Living Amidst the Chaos of the City


Soon, my five – month contract at the department store ended. After a few weeks, I still haven’t got a new job and I started to feel depressed. I decided to leave my aunt’s house for the meantime. I packed a few clothes and took a ride with no destination in mind. There was nowhere I could go to. The only places I knew then were Monumento, Malabon and FTI. I didn’t have a place to stay for the night, or a place to stay in the next few days. Not knowing what’s going to happen in the next few hours or the next few days felt like an adventure.

It was already late in the evening. The strong winds blew and the heavy rain poured. I got on a jeep with a signboard that said Baclaran. The place sounded familiar. Then I remembered I’ve been there once before. I took a seat just behind the driver. I didn’t have any idea where to get off. Up a head, I was looking at an old building that has a tower with a clock in it (which I learned later from a guard that it was the Manila City Hall). I got off and stayed in the waiting shed. The number of people was thinning down. Soon after, I was the only standing by the waiting shed. Sensing some possible danger, I went down the stairs. I discovered there was an underpass. Where will I go anyway? It was still raining. I sat on the stairs hoping that the rain would soon stop. Moments later, a guard arrived who was patrolling the area. Probably, as their protocol, he was asking me questions like my name, where I came from, where I’m going, to which I gave straightforward answers. Then asked if I had any identification card. I didn’t have any ID card so, I handed him my passport. A little past midnight, a little drenched and nowhere to go, he let me to stay there until the rain stopped.

Around 2 or 3 in the morning, the breeze was cold and was chilling me down to the spine. Yet, I kept on walking along Taft Avenue, crossing the intersection as soon the traffic light turned green. I got to a park. By the entrance along Taft Avenue, there’s a big sign that read Rizal Park. Then there’s a Philippine map. A little farther was a skating rink. Loud music was emanating from the speakers located in the four corners outside of the rink. A lot of people were skating. I’ve seen some who were good, and there were others who were just starting to learn how to skate. I was just watching the people skating around and laughing and having fun. A girl caught my attention as she was being led by a guy while trying to gain her balance. And I saw her fell on her butt, too. The benches around the rink were all occupied. So I just walked around the rink watching them do their tricks.

When I got tired, I crossed the street as soon as the light turned green. Hung by the traffic light post, a sign read Ped Xing (it actually means Pedestrian Crossing). I didn’t know what it mean. Perhaps, it was the name of the street. No idea. Nothing. During the wee hours of the morning, I was wondering why there are still so many people at the park. I know it was a public place, but are those people don’t have work in the morning? Or don’t they have homes just like me? Couples, people in groups, young and old, they’re everywhere. Food kiosks seemed like making a good business. While others were just sitting on the bench, others were already fast asleep. On one side of the park, there’s this big garden clock. Bright colors lighted up the water fountains. Just under a tree, there was a debate going on. Some smart arses were trying to outwit each other with their arguments. I pushed myself into the crowd of spectators just to find out they were debating about some issues I couldn’t comprehend.

Sitting on the bench, I watched people come and go. I saw children laughing, playing, asking their parents or guardian to buy them something at the food kiosk. An old woman came up to me and sat on the other end of the bench I was sitting on. I was thinking why did she had to sit on the bench I was sitting on when there were other unoccupied benches? I was a bit annoyed, to be honest. Then she started talking about life. I was telling myself, “Oh well, what have I got to do with her life. I got a life to take care of.” The one lesson I learned from that woman despite of my animosity towards her was about family. Her advice was “No matter what happens, at the end of the day, it’s our family that we can only go home to.” True enough. It’s a lesson that I have always kept with me all these time.

I as walked along the wet pavement, I saw Rizal’s monument. It was only then that I realized that the park I was at was the one they called Luneta. At the park, I met various kinds of individuals, people from practically all walks of life. I lived and slept in the park. I became friends with hookers, rugby boys, high class GRO’s, prostitutes, house helps, students, school dropouts, homeless, anyone.

One early morning, I met this guy named Edwin. He was working as a utility boy at Pegasus. Having a need for a job, I asked him if I can work there. I went to the head office located in Sta. Mesa and filled out the application form. Then I was interviewed. That night, I was asked to go to a KTV bar located along McArthur Highway about a kilometer west of Monumento cirle. I had a hard time finding the place at first as I wasn’t familiar with the area. I had to ask a few people to tell me exactly where LoveBoat was. I waited for a couple of hours before they let me in. A little past 9 in the evening, I went up to the Operations Manager’s office and handed him the application form that Ihad filled out earlier. After a few questions, he discussed the rules and regulations of the bar, basically the Dos and the Don’ts. As soon as I have submitted the pre – employment requirements, I started my work at the bar as a busboy.

I felt a sense of relief because I finally got a job.

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