I remember seeing you at the National Stadium Station of the Sky Train in Bangkok. You didn’t have enough coins for the ticket vending machine. I offered help and found out that you were also on your way to the airport. (You spoke to me in Chinese first and I said that my Mandarin is too limited for any meaningful conversation. You smiled and said “your English is good.”)
During that train ride, I learned that you spent a few weeks in Thailand. You were about to go back to China, where you work as an urban planner. Every trip is a form of research, we agreed on that.
I asked if you’ve ever been to the Philippines. You said “no” and that you wanted to visit but got scared because of news in China about Filipinos killing Chinese people here. I wish I could tell you everyone is safe in my country, but personal experience prevents me from saying that until now. I just told you that I doubt Filipinos would kill a person just because of his citizenship, that there are safe places here, that I’m willing to show you around if you ever swing by. We said goodbye at the airport.
If you ever go here, I will give you a tour in my hometown first. By that time, I’m sure I’ve figured out how to say nicely that it’s the West Philippine Sea, as we watch the sunset.
I’m sure you’ll ask for another beach trip. I’ll take you to Dahican Beach, Mati City in Davao Oriental. It’s a sunrise beach, for a change. There’s a 7-kilometer stretch of white-sand there, but in the morning we can wake our feet up along the rocky parts. We’ll have scrambled waves for breakfast.
There, we will not argue about the name of the ocean.
I celebrated the Chinese New Year in Dahican weeks ago. Sure, there were no fireworks and lion dances. I spent time reflecting about the past years and planning for the new one. At the quiet shore, I could almost hear my heart’s rhythm like a steady beating of a drum.
It was also a weekend of skimboarding and surfing, spent in the company of talented but humble new friends. Vince, my surf instructor, works at the Philippine National Police. Based on his quick talk about crime rates, I’m sure we won’t have to worry about safety while we’re in Davao.
Can you guess what I loved most about Dahican?
Mention the word “pawikan” and surely, whether you’re talking to older locals or one of the skimboarding kids, you’ll get a rundown of facts about the marine turtle. Someday, people will love that, too, about where I came from. That’s one of the main reasons why I was in Dahican that weekend. And I will be back for more lessons, both on conservation and boardsports. I wish you’d give the wonderful place a try.
You wrote your e-mail address on a piece of paper before we parted ways. I’m sorry, it got lost during my trip back to Manila. I don’t even have your full name. But if you’re planning to come here, you’ll be searching the words “Philippines”, “beach”, and other related tags. Maybe you’ll be led to this blog. Maybe you’ll drop me a line.
Fat chance. Like how it was, seeing you at the train station when I had that one extra coin in my pocket.