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Honoring My Mother / Today's specials.

Just recently, my old friend invited me to a beautifully offbeat cafe outside the city that offered rare farm-to-table fare. This was after I twice refused her invitation until I finally thought, where could my sense of adventure have gone? Not one to brag, but to my surprise, its wonderfully French-cooked meals were the kind that, I'm sure, my friends would salivate over.

Because of this, I am now adding this little farm of a cafe, with its cozy interior, to my ever-growing, and all-time collection of special nooks that are dearest to my heart, or should I say mon coeur?

Now, I'm pretty sure that everyone has, in their secret holds, an assemblage of memorable places in their mind, where they go or return to, to be momentarily free of the daily stress. What I have here is a menu of my favorite special places that I've safely tucked in this gray putty between my ears.

During my high school days, one such place was Times Beach. Looking at it now, with its rows upon rows of food stalls, beer houses, restaurants (and a motel to boot), one couldn't imagine that Times Beach was once an isolated paradise whose expanse of a clean beachfront exploded into view, once you've broken through the dense green and the tall cogon grass that seemed to hide it from the world. In my college years, it became a favorite haunt for us to jam through the night, and thus became the source where some of our compositions took root (Joey A. and Vernon would know this).

Another extraordinary location for me is our very own Mt. Apo. For those who have stood at its peak, directly behind is a little clearing that I fondly named as the valley of winds. On any good day, one could watch the clouds literally rolling in like a thick mist of white, which is an astonishing sight to behold. Until this day, whenever I remember that image in my mind, the quiet and peaceful isolation of being alone (for a few minutes at least) at our highest peak returns, and calms me somewhat.

And then finally, there is the Jesuit retreat house located at the reservation near the foot of Mt. Apo. Now I don't know if it still exists, but during my freshman year, we had stayed there for a few days. Likened to the proverbial cabin in the woods, its complete remoteness is only compensated by a well-stocked library that introduced me to the works of Khalil Gibran. A strawberry field nearby was also our other source of simple comfort. Wink wink.

Now, I am certain your special secret places may differ from mine, and that's alright. We are all products of our unique experiences anyway. What's important is that we have them safely stored in that 4Gig-brain of ours, to serve as soothing balm when we need them for our life struggles. As one buddy who loves to meditate often said to me: Always imagine yourself in a happy place.

I've just shown my top four. Had I included six more to make the top 10, that would then make this a lengthy chitchat of a column.

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Publication:Mindanao Times (Mindanao, Philippines)
Date:Jul 17, 2018
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