Let me pretend for a bit, I thought, and imagine that things are much better than what they really are.
There's this particular amazement with the LRT2 - eleven train stations snaking sideways, from Recto to Santolan, that's a notch above the other two train lines that pierce through the metropolis. Passengers are advised on how long to wait for the next train, after being given a chance to get change for large denominations of currency. There's also the coincidence that all the stops are considerably breezier than their counterparts'. Must be the architecture, I guess.
Shiftee and I only got lost in our way to the CRC office when we rode the last tricycle, because it didn't go to where we expected to go. Project 4 isn't also what I expected - the streets are closer to alleys, like some of the subdivisions around where I am. Not bad for a government housing project, I thought. It's also breezy there, probably because of the trees, or the skies above us have turned darker.
Our commute was considerably easier than I expected. There's the long walkway from LRT1's Doroteo Jose station leading passengers to LRT2's Recto station. It's covered, and for once you don't feel the sun. Below it, you see structures worn out by time or neglect. There's this pretty imposing structure to my right with this interesting concrete front - a little cubist in my opinion, but the entire place is closed now. On its walls are graffiti and campaign posters. Below it, it's what you commonly see in Manila's back streets - naked kids taking a bath, men drinking, and the laundry in places. Or that's my upscale exaggeration.
It's funny thinking about the new from the old, really. The folks who frequent Quiapo and Divisoria probably know about the old buildings that still remain standing. The signs painted on them say nothing anymore, as one who's looking up from the sidewalk instead sees the elevated train line. Forgotten are the memories associated with a time where most say that things are much better. Some say we don't have a sense of heritage, in the ways we bring down what only a few appreciated anyway, but nevertheless brings a sense of culture - in the high-class sense of the word - to a desaturated landscape. The stand-alone cinemas in Cubao also have these forgotten signs, and only the observant in the LRT2 trains will probably notice them. I remember how their reputations have been raped by circumstance and by greediness.
It's a third wave of community service, and my second for the CRC. This time we're doing advocacy work - to be specific, posters and shirt designs - to fill the sixteen hours required for us to pass our last religion class. The orientation yesterday gave me a different idea of what the organization was fighting for - now they're all about the children left behind by victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. After the grotesque photos of the dead, a painful recollection of those left behind - all those young souls, may they be blessed.
They've been at it for a long time, it turned out. Twenty-two years for a single cause. Their efforts may not have made much of a dent yet - what more can you do if you're just a speck in a canvas? - but for those who were touched, that was something. It's a spooky feeling, to be honest, to realize that we're doing our part in spreading the word. We're also specks in a canvas, you see, but all together we become a blotch of paint, significant in every sense of the word, much like pixels become icons and atoms become everything. And when we "signed" a "memorandum of agreement" - much more a batch of handprints to show our commitment to the task - we committed ourselves to one call. I could've written it better, but we're all specks. It must wear off somehow.
If only this happened in other places of the world, then maybe it will be a much better place. Although I can't blame the historians of the past if they've somehow glossed up their time periods and hid whatever made it muddy and dirty, it's undeniable that things were much better. None of the mistakes that linger until now, that still affect everybody else - what more for those living under that cubist structure along the walkway? It should've been a very glorious condition for them, but instead they live under campaign posters that say nothing about what they intend to do. Mere perfume. And if things won't go back to what they were, well, that's what they meant by moving forward.
I didn't realize how much the words "I guess" mean. I got home at four, after having a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen branch at Gateway, and riding a couple more trains before getting to the bus. They do serve it upside down, and the guy at the counter flipped it to prove that it is thick ice cream. I didn't realize they were serious about it, and it somehow felt that I just threw my money away, although I enjoyed the treat. Another "I guess" moment for me, swayed by advertising and by what everybody else around me is saying. I got a grilling of sorts on Kelly's blog again, when after finally understanding the actual sentiment, I figured I should've agreed with everybody else. It was a mere case of dysfunctional semantics on my part, but nevertheless her words - here she comes changing my life again, I thought - somehow reverberated across what happened to me during the past three days.
"Never 'guess'," she wrote. "Decide. Have a stand in anything and everything you do. You may get lucky once in a while when you "guess", but you get more discipline and responsibility when you decide. Not everyone may agree with your decision, but it's yours to make and stand up for."
Now, if only everybody else decided that this is the way...