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While it lasted




Jullie Y. Daza

Jullie Y. Daza

Welcome back, all you folks with lovely weekend cottages within a few hours’ drive from Manila, all you blessed with ancestral homes in villages where you sought the pleasures of the countryside!

Yet even as you managed to flee the heat of the city, we were celebrating your exit, the emptying out of our streets, the closure of the malls, most of all the lightening of traffic on our highways, major and minor roads. What fun, indeed, to have Manila all to ourselves! Why, even those who claim to be our leaders and public servants were nowhere in sight – with government offices shut down, what peace and quiet there was to be had. For four days, it was fun in Manila, or Metro Manila, or Mega Manila, while it lasted.

The place to be. No bad news, TV newscasts off the air. No political campaigns to disturb the neighborhood (the best proof that a new Constitution should make elections less frequent, with fewer positions up for grabs, for the exercise of sheer power by whatever means and name). No incidents of road rage, of enforcers being harassed by or harassing motorists. Commentators soft-pedaled their comments. Spokespersons did not speak, singers did not sing, dancers did not dance, bellyachers stopped whining.

If only every day were like this! More population centers dispersed north and south, in the way developers are developing their townships. Days before the Holy Week exodus, my idea of a vacay tour was to hunt for avocado ice cream. Not only are supermarkets the most logical place to find ice cream, their frozen foods/meats/dairy section is always the coolest place to beat the heat outside. So off I went. To Santolan Town Plaza in San Juan. Vista Mall in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Walter Mart in Tagaytay. Only to discover that it was the supermarket nearest my house, Pure- gold, that had what I was looking for.

By now the ice cream’s gone from our freezer. It’s Tuesday, the second day of another regular working week. I remember a former colleague who worked in Budapest but preterminated his contract “because, Ma’am, every day there was like Good Friday in Manila, no traffic, malungkot.”

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