Anglaagan turned three years old last week. It’s hard to believe that if I had started anglaagan in my first year of college, I would have been enrolling in my senior year by now. It has been that long, but it never felt that way. I guess it’s a case of so much to see and so little time. I don’t have grand ambitions of being able to roam the world…but even if I just content myself with this little corner of the planet where I can roam around with my budget, it still feels like time wheezes by so quickly.
Last year was perhaps one of my busiest, but I still managed to sneak out of the “9 to 5 (and beyond)” world a few times, and get to see a few places. Travel may not be exactly cheap (though it’s much cheaper now compared to, say, 10 years ago) and it could be time and effort consuming, but it helps remind one that there is a much larger world…one that stretches far, far beyond the home-office-home routine of daily life.
I take particular interest in experiencing the way people in other places live their daily lives, and that’s why when I’m in other places, I take the hassle to try and eat the same food they eat, go to the same stores they go to, and ride the same trains and buses they ride everyday – even if it means getting lost for a few moments. After all, the world is not just there to be seen, it’s also there to be heard, tasted and felt.
Last year, I had the privelege of riding the same buses and trains that the people of Taipei ride in daily in their commute to work or school. I also witnessed how their train stations get crowded at rush hour on workdays, and how the people still move around at a very organized and courteous fashion, despite the all the crowding. As a Filipino who’s familiar with the mighty pushing and shoving in our own stations in Manila, I could only observe the Taiwanese patiently keeping their lines, with envy. I also had the opportunity to see one of the temples where they worship, the markets where their fashion-savvy youngsters go to shop, and eat the same street food they eat at night on the streets of Tamsui.
I also heard with my ears how Brunei could get dead silent by midnight, and felt for myself how hot it could get on the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan at mid-day, which was probably why there was no one else walking under the blasting heat of the noon-time sun except us (and I could imagine the people in their cars staring at the crazy foreigners – us). It was also in Brunei where I entered a mosque for the first, and so far, only time. As a Catholic myself, I was moved by the opportunity to see for myself a house of prayer of a religion that seems so historically at odds with mine. I myself am a believer of the thought that religions are but different doors to the same room. And so, though I was born a catholic and my loyalty remains there, I have no qualms about seeing Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, or what have you, in prayer. I believe that they are not any further from God than myself, and that none of us can claim that we know God any better than the others.
I’ve also taken the same buses the people of Macau take everyday, and waited at the same remote bus stops where some of them wait. Also, courtesy of having taken a wrong bus route, I’ve also seen with my eyes the same slow crawl of traffic they see daily on their narrow streets. I’ve also seen one of the quaint villages where some of them still live – the side of Macau that the gamblers and other “casino tourists” don’t probably see.
I’ve also managed to spend a few weekends and holidays going around the country – including a much awaited drive to Baguio, and going back to my hometown in Davao City.
All these – the opportunity to experience small bits and pieces of the lives of people we would otherwise have never seen, is what makes all the hassle of travel worth it – the long queues on airports, the saturdays spent studying bus and train routes, and poring over google maps figuring out if point A is closer to C than B. This is also the same experience that I wish to share through my writing, and three years since I started, I could only hope that in some way, I am also able to effectively share bits and pieces of my experiences with my readers. I would dare to think that anglaagan’s third year was a good one, and I’m looking forward to sharing more experiences with you in the fourth.
Here’s a gallery of the year that was.