Simple Pleasures

Summer this year came a little late. Usually it comes just around the Catholic Holy Week with the weeks leading to it starting to get really warm. This year, we had rainy days and thunderstorms for weeks prior to the Holy Week. They say, the times are really changing, what with volatile weather conditions worldwide. That big summer sky said “better late than never!” and decided to hang himself up there right after the Lent celebrations. Summer! the smells, the tastes, the feelings all come rushing back. Summer is the briny smell of sea breeze, it is the cool cucumber and tomato in your kinilaw and it is the hot, languid, carefree afternoons with your summer lover.

So here is Cebu again with temperatures rising to 35C with people running to the beaches to cool down. Ofcourse I just had to have that requisite beach picnic too. The first for this year was with Shaun and his friends last weekend. They were to celebrate the last few remaining days of American friend John in Cebu. He’s been in the Phils for 5 years total, 2 of the most recent in Cebu and will be moving back to the States. I tagged along. We were headed for Bantayan Island.

I love Bantayan and I have vacayed several times in this island. The last time I was here was almost 2 years ago. I love that the beachline is not crowded, and that it is wide. The water is clean minus the algae floating and the docked pumpboats. Yes, I mean algae, not seaweeds. Not a lot of us know that algae is a telltale sign of polluted water no matter how blue green the water is. But I digress. Now I also appreciate the peace and quiet. I just don’t understand why some people try to make a party place out of beaches like they do in Boracay. They can always do so in the City. Bantayan is hush quiet, just the way I like it.

As expected the beach was there, the water was there and the quiet was there. One change I noticed was that the ugly oil depot near Sta Fe is now gone! Another was that there are motorbike and bicycle rentals around town now. After we sated our beach hunger, we rented bicycles the next day.

I love bicycle rides. I remember all the summer breaks growing up when I would be really dark with sunburn cycling around Mabolo. These were the years when San Jose dela Montana didn’t have the traffic volume it has now and it was safe for 9 year old kids to be passing thru its thoroughfare on their bicycles. I would go out on my bicycle every afternoon, no matter the heat, and go around the corners and nooks of Mabolo. I remember the wonderful feeling of discovery everytime I found a new route or found a new neighborhood. I believe I never again rode bicycles after I turned 10 years old…

When I saw the rental signs, my elan kicked in. So I invited Shaun, John and Clint and they were up for it. And like they say, I quickly remembered how to ride a bicycle, nothing really to almost 20 years of not riding one. Oh! the sheer freedom of breezing through the little streets of Sta Fe. Past Brgy, Okoy, Okra, Ampalaya, Talong and Kamatis! Everywhere we went, the womenfolk and the children would say “Hi” or greet us with “Good Morning!”. Everytime Shaun and I would find something nice, we would ring our bells. I found myself driving the bike wiggly woggly as I get myself distracted looking at the houses, new and old, the neighborhood scene of Sunday cockfight, and the green all around.

Ofcourse,  we were cruising around town with the sun’s heat beating down on us mercilessly. But hey, wasn’t this the idea? We did a le petit bonheur, a little happy hour after a few minutes though. The best way to cooldown…halo halo…no matter how overpriced.

On our way back, we chose to follow a different route, this time by the beach side. Warm sun on my skin and cool sea breeze on my face. I love summer. Who would have thought summer fun can be just this simple, but then this is me talking. What’s your idea of summer fun?

Summer 2010

The Holy Week has always been my signal for the start of summer.  It is because when I was growing up, the Lent Season officially ends the school year.  During this time, usually around late March – early April, the heat starts to come up to record highs of 33C-36C.

Summer this year was loads of fun and gave me new discoveries about myself.  The requisite beach parties are still present.  It was my first time to enjoy Moalboal, south of Cebu.  Then there was the island hopping trip, I thoroughly enjoyed the good company of the “Efrens”, not to mention, the simple joy of boiled bananas and salt- fermented fish as we cruised along the Mactan Channel.

This year, we also celebrated my sister and her recent accomplishments!  She graduated in March 2009 and passed the nursing licensure exam in December.  But all that time in between was a flurry of busy activities for her and we never really got around to celebrating with her.  So on her birthday last May 5th, the whole family went on a trip to Bohol.  The first time in a very long time since we had a vacation together.

It was also during summer this year when I was given some tough assignments at work. First, handling some challenged performers at work and then sent to another department for 2 months of cross training.  It was great learning experience for me and along the way, I made a few friends too.

It is always refreshing to experience new friendships. When life becomes a blur of the same activities day in and day out, weeks, months, years, new friendships provide that necessary break and reminds you to stop, breathe, and enjoy some of the things you would have missed if you continue with your mundane grind.  For the first time after a long time, not unlike all other things I did this summer, I started going out on weekend nights again.  I so missed dancing and was glad that my new friends enjoyed hanging out at dancing spots.

In fact, we went out dancing on my birthday.  First time I celebrated my birthday this way.

I am not sure if its the El Nino or just the stars, but this Summer also taught me a new outlook when it comes to work, love and friendship.  It validated some of my beliefs when it comes to trust, the value of honesty, being straightforward in all dealings, and it also redefined some of the things I thought I wanted.  I can only be thankful to the friends and family who had always stood by me no matter what it is I go through, no matter the decisions I make.  Especially those who accept me for who I am, without judging.

As summer came to a close, our department gave us a huge treat and sent us to the Shangri-la to plan out the next fiscal year and for some RnR.  I had so much fun feeding fish and seeing them so close!  The last time I really snorkeled was in 2007 at Balicasag in Bohol.

This summer sure presented a whole bunch of new experiences, reviving old ones that I used to enjoy and the promise of more adventures to come.  While I am thankful that finally the monsoon rain is here, I also look back and can only be grateful for all these wonderful Summer experiences and the wonderful people around me who are witness to them all.