Be proud of your heritage.
Back from a wonderful long weekend.
Have a great week ahead, everyone!
A typical Saturday morning in a popular restaurant chain in Makati: to my front, left, and right, a group of friends - one group seems to be having their regular breakfast meet up, while the other two seem to be coming from a sleepless night of partying. Diagonally to my left, a pair of Caucasian females, talking over coffee and pancakes. At nine on a weekend morning, the place is curiously alive with stories and sleepy remembrances of a fun night. I sip my milkshake - the perfect breakfast for a morning to be spent alone. This is the first time I’ve done this here - go out by myself to find my own spot - and I must say that I am liking it so far.
Earlier on the train, a family of four was struggling to stay on their feet while the train was moving. I gave up my seat to the mother and her infant, and the father stood right in front of them, groping for something to hold on to as the train busied itself with its stops, and a young girl about the age of seven or eight had her arms wrapped around her dad’s waist, looking like she’s holding on for dear life. They were clearly not regular train riders, and they were doing their very best not to stumble and fall on the other passengers. Another stop, and the infant’s milk bottle falls to the train floor, and the family laughs. Their family is together, on an ordinary Saturday morning, and they couldn’t ask for anything more. I smile with them, as the father picks up the bottle and the mother looks up at me with a simple joy in her eyes.
And then suddenly, back to breakfast, from my diagonal left, a little head emerges, stares at me, and as soon as I meet his gaze, he pops his head back in to hiding. I indulge the little blond boy in his game of peekaboo. He must be bored out of his mind, as his mother’s friend laughs quite hysterically across him. The exchange of innocent heartfelt smiles with the little boy makes my breakfast a lot more satisfying.
My Red Boots, Manila
I left the house wearing my trusty but not so baha-friendly sandals. Thankfully, my orange bus did not break down and survived the waist-high flood along España. Yes, waist-high. I told the passenger beside me, “Kailangan na ng bangka dito.” [“We need boats!”] I remembered my eldest brother’s life-changing story of walking from Taft to Muntinlupa in the same conditions.
I got to Manila and managed to get on a sidewalk without having to wade through murky water or cross a narrow plank. C and I had dinner, walked around, and, thinking about the flood awaiting me on my commute home, he bought me these red boots. These lovely, amazing, wonderful red boots.
I actually had fun walking around and through the Manila baha. I wondered why people who have probably experienced this baha a hundred times before haven’t invested in a pair of boots. I think P300 is well worth not risking some serious infection from having your feet swim in that flood water. And I don’t think it’s because people can’t afford it - I got mine in a department store, I’m sure you can get a pair from Divisoria for P100. It’s just a couple of cell phone loads worth. Oh well.
Tonight was tough in terms of commuting. Can’t say I didn’t learn a thing or two. Goodnight!
I think I met over a hundred people today, or at least it feels like it. I’m not complaining though since they all seem to be genuinely nice/interesting/funny/fascinating folks. Took the MRT home, and in the middle of the human sardine can setting, I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad. This isn’t bad at all.” And it’s the truth, it gets all squishy and extremely close for comfort in there, but to get from point A to point B in less than an hour, for only 14 Pesos, what else can you ask for? Aside from these reasons though, I think having a positive attitude towards the hustle and bustle of Philippine cities helps a lot. I’m not saying everyone here should put on a happy face all the time and pretend everything’s in tip top shape, no, definitely not. What I’m saying and happily reminding myself everyday is that the squishing is a temporary matter, and there are much bigger things towards which we can all direct our energy. The elections in 2010, for example (which, honestly, I haven’t been paying attention to lately because of work stuff, but I will hopefully get a rhythm soon and begin to incorporate personal interests into my routine). Going back to and summarizing my point: don’t stress over the hassle of commuting, because traffic jams, crowded trains, and potholes simply exist (for now at least). Unless you’re constructively passionate about public transportation, in which case I encourage you to get pissed and do something about it, unless you’re this type of person, I think it would really help if you just figure out the most comfortable route for your trip, accept whatever the situation in that route is, and know that whatever happens, you will reach your destination. With a much more forgiving outlook, you’ll reach your destination less tired and less stressed. A lot of times, a lot of things are really just a matter of perspective. (Of course you have to do your part and make your schedule work so that you won’t be squished - to bits and pieces - during super rush hour!)
I, for one, am very excited for the MRT/LRT stretch to Monumento to be done by December! Good night!
Blue Shirt, Bus from Quiapo to City Hall
Star Wars Kids, Quiapo, Manila
Sign Maker, Quezon City
I am learning, day by day, that there is some structure to this urban chaos.
No photo yet, but there will be one soon.
I am back! And I have officially adjusted to GMT +8. I’ve taken a bus, gone on the MRT, and hailed a cab from the South to the North. Despite the monsoon rain, I haven’t been stuck in traffic, although SLEX (South Luzon Express Way) is undergoing major construction for an extended Skyway. There are two cases of N1H1 virus at De La Salle University - Taft, classes are suspended until June 14th. Exchange rate is about 47 pesos to a dollar. Spices for cooking are so much cheaper here: a dollar or two per bottle! Skin whitening products are still on billboards, print ads, and tv commercials. (Upper Middle Class - Upper Class) Kids are forgetting to speak in their mother tongue.
What do you want to know about (living in) the Philippines?
Providing you with a Five Peso Breakfast, Watercolor on Arches, 11” x 11”
Being here in the Philippines has put my juggling skills to good use. I just finished an online course on grantseeking this morning, did some grants research, and in just a bit, I’ll be revisiting my self-portrait. After that, I’ll be editing some documents for another foundation.
November is a day and a half away.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage." -Anais Nin
Morning Commute, Muntinlupa, October 2008
It’s hard to dream in a place where reality is so tangible, trickling past your brow as you maneuver through life’s twists and turns. On my morning commute today, I was thinking how possibilities are rare here, or are mightily out of reach unless you - or your parents - can afford it. It seems that in everyone’s mind, possibilities are endemic to anywhere but here, thus the call of ‘greener’ pastures abroad. Filipinos are quick to catch and follow American trends, but I suppose the concept of the American dream is not easily translated to Filipino. But perhaps that is the very mentality (that dreams need to be bought) that is slowing us all down. Perhaps.
Realized today that non-airconditioned buses are the way to go when travelling between six and eight in the morning. It’s always a task to adjust the little circular tubes so the cold air doesn’t hit/freeze my head, and at the same time being careful that I don’t redirect it to a fellow passenger. Non-airconditioned buses are cheap and generally less crowded; and between those hours in the morning, pollution isn’t that bad yet. The whole trip reminds me of driving through the 580, windows down.
"All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence