Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Sky Cannonballs

The US has a state called Montana. It is good sized yet hidden, for it is off the beaten path, nudged up north against the border with Canada, lots of nothing to the East, and the rains and trees of the Pacific Northwest to the west. Rich Americans buy large properties in Montana to get away from it all. They ride horses and loll in Jacuzzis and laze on the porch, staring at the big sky whilst sipping their wine or beer or eating chocolate bon bons. They eat steak.

Cultural point of fact. Filipinos don't know steak.

The cows here are made of shoe leather, not the other way around.

Montana steak is thick, about an inch, sizzling brown and black on the outside, and tender pink and juicy on the inside. It is best straight from the barbeque where the scent of hickory chips imbeds to give the meat a heady outdoor tang that cannot be described. It can only be experienced.

And Montana is perfect for that.

Montana is called the "Big Sky State", for the grand blue cathedral ceiling that seems to arise way beyond the horizon in either direction. Billowing white clouds piled here and there provide the depth that arises to heaven itself.

So get my point. It is IMPRESSIVE.

But here's the deal.

The real deal.

Montana skies are boring compared to Philippine skies. They are flat. Uninspired. Just a swath of blue across a big empty patch.

When God gave out skies, He said I'll give the Philippines our best. Monet and Rembrandt and loony Van Gogh would stand agape if they could see Philippine skies.

First of all, God said "Let there be water under these skies, to echo the blues and grays above or glare blazing silver in the coming sunset." And he splashed down a green isle or two in the distance to cast a shade of mystery across the glimmering scene, the wonder of what is out there, way over there. Then He dumped His entire palette of pink and orange and red and yellow into the higher reaches where they flow like oils under, over and between the clouds with such vivid, neon brightness that sunsets bring entire cities to a standstill.

That is just His warm-up.

He said, "We'll do clouds like they have never been done before", caressing the cool mountains with damp ocean breezes heated under a blazing tropical sky. Baby, condensation never had a better playground. Tall cumulus rainclouds arch high above, like cathedral columns holding God's wrath and glory. Relentless spikes of lightning thunder down, shaking the buildings below and echoing down alleys of concrete like cannon balls off the fortress walls.

Trees bend sideways in a sky gone mad with wind and rain. Torrents of water gush from the heavens to wipe sin and sorrow from the hillsides in a thousand thankful prayers, "my God, I survived another one!"


  1. Filipinos don't know steak? Filipinos don't know a lot of things (Palawan and Boracay ain't that great folks if you've been around the world).

  2. LOL at the steak thing.
    Makes sense though that its called "Bistek", took me 10 years to learn why its called Bistek and another 5 to taste real steak.

  3. Hello again Anon. Most international resorts are a long way from Australia. In fact most everywhere is a long way. So a lot of Aussies getting away from the cold winter will go to Bali. It’s close, there are direct flights, it’s cheaper than Australian resorts and by all accounts it’s not bad apart from too many young Aussies bent on getting legless. Boracay is a longer trip: Sydney, Manila, Caticlan and finally pump-boat to Boracay. Now I haven’t been to Bali so I can’t compare. However I wish more Aussies would take the trouble to visit Boracay. It’s great - especially if you can afford a few dollars more to get nice accommodation further away from the noise - warm welcoming water and some of those beautiful skies Joe talks about in this post. We first went for just two nights, then three but next time a week at least, reading under the shade in the relative cool of the mornings and evenings and hiding from the midday heat for a siesta. It’s affordable, great food, friendly people and largely unknown here in Australia. A shame.

  4. Greg, I think the Philippine Department of Tourism misses the boat by trying to sell the entire Philippines as a destination, because the reality is not like the full color brochure. It's rather ratty and polluted and congested, in Manila. But there ARE jewels about, and those ought to be packaged as such.


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