From Personal Life

Maxine Casaclang

Drive

TAGAYTAY, Philippines — When I woke up, I found her driving the car downhill. My friend Maxine and I came from another friend’s wedding, where I had too much to drink. On the way to the hotel, I passed out, leaving Max on her own, navigating around an unfamiliar territory at midnight. “Where are we…

Bonfire Closeup

OC

BATANGAS, Philippines — When I was 11, I was playing with candles alone on the porch of our home. At one point, I went to get a drink, leaving a lit candle on the window sill just above a bamboo bench. When I came back, THE BENCH WAS ON FIRE. I was able to extinguish…

Cappadocia

Hello, Thirties

So I’ve entered new territory: the 30s. When I hit 20, I was just about to graduate college. Still, I couldn’t figure out who I wanted to be: a screenwriter, a diplomat, a geologist, a social media marketer, a traveler. And over the next decade, I tried to do a bit of everything until I…

Lost Need Direction

Trust Issues

BATANGAS, Philippines — I am staying at the porch of our Batangas home and pondering life’s complexities when a family van pulls over. The window rolls down and reveals the matriarch in the passenger seat. “We’re going to Manila,” she says. “Should we go straight?” “No,” I reply. “If you’re Manila-bound, turn right.” With that,…

Forest Trail

Godless Course

BATANGAS, Philippines — Every Friday she came to our school, a public school, and taught the Catholic ways to pupils whose families shared the same faith. The non-Catholic kids would then move out of the room and play outside. The catechist, as our teacher would call her, always began her lesson with a story. All…

Twilight Forest

Coy

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines — He used to ask me how he could be stronger. Even that night three years ago when he showed up at my door, he asked me the same question. He was in tears, and he didn’t want to be that way. He said he was too lost, too weak. “You’re too…

taking travel personally

Five-Hour Connections*

MALACCA, Malaysia — We stepped out to the garden almost at the same time. And almost at the same time we placed a bottle of softdrink on separate tables. “Would you mind if I smoked?” I asked politely. “Absolutely not, I’m here for the same reason,” he smiled and introduced himself. His name is Aurelian,…

shadow-call

The 2AM Call

BATANGAS, Philippines — She stood by the road just across our house in Batangas and waited there. She had stayed with my parents for almost a month, and it was time to head back home. The bus would be leaving at 3am, and she needed to catch a jeepney that would take her to the…