Friday, September 16, 2016

The Manila Experience

I am seated right now (02 February 2015,  7:30 A.M.) in a cozy sofa where I slept last night, here at the condo of my former student John Joseph Sangutan or we simply call him Otep.

I’m overlooking an urban scenery outside; tall buildings rising side by side with almost no trees in between them. Manila is so polluted that the concrete walls are stained by smog. LRT train just passed by and it feels like you’re really in a big city. Big Metropolis it is, but Manila has different faces: from sleek, modern, and impressive buildings at the business district of Bonifacio Global City to the to the disturbing mega slums in almost vacant (not properly owned) lots. From brilliant, sophisticated and very rich people at Forbes Park to the abandoned homeless children roaming around in almost all streets of Manila. All these contradicting sights live side by side to the extremes here in this monstrous city.

Nevertheless, it is still a very exciting and totally upbeat metro. I just hope that a century from now or even lesser than that, we can minimize this huge gap between the ways of living of the people here.

Well, that is just an introduction to my awesome experience here for the past two days. Though I have been here for so many times, yet there is always new, exciting and fun experience I have here. A couple of nights ago, I caught myself in the middle of the crowd at the Sunken Garden of UP Diliman. Peter and I just dropped by there to see my former students who were partying at the UP Fair. It was so nice to see all of them again. The beat of the live band plus the smoking food around, I missed college days that night. And just last night, we strolled around BGC and it feels like you’re in a shopping district in LA, or in Singapore where the streets are so clean, green and very refreshing. We dined at SM Aura, and yeah, it was OK.

Then unexpectedly, a gathering of Davao Christian Alumni who are studying here in Manila just happened in one call at Otep’s place.  They were wondering “Sir, bakit hindi ka nagsabi na magpunta ka dito?” While it’s a bit weird, it’s heartwarming on the other hand. We’re so happy seeing each other. It feels like an invisible force which attracts metals and magnets, the connection was unspoken. They never interact that much back in DCHS but when they arrived in the condo, they immediately feel at home without even recognizing who is the owner or who are the people around. And the conversations started and it was a sight to behold.

And we played the game of Mao. It is one of the best card games I’ve ever played. You don’t know the rules and you have to figure it out along the way. It is exciting because you have to be attentive and you need to analyze the rules of the game. We were all awaken by its intriguing rules. So many brilliant people in the room and all had a great time playing. Though we all figured it out, Peter won the first game and we’re like “uuggghhhh…” And we decided to have second round. This time the players were more cautious. I already had three Mao’s where only one card was left,.. almost there… but the luck was not on me.

The pizza just arrived and the aroma was so tempting but yet we waited until the game would be over and not long enough, Migs won. And that means it’s time to have pizza party.

What a trip indeed!

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