From Bambang, the LRT station closest to San Lazaro Hospital, it took my train an hour to reach Buendia because of several delays–caused by the sheer number of passengers and the numerous halts due to technical problems.
The passengers were restless throughout the trip. But the Pinoys, a perpetually-patient bunch, endured the whole experience with their humor (a man blurting “maiiwan ang braso ko” when the train was about to close in on him in Doroteo Jose leading some to throw chuckles, a confirmation from those around him that his attempt at humor was successful), texting to death (a national past time that is as quintessentially Filipino as national amnesia), or conversing over the phone with an unseen dramatis persona about a variety of cringe-inducing topics, which, basing on how loud the exchange was, was meant to be overheard by everyone on the train for vain reasons. What these reasons were, exactly, were known only to the guilty extemporaneous speaker on a crowded commuter train.
At the United Nations Avenue station, more than half of the passengers alighted. Rumors, spread by an anonymous chatterbox, circulated on the train that those who just gotten off were the people chosen by God, “mga kaanib ng Iglesia”, according to one middle-aged man behind me. The blame for causing all the inconvenience was hurled to them. If it were not for their “national evangelical rally” (the exact words of the man in my back) this would have been another normal Tuesday commute. It was impossible for the passengers who just alighted to defend themselves.
On the opposite platform, a massive throng going to Caloocan was gaining number; the swell was acquiring malevolence. I wondered how it would feel dying from stampede.
Pedro Gil, Vito Cruz, finally Gil Puyat. I arrived in Buendia intact.
Ultimately, Manila is a city that defies any sense of order; the only rule she understands is the lack of rule. Her people are one of the hardiest, most abused peoples in the world, but complain they do not, not frequently. They get by cheerfully, quietly, or boisterously sometimes. Whoever survives Manila can consider himself unfortunate for fatefully being in the bowel of the worst living space imaginable but fortunate because he, nevertheless, escaped the bowel to tell the story.
What an impertinence, how can I forget the sunset?
Yes, seeing that sunset made me feel grateful I’m here in Manila. And very lucky.