I know myself too well and I know for certain that when someone asks me to go out of town, I would be quick to run for the nearest exit before I could even say no.
I am a terrible traveler. It takes me forever to pack for a trip. I always get motion sickness twenty minutes into the ride. I have a set of feet made only for strolling city streets and I have zero sense of direction.
But things were different this time around. When someone asked if I wanted to come and take a road trip to the North, I caught myself by surprise when I immediately said yes.
It was a quick single day trip. We were going to pay a visit to an old church and to attend a luncheon for someone in the extended family who successfully passed the recent bar exams.
Early Saturday morning, we were picked up by a private bus which will take us to the province of Pangasinan. The road was slippery and the skies were heavy with rain.
By the time we got to Tarlac, the skies started to clear. From the bus window, I watched the great span of green stretching across the horizon. For a moment, there were no busy boulevards and towering skyscrapers in sight, but only the marriage of earth and sky.
We reached the church at around 10 am. The place was pretty crowded and there were people in every direction. It was difficult to determine the locals from the tourists as the faces of strangers melted into one.
I didn’t take a lot of photos that day. I just took my time looking at things and wanting to know what it feels like to look at them for the first time. I am not a Catholic and I do not have that flaming sense of religiosity one usually has when visiting a church, but there is a kind of serenity in being one with other people’s belief and taking this understanding was the heart of my experience.
By modern standards, I might be a terrible tourist. I cannot for the life of me take a proper selfie in front of the shrine, or take other people’s photos without cropping their heads or their feet. But I am glad that somehow I am still able to see new lands and to recognize this sense of wonder for a place so foreign yet so familiar. It is my wish to throw myself out there and to see more of my beautiful country and maybe get myself a good camera too so I can capture places more beautifully.