Year on year, since 2010, this has been my birthday tradition: I would go to some beach, get drunk, and wait for the sunrise that will bring me another year closer to wisdom, old age, happiness, or death. Once every 365 days, I try to be spiritual on purpose.
But the conditions were entirely different this year. From the second half of October up until the 29th of November, the corporate desk had been terribly busy, working during the weekends and probably dreaming of work until an alarm clock breaks the slumber. So I didn’t get to plan at all. During the evening of the 29th, I had no ticket to anywhere or a hotel reservation. It was so fucking sad and I was so fucking exhausted.
Now, V. and I had been texting since that morning of the 29th. We planned on getting a few drinks later in the evening so I can give her all the make-up I brought from Korea. I left the office around 7:30 PM, went home to change into shorts, and picked-up her pasalubong.
In my head the possibility of still going somewhere / anywhere still lingered. And under the weirdest circumstances, I still packed my toothbrush and a hoodie using the old Northface bag that had supplies from previous trips (panty liners, facial wash, and surprisingly, my old blackberry charger that’s been “missing” for a long while).
My idea was to go to Tagaytay. Apart from being the jump off point to Lian or Nasugbu, the Taal Lake as backdrop isn’t so bad for a birthday sunrise. It was all I could manage and I would have to decide which bus to take once I reached Olivarez (well, if ever I’d be getting into one). Whatever, nothing is ever final.
9:30 PM. V. and I met in a tapas bar at Fortstrip and called on J. who came all the way from Makati. A bottle of wine later, we decided to head to La Union.
11:30 PM. The three of us went to V.’s office at Marajo to pack what we can, which is nothing more than her rubber slippers, a bottle of shampoo, and this new brand of menthol cigarettes called Pall Mall. None of us had a change of clothes but thank god, the Dalai Lama, Buddha, and Victor Paterno for disposable underwear, tissue, and Cracklings at 7-Eleven.
1:00 AM (November 30). We were already en route to Cubao to find a bus. Versus our previous 4-hour estimate and what’s actually said in the Internet, a trip to La Union could take as long as 5 hours. Not gonna work. In the middle of bus station hopping, we were also thinking of alternative beaches like Baler or Subic in order to make it to sunrise. Until finally we took the next trip to Balanga, Bataan with the ride estimated to last for two and a half hours. After that, we’ll take a jeep to Morong. Done. That was the plan.
3:00 AM. We were already at San Fernando, Pampanga, right on schedule.
4:00 AM. We reached the Balanga terminal, but it was freaking deserted. Jeepneys weren’t going anywhere until daybreak so we were stuck and there was no going to Morong. That was like: Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
4:30 AM. Arranged a tricycle to Bagac—a full thirty kilometers from the terminal, a winding road made of concrete but barely lit. This is almost the same experience I had last year, travelling at 2 AM, thinking, if someone decides to kill me at this point, my body won’t get found until after a week. But this morning was different because I had friends with me. Haha!
5:20 AM. Bagac. We put our things down, ate hot pandesal with lukewarm coffee in styro cups, sat by the beach to wait for the sunrise.
5:42 AM. Daybreak! The moon was still up. A sickle. But sunlight was right behind the clouds.
5:50 AM. It was cold as shit. I took my shirt and shorts off, then ran to the water. V. went ahead–she was more decisive and had more guts than I. J. sat back, smoking. Hashtag: #birthday #basangpanty #tanginalordpaanokamiuuwi
The manang who was selling fresh catch couldn’t care less about people running around on their underwear.