An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

08 January 2006

My street, myself

I live on the third floor of an apartment building that’s in A. Bonifacio Street in Makati but is just one house away from where A. Bonifacio meets Evangelista. I like it here. The streets are alive, well-lit, highly populated, and very noisy 24 hours a day, but when I’m at the third floor, all I ever hear is a gentle, steadily undulating drone, like a man snoring. I find this very comforting as I happen to be a woman who lives alone and who sleeps only five hours a night in a bed half-filled with books and papers. In Evangelista, there’s always a handful of jeepneys in line to take passengers to Libertad and Buendia, people are practically spilling over the sidewalk and into the streets, and an average of five empty taxicabs pass by every minute. Edsa is a two-minute walk away, along a road that glimmers with a 7-11, a 24-hour Mercury Drug, Video City, Yes Wash, Andok’s, Julie’s Bakeshop, Goldilocks, HBC, PNB, Reyes Haircutters, The Look Salon, Pizza Hut, Jollibee, McDonald’s, Chowking, and about ten different pawnshops and twenty cheap cafeterias, and four grills, plus a hundred eload stores and internet cafes and one bingo place with dingy yellow tables where people play alfresco. Add to that a Makati Police Station and a station of the Bureau of Fire Protection, and a hospital.

It’s a street that never sleeps. I sometimes go out at 2 am to buy myself some ice cream, a reward for having labored over a five thousand-word draft, and jeepney barkers still call out, “BuendiaLRTBuendiaLRTBuendiaLRT,” and people would get in, fully dressed and fully awake, bringing their plastic file folders and umbrellas, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to go to Buendia LRT at 2 am. But I am not one to judge. After all, I myself buy ice cream at 2 am.

I love my street. Here I can do my grocery shopping at 6 am with an unwashed face and not be judged. Here I can walk while wearing my last smelly pair of jeans before laundry day and not be physically thrown out of the ring of the civilized. I can also trip on a piece of garbage and fall down and not be helped, but, well, at least I won’t be laughed at. I enjoy the complete lack of judgment here. I even suspect that this total lack of judgment that my anonymity in Evangelista has caused is in turn causing me to be somewhat of a superwoman. Here I can exist on an eccentric diet of instant food, junk food, cereals, and lutong bahay and still stay standing after three days of non-stop writing-to-beat-a-deadline. Here I can also write a chapter a day in my apartment about Philippine politics in the late 70’s and still be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with one of my downstairs neighbors about the pros and cons of having laundromats do one’s laundry while we’re on our way to take out the trash. And here, I have learned how to mop my floors, although I haven’t done it lately, as my apartment is a mess and my mop seems to have been buried inextricably underneath all that mess.

Of course, I don’t do all these things in Naga City, where I used to live before I moved to Manila. And in Naga, it’s an entirely different story, and an entirely different me. There I have my son. There I do not do my own grocery shopping, and neither do I walk out of the house without at least my eyebrows properly penciled in. There laundry is done everyday by our very own laundress in a humongous heavy duty Whirlpool washing machine by the garage. There trash doesn’t just lie around in wait for people to trip. There my stomach also gains a totally new identity, always craving for real meals, and I won’t have to talk to any of my neighbors if I don’t feel up to it. Furthermore, hardly do I ever have to mop the floors. Of course, there I can’t write a chapter a day. And in that fact, perhaps, lies the point of reckoning. This is why my choice is to live alone in Evangelista.

When one has taken a particular profession to heart, it becomes not only a lifestyle, but a life. Everything else becomes secondary, mere fuel for that life. At that point in time when person and profession merge, everything else around them is inadvertedly and irreversibly configured to cater to the new life that it creates. Houses, apartments, streets, food, time, dreams, sleeping habits, thinking habits, even speech, all become slaves to a life that is limited to person and profession. The typewriter is a world. The writer’s apartment is a cosmos. And the street where the writer stays to write is the unfathomable beyond where everything is chaos, magic, and material. It is where I, who have become words on paper and on a computer screen, am as material as can be.



Blogger || manokchicken || said...

i have NEVER seen any piece about my beloved Evangelista that is SO perfectly described.


do you still live in evangelista?

7:12 PM  
Blogger Maryanne Moll said...

Still here. Thanks for dropping by! :)

9:06 PM  

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