I will give in to the Narcissistic Goddess in me today and indulge in one of my favorite memories of the place where I grew up.
Nocturnal Manila. Somehow, the closed doors and shuttered windows of the storefronts and watering holes during the glaring light of day give a more powerful pull that lures in those who are tempted to wonder what a particular street or alleyway would look like under the blanket of darkness.
The smells pervading the air and the detritus on the ground found in the daytime leave telltale signs of the night before. Spirits of rancid cooking oil from squidballs, stale vomit, stale cigarette smoke, stale love-at-first sights’ sighs, crushed peanuts, stale ice coffee in whatever flavor it had been contorted into in a barista’s guiding hands, the ghosts of cheap cologne, the stickiness of party-fever sweat, the sickly sweetness of air fresheners in gaggy pine and cloying orange/strawberry medley which escaped from cars parked by the curbside, the aggressive aroma of charred meat skewered onto bamboo flints and fed to inebriated and hungry stomachs. Stale beer, flat liquor. Urine. Cigarette stubs. Balut shells. Candy wrappers.
Honestly, I am no night-lifer (but I would admit to being more productive as dusk settles in) so I do not appreciate being dragged from bar to bar in an effort to stall off drunkenness in the name of the night’s God, Bacchy. Yet there is something in Manila’s night atmosphere which evokes mystery and excitement, something unforeseen yet not entirely unwelcome, lurking in the shadows of street corners, just away from the wash of lights spilling from bar doorways opened for the night that I would not mind if Daybreak finds me half-conscious and battling with the morning rush on my way home with an impending hangover.
But I digress.
This was me a long, long time ago.
I have a bit more sense of responsibility now.
And this is only a trip into nostalgia.