Thursday, July 27, 2006

Memories of Gangwon

I left my footprints in the sand;
But they got washed away by the sea.
I left my footprints in my EATOF friends’ hearts;
They stay there forever.

I have developed a love-hate relationship with the Last Song Syndrome. I love it when it gains momentum and keeps me humming to a beat, touching a string of emotion to spice up an otherwise dull life experience. But how I hate it when at crucial and vulnerable points, I can’t help but expose the feeling, sensitive part of me.

I have lost track of how many songs I have “absorbed”. They are infinite – because for every turn my life makes, there will always be a soundtrack or two. Last weekend, after two incredible weeks of friendship and cultural interaction, it didn’t take me long to find one song and keep it playing on my mind.

Indulge my nostalgia. Indulge the one thing that, despite all the tears and goodbyes, keeps me looking forward to the future with a fervent hope that someday, somewhere, and sometime, our paths would cross again.

With the two weeks officially over, I still feel the same sense of longing for the laughter and the camaraderie, the girl talks and the boy talks, the serious moments and most of all, our never-ending foolishness and witticisms – the “Malaysian porn soup” talks (thanks to our resident porn star Nikk Adam), the “Thai-Tegu” jokes in Korean class (thanks to Nikk’s 5-minute girlfriend Pai), the chorus singing of the most popular Japanese song (Doraemon) in the world headed by Sho, the picture-perfect moments inspired by our in-house environmentalist cum fashion fanatic Kinuko, the fasten-your-seatbelt-and-you’ll-be-much-safer type of driving of our oppa (brother) Chang Kyu, the “Otoke!” (How!) musings of Boogie, the “Germany” bloopers of our official photographer Da-Ho, the “seriousness” (but he’s not serious, I swear!) of the official model Himmi (He’s probably had the most number of pictures on the cd!), the bonding with Alisa at the children’s playground on camping night, the surprise-birthday-party-with-icing-on-her-face for Nadya, the “I’ll kiss you” message of Tunga to our teacher Mr. Hosung Timothy Rhee, the I-will-eat-breakfast-today-because-it’s-Tuesday-or-Friday-and-breakfast-is-really-yummy-on-those-days deal with my roommate and co-UPian Princess, the dance moves of the youngest in the group Wulan, the shyness of Ki-Beak and his blooming relationship with beauty queen potential Izora (What’s up with you guys? Everybody noticed something. Haha.), the cool tandem of “tutors” (and sometimes room raiders, so they can talk until morning) Korean-Chinese Xue Hua and Korean-Japanese Yuri, the intonation-conscious pronunciation of Jah’s name (Ja-a-a-a-a-h!), the ice skater moves of Ji-Soo, the beautiful girl-leader Joo-Hyun, the Winter Sonata drama of Hai Lan, and the all-smiles nature and always-on-the-go attitude of Mi-Jin.

Two weeks might be too long but I felt it was too short to spend a great deal of quality time with such wonderful people. Throughout the trip to the airport, I was trying so hard to benumb myself of the growing nostalgia that I then felt. But at the airport, when everybody sent each other off with moist eyes and warm hugs, I gave in to a paroxysm of tears. All the more I sobbed when I waved goodbye to them while the boarding area gates closed. I couldn’t even look straight at their eyes for fear that I might just slump down on the floor. Even until the immigration check, I was still sniffing that the agent commented something in Korean that I didn’t understand. And when I told him, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak Korean,” he motioned his hand to his eyes as if to ask if I had been crying and I just muffled, “I just said goodbye to some friends.” Then everything was like a blur – like a dream that was slowly coming to an end. Then I remembered the night before when Nikk told us, “Tomorrow, I will wake up from this dream…” How right he was. And at that moment, I was so inspired to answer, “If this was a dream, I would never want to wake up...”

Half the world is sleeping, half the world's awake.
Half can hear their hearts beat, half just hear them break.
I am but a traveler, in most every way.
Ask me what you know.

The East Asian Inter-Regional Tourism Forum 2006 delegates with Ms. Emily Lim, EATOF Project Coordinator and our gracious bus driver! Photo taken at Chuncheon Drama Gallery, Chuncheon City.

What a journey it has been and the end is not in sight.
But the stars are out tonight and they're bound to guide my way.

Outdoor Picnic at Mang-Sang Auto Camp Resort

When they're shining on my life, I can see a better day.
I won't let the darkness in, what a journey it has been.

With our “Big Brother” Chang Kyu in a campaign for world peace.

I have been to sorrow, I have been to bliss.
Where I'll be tomorrow, I can only guess.

At the Flower Garden Museum with Boogie, Sher Hwa, and Wulan. Uh-huh-huh. Rainy days won’t leave us screaming.

Through the darkest desert, through the deepest snow.
Forward always forward, I go.

Birthday in Korea? Why not! At Princess’ “surprise” birthday party.

When they're shining on my life,
I can see a better day.
I won't let the darkness in.
What a journey it has been.

The 2006 EATOF delegation

Today, I’m back to the rustle and bustle of my student life. I’m back in the Philippines, back to Cebu, back to where I am currently pursuing my studies. I’m home now.

And somehow, my tear ducts have gone dry.
I so want to ask myself why,
But now I can honestly say,
My heart is still on its way…

Sunday, July 02, 2006

cockroaches to slumber: the journey of a blog post

You should know that by the next few minutes, you are going to dissect my brain. Take care not to touch the nerves. They’re ultra-sensitive.

After wrestling with a million possible topics for a blog post, I am finally convinced that writers, in their most desperate times often resort to the most ridiculous ideas just for the heck of writing something.

Last night, annoyed at seeing another cockroach delightfully skittering at the bottom of the television rack, I scampered for the nearest pesticide and sprayed an amount too generous to the filthy being. And as it dashed for refuge, I went down on my knees, stuck my right cheek on the dusty ground, and squinted my left eye to follow its whereabouts. Lo and behold! It somehow squeezed itself among the piles of boxes. I groaned in frustration. It was not the first time that a cockroach escaped my sadistic intentions of either drowning it or squishing it to death. Anyway, as I was in the midst of another topic-hunting session, the proverbial light bulb lit up and I had one of those “aha” moments…

Cockroach. Spread the culture of hatred for this insect. Why cockroaches shouldn’t be trusted; how it has pestered me since childhood; encounters with cockroaches in the bathroom scaring me off every time I take a bath, in the bedroom running gleefully on my bed sheets and pillows (eeew!), and even in my sleep!…

As my thoughts ramble on, my Smart phone beeped. Conscious, but still wrapped up in thoughts of my prospect topic, I ignored it. My Globe phone beeped. And beeped. Beeped again. I gave in and rolled my eyes over the curse of unlimited texting promos. “Noreen?” I talked to myself as I opened the inbox. And as sure as the sun rises, it is her. Noreen, my classmate, has been flooding my inbox with forwarded messages for the past 12 hours. Even in my dreams, I can hear my phone beeping. And when I wake up, the phone screen would register: 7 messages received. I read each message and deleted the ones that I already received four or five times. After the disruption, I went back to my contemplation. But then, both phones beeped at the same time. Damn phones! I glared at my phones, fighting the urge to hurl them away from me and out the window. To cool my mind that was already brewing anti-unlimited texting propaganda, I took a trip to the mini-kitchen of our mini-house to douse my parching throat and to refresh my thoughts. But alas, my mind was taken by the arrogance of technology, bidding goodbye the nostalgic goose bumps of writing about cockroaches. At times, it takes an initial attack of strong emotions to trigger the brain to veer away from the current discourse, no matter how far you’ve gone through.

Unlimited texting promo. To make people think twice before flooding other people’s inboxes with crap. Why the promo encourages impersonal communication – imagine sending the same message to every one in your inbox?; How I used to be one of those “flooders” but got “converted” because when others did the same, I realized it’s not funny – it’s irksome; Strategies to combat the promo: not too effective though – switching the damn phones off…

As I looked around the room to gather more thoughts, my eyes chanced upon the clock that read 7:30. CSI! My mind raced with my hand as I flicked the remote control. Irritation slowly dissipated with every second of gore and investigation. Not that I love bloody and disgusting stuff. I just feel that I’m being analytical when I watch it, trying to figure out the killer behind evidences. I forgot the phones because the action-packed episode featured explosives and fire. As I gorged on the violent clashes, my eyelids slowly dropped to a half-mast until darkness and dreamland cradled me in their arms.

The next day, I woke with a start to find the clock greeting me a happy 6:15 morning. Yikes! Classes start in 45 minutes! I yanked the blankets away, stood up, and came face to face with yesterday’s paper bearing a scandalous article over a UP professor – our professor. I then remembered a friend who had been texting me that week that he wanted his teacher fired because he was practically teaching nothing. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. I have the heart for teachers, because aside from the nobility of the profession, my parents who were my first teachers, are also teachers in a private school.

As I hurried on with school preparations, the light bulb blinked once. Twice. Thrice. Many times, signaling the end of the long session that took a cockroach, two phones, and a slumber before the loose bolts in my brain finally and decidedly reached a verdict.