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2003

Typical situations. This is how I describe being here in the Philippines after living for four years in Saudi Arabia. Things looked really familiar and I have become a meticulous frog hopping from one rock to another. I may have been the rock as well but on second thought, rocks were appendages I’ve circumscribed, etched if you may, ounces upon ounces of sleepless nights in Riyadh that leaked in more engaging moments of contemplation so I guess being a frog may well be my character in this vacation. I am not in Riyadh anyway. Besides I love moisture, especially on the mind part. Makes me want to reside in Tori’s Liquid Diamonds from The Choirgirl Hotel to which I have reunited myself with since I got here. OK, so on with my uncanny leaps.

First rock being the way people are smaller, eyes translucent towards every peso sign within view and the zombie-like way they stagger to and fro their individual wars. I remember the way theses airport dimwits called Hoy! (Hey you!) for baggage pass. The sampaguita heiress who sniffed my arms and said, “You smell so foreign!” And lastly, the smiles that could either mean Gimme money or Gimme money or you’ll die NOW! It is indeed beautiful how much you realize you belong in this ruckus somehow being, well, a Filipino. There is that sense of discharge from within my Arabianized being. Going to SM Megamall I saw this car with psychedelic stickers on it that ranged from Fuck This Car And Will Unleash The Devil and Make Jesus An Everyday Habbit, both of which dilapidately stuck together side by side. There goes the non-stop bleeps of cellular phones everywhere. You name a spot within 3 meters and that damn force milieus the enraging eons and retro fashion that rules the entire city. It is like a bonding agent that won’t refuse to knock in your existence. It is, well, charming, because you will never guess you’re in third world country. It is all a damn parade, a discotheque, and everybody is either in his own mint summer feel acting Naomi Campbell or simple strolling in his own yellow brick road.

Second rock could be the non-smoking signs everywhere. It is dreadful! I have never experienced this is Saudi Arabia being asked to extinguish my cigarette upon light up. I remember the leniency of smoking in this country for years and it seems Filipinos will never stop smoking. I don’t know if it was just the places that I go to or I somehow can’t stop myself from eating outside but I notice this innate smoking ban everywhere and it fills me with great hate. Diet Pepsi is so boring too I have to think about the word moonlighting every time I open a can. Yes it is dainty to realize that smokers in this country may have turned to Krishna or singing aimlessly in non-smoking videoke bars (that one in Antipolo needs to close!) or painting ceramic angels in malls for spiritual release but man, where will I bring my nicotine self other than outside where the belchers are (ironically I am one as well being a godless smoker!) or hideous comfort rooms which is, sleazy nice, by the way. I guess I must prepare myself for CR attendants to stop me when I fire up my lighter or a masterful homicide would occur.

When I started the streets, particularly the alleys in Quiapo with my firend James and my ex-boyfriend Alex, the Third rock resounded mischievously across the darkened kiosks selling pirated VCDs for 50 pesos and pornographic materials that caught me by surprise. When I was studying in UP Diliman in the early nineties, these covers would’ve been either swapped from a collector or you would travel all the way to Ermita in one of them seedy buildings to be able to purchase one. But now … all you have to do is go to your nearest canto** and grab a naked guy to feast on. But that is not where the shock is. It is the reverse of the sexual market and the way that men have become the saleable fabric of the skin commerce. I also remember the way Filipino sexy stars were already sexy stars in trucks looking so phony in those jockeys and all but now … their genitals are already exposed and they fucking pose for the fun of it. No imagination required for any buyer, they would show it there, in the cover, fair and square. And cheap too. Even STARBUCKS is cheap which is decent Oh the juggles of desperation and show business but heck, it was a joyride. Which reminds me, Tori Amos’ next album will deal with American pornography. I am plugging for Strange Little Girls, which is due to come out in September.

I spent a few days in my good ole Zambales, the Fourth rock, and found it archetypal in a sense that the people are still uncouth with his neighbor’s miseries and the town still breezy beneath swollen mango trees and the fantastic beaches. On a broader, more multifarious state, my family has changed. Our house looked trite and the pigeons are gone. There’s my sisters’ production, Apple and Joaquin and my father still considers jueteng as his savior. To tell you honestly, I like changes but after learning about personal matters like an attempted suicide and the house foreclosing in a year’s time, I had to call it the tearful rock of all. Where my heart will crumble landslide after landslide because with all the changes in my life that had happened, the child in me had remained. I guess if you could comprehend the manners of adulthood, being a child will always be a compromise. For me though I want to feel that I am still my mother’s favorite child and that my father will always be strong. Or my sisters to be feminists beyond repair. But time is bolder, children get older, I am getting older too*. I might as well jump into the pond and take the edge off this last but responsive matter. The rock of prayer! But of course, that is another confessioning. Anyway, everybody’s still very much into music and so even with our problems around, we sang the night away and had our drunken voices blend with the famous Zambales tide. It was ever untamed and was typically glorious. I guess that’s the way it is being here so far, being together, talking bullshits way into the night and rejuvenation. But I think the most important thing is that I am where the heart is calmer.

Read:   escape. Typical situation?

· From Landslide/Fleetwood Mac*

· Corner**

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