Thank You for Making Getting Sick on the Road Suck a Little Less | La Union, Philippines

I’m not sure how I’m able to write. But I’m starting to write, and I’m writing, while sick with chicken pox.

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Going to Sinulog Festival Makes You Feel All Kinds of Emotions | Cebu, Philippines

What makes Sinulog Festival so unforgettable?

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When participating in the Sinulog festivities, the mood unleashes something in you to make you want to splash the colors you’ve gathered and smother it all over someone’s face, someone you don’t even know. However, there is no feeling of being dirty, just confidently sexy in the scarcity of fabrics worn (or not worn) emphasized by the colors wiped in your skin. The more colorful, the sexier. Intimacy is mighty present, sometimes it becomes overwhelming and dangerous. Getting lost and being found, torn slippers or clothes and bare feet while walking, getting drunk in the light and bright of day, dancing like you’re born to be doing this your entire life – these are wholeheartedly “in”.

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Traveling solo means spending Christmas alone | Sagada, Philippines

I was told it was sad. I was advised not to be. There’s a disgraceful stereotyping about it. Before it could even be hindered, I was on my way to Sagada. I wrote a short love letter to the place two years ago:

Christmas alone in Sagada - Art of Movement - Lovey Marquez (40)Sagada’s seemingly endless curves lead to somewhere special, for sure.

I learned that life brings persistent encounters of learning, in all astonishing forms, in varying aspects. We must see each moment as such. Opportunities abound. I learned that boxes are futile containers. Humans are more than their flesh and bones. Even longtime friends surprise you. More so, the recent ones. The process of unraveling is inevitable. I learned the figurative existence of parallels and perpendiculars in the paths we take. Out of those, we can create intersections. I learned how silences are not to be taken for granted. They carry more meaning than we suspect them to have. We should be grateful for the wisdom its subtlety provides. I learned to be more aware of the beatings of hearts other than mine. I learned to show my race of thoughts to people who share their own race of thoughts too. It is one way to be truer and happier. I learned to desire and eventually decide on braver steps. It is another way to be truer and happier. (November, 2013)

It was one of the most revealing and memorable of my travels. It was sincerely heaps of fun, especially when I came with my two closest friends and also a dear mate we met from our trip in South Korea. But right now, I’m not going back to experience fun. I wanted peace and joy for Christmas, and I wanted it liberatingly alone.

Christmas alone in Sagada - Art of Movement - Lovey Marquez (33)

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You are Volunteering your Presence, so Thank You | Smokey Mountain, Manila

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My feet were unusually dirty. My shoes got soaked from mud and garbage and rain. But it is the exact opposite of what this is about.

When asked about how I felt after the visit to Smokey Mountain, a famous slum area in Manila, I was left unanswered. It continues, the perplexity still puzzles and there is no arrival. There is only living through, living along, living on, living. It appears fragile, it feels hopeful. We are ever more present in the scheme of things. Given that gift, we are ever more mindful of the little things we can do for the improvement of communities that we may or may not be dwelling in.

More importantly, these little things impact a shift in the mindset of the whole.

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Blessing by Apo Whang-od: The Pains and Pleasures of Kalinga Traditional Tattoo | Kalinga, Philippines

DSC00123I will be a hypocrite if I say I wasn’t scared. The surroundings were lyrical with the constant manual tapping of wood on wood, wood on thorn, thorn on skin. I was nervous. I was the last one among the group to get inked. It was my turn, it was painful. I waited. It was my turn again, it was even more painful, way more painful in the master’s wrinkled yet strong hands. The Kinilat (lightning) design just got permanent on the right side of my hip. It started pouring a few minutes after the tattoo was finished. I was protective of the open wound. I was scared it might get infected. We had no options but to head back so we braced ourselves for the rain and ran as fast as we could. We packed our bags and left our home for two days. I felt the sting and the sore, the aftershock of having just been tattooed by Apo Whang-od and Grace. Yet there is pleasure, there is pride in bearing this kind of pain.

We finally trekked down the steep trail of Buscalan village and headed home.

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