It took about a couple of days for me to realise that I have finally broken off a relationship, once more. It didn’t dawn on me when I was packing the suitcases that for the nth time my life is now contained in everything I can carry that cannot exceed 20 kilos. Yes, Manila, I am leaving you once more, after 15 years of embracing me in your suffocating smog, horrible traffic, and countless security checkpoints in malls accompanied by the most genuine greetings of “good morning mam sir.” Yes this mam sir is breaking up with you, Manila!
It’s not you, it’s me. I need to find myself, to complete me before I commit fully. I cannot be in this relationship knowing that there could be a possibility somewhere else, a chance to grow and experience new things, endless possibilities to be who I want to be, who I can be. I am sorry, but right now I don’t see it with you, Manila. It’s not you, it’s me!
To tell you honestly, I’ve never been faithful to you, Manila. I’ve gone to see other Asian beauties – Seoul, Tokyo, Kyoto, Saigon, Hong Kong, Bangkok – cavorted with the Pacific princesses – Hagatna and Koror – and did countless one-night-stands with your sisters – Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Cotabato, Vigan, Laoag, Basco, Legaspi and many more – entertaining thoughts of living with them and living without you, Manila. But I always come back to you.
Hinahanap-hanap kita Manila.
Being stuck in your traffic is an ache that my back and knees look for as I drive for 2 hours to get to anywhere. Inhaling your intoxicating toxins so that I may be immune from all your socio-political ills is a medication my lungs long for. Seeing the huge gap in living conditions that is further exploited by your government stimulates my lust for involvement and change.
And your people, Manila, oh your people! Always in a hurry to get somewhere to be slow – frantically driving and scrambling for a space on the road, in the bus or on the train to get to your countless malls so that they can relax and walk ever so slowly to enjoy the air-conditioning; stand just at the landing of the escalators or in the middle of the grocery aisles as if they’re the only ones in the whole damn place; and, smile at you as if something was so hilariously entertaining when they bump you or they nearly got ran over by a speeding bus as they do their non-committal slow run or fast walk strides.
Your people that give genuine smiles in spite of their personal challenges; always eager to share their stories as their eyes beam at a chance to be noticed; voraciously grabbing all opportunities to have fun anywhere there’s a microphone, TV, and tacky songs to sing; and, consciously seizing the moment to showcase their talents as the next youtube or reality tv show sensation.
I know that one day, you will take me back in your arms Manila and would wrap them around me so that I would have the hardest time letting go. I wouldn’t need to ask you not to let me go for I am the one who always does. I am a whore, Manila, that can never be faithful to you…it’s not you, it’s me.