Staring through the window, I see a view that feels uncomfortable to me. Usually, when I ride a bus, I see wide buildings and tall glass ones that seem to go on forever through the clouds, but here, I only see tiny houses and wide fields of grass and crops in every direction. By this thought, I can conclude that Manila is a very far place from Indang, Cavite, figuratively and literally.

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As for the bus, I usually ride a public one, but this bus is from Benilde. Written across the white paint that covers the wide vehicle is the college’s name, and for the first time, I really felt that I was truly a part of this college now.

The reason why I was in Indang is for a workshop and retreat, organized by my new family, the Benildean Yearbook Office. For weeks, I had been longing for this event, because I’ll get to know people better and I’ll get to know more things about writing for a yearbook and effectively making one.

As the bus finally stopped to park beside the road, I knew this was it, also because of the fact that there was a sign that said, “Balay Indang.” This is where we’ll be staying for two days and one night.

The third unusual thing that I noticed was that Balay Indang is located in the center of an endless field with only one road connecting it to the main city plaza. As I entered the place, I noticed that there are a lot of trees with different ornaments hanging from them, flowers that are so diverse and abundant, and houses that are so beautiful that they give you a countryside vibe, because they are mostly huts, made of bamboo, pine, etc.

From the entrance, we walked under a canopy of vines and flowers. It was purely stunning as the vines crawled all around us and the sunlight shined through the canopy in a minimal manner that left a constellation of light rays on the soil ground. The long walk under the canopy led to the main house.

The main house, the Balay, was unexpected and the fourth unusual thing for me. As we walked toward the steps that led to the house, I knew that the inside will be much more grand, since the porch outside is so colorful with glass windows of every color of the rainbow, jewels hanging from the ceiling, furniture that are exotic in look, and carpets that are of different culture. And it turns out, I was right. The inside was unusual, in a very grand, culturally diverse, and good way. To sum it up, it was really cool.

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There were pictures everywhere, delicate and precious things such as the little pirate ship and the mini table for tea, old stuff such as the piano and vases, and anything out of the ordinary you could think of!

Before we—oh, let me tell you about the food! The food was an edible heaven. Imagine this: you’ll sit on a chair in front of a table that kind of throws you back to the Spanish times, and when you look up there are mirrors that look like they have been taken from you’re old grandmother’s antique house, glass chandeliers and glass icicles, and creepy yet spectacular tribal and festive masks. You’ll be served food of about five different kinds and it is unlimited. Literally, because if you’re finished with your first, you can serve yourself another and have it refilled again and again… but only until the time for eating is up. They are very strict with this, if you don’t show up for lunch until past one in the afternoon, you can’t eat anymore. (But I don’t know, this I’ve only heard of but never experienced because I am very responsible with my eating, especially if it’s deliciosa mucho.)

Before we went to our houses where we’ll be sleeping, we went to a huge room with about twenty chandeliers and glass windows, called Elizabeth Hall, where our workshops were held. All the places here are named after people and books from the Bible.

The workshops were circulating around the embodiment of a yearbook and its purpose and importance. We were enlightened on the subject of taking more than just a graduation picture and coherently projecting the theme of the yearbook with the graduates’ creative shots. The second part was about the layout of the yearbook and the different styles that we, as a creative team, can try for our next yearbooks.

The two workshops ended when the sun was about to set, and we were given free time to wander around the woods of Balay Indang and to go to our houses. Our assigned room was Luke.

Luke is located inside a big house beside a fountain and the Balay. Inside is a long staircase that goes downward, leading to our room. While walking down, I can see my reflection along the wall filled with antique and creepy mirrors. Our room has three beds. Two of them are on the ground floor and the third one, which I took, along with a friend, is on the second floor, which is like a balcony or porch, and in order to get there, you need to climb a steep and narrow staircase.

Outside, my friends and I walked around the different paths veining the forests. The dusk made the leaves on the trees pop up with a shade of light green and sunset orange. The feeling was magical, walking around the forest with the lamp posts turned on, beaming an orange glow.

For a while, I was amazed, but I thought to myself that this will be the only dusk that I will ever get to see here in Indang, for now.

In the night, the yearbook team had games and contests. I got to bond with the creative people that make up the team, and for that I am eternally grateful.

P.S. Some of the photos were corrupted, so I had to improvise.

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