…and then i see a picture of the house and family i left behind and suddenly it all comes back in a flood of memories. home – traffic jams and dusty roads, chaos in the streets, people who don’t care, corruption and greed, potholes and heat. philippines my philippines, we love it to death!
na miss ko yung barkada ko. they’ve been more than friends to me – they’re my brothers, really. we’ve been classmates since kindergarten, all through elementary and high school in an all boys school somewhere in Kalookan City. We’ve kept in touch since then and see each other at least once a month. We have out own e-group and we exchange e-mail with the ones that are abroad (like me!). We’ve been kumpare’s many times over to many inaanaks, sometimes do business together, most of the time, we just hang out and visit the different drinking places in QC, mostly we meet at Pepetons where the beer is cheap and the pulutan is excellent…sisig, pusit, tuna belly, tokwa, sizzling bulalo, krispy ulo ng baboy (anong tawag nila doon? hmmmm……teka let me remember…. ahhhh KapalMuks!) hehehe.
one month and a half! that’s been the time i’ve been away from home. somehow, i’ve managed to get used to living here in singapore. somehow, riding a bus from the west coast to the psa building seems so normal. somehow, chicken rice, curry and roti prata tastes ok. somehow living in an HDB Flat is the most natural thing to do inspite of the fact that you feel like you’re in a pigeon hole with a thousand other birds. somehow, singapore feels like home.
we still see each other once in a while, the old woman and i… she talks to me in chinese and i answer back in english. somehow we understand, at least, the most important message of all: that we are neighbors in one community.
i helped an old woman go down the stairs of my apartment block last week. she must have been in her late 70’s or early 80’s, i have no way of knowing. a good turn for an old woman here in singapore in the hope that a good turn is reciprocated to my mom in Manila.
Music has been with me since I was a kid. In fact, you could say that my life has been one big album, each passing year moving from song to song. My dad was a big influence. He was one of the pioneers of Philippine Radio. He used to be one of the Sr. Announcers of ABS-CBN, but Martial Law was declared and then all of a sudden, they were all out of work. One of his people was this thin guy named “Ernie Baron”. Hehehe…then without the “Brain Sharpening Hat”, “Healing Diet for the Liver” and all his other inventions. Where was I? Oh yes, my dad used to take me to the radio station a lot and he’d ask me to help him set up the records. Sometimes, we’d go the studio and he’d ask me to record a poem. He’d play it on the air, and my Aunt Eugenie would cry every time she hears it. We’d go to the record companies and they’d give me all kinds of records that by the time I was in 6th grade, I probably would have the most comprehensive rock collection of any 12 year old anywhere in the world. After a year, he’d leave us for another woman. I was 13 years old, without a dad, but with plenty of music.
Let me describe to you my typical week…
I work in an office in the South West of the island of Singapore. I have a small cubicle (6 ft x 9 ft), a lot better than what I’ve had in the past with S___. I have a large desk covering my front, right side and my back. On my upper right are three cabinets where I store my manuals and other stuff. On my rear are cabinets which contains my company T-shirts which I haven’t brought home. On my desk are the different CD’s for installation, manuals, my PC, phone and other office stuff.
This is my new working world right now. A bit of a change really – for the better, I feel. I don’t have the long 16 hour days that I had at S___. By and large, it has been OK – everybody here has made my stay comfortable so far. We eat together during lunch time and talk shop, and gossip (in a babel of English, Malay and Chinese). Except for the language and the strange accent when they talk, they are like any normal Filipino barkada discussing this and that.
I go home between six to seven. By then, it is still bright outside and I normally get off the bus a few stops from my flat. I walk the rest of the way home, buy food and dream of home.
When I get to the flat, I dress up, have a shower and watch TV while eating dinner – wash the plates afterwards, surf the TV with whatever is showing. After a while, I open the aircon, read a book and then finally get to sleep. I don’t normally sleep on purpose, most of the time, I sleep over reading a book (or watching TV). a bit boring sometimes.
During the weekends, I do a lot of stuff. I wake up at around six, and immediately do the laundry. By eight, I’d be finished and would dress up and jog to the park. Depending on what’s on at TV – I watch till around lunch time and sleep a while if nothing good is on. I wake at around four or five. Have coffee and prepare to take a bath. After taking my bath, I normally ride a bus to go to Orchard Road or Raffles Place. If I go to Orchard, I visit the large Japanese Bookstore (Kashimura or something)and watch a movie if there is anything good. Most of the time, I just walk around and enjoy the ambulance (ambiance ni ERAP, mahal yun!) and look at the people around me.