I've been getting up at 5 a.m. for the last 2 days, and starting work at 7. I've been telling myself for years that getting up and working betimes is the biggest key to having a good day. I remember that fact about every 6 to 9 months... and then eventually forget within a week or two. I'll try to remember for a longer period this time around... maybe even to simply not forget.
Besides: Sunrise in the jungle is a glorious thing. There is the mist that hangs in the valley air midway up the face of the nearby foothills, creating ever-darkening silhouettes of green jungle slopes, eventually fading in the distance to a deep gray sage. Roosters crow from all around the Jungle Perch, from different locations, different distances, different volumes; it's the start-the-day Dolby-sound-check aubade of every little tropical village on the planet I've ever visited. Plumes of smoke rise from behind and between the nearby corrugated roofs, signaling the first garbage burning of the day. Cough. A jeepney trundles by on the narrow street below occasionally, with its stereo turned to an almost respectful volume, playing the standard selection of love songs from the 1970's. The Catholic Church across the town square bells out the call to matins with the first light, and then plays some recorded messages about God's love over loudspeakers throughout the dawn. When the sun finally peaks over the hill, it hits the giant old mahogany trees in the schoolyard in front of me from a completely new direction than the usual evening shadows I've been used to.
Then, suddenly, across the street, somebody starts up their chainsaw motorcycle, and within the span of 2 minutes, the street below is filled with the sound of schoolkids yelling, scooters blaring, cars honking, and dogs barking, as the student population files in from all around: The noisiest part of the day. Then, only short minutes later, the school bell rings (a traditional plangent bell of olden days... not the fire-alarm brr-rrring of modern schools) officially signaling an end to the dawn. The skies clear of mist and smoke, and the day begins.
In the evening, it was off to General Membership Meeting #9 and Induction Ceremony of The Cagayan De Oro branch of The Fraternal Order of Philippine Eagles. My, my... such a weighty title, eh? It was a formal night with induction of new members (again) so a barong was the required dress. (I notice that some Filipinos have a more standard, less-sheer, less-decorative, guayabera-style shirt that they wear instead of barongs when they want to "tone it down" a bit. I might get one of those myself.) Tonight, all of the big name Eagle members of regional police and law enforcement were at the meeting: Colonel Yap, director of the NBI, Colonel Armillio, Cagayan De Oro's Chief of Police (whom I tried talking to: a laconic fellow if there ever was one), a commodore from the Coast Guard, the PNP director for Region X, and several other major law-enforcement dignitaries.
General Lomibao, national director of the LTO (The Philippines' Department of Transportation), gave the keynote address. He talked about his new plan to improve road safety in The Philippines by licensing more drivers and vehicles, enforcing better adherence to traffic laws, and collecting more fines. (Upon my meeting him during the social hour, I mentioned my own road safety pet peeve in The Philippines: The fact that people almost never turn down their high-beam headlights for oncoming traffic at night.)
Epril spent the evening sitting with the Lady Eagles. Now that she is getting to know them, she is opening up a little bit and getting more comfortable and sociable. She's a bit younger than her counterparts though, and is still quite diffident with them, as compared to her comportment with her Expatriates Ladies Charity friends. She's getting there though... in her own time.
After that, it was a nice ride home to Jasaan... and there weren't even that many blinding oncoming headlights on the road for a change. I actually enjoy my drives going from the frenetic streets of Cagayan De Oro back to the rustic environs of Jasaan. The route is perfectly staged to move me through gradually more peaceful places as I drive along: From the first few minutes of the drive on CDO's pitted and patched highway filled with speeding taxis, disco jeepneys, and filthy lorries, surrounded on both sides by dingy shop houses and slapdash factories... to the last few minutes, driving alone through the jungle in patch-lit darkness on a smooth and silent stretch of road. Back home.