In search of a change in scenery while simultaneously escaping the hectic life in the city, we decided to venture some ways up north to the province of Zambales. Getting up early wasn’t the hard part, it was containing the excitement bubbling from our anticipation of finally getting a breath of new air from months of hard work. Coming from a little further down south, we decided to leave early to avoid the dreaded rush hour traffic.
There’s about an hour left before the sun rises and as we arrived at EDSA, much to our relief, vehicles were still scarce on the road. We traversed the 23.8km highway in less than 30 minutes, a feat that is nothing short of a miracle and perfect timing. NLEX was just as friendly and by that time, the sky was beginning to be painted with warm light. The clouds were rolling over in hues of pink and orange, while the grassy fields were still thickly covered with fog.
Even though we were almost halfway through our destination, we actually had vague plans for this sudden trip. All we knew was by the end of the day, we’d be chilling by the beach, blasting amazing music, and toasting our cold, canned beers at the back of the car. This is a special kind of recklessness that only our youth will allow us in this lifetime.
So by 8AM, while zigzagging our way to Olongapo, we took another hour’s worth of driving to the small barangay of San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales. Tucked away in a small fishing village is Casa San Miguel, a humble home converted into a house of music and arts, dedicated to anyone willing to immerse themselves in their crafts.
Our GPS pointed us to the wrong direction twice on our way to this haven but then again the destination became even more worth it precisely because we got lost somewhere along the journey. We finally arrived at a massive yet unassuming gate with a driveway consisting only of dirt and large trees scattered in all directions.
There were no people in sight and the place seemed far too quiet for any inhabitants. Doubts crept into our minds but it was soon replaced with curiosity as we made our way around a trimmed garden and well-maintained brick walls. We looked up to see a huge house so majestic yet down-to-earth that the artistic vibe is unmistakable.
After we had tea at their cafe, we were then guided through a short tour inside the residence where alluring paintings donated by their resident artists decorated the walls. The pillars and stairs are made of wood while several small areas covered in glass serve as classrooms for their scholars who are being taught musical instruments. Being off-season on a Tuesday morning, we didn’t get to see any of the kids perform but it also meant we had the whole place to ourselves to explore. We climbed a steep and unfinished ladder to their recently added balcony and the Zambales Mountain Range welcomed us with a stunning view. Needless to say, just being in that cozy home surrounded by authentic pieces of art occupied us with so much inspiration and respect for the community.
We stopped by an old garden with a vintage camper van, inhaled the scent of the mountains, took pictures to our hearts content, and made our way back to Subic Bay for some lunch, and of course, the beach.
Roaming inside the Freeport Zone is liberating. The roads are wide and everybody follows strict traffic rules. Being used to the insane traffic in the metro made us almost paranoid to the perfectly functioning traffic system. We were extra careful in making turns and we made sure to make a full stop before pedestrian lanes. (As we should, really.)
We weren’t in a rush and the hearty lunch at Texas Joe left us feeling more energetic for our next stop: the supermarket. A Subic trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Royal Duty Free. Aside from being tax free, the items to choose from are A LOT. We circled the entire place, grabbed some drinks and gummy candies and made our way to the beach for the much awaited relaxation.
It was the perfect afternoon for chilling out and we parked on the grey sand of Subic Bay. The stretch of sea and mountains before us made for a really calming view that literally had us skip with joy. After weeks of pulling all-nighters, meetings, and events, the change of pace recharged our spirits.
We may be young but that doesn’t mean we have to limit ourselves to the four walls of our classrooms or the four corners of our offices. Taking a breather is something we deserve because we are humans. We get tired and weary so don’t ever tell yourself that you don’t deserve to take a break even though you’ve pushed yourself so hard, because what you are doing is enough. Taking your time today means you’ll come back better tomorrow.
We won’t have our youths forever but we will always remember that time when we were twenty-something, with nothing to lose, dreaming of everything, while getting lost in the playlist of our lives. On days that we feel overwhelmed, we will remember the waves softly crashing against the shore and the sun slowly setting behind the mountain, as if winking in approval at our newfound determination to live the life we feel is right.
We are filled with gratitude for doing something so spontaneous and simple because as we made our way home that night, we knew it was one the best roadtrips of our lives. To this day, we are motivated to move forward, one can of cold drink at a time.
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