Monday, March 30, 2009

Back from the City of Smiles

I used to associate Bacolod City with rest and recreation. My first two trips to this City of Smiles were sponsored by a wonderful family whose last name, to me, became synonymous with good food. Every meal that I spent with them was worth celebrating. I saw the wonderful sights within the city and drove to the nearby towns to taste what they had to offer. I always came home to Manila with loads of napoleones and half-moon from Roli's, mango tartlets and butterscotch from Virgie's, souvenirs from The Negros Showroom, and angel cookies from El Ideal.

During those vacation trips, I enjoyed my visit to the ancestral homes, played a piano that belonged to native Jose Mari Chan, posed at the Mambukal Resort, ate authentic chicken inasal at Manukan, and feasted my eyes on the colorful costumes on parade during the Masskara Festival.

My last two trips, however, were for work. Last year, I only stayed for a night as a stopover for my meetings in three cities. This year, I went to Bacolod for IBP's 12th National Convention of Lawyers. It was a busy first quarter for me as I prepared our marketing materials for our sales booth during the convention. I looked forward to the actual trip because I thought that I could work hard and play harder by going out each night.

As it turned out, my plans to unwind were thwarted. Nobody expected what would happen. Instead of the 1,200 confirmed participants to the convention, 2,300 actually came. There were not enough rooms and kits; the food ran out; and the space was cramped. Lawyers lined up under the heat of the sun to get their snacks and lunch, and everyone was cranky. My heart went out to the organizers of the event, who had no idea that so many lawyers would walk in, never mind that a disputed memorandum was issued weeks before requiring lawyers to attend at least one national convention.

I checked my camera today, and found only three pictures worth posting here: the ones I took before the convention actually started. There was a mini-masskara festival, with Masskara dancers performing around the venue and during the Opening Program, and stalls offering the best of Negros products dotting the open space between the buildings at the Bacolod Pavilion Resort and Hotel. Believe it or not, I only spent five minutes checking out the stalls, for I was too busy to shop even for a shirt to bring home as souvenir.

Each night, I preferred to go home early and rest. I could not lift my right arm on the second day after all the stuff that I mindlessly carried, mostly marketing materials. Our company's booth was swamped with inquiries and sales during the short breaks between sessions, and I was on my toes for three whole days. I hardly had time to go out, and when I did, I only ate to get it over and done with. I went to the famous Calea for the first time, but despite the tempting desserts on display, I was able to resist buying anything.

People kept saying I was lucky my work allowed me to travel, so I focused on that as a blessing, instead of complaining that it was an exhausting trip.

What I need right now is sleep, a good massage, and some time of rest and prayer. I am grateful that it is almost Holy Week. It will be a joyous Easter after all the ordeals I went through during Lent. :)

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