Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.
—Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Why Ask Why. This is what’s going on my Manila bumper sticker. This is what I say in defeat after yet another taxi or jeepney cuts me off to turn from the third lane, then belches black smoke and mockingly asks, “How’s My Driving?”
It’s what I tell myself when the involuntary guilt bubbles up as sightless beggars, barefoot children, and street vendors shuffle up to the car and tap on the glass.
It’s the cynicism I choke down when I see former action stars, comedians, and TV personalities playing senator or congressman for real, interpreting real laws, legislating real lives.
It is my heart sinking at the city’s brutally dysfunctional infrastructure, at the millions of tons of steel and concrete eternalizing its people’s favorite excuses:
“Puwede na.” (It’s good enough.)
“Bahala na.” (It’s out of my hands.)
“Pasensya na.” (Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.)
It is regret for the hundreds of lost hours spent inching my way through Metro Manila’s clogged veins and arteries.
It is the city’s mute surrender to K-9 units, bomb sweeps, trunk checks, metal detectors, bag searches, and pat downs at virtually every entrance to every building.
Why even ask why prison inmates performing “Thriller” as part of their rehab have gotten 51 million hits on YouTube? Or why Manila’s traffic cops can groove with irrepressible style to some inner soundtrack? Or why, for that matter, the former First Lady is still serenading her public?
It’s what I think every time I feel the politically incorrect pull of Saturday night midget wrestling.
It’s how I accept the strange and unexpected comfort my body feels in the heat, the stifling humidity, and sometimes even the madding crowd.
It is my continuing struggle to see Home Sweet Home For Now in a wildly different light.
It is my longing to let go so my senses don’t have to work so damn hard to catch that solar wind.