I count, looking up the gray sky, in the fingers of my two hands the number of godchildren I have the moment I read a text message asking me if I can attend a baptism this coming Sunday. I think to myself, “I’m supposed to be leaving for Manila this Thursday,” followed swiftly by a question I keep asking myself, “Why oh why can’t I just leave for Manila soonish?”

I of course have this urge to say No I can’t but my own mother (God bless her soul) told me to never say no to being godparent, it is a blessing. To say no is bad luck, if not a curse.

I read the invitation and notice a name, “La Huerta,” and mutter, “What a beautiful name.” And of course that in itself makes me wanna go. Curiosity always kills the cat. I always want to check out places with nice sounding names.

The father calls me up to ask whether I’m going to the church and reception after, and I could not help myself but say that I am supposed to be leaving for Manila this Thursday. He says, “It would be really nice if you can come. The Salingoy art group will be there. We’d like to sit down and do sketches of you.”

My head goes, “sketches of me?” Oh vain, vain, vain. For someone who’s always wishing I can get a mani-pedi one of these days, or at least get a trim off my hair, but of course never finds the time, it is amazing how roused my vanity can be at the mere mention of “sketches” and “YOU”.

Then my friends, new ones, I got myself new friends (yay!), tell me I should check out the accessories the owner of the place makes. And my ears go, “accessories?!” Oh dear, it cannot get any better than this. I miss my beaded Palawan bracelets and anklets. I miss my surfer self. I miss my beach bum self. I miss many parts of myself. But here, I am also able to explore my creative self, even if the word “creative” means I create non-visual, seemingly intangible, things. If there is a cultural revolution stirring up in the city, I am glad I am at the heart of all of it.

I hope someone tells me this is worth all this poverty though.

I am amazed at how strong my creative and artistic circles are in Manila. There are none of those cat fights (yes, even among men, or the not-so-men-after-all) and those backstabbing, friendship breaking, and downright dirty, squabbles. My God people, can’t we just all get along? Or are you or are you not real men? My husband tells me he is amazed that there are actually men that dirty. I tell him, “Oh I’m sorry, I’m not really amazed now. I met one just last February.” And there we go. Laugh, laugh, laugh. Or more like curse. Regrets, I’ve got plenty. I have seen the absolute worst in any man AND any woman out there in this world last February, it would take a lot to surprise me these days.

So yes, I am off to a farm this Sunday. La Huerta in my mind…. I keep dreaming of the beach, but a farm will do. Any respite, actually, will do.

I have seven godchildren to date, by the way. Four boys (Sean, Justin, Euan and Gio) and three girls (Marielle, Raya and Kat).