Musings at Highway 54
Once you get used to artificial lighting and a giant concrete wall blocking your view of the world, you lose track of time. It’s a good thing I don’t do night shift, or else my body clock will be seriously messed up as it is. “Early” is a state of mind, so I managed to ditch my daily after-work ritual – proofreading – and managed to get out of the office building with a full view of a cloudless, crystal-blue sky.
Had the Sun been ten degrees cooler, it would have been perfect. This isn’t heaven, darling. And this sure ain’t Sparta.
In a four-letter word, EDSA.
I have to go all 300 for the morning MRT commute, which does traverse EDSA. Whenever I ride the MRT and have a clear view of the street-commuting peons down below, I feel like King Leonidas sans the cinematic steroids:
Madness? This is EDSA!
Commuters? What is your profession? (Outsourced labor! Ha-whoo! Ha-whoo!)
Ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight, WE RIDE IN HELL!
If historically inaccurate cinematic testosterone is not your thing, then afternoon commutes have their own sense of emo-ness. There’s nothing more emo than waiting for a bus at 5:30 in the afternoon at the very artery of an alienating metropolis, despairing, forever waiting, wondering if there’s a place for you in this world beyond the back of the bus.
If that’s not emo-ness, I guess you have to stretch it a bit further. You do find your place: somewhere in between. You either talk about Lifehouse concerts you’ve already had reserved tickets to, or you talk about the aisle of a rickety deathtrap where you’re faced with a gauntlet of elbows and asses. If you’re virgin, one swerving move by the driver could have you getting fellated through your jeans.
Then you ask yourself about the meaning of life. If that’s not navel-gazing, I don’t know what is. There’s really nothing existential about riding a bus at 30-degree heat, trading sweat with the working class. These are the moments when you, an activist, revise Marxist theory (dum dum dum!) and include call center agents and their kind among the 70% majority of the Philippine proletariat. Hey, if you’re as politically-inclined as I am, EDSA does hold a special place in your heart.
Never mind if you feel the urge to head to that commemorative plaque in front of the EDSA Shrine, drop your pants, and defecate on the engraved name of President What’s-Her-Face. You have to do this at a particular angle if, like many Filipinos, you believe that the Virgin Mary is omniscient.
Robert Frost once wrote:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
In my case, that road is called Katipunan.