Tuesday, August 17, 2004

perks of travel

in tacloban wednesday last week, i checked into a hotel-cum-museum fraught with world war ii history. in the days of the american-japanese battle, that hotel was a mansion converted into a makeshift hospital for the injured and the dying. over dinner, my friends who have been based there were kind enough to rub in the fact that the place is somehow notoriously haunted by the brave american and filipino soldiers under douglas macarthur's wing on the era he uttered "i shall return." of course, i appreciated it very much that he didn't while i was there.

so that night, i didn't get much sleep. but the scary stories weren't the only reasons. i dreamt of murder which woke me up three times in the middle of the night. and it was really bizarre that everytime i went back to sleep, the dream continued itself like some daytime soap... this phenomenon plagued me 'til 6am when i finally decided to get up for good because going back to sleep wasn't doing me much help.

at lunch, i told one of my friends about that dream. and that was that.

we decided to meet up again later for dinner.

after work, he cancelled on dinner, saying something came up so he had to meet with one of his dealers. why not after dinner? by all means.

so i stayed in the hotel and waited.

a few hours later, i suddenly get this unsettling sensation that something was seriously wrong. i call up this friend to somehow "check up" on him. he picks up with a distraught tone. his dealer was shot right in front of him.


not point blank, though. in the middle of conversation amidst coffee and laptop, a hitman on a motorcycle rode past the cafe to fire several shots which coursed right through the glass panel. my friend sustained shrapnel cuts and bruises, but the dealer wasn't so lucky. he had to be collected by an ambulance.

after that unfortunate incident, i didn't expect to meet up with this friend anymore, but i couldn't seem to shake off that eerie feeling.

at 12 midnight, he calls to ask the room number where i was lodged into. in a matter of minutes, he shows up at my doorstep with his luggage. his boss got wind of the incident and apparently didn't want this guy traced into his apartment. with no knowledge of the hitman's motive, they thought he may still be in the line of danger. and besides, he's a witness now, what other justification do you need to go into hiding? he was instructed to fly to manila first flight tomorrow morning.

then he goes into proving how a guy in semi-trauma can expertly intensify a person's sleeping problems without really trying. he kept me up all night by pacing the floor, looking out the window, smoking in the bathroom and tossing and turning in bed. the most thrilling part is jerking abruptly from bed whenever his cell phone makes so much as a beep.

to make the situation even more exciting, this guy is seriously hypertensive. and it didn't alleviate my fear when i put my hand against his chest and i could feel his heart palpitating like crazy. he was feverish too. every now and then, he would sit up in bed and breathe heavily to ease his nerves. the last thing i needed was someone collapsing in a heart attack right in my room.

by 8:30am the next day, he got on a plane for manila upon his boss's orders.

i went to work in a semi-stupor. not because of the harrowing experience, but because i didn't get a minute of decent sleep.

some night.

on another occasion months ago, a young man was shot from across the street in front of our office in dumaguete. the bullet went right through our building's metal panels which served as "blinds" for our windows.

the dealer in tacloban survived with the help of surgery. the young man in dumaguete, DOA.

i should get a hefty hazard pay for all these nerve-racking experiences.

hotel bathroom shot. wala lang.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

some days

it's my birthday. i got up at 4am, finished packing from where i left the luggage late last night and took a very cold shower. at 5, i called the taxi service to take me to the fastcraft terminal. i didn't bother waking up anyone, as i always don't bother doing whenever i take early trips.

there weren't much people taking that trip, so i got myself booked on a really hot seat: one close to the tv.

by 6 i was heading for leyte.

by 6:15 my mother was looking for me, called me on the cell phone to tell me that i somehow spoiled their birthday surprise. aw, c'mon, i mentioned that i'll be leaving around dawn, remember?! oh well, the gifts would have to wait until i get back next week.

as luck would have it, i DID have excellent view of the tv, but the craft's dvd player was on the fritz, so the movie didn't start until after precious crucial time had elapsed. i knew that would mean arrival to the destination well before the movie wraps up. syet.

as luck would have it, i LOVED the movie ("miracle" with kurt russell as coach herb brooks; the true story behind the US hockey team of lake placid winter olympics), but the untimely discontinuation had to come at the climax: when herb's team was about to skate into the ice to face the formidable undefeated soviet team, the same country whose president declared that their people will prove their supremacy against the US by beating them in the olympics (remember, this was at the height of cold war). so i disembark from the craft all sullen and grumpy at having to guess how it ends. yes yes yes, i know the heroes are going to win, but i wanted to see how they did it in true "miracle" fashion.

as luck would have it, i realized i only had a crisp 500-peso bill, so i couldn't hire the services of a porter, as i would have nothing to pay him with. i don't mind carrying the luggage, but i mind carrying training materials. they're some heavy stuff.

on my way out of the walkway, the lady before me collapsed in a semi-fainting spell. she and the baby in her arms on the pavement. gentlemen rushed to help her up. i would have, but my hands were plenty full. i wasn't so unlucky after all.

i wasn't able to make the necessary bookings, so i hotel-hopped. the first one only had vacancies among their executive suites. forget it, i haven't got enough gall to charge the company that much. besides, my cash advance hasn't been released yet, so i'm using my own money for reimbursement in a few days.

the next hotel i went into had a standard single-occupancy available, but it had no tv. are they serious? they said the other single rooms with tv are booked. are.they.serious?! i asked them to check again. and double check. there's bound to be a room WITH TV available. a few minutes later, there it was. the bridal suite. the price is within my range. i'm no bride, but i'll take it.

i slept 'til lunch.

i went out to a fancy restaurant to treat myself to a birthday lunch at 11:45. i ordered some fancy-sounding steak and tangigue kinilaw. i stayed out in the pool area so i could smoke. when the food arrived, a few flies mysteriously appeared from nowhere. i had to eat with one hand while the other incessantly waved the creatures away.

i didn't like my food.

i walked around town to look for a present i could buy for myself, since i've been well-behaved these past few days. i found the pair of shoes i've always been trying to get my hands on, the pair that's been out of stock in cebu for quite some time. charge it. i love it!

i bought toiletries and breakfast drinks. and lots of gatorade because i've been sick with dehydration. it's dehydration season in cebu. in the past week alone, an alarming number of patients have been rushed into the hospital for treatment. some of them didn't make it out of the hospital. you know what i mean....... casualties include one of our teachers in college (although i've never been in his class, i feel really sorry). i didn't have myself admitted. just missed a day of work to rest, didn't stress myself out in the office, ate nutritious food, took my vitamins religiously, drank tons of gatorade, and prayed like a fanatic that i will not drop like the others. i wasn't so unlucky after all.

but that's not part of the main story.

i spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv and admiring my new shoes.

tonight, i'm running a hot bath. a hot bubble bath. i'm no bride, but the bridal suite is good enough for a birthday girl.

some birthdays are just more meaningful than others :))))