Jan. 4th, 2011

nunuuu: (shige and his camera makes me happy)
Sometimes, there are nights when everything just goes right, in ways that you didn't even ask for. And when it does, every detail imprints itself without effort into memories where every sight, sound, smell, feel, and taste will remain just as sharp and distinct as it was in that moment. It is such a rare, miraculous thing. What always surprises me is the sheer simplicity of that kind of happiness. 

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I wish my camera could have done justice to the awe-inspiring star-littered sky we saw that night, but this was all my battered baby could manage. It still blows me away, though. Except for when I'm at the beach, I never see the night sky like this- literally dusted by millions and millions of stars, all twinkling brightly for an unseen audience. It's the kind of view that will never get old. 
 
A couple of days before the New Year kicked in, my friends and I decided to drive up to Tagaytay, which is about an hour and a half drive from Manila, without traffic. We wanted a change of pace, which basically entails the same things we're usually up to when we're in Manila anyway (good food and great beer, what else), except that we wanted to feel a little nippy. Tagaytay is a ridge situated on a rather high terrain, overlooking Taal Volcano and the surrounding Taal Lake. It's every Manileno's favorite quickie get-away; the cool clime and great food haunts is the perfect recipe for a relaxing time-out from the city. We left the Manila around 7 in the evening. I was in high spirits; I could probably say the same for my friends. Simply being "on my way" somewhere, on the road, gives me a kind of peace that I don't get when I'm just here in the city. We rolled down the windows when we neared Tagaytay, the cool wind blowing at our hair and faces. It couldn't be helped: we heartily screamed out the window, speeding down the road with the view of the dark lake and the looming shadow of Taal Volcano to our left, hearts filled with exhilaration, and to be honest, our stomachs rumbling in a kind of happy hunger. 

We had a late dinner at Bag of Beans, which is such a treasure of a place. Maybe it was just because I was hungry, but I had the best shepherd's pie, hot chocolate, and pannacotta I've ever had in my life. After a good meal, we headed to a bar with a terrace and had a couple of buckets of good old Red Horse beer. (Yes, we have gloriously cheap taste buds when it comes to beer. Any complaints?) The breeze was cold, my nose felt like it was going to fall off any moment. But those were good beers, accompanied by the random conversations and peals of laughter that ensued from those numerous sips and gulps. 

Unintentionally, we saved the best part for last. Carlos guided Mark, who was driving, to an empty field with the gate left open. There were no lights, everything was dark, and if we weren't careful, we could have driven off the cliff, falling from a great height into the dark abyss that was Taal Lake at that time of night. Yes, we trespassed, and yes, being the sissy that I am, I freaked out a little and might have screamed "We're going to die, omigod" into everyone's ears a couple of times. But of course, as I am here still typing this out, obviously we didn't fall off any kind of cliff that night. Mark parked the car a safe distance from the edge of the cliff, turned off the headlights, killed the engine, and cranked up the volume of his car's stereo. We all stepped out of the car; I was taken aback by how windy, cold, and dark it was. Yet when I craned my neck up, I forgot all of my unspoken complaints: the stars silenced me. I began to absorb the simple majesty that turned up its nose to me, like it was teasing me, saying, "You see? I told you so!" It was amazing. Our favorite old songs blasted atmospherically from the stereo, the sparse clouds that were above us seemed so near to the touch yet billowed away quickly, as if unwilling to block the light of the stars.  It was so great to just be there at that moment, talking and fooling around with friends, basking in the warm glow of shared confidences, stupid jokes, and emotional histories that resonated from growing up together. It breaks my heart in such a good way, that we were all there, together, despite of and because of everything. No one really outgrows their truest, oldest friends.  

They would surely make fun of me if they read this, and laugh about how awestruck I was by that night. But then again, they're used to my need to poeticize everything; and more than that, I am 100% sure that they felt as happy that night as I was. It was a random, unplanned night, yet to me, it had the taste of something I will always connect to being young and amazing and free. A night under the endless stars of Tagaytay. 

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:-)

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