Manila, you really did a number on me. But I still love you.
Before I get into the gritty of my trip to the Philippines, I want to include an addendum to my previous post regarding me being alone. After I published the post on being alone and returning to writing, I was met with a number of responses, most of which were made in private. People were sending me well wishes and hoping the best while providing some good-natured advice. I can’t say thanks enough. When I wrote it, I didn’t intend for it to be a depressing message – it certainly did veer that way a bit though, didn’t it? It was merely my intention to acknowledge that I am now alone, and to consider what it meant to be alone, which can be a separate concept from the idea of being lonely. I also went to elaborate on the good things that can come from being alone, not just the bad. If it came out as a cry for help, it certainly wasn’t meant to. Regardless, I am extremely grateful for the support. I know some of the best peeps in the world.
Now, about the Philippines. Some of you might be asking what I was doing in Manila. Well, I’m infatuated, nay, in love with this silly sport that has an even sillier name called ultimate Frisbee. I’d much prefer the sport’s name to be changed to flatball or magic flying plate, but I digress. The annual epic Manila Spirits tournament was taking place on November 15th – 17th, and a ragtag group of players mostly from Taiwan and Thailand, with ringers from here and there like myself, banded together to create Huckuna Matata. Our awesome cosmopolitan group of flatball players had landed in Manila and we were ready to play mean and party aggressively. Some of us had also decided to take an extra day or two off our day jobs to do some sightseeing and explore a corner of the Philippines.
Allow me to fast forward a bit and recount a misfortunate incident that happened to me while we were in Manila. As most of you who are more or less up to date with my goings on, I was robbed of my prized possessions on my first day in the Philippines. A few bad apples pulled the ol’ Houdini on me and snagged my camera backpack, which was loaded with my Canon 7D, a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 17-40mm f/4 L lens, a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, my GoPro HD Hero 2 camera, a couple of lens filters, and the usual minor accessories attached to cameras’ setups.
My prized possessions. The Nikon D80 wasn’t in the bag because I no longer own that camera but the other two were taken away from me far too soon.
Here’s the setting: our group of 7 or 8 people were sitting down for lunch at an outside patio. Now, normally, I’m very protective of my stuff and when I carry a backpack around, I usually place it on the ground with the shoulder strap looped around my ankle. Never have I experienced any suspicious activity against me. But on this particular day, our group sat down with a full 360 degrees panoramic view around us. I made sure to pull my bag close to me; it was even slightly touching my foot. Rosie was sitting perpendicular to me to my right and a few of us were sitting across from me with full view behind me.
Now I was told that a group sat behind me and was about to order off the menu but then got up and left after a few minutes. I did not give them too much of my attention. Obviously. Neither did anyone else in the group. When we paid the bill and got up to left, I looked to my right where my bag should’ve been between Rosie and myself. The bag was gone. It would be an understatement to say that I was livid. I was borderline murderous.
Jaleel, you were too late.
Looking back on the incident, I could certainly see why our group was targeted. A group of 7 or 8 happy, go-lucky peeps just happy to be in each other’s company and conversing with each other in good spirits meant our collective guard was down. Not to mention, of course, that we were already visible targets just by being obvious tourists in this country.
This unfortunate incident could’ve or should’ve left a bad taste in my mouth. I should’ve been miserable for the rest of my trip. Instead, I shrugged it off well enough and was still able to enjoy the rest of my time there.
Now for the more positive bits. Manila along with the Manila Spirits 2013 ultimate tournament was the absolute tits. The tournament was a huge hit and the party was nothing short of spectacular. I’ll save a separate post on the tournament and ultimate Frisbee at another time.
What I really want to get to is my trip to the Taal volcano by Tagaytay, about several clicks outside of Manila. This place was fucking radical. The setting looked like a scene straight out of National Geographic. I was stunned. Being with a super sweet crew consisting of Jess Chen, Alice Chirn, Rosie, David Wong, and Chris Price was also the peanut butter to the jam.
We arrived at the top of Tagaytay to get a breathtaking survey of the land and seascape before us. After that, we drove down some crazy windy-ass roads and stopped at the foot of some mountains where we booked a boat ride over to the volcano. From there, we each got horses to ride up to the top of the volcano. All for about $20 USD. The horse rides were a great touch, but certainly not necessary. The trek up the side of the volcano would be peanuts to do by foot and probably faster than riding a horse up.
At the top of Tagaytay looking at what’s in store for us.
Now, when it comes to animals, I have a soft spot for the mangy, scraggly, underdog type of animals. I gravitate towards them. It happened in Rajasthan, India, when I found myself a camel that looked a bit shyer than the others. It happened again here, when I chose a smaller horse that reminded me of the Tauntauns from Star Wars. The problem with this is that I ended up choosing a horse that was probably too small and weak to carry me up there. My Tauntaun huffed and puffed and grunted the entire way. But we made it! My steed and I were the last ones up but damnit we made it! My horse luckily didn’t die on me and avoided the fate of becoming glue.
My and my Tauntaun. The last one up.
I think if I write anymore, this thing will start to become an essay so I’ll just throw in a few photos and let you decide how rad this place was. Now, because I had lost my cameras at this point, I wasn’t able to take many pictures. But I was still able to snag a few shots with my iPhone 4.
About to boat over to the volcano.
A black and white shot. Some deep stuff.
Oh hey, Alice.
Holy toledo, Batman!
Philippines, you were dope. I’m sure we’ll meet again.