May kakaibang sigla sa paligid noong Biyernes ng gabi.
(There was an unusually festive atmosphere last Friday night).
Tanong mo siguro, “Dahil kay Jose Mari Chan?” Hindi. Hindi ito dahil magsi-Setyembre na.
(Perhaps, you’ll ask, “Is it because of *Jose Mari Chan?” No. It’s not because it’ll be September soon.)
Mag-aalas siyete na nang lumabas ako sa opisina. Kagaya ng inaasahan, mabagal ang traffic at medyo matagal ang byahe pauwi. Kaya mas napagmasdan ko ang sitwasyon sa kalsada. Nag-uunahan ang mga kotse, dyip, motorsiklo, at bisikleta. Maraming tao sa gilid ng daan–mga nag-aabang ng sakayan, mga nag-kikwentuhan, mga naghuhuntahan, mga bumibili sa maliliit na tindahan, mga magkaka-trabaho na naka-uniporme grupo-grupong naglalakad, mga magsing-irog na sabay ang hakbang at magkahawak-kamay.
(It was almost 7pm when I left my Office. As expected, traffic was heavy and travel time to Las Piñas was longer than I expected. Because of that, I was able to observe my surroundings more. It’s as if the cars, jeepneys, motorcycles, pedicabs and bicycles were in a race. There were plenty of people by the roadside –those waiting for their rides, chatting, teasing, buying things from the small stores, workers in their uniforms walking together, and lovers walking in rhythm and holding hands.)
Sa isang shortcut na daan pauwi na kumokonekta sa dalawang main roads, buhay na buhay ang kalsada, ‘di kagaya ng nakaraang Lunes hanggang Huwebes. Naghalo sa daan ang mga kotse, mini-truck, pedicab, tricycle at motorsiklo. Idagdag pa dito ang mga nakaparadang mga sasakyan sa magkabilang gilid na nagpapasikip ng daan ngunit parang himalang nakaka-usad pa rin ang mga sasakyan sa magkaibang direkson. Puno ng tao ang kalimitan halos walang laman na karinderya, tapsilogan at milkteahan.
(On a street connecting two main roads, a short cut of my route, the street was so alive, unlike in the past weekdays. Cars, mini-trucks, pedicabs, tricycles and motorcycles were all vying for space. Added to this were the vehicles parked randomly on both sides of the street; these made the street narrower but by some miracle, the vehicles coming from both sides were still able to move forward. There were lots of customers in an otherwise empty carinderia.)
Maraming nakapila sa isang maliit na drugstore (sana ay bitamina at hindi para sa sakit ang binibili nila ), pati sa bilihan ng bigas at lechon manok. May tatlong babae na pumipili ng tinapay sa bakery habang may isang bata na nagtuturo ng gusto nyang tinapay. May payat na mama na mabilis ang hakbang, may bitbit na kahon ng donuts. May mga kumakain ng barbecue at ibang street food sa kanto habang napapalibutan ng usok.
(There was a queue in front of a local drugstore (I hope that they’re buying vitamins and not medicines for a serious illness), in front of a stall selling rice and roasted chicken. Three women were choosing bread in a local bakery while a child pointed to a bread she wanted. A gaunt man, carrying a box of donuts, walked with quick steps. Some were eating barbecue and other street food at the corner while smoke swirled around them.)
May mga teenager na naggu-groufie sa harap ng isang sari-sari store. May mga dalagitang mahaba ang buhok at nakapustura na hindi nagmamadali maglakad. May nanay na may kargang sanggol habang sumusunod at nakahawak sa shorts ang isa pang maliit na bata. May apat na mga tanod na nakaupo sa harap ng Barangay Outpost na nakamasid sa kalsada, may nakangiti at may mga seryoso. May isang grupo ng mga kalalakihan na tumatagay sa isang gilid, nakalagay lamang ng isang mababaw na mesa ang beer at alak. Sa gitna ng kaguluhan, may dalawang lalaki na nakatunganga sa isang madilim sa sulok, ‘di naman nag-uusap at nagpapakagat lang yata sa lamok.
(A group of teenagers were taking a groufie in front of a sari-sari store. Lasses with long hair, in their party attire walk in a carefree manner. A mother was carrying her infant while a toddler tags along, holding at the hem of her shorts. Four members of the Barangay patrol sat in front of the outpost, one smiling and three with serious and impassive faces. A group of men sat around a low table by the side of the road taking turns in drinking beer and gin. Amidst all the haste, two men sat together at a dim area, neither talking nor drinking; perhaps they were just waiting for the mosquitos to bite.)
Sa bandang dulo, sa may tulay, medyo madilim bago lumiwanag ulit dahil sa ilaw ng gas station na may malaking paskil na “Want Free Fuel?”, may nakaparadang cement mixer at dalawang kotse, isang puti at isang dark gray. May isang lalaking gusgusin na nakahiga sa gilid ng kalsada.
(At the far end, by the bridge, the road was dim before it reaches the area where the light of the gasoline station with its huge announcement “Want Free Fuel?”, illumines the road. There was a cement mixer and two cars, one white and another light gray, parked. There’s a shabby man lying by the roadside.)
Maiksi lang ang kalsadang ito. Ilang minuto lamang sa buong byahe pauwi bago makarating sa bahay. Nguni’t ito ang pinakamasiglang bahagi ng byahe. Para bang, kahit maraming abala, may kanya-kanyang pupuntahan, at iba-ibang kwentuhan, lahat nagsasaya, sapagkat Biyernes ng gabi na.
(This is a short road, which just takes a short portion of my total travel time. But it’s the liveliest part of my trip. It appeared that, despite everyone’s haste, having their own places to go and errands to do, and having different stories, everyone was happy because it’s a Friday evening.)
*Jose Mari Chan is a famous Filipino singer. His songs usually signal the Christmas Season, which relatively starts early in the Philippines, with the coming of the “Ber” months.
These are real descriptions of a street in Manila last Friday night, 19 August 2022.