Pardon me for the late post. Sith happens.
Manila is not kind to her children. She subjects them to her mad hatter whims, to her changing seasons. If it were up to her, she would make night into day and day into night - a feat that can only be rivaled by call center agents and security guards on the graveyard shift. Street signs are useless - streets change their names every so often, abandoning the previous hero's name and assuming the mantle of a new one. Heroes are in abundance in this city - we celebrate the death of a woman who only wanted to make a living, a man who returned the wallet left in his taxicab. Honor is in short order. All we want to do is survive.
The mouse maze den of Manila smells of sewer, old footprints, yersterday's newspapers. There is no pattern or gridwork to follow, no landmark to remember. Landmarks are for the inept, the foreigner. A Manilenyo is aware that one must follow the tracks of the old calezas, the jeepneys lit by garish blue lights, riding the trunk of a car at midnight and trying desperately to sober up. Manila is not made up of chrome buildings and neat lines, little gabled cottages lining the highway. We revel in the zigzag edges of the corrugated tin roofs, the hodgepodge walls, a patchwork quilt of humanity. Manila's life borders on the comically insane - last night, in Tondo, a couple of men got into a fist fight over a dead woman's body. It was merely a day in the life.
Do not be fooled by the glitter of Manila, the romantic way the waves lap at the reclaimed stone walls of the baywalk. The flotsam on the surface of the sea is more than enough to remind you that people could not care less about the sunset or the clatter of the horse-drawn carriages that mingle unabashedly with the oncoming traffic. Even the streetlamps along the sidewalk do not make sense - great globes of light arranged in an alien manner, a freakish reminder that the past and the present jostle side by side, competing for the attention of the unwavering multitude. Even the stars are afraid to shine upon Manila. Only a few brave satellites would dare cast its silver light upon a city that was drawn with crooked lines.
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos