Malilong: Public and personal

THIS is a narration of facts, not a complaint. At my age and with my experience, I know that complaining doesn’t get me anywhere.

I live in the poorer section of the city. There are no gated communities in Sambag 1. The mayor knows where our house is. One evening in December 2015, I invited him there from the induction of the neighborhood association a few meters away.

(I still remember that meeting, the first that we had after we exchanged interesting text messages over something that i wrote in this space that he did not like. He arrived in the venue of the induction earlier than i did and I was surprised that he greeted me because he had a reputation for snobbing those who have crossed him. “Hi Frank,” he said. “Hi Tommy,” I replied. “What a pleasant surprise.” It’s a surprise, he agreed. “Let’s just pretend it’s pleasant.” With the mayor, that was par for the course.

Tormis St. is short for Antonio Abad Tormis Street. The name was supposed to honor the editor of the now demised Republic News who was murdered in 1961 by assassins hired by then Cebu City Treasurer Felipe Pareja. Supposed to? Well, with the present condition of the street named after him, they may have succeeded only in murdering the lawyer journalist again.

It has become a favorite game of mine, reclining the car’s front seat and closing my eyes after we have entered Vicente Urgello St. Then I would guess where we were, judging from the severity of the jarring inside and my body’s corresponding reaction. At Aznar Rd., near the old SWU power house, the car starts swaying. Then it calms a little but only for a minute or two after which the vehicle starts swaying crazily and you feel like you’re gravel in a cement mixer.

I have a bad back, accumulated from the countless times I fell from the carabao back, our only means of transportation, growing up in Masbate. The back is kiling me now after months of commuting between work and home in the poorer section of the city. But I am not complaining. My friend, the mayor, must have so many more important things to do than paying attention to a decrepit road in a neighborhood of nameless citizens.

I continue to hope and pray, my aching back notwithstanding. One of these days, I will have a smooth ride home. It will be a pleasant surprise and this time it is real and nobody has to pretend.

•••

I’m going to church today. I usually hear mass at the Redemptorist Church because the homilies are short and direct to the point and the priests do not bore you with corny jokes. You can go to mass at 10:45, assured that you won’t be starving by the time the final blessing is made because when they say the mass is for one hour, it is really for one hour.

After I make the sign of the cross, I will look at the front pew on the left wing of the church to check if it is still reserved for lay ministerrs. The Church is the last place you expect to have unequal treatment. Unfortunately, that is what you see every Sunday and holiday of obligation on the left wing of the Redemptorist.
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