11/25/2021
Outside the bubble

I haven't driven long distance in many weeks.

By "long distance" I mean "at least ten kilometers", which is how far we are to Shalla's family home. I know it isn't that long a distance, but then again, driving there takes just as long as driving to where I used to live, and that's thirty kilometers away. And that's regardless of whatever restrictions are in place.

Anyway, I haven't driven long distance in many weeks. The farthest I must've driven was to Shalla's office, and it isn't that far considering the new bridge that just opened. Come to think of it, I don't really have to drive, but between the sweltering heat, my decreasing anabolic capacity and the fact that doing the groceries can get really tedious, well, it's all a vicious cycle, isn't it?

Last week, I drove Shalla to that dinner with her colleagues. It was the evening rush hour - it's back, as if you need to be reminded - so instead of taking the bridge I took EDSA. It was a long drive, for sure, but it was bereft of the bottlenecks that inevitably come up when you pass through the narrow streets of Kapitolyo.

I haven't driven along EDSA in many weeks, either. The lockdowns meant you do forget what is around you, so when I did drive along Metro Manila's most important thoroughfare, I get a bit of a shock as to how different things have become. Slightly different, mostly - the "busway" was something I immediately adjusted to - but still different enough to make one question whether they still know how to drive that particular stretch. Do you still know your way around? The billboard that used to tell you, kind of, where you are have changed.

Inevitably they changed again in recent weeks. It's election season, after all. Technically you're not allowed to campaign, but technically that means telling people to vote for you. Technically you can just put your name out, say what you have to say, but crucially, not make a call for action. And there are a lot of LED billboards for the taking.

So, last week, as I crawled along Guadalupe, I saw a bunch of billboards for Manny Pacquiao. There was something about how he is destined to lead the country, which is somewhat cult-like, arguably, but then there's the expected thing about how he's the candidate for the masses. "Panalo ang masa" is his key slogan, I think.

I will admit I actually forgot about the former boxer running for president, and this, despite that possibility being dangled for so many years now. The thing with all these lockdowns, and being isolated in many ways, and social media dictating what it thinks you're interested in seeing at the expense of getting the whole picture - well, you really don't get the whole picture. My feeds assume I'm interested solely in hearing about Leni Robredo, and it doesn't help that my online contacts deify her as if she's going to save us, once and for all, from this evil that descended upon us. (Sounds familiar?) It's as if the only battle that's going on is between Leni, thy pink knight, and the grotesque monsters of Bongbong and Sara and whoever else fits the narrative.

Elsewhere, surely, the discussion is about who can deliver the change they want to see. It could be the former boxer. It could be the former actor. In any case, it's not because they're too stupid to comprehend the conceptual - although for the haughty ones reading this, admit it, it's a very easy excuse - but because, well, there are more urgent things they need addressed. And chances are, that conversation is ongoing amongst the majority that you don't see on your curated feeds.

But, yeah, it's good to be reminded that Manny Pacquiao is also running for president. It's like seeing a post from a cousin who's so desperate for attention he's baiting all the #kakampinks with offensive ad hominem posts. It reminds you that the world doesn't revolve around you, no matter how inconvenient that realization is.

And your responses...

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