Of all the places I’ve been in the archipelago, Palawan is the place I will always come back to. Last February, we were supposed to fly to El Nido for a leadership planning at work. The committee made sure that everything was set, up to the last detail.
I was so excited, I did not sleep the night before because I didn’t want to be left behind, like what happened in our Anvaya trip. That one, I was able to catch up because we only had to drive to get there. This time, we were taking a chartered plane (not even a commercial plane where I could catch the next flight with minimum cost.) and I wasn’t going to take any chances. I packed my bags the night before and worked until 3am and took a cab to the office where I met my teammates so we could all go to the airport together.
During that week, I rushed all my deliverables so I could go to the El Nido trip. I laboured late nights to finish everything, because I knew I currently couldn’t afford to go to El Nido on my own, flying a chartered plane and staying on a classy resort. It was a dream come true and I was visualizing all the white sand and blue green clear waters and the limestone formations surrounding me while I sip my Piña colada as I sunbathe in front of a heavenly resort watching the Bourne Legacy team (they were there that weekend) shoot a scene on the other side of the beach. I had it all planned in my head and was giddy the whole day, the day before the trip. I bought my luau dresses and tried my hardest to lose a few pounds despite my failed efforts to schedule a time to jog around Boni Highstreet.
And so at 4-5 am, we left the office and took a cab to the private airport where the chartered plane is waiting for us. From Fort, we were there in 15 minutes. The airport wasn’t even open yet, and the guard was still half asleep. We excitedly rushed to the entrance not caring if the lights were still off and demanded that they open the gates!
At 6 am we ordered breakfast for delivery not knowing the airport offers complimentary breakfast when the lounge opens. I ordered pancakes but skipped the hot chocolate because I didn’t want my stomach to react while in flight. When the lounge opened, we were welcomed by the ground stewardess and were offered coffee and warm muffins. I thought to myself, “This is life! Thank you Lord!”.
By this time, I was confident I will not be left so I entertained the concept of sleep, still fighting my eyes, involuntarily closing. I wanted to reserve my sleep as I want to sleep during the flight. I knew the plane was unusually small, given that it’s a chartered plane. That means, I will feel more tremor and turbulence during the flight, so I preferred to be deep in slumber by that time as I am extremely scared of plane rides. True, I’ve taken the plane lots of times but the fear is still there and everytime, I try every method possible just to make sure that I’m asleep during the flight. So either I drug myself with my allergy meds, or drink a little alcohol before the flight, or I don’t sleep the day before so I’ll be dead while in flight, that’s how much I hate plane rides.
I was awakened every other five minutes by my teammates’ excited laughter and periodic camwhoring. They were eating the huge muffins offered by the stewardess while they chatter animatedly talking about how sleepy and excited they are about the trip. Even though I had a throbbing headache, I didn’t mind.
I was the only one sleeping and one teammate suddenly woke me up for a group picture. I snoozed quickly after the click. No less than five minutes later, they woke me up, everyone silent and with serious faces. One of my bosses said I had to wake up because I had to hear this. I sat down and looked at them while I say, “Wag nyo ko pinagtitripan!”. This is literally a minute before we were asked to board the plane.
“We are not going.”, my boss said. Complete silence. This was at 7 am and the sun was already up despite the cloudy atmosphere.
Apparently, she just got a call from our big boss instructing that we can’t board the plane because of security and red tape reasons that I can’t really disclose. She explained everything but I couldn’t hear anything because I was trying to wake myself up. But I wasn’t sleeping.
I literally felt my heart drop and break in silent gloom. I can almost smell the sea breeze and feel it blow on my hair in slow motion. I must be dreaming! But I wasn’t. We really were not going. The happy faces suddenly went grey with sadness. If I wasn’t in a zombie mode, I think I would have cried. We offered to sign a waiver and pay for the expenses ourselves as we were already there but that would be a compliance and subordination issue. And knowing my company, integrity is vital.
The boss felt really bad that she treated us for breakfast, which didn’t really make us feel better. We waited until lunch, hoping we’d get another call telling us to go hop in a plane and just go. Five hours later, still nothing. We all went home heart broken. I slept the whole afternoon sulking hoping I would have temporary amnesia.
That was five months ago and I can still feel my heart crack everytime I remember! Ouch. Even though I know it was really just a technicality and it really wasn’t anyone’s fault, just the ‘almost there’ feeling is so heartbreaking that I feel my insides drop involuntarily everytime I hear anything about El Nido. So, I have to change that! I have to go there! Coz El Nido and heartbreaking cannot be in the same sentence. Someone take me and unbreak my heart!
Oh God, there’s that sea breeze again touching my face while I lazily sunbathe by the beach..