Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oceans High Fives

I love the sight of the big ocean. But I hate being in it. Simple reason: I can’t swim!

Give me the swimming pool any time! I could attempt to float; and if I find myself remaining in the same spot (which happens all the time!), I know I’ve not been washed to the edge of the world, so that’s okay. How could I perish with giant rubber duckies and four tiled concrete walls hemming me in?

But sometimes I just could not avoid it. It comes with the territory. Maybe His way of telling me too that whether on land or the vast sea, or in the valley, if He’s the one holding my life, why fear?

So I did walk on water one day, like Peter! Er, call that walking under the sea. No, I wasn’t cast as a mermaid in a Disney movie.

I was then a free-lance writer and was invited by an airline for a familiarization tour of Saipan, a Pacific island territory of the United States. One of the tour’s highlights was a mid-ocean tete-a-tete with Nemo and his underwater friends.

Made to wear this astronaut-like headgear (cool, huh—which allowed the water to reach only our shoulder even underwater), we were then led through a stairway going to the bottom of the sea. Holding on to a rope as we walked on, yes, the ocean floor, we then received a pinch each of fish food. Then they surged—schools of fish of varying colors and designs, dancing then swarming! I recognized Dory, friend of Nemo’s father in the crowd.

I sort of heard her sneer, “So now you know how it is to be inside an aquarium and be taken captive,” as my thighs tingled with their nibbling. “This is revenge for Nemo, you human!” Good thing piranhas didn’t join our tormentors, or should I say, new-found friends.

My recent brush with the ocean was again part of work. Coming by air through Semirara island, we then took a one hour (seemed endless in my mind) boat ride to the island of Caluya for a two-day planning and team-building seminar for Caluya’s municipal staff.

My imagination worked overdrive again: “What if…?” It rained the entire trip and though the sea didn’t roar and foam, those jerky sea wavelets had me retracing Jonah’s three days inside the belly of the big fish. Yes Lord, I repent!

Of course it turned out the fish would be in our belly instead. From day one in Caluya, we feasted on Lapu-lapu (bought by our host at P88 per kilo!) and the best kinds of fish, big and small, which if you’re in Manila, would cost you a slice of your fake signature bag.

And so with thoughts of ocean disaster far from my mind, I made the most of this rare island adventure. Our team, composed of Trixie, Eddan and myself, and beefed up on the third day by Miguel and Vicky, buckled down to work.

It’s good to know that in this remote Antique island lives a group of people with a passion for transforming their communities into models of good governance.

Mayor Genevieve Lim, who asked for this exercise, is a first-term mayor. She ran in lieu of her father—then the incumbent mayor—who succumbed to cardiac arrest weeks before the recent elections.

Mayor Lim believes in the value of planning and teamwork if she is to succeed in her calling. Remember Joseph in the bible? God gave him a dream. He eventually achieved it in spite of discouragements and trials. I pray Mayor Lim will be unfazed as she leads her people to better days.

With that in mind, our boat ride back to Semirara for our plane ride back to Manila seemed much more pleasant. Wow, the island really looked beautiful this warm sunny day!

We may feel like a tiny plankton in the middle of the big ocean but crossing it has its rewards.

High fives for braving the big ocean!