Sunday, March 09, 2008

Time for trawling

Aside from sending mass emails to potential internship providers, accommodating a former office colleague who just finishe dher PhD, and preparing for another voyage to Spain, I've been preoccupied by appreciating the divine whiteness of my ceiling. No- it is actually fading to a tender shade of mother of pearl.

It's amazing how two weeks could fly even without doing anything. I've been catching up on my reading though, at least to say I have bursts of intellectual productivity. I picked up this book of F. Sionil Jose, one of Philippines' premiere novelist in English. The first few pages almost failed to hold my short attention span. In fact, I skipped the third chapter which, I think, focused on an epic story on datus. I am now on the sixth chapter where the protagonist, a Filipino who was orphaned at a young age and adopted by an American, labors on his PhD and embarks on a trip to Europe. He goes to Frankfurt, and eventually settles in Seville to dig on archives, trace his roots, and more importantly, his identity. The story builds on this plot which has got me hooked.

But I am not writing to provide a synopsis of the book, but the story behind getting an autographed copy of the book. Way back in July last year, I was wandering in Malate, Manila and searchingfor the travel agency where I was to pick up my plane ticket to Germany. Exhausted from the sweltering heat of the sun, I found refuge in an air-conditioned bookstore in one corner. I browsed around, pretending to look for a rare Filipiniana, which was the specialty of the store. While doing so, I was also frantically sending SMS to my cousin who arranged my plane ticket with her suki travel agency.

The friendly lady behind the counter gave me the right directions of the office. Having cooled down a bit and pretended to have taken no interest in the books they offer (which isn't true), I was ready to leave. From the corner of my eye, though, I saw a familiar figure. He was someone who I've never met personally before. It was the owner of the bookstore himself, and more importantly, one of Philippines' most prolific authors in English. I've read some of his articles in a national daily, but I am not really an avid fan. The lady manning the counter told me I could have a book signed. My plan to leave the store empty-handed suddenly changed. I browsed for an interesting title, paid for it, and wrote a small note of request for an autograph of the author who has gone upstairs to his office. In addition to my name, I scribbled why I got to choose the particular title out of his vast selection of works, which was, I am leaving in a few days for my studies in Germany.

I got the signed book after a couple of minutes. The book I aptly bought and which I am reading now is called Viajero: A Filipino Novel.

Tomorrow, I will be flying to Barcelona alone and rough it up in backpacker hostels. In the early morning of the 14th, I will be on a bus bound for Pamplona where I will stay for about three to four days and visit my "hometown," Zubiri. Thereafter I will meet a classmate in Zaragosa, and finally catch the final days of Fallas in Valencia.

Bueno, buen viaje, el viajero!


Noeh R. Vios said...

Hang on to your passport. It was in Barcelona that I lost my passport. Someone nicked it out of my backpack (outside pocket). When I reported it to the police, I was told that there is a syndicate of some sort over there. Many Filipinos are overstaying and a passport with a few more years validity will come in handy. Losing my passport in a foreign country was one of the worst things that ever happened to me. I felt I was stripped of my identity.

Apart from that incident, my moving around Spain was a wonderful expericence. I took an overnight bus to Barcelona from Belgium, took local trains to Madrid, Granada, and Almeria.

jadz said...

Thanks Noeh. I've read and heard quite a bit on the notoriety of pickpockets here in Barcelona. My Menorcan classmate who lived here told me I may not be a target because I am not Caucasian. But hearing about this syndicate, I think I should be doubly careful.

Anonymous said...

When I was a foreign student in country A, I lost my passport, and it was the worst thing to happen to me there. I spent about a thousand dollars trying to get a replacement from the Philippine consulate, which after three months still wasn't issued. In the end, I had to travel back to Pinas w/o a passport just to follow up my case personally at the DFA. In lieu of a passport, I was given a "travel document." Practically stateless and identity-less, I was treated like a criminal in both country A's and in Manila's airport. May security escort pa sa NAIA, grabe, and I had to go through a longer, more "painful" immigration process from our very polite and friendly officials (sarcasm). It didn't matter that I had with me my country A government scholarship papers and university certificates. Yes, you should be doubly careful not to lose your passport!

jadz said...

Thanks anonymous for sharing your experience, however eventful. Now I should be thrice as careful with my passport.