On the Multiplicity of Appearances

It’s my seventh day in Boracay and it’s become clear to me that I live not on one island but two.

The first is the Boracay of manufactured myth, partitioned and segmented like an Ayala mall; marred by the vulgarities of urban franchises and transplanted architecture; choked by stalls offering blind massages, fruit shakes, hair braids and henna tattoos; and infested with opportunistic vendors catering to equally opportunistic vacationers.

The second is the Boracay behind the fringes of surf and sand, constituted by a small yet diverse community of foreigners and locals united by their passion for a discipline notorious for its intensity. Its members come in different sizes, shapes, ages and creeds—postmodern blooms of the flower power generation, earnest in their search, deprecating in their finds, the only testimonies to their art their serene vitality and gracious charm.

They are what make the island so beguiling, and in a mere seven days, have thoroughly succeeded in making me feel at home. Each of them has a story to tell: of careers, countries and relationships abandoned; of passions discovered; of purpose finally found. Each of them understands the pain of transition—the terror, the uncertainty, the loss and the frustration; and each of them speaks of the joy of surrender—the peace, the humility, the calm and the consolation. None of them knows what tomorrow will bring: who they will be, where they will go—questions I ask persistently (of them, of myself).  But in their presence, tomorrow hardly seems to matter. Not when the sun is setting, the food is good, the people are gracious and the air is warm.

Now is all we have, and it’s more than enough.

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