I’m trying this new thing called Putting My Phone Down.
I remember my former supervisor saying how I am a ‘social media expert’ because ‘she’s always on her phone non-stop’. I took that as a compliment, actually. It wasn’t one.
So when the last leg of the research project my Mom and I are involved in was scheduled to cross the Pacific Ocean to Polillo Islands in Quezon Province–maybe, just maybe, I could test myself and see if I can survive two days without my iPhone, Internet/wifi/3G, my DSLR and my other gadgets that I don’t leave home without. That is if I don’t get thrown out of the ferry because of the massive tides and get attacked by sharks (which they have, btw).
Day 1 01:28
The team picked me up from home because it’s on the way to the pier, where we are going to board a ferry (or lantsa in Tagalog) to Brgy. Polillo. Nothing but an old flip-phone with me, an old mp3 player to get me by, and a paperback (instead of iPad). Another reason I didn’t want to bring gadgets is because the sea and I are sworn enemies. I can’t swim and for some reason, I always always seem to accidentally drop something valuable in the water. Every.single.time.
I wasn’t able to sleep during the drive from Los Banos to Real, Quezon. We arrived at around 4AM, slept in the car while we waited for the next trip. At last it was 7AM and it’s time to step on that narrow platform to get to the lantsa. It was a cold and rainy morning. Windy and dark for 7AM. “It’s going to be okay, Cole, you’re good, you’re good.” I fell asleep with my earphones on and thanked the heavens that it was all smooth-sailing. Until the ferry jolted so hard, I thought it was going to tip over. It was only the beginning of an hour-long ride against the tide, apparently.
The team and I could only pretend we’re ‘screaming cos of the thrill’ but deep inside, I know we were all praying for our safety. After around half-hour of trying to fight the waves, we were exhausted and just fell asleep. We were close to the docks when I woke up. Oh God I’m alive, I thought. I was ready to fish for my phone from my purse and tweet what has just happened. Or take my camera out and capture the tides. But there’s nothing from my backpack. My fingers shook, my heart sank. *sighs* It was only 11:00.
Day 2 07:00
Early start for our data gathering. I couldn’t believe I haven’t held my phone for more than 24 hours already. No Facebook or Twitter. No anything. Just my Mom checking in. It was like back in college when life was so much simpler. For a moment there I forgot what it was like to be just me. Not expecting any message, not obsessing over notifications and mentions. Not being under the influence of Internet and all that. Not being held back by gadgets. I felt…lighter.
The rest of the day went by FGD after FGD. Until we were all done and headed towards the beach that was beside our hosts’ place.
Since it was the rainy season, everything felt gloomy and grey. But then again, it was just the perfect background for introspection. The team and I took turns in taking photos and just had fun by the beach. Night fell and we were beat. Morning came and it was time to go home.
Day 3 13:00
Our hosts are the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet. I couldn’t even begin to describe the degree of generosity and hospitality they have shown us. It’s pretty refreshing not having to check my phone every 10 minutes. I was able to listen to stories more, was able to understand silence. I was able to engage and interact more with the people around me and have more room for introspection. It was also a relief not having to worry about my camera at all times. I can just leave the house without checking if my gear is complete and unscathed. I was carefree, if that’d be the only word to describe it.
The ocean was pretty calm this time. There were not a lot of people in the ferry so we pretty much just loitered around. We sat in front of the ferry (you know like Rose-Jack style) and watched the waves and scream accordingly when a huge one comes in. Total amateurs, we felt the other passengers saying to us.
The team and I had dinner at home, home-cooked with love by my Mom (thank God she didn’t join, she’d hate me LOL). We relived experiences and stories of the past two days and had so much fun doing so. We were going crazy laughing but I know it was more of relief that it was all over and we were back home in one piece.
Polillo is a beautiful island and I want to visit again. Summer, preferably. When it’s all sunshine, blue skies and tides are more lenient. When I’m all calm and collected. When I have finally come to terms that life, just like the sail to Polillo, could as well be rough seas. You just have to learn how to ride with it and keep the faith that everything is going to be okay.
All this by going unplugged. Try it sometime.
*Title from the song with same name version by Atomic Kitten, in my head at least.