Hoarse voice. Sore lower back and thighs. Slight drowsiness and grumpiness. Must be the effects of the most epic four-day stretch in recent memory. Still worth it, though.

So read my recent status update on my Facebook account, which reflected the frenetic pace of activity I had between Thursday and Sunday.

It all began the earlier Thursday morning, and I had spent the wee hours of my rest day monitoring my Facebook and Google+ accounts and downloading some new songs for Vesper. And for those who don’t know, that is the name I chose to christen my faithful 160 GB iPod Classic with. After a failed attempt to meet up with my friend and former mentor Ma’am Cel a few weeks earlier to deliver a special birthday present, I was determined to succeed this time. So I took a bus to my home province of Pampanga, bringing with me a stuffed toy husky for my beloved friend. Upon arriving in the terminal at Dau, Mabalacat, I then took a jeep to the neighboring barrio of Mabiga where I arrived at my alma mater Don Bosco Academy a short while later. Although my friend was handling classes when I arrived, the many teachers I knew from my high school days gave me a very warm welcome and even gave me a tour of the much-improved facilities of the Salesian-run school.

My friend and I soon met up just before classes had drawn to a close and we shared a nice dinner at Robinson’s Pampanga later on where we caught up with stories of all and sundry. It was a wonderful opportunity to bond with one of my most loyal and caring friends, one who picked up the cudgels for me at a time of great personal adversity.

As the annual Indakan was to take place tomorrow, which was the closing activity of the school’s Linggo ng Wika, I made a promise to her to be there and spend more time with everyone who had shaped me during my four years of high school. I spent the night at my dad’s place, crashing into bed after battling the Sandman for much of the day.

The following day, I was up and about early getting ready for the Indakan in the afternoon followed by my trip back to Manila to report for work. I had bought some sweets for all the teachers and I even managed to drag in a few extra treats for my family and friends back in the city. I enjoyed the atmosphere of my alma mater, which was festive and highly energetic with nearby schools competing in a modern dance contest.

I was back in Manila by evening, and despite my lack of sleep I remained pumped up for the company’s sports festival finals the following morning all throughout my shift. I had planned to attend the event only to support my office mates in the cheer-dance competition, but a meeting with the company bigwig gave my weekend the epic upgrade it needed.

I was one of two people from our account selected to join the forum with the company’s president, and I had expected a typical humdrum meeting where we would share our concerns with him and the like. But the head of the HR Department, who was also in attendance to cover the minutes of the meeting, recognized me almost immediately and she then asked me if I was hosting the  sports festival finals. I thus informed her that I would not be doing so, since I had previously offered to serve as commentator for the basketball games but difficulties in acquiring a sound system for the event shot down those plans. Undeterred, she contacted some people and assured me that the sound system was all set. I assured her that I would be there, and I would go all-out to help bring success to the event.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. As I had a few hours to wait before the games were to begin, I decided to get some shut-eye at the sleeping quarters at work. I left with one of our supervisors (and one of my trusted friends at work) Jul and we arrived at the venue with the volleyball championship match being hotly contested. I met up with the coordinators from our HR Department, who got me acquainted with the program. Further fired up by the free food and drinks, I was soon tearing away at the microphone with my usual fervor and zeal, doing something that felt almost second nature to me.

Despite my worn-out vocal cords and body begging for sleep, the event had turned out very well as my colleagues took home the cheer-dance title and managed a decent third-place finish in the men’s basketball division. I ended up sharing a hearty celebratory meal with the victorious cheer team at the mall and headed home right afterward.

That evening, our sister and cousins arrived to spend the night in preparation for the planned lasertag event the following afternoon. I fell asleep only shortly after they arrived, exhausted from a long day and knowing that more was to come tomorrow.

The next morning, I set off to attend the baptismal of my office mate’s firstborn son over in Marikina City and ended up being one of the godparents for their baby. Afterward, we had a hearty lunch at a nearby restaurant, where I got to meet the family and friends of the young couple. From there, I hopped on the jeep back to home base, where I had made it just in time as everyone was getting ready to leave for the lasertag arena over at Eton Centris cornering Quezon Avenue and EDSA.

In what would be perhaps the most intense 15 minutes since my first ever trip to Fitness First a few months ago, my siblings, cousins, niece and nephew ran around the playing area, trying to dodge the lasertagging efforts of the opposing team. Wearing somewhat heavy vests loaded with blinking sensors as targets and toting rather heavy laser guns was definitely a start, and after being drenched in sweat despite the air-conditioned venue, we stepped out to see our scores and were euphoric at our success.

My cousin Petite and sister Miel were among those who joined us for an epic weekend that left me asking for more.

To celebrate further, we hopped over to Greenhills and had some coffee and chocolate drinks to chill. Following that, we then headed off to a restaurant serving affordable yet sizable servings of steak and enjoyed a hearty dinner from there. After parting ways, we headed home to rest after a day full of activity. But the day wasn’t done with me just yet.

My friends Vince and Ryan headed to the home of Alex, one of our friends, to discuss plans of starting our own business venture. Although I was hesitant at first to go since I had been so busy for the day, I eventually decided to go especially after I learned that beer would not be in short supply.

In a few hours, we were discussing our plans in detail, punctuated by glasses of beer in between along with stories of all and sundry into the wee morning hours. The morning was bright by the time we parted ways and I was ready to call it a day. Despite being loaded on alcohol, I had difficulty falling asleep and I would pay for it by suffering from some nasty drowsiness during my shift that Monday evening.

All in all, it was still the most productive 96+ hours I had in some time. I touched base with friends and loved ones, did some things I truly enjoyed doing and set myself up for some bigger things in my future. It looks like my efforts to consume all my 2010 vacation leaves before they expire by month’s end finally paid off. Looks like I need an encore for this coming weekend then.

*****

Speaking of which, the recent experiences my sister and I have had with certain parking attendants has made me realize that they have surprisingly “racial” tendencies.

For lack of a better term, we have always noticed that they extend a hand to those driving brand new, relatively recent or really nice cars in finding those sweet parking slots. However, when they come across our mid-90s big bodied Toyota Corolla, they often turn a blind eye to us and leave us to our devices in finding a place to park. The fact that it is painted white and at first glance resembles so many taxis out there may have contributed to this; however note that a carpark does not usually set requirements for vehicles to be able to park there other than the usual vehicular height limitations as well as parking rates.

So what is it with these parking attendants who can’t treat cars and their drivers equally? Are they too good to drive anything less than a Porsche, or a production car from 2002 or later? Will they get dengue or some other deadly disease or even turn to stone if they stare at our car for too long? Or do they think that they are the lords of the carpark and their will is to be followed to the letter?

It is shameful that in a melting pot nation such as ours, people can choose to treat some drivers better than others by who has the better-looking car. Let’s hope they realize their folly before they taste some bumper ointment. Not that I’d wish that on them, though.

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