Skip to main content

Inching my way through Metro Manila traffic


Nothing quite reminds me that I’m back to the old grind—temporarily, I should say—as the claustrophobic, purgatorial feeling of being stuck in Metro Manila traffic. (No, I don't believe in purgatory.) After forty minutes of inching out of the airport complex, the taxi driver is munching steamed corn he bought from a street vendor during the standstill. He is apologetic, but I tell him hypoglycemia will only make his life miserable. Go ahead. Eat.

At the airport I spoke with two French tourists who are spending a night in Manila before they head to Palawan for a 15-day vacation. I almost feel bad for them—that they have to endure one night here. The rest of the Philippines est magnifique. C'est une vue à couper le souffle. (It's the height of pretentiousness when I mumble something in French, regardless of how bad mine is.) Certainly not Manila. Claims that Manila is historical, cultural, and therefore beautiful sound desperate—but there must be truth to them, only that the good is camouflaged by the soot, noise, cars, and terrible urban planning.

But hope springs eternal. Maybe someday the city will become livable. I write this inside the taxi, where I've spent the past two hours—and most of that hope is dying.

So, yes, I'm back in the city for a few days to settle some things for future work. It's bad—city life—but it still feels like home here, too.


  1. There are small portions of MM that are livable. UP Diliman for a select few, probably Forbes Park and BGC for those who can afford to live there...


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Tarps and COVID-19

Saw this in my feed. So Pinoy in many respects:  the graduation photo the tarp with three fonts: Monotype Corsiva ("Congratulations"), Arial (the girl's name), and the serif below the papaya tree the use of the middle name the color scheme (pink in white) the iconic Philippine countryside It's the first time I'm hearing about Zarraga, some 16 km north of Iloilo City. Seems like a charming place to visit. Also COVID-free. 

Week 9, 2012: Aboard the MV Logos Hope

I met old friends from college last Saturday. We had breakfast at an old restaurant along Ongpin Street called Saludo's. Some of us went to Logos Hope, a ship with lots of books inside it—some 5000 titles, we were told. The sun was hot, in a cancerous, melanoma-inducing kind of way. Summer is just right around the corner. Took us a while to get inside the ship. I thought this view of Manila's skyline from one of the windows was amazing. We saw what we came for: books. They were sold in "units" that had a corresponding peso conversion. The books sold cheaply, so I got David Copperfield by Charles Dickens for 150 units (Php 150). I plan to read at least one Dickens novel this year, 2012 being his 200th birthday. (I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read a single novel of his, ever). I saw Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, classics, modern fiction, modern Christian literature, biographies, medical and nursing textbooks, and children's books. Visit