A Good Day to Be 35

November 7, 2018

After long, dizzying weeks of drafting three-day mock tineraries from Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino to Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental to see which option is cheapest, I finally prebooked our near-expiry, one-way complimentary flights with CebPac, then purchased one-way tickets to CDO on seat sale. As yearly name day tradition goes, November 4 is a day we dedicate to a mountain.

However, complications arose this year.

Apart from piling article deadlines and loved ones' financial emergencies, on October 30th, I was also informed by clients that due to typhoon conditions and the long holiday, October payments would have to wait until banking resumes on the fifth.

We were to leave November 2 and arrive back on the fourth. I had nothing except P100 in my wallet.

My friend Celine told me, "If you really want it, the universe will find a way." I waited until a couple of days before the flight. The universe didn't yield.

"If one doesn't have extra money, then one shouldn't be borrowing money to travel. It's not a need. Maybe I should just give up the tickets?" The woman who said that, by the way, is also a stingy biatch who wouldn't waste even a bad-tasting two-peso quek-quek.

It was an impossible dilemma that I couldn't decide what to do with. Turns out I didn't have to.

The day before the flight, Celine volunteered to transfer money to me. "If anyone deserves this, it's you. Be selfish. Pay me back on the fifth," she said.

So, on the third, straight from Iligan City's majestic waterfalls and lechon stalls, we made our way to a little-known, mineral-rich mountain in Misamis Oriental called Mt. Anggas, along with veteran mountaineers who took us noobs in their circle like Lia was their grandchild. Inside our tent, Lia and I snuggled amid the cool westerly winds and the pitter-patter of the rain. On the fourth, as our eyes turned wide-eyed at the golden glow of sunrise against Macalajar Bay and omnipresent views of mountain ranges, I said, "It is a great day to be 35."

With little money, we enjoyed less must-sees in our days. Yet, we also came home with more must-feels in the pockets of our souls, all because there are so many good people surrounding us: strangers in the mountains, friends who empower our dreams, editors who are so patient with my shortcomings (cc: Timothy Jay, Ms. Marbee, and Carla). Indeed, it is the people who walk and stay with us in our moments of becoming and unbecoming that truly make leafing through another page worthwhile.

A family who loves you, friends who support and enable you, and adventures that are worth the risk - may you all enjoy this just as I did, and it seems, will always do.

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