“Well you certainly won’t forget this birthday, Tita,” my niece said. I certainly won’t.
For days, I’ve thought about what to write for my birthday post, specially since I decided to stay put in Manila and NOT do anything special. This year has been so busy, with new projects at work, events left and right, and of course, traveling. I thought that instead of going out, I would stay at home with my family, whom I haven’t really had time to be with this year. I’ll go to the supermarket, buy ingredients and cook for them. However, after paying for my groceries, I went to this redemption booth the cashier told me to go to, and for a couple of seconds, I took my attention off my loaded grocery cart. I felt it move, and since I knew my niece would be walking back from the package counter, it might have been her. But then I looked around, and I saw my niece walking towards me, carrying the cake my co-worker gave me. Somebody took our grocery cart! Four thousand pesos worth of groceries gone in an instant.
We made our way to the customer service, and reported what happened. I knew there is very little they can do, and I know I was at fault for leaving my cart unattended. The supervisor told me that they will investigate and asked me to leave my name and contact number with them, so they can notify me if there are any developments. My niece and I walked off in a daze, consoling ourselves that whoever took it probably needs it more than we do. That the thief needed feta cheese soaked in olive oil and herbs more than we do. Yeah.
I accepted the loss, but it still stings so much. I felt hate and anger brewing, and I tried to suppress it by thinking of the many blessings I’ve received. There are so many things to be thankful for that next to it, the loss seem insignificant.
I have a family that understands my need to travel. Though I know my mother is paranoid with fright every time I go out of the house, she still lets me go because she knows it’d make me happy. My sister even indulges me by hosting me in Australia, even giving in to last year’s birthday request for a hot-air balloon ride in Melbourne. She and her family welcomed me with open arms, as did their friends who hosted us in Tasmania, where I encountered one of the most unforgettable toilet. And there’s also my sister-in-law (who I know reads this blog. Hi Ate Precious!), who took me to my first trip to Tagaytay, thereby helping me strike off one item in my to-go list for 2008.
My friends, though I haven’t been able to travel with them as much, also tries to indulge my wanderlust. Tagaytay is a favorite daytrip destination, and I’ve visited this city three times with three sets of friends through the course of the year. Manila, a city I have always dreaded going to also became a favorite destination. I have gone to Manila city more times than I’ve ever did in the past. I’ve had friends and family visiting the Philippines this year, and played tourist guide to them. I took them from the University belt, walking all the way from the University of the East to Quiapo, through to Binondo and ending in Fort Santiago.
I also met a lot of people this year, many of those making a positive impact in my life. I have reconnected with old acquaintances, and made new ones that quickly turned into friends. I was so happy to meet people who has the same passion for traveling, or as Estan puts it, have feet as itchy as mine. From the crazy streets of Chinatown, to the artsy world of Angono, from the peak of the Tagaytay ridge to the summit of Mt. Daguldol, from the clear waters of Kayangan Lake to the epic waves of the Balintang Channel, we’ve gone through them together, and for that I’m grateful.
I leave you with this picture of the most memorable toilet. So you would know why it’s memorable. And yes, that’s sawdust.
There are so many things that have made me happy in the past months, and this one thing shouldn’t bring me down. Just as I hit the Publish button on my short post about the incident in my personal blog, the phone rang. It was Michelle, the supervisor at SM Hypermarket. My shopping cart was returned. She explained that a customer took it, thinking it was their cart. I felt so grateful; it’s a happy birthday, after all!