Manila City (Intro)
At 12 noon over the hustle and bustle of the colorful traffic when I just reached as I walk around the Ermita Street (also) trying to eavesdrop the few tagalongs words that I could, a kid, maybe around 4, sneaked up at me from behind, possibly saw me from a mile away in my obvious as a sore thumb touristy outfit, he reached his right hand out to me in a scoop like position, dark brown dry skin, big brown eyes, unidentified gender freckled and dirtied from the sun and the smoke, long untrimmed musky hair, shoeless feet, torn sleeves, muddied shorts, not a frown, not even an expression, he looked at me and looked back at three more of his possibly friends of the same fate he made from the streets (about a block away), a practice he'd do every second, and after nearly 10 seconds of softly nudging me (while I could do was pray and evidently ignoring him) he finally ran off somewhere else and left me. There was no sigh of sadness, no anger, let alone giggles, it was as if that was a job he neither hated nor loved, that it was just another day being alive in the streets of Manila.
Of all the big and the small places that I've visited, Philippines is by far the hardest to articulate on. Friendly, hardworking, luxury, heart wrenching, difficult. Yes, I understand that every nation in the world has the good and the bad, but somehow, or for the strangest reason, the heart-wrenching in the Philippines is too visible, and much, much more depressing, to me. But it's also one of the most beautiful nation I've ever laid eyes on. So yes it was difficult to disparate these two extremes that I have been fortunate enough to experience.
All the times when these kids were looking at me, expecting me to be that another kind soul, my heart breaks. It's an "advice" I hear from so many people, don't give to one, because when you give one, a million comes, you will be terrified and the situation will be even more difficult.
So I bowed down to the advice. Because Manila city IS a lot mysterious than I knew. The homeless people, the kids, the parents and the adults, must have gone through so much and must have lost so much either, their purpose, their soul and maybe even their sanity, and I as a "tourist" would have no idea just by sympathizing them after 5 minutes of my blatant judgements. There are a lot more unspoken rules that I needed to equip myself first and holding my hands and emotions are among the first.
But the beauty, the unbeatable and almost untouchable beauty the Philippines has is amazing. With over 7000 islands and a million more species of both land and water waiting to be discovered, I could never understand why Philippines is far less mentioned among travelers (even among the most hardcore European and American backpackers) until I visited the hard part of the city itself. A ruly fact that unfortunately, most tourists would feel "unsafe" when put in those situations that I just described. After all, they ARE obviously non-Asians (unlike brown skinned like me that could get away as one). Almost screams endless attention to the strugglers and homeless around the city. Causes non-comfortness, really is an unfortunate situation.
As I came home for dinner tonight, and before I nibbled on that Satay stick mum bought, I took my time to take and give blessings for whatever food that I have on the table to appreciate that I am beyond fortunate to even have options.
Till then, will share with you more about the Philippines and other issues I came across with while visiting.
|Young kid toying with a broken pillar|
Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.