Apparently there’s always this evaluation by the end of summer of what transpired from beginning to end and how do those experiences changed me. It’s crazy when I get to remember all the moments I have been through since the first day I officially left school. If I can re-tell all those stories, adventures, and memorable scenes, I can definitely create a book. That’s how big the summer of 2015 had been for me.
The day after I took the last exam of my academic life, which is the beginning of my life by the way, my parents and I went to the mall. I will never forget that day because we had this huge set of meals in front of us for no exact celebration. We just ate in this pizza restaurant because we felt like it. But in my mind, I know it was an immediate festivity for surviving the last semester of my college life. The situation was so fitting I couldn’t help but smile. As a reward for myself, I bought a book.
Speaking of books, the month of April was filled with a lot of readings. That month was a record breaking for me since I finished 7 books in total. There was a time when I would sit all day and night inside my room reading. It was a dream-come true for me. I’ve always wanted to have a life where I’d do nothing but pleasure reading. When I was still in school system, I hated the way I wouldn’t have the opportunity to read whatever books that I thought were interesting. So spending the month of April by endless research of what were the trending books in the market, chasing and buying them into the only available bookstore, and finally having them in my collection, was simply a big act of crossing a bullet in my bucket lists.
But then I felt bored for a while. In as much as I thought it was cool to meet different characters and entering new dimensions, my reality was slowly turning into a bleak. And that freaked me out because my soul demanded I was not living life. Staying at home was the best feeling anyone could have but too much of it was dangerous. I was getting too comfortable I totally set aside the part of me who wanted to see the world. So I felt sad and I temporarily lived in this dark hole. My grandmother and I decided I should see my psychiatrist earlier than expected. I realized that the more free time I have, there’s the risk of me entering horrible places inside my mind. I learned that I should always make sure that I have a plan for the next day so I could fill in my time productively. That way I could lessen the chance of feeling miserable.
Everything worked in perfect timing because the month of May came in.
To describe my whole journey of May in a word – crazy. All the bad feelings I had vanished out of thin air. I thought: What a better way to start the first day of May than to plan what to wear for the whole month? I didn’t realize how insane the upcoming 30 days would be until I was sorting my summer outfits. It was super crazy it was giving my mind a happy headache. (I don’t know if it was possible but whatever, I felt what I felt)
The first major activity was my graduation. Everybody was proud and joyful and no stress at all. My mom, my sister, and I lived in a hotel for 2 days while waiting for my graduation day. I felt so grand being able to finally experience the hotel life. Back in the days I always envied those who could check in the hotel for more than a day. Again, it was a dream-come true. I took advantage of everything – the pool, the room, the buffet breakfast.
May 5, the day of graduation, all my immediate parents came. We had our graduation at this super fancy hotel and I was again happy about that. We had our dinner at a buffet restaurant. Everything felt expensive for me that day. It was one of the best days of my life.
As soon as we were about to head home, there was a fountain outside the buffet restaurant. My parents were gathering back inside the car but since we were not about to leave yet, I went over and check the fountain. There was a sea from afar and the sky above with the moon and stars dangling across it. I thought I had to do something about it to seal the greatness of that rare moment. No one’s around, it was me and everything that I thought was beautiful. I took out a coin; I talked to mostly myself but actually to whomever that’s listening. I breathed in the air, wished something that would make me feel whole, thrown the coin in the fountain, walked back in the car with my shoes making a sound with the ceramic floor. It was a magical moment.
May 10, 5 days after, my dream of having an ultimate travel came true. We went to Coron, Palawan for 5 days. It was recently that I found out that I wrote it in my travel lists as soon as I turned 20. It started to dawn to me that life really starts as soon as you’re out of school. These were the things that I could only imagine before, and now it’s crazy to finally being able to fulfill those fantasies and make them part of my reality.
I have learned a lot while I was inside the island of Coron. The life lessons I have accumulated was immeasurable for me. I knew from the beginning I set foot on the ground that when I go back home, I will never be the same person again. Some part of me will change; some part of me will be left behind in that place. And I think that’s the most important experience that you can get when you travel.
We went to many parts of sea to snorkel, seen a lot of lakes, stopped to marvel six beaches. I had my moments in those places — some really stuck to me, some didn’t, some I tried to forget. But what I thought was worth writing about was when I climbed this mountain called Mt. Tapyas. The first time I went over the place was sunset. I was told it was the best part of the day to climb. True to their words, it was! I nearly cried when I reached the top and saw the whole picture of the island from aerial perspective, plus the sunset was majestic. At that scenario I felt like my world stopped and I knew I wouldn’t trade anything else for that moment. I kept breathing and breathing because I wanted to remind myself that it was happening. I settled on the other side of the mountain where there’s a good view of the sunset. I put on my headphones to ultimately seize the moment. I listened to Geronimo over and over again so one day when I hear that song I would always remember that scene in my mind.
May 14, the day we were officially leaving Coron, I decided I should again go see the view in the top of Mt. Tapyas. It was around 8:30 in the morning and I was the only person in that place. Literally no one’s around so I claimed the whole mountain. In my mind, I owned the mountain for one hour on that day. I took my phone out and listened to Geronimo again. I danced around like a fool and screamed something that would validate my existence there. I promised in a loud voice that I would go back again and I wish if it could give me the one thing I’ve always wanted for so long. I screamed and shouted for more and I was laughing so hard. I was so happy. It was one of the best moments in my life.
I took some time off to rest.
May 17, I went to Baguio. I was addicted to traveling I felt like there’s a need for me to keep moving. I was planning for my next travels right off the bat I got off the plane. But for some reasons, Baguio was the most practical thing to satisfy my adrenaline. It was a cool different experience because I got to pray and eat the whole day. I went restaurant hopping for dinner. I’ve gone through three somewhat expensive restaurants so it was safe to say that I lost some of my dimes. But it was a good experience over-all.
May 18, my parents were curious what it felt like to have a night life. So they planned to go to a KTV bar. Dinner wasn’t part of the plan but we had it anyway at this popular place inside our province. And then we spent three hours drinking light alcoholic beverages, singing, and eating. I took the chance to ride a kart again. I decided a year ago that I might actually make karting as my sport so driving it for another time was suave. For finale, we crashed in at Starbucks in the middle of the night. It was nice to bond with parents for one amazing night.
May 26, my birthday. I turned 21 this year. I added some items on my lists before the clock hit midnight and I created a mini visual book about life at 21. So far I am able to manage and update it once in a while. So for my birthday celebration I asked my uncles to drive us at this mall and I’d treat them for dinner. We watched Tomorrowland, which I’ve already watched on its first day of showing but I insisted it was okay for me to repeat it. The benefit I got was that I appreciated it more and I got few lessons in the dialogues. Like, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Or “Find those who haven’t given up yet, they’re the future.” After the movie, I bought myself a book as a birthday gift which I promised to myself that I’m buying on its first day of release. You see I have this weird obsession about seeing or buying things on their first day. I don’t know, I just think it’s cool. We had our dinner at this extremely fancy restaurant that I didn’t know was extreme so I ended up almost losing all the cash that I saved as graduation gifts. But it was my birthday and I should be happy so I shrugged all the bad vibes. I was so thankful for all the greetings and for another life God has given me.
May 30, to end this summer, this wonderful and best summer of my life by far, I ditched the first day of my review school to tag-along with my parents. We went to this Philippine version of Greece. The structures of the villas and the main building were beyond comprehensible — the white walls matched with blue lines, the sea in front, the pools below, and the road that separates everything from the ocean. All was perfect on first-sight, but eventually as soon as you get to study and learn the whole place, slowly by slowly you’re becoming part of it and the jaw-dropping factor lessens.
When I travel, I always get this sense like:” What can I do here to have fun?” “What is the opportunity for adventure?” I learned a lot in terms of being a traveler. For example, I learned there’s a huge difference between going to places, seeing them, taking pictures with them so you can brag on social media versus going to places, really seeing them with your own eyes, marveling the scenes, thinking of fun ways to make the adventure cooler, and seizing the moments you’re there. It’s not enough that you take photographs because then you can’t consider yourself as a traveler. You’re no different from what you see in brochures.
Like the traveler that I am, I seek activities that they offered as part of what we paid. They told me biking was unfortunately the only thing they could offer at that moment. I took the chance nevertheless. While roaming across the road and storing the images of the place in my mind, I thought back to all the adventures I experienced for the month of May alone. I promised to myself that I would not just let all those stories I had stay in photographs. I need to write and create a story about them. So I make a decision right away that my second book will be about my travels with incorporation of little fictions of course.
At that time it was nearing sunset and there was a rain threatening to burst out from the sky. There was a cliff at the end of the other side. I stepped out of my bike and stayed there for a while. I stared at the view. There was the beach below, a lighthouse from afar, grassy and structural buildings on the other end, and salty air to breathe in. The wind was so strong so basically my hair was flying everywhere and my shirt was playing with the air. I knew it was the best way to end the month, or so the season. I had a lot of movie moments for the whole summer, including that one. I don’t think I ever felt grateful to be alive until that point. If there’s one thing that I confirmed while standing there, it was the idea of traveling around the globe. I know it isn’t only a dream, it’s a calling. And I will do whatever it takes to travel and live life.
How summer changed me? I am not the exact same person the time I stepped out of school until the moment I was standing at the end of the cliff.