We had many adventures in the 22 weeks I spent in the Philippines with Carmen Espino.
But this blog is not the place to regale you with those events. For that you should visit The Pilipiñas Packet, the separate blog I created for that purpose.
This sojourn was to be a significant life experience, not just a snowbird retreat. My hair was no longer on fire but I was determined to live my life with vigour, and I needed to put effort into it; and if that were true, it might be worth keeping a journal of it. And in my hubris as an emerging author, I decided to share my journal with an audience. After all, if I had pretensions as an author, I needed readers. And so I began to produce a weekly newsletter of my journey. It is a journal of a different sort: Not just a travelogue, and certainly not a account of ‘what I did on my winter vacation’; it is more an attempt to convey to my readers, in Canada and elsewhere, some flavour of the reality of life in this third world country, an observation of life in the Philippines, its people, its history, its customs, its delights, its problems. Maybe not de Tocqueville but you get the idea.
Travels With Myself has a different purpose than The Tagaytay Tribune;Travels is the account of my journey of self-discovery and transition in the twilight of my life. The journey to The Philippines was as much a vehicle for discovering myself, as it was for having a life experience. So the next few chapters will not be a regurgitation of The Tagaytay Tribune but more a reflection on the events of the five-month-plus tour in the Philippines and what it has meant to be in a whole other world, so different from the last five decades of my life.
I never thought of my trip to The Philippines as an escape from Canada’s winters – my daughter put that idea in my head: friends my age went to Florida or Arizona, I was just going a bit farther away – but it helped rationalize my decision. But I didn’t think of myself as a snowbird. I didn’t think of myself retired even. I was very consicous of my desire to reinvent myself, to live carpe diem, and with whatever I had left of eros, the life force.
This passage to Philippines would be the reverse of what Carmen had experienced in Canada. The learning and nurturing of a relationship would continue. We would play house, but now in her world, not mine.
Many of my friends thought I was crazy to take this tour of The Philippines. I rationalized all this two ways: if this is a test of my relationship with Carmen, bring it; and if I was going to embrace eros in my remaining years, this move to Philippines provided opportunity unlike anything I could have imagined twelve months earlier. This was no time to shrink from the challenge. I was intent on experiencing as much of this confusing historic country as I could, and try not to kill myself into the bargain. As it turned out, I came close to that a few times too.