It was late February or early March in 1999, I can’t remember the exact date. But thanks to my old reliable buddy Ronald, I get to post one of the memorable past as a jobhunter. It was the time when I also got the chance to travel far from home (the farthest yet at that time).
I wanted to be independent and challenged myself to be one. At 23, I must be prepared for it. (Listens to the song “Paalam: ..biente dos años na ako, kaya ko na mamuhay ng solo“). After all, what can a 29 year old do that a 21 year old can’t. At ComCen, I got an e-mail from a certain Harry Quiambao asking me to come to SVI’s Clark Office for a personal interview.
With Toto’s invitation I was ready to go to Central Luzon’s Angeles City, a place whose physical structure1s still bring memories of the American servicemen’s heyday in the 80’s.
I took Air Philippines flight for Manila with just my brother’s small backpack and wild imaginations in my mind. Knowing Manila’s chaotic, frenetic pace, I must be in for some adventure.
I was partial to being an adventurist, as some would-be thrill seekers had experiences: getting robbed, had pockets picked or were duped. Home to many rude taxi drivers and inconsiderate citizens, a less witty visitor can often find himself duped, misled or worse, robbed. In contrary, Davao’s taxi drivers are mostly corteous that I can’t imagine how others still end up killed by robbers.
But to be fair with the other side of Manila, the place is haven for many things: variety of food, thrill rides, bargains, almost endless gigs in the metropolis and beautiful people.
Fellow college batchmate Raul has been working with BIR and later SUN Microsystems is often the caretaker of his “provincemate” visitors. I had to be amazed how he handles things in this city where traffic is a menace, tap water is rarely safe for drinking (when available from the faucet) and typhoons are never experienced in Davao. He manages to stay on the road late at night and wakes up early in the morning to beat the morning rush hour.
It was my first stay in Manila since our Tour ’96 – the happiest days of my life. Being a newcomer once more, I get to see many things I only see on television: the MRT, jeepneys plying to places already familiar in the silver screen: Cubao, Quiapo, Kalentong and University Belt, people speaking the natural Tagalog accent; Davao’s coños still sound too crude when speaking the National Language.
Raul’s staffhouse is a microcosm of modern Manila’s yuppy lifestyle: a housemate stuck on the phone, managing to wave hi to us; another one was in front of the television while poring over the latest tech gadget. There are clothes beside the refrigerator and the kitchen’s little table was neatly divided into sections where each of the occupant places his proprietory bread, strawberry jam, cans of corned beef and a few Pringles tubes. They sleep late and wake up early on weekdays and I guess they stay in bed until 11am or later on Saturdays.
The next day I will be in Angeles aboard Victory Liner in which I will make a stop in Dau and take a jeepney to Clark Gate. After I woke up early in his beeper’s ring, Raul and I did not spend an hour before going out of the house before 7am. I felt awkward as I am not used to skip breakfast. After Raul wished me well for the trip and interview, I was mixed with nostalgia and nervousness inside the bus. It was just three years ago when I was with the noisy college friends who couldn’t care what the world would say as long as we have fun on this very road. I was anxious of getting the job and giving myself a break to the real world of laborers, where morning’s are more challenging than singing the same alma mater song I first sang some seven years ago.
The road was less bumpy and the ride was comfortable. When I reached the mouth of the wide CDC compound, I had no idea how I can come in as the guards required company ideas of tenant companies. I pretended to be one and got away. The bus ride featured a rather patriotic song of Gary Valenciano about Pampanga.