It's been a few weeks since I came back from Hawaii, and my thoughts have not been very far from my next travels. A couple of weekends ago, I ran into Jen S. (a cutie from school) at an art opening, who said that she just came back from a backpacking trip in SE Asia, (Laos and Thailand, I think). I couldn't escape thoughts of exotic beaches and jungles, while being attacked by mosquitoes and the tropical humidity. I made a mental note--must put those countries in my to visit list.
But my next trip is not so exotic although not less exciting either. September, I'm taking a break from school and teaching (thank you very much, Ron for covering for me) and taking a weeklong trip to Madrid. If possible, Spain should be a destination of every Filipino at least once in their lifetime. Whether you think it's good or bad, Filipinos owe much of their culture now to the Spanish influence (at least 300 years of colonial rule before the Americans "liberated" them). Just the country's name itself is derived from King Philip something of Spain. I mean, our culture carries so much of the Spanish baggage, that it might be worth seeing where all of it came from. Anyway, I've been to Barcelona a couple of times before but visiting the capital of the nation which has changed the face of my country forever is a significant trip for me. I really know very little about it, but my good friend, Yolanda, a Madridena (I made this term up for a Madrid citizen) is going to be there as well. Hopefully she won't be too busy to show me around and tell me some more about her culture and city from a Spaniard's perspective. Believe it or not, she was not aware that the Philippines was under Spanish rule for so long. Actually the real purpose of the trip is to attend my cousin's wedding which, of course, just made me commit to the trip even more.
In November, I'm embarking on a more exotic trip. I was invited to go on this over lunch in Santa Monica one Saturday afternoon in May. Jane was explaining that she has a friend working with the Peace Corps and she and her husband are based in Georgia (the country, not the state). Jane was extended an invitation to visit, she accepted and has made plans to visit Tbilisi (first time I've heard of the capital was during our lunch) via Istanbul. She asked me "Do you want to go?" I looked at her funny with my lunch in my mouth as if to say "Can't you see I'm still eating?" and said "I'm not done yet." Then I realized she meant "Do I want to go with her to Turkey and Georgia." I immediately said yes without thinking how I'm going to afford this and what I'm going to do about my class that I teach. But things seem to be falling into place. Money's going to be tight the next several months, but I need to do what I need to do, and that is to see the world.
I recently met Malu online. She hails from Bacolod City in the Visayas region of the Philippines but now lives in Chula Vista near San Diego, CA. Since we've been talking, I've gotten more interested in seeing that part of the country which I've never been to before. So I'm already making very tentative plans (more like just mental plans) to visit the Philippines in January. I have a cousin, Fe Amor, who I've never met before and lives in Cebu. So my plans definitely include visiting her, my family in Iligan and some of the beautiful beaches and resorts of the Philippines. Because of negative imagery and news that come out of the media and a lack of information about the Philippines, not a lot of Americans think of it in positive terms. Hopefully with the imagery and memories I bring back, these will change somewhat at least with my friends and family here in California.