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After City Limits

One of the things I miss most about Manila is that the city just doesn't fall asleep. No matter where you go within the city, you're sure to find somebody awake. Never mind that the people who're up at say, three in the morning are more likely to do you harm than anything else, but the fact remains that for good or ill, you're never truly physically alone in Manila.

These thoughts ran through my head as I made my way out of the village I live in here in Cagayan de Oro. It was two-thirty in the morning (my day was pretty fucked up at the time, starting with the fact that I fell asleep at five in the morning the day before), and the entire bloody village was emptier than a cemetery. We don't keep night watchmen here, so when the local istambays go to bed, the only company you have are the mountaint's animal and insect occupants.

When you get to downtown Divisoria, the scenery changes from deep rural to semi-urbane. You see the requisite poor littering the sidewalks, the litter littering the sidewalks, and the odd establishments that stay open for twenty four hours. While nothing like Manila, the nighttime Divisoria is like a distant echo, sending caressing thoughts of companionship and danger running through your spine like the slight currents from a nearby Tesla coil.

I was withdrawing some money from the Landbank ATM in front of the cathedral, for example, when from the shadows, this really old woman appears from out of nowhere. She's your typical greasebag of a woman, with matted curly hair and a face like the hide of a carabao, parka that's probably been pissed on more times than the toilet bowl in my pad. She was also wearing an equally filthy duster, and was looking at me as if I were an apparition. Funny thing was, I ended up thinking that maybe she was the apparition.

The woman stayed there throughout the entire time I was finishing my transaction. When I was about to get my card from the slot, and put the bills into my wallet, however, she ambled over to my side - we were technically rubbing shoulders - and watched the screen intently. I looked at her, gave her my most winning smile and a nod after putting away my money, and walked away.

Later on, after a refreshingly heart-racing meal of three pieces of chicken and two cups of rice, I was walking to the only twenty-four hour convenience store in the area when a beat-up old Dodge Colt pulls over. The Colt actually would have looked pretty good - better than the one my family used to have - and was painted a bright yellow. The problem was, the car was pretty banged up (you could see the green foundation beneath the yellow coat), and the bumper was out in several spots.

Anyway. This guy pulls over beside me, and calls out to me via the Pinoy method of calling attention (SSSST!). At first, I didn't know if he was talking to me, but since the only other people within the vicinity were these two sidewalk vendors who were fast asleep, the only person he could have logically been calling out to was me.

So I acknowledge him, and raise a questioning eyebrow. Now, the fun thing about being a Pinoy is that establishing eye contact after the initial greeting is all part of the conversation. Without further ado, the guy asks me if I wanted a woman for the night.

Good lord. All I wanted was a meal, a tube of toothpaste, and a bottle of soda. In other words, I declined. Then he asks me if I wanted a man. That was the part where I walked away. The store was just another two blocks. And the clerk was rather pretty.

Cities. You've got to love them, since no matter what shit they throw at you, in the end, every minute you spend in them is an adventure.

Comments

  1. Reminds me of the "Special Girl" story I told the barkada. *shiver* Silly scary Thais.

    -Mike

    ReplyDelete
  2. aye haha. but i wouldn't have it any other way. cities are beautiful-dangerous biznitches.

    ReplyDelete

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