It’s 4 am. I got thirsty. I stood up to get a glass of water. I then went to the bathroom. The water in the pail was about to spill. The faucet was not closed properly.
I stare at the clear water. I thought…how lucky am I that despite the pandemic and the lockdown for 2.5 months now, access to clean water was never an issue.
But how about the rest of Manila? How about the rest of the world? How about those who were already deprived in life even before all this chaos occurred?
More thoughts crossed my mind. In 20 or 30 years, how much would the world have changed? Can the underground fresh water be replenished at a rate faster that humans use it? Will kids in the future still get to enjoy the beautiful world I saw? And if, but hopefully not, a pandemic happened again, would we be more prepared? Would I still see clear water trickle from the faucet?
Those of us who are privileged, what selfish beings we are.
What does “business as usual” mean? Does that mean we should not be wasting time? Does not that mean we should be less demanding?
Depending on a person’s line of work, a day or two means life and death. For others it could mean a few days to breath and take some reprieve.
How can we tell people it should be “business as usual”? People are getting sick and dying left and right. Some are at the tip of their sanity thinking how to fend off for themselves, for their families, how to have access to hospitals, medicine, etc.
It’s funny I am talking about New Year when it’s almost mid-February already. The other day while humming to a tune, I went back to a conservation I had with a friend during New year’s eve. She asked me what I will be doing while waiting for 2020 to come. I told her I will just sleep, like what I always do. She then told me that by sleeping on a New Year’s Eve, I am missing a lot. But apart from the changing year, what is there really to miss?
I have always slept on New Year’s Eve for as long as I can remember. I am not really the type who waits for the midnight to come, review how my year went by and come up with resolutions. During the long Christmas-New Year vacation, I literally shut down as it is the only time I get legit rest from all the craziness in Manila and from work.
I patiently waited for the next bus that will take us back to Busan, South Korea. It a was cold night back in April. I was in Jinhae Bus Station, happy and contented after experiencing my first cherry blossom festival.
We were not the first persons in line so I thought my friend, Ate B, and I might not be seated together. True enough, when the bus arrived, the window seats got filled quickly. We ended seating across each other in aisle seats. I glanced at my seatmate and noted he was probably a European based on the language he was speaking while on a phone call. A few seconds after his call, he was sniffing and he took out a roll of tissue. I thought to myself he probably has colds due the weather.
Yesterday, after a very toxic day at work, I ran somewhere. I met up with a friend and we had a bowl of ramen for dinner. Because I was pretty much not myself anymore, I managed to spill a lot of sesame seeds in my ramen. Imagine what my tonkotsu ramen tasted like! It wasn’t very bad but it was definitely crunchy. Afterwards, we each bought a scoop of ice cream and walked around the streets talking about random things.
I told my friend, “This is possible, huh? Take a break in the middle of the week and let some steam out?”. She nodded and replied with a smile.
When people ask me these days what I fear the most, my answer would always be “to belatedly realize that I have already become part of the system I abhor”. In the Filipino language, it’s better known as “nilamon na ng sistema”.
It’s not only me who have this fear. After meeting with high school and college friends lately, I realized most of us have this fear or worry. Our common denominator is we are all in our late 20s or early 30s, struggling to climb our respective career ladders and general “in between” either in our respective communities and workplaces.
I sleep and sleep some more.
Because it’s not everyday I can sleep soundly.
I eat and eat some more.
Because it’s not everyday I can enjoy the food I love.
I stare at the skies and stare some more.
Because it’s not everyday I can appreciate a clear sky full of stars.
I laze and laze some more.
Because it’s not everyday I am not chasing time.
I play and play some more.
Because it’s not everyday I get to be a kid.
I live and live some more.
I got out of the van and looked at my wristwatch. It was 8 pm already. I had a very long week and today was no different. I also barely slept the previous night.
I can see the mall from where I stand. I crossed the street and debated on whether I should still eat dinner and buy some groceries. I was too tired to do both. I decided to just go home.
It was still quite a long walk…12 mins I think. On my way home, I thought about the things that need to be done for work. There are a lot. I cannot even fathom where to start and I cannot imagine if there is an endpoint.
My brother arrived in our apartment a few days ago exclaiming he is going home over the weekend. I asked him why he is going home again when he just visited a month ago. He replied, “Because I am suffering from homesickness lately.”
I often forget that my brother has only lived in Manila for 3 years. To date, he has lived most of his life in Bicol. On the other hand, I am more of stranger and occasional visitor in our family house, being away since I was 11. That’s almost 17 years.
I tried to recall what it feels to be homesick. Missing your pillow and beds at home? I don’t have those. I don’t even have a room and a cabinet in our house. The local neighborhood? I barely even know who lives in our street now.
Earlier, I had the same thoughts again while looking at the Christmas lights that decorate the trees on the way to my apartment. I said to myself, “It’s almost Christmas again. I can finally have a long vacation at home.”
Home will always be an interesting concept for people who have lived in so many places. What defines it? The physical structure, the people, the memories? As for me, home… is a place where my mom and siblings are, where I can enjoy my favorite dishes, and exist for a while without caring what the world demands from me.
I guess I am homesick after all and I am not even making any sense.
Every now and then
You stumble, you fall
To a point where you can’t stand up.
You cry, you bleed
To take the pain out.
You fear, you doubt
Because you can’t hope enough.
Yet you smile, you laugh
Because that’s when you are at your best.
You love, you give
Because you’re human,
You and me, we move in the same space.
The left is yours.
The right is mine.
An exact replica of each other.
You, 9 to 6. I, 9 to 6.
You look up to sky to count the hours until sunset.
I look down to count the hours until sunrise.
You, wondering how it is to be different.
I, trying to define what is normal.
You and me, we move in the same space.
But never at the same time.
Your style has gotten classier.
You don’t fret over sales.
You value quality over quantity.
You don’t say yes to every invitation.
You don’t bother to please everybody.
You laugh at yourself.
You shut up.
You don’t stress over every single thing.
You stand up for yourself.
You choose your friends.
You choose your battles.
You are confident.
You are wiser.
You just got older.
If people were waves
That come and go,
Can there be a constant
That tie them to their roots?
If you were a constant
Amidst a sea of people
How much effort do you require
To keep you from drifting away?
Written on an early morning while walking the streets of Paranaque.
I was in my hometown two weeks ago for the Holy Week break. It’s an annual practice—going home during Holy Week, All Soul’s Day and Christmas breaks. Apart for the reason these are only periods I get to spend time with my family, these are also the only periods I take long breaks from work.
A favorite habit of mine when I am at home is to sit in our terrace during sunset. Because it faces our gate and of the almost 1.5-meter elevation of our house above ground level, I get a good view of the setting sun, the road in front of our house, and railway that bisects the road.
During my recent stay, there was a day that I was suddenly overwhelmed by the utter calmness of my surroundings. There were hardly any cars passing by. Children were happily playing on the street. I could vividly hear the sound of chirping bird and insects, and even the sound of the blowing wind. It is a fact that in some places like my hometown, life can still be slow and uncomplicated. Yet, it still amazes me I am still able to experience how slow and uncomplicated life can be.
I frequent a massage shop called “Vibes” in a mall near my apartment. I usually go there twice a month to relieve myself from stress due to work and life, in general. One interesting aspect of Vibes is the massage therapists are blind. Unlike other regular customers though, I don’t favor a specific masseuse. I am fine with being assigned with the available masseuse because (1) I am generally impatient, and (2) it enables me to differentiate the massaging styles of the masseuses.
In the past three years of frequenting Vibes, I’ve observed a lot of things about their staff which often amazes me more than not. The massage therapists have very keen sense of touch and hearing. Even without saying a word and just by touching my back, they can tell if it’s me, if I lost or gained weight and if I am more stressed than usual. They also know my voice very well. They would say, “Oh! It’s Ma’am Melissa.” even if I just uttered, “Good evening”.
When they are in a light mood, some masseuse also share their interests. There is one instance when I had to wait for the masseuse for a while. When she arrived, she apologized profusely. She mentioned she was just replaying the episode of a drama she missed the previous night. I asked her how she replayed it. She replied she listened through the YouTube application in her smartphone. She further shared that sometimes she replays TV shows on her Acer laptop. I was simply dumbfounded.