• Joy of travelling

    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    Ma. Isabel Ongpin

    As I said I was back on plane rides and landed at Boston’s Logan Airport on a clear and cloudless day. Also, it was a hot day. It was the Fourth of July weekend after all and supposed to be warm. But because it was and is in the 90’s here now, everyone invokes climate change and grumbles. Coming from Manila (“the gates of hell” according to my son’s schoolmate), it is no bother.

    What caused me a few shivers was the next day’s Asiana Airline accident at the San Francisco Airport on another clear and cloudless day. Certainly, it was not caused by climate change (caused by human error) but another human error. I certainly don’t want to hear more as I will be flying again soon.

    I noticed that newspapers here are hardly saleable with prices like $2.50 for the daily The New York Times and $6.00 for the Sunday edition Television, with computers (laptops and I-pads, specially) providing the news to the majority. But it is my considered opinion that in this way the news does not come up to the depth and perception that the written word composed by thinking, analytical and experienced journalism produces. And of course, I do write a column for this newspaper myself. So, I take sides.

    What made me laugh was an article in The New York Times Sunday edition about the “class struggle” in the skies in airplane journeys. As in First Class where one has a proper flat bed, caviar, fois gras and other amenities, to Business Class where one has champagne, lots of leg room, virtual privacy and, my old familiar grounds – Tourist, Economy, Coach. Choose your preferred word.

    Coming from the Third World, I find it perfectly adequate. I have no problem with the meals and snacks. One should not indulge in alcohol when flying anyway. I am small enough not to long for more legroom and on a long flight while everyone goes into hibernation, I walk up and down the aisles to exercise. No one bothers me. I hear no complaints about food or whatever amenities are there or not there. We are a quiet herd adjusting to our environment. There are always offers of help when retrieving hand luggage from the overhead bin. We all know we got what we paid for and will arrive at our destination not one minute later than the rest. Some relatives (children, of course, who have turned parental) view my choice with disapproval. One of them darkly predicted that I would emerge a hunchback if I continue my perverse mode of travel. Well, I promised if such signs did appear, I would do as they wanted. But meanwhile, this is what I want. I do splurge but on other more important things to me.

    The day after arrival my niece drove us to a quaint Cape Cod town called Chatham. It is next to the sea on a peninsula with a long white beach. It is on the Atlantic and the water is too cold for tropical creatures even in July. But the ocean and beach landscape was stunning.

    Chatham is a tourist destination and it accommodates tourists with boutiques, small restaurants, antique shops while keeping its original architecture integral. It both pleased and pained me that signs were all the same size in circumspect material and color yielding to the architecture and style of the place. Pained, because this is not true in Baguio, my hometown and a tourist destination. I noted lots of open spaces, mini parks, untouched landscapes of trees and bushes along the way. In the town, there were hydrangeas blooming everywhere, a signature flower of Cape Cod. You could see they were carefully tended. Obviously, Chatham has controlled development with the tourist trade in mind. This is no Boracay, which if it does not appraise itself will turn into a problematical tourist destination if it does not stop occupying all open spaces.

    But I try not to dwell on such errors from where I come from and enjoy the company of my sisters, nieces and nephews, and the Boston area of cultural institutions. This is a vacation.



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