One morning, on an island where nobody can’t keep track of what day of the week it is, rides are arranged, surfboards are picked up and hauled onto motorbikes, cameras and sunscreens and beach clothes tangle themselves inside drybags. We roar our way into a spot called Pacifico. A few minutes along the way, our hair tangle themselves too.
I don’t particularly love Dubai. I don’t hate it either. It’s a place on my comme ci, comme ça list.
Before traveling to the United Arab Emirates with my mom, I was hooked on an artist named Xyza Cruz Bacani; her black and white photographs and her somewhat similar journey in life to Vivian Maier, a nanny and a photographer. We’re both Filipinas, so that made it even more interesting for me. At the airport, I decided to try something new on this trip – photographing solely in black and white. Somehow, the images and their lack of colors translated into how I felt about the place (which was different from how I felt about the trip) – a sense of magnanimous contrasts yet a developing discovery of similitude in the nature of humanity.
Earlier in May, I attended a creative retreat hosted by the brave women named Kitkat and Sofia. I came to discover the works of Sofia through her Instagram and blog. She amazes and ignites many with her daring art which are more than just pretty visuals. Her perspective on life laces into writing which taps into your creative urges and unites readers with a message that everyone can and should make art, no matter which form, and show it to the world.
That early morning of the retreat, I arrived at the wellness center and I saw her for the first time smiling and greeting me at the huge metal gate. We both exclaimed, “Finally! Finally!” We were walking together and I couldn’t believe this fate. Upon sitting on the floor donned with boho cushions and blankets while indie chill music plays on the background, I was looking at everyone’s faces and I instantly felt bottomless bliss. It was a melting pot of all kinds of artists. Some make videos and take photos, others were into fashion and create bohemian and tribal apparel. There were also those who blog, travel, surf, and organize events. It is a miracle being surrounded by all these beautiful strangers who mutually beat for art and commit to living art. My body was exploding with light and my heart was pounding with gratitude.
Ahhhh so she’s bursting in her bubble right now. She’s giddy, she’s in love for sure. With all these strangers dipping their blood into their paper. A gentle scratching of their soul. She. She is amazed at this interconnection at this moment, in this lifetime. She wants to go places through her body, through her spirit. She really really really wants to open up and be free as a child. And she wants to not care but only love, love in the purest. Lucky girl, she isn’t torn right now, she is floating in content and peace and the world needs this, needs her. She is wild in her quietness. There is power in her stillness. She’s mumbling random stuff I can’t understand. Her lover calls her hippie. Her brother calls her weird. And she’s okay being everything. Possibilities are all we need anyway. She’s bursting wide and weird and wild. She needs not answers, she is truly here. She’s out of the bubble and she can hear the machine, the cutlery, the voices of souls and pens, and she’s in love.
May, 2016 (Written for a 10-minute exercise during Bloodrush)
Days after the creative retreat, my voice was quivering with joy speaking the details of the event to two of my friends. Suddenly, Jamie blurted out, “You should organize your own retreat!”
Knowing my roots in a deeper sense might just have made me one more element complete. It stuns me how one thing leads to another, and I haven’t expected I would be in a position to write these things (surprise me again, Masbate) since I got slightly numbed out from my recent small travels. And now, came rising sepanx (separation anxiety) and my guilty longing for it. More than a week has passed since those incredible few days and I just brought back something from home: it’s almost always how you are received in a place that makes you love the place. Yes, it is a common rediscovery waiting but I will never tire of spreading this magic.
It was one night in Altamar Beach Resort, but the total experience made all the difference. This was as personal as it could be.