Endless bus rides

I  used to hate riding buses. But I have, though I do not know how to describe this feeling exactly, fallen for them and have accorded them much respect now. I take them every day to Bulacan, Cavite, Pampanga, to Batangas soon, and maybe Tarlac.

Their seats upholstered in faux leather, plastic, or sometimes shabby rubberized textile, provide me something the bed in my room has not given me for a long time — sleep.

seat2 (1)

 

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Convincing myself

I was already done with my class in Ateneo that afternoon. I hurriedly left the classroom but was ambushed by some students from that class for a quick consultation and questions about the scores I gave their papers. I quickly explained the reasons for the C pluses and the Bs or how to express their thought more clearly in writing. After that, I passed by the department to gather the books I left on my table that afternoon before I went to my class at 1:30. At exactly 4:00 after browsing the pages of a newly bought book by Neil Gaiman referred to me by one of my students, I prepared to go home. I crossed Leong Building, the road that opens to the third gate, and said hello to the old guard who always mistakes me for a delinquent student whenever I am in my torn pants or when I don’t wear my ID (I have never worn it, I probably have a phobia of being strangled to death by somebody with the lanyard of my ID card).

After struggling my way ascending that overpass that crosses Katipunan Ave, I found myself breathing heavily on the other side of the road waiting for jeeps from UP. I boarded a rusty Sarao-model jeepney, paid seven pesos, alighted at the terminal under the massive concrete flyover in the corner of Tandang Sora and Katipunan, and braced myself for two train rides home. It usually takes me an hour to reach the gloomy condominium complex I am staying in Mandaluyong. Although I think that the route I take every day is difficult as it is, relatively, this is normal for most residents of Manila; I’ve known of some who work in Quezon City but live as far as Las Pinas or Cavite. And I have nothing to complain about because I am living comfortably from what I am receiving every end of the month. What more can I ask from a job I really love doing? Calling it work is even inappropriate.

(Bitter smile.)

A romance with public toilets

My job this summer requires me to travel to different places every day. It means waking up before five in the morning if I have to go as far as Batangas or just before six if my destination is to the nearby province of Cavite or Quezon City. Although traveling to these places puts on me an unimaginable level of stress, the pay compensates for all the hassles so much so that I am willing to give up little comforts such as having extra hours of sleep, eating my breakfast of corned beef and sunny side-up eggs, and a nice time spent sitting on that ceramic throne while reading yesterday’s paper.

The first two I am willing to let go. But my affinity to the third morning habit in the list has become too strong that I felt evolution had hard-wired it to me with such exaggerated gusto that it is impossible for me to vary the routine.

http://relax.com.sg

I wake up every day with a hope that my body has finally coped with my changed schedule of two months, that it will rid itself of harmful waste bound to poison it, and that it will do this fifteen minutes after I wake up, but to no avail. I’ve already done everything my resources can allow like increasing my fiber intake, drinking lots of fluids, even meditation, but none seems to work.

So I leave for work downtrodden and distraught at the feeling that I have not been successful in taking full control of my own body. But what is more distressful is the idea that my body mocks me and plays with my vulnerability.

Right after the first gush of frigid blows from the bus air-con hit my skin, the world begins to take a different hue and a more sinister character. I automatically become a different man oblivious of anything but the odd feeling in my mid-section. Coupled with my rich imagination I conjure images in my mind that are too vulgar to be written here.

That evolutionary mechanism I’ve been hopelessly summoning an hour ago while in the bathroom makes its presence felt right when I need it the least.

Modern societies do not think of this bodily process an apt topic for writing much less for a meaningful conversation unless the involved parties are doctors of internal medicine or philosophers in search of the best analogy for life. In fact, in some cultures, this subject is taboo that members have to devise euphemism if only to cover up for the ‘unmentionable’, which explains the overuse of pronouns to take the place of this unwanted antecedent.

Because of the torturous feeling and indescribable angst, these moments of helplessness might have given the world’s most notorious terrorists and suicide bombers the most ingenious plans and ideas in materializing their plans to change the world in however they deemed appropriate when they were right in the middle of the endeavor. Any normal human being will think of the worst things about mankind in general if confronted with this dire situation.

As in all things, succumbing to the powerful pull of gravity can be the only way to go. With no choice left but to find the nearest encampment, I would pretend to be an innocent customer of a diner, eat my breakfast meal as fast as I can, and head to the safest place, my enclave.

There I passionately evacuate all my fears, hopes, aspiration, shame, pride, lust, (you may complete the list of the seven deadly sins here) down the sucking vortex of nothingness. There I feel that I am indeed a free individual who can do whatever he wants, uninhibited by any external force that will curtail his much valued liberty and pursuit of his personal happiness.

However the fragility of the supposed freedom disturbs me. The fact that I have to conduct my search in such clandestine a manner makes me question the fundamental grounds where this freedom rests.

If I look at defecation and public toilets in the perspective of romance, of love, then things are bound to change. Liberty is a shaky business, but romance isn’t.

I am beginning to love public toilets because they may not give me a clean welcome but they allow me to trust them.

Clandestine or not, they willingly open themselves to me. There is no challenge so big and so insurmountable that they cannot handle. Had I been a philosopher, it wouldn’t have taken me long to find the perfect analogy for existence, love, and life. I would have easily found this comparison in the whiteness and coldness of the porcelain seats in public toilets. They are perpetually forgiving  and do not keep grudges. They unconditionally forget the shortcomings done to them. And they love as unconditionally.

Helping the victims of typhoon Ondoy

Ondoy

When I awoke this afternoon there was no electricity, the rain was pounding outside, and it felt so good to have this rare feeling of coolness until I realized I am living on the 11th floor. Until I realized that those living in low-lying areas of Malabon, Navotas and areas in Cavite are drowned in hip-deep waters.

If you want to help, please go to this site:

http://helpondoyvictims.wordpress.com