Saturday, November 05, 2005

Tales From the Trip*

*From my journal entry dated July 10, 2005. I posted it here just because I have nothing else to post.

The best things in life are free
I just came back from an all-expense paid trip to Iloilo. My friend who works for a shipping company as a junior marketing consultant took me in as part of his research team (Apparently, he thought I needed a break from my over-extended break). All we had to do was observe the ship’s services, evaluate it, and compare it with that of the competitor’s. We also had to be good actors because the ship’s crew is aware of this system (it’s a monthly thing), only they don’t know when exactly will the observers strike. The thought of being an undercover agent, even for a short time, was thrilling. It gets even more so when you didn’t tell your mom about it.

Titanic moments
Spending the evening at the ship’s sundeck was the best part of the trip. My solitude brought me a sense of affinity with nature. The stars looked nearer and brighter, as if to say that I am not alone. The wind’s embrace chilled my bone but I welcomed it nonetheless. The waves told their stories in varying manners, at times they scream and bellow, at others they sigh, drone, and whisper, confiding secrets they have gathered over the years.
This couldn’t just emerge from a cosmic egg explosion. I looked up, closed my eyes, and felt the cold breeze kiss my cheek.
It’s a pity pleasure-seeking humans profane nature’s beauty by bringing with them whatever form of entertainment they have been used to. And so the ship has a disco/bar, videoke, and television sets grabbing people’s attention and ruining what little chance nature has of being appreciated.

It’s a small world after all…
Because I still had to observe other parts of the ship, I was compelled to leave the deck. I went to the bar to report to my team mates, but of course we had to be discreet so we did it with a lot of drinking, laughing, singing, and dancing. One of my fellow researchers sang with the band and dedicated his song to "my classmates from UP Diliman." (we concocted a tale about us being orgmates going to Iloilo for an org activity.) Beside our table was a group of middle-aged ladies, who by the look on their faces, seemed amazed at our capacity for dissipation (we did it in the name of research, really). When one of them heard that we were from UP, she turned to us and asked if anyone was from MassComm. I didn’t want to engage in a conversation so I pretended not to hear her (mean, mean, mean) but my friend answered for me.
"Siya po, Journalism
"May kilala ka bang Juay?"
The name is so unique I didn’t have to ask for the full name to know who she’s referring to.
"Opo, orgmate ko po siya. Classmate ko rin po siya sa dalawang subjects last year."
It turned out that Juay is her daughter. She even showed us some of Juay’s pictures she keeps in her wallet.
For our accommodation, the company booked us at Iloilo's grandest hotel, the Sarabia Manor. Too bad we only got to stay there for one day and one night.

The delayed departure from the port of Bacolod was exasperating. I have fallen asleep only to find out upon waking that we were still there. I was pacing up and down the side deck when I saw a man looking as irritated as I was. "Misery loves company and this is a good opportunity to do the interview," I thought. (Part of our tasks as researchers was to talk to some of our fellow passengers onboard the rival ship.) I intended to do the interview later but since I had nothing else to do, I approached the man.

"Anong oras daw po aalis?" I asked. I might have looked so irate because his reply was, "Hayaan mo, bukas nasa diyaryo na yan," as if trying to console a child with a piece of candy. His remark sparked my interest. Suddenly the interview wasn't just a chore I had to do.
"Reporter po kayo?"
"Yung kapatid ko, taga-
People's Journal." I was surprised at how cockily he said this. I realized how much power the press has and how this makes it so open to abuse.

"Delayed nga rin po yung pag-alis sa Iloilo kanina e," I whined.
"Kaya hindi umuunlad ang Pilipinas e," he grimly remarked.
He went on to talk about the wretchedness of Philippine society and exclaimed that the country is beyond hope. The only hope, he said, is "patayin ang lahat nang tao at magsimula ng bago." I guess the present political situation has done much to make him feel that way.
"Masyado naman po kayong pessimistic," I said, trying to ease the tension. "May pag-asa pa naman po siguro."
He scowled. "Ilang taon ka na ba?"
"Twenty po."

"Twenty years ko nang pinag-aaralan 'to. Noon pa lang, na-predict na namin na wala na talagang pag-asa."
Afraid of getting another "shut-up-I-know-better" look, I didn't attempt to counter his claims anymore, although some of his assertions were downright erroneous.

Before leaving, he gave me an unsolicited advice: "Kung may chance kang umalis, umalis ka na dito."
Damn. I suddenly wanted to jump off board.