Rant and rage

Most people my age who can’t really be called young neither can we be called old straddle that point when nothing much is going on, but so much is at stake that quitting isn’t really the best option there is. We have children, or pets, a stable relationship, a job that can be considered all right, and a circle of friends that gets wider but paradoxically narrower. People my age are afflicted with this feeling which escapes decent description. It’s boredom, a certain degree of emptiness, being rudderless. I simply have gone too inarticulate to express it in a language that is crisp and does not rely on cliche. I have to admit that not writing for a quite a while now makes my thoughts disorganized. I also don’t want to whine and rant here because I would sound like a thankless millennial who fails to recognize how despite the comfort I am able to afford myself of I still find it almost natural to complain about how bad life is treating me. But I also don’t want to sound like life is truly good. I am not depressed, nor am I the happiest in the world. I hope this is all just hormonal imbalance. 

I can go on with this, fill the whole screen with nonsense. And tire myself writing meandering musings, complain about work, wax vitriol about this country and how one is left with no option but to be indifferent and numb because being indifferent and numb is the most visceral response one can have amid all the killings and scandals hounding this country. I find solace in watching cat videos before I go to bed every night, in petting my three cats when at least one of them decided he wants to be petted, or in watching videos of the gaffes and stupidity committed by Trump. Schadenfreude. I find consolation in the fact that I don’t have the unfortunate hairdo, the propensity to drop daft statements, and the sadness of having to face all the ire and rage of the world alone.

I still am luckier. But I don’t want to be just lucky. I want to scream and be enraged and be part of a bigger narrative. Honestly, I don’t exactly know. There are days when I’m thankful that I’m one of those nameless faces on the MRT and nights when I think I deserve more than all these. 

Maximum exposure

As of writing this  post the video posted by ANC has already been clicked more than 2 million times. Alma Moreno has eclipsed the APEC meeting in Manila (a meeting that has only succeeded in alienating further the rest of the already excluded Filipinos in the discussion of things that should matter to their lives). The interview by Karen Davila on her morning show Headstart with Alma Moreno, however, seems to have captured the imagination of the exasperated mass. It has put in concrete terms what they have always known but refused to believe, that most of the politicians wanting to get their votes during elections are sham and extremely stupid, their (the politicians’) sense of the ridiculous has all but abandoned them. Alma Moreno thought being interviewed by Davila would not cost her much, her daftness laid out to the open would not matter as nobody watches Davila’s show for, one, it is on cable TV, two, it’s mostly in English, and three Davila sounds way too elitist. She was wrong. The video went viral and Moreno now can only pray the people will forget too easily.

Lunch discussions are occupied by how bludgeoned Moreno was, her vacuousness mercilessly exposed by the very incisive Davila.

Interviews like this are of utmost import. Journalists in this country should take a more aggressive and combative stance and dissect these politicians down to their tiniest parts to expose both their malignant diseases and healthy tissues so the public can make educated decisions come election time.

Looking at it from another perspective, though, we see Moreno as the unsophisticated. Her use of language (both English and Tagalog) as inarticulate like most showbiz personalities moving to politics because they’ve stopped receiving movie projects, their names, however, still with sufficient recall. She was groping for words, unclear, at times unable to comprehend questions in English. Her thought process was simplistic, her responses tired. Whereas Joseph Estrada is so adept at using this kind of language, his indecisiveness taken as wisdom (perhaps a result of his many years in office), Moreno does not have the experience and the acumen to utilize this kind of language to her advantage. She came across as juvenile, even idiotic. Or perhaps she really got nothing to say because she doesn’t know a thing about these issues someone running for the Senate should adequately debate about and argue for or against. Alma Moreno sounded like all of us. What makes her case different is that her stupidity was recorded and is now becoming viral. What makes her case different is that she is running for senate. What makes her case different is that she isn’t we.

 

Manila by afternoon

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.

Paths

Last Monday, I saw her again after eight long years, right in the middle of a morning train rush to work. My last glimpse of her, she was my seatmate in our fourth year, was during our high school graduation in 2003, crying, like all high school students do when it dawns on them that the road from this point on radically diverges and that they’re bound not to see each other ever again.

I was standing, holding the still-warm metal handrail when I heard a woman say my name, ‘Fev’, a couple of times. The timbre of the voice did not register. Nobody calls me Fev anymore except those people whom I spent with most of my childhood and teenage years. Seeing her after many years brought back memories of the better times  in the province. We were classmates in fifth grade when she, along with a handful of her classmates, were distributed among the 13 other sections in grade five after their class adviser died of cancer in the middle of the school year. They were from section 6. She performed really well in class, did even better in subjects like Filipino and Civics than my section 1 classmates. She silently made her way  and consistently maintained her good grades. She remained my classmate from then until our last year in high school. I learned from former classmates that she studied Fish Technology at Mindanao State University in General Santos City then moved to Laguna after graduation and eventually to Manila. We planned to meet once or twice when we began working but it never materialized.

I looked to her direction, she was seated between two old men. She seemed to have aged well beyond 25. I saw gray hairs peeking through her coarse crown. “Kamusta na ka, Fev?” It took me a while to recognize her. I simply blurted “Janice!” We did not talk as she hurriedly got off at Ortigas station. She was carrying a tote bag that dwarfed her small frame but this did not keep her from ambling confidently and joining the crowd scurrying out of the station, and getting lost in the plethora of strangers.

People indeed pass us by in a matter of seconds to say ‘hi’, or if we’re lucky, minutes, and for some of us who are not very fortunate, without us even realizing it. Our paths, though at some point may fortuitously converge, remind us that whatever we have now is ephemeral, that however we wanted to chat and catch up with a high school classmate we have not seen for almost a decade, we all must proceed with our own journey and just be hopeful that in the next train ride we can ‘stop and talk a while’, says a line in a famous commercial for coffee in the 90s.

Advertisement: K I S H sale

Once a year we go on sale and on the 28th till the 30th of January (3 days only) the whole K I S H store will go on sale. You will be surprised at the prices because all the furniture pieces will be 25% off and all the accessories/furnishings will go from 20% to 50%! We are not talking about old stocks here, most of the items are from the December collection. It is the best time to go and visit the store.

Tonight, I am writing again

I was beginning to feel uncomfortable during the past week I was not writing. In the last seven days I was absent here, I felt I was falling uncontrollably down the dark pit, scared of being unable to gather my thoughts, myself forever. And tonight, in the quiet of a small room I am sharing with a friend, amid the quiet humming of the air-conditioner and the unknown songs I am ripping from borrowed CDs, I am relishing the nice emotions brought about by having to write again my thoughts, convoluted and discombobulated as they usually are.

I am staying here in Manila for good, finally putting an end to my nomadic existence. Often times, it’s not enough for somebody to only have a strong resolve to make big decisions, in most cases, decisions are made with somebody. And I am happy to have made this decision thinking of somebody else other than myself. It’s easier to carry burdens when they’re shared; life is more exciting if all the bliss it has to offer are not kept to one’s self.

I am one immature twenty-something who professes to know what he wants and how to get them, but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t. Not even an inkling of what they are, much less how to get them.

We need to be brazenly frank sometimes

I believe it will do our soul some good if we spew every once in a while acrid remarks at daft people and on the nonsensical things they do, which and whom we often do not say anything about or to, probably because of callousness or sloth or both on our part, and, therefore by default, we tolerate and accept. Most of these we let go unscathed because we all fear of being retaliated with words that are illogical by all means but which we all fear nonetheless because the law of logic does not, sadly, apply in a third-world metropolis like Manila.

Like one time on the MRT, a man, and I swear to any supernatural being, intentionally pushed me. Naively, I asked “Nanunulak po ba kayo?” (Did you just push me?). His response, although I half-expected it, was, “Kung ayaw mong masagi, eh di mag-taxi ka!” (If you don’t want to be pushed around, do not take the train, take a cab!). Once this line of thinking is taken by people I am arguing with, I knew it was already useless pursuing my case, so I avoided his wrathful gaze, positioned my back on him, acted as if I did not hear his long and angry speech on the correct way of riding the train, and read a paperback I was holding that time.

I needed not look at his face because I know it was worse than maudlin. His eyes were red, watery, and bulging, like that of a dynamited fish, probably he just came out of his work tired and sleepy, but this fact didn’t bother me. I wanted nothing but to save my skin from him. The people in the train were looking at the man who was furious because somebody like me has the gall to complain about being rudely and maliciously pushed around inside a cramped train, and me who was futilely trying to camouflage myself and hide my shame.

I tried to dissipate the tension by feigning enlightenment while reading a book by Jose Saramago. But it seemed this even made him more furious. I felt like smacking his face with the paperback, but it was too soft for the job. When I alighted at Shaw station, as if his litany was not enough, he ran after me and asked me the quintessential Tagalog way of provoking a fight: “Ano’ng problema mo, pre?” (What’s you problem, man?)

I said, “Tinulak mo ako! Pu*ang ina mo… .” (You pushed me. You s*nofab*tch!).

Kidding. No, I did not have the audacity to say this.

I lacked time to gather my thoughts and to think of a clever reply in Tagalog, so I made do with my stuttering, “Kung di mo ako tinulak, eh di hindi!” (If you didn’t, then fine.). And I left.

http://www.c71123.com

Filipinos have this very odd way of defining public spaces. Public is equated to being lawless, a no-man’s land. I am not a sociologist, so I know I am only making intuitive assumptions here.

Just because a place is crowded does not give one an excuse to abandon whatever decency left in him and commence acting like an animal. Being a regular commuter of public transport in the metro, I witness on a daily basis this disregard for basic proper conduct of self in public places and conveyances by Manilenos.  However, what appalls me is the idea that I can do nothing, that I am only a transient bystander, that telling to their faces they are plain assholes is not my rightful duty. I guess, this same powerlessness is the same feeling most people in this country feel.

This afternoon, at the gym where I regularly sweat off after my work every five in the afternoon, this plump guy (I surmise using the word ‘plump’ to describe him is my way of making him a subject of my rather dry humor) either played really loud music on his mobile (whose earphones he might have left somewhere) or talked to his ‘clients’ over his other phone, or simultaneously doing these two irritating activities to the chagrin of everyone in the gym.

The blaring music I could tolerate, but his Rockefellerian or Ayala-ish tone of speaking loudly laced with a vague Southern Californian or Mid-Western accent while talking to his clients was something that aghasted me. I almost threw toward his direction a 45-pound plate. It was as if the entire of Accenture rests on this man’s chubby shoulders and adipose-ridden abdomen.

I did nothing but kept quiet the whole time and brazenfacedly gave him a peek of my bulging pectoral muscles and well-defined abs. And well, using the word ‘plump’ to describe him in this post.