The streets where we live
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
I am walking through the streets today, in the rain. After transacting with Bank of Commerce Philcoa Branch, I start to walk on Masaya Street. The street is busy moving people. It has become the station for tricycles to and from the three villages (UP Village, Teachers Village and Sikatuna Village) and two communities: Krus na Ligas and San Vicente. It is the stopping point for all public transport vehicles passing through Commonwealth Avenue. The street should be renamed to “Abala” (busy), or “Maabala” (bothered) to reflect its current character, which is far from its original name Masaya (happy). It is host to a few “carinderias” (street food stalls) offering various inexpensive things to fill a need, enough to give some happiness, to those accustomed with modest expectations.
A few steps and I am on Mayaman Street, a more affluent part of UP Village where there are still old trees, but transforming itself into restaurants and dog food stalls. In front of them, on the other side of the street, are several ambulant vendors selling avocado, santol (cotton fruit), bananas and other fruits. As vehicles are constantly moving, people walking take the risk of crossing over, signaling cars to stop. Some drivers have good manners and stop. The others just speed away, so I stop in between cars honking like mad.
I make it to RCBC Kalayaan Street, a minute before closing time. I am the only client and I am done in a minute, but it is raining hard and I decide to stay for fifteen minutes, which prevents the guards from closing the door fully. When the rain loses its wind, I walk towards BDO Matalino Street, past cars parked on the walkways and spilling through the streets. Again, I compete with the cars trying to squeeze themselves on the remaining space on the street. At the bank, I am ushered in by a smiling guard. Again, I am the only client and am out in a minute.
Passing Sulo Hotel, I feel the urge to take coffee and pansit sotanghon (bean-thread noodles or vermicelli), but some plants that line the perimeter distracts my attention, reminding me of our house in Pangasinan. I forget about coffee and realize I am almost at PLDT. I make a mental note to bring a cutter on my next trip. I am sure these plants will be happy living in the gardens of Daisy Langenegger, Yolanda Salcedo-Sia, Marites Austria Viado and my own garden, instead of inhaling the toxin on a busy street.
Going back, I cross over to Matahimik Street, wider than most of the streets in the villages, with some very huge trees. What is missing are the old coconut trees which were felled because they kept falling like raindrops on top of parked cars. I still feel shivers passing by an old house whose wooden windows used to be half-open, with an old woman peeping through its darkness. The house had since been renovated, and the old woman seemed to have vanished in the brightness of the fully opened windows.
Turning left on Malingap Street, newer restaurants are replacing others that opened only six months ago. Except for Pino and Fariñas Ilocos Empanada, restaurants seem to exist like mayflies, fluttering beautifully for a day and die.
Leisurely, I saunter in the rain towards Mapagkawanggawa Street, where the cosmos flowers are waiting to bloom. I breathe in the fresh air and smell the raindrops, finally folding my umbrella to feel the drizzle. That feeling of quiet and serenity, amid the noise of the city, has come back to me again. I feel my existence, among the many things that are happening at the same time.
At this moment, I am happening, with the rain.
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