The sky was unclear from where I sat that afternoon. All I had on my circular little table was my cup of coffee, a copy of The Good Doctor’s The Great Shark Hunt, and some paper napkins. I did not smoke, but I was entertaining the thought that a cigarette is what’s missing in this scene.
Then again, smoking in public is illegal in the City. I support this entirely. It feels great to go about the city without having to inhale various unconsumed burnt particles, unlike some other city that claims to be the Queen of the South. The taxis here smell of obnoxious car air freshener and synthetic upholstery material. The taxis there smell of obnoxious car air freshener, smoke, groin and armpit sweat, last night’s hooker and aged foreigner looking for “exotic” beauties, and synthetic upholstery material. Durians smell better than you, thank you very much.
I took a sip out of my coffee. I eyed the older lady chatting with appears to be her comare, drinking the coffee with a spoon. From what I remember, coffee is not a soup. But that’s none of my business. I put my cup down and flip a page.
I get to the part where Hunter S. Thompson starts delivering a sermon from the 20th floor of the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas. Not sure if anyone can do that these days and get away with it. I’ve had my hand of public protests before. Sabotage. Vandalism. Journalism. Yet, these were done covertly, where no CCTV cameras and smartphones can get to me. I didn’t do narcotics as well, to help fuel my escapades. All done on gut feel and sheer bravado. It’s much harder now.
Almost everything has a camera these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if my coffee cup had a camera. I saw an online mall selling various products with cameras and microphones. Watches. Pens. Glasses. And they complain of movie piracy and loss of privacy. Wonderful.
My watch told me that my time is running low. I took one last gulp of my coffee. Wiped my face with the paper napkins. I picked up my book, put it in my backpack. My sunglasses were in need. The sun’s too bright.
The lady was still halfway through her coffee. At that rate, Christ’s going to come back by the time she finishes it.
Last night, my companions and I sat in front of a large projector screen just outside of the Davao City Recreational Center. The event inside should have started at 7:30 in the evening, but the place was already full to the brim, overflowing with people when we got there. We were the spillovers.
We had a unified purpose for this madness: research. We had questions on hand. Questions on what people think of the festivities. I was going to write “revelries”, however, my companions protested. Revelries are noisy and chaotic affairs. Trust me, in a few moments, this place will be one.
Our Instructor Who Shall Not Be Named gave us the questionnaire, written in English, which we had to translate in Visayan. Do take note that in the Philippines, more than half the population is fluent in English, and more than three quarters have a basic understanding of English.
The translation was done during the session a week before. I, not being fluent in Visayan myself, had to rely on my group members on the translation. As much as I wanted to help, any intervention from me would have only made things worse. After last week’s session, I have soon discovered that the translation did not use Davao’s version of Visayan, but rather used a higher version, more akin to Cebuano. I found this out as I have had our copy read by other Davao natives. Their comments were unified. They did away with borrowed Spanish terms. They took out words that sounded “too easy”. They made literal translations of idioms. The syntax went everywhere. Yevgeny Yevtushenko was right. “Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.”
The projector operator had trouble connecting the camera inside the center on to the output. I then had to nurse the tempting thought of hijacking the projector with my laptop, and screening “Frozen” without any sound. We wouldn’t need it. With that many children around, I was quite sure that the audience would simply say the lines and sing for us as the animation played. The only things that stopped me were my companions, who grew weary of the heavy presence of the police, the military, and myself. Like bleach and drain cleaner, we should not mix. And I was rather thirsty for a Coke.
Coca-Cola was one of the sponsors of the Event, as I’ve learned after the host repeated the list of sponsoring establishments and companies again and again over the PA system. It was rather obvious without announcing it. The stylized white letters and the red background were all over the Center. Lucky that the Coke tent was nearby. They sold them in those little 300mL plastic bottles that had “Share a Coke with…” printed, followed by a name. I am yet to find one that bears mine. My name is a common English one, mind you. The lady selling the sweet stuff gave me a bottle with the name “Beth”. Damn you, Beth. I will find you and I will shove this bottle up your left nostril. Specifically the left nostril.
When I returned to my seat, our other companion, who we shall call M, noticed people in formal wear entering without hassle. I then suggested that we rent out clothes from the dress shop across the street, and try to bullshit our way inside. M scoffed and laughed at the idea. I drank my Coke and wished Beth death again.
An hour has passed since our arrival. The projector is finally connected to the camera inside the Center. The homosexual crowd behind us screamed in glee as an opening dance number performed before us on screen. They were the winners of a competition from the day before. One of my companions, who we shall dub hereon as G, commented on the authenticity of the dance. Did the presentation really portray the authentic tribal traditions and steps of the tribe that they claim to represent? The camera zoomed in as G spoke. It focused on the dancer in the center, atop a bamboo platform. She looked too mature to be a member of a dance troupe. She had dignifiedly aged, and her hand gestures were sincere. They panned the other dancers. Elegant men and women, dancing steps passed on from generation to generation. This dance had some authenticity to it, having seen faces with features known to their tribe. Applause coming from inside the closed doors of the Center could be heard from where we sat.
I accompanied G to look for people we might know. We needed people to ask. G saw someone, and asked away. He was with his girlfriend, a graduating student. She had the exact same questions as we did, only in English. She was also sent by our Instructor Who Shall Not Be Named. I suddenly smelled bullshit. He must have told all his students to do the same thing. Sneaky little bastard.
We returned to our seats and relayed to M our newly found information. We have elected to make use of my patented Multiple Personality Method. I’m going to interview my imaginary friends. We’re on non-speaking terms, but I’m quite sure they’ll do me this favor.
I felt a drop on the back of my hand. G felt a drop. M felt a drop. The sky was about to burst open and clean out the crowd. We dispersed quickly, leaving the projector beside us behind. I approached one of the police chatting with the military about their non-water proof projector. We rushed towards the exit, out into the heavily congested street. We all parted ways, and I walked over the zebra stripes.
I could still hear people panicking as the water dropped harder over their heads outside the Center. I needed to take a piss.
As I scrolled down my news feed on Facebook, friends are posting their make up transformations, each one having made me say various four-letter expletives, in more or less three languages.
They have challenged me. They await for me to post one of mine.
Well then. Await. Wait until I get my phone back next week. Wait until I get my fingers on my Instagram app. Wait until I download a four picture collage maker.
Prepare for madness.
After more or less two months of using a dumbphone with a QWERTY keypad and a broke camera, I have finally had had some news on the whereabouts of my smartphone after turning it over for repairs whilst under warranty: in the service center.
The service center won’t deliver the unit to the retailer.
The service center is in a part of the city that I’m unfamiliar with.
I don’t know their hours.
Screw everything. Good thing there’s a holiday next week. Might use that time then.
I’m stuck with my dumbphone for now, I guess.
And I leave you all with this.
(I know everything about it sucks. My singing. The drumming. My guitar playing. The weird guy dancing in the background. Who cares?)
I need a costume. Something easy. Something cheap.
Might go as Robin.
Not the “pantaloons and tights” version. Hell no. Dick Grayson can go suck a “HolySmokesBatman” on a “BAM!”.
I’d only go as Jason Todd if it involved the Red Hood helmet.
Tim Drake’s costume is actually doable. There are versions where he looks like he’s wearing pants with side pockets instead of tights. Combat boots. Yes.
(if you’re wondering, I will NOT dress up as Robin No. 4, Stephanie Brown. I don’t feel curvy enough.)
I’ve already had experience with domino masks and spray paint, as well as sewing. This should be fun.
Robin No. 3 it is.