2010: A Year in Travel

by Evans Yonson

Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines – So this it. Another year is over. A new year has just began. Who would have thought that we are done with the first decade of the 21st century. I ask myself where was I the same time last year? In today’s entry I will try to look back into the year that was. There are so many things that I am thankful for. Some things worth forgetting but forever etched in my mind, trapped in the mesh of abandoned memories. But just the same I am still grateful and will look back into the year with gratitude to old friends and new, families, loved ones, and latest affable adversaries.

I started the year with several old friends and new like Aslan, my Aussie-Persian friend I met in Marrakech on Christmas weekend. It was a great time to party in Barcelona especially in Las Ramblas with Tina Elloso and Kaye Abano. More street partying and parades happened later on in the year: the Cabalgata (the Three Kings’ arrival), Sant Jordi (the day of books and flowers in April), Dia de Sant Joan (St. John the Baptist in June), the Pride Parade,  the World Cup 2010 Victory Party in July, Dia de la Merce (the grand fiesta of Barcelona in September), and the Pope’s visit in November. Friends came to visit in Barcelona like my Madrid-based BFF Jo Pacate, superfriend Benjamin Sobrino with Aaron Bravo Gallo from London, my high school classmates Bong Montesa and Bomboy Lim (in separate occasions) came with their wives, Cathy Gonzales and Malou Lim, respectively. Bomboy’s lovely younger sister, Cookie came with them too.

At the University of Barcelona, I finally ended my required academic courses by the end of June. I also submitted my dissertation proposal after almost two years of waiting, writing, rewriting, and reading endlessly in every known university library in the city. I also met some possible research foreign partners while attending a seminar at Casa Asia. Recently, I received news that my dissertation proposal has been by the Doctoral Commission of the university after almost half a year waiting. I am used to hoping and waiting. But the long and excruciating of holding my horses coupled with the anxiety brought about by the uncertainties of what lies ahead almost always defeats the anticipation part.

Nothing beats a very well-planned travel. After having been to Morocco for my Christmas, I joined Ben and Aaron in Amsterdam for a mid-winter weekend getaway from it all. A week after that, I went to Bilbao for several days to fulfill a longtime dream of seeing the infamous Guggenheim Museum. A month after, I travelled to Malta and stayed there for five days. I winged back to Barcelona only to change backpacks and took a flight to Granada for the Easter Week in April. My summer vacation in Eastern Europe was really blast with Jo Pacate. I took the bus to Girona Airport (one hour bus ride; north of Barcelona) to catch up with Jo for our trip to Poland. We stayed in Wroclaw for 3 days and journeyed on to Prague, Czech Republic. My camera and I feasted on the Danube River in Prague. We travelled down south to Vienna, Austria and spent two nights at my Austrian bestfriend Beatrix’s place. Jo and I separated. She went to the western part of Austria while I drove to Bratislava, Slovak Republic. She would join me two days after visiting her Austrian friend. We rode a Romania-bound train to Budapest, Hungary and the train ride back was the longest and excruciating ever.

I stayed in Barcelona for the rest of summer with Tina Elloso. We frolicked and partied in the streets of Barcelona when Spain won the 2010 World Cup. We trooped everyday for two weeks to the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium in August as volunteers for the European Athletics Championship. I started teaching photography with a group of Filipinos. During the annual De la Merce, I took almost 4,000 shots of the gegants and the parties in between. At the start of fall, we hiked La Mola, a 1,305 meter high hill at marvelled at the Catalan sunrise.

It was also during summer that I started coordinating with Development Communication Department for my first solo exhibit. I was told to gather all my best water shots and select the best. From more than a thousand photographs, I came up with 175 best shots and in the end I exhibited only 60 shots. The exhibit went very well. I guested in one local TV program. We had press coverage and several good reviews. I am thankful to Kaye Mercado and Carmel Neri, the DevCom Society officers who helped me till the end. Of course to Shiella Balbutin, DevCom chairperson, for supervising the officers. The physical preparation of the exhibit was excellent with the aide of Boom Tse, Parson Fernan, and Meling Abuga-a. The exhibit was curated by Kelly Ramos-Palaganas. We opened the exhibit on 1 December, the first day of Xavier Festival Days, with the presence of my siblings and their families. Special friends like Melody Roberto and Ana Liza Ong came all the way from Manila and Cebu, respectively. The exhibit collected a good amount of money for the scholarship.

At the romantic front, the year started with despair as I thought I found the one but only to be rejected before the arrival of The Three Kings. Winter went very cold and gloomy. I have had casual encounters but nothing as special as year-opener. I must admit that for the most part of the year my lovelife was in the backburner. It was only towards the end of 2010, in Cagayan de Oro, on Christmas Eve to be specific that I would see MJ, the guy who got away last year. It has always been a fervent wish of mine to put a closure to my MJ episode. The meeting realized that wish and I am grateful to the heavens. During my short visit to the Philippines, I met two significant persons but no sparkling, shining and shimmering moments.

At home, I spent quality time with my nephews, nieces and siblings during the last months of the year. We celebrated Christmas and the New Year together. We went to Camiguin Island and a great fun. Although I spent an enormous amount during this homecoming, being with family is simply priceless.

Friends come and go. Some stay with you for a while and a few souls betray you along the way. I thought these friends would understand for whatever I am and all my eccentricities and quirkiness. I have been accused of many things that I am but I am not sorry because it’s part of my package. I would never be who I am if there are personal qualities missing. It would certainly make me a dull Evans. I met new friends in Barcelona like Daines Veloso and her partner David Braun, Yam and May Tavera and Eric Bompat, and Karen Salvador. My friendship with Helen and Heidi Salvador became even stronger in my direst moments. My University of Barcelona friends like Amalia, Marco, Daniel, Ines, Paula and Selene inspired me to aspire more academically and personally. My housemate, Ferran, who despite his foible character made me understand how friendship should be taken cared of and nourished despite the language barrier.  I have maintained contact with my high school and university barkadas like Erwin, Jude, Nash, Oliver, Charlie, Fraj, Ted, Cris, and many more whose names would certainly fill this blog. My present and former colleagues like Shiella, Mayette, Lai, Osang, and Eli made 2010 complete. I purposely went to Manila one weekend to meet up with my former Letran students. We did a charitable effort for the kids of an orphanage in Sta. Mesa.  In the end, you will see who your real friends are and those who know you inside and out. Friends who would tell me affront my faults and misdeeds. One of the values that my Nanay taught us is never say bad things about your friends to others. Besides, breeding is one quality that makes one distinct from the rest. Breeding is never bought. It doesn’t come with status. You may be wealthy and yet without breeding. Happy is the poor man whose breeding surpasses that of the rich man’s.

Twelve months. 52 weeks. 365 days. The travel has not ended yet. Certainly it is just beginning. Definitely there more places, countries and cities to visit, more things to learn, more new friends to discover and meet and unmistakably a new love to be found.