Done just about anything up my sleeve. Did just about anything I possibly could. Went everywhere from North to South. For almost 25 years of my life, my home stayed nowhere outside Manila. Rich, poor, and the middle class, there is no experience I have not trodden.
I grew tired of the spots on my maps and some have been slowly erased from my memory. Manila has become bland, boring, and lonely for me. My creativity has started sleeping as much as Manila starts to grey in my eyes. I’m done with it.
To all readers out there, have you ever felt the blandness overwhelming your place? Does your mind ever wonder about what could be outside of your usual? Are you eyes wanting to wander off from the grey pastures of everyday? If you answered, yes, then we both are experiencing this strife.
Manila. How do I begin to describe you? You were once this magnificent place of urban chaos, stunning me with historical landmarks and hidden gems. You have much offered in my Manila tours where I wandered street by street inside century-old walls and red lantern districts. I’ve learned all I needed to make living here easy; from suitable times of travel, best places for best deals, and my secret hangouts. Sadly, you’ve not gone smoothly through and through. For, in fact, I saw you face-to-face for what you are. I kept my good words, but I reached the limit.
On one simple day, within 24 hours, one person starts his day squeezing into the train or on a bus trying his calmest to get to work. Scents of sweat and piercing heat in the usual train. Once at work, successive calls for the typical call center agent with more than enough pressure from agitated western callers, problematizing about simple on/off buttons.
Meanwhile, fast food workers try their best keeping their smiles to the ongoing waves of customers. Some occasional nice customers, but more than enough rude Filipinos complaining or being entitled about gravy or something.
Then, there are these Asian employers acting like their workers are mere numbers, putting them under the spotlights with a list of their mistakes, pinching every last of their dignity and paychecks for each wrongdoing.
As they all go their way to their homes, workers experience the usual wave of people cramming inside the trains and buses. With an unlikely surprise of a storm, there’s more than the flood of people, but the actual water rising. The workers are now stranded. Restless, they try to manage their limited time and energy until the polluted floods somehow clear up. As hard as they’ve gone, they wake up to a non-suspended Tuesday.
As strong I’ve become for surviving Manila’s harsh environment, or no matter my own segue ways to ease the existing burdens, I can’t take my stay here anymore. Life here sickens me and does not cater to me as it usually was. No matter how much I work harder or how much I follow my clever ways, I feel little to no progress at all. There’s a definite problem with how this place and its people have been raised, and I’m not planning to wait generations to see it improve.
I’m tired of seeing road constructions that take months to finish, taking an hour or two just to see my friends, hearing entitled drivers complain about the causes of traffic, people throwing garbage and spitting everywhere, mounds of garbage bags randomly scattered, rancid scents from alleys and sidewalks, lack of travel means and crowded terminals during summer, sexist and closed-minded people, vendors taking up spaces on the sides of the roads, overpricing taxi drivers, people dwelling on minor issues on social media, those who fool and take advantage of foreigners, everything being expensive, and so much more.
I could go on, but I only wish to see the better. I always see the open window across borders. The beauty of some places with cheap travel options, those cities that focus on cleanliness, open-minded and non-entitled people, countries prioritizing happiness of their people, possibly places where I meet people more like I, and yeah… everything great.
I apologize for my blabbermouth. As I said, however, this will be part of my past, and I’ll reach my definite goodbye. If only I didn’t have ties that bind, I could have left already. It has been 5 years! But this is off-topic. To any reader out there, I hope you’re able to fulfill your wildest dreams out in the world. Never say you can’t. You could fly at your own pace. If you ever have feelings like this you want to share, I’ll be happy to empathize. Dream high.