Tuesday, May 08, 2007

First Day in Davao

(Written May 7, 2007, 11.58 PM)

I’m writing this on my Nanay’s couch at her house in Solariega, which is at the outskirts of the city already. This is the third time she’s moved ever since she was transferred to Davao around ten years ago. Not bad, though I’m not used to being on the other side of the city – I believer we’re now down south, which is closer to the beaches of Davao del Sur. It’s a nice neighborhood: quiet streets and a cock crowing in the distance, which reminds you that Davao is more provincial than urban, despite the looming presence of SM Davao just thirty minutes away, and the hustle and bustle of downtown Davao City, with the narrow streets and the corner stores, the low concrete buildings that house anything from salons to rotisseries to the tiny French café that serves the best damn profiterols in the entire country.

I came to Davao just as the sun was coming over the horizon and the entire sky was tinged with gradients of pink and orange and white. Clouds rolled below us like smoke from blocks of invisible ice. This was possibly the first flight I’ve been on where I never minded the window seat (I usually ask for aisle seats) and that I was able to watch the plane ascend and descend gracefully, drawing a wide circle around the city before suddenly, almost as if one had jumped from a second to the next without any kind of transition, the tarmac meets the plane wheels and you arrive at the airport without any further warning.

Nanay fetched me at the airport and, after depositing my luggage (the amazing 33 kilogram bag) we had a breakfast buffet at the Apo View Hotel, where I gorged myself on garlic fried rice and beef tapa with loads and loads of vinegar and garlic, and freshly picked mangoes (none of those crappy orange ones from Malaysia – these are kick-ass Filipino yellow mangoes, sweet and juicy and syrup coating your lips like a taste of heaven) and fruits of the season. Afterwards, we went over to SM Davao to do the groceries for the week and to buy a new bathing suit for me. (I ended up buying a new blouse for myself as well; whatever happened to saving, I do not know.) And then we went back to the house and I just crashed on the bed because I hadn’t slept since two nights before.

Dinner was adobo, cooked in typical Nanay style, and steaming white rice. My friend John Bee came along after depositing his laundry, and we had a very nice dinner where we did some catching up, and then he and I adjoined upstairs – him with a glass of wine and myself with a little gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher in my palm – where we waxed poetic about his job as a lecturer in the university and I told him all about Singapore and encouraged him to apply for the MA program of NUS as well. And it rains here, apparently, during the evenings – so the night was cool and lovely, and I slept for more than ten hours after he left.

Today, I visited my old university and sat in John Bee’s Humanities 1 class, before spending the rest of my time in the Faculty Room, hanging out with his co-teacher Claire and talking about everything from hot poet boys to television shows to literary theory. Eventually, John Bee emerged from his classes and after resting, the two of us decided to head on over to SM Davao for dinner. Of course, we road the habal-habal; Abortion Road isn’t there anymore, since they paved most of the way already, so the trip was largely uneventful. O_o Of course, the Philippines isn’t the Philippines without getting into a bit of difficulty flagging appropriate transportation – we ended up taking an FX from Mintal to SM Davao, and had a humongous dinner at Yellow Cab Pizza (oh, New York Pizza and Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta, how I have missed you!) and then moving on to coffee and conversation at Karl’s Koffee Korner, which was this cozy café tucked in a secluded corner of the mall.

I’m not yet sure how long I’ll be staying here: it’s nicer and quieter here, obviously, but I somehow miss the rush of Manila life, and maybe I’ll come back earlier than the 20th of this month, but I’m not quite sure yet. It’s always lovely to be with one’s mother, of course, but there’s work waiting for me and my social life is really there, and you can only have quiet for so long before the boredom drives you insane. Haha.

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