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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, July 26, 2014


THE past months have been full of domestic travels that saw me gawking at cities and towns, some I have already visited a decade or two ago, others I’ve visited for the first time.

I viewed all of them with the eye of the tourist. Just for fun. Complete with selfies.

Yes. There is the need to know the history and culture of every Philippine town and city to appreciate our being Filipino, but there is a different level of enjoyment in just looking at the view and listening to the stories without regard for whether you can even remember all the stories you heard and whether you can remember the names of all the landmarks you have seen. It’s called having fun.

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I have a lot of friends who have spent years abroad, working, earning.

Whether it’s because we are of the same feathers or because that’s it how it really is, they have one conclusion in common: that the longer you stay away from the Philippines, the more you appreciate it.

There is indeed a lot to appreciate about our people and our country. The politicians that we love to bash are but the irritants, the fly in the soup, the mosquito in the cabana. It goes with living in the country.

Those who have to leave to earn are spared the worst, and so, they come home to enjoy and come home to appreciate. While we, the working masses, get the irritating whirring sound of mosquitoes, many of them vectors of dengue and malaria.

That shouldn’t blur our appreciation of what we have. There is fun in just enjoying and not seeing the country with the jaded lens of long suffering.

I’d say I’m better traveled among many of my peers when it comes to areas visited in the country, but still there are a lot to explore. Many a countryside may tend to look the same, especially when you’re driving through – the winding roads along mountainsides and the view of the sea or the town below, they can repeat themselves whether it be in Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao. Then there are the vast flatlands of ricefields or the greenery pocked with bahaykubo. But each one still holds the surprise that is distinctly theirs, not shared by others.

Taken all together, comes the fun. There is fun in seeing the familiar and excitement in exploring the unknown, and then we settle back down to the familiar as we bid goodbye and head back home.

Today’s generation are lucky. Travel has become easier, cheaper, and faster.

Our forefathers needed weeks even months to go from Luzon to Mindanao. My generation had to dish out thousands for plane fares. Now, with a little patience and a lot of tenacity, the Piso-fare fanatics get to travel wherever they want within their prescribed budget.

I’m not lucky that way, since work dictates that plans can change in a snap of a finger. Long-range planning for travels is out. But, work also allows me to travel to where the regular crowd may not have the budget to spare, and at times, it’s all-expense at that. That sort of levels off the fact that piso-fare doesn’t hold much excitement for me. Match that with a group of friends who can at a snap of a finger decide to take a long drive to unknown destinations, then the fun is complete.

Here’s to urging all those who have not gone beyond the boundaries of downtown Davao City to take that ride up the mountains and view the city from afar. While you’re at it, take the dare to drive off to nowhere with just a toss of a coin to decide whether you take the left or right junction. But while doing so, pack a lot of common sense with you. Traveling in the Philippines is a lot of fun but will be as dangerous as any city or town in other countries for the stupid ones.

Think, mula Batanes hanggang Jolo. Now, imagine the excitement.

***

saestremera@yahoo.com

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 27, 2014.

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