The trees on Mercedes Street
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
EVEN under the extreme heat of the summer sun, the trees were smiling. It is a smile made brighter by the red flowers of the fire trees and the yellow flowers of the narra trees that overwhelmed the green leaves, firmly holding on, with the sudden kisses of the passing wind. Pasig City is green, from C. Raymundo Avenue to Mercedes Street, to the long stretch of Sandoval Avenue, until the thick cluster of human habitation and commercial activity at Pinagbuhatan.
At Nagpayong, on Caimito Street, the narrow path is congested with children, parked tricycles and motorbikes, construction materials, carinderias and sari-sari stores, hawkers imposing their own realities. On this street, focus is a must, to avoid disastrous encounters before reaching the destination, where some trees thrived. Four neem trees and several katuray trees (vegetable hummingbird) survived the onslaught of road widening. At the entrance of the dormitory, there is one chinaberry that is fighting to survive, after it was mutilated, leaving only one meter of its trunk.
According to the lady entrusted with all things not allowed inside the facility, the person in charge believed that a spirit lived in the chinaberry tree, so he ordered it cut. At some point, it grew with a vengeance, with new shoots bearing clusters of flowers whose exotic fragrance perfumed the air. I took some shoots to try to grow them in a pot. I should have taken all the shoots because I was informed that the remaining ones were severed and thrown away to discourage further growth. On our last visit, I saw a small green dot protruding on its trunk, and I am praying that the good spirits protect it from annihilation, and give it a chance to smile.
On our way back, after the visit, along Uranus Street, the van ahead of us signaled us to go back. We learned that a plastic swimming pool was laid out on the street with children swimming in one-foot deep water, obstructing the passage of vehicles. To do this kind of obstruction, the perpetrator must have some influence in the barangay, or a plain bully. In these crowded places, there is no possible recourse but to back up and take another planetary route, unless you are ready to draw blood.
We finally eased our way to the narrow winding curves of Nagpayong into the wide tree-less boulevards under construction, passing through Sandoval Bridge and out on E. Rodriguez where acacia trees were allowed to flourish freely for years. Thank God for these little mercies afforded by the “little gods” who rule our earthly existence.
On the right hand side of Katipunan Avenue, there seems to be no end to the felling of trees to give way to high-rise buildings. Environmental advocates can no longer monitor the simultaneous and pervasive desecration of what used to be “green spaces” where Metro Manila breathes. However, on C. P. Garcia, alongside the campus of the University of the Philippines, acacia trees, fire trees and some indigenous trees stand as stall as the dream of students for a better future, defying human greed.
I walk along this path, slowly
to see you smile
your radiant smile
and listen to the quaint voice
a conversation of silences
allowing my soul, a kiss
a divine caress
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