A Love Letter from the Philippines

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A Love Letter from the Philippines

I can’t sleep. I’ve been in country for nearly a week and the body clock still hasn’t reset. I went from being two hours behind you to fifteen hours ahead. The future is pretty cool and I’m hoping to find you a winning Lotto number. But it’s a bit lonely.

This is my last night at a resort that is way beyond my pay scale but which –though it’s far from anything else in the area– has a huge infinity pool that overlooks the sea. It’s 3am, a perfect time to skinny dip, and I float by the edge where the water spills over.

It’s an old cliche but I wish you were here.

After my swim, I wrap on the robe and sit by the edge of the pool with my legs in the water (it’s the dumbest thing but I’m in love with the cotton robes in these places). There’s a half-finished bottle of cold white wine by my side. I’m not used to having a refrigerator in my room and am nearly giddy about it. The room has glasses but I drink from the bottle.

It’s still black out. Fishing boats bob in the sea with lights that wink in and out with the waves — most fisherman here work at night, I’m told. The lights mirror the stars in the sky. I think they do, at least…

A harsh halogen lamp burns down on the pool, so it’s tough to see most of them but I’m pretty sure they’re still there. I, of course, piss and moan about this to myself: “Stupid, well-lit fancy resort!”

But it’s that lamp that creates the magic.

 

I kick my leg, idly killing time and enjoying the peace and quiet.

For once, there are no roosters or dogs, no loud jeepnies, taxis, motorcycles, trikes or buses roaring by and I’m starting to really dig this whole ‘remote’ thing.

That kick doesn’t effect the surface of the pool but the wave it creates underneath interacts with the spotlight that I’d just been cursing and spreads these amazing concentric circles of light across the pool floor.

At any moment, anywhere in the world, there is beauty. We just have to look for it. Or stumble into it.

 

I play with this for an hour or more.

The rings expand, thick at first then thinner and more closely packed. Like the robe, it’s a very simple thing. Like me.

I wish you were here.

With my feet, I play this pool like a musical instrument. My favorite move is ‘small left, small left, big right’. I’m a video game controller, writ large. The circles merge and converge, bouncing off the edges of the pool, the glowing interference patterns doing their dance.

They ripple out, always moving onward, and then fade into nothing.

There is a moment where I have the entire pool going, light rolling out like some crazed fever dream and I catch myself thinking I’m on drugs. (The blood test came back and I wasn’t).

The sky slowly turns violet, then moves into a deep and rising blue and the lamp loses it’s reach. The big light is coming.

I pout. My toy is broken.

I don’t know it yet, but the world isn’t done with me. The wine is gone and I’m starting to wonder if I have any chance of getting back to sleep. It doesn’t look good…

Then the birds come.

They’re small, black swallows about the size of my open hand and they’re here to drink. They don’t land, but merely skim the surface of the pool, taking a sip on each pass. They chirp right before they hit. A prayer? A thanks? A shout of joy? I’ll never know.

At least twenty descend at once, surrounding me, and when they touch the water they leave ripples, more circles that mix and spread. And these don’t need light to shine — they spill out across the surface of the pool. The birds spin and turn and twist in an amazing aerobatic dance, returning again and again to drink their fill, playing the pool far better than I ever could.

This goes on for five minutes and I sit stock-still, afraid to move and ruin the Moment. I’m a statue. Hypnotized. Stunned.

God, I wish you were here.

They fly off, one by one. The last flies right at me, skimming, and drinks just a foot from my knees with a gentle splash. It shoots straight up, mere inches from my face. I feel and hear the flutter of its wings.

It chirps as it passes. A blessing.

And then I finally get it: you were here all along.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Tommy October 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

This peace in the early morn u are talking about is what Donna and I look forward to every morning when I am home. We rise before the sun and brew our coffee and sit on our front porch and enjoy the peace, we dont talk much just listen for nature to wake, when the first little bird chirps the laughter of wildlife begins, I am thankful for these peacful moments with your kin. Love you bro be safe

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wes October 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Thanks brother. Hot coffee on the porch with the woman you love? Can’t top that.

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Susan October 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm

You had one helluva ZEN moment.

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wes October 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Agreed.

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Christina October 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Wow. Wes. Wow.

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wes October 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Thank you. I’ve read your work, so hearing that from you is especially inspiring.

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Renuka October 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm

That’s a total disconnect from the world and surrendering to serenity.
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Kiki October 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Beautiful. I felt like I was there reading this. xx

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charles October 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Terrific writing. Enjoy the moment Bro!

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Mo October 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm

If I can write like you Wes, I am ready to die! Out standing!
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wes November 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Death is, I suspect, over-rated, mate. ride it like you stole it ;)

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The Fundamental Alchemist October 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm

And THAT is why people travel. Who wouldn’t want a moment like that? Wonderful post!

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Jorge October 10, 2013 at 2:49 am

I love how you go from a rant post, to a funny post, to a romantic post and you make them all equally enjoyable.

Thank you for that, you captured beauty in just a few words.

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wes October 10, 2013 at 4:07 am

Thanks Jorge. I need to get busy on the photography and mix it up. I’ve been on a writing tear and can’t seem to do both at once…

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Josie October 10, 2013 at 3:05 am

Hi Wes,
Just happened upon your site for the first time today, and glad I did. You are a poet, my friend. This way you have of taking a simple moment and pulling us into the most intimate of details with mood and beauty is astounding. Bravo.
Very enjoyable read.
Wishing you safe and happy travels always and all ways,
Josie
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wes October 10, 2013 at 4:06 am

Thank you so much, Josie. :)

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Nat1927 October 10, 2013 at 8:38 am

Would love to know more about the locale.

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wes October 10, 2013 at 10:02 am

It was the Peacock Garden in Bohol. Pretty but over-priced, imo.

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Kim October 10, 2013 at 10:29 am

That last line? A feather from a wing of your friend would have knocked me over right then. Brilliant.
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wes October 13, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Thank you.

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Jessica October 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Wow! That’s a beautifull post. I loved it :-)
Jessica recently posted..A new adventure, a new travel partnerMy Profile

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Penny October 13, 2013 at 2:53 am

Whenever Johnny Vagabond pops into my email, I know it’s gonna be a fun few minutes. Thanks Wes for sharing that sizable talent with us.

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Beverley | Pack Your Passport October 14, 2013 at 12:50 am

This is so beautiful! These moments you described are one of the main reasons I travel – I guess it’s not always about sight-seeing and food and taking photos, sometimes it’s about appreciating stillness, sitting quietly and being completely present :)

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wes October 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Well said, Beverley.

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Aktar October 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Wow! it is an awesome post……. I like it very much as it was very interesting.
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Jeff | Planet Bell October 15, 2013 at 3:47 am

The predawn/sunrise time is so peaceful, one of my favorite times of day. Unfortunately, I am not a morning person so I only wake up for it about 7 times per year. I need some insomnia like you to enjoy it.
Jeff | Planet Bell recently posted..12 Photos of Cappadocia – A Magical Land with some Naughty Rock FormationsMy Profile

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Brian Wallis October 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

Oh…this image is fantastic! I’ve seen birds drinking, but the way you describe it, it’s indeed a religious experience.

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Aktar October 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Awesome write up dude………… Great!

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Chai October 22, 2013 at 1:08 am

Hi Wes,

Hope you’re enjoying your stay in the Philippines. :)
I enjoyed reading your post on roosters and resorts. Your blog’s really alive with your humour.

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eli October 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm

write a book :)
great post

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Alex | Partial Parallax October 28, 2013 at 6:37 am

A very interesting read really showing your raw emotions just in the minute, great read.
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Antonio November 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Great piece! Wonderful writing style!

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wes November 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Thank you

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James P. January 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Beautiful and poetic prose. Sadly, outside of the resorts Manila and the rest of the country has gone downhill the last few years due to their economic issues and continued battle with corruption.

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wes January 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I didn’t get to see much of it. Typhoon, earthquake and then another pending typhoon (which was horrible). I look forward to revisiting.

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Geri March 12, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing and giving me an inspiration. :)

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AlainSojourner March 26, 2014 at 1:57 am

Oh, now! You make want to go back to that country! :)
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wes March 26, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Me too! Earthquakes and typhoons got in the way on this run….

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jay arcy April 24, 2014 at 11:38 am

Was so touched by this. Greetings from the Philippines!

No roosters this time. :)

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