FRANCES INVITED me to join her in a travel writing workshop conducted by Lonely Planet guidebook editor Greg Bloom along with other local travel writers. It was at Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Minutes into the workshop I had flashbacks of a similar campus journalism workshop I had when I was in elementary, the days when I had awful grammar, limited vocabulary, and bad lead sentences.
The venue was packed. I left the workshop and roamed around the biggest Fully Booked branch I'd been to: an entire floor devoted to adult fiction and a beautiful section on the classics featuring rare NYRB books and new Penguin covers. Young adult fiction and Filipiniana were at the second floor. The third and fourth had comics and CDs. The basement was filled with over-priced notebooks I wouldn't hesitate to buy if I had the money. And then there were the books on sale. I got Alfred Kazin's America: Critical and Personal Writings for P100, from a previous price of P670.
When the workshop was finished I went back to meet up with Frances again. Frances, if you don't know her yet, has the urge to have her photo taken with personalities she looks up to. Pastor John Piper, authors Brett and Alex Harris, weren't spared.
So there we were, in a queue, about to ask Greg Bloom to pose with us, when a Chinese-looking teenager in black-rimmed glasses called our attention, "Hi! Can you also take my picture? I will take yours." I didn't bother talking to Greg Bloom at all; I hardly knew him. But I stood beside him like a wide-eyed fan, and so did Frances at the other end. And without saying the standard "one-two-three" the teenager took a photo of us with an iPhone. When we reviewed the shot it was shaky and blurry, and it occurred to me that the teenager, despite her shrieky-ness and perkiness, may be suffering from a rare form of Parkinson's. I didn't care much for the photo, but Frances was devastated—her misery made my day.
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I ALSO SAW my friends RJ and Lheia who, like me (and RJ especially), crawled and panted like Gollum to go to Tappiya Falls in Banaue. RJ has left his day job in Manila and is set to open a café of sorts in Sagada. Don't I have the coolest friends? I promised to review his restaurant if he pays for my fare and accommodation. I will post the details of the restaurant as soon as it's up and running.
Many thanks to Ate Lheia for snapping this.
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IT'S APPROPRIATE to end this post with Greg Bloom's words because I did listen in, if only for a few minutes: "We are not tourists. We are travelers."