T: I am knackered now!
Me: I had to look up what "knackered" means which I just learned is "a buyer of worn-out domestic animals or their carcasses for use, especially as animal food or fertilizer."
T: It's slang for exhausted.
Whenever people asked me what my dream destination was, I used to say, “London.” People from the UK would always be surprised, saying I would be disappointed because of the gray weather and crabby people.
“But I was in English major and musical theatre performer in college,” I’d explain. “I’d probably cry if I went to the West End and the British Library.”
Two weeks ago, I finally left for my dream destination, which had a few other dreams woven with it: taking my Masters, living in another country on my own, and getting the Chevening scholarship.
You’d think that it felt like high-fiving a million angels, but it didn’t. While I was thrilled at the possibilities, I felt guilty for leaving the communities I work with and sad to be missing out on milestones of and with people I love, like weddings and holidays.
Our departure was set on the same day typhoon Mario left the PAR. I was relieved to see friends at the NAIA terminal 1 (which smelled like pee and feet, ano beyyy): fellow Chevening scholars, Mahar and Ely; Mai, Chevening scholar ’12-‘13; and Renzo (soon-to-be Chevening scholar?). The Manila-Abu Dhabi-London trip was spent sleeping and chatting about current events and each others’ lives and advocacies.
I took a cab from the Heathrow Airport to Nicky’s place in East London, where I would stay for a week while I looked for my own place and do touristy things. I got into a shiny, spacious black cab with my four bags, feeling like Sherlock, ready to take on London.
Except I wasn’t, because my cab ride cost 106GBP (PhP7,900+)!!!! NA KA KA LOKA. Bawat patak ng metro nahilo ako. When it reached 50 GBP nawalan na ako ng feelings.
“Welcome to London,” I thought.
When I arrived in Nicky’s place, she and her friends made me feel at home right away, making me excited about my move. I forced myself to stay up until 10PM to get over the jet lag, which recharged me for my first London evant: the Climate March.
Thank you Nicky and Kirsty!
I generally stay away from rallies, but I was curious to see what kind of protests London had to offer. Needless to say, I was blown away. I describe it as the “Sinulog with a purpose.” There were reportedly 5,000 people present. Families, couples, individuals, groups of friends, and the elderly going out on the street to make a stand for the Earth. Incredible. Their placards had witty slogans and used beautiful fonts (!!!) – not jeje at all. I wish we had environmental rallies of such caliber. Pauso nga tayo.
That evening, I met up with Jim, one of my good friends from theatre. He’s come a long way since our High School Musical days—all the way to THE National Theatre for Here Lies Love. Jim may be a few years younger, but he has always looked out for me. He gave me a walking tour of central London and taught me the difference among the coins this guide:
Monday-Friday were spent at the West End. Theatre is and will always be my first love, and one of the things I looked forward to the most about London was the West End, so I went overboard. Medyo lang.
Couldn’t have picked a better way to kickoff my week around Leicester Square: dinner with my childhood hero, Lea Salonga, and a last-minute ticket to the 25th anniversary gala show of Miss Saigon (thanks Jim, Ela, and Elias!).
I am a HUGE Miss Saigon fan. And I don’t mean I-memorized-“Sun-and-Moon” kind of fan but, “I watched Miss Saigon five times when it ran in Manila and I can sing the entire libretto to you with feelings” level.
By the time the opening bars of “The Heat is On in Saigon” started, I was crying. “I forgive you, London, for the GBP106 cab,” I declared. It was surreal to be there in the West End, watching Miss Saigon, and seeing a performance by the original cast. When the original cast came out after the show, WALA NA. Pang the Fault in Our Stars na iyak ko.
Watch the goosebumps-inducing performance here.
During the following nights, I watched Miss Saigon again (only because I bought tickets in advance, not knowing I would watch the 25th anniversary performance!), Once, The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-Time (loved the book and the staging was brilliant), and Shakespeare in Love (hilarious!).
That week was just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. Since I won’t get to dive or join a triathlon soon, I’ll flex my arts and culture muscles. My list of things to do keeps getting longer: the Globe Theatre (I’ll cry for sure), Stratford Upon Avon (and cry here some more), Bath (because I wrote a paper and song about the Chaucer’s Wife of Bath for my Medieval Literature class!), and museums.
I must say—it’s not hard to fall in love with this city. I wonder if London needs a Chief Mermaid for the River Thames…
 Buti nalang naka scholarship at may arrival allowance na kasama, kasi kung hindi naglakad nalang ako.
 Defined as a major event. Say it: evahhhhnt.