Sunday, November 20, 2011

Taal Town tripping: Lessons I've learned from Lola Nora

Taal Town San Martin de Tours Nanay Nora
Lola Nora at the Basilica de San Martin de Tours
I was last here in Taal town two years ago and while there had been quite a lot of visible changes (the gleaming, new, motorized bells of the Basilica de San Martin de Tours and the fresh paint on the walls are just a few), I'd like to take note of the things that changed little.  I've already written about the Basilica as well as the tale of Our Lady of Caysasay and feel no need to be rendundant.  So for a change, I write about Lola Nora, the seller of Familia candles at the northern entrance of the basilica and for repeat visitors, a friendly fixture at the basilica.

Due to the sheer number of people who pass by the church everyday the last two years, I honestly wouldn't expect Lola Nora to have even the faintest sense of recognition of my face.  But Lola Nora, now 73 years old, clearly recounted the afternoon we passed by in November 2009, when I cajoled her for a picture or two as well as the sharing of anecdotes about her family and how business has been a bit slow.  She mirthfully laughs at the thought of her picture being taken, her face featured in the Internet for a reason she can't grasp. She also told me there was another photographer who has earlier asked her to pose for a picture but whom she brushed off, saying "kasi ko naman siya kilala (because I didn't know him at all)".
Taal Town Nanay Nora Pensive
Waiting in the wings
This reminds me a lot of what my good friend, Ironwulf, told me after his recent trip to Myanmar.  As I couldn't join, I told him to please send my regards to Ko Ko, a seller I befriended in Shwezigon Paya in new Bagan during my solo backpack trip. I was pleasantly surprised that Ko Ko even remembered my Kata backpack which I lent to Ironwulf for the trip and that he remembered me from more than two years ago.  Ko Ko helped me parry all those persistent vendors in the temple, advised me on what time of day to revisit, and gave me gifts of nats as souvenirs of that memorable trip.
myanmar shwezigon koko
Remembering Ko Ko
I can only speak for myself but I guess the lesson here is that I can't really underestimate the impact of my interactions with the people I meet in my travels.  Hmmm, it couldn't be about the money because I'm a tightwad, budget backpacker whose idea of travel shopping is bringing home just a ref magnet or two.  I think it's less about spending money buying but more about spending time to connect with strangers and immersing in their world, no matter how fleeting.  Yes, I'm interested in taking a good picture.  However, I'm also interested in finding more about the person behind the image.  Lessons learned on the road of travel and of life.

Lagalog thanks Smugs Metro Manila for the Taal town photo walk. For more info on the group's activities, just visit this link

Related reads:
• To read about the Villavicencio House in Taal town, go here.
• To read about my trip to Bagan and Mt. Poppa, go here.


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