The sun was just about to rise that day but my blood pressure was already shooting up that early. I know, I know, I already told myself not to fear for what’s ahead, but what I can do? I couldn’t stop myself from fidgeting. I looked down as the plane hovered upon the metro. I never turned away from the window until we ascended higher and the concrete was finally out of sight. Will I long for Manila? The possibility of missing it terribly distressed me. (Ew, now that I think about it).
We landed, I got my luggage, and I was welcomed by my siblings, cousin, and Papa who was all smiles, carrying a few bags with around 12 bottles of wine from Duty Free. Yep, me finally giving up and going home was something he had always wanted to celebrate. My Papa got what he wanted!
We bypassed downtown Iloilo and got home at half past two. Eeeep. Not once did I think about Manila. Nope. Nada. Almost a month has passed and I never really thought about going back.
(Sorry for the very long intro. I got carried away LOL) Here’s why:
Where do I start?
Traffic in Manila is horrendous, appalling, and disgusting. It can cause one to lose his job, his money, or the love of his life. Payday Fridays, rallies, concerts, and rainy days only make it worse. A minor vehicle accident up north can significantly change the flow of traffic in the south. No one will ever miss traversing EDSA or any major road in Manila whether he is commuting, driving, or just sitting on the front seat. If they do, they just probably miss complaining about it. And this leads to
2. Time Pressure
When you sleep at 12 am and get up at 7 am in Iloilo, you still get 17 productive hours. Take 8 hours for work and you have time for family, hobbies, social media, and whatnot. Now, consider the horrible traffic in Manila. Sometimes, it seemed like I only had 15 hours a day to do everything including taking a shower and eating. I was always running out of time. It didn’t take long before I got used to such a fast-paced routine, but as I see it, it sucks the life and happy hormones out of people.
3. Rainy Days
Because you start it back at one. Heavy traffic + wet shoes + wet hair + broken umbrella + speeding buses + floods + detours + work = immortal, invincible, underpaid robot. Tip: Invest on good boots for the rainy days. Have a little extra? A surfboard or jetski go a long way.
I’m generally cautious, but in Manila, you have to be extra careful. It’s where being apprehensive to everyone including innocent-looking street children, elderly people with eyes in advanced cataract stages, or men in suits is acceptable. Crimes happen anywhere in the Philippines, but it pays to be particularly vigilant in the country’s capital. You simply can’t trust anyone except yourself when you’re on the road. If you want some proof, click here and here.
5. Skyscrapers and city lights
If not for the people, the memories, and the hundreds of miles I’ve walked on their sidewalks, I’d never miss Las Piñas, Alabang, and Makati. I missed the blood moon several times last year. We climbed up the rooftop of a 32-storey building and once I also ran to an open space hoping to get a glimpse of it. Thanks to Manila’s air quality and skyscrapers, I will have to wait until it decides to happen again.
can’t compare to the grass, beaches, fresh air, quiet sky, and halcyon starry skies of what the Tagalogs call the province. Don’t get me wrong. I adore the big cities, but I just don’t love it as much as home.
6. Close-minded people
For quite a number of people who were born and raised in Manila, everything outside the metro is mediocre, boring, and still primitive. I know it was meant to be a joke, but I have talked to someone who said that Ilonggos still ride in calesas and connect to the Internet through dial-up. Those full-blooded Tagalogs are probably the most judgmental and discriminating people I’ve ever met, even worse than foreigners. It’s funny how the fast pace made them forget the value of family and the importance of empathy. It looks like the so-called survival of the fittest didn’t make them independent, but narcissistic and self-absorbed instead. It makes me laugh because those people are usually the ones who never had the chance to get out of Manila. Maybe they need to see the world to realize that their minds are as narrow and shallow as their experiences. Hep, hep. Before you react, remember that this doesn’t hold true for all because those who have a tinge of probinsiya blood in them understand.
Maybe someday, I’d find myself wandering around the concrete jungle again, but for now, I am only grateful that my home is not in the metro. Nevertheless, I’m still appreciative of all the big city has taught me. As I was by my lonesome most of the time, I became more reflective of the circumstances around me. It has even led me to think of the lives and the problems of the hundreds of faces I see every day at the train stations. I sit and stand beside and walk abreast with strangers that I would probably never see again in my whole lifetime. The vastness of everything overwhelms me, but it reminds me to be more empathetic.
And humble. Because I haven’t seen and experienced enough. I am not half as dignified as the people I have come across with. I haven’t reached the degree of independence I targeted right after I made the decision to stand on my own. It’s a blow to my ego, but yes, I’ve accepted the fact that I still need help. And boy, I will ever be thankful that I have all that I need within my reach. Bad Decisions Wednesdays served me right. Kidding.
The diversity made me more aware of my own identity. It taught me that there are hundreds of norms and I can create my own. I became unapologetic of who I really am including the fact that I’m one of the few women who prefer cubs over kittens. I cared less about what people think of me and cared more about how I can express myself better be it through my silly dance moves, defiance, sarcastic, frank, and daring remarks, shameless plugs, seasoned punchlines, and even through my complex principle on optimism and pessimism. Jinx.
Darn. I am a hypocrite. I feel bad for giving this entry such a terrible title. Because when I look at the bigger picture, all of these contribute to my whole experience. Through them all, with calmness in my heart, and a BP of 100/70, I can laugh and say, “Ha. I miss you, Manila. Not terribly, but yeah, all right, I do.”