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Main » Articles » Feature Articles

The Wheel of Fate
For almost the entire summer vacation I have heard numerous pleas from my classmates and friends: it’s our senior year; make the most out of every moment that comes in your way.

The annual educational tour has always been an object of anticipation for my schoolmates. Allowances are saved from the beginning of the year for use during the event. New clothes are bought; groceries are divested of their goods by students not wanting to go hungry during the anticipated excursion. Alternate itineraries and gimmicks are planned to be staged on the date. Every imaginable preparation is undertaken.

But due to the onslaught of two super-typhoons, the tour, which is set to launch the day before the annual semestral break (which is likewise cancelled), was postponed until December 3, 2009 – a date which took our school into the crowd of other excursionists from all over Luzon (from Tarlac to Antipolo), as the Philippines Travel Agencies Association anniversary is celebrated. For the most part, the postponement and initial news of total cancellation stagnated the excitement of the students. It was just on the day before the event itself that my schoolmates once again flocked to shopping havens for their usual hectic preparations.

Once on the educational tour itself, all but the barest essences of the word "educational” were overshadowed by that highly anticipated leg of the journey: the trip to Enchanted Kingdom, the country’s largest and most popular theme park in the Philippines. Housed in a 17-hectare (41 acres) land area, the park is home to some of the country’s most dynamic and adrenaline-pumping rides.

One thing I’d like to point out to my reader: I’m no chicken when it comes to head-spinning, stomach-turning rides. I have twice survived EK’s Space Shuttle and Anchors Away rides when I was 6 and 11. For two consecutive years, I, and a couple of other daredevil friends breezed through Star City’s best and worst coasters and thrill rides interlaced with walk-ins and arcade games – in the span of a little more than a couple of hours. I have had my share of dangers, too. Six years back, during a caterpillar ride, the steel cable connecting my car to the central engine snapped. I got out of the carnival cheerful and unharmed.

I had no qualms about seeking danger at all during the trip (which spanned feeding the crocodiles when no one was looking, during the earlier leg of the journey), in hopes that it would bring me my sought after satisfaction. But it was not during one of those adrenaline-pumpers that I finally found it. It was in the ultimate tranquility ride, and the acrophobic’s doom: the 250 ft. high Ferris wheel, the Wheel of Fate.

It may seem naïve, at first glance, that this ride moved me at all. The first reason I agreed to ride (after much debating) was for experience. It was not my first time in a Ferris wheel, though I admit I was a bit reluctant regarding the height and the seemingly insufficient skeletal structure. However, it also wasn’t the first time I will be met with such "danger’ – I have had my share of Ferris wheels with wobbly axles, making the experience feel more like an octopus ride than any other.

During the half-hour queue line, I had the opportunity to look back on the stories I’ve heard regarding the beauty of the scenery at the Wheel’s climax. The approaching night only amplified the jittering I felt in the pit of my stomach as the line slowly moved towards the ride. I felt all butterflies fly away as me and three friends finally boarded gondola number 14: the third of a string of coincidences that only helped to cement the experience we had during the day (and which I won’t delve into in this article).

The moment came and the gondola slowly moved up in synch with our soaring expectations. The slowly swinging cabin was wide open, leaving us free to enjoy the rising vista of the park. As the ride slowly took us to its pinnacle, I saw that nothing of what I’ve heard fully prepared me for what I saw with my very own eyes.

For once and for good, my mind took off from thoughts of adrenaline, and tuned to more peaceful rhythms. The night breeze, gushing forth from the distant seas, only served as an accessory to what our eyes saw: the velvet night of the sky and the surrounding plains, serving as backdrops for the stark contrast of glittering lights, both far and near. Even the beauty of these were not fully absorbed by our senses when a distant yet clearly distinguished shower of multi-colored sparks exploded in the sky – a fireworks display from somewhere not so distant.

It seemed a remarkable case of luck that we chose to ride the specific gondola at the time we did. How many lucky people had the chance to view a spectacular fireworks display atop a cabin hanging frozen 250 feet off the ground? The emotions were high and very near the point of joyful tears, that even my cell phone churned out a couple of tunes to suit my feelings and that of my three companions.

Looking up and down and sideways, I realized that the entire theme park that housed this amazing structure looked more like a Lego city against the reality of the night, on which we are slowly sailing. The rides which I saw earlier, even the classroom-sized sailing ship on which we rode on earlier, looked like nothing but indistinct contraptions, with their pleasing display of strings of lights, similar to those that adorn the park’s entrance and central part that looked majestic from the crest of our vantage point.

Looking up anew, I saw behind me a bright patch of shadows that marked the first rays of the rising moon. I thought I felt content, so tranquil was the environment I was in. Then I realized that in the wake of the butterflies I had earlier housed in the pit of my stomach, there blossomed an unexplained longing, as if the ride and the entire trip wrapped-up to nothing. I am very well aware that this ride will be the last one on our list, due to time constraints. This didn’t bother me at all: instead, what bothered me was that this ride, the beauty of the vista, the peace and enjoyment I am basking in now was done in selfish vain. After all, though my companions were some of my best friends for a long time running, I didn’t really have with me on the gondola the person I would like to share all this with…

As the ride slowly drew to a close, bringing us back from whence we came, I and my companions felt utterly thankful that we chose this ride. Even the long queue line was more than worth waiting for. And, as if as a salute or an answer to our mute requests for more, there exploded beneath the white patch of clouds I had described earlier another bright shower of sparks. The second fireworks display in a few minutes’ span! Perhaps it was not luck at all… Perhaps they didn’t call it the Wheel of Fate for nothing…

All throughout the return trip I was still mesmerized by what I had seen and experienced. As I looked up at the silver beacon of the full moon whose rays were constantly marred by the misty ocean of night clouds, and with occasional streetlamps burning dull purple after-images in my inattentive eyes, I thought I finally knew what my classmates meant when they pleaded to enjoy the Senior year "every chance we get”. I felt that I just did. It didn’t bother me that I didn’t get to enjoy it fully, empty was my heart as it was on the gondola. But I thought that there would always be another chance… another shot at the kaleidoscope of emotions I had earlier.

As the journey home finally ended, my train of thoughts peacefully came to a stop. Over the din of the alighting students, I heard someone distinctly say, "Gee, this is already our last tour…” And I said, more to myself than to those who can hear me, "Who says so? There would be another one… This won’t be the last.” I want to believe my words, and I meant to keep this as a promise. No, this won’t be the last… And on the next one, I intend to fulfill all my dreams and all the promises I made to myself aboard the gondola… Until then, the memory would stay with me, until a better one would take its place and stay in my mind while I live… that is, if Fate will have it, and I believe it will…

Category: Feature Articles | Added by: SciHi (2010-02-20) | Author: Charles Misthaven E
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