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Goodbye Manila April 11, 2010

Goodbye Manila

Same Time Last Year
It's been almost to the day when I arrived in Manila in April 2009 after deciding to leave Sagada for good. Now, the cycle repeats itself. I stayed as long as I could in Manila. There really was no resonance despite best efforts. Most of my friends live here and this is where the party is happening. But Manila has proven too difficult for its worth. Unlike Sagada where I was always with the flow, Manila was characterized by struggle, exercise in tolerance, anger, and difficulty. It's amazing how I stayed as long as I did.

Air Pollution
I couldn't leave the house without a face mask...air was filthy...people covered their noses....but nobody cried foul. My white mask would be gray within 2 days. I certainly wouldn't want that in my lungs. While most people wouldn't show symptoms caused by dirty air, it doesn't mean they're immune. With my allergic reaction, I liken myself to the canary inside the coal mine.

Increased Crime Rate
I haven't been mugged yet, but a good number of friends, and friends of friends have been traumatized by crime against property and humanity. A close friend was beaten up for her laptop, a friend of a friend lies comatose with a bullet inside her brain over a laptop mugging again. Another friend of a friend was dragged by a mugger on tricycle over her purse. Another friend was raped. Nobody went to jail. People expressed sympathy and went about their lives, resigned to the hardship of city life.

Noise Pollution
Noise has a certain floor level. It never goes lower than that...the incessant barking of a dog, the slamming of a neighbor's gate at 2 a.m., the 24/7 roar of a tricycle, construction work as early as 6 a.m, the neighborhood karaoke, loud neighbors, etc. I have to put on my construction ear muff before I go to sleep, when I meditate and when I simply want to have a quiet moment.

Raw Nerves
People are, not surprisingly, edgy. What they think they can get away with, they'll try. So many street kids begging. Some get aggressive. People made to settle for scraps thrown their way...and they don't even know what's hitting them. I've pleaded, asked, some repeatedly...not to slam the gate in the wee hours, not to use the common walkway as their personal storage, to be mindful of their barking dogs, to shut someone's engine because his exhaust pipe was pointed to our eating table, etc.

Most are surprised I'm calling their attention to it...even though they know perfectly clear what they're doing fringes on other's space and sanity. But simply because no one has complained before, they take that as OK. And that brings me to wonder. Filipinos regard their tolerance (mapagpasensiya) as a virtue. I find that modesty utterly misplaced. Because of culture and tradition, no one wants to confront - thus the tolerance. But that's far from OK. It's a stress that a simmering volcano. Without warning, when the scales are tipped, an eruption happens. That's when shit really hits the fan. And people familiar with this culture know in no uncertain terms what I'm talking about.

Ending Thoughts
Manila's pressure, heat, pollution, crime rate, congestion, high cost of living...all that build a carapace-veneer on people...causing them to be insensitive to those around look out only for their interest. I find that tragic as we are all connected. Everyone's actions ripple through society and we are all affected. I sound like talking from a pulpit here....for all I care, I may be a pot calling the kettle black. I hope not as I try to be mindful of how my actions impact on others around me (I try).

Frankly, I'm a little tired already. It's like fighting city hall. I'm not throwing my weight for any kind of special privilege...just asking folks nicely. In fact, very nicely. That doesn't seem to work.

On a different perspective, my year's stay in Manila had a purpose (in hindsight). And that purpose, to my limited understanding, has already been served...mainly coming to terms with my anger...through forgiveness...through Vipassana.

It's now time to move on again. With my backpack and the open road, I head south and see what the future holds.

--- TheLoneRider

Metro Manila Blogs by TheLoneRider

Reader Comments:

(May 22, 2010) Hello Lonerider! Nice blog, I just accidentally surfed into your site while looking for places to ride my bike to and read your story about leaving Manila. So true! Reminded me again of why I don't like the city and how things were when adventures were just adventures for me. Now, I'm beginning to ask myself again if I'm actually better off because I've turned my adventures into how I make a living. My friends seem to think I'm lucky, but I know the difference and your story about leaving the city reminded to get back out onto the open road before its too late. Thanks!

Julius Salazar
(Apr 14, 2010) good bye is just a word...later is looking forward, just don't look back in anger, after all life is beautiful! cheers and move on dude

(Apr 14, 2010) good wind on your journey!

(Apr 14, 2010) Dumaguete nga ba? My wife and I have friends there, if you need help/company while you're settling in. Ayus yan. Actually, Dumaguete is one of the places I would choose if I had to live outside Metro Manila."

(Apr 14, 2010) hey di natuloy tuloy dinner natin and now you're off again. :) bye, may the force be with you!

Rose Santos
(Apr 14, 2010) after Sagada!!....Dumaguete!! visit kaya ulit kami dun. like wat we did sa hauz mo in Sagada hehe

(Apr 14, 2010) Nice! come visit here. I'll take you kayaking!

(Apr 14, 2010) Awww, di na natuloy lunch natin sa Maginhawa :( Godspeed, you're lucky you can escape from the riffraff of the city. Hope to see you again soon! :)

(Apr 14, 2010) why? where you going?

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