graced us to get going....safely.

We stopped over a place to buy pasalubong and ate dinner at Paseo (Chowking) since I requested a meal with rice. We also dropped by a gasoline station, marking my "n"th blooper. I could no longer remember opening the gas tank, like it was my first time. I mistakenly opened the hood, then the compartment...before hitting the appropriate target. The gasoline boy was laughing but the laughter of my 3 friends was even louder. The tough test wasn't finally over yet as we got lost again several times trying to find the SLEX route. But as always, we survived....again.

It was exactly midnight when we reached Makati. I dropped Lai, Meg and Baby near The Columns. They got off saying there must be a repeat of this super fun trip and that they're willing to be stressed and lost again....with BL and me. Those sweet words made me smile as I drove my way home. It was raining still, but no longer heavy. In bed, I received some text messages from the girls again thanking me for the hitch and reminding our next road adventure. Hmmm....looks like I'm up for another career - as a faithful driver this time. As I pulled over my sheet, I wished the rain would stop so I could wake up the next day with the sun shining.

I am wishing the same tonight....that typhoon Ondoy will soon be over and that everyone should remember that in life, the sun will always shine after the storm.........

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