Thursday, June 3, 2010

Window Seat

My room is on the second floor of our house, facing east. Each morning I’d be the first among the family to see the sun rise, feel the breeze filtering through the canopy of the java plum and tamarind trees in our front yard, blowing softly through my window.This is what I love about living in the province. I look out the window and I see green all around me. Even within the five hundred square meters of our lot, the foliage is lush.

This is a stark contrast to the concrete jungle which is Manila- the sun reflecting on tin roofs, the six lane expressways, and a sea of concrete around malls and dusty buildings. I’ve never gotten used to the environment, even after having lived there for nine years.

For the past year, I’ve flown to Manila a dozen times- always seated by the window by request. Right after take-off or just before landing, when the plane is hovering just below the clouds, the sprawling landscape is visible and spread magnificently before you.If the destination is Manila I’d know just by looking: a large gray expanse. Dark waters of the Pasig river snaking through the metro, emptying to the muddy delta, where ships of every size bob on the water surface of Manila bay. And everywhere- buildings, subdivisions, squatter’s areas, skyways, posh neighborhoods beside a clump of shanties, and a convoluted network of roads, all gray or black from the asphalt.When I was a student at the College of Architecture at the State U, we used to make small models of our site development plan. We made trees from foam and wire, painted with several hues of green. Buildings were either made from cardboard or plastic, and now and then a solitary matchbox would find its way to our carefully penciled-in and painted road. We shaped every terrain with our own ingenuity and artistry, and stopped to scrutinize our work every step of the way until we finished.
In the few seconds before the plane taxied on the runway, the landmarks were now closer, and therefore a lot more details were visible. I saw cars moving to and fro the drop off of a large SM mall, large factories spewing black smoke in the distance, imposing monuments which dwarfed those around it, and people moving. From a great distance they looked like ants in an anthill.

From that distance everyone was anonymous, nameless, and faceless. From that distance I realized we really were nothing more than a speck in the universe. The testament of man’s ingenuity- these edifices, his dwelling, his industries, may have marred the landscape but had its limits. From this distance it was difficult to appreciate that these kilometers of grid like streets were a product of hundreds of years of labor.

I sat on the airport taxi, as it sped through the highway along houses, shops, and buildings. They were giants now, dwarfing me. I was on the ground again, away from home, and ready to live man’s great day-to-day dramas.


cio said...

first picture is actually the sight id like to view each morning, in case nagising ako.

SOLTERO said...

view from your bedroom window - priceless!

(all i have in my terrace are 5 seldom-watered potted plants hehe)
i'm envious! :p

Thad said...

@cio & Soltero: I guess there is a price to pay living in an urban environment. But hey, when it comes to jobs and whatnot, urbanites get a big piece of the pie :-)

Thanks for dropping by


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