Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
I grabbed a cold bottle of beer at Fred’s the night of April 30, with hopes of drowning the summer heat. It barely did; it was a sweltering 30 degrees Celsius and 71 percent humidity (according to timeanddate.com) even at night. It was literally the middle of summer, and the air was sticky and heavy. The wind seemed to have run away without a clue as to when it would return, abandoning the bustling city of Manila and leaving its people drenched in their own sweat and smelling like yesterday’s shirt.
I checked the time: 11:00 p.m. said my digital wristwatch. We better go, I thought. The event organizer said we should be at the bus station before midnight. We settled the bill and waited for a cab outside Cubao Expo, or Cubao X as my photographer friends call the place. We stood there for 30 minutes, hailing cabs. No one seemed interested. If they only knew we were just going to a nearby bus station, I think they would have let us ride.
We arrived at the bus station just in time to catch the ride to Baler, Aurora where the Nalu Music Fest was to be held. The station was packed with people who were either going to Baler for the event or going home to their provinces or taking a quick vacation away from the city. There was a long weekend ahead: Friday, May 1 is Labor Day, a holiday. Our cab driver commented on how people do not get tired of this routine during long weekends. He said that going home to his province, Bulacan, which is just beside Manila, was already tiring enough, and he can’t imagine why these people go through this ordeal every time there is a long weekend. Well, in our case, it’s because we love what we do, I thought to myself, as I handed him our fare.
After much waiting in the cramped bus station, our bus finally left past 1:00 a.m. I was asleep the whole ride and finally woke up at around 5:30 a.m. when the bus stopped at a roadside eatery somewhere in the mountains of Nueva Ecija. We were still an hour and a half away from Baler. The sun was still hiding behind a mountain, emitting little rays. Our bus driver said we still had to go past that mountain before we reached Baler. Moments later we were on our way again through the steep and winding road that traversed the mountains. It reminded me of the road going to Baguio, sans the cold weather.