Our past week has been spent covering in advance what will be Northbound’s final issue for 2018.
As we conclude nearly two quarters of constantly moving from one location to another, though my heart is full and happy, fatigue also overcomes me. The child-like awe that was once there is waning airport by airport, marker by marker. We spent too many nights and days far from familiar comforts that coming back feels somewhat strange. That breaking in our realities is a welcome treat and a pain. For once, I want to be still and not have anything to do with hotels, buses, planes, and travel logistics.
Yet, despite the inevitable weariness and longing for familiarity that accompany exploring new terrains for extended periods of time, there are many moments of awe and happiness that remain:
Certain, sloth-like steps on Camp John Hay’s Yellow Trail amid rain and slow-moving fog; craft beer with the sound of waves in La Union; sunrises and sunsets from across distant Cordillera mountains and Subic Bay. But above all, listening, a breath away, to the stories of impoverished townsfolk of Dinagat, Surigao del Norte, and others in the far North; of strangers and friends. Memories brimming with zest and laughter and life, being among and just being.
There is no shortage of life-enchanting sights in the Philippines. Getting there and seeing them – that’s easy. The hard part is unearthing the lesser known truths that lie behind them. It can be anti-climactic to listen to contrasting stories of heartbreak and poverty when you are surrounded with so much beauty. But more than new landscapes that our eyes feast on, it is these stories that ultimately become the backbone, the heart of every trip we make. They are reason enough to return, to brave harsh conditions, loneliness, and uncertainty that come with being away from home for far too long. When the stillness has grown too comfortable, I know my heart will long for them again.