Travel by remote control

Published August 5, 2020, 7:07 AM

by Nestor Cuartero

JUST A THOUGHT: “The best education I have ever received was through travel.”Lisa Ling


TRAVEL PASS: If anything, this lockdown of more than 100 days thus far, and counting, has allowed me to travel the world.

I didn’t need a travel permit or health clearance and rapid testing to do so. All I had to do was select which country to view using the remote control.

By the way, just to digress a bit, did you know how difficult it is to travel from one point to the next in the age of quarantine with its multiple, modified titles?

I called up my barangay, where I was told I needed to get clearance. Fine.

Upon arrival, they tell me I should go to the health center, too, for medical certification. I am armed with my own medical certificate from my doctor, but they wouldn’t honor it.

Third and final step is a visit to the police station where I will be issued my coveted travel permit. I thought it was such a hassle, not to mention discomfort, to find myself in at least three crowded places—the barangay office, the health center and finally, the police station in busy Precinct 10— after I had locked down myself for more than 100 days in solitary confinement.

Take note that I am planning to visit my hometown Batangas only, and not some fancy place as Amanpulo.

The three-part community procedure is just the first layer in a complex whirl if one is planning to travel abroad. Little wonder the twin travel and tourism industries have suffered the most due to COVID-19, closing down companies and laying off workers.


TRAVEL BY REMOTE CONTROL: Anyway, I have discovered a whole new world without having to leave my immediate premises under the present circumstances. There’s Netflix which has issued me a travel pass to anywhere around the world. There’s also Amazon Prime.

I have decided that under this state of lockdown, I shall be visiting places I have never been to, or maybe places that I would like to visit again. I have narrowed down my viewing pleasure to films or programs produced from parts of the world I have always been curious about. Not mainstream, definitely not Hollywood, if I can help it.

Thus far, my passport is brimming with pride, stamped to the seams. Recently, I had been to Italy which came by way of the film “18 Regali (18 Gifts),” a touching family tale about a mother who prepared 18 gifts for her daughter prior to her death.

’18 Regali’

The gifts are to be handed over to her, one by one, every year on her birthday. The small Italian town where the story is set has nice, manicured lawns and houses that look like replicas of each other. Someday, I want to see them live.


OUT OF THE WAY SPAIN: Spain is full of humor, sunshine, and surprises in movies like “In Family I Trust,” “A Remarkable Tale,” “Ay Mi Madre!,” “A pesar de Todo” (Despite Everything).

‘Ay Mi Madre!’

These films showed me the other side of Spain outside of those postcard-pretty scenes in the major cities. How I wish now to visit that remote mountain town that served as backdrop of the film, “A Remarkable Tale,” the story of a town whose shrinking population is limited to a few senior citizens.

‘A Remarkable Tale’

The oldies devise ways and means, often funny, sometimes hysterical, to increase their number to preserve their town’s independence.

“Palmeras en la Nieve (Palm Trees in the Snow)” offers another remarkable trip from Spain to one of its colonies, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Africa), treating viewers to the beauty of the Dark Continent with acres and acres of cocoa plantations.

‘Palmeras en la Nieve’

“La Tranchera Infinita” is set in an old, tiny village in Andalusia, where the male character hides for 35 years at a secret basement of his father’s house for fear of assassination by government forces during the civil war in Spain.

Just as these films bring me to different places every night after dinner, at a time when I can’t travel, not even to my hometown Batangas, they also satisfy my interest in getting a glimpse of the lives of ordinary people set in different cultural backgrounds.

(More travels by remote control next issues).