January 22, 2005
Delusions Of Grandeur
DAY 455: Perhaps the "Relatives Factor" I had ranted about before was all just in my head, at least with my Tita Josie. As a savvy single woman, she knew the pros of independence and left it up to me whether or not to stay with her in Kalibo for the second half of the Ati-atihan festival, or venture back to Boracay on my own to complete my kiteboard Jedi training. Because of the downpour over Kalibo that morning and the fact that after two days of parades I was a little "paraded out," I opted to go back to Boracay. Perhaps it was fate that led me to that decision; I had missed being in the middle of the crowd at the big public shooting that occurred that morning in Kalibo at the festival.
Like Luke Skywalker setting a new course back to the Dagobah system to complete his Jedi training with Master Yoda in Return of the Jedi, I packed my bag and departed the town of Kalibo on that rainy morning.
A SHORT TRIKE RIDE, a 90-minute minivan ride, and a 20-minute spider boat ferry ride later, I was back on White Beach on Boracay Island. Immediately I thanked myself for making a wise decision; whereas the skies over Kalibo were gray and gloomy, the skies over Boracay were blue and clear.
Like Luke Skywalker having what Han Solo called "delusions of grandeur," I envisioned my return to Boracay to be a triumphant and welcoming one. I pictured myself surprising my kiteboarding Jedi trainer Merck with my return to Bulabog Beach. I envisioned him saying Yoda-like proverbs in Taglish like, "Meron do or do not. Wala ng try." I pictured myself gearing up and hopping on a kiteboard and, with the power of the wind and of The Force, getting the hang of it immediately to zip back and forth through the surf like the pros. Moreover, I conjured images of my Spanish/Italian dive instructor/buddy Margo in a gold bikini like the one Princess Leia wore.
"Erik," called a familiar voice. It was Analyn, the young Filipina secretary of the Hangin Kiteboarding office.
"Wala ng hangin," ("There's no wind,") she informed me. "[Maybe tomorrow.]"
My delusions of grandeur started deflating. "Maybe later?"
"Maybe. Where are you staying?"
"I have to look for a place."
"There's room here."
I checked into Room 5 of the Hangin House where all the resident kiteboarding jockeys lived. Not surprisingly, they were a tight clique of extreme adrenaline junkies, with extreme names like Mars and Angel.
"You're the guy learning to kiteboard?" one asked me.
"Monster. What's your name?"
"Erik," I replied. "What's your name?"
Oh, Monster was his name. Ri-ight.
As nice as a day it was, there was no action on Bulabog Beach that day; all the kiteboarders were literally in the doldrums, waiting for the winds to blow strong enough. I saw one guy down the beach launch a kite in attempts to go for a run, but the kite only floundered to the sand with the lack of wind power. I sat on the beach and waited with the rest of the beach bums.
"Hey, it's you," called a familiar voice with a familiar face.
"Yeah, I told you I'd be back, and here I am," I told Merck, my kiteboarding Jedi master.
"Wala ng hangin," he told me. "For [almost] one week now! We've been waiting."
"So was there any wind since I left?"
Wow, the winds of Fate did blow me the right way back then. Since my departure before, there was no kiteboarding at all (picture above). For days, the guys were grounded and just sat on the beach, waiting for the winds to pick up with no luck. Most of them ended up just sleeping in all day in hammocks -- including the resident dachshund -- a very un-Jedi like thing if you ask me.
"Just twenty more minutes [and then that's it,]" Merck said later on that afternoon. I remembered that around four o'clock, the shop usually called it quits and started packing gear back into the gear shed. Twenty minutes later that's just what happened, and my delusions of grandeur deflated even more.
"Hey, you're back," called a familiar voice.
"Yeah, I told you I'd be back and here I am."
"Many people say that, but I really don't believe them."
Margo the dive instructor had just gotten back to town from an all-day dive trip. My delusions of grandeur were deflated again as she was not exactly in a Princess Leia gold bikini, but was looking fine nonetheless. She was raving about how she had just seen a manta ray on the last dive of the day and was all smiles.
"So what can we do tonight?" I implored. Immediately she checked the schedule for night dives, not only with her dive shop but also with all of her friends in the tight diving instructor clique on the island. No one wanted to do it since everyone was too swamped and tired from the demand of day dives.
"I will call another friend," she said, picking up the receiver again.
"It's okay, if there's no night dive, there's no night dive. I can just go drinking instead."
She called one more friend but it was a no go. "Sorry."
"It's okay. Really, I'm just looking for something to do," I implored again. She suggested a bunch of things and a bunch of places for me to venture to, solo that is, maintaining the professional vendor/client relationship she had maintained from the beginning. It may be of note that the dive she took me to my second day of diving in Boracay I was billed for, it was not a diving "date" as I thought it might have been. Any thoughts of there being anything more than a vendor/client relationship were simply delusions of grandeur. She went off to go meet a friend while I went for a walk on the beach as the sunset behind Willy's Rock (HiRes).
"Your friend left a note," Analyn told me.
"Yeah," I said. "Uh, what does he look like?" Funny, me asking her what he looked like.
"Very tall. Blonde."
Erik vK, whose real first name was just Erik (the third "Erik" commenting on the Blog after the second "Erik" from Austria -- what ever happened to that guy?), told me he'd be at the all-you-can-eat buffet at Secs. I wasn't exactly sure where that was and you can imagine the looks I got on people's faces on the promenade when I told them I was looking for "Secs." When I finally found it, it was familiar; turns out I had Secs before, pun intended. A guy matching the other Erik's description was nowhere to be found.
"Was there a tall blonde guy here?" I asked the hostess.
"By himself? American?"
"He left already."
"How long ago?"
"Maybe one hour."
Erik's note said he'd go "back into seclusion" at his beachfront bungalow on Diniwid Beach around 8 p.m. unless he could be persuaded to go out drinking. And so, my mission was simple: Find the other Erik and then a party. May the Force be with me.
"He went out."
"Oh, he said to meet him here."
I ordered a beer as the only customer on the practically deserted bungalow resort on the beach, and sat with the caretakers and brothers Ariel and J.R., both Filipino and married with children by their mid-20s. "Your friend is Erik?" Ariel asked.
"Yeah. I'm also Erik."
"[He's] very tall, huh? Six four?"
Six four, huh?
The guys kept me entertained with beer and conversation about things like the shooting in Kalibo that morning and the surge of Korean tourism in Boracay -- Koreans love Boracay and come in big package groups. Finally, after about half an hour, there was a tall, shadowy figure coming from the beach.
"There's Erik," Ariel pointed out. "Hey Erik! Your friend is here!" And he appeared.
"Erik," Erik said.
"Erik," Erik (me) said.
We sat and officially met and had the instant rapport that solo North American backpackers with the same spelled name usually have. "I've been following you since South America," he said.
"Wow, that's when I started." Ages ago.
We chat over more bottles of SMB with Ariel and J.R. "You're well Filipino," Erik said, commenting on my dark-skinned Filipino appearance. "If you weren't wearing that shirt, I probably would have [walked right by you.]"
"Yeah, I know. That's why I wore it."
Erik went off to get his camera in his bungalow to snap a photo as evidence to show off to his friend, an SBR (Silent Blog Reader) who had turned him onto The Blog, one of many other SBRs in British Columbia that have been following me without posting a comment. Amazing, I thought. I wonder who else is out there? The photo not only proved our meeting, but the contrast in our physical appearance despite having the same first name: him, towering at six four, and me the five foot five guy who'd been out in the sun too long.
"Should we go into town?" Erik suggested.
"Yeah, let's go."
THE HOT SPOT OF BORACAYAN NIGHTLIFE is a bar/club called Summer Place, a place where even in the January winter it felt like a carefree summer night. We parked ourselves at the bar, like Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi at the Mos Eisley cantina, for a round of Tanduay White Rhums on the rocks with a twist of calamansi. It was the first of many rounds of drinks that evening. It was refreshing to finally meet another foreign backpacker in the Philippines after seeing just relatives (not that there's anything wrong with that); he could relate to the smothering of Filipino hosts as he had stayed with one in Manila and also faced the pressures of overfeeding and perhaps too much hospitality.
Later on that night, the bartender served us up another round of drinks that we didn't order. "It's from them," he said, pointing to the people across the way on the other side of the oval-shaped bar.
"Is it that guy [in the blue shirt]?" I asked the other Erik.
"I don't know," Erik said. "Well he's not looking over here." He suggested it might be another guy at the corner of the bar in a green shirt who was sort of peeking over at us, a guy that reminded me of an old man I had seen in a Moscow internet cafe surfing Asian boy porn sites.
Great, I thought sarcastically. Another gay pick up. I wonder if Luke Skywalker ever had to deal with this. However, a free drink was a free drink and we downed them.
"[Over there.]" He pointed towards the guy in the blue shirt again.
"[No, over there.]"
Behind the guy in the blue shirt at a table was thankfully a female, a Filipina girl with her sister and her boyfriend. We walked over to make introductions and join their little group. Two of them, the couple, were actually Filipino-Americans like myself, from L.A., and the single one who bought us the drinks was interested in the other Erik. I forget all their names though, probably because I got thoroughly drunk with them. I recall vague memories of table dancing, myself included, and possibly falling off the table, laughing. I remember blabbering out like an idiot, "Itaas mo! Itaas mo!" ("Raise yourself up! Raise yourself up!")
(The other Erik obviously remembered a lot more, as you can read in his version of the night. I must be getting old.)
While I don't exactly remember taking some of the photos you just clicked on, I remember it being a pretty awesome time. Sometime around 3 a.m. or so, I think we left and went our own ways to our respective secluded beaches. How I managed to make it from Summer Place on White Beach all the way across the island to the Hangin House on Bulabog Beach, I don't quite recall, but I suppose I was simply guided by instinct and the Force.
Even in a drunken stupor in a place like Boracay, the Force will be with me, always.
DETAILS AND TRAILER COMING SOON...
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