Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Traveling’

Going to Poland in May, looking for Filipinos to talk to

April 18, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

Photo from Simply Cracow

I’ll be in Cracow, Warsaw and Gdansk in May to write additional essays for my travel book. Are you a Filipino living in Poland? I have questions for my never-ending world domination research. Let’s meet.

Since I like to read novels set in the places I’m visiting, these are my current assignments: an Alan Furst WWII spy novel, and a 19th century Polish novel. Plus some Andrzej Wajda and Kieslowski movies, and The Saragossa Manuscript, and I’m all set.

Have you been to Poland? Any recommendations?

Update: Meeting up with greeneggsnham, who is doing Central Europe. (“Sana masarap ang hopia sa Poland.” Haha)

P.S. Ngayon lang nila na-gets.

Writing Boot Camp report, part 2: The advantages of going away to write something

March 26, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling, Workshops 15 Comments →

From hereon I think Writing Boot Camp should always be held out of Metro Manila. Clean air and a change of scenery is always conducive to thinking (or sleeping, which is a vital part of writing that nobody talks about. Eight to nine hours a day, people. Accept no substitutes. Hmmm, I should do Sleeping Boot Camp). Traveling to another place, with all the hassle and expense it entails, tells you that this is not a regular weekend: you are carving out time and space in your busy life for something that is important to you.

Also, being strangers in a city not your own (although two of our participants live in Baguio) brings the group closer together and gives us an excuse to go out drinking afterwards. (We’re having dinner in Makati next week.) With apologies to previous boot camps, I think this was my favorite workshop of all. The group was small enough so we could get to know each other and root out the personal experiences that could be turned into stories. Yes, it’s a rather intrusive process, but then writing requires that you expose your emotions. There’s no use hiding yourself, anyway, because whatever you end up writing, the readers will always assume that the characters are you.

Writing Boot Camp was held at the Larawan Hall of the BenCab Museum. The museum is buzzing with visitors on weekends, but the Larawan Hall is tucked into a quiet corner with private access to Cafe Sabel. If you look away from your paper or your screen, this is what you look at.

Our boot camp participants were working people from their late 20s to their early 40s.

Vicky worked in branding and is now planning a family saga set all over the world.

Lord is a corporate executive and mindfulness coach whose stories dissect the conflicts and tensions within every individual.

Reina has a shelf full of degrees in Astronomy from Trieste, Princeton, etc (She’s been the subject of TV features as “the girl who proved Einstein right”) and is writing an astronomy book for the general market.

Annalyn is based in California, where she works with people with psychiatric issues—she feels that writing could help them. I totally agree, being from the Therapy school of writing.

Von, a lawyer (and a very influential blogger) is working on his collection of personal essays (We’ll call them Sedarian).

Allan, who was in the first writing boot camp (where he finished a novel!), is a manager at a BPO and does way too many things, such as run my feline overlords’ Instagram.

Marisol, a Fil-American who moved to the motherland a few years ago, works at Mt Cloud Bookshop and is processing many levels of culture shock.

On Saturday we had lunch at Cafe Sabel, which serves an assortment of salads, pastas, sandwiches, and coffee that will keep you awake for days. (This is the view from Cafe Sabel. If you feel like taking a walk, you can do the eco-trail.)

As we headed out on the first day, I saw the sunset through the branches of a tree and wondered if we should start looking for stone tablets.

The next Writing Boot Camp is in Normandy, France. I’m kidding, that’s my friend’s house where I stayed in November. The next Writing Boot Camp will be held somewhere in the south, I’m looking for a place. Any ideas?

Writing Boot Camp report: Disasters averted by sheer luck

March 21, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling, Workshops 3 Comments →

I took the 11:15 bus from the Victory Liner terminal in Pasay. The ride is comfortable and safe, but the bus line doesn’t sell round-trip tickets and makes a very limited number of seats available online. Next time I will follow my friends’ recommendation and try the Genesis or Joy buses.

Once you leave Metro Manila the world opens up and you see sky and green. It’s amazing, our ability to live in cramped concrete boxes and subsist on gray air with trace amounts of oxygen.

Four and a half hours later, Baguio. The most tedious part of the ride was getting to the bus terminal. On weekends there is a tourist stampede to the mountains for cool air and strawberries (and ukay-ukay). I have some nerve complaining when I am one of those tourists.

I had booked a room at the Bed & View adjacent to the BenCab Museum 20 minutes by taxi from “downtown”. Here are the beds, and

Here is the view. I could write a whole novel on this balcony. In fact I think I will.

Raya was also in town for a break, so I have hung out with him every weekend since our Japan gig. (Gian was at film festivals in Amsterdam and Osaka.) On Friday I hopped into a jeep from the museum and met Raya and Abbie Lara at Hill Station. After our excellent dinner (the lechon kawali and laing is killer, and ask for the chocolate lemon tart even if it’s not in the vitrine), we went out looking for night life.

Oddly enough for a Friday, we couldn’t find any. We ended up at the old reliable Rumours. We were walking along Session Road when someone tapped Abbie on the shoulder and said she’d dropped her wallet. It was my wallet, containing my debit cards and stuff. I did not understand how it could’ve fallen out of my backpack (I had used a corporate giveaway backpack because who would steal it?).

When we were sitting in Rumours, I found out how it had happened: the backpack had fallen apart. The seam got ripped, probably because I had crammed it full earlier with laptop, notebooks, etc, and as we sat there all my things clattered to the floor. Luckily Abbie had a tote bag in her backpack so I could carry my stuff. (Lesson: Always carry a tote bag.)

Before midnight, Raya and Abbie put me in a taxi and gave the driver directions to the BenCab Museum. For many years I’ve told people that I have no sense of direction. I could cross the street where I live and somehow take the wrong way home…and I host a travel show. Anyway I settled sleepily into the back of the taxi as it barreled along Asin Road towards the museum.

My night vision is terrible—I really should eat more greens—and I could barely see where we were going. We had been driving for 40 minutes and I still hadn’t spotted the museum, but—remind me to tell you my Yokohama stories sometime. And then the driver said, “Nasa La Union na yata tayo.”

“Stop!” Good thing I had the number of the B&V guard. I dialed him and he gave the driver instructions. (Apparently the landmark is “the widening.” As in the section of road on top of the mountain that is being widened.) We turned around, and I was in my room in 15 minutes.

As I was emptying the borrowed tote bag I realized that my iPod was missing. Yes, I still use the big iPods, I am a museum of iPods. Dammit, did I drop it on the street? It occurred to me to look up the number of Rumours online. They had found my iPod and had been looking for Abbie’s number to let her know.

So. I lost my wallet and got it back. I got lost and made it home safely. I lost my iPod and got it back. My amazing luck! Of course it’s easier to be lucky if you’re among nice people. I like Baguio.

Next: The Boot Camp.

Watch our new travel show The Flip Trip online!

February 25, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Television, Traveling No Comments →

Our travel show The Flip Trip premieres on TV in April, but you can already watch our short travel features on YouTube and our show’s Facebook page, and see the photos on Instagram (@thefliptripph). Follow us so you don’t miss anything.

Here’s Pepe introducing our show to adobo Magazine.

Ideas for features: Women flirt with Pepe, baklas hang out with Jessica.

Greetings from Yokohama

February 13, 2018 By: jessicazafra Category: Places, Traveling No Comments →

Our World Domination Project premieres at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre on Friday.

Between meetings, rehearsals, and watching the performances, I’ve been wandering around Yokohama.

Illustrated tiles suddenly appear on the sidewalks.

This friendly dog welcomes diners to a ramen restaurant.

Chinatown is lit up in preparation for the Chinese New Year. I went walking with Nicole and Krishna, whom I have enlisted as “translation assistants” for the show. Impossible not to buy something while roaming Chinatown. Sukiyaki-flavored Pringles. Moisturizing face masks that look like cats.

I miss my cats, so they will get the best presents.

The long stairway to the nearest cat (can make the wretched sigh)

December 05, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

According to my friend Rebecca, there is a large colony of cats living on the hillside around Sacre Coeur, and she sees some of them on the street every morning when the neighborhood cat lady feeds them. I didn’t see any of the hill cats. Whenever I missed my feline overlords at home, I had to climb the long stairway to the cafe with the resident cat extortionist, Me.