Earlier, on my way home from work, I realized that foreigner friends visiting Manila for the first time might find my city too loud, too brash for their senses. From the common “tranquility” of the sounds of their respective cities, setting foot in Manila might feel like being trapped in a really surreal Lady Gaga video: too many sounds, colors and tastes — one can’t help but to step back and go, “WHOA.”
Let me tell you the reason for this observation.
I do not own a car. In order to get around the city and go to work, I need to use Manila’s mix-mash of public transportation. Going home earlier this evening, I realized that Manila can deliver an arresting assault to the senses–marvelously rhythmic when good, a cacophony of muzak when bad.
Tired, hungry and stressed (the best words to describe when when the clock hits 5PM) — I was simply left reeling from sounds coming from the following, happening ALL at the same time: the honking of buses careening through the national highway, jeepney barkers calling for passengers, kids playing on the street asking for spare change, the jeepney driver telling people to “freaking move cos the jeepney can still accommodate one more”, the predictable roar of the MRT… all of these happening at the same time. I realized that it’s just too freaking noisy. If it doesn’t make you go deaf (especially at rush time), then I don’t know what will. Must be the reason why we Pinoys love to belt out songs like it’s our last. All of us are struggling to be heard.
After surviving EDSA, where I am also visually assaulted by various billboards hawking products from clothing, motorcycles, a butt tightening and whitening procedure plus various body sculpting techniques, I kept thinking how this country must be a visual delight to behold: the colors of fiesta, of jeepney adornments, of the religious fanaticism, of the flowers of summer and rain. Yes, there may be grinding poverty on some places, but people were happy, smiling…or laughing even. Somehow, the tenacity to survive and rise from the ashes seemed to strong.
The reason for this post is simple. I have a love-hate relationship with my city. (I live in Makati, the CBD). I hate traffic, the crowd, the noises of public transpo — these things annoy me every single day of my life. I hate that Manila seemed not to have any quiet spots, well, maybe except the National Library in Taft Avenue.
I am happiest when I am traveling in a foreign city. A city where buses follow their lanes and there’s no kid begging me for spare change.
But no matter how much beauty surrounds me, or no matter how happy I maybe — there’s always the feeling of not being home. Of missing the sounds, the sights, and just having the sense of “not being there”. I yearn for the street foods of Manila, the filling yet simple dishes that warms the stomach and the soul all at the same time. Simply put, I miss home 🙂
Yeah, it can get pretty loud and bright and colorful and just plain crazy. But it’s also home.