I grew up watching pigs eat noisily, pestering roosters before a cockfight, saving myself from an angry turkey, and taking a nap at around 3 in the afternoon. On days that I am not getting up close and personal with animals, I am usually up a guava tree, making sense of the clouds above me. Hakuna matata (no worries) indeed.
And then I turned six.
|Probably not six?|
Six - the magic age wherein I must start going to school. But school was far far away from where we lived. School was in Manila. And Manila was too far for my grandparents to accompany me and fetch me everyday. And so I had to travel to Manila without them, and live with my parents and brother instead.
I have heard of Manila before. It's a famous place. All our neighbors seemed excited to go there. I would frequently hear remarks like "she got a job in Manila!" to which someone would reply, "Wow, I hope my son will to!" I imagined Manila to be some elite place only the few could have the fortune of visiting.
I am now 22 years old.
I grew up playing noisily with other kids on the streets, pestering ice cream vendors and taho vendors for an extra scoop, saving myself from racing jeepneys, and gazing at the people rushing by at the LRT station.
I have fallen deeply, madly in love with Manila.
No, Manila is not an elite place where the fortunate resides. It is the good, the bad, and the ugly - a melting pot of Philippine history and culture, a picture of hardship and luxury, a place where I can look reality in the eye and still see hope in it.
Whenever fellow travelers or couchsurfers would ask me which places to visit in Manila if they wished to learn more about Philippine history and culture, I would accompany them to Intramuros and Binondo.