I woke up early this morning in an unusually dark room, a bit suffocated because of a noticeable absence of any circulating air and drenched in sweat because the air-con had stopped working several hours earlier. While I was catching up on my precious sleep that night, the metro was ravaged by a signal number 2 tropical storm toppling down trees and electric posts which might explain the widespread blackout today that lasted for more than 24 hours.
That feeling of breathlessness preempted what to be one of the worst days I had in Manila. It started to drizzle when I left the building I am staying. When I neared the exit of the compound, cold winds began to blow as if the storm which I thought already came to pass regained ample vanity to show off. I waited for passing tricycles that will bring me to Crossing when the drizzle gathered enough strength to redefine itself and become a full-blown rainfall.
I thought I was lucky to have reached the train station dry when the news that the trains were down hit me. These often-jam packed trains now began telling me an important lesson: It’s hard to survive without them in Manila (i.e., if one is car-less, which I happen to be).
I had to devise a plan B, which meant going to Cubao by bus then from there take any possible mode of transportation to reach Assumption where I have a daily class that starts at 8:30. To make matters worse, all the buses going to Alabang were stuck somewhere south, which led to fewer than a single bus every fifteen minutes going north of Manila to pass by Shaw. And commuters had to compete with each other for available space on these few buses. I had to be a ‘little’ violent if only to maintain my right to personal space without totally turning my back on my humanity. I silently cursed the pushy bus conductor for herding in more commuters on the bus more than what it can carry.
I thought, holding on to that personal space is a frivolity I had to sadly let go.
When I reached Cubao, the storm, tired of the night-long rape, decided to give us a taste of a half-sunny sky. But electrical power had not resumed; the LRT, consequently, was not operational. I walked from Farmer’s Market to the dome, circled it several times to look for a taxi. For this, although the competition was not as tough as it was for buses, was as deadly. Elbowing, sneering, and occasional exchange of cusses and invectives to each other were a norm among competitive commuters who were as late for work as the one next to them. And I admit proper decorum was the least of my concerns in situations like this. I was sleepy, in need of breakfast, sweating, tired, and it was only 8 in the morning. I went ballistic.
I got a cab after some time of haggling and reached my destination a little shaken but definitely not stirred.
(To be continued…)