This Side Up

Today, I shall tell you of transitions.

It’s been three days since I left my tropical jungle home and become a roomer in a boarding house near The Shoe Factory.

It’s been three days still, but I just found out Monday morning that Faith, already four, was enrolled by her mother for day care.* She sent me SMS that our girl was to start school Tuesday. How time flies. And Tuesday afternoon when I called Ta, Faith also spoke with me and enthusiastically reported that she’s now a big girl because she is already in school and she has a new set of uniform and crayons and books and new friends. ~Sigh.~ How time flies. And I wasn’t there for her first day. 😦 But at least Ta was there to bring her to the day-care center. Then, last night, another SMS came from Faith’s mother, informing me that the little one was chosen to dance for a program held at the end of the month in the day care. I won’t miss it for the world.


Ta has discovered supermoto. Each Sunday for the past three weeks, with some of my college years barkada and other speed freaks, they flock to Valencia’s oval** to ride several laps around the track, pitting each other’s skills in steering around the grassy, sometimes muddy circuit. He still overshoots his mark because the motorcycle doesn’t have front brakes installed and the wheels are near-bald.

There’s is a race scheduled as one of the highlights of the town fiesta this October, and Ta has set his mind on participating — that on top of being a rider for the annual downhill mountain bike race. My only complaint is that after practicing for downhill and supermoto, he seldom has energy for other things (*wink*).


As for myself, I am now living away from my beloved hut in the midst of the tropical jungle. I miss the frogs that sing their guttural songs, the buzzsaw call of the cicadas emerging from their more than a decade hibernation, the fist-sized bugs and creepy crawlies, the flowers, all the greenery.

I got a small room (2 m x 3 m) near The Shoe Factory. Hopefully, this will save me a few pesos considering that I won’t be consuming that much fuel anymore. Grn! When would this crisis stop?!

Consider a bed and breakfast place. That’s the feeling that I got the first time I checked out the place. The boarding house has eight rooms, or doors, lined in two rows. My door is farthest from the wash/kitchen/bath area; I have to walk down the hall in order to brush my teeth or pee. But I am not complaining much because each door has its respective bathroom. This is the most important factor that I looked for while house-hunting. Even if a boarding house has a jumbotron in the common living room or each room is equipped with airconditioning, footlockers, and personal masseuse but I have to share a toilet and compete for bathroom time with two dozen other people when my bladder is about to burst, it just doesn’t seem a very attractive prospect for me.

It’s been years since I’ve lived by myself (I left home when I was sixteen to attend college in Dumaguete, which is more than an hour’s flight away from Manila), and the current arrangement somewhat brings back those college days. I now sleep on the bottom deck of a double-decker bed; I’ve stowed most of my stuff on the top deck. My morning coffee gets boiled in a stainless steel heating pot that I also use to cook my instant noodles. I’ve stocked on bananas and soda crackers in an attempt to economize on the foodstuff. When I go to the bathroom, I carry my toiletries in a plastic basket — I am still paranoid when it comes to leaving stuff in the toilet.

There’s still a bit of problem with water. The town where The Shoe Factory sits does not have a constant water supply. A pump sits in a neighbor’s yard and they are kind enough to let the boarders like myself get water there. So each morning, I go there with a tiny pail, with the lines of Belle’s song about provincial life traipsing in my head, and I exert my biceps and triceps, getting a fairly good workout from the rusty water pump. Goodness knows I also need the exercise. Then, a bit of weightlifting ensues as I haul my first pailful to my bathroom, deposit the water in the bigger pail, return to the pump and then repeat the process three or four times. I may get tired of doing this in the future but for now, I am enjoying the novelty of it.

Drinking water is much more complicated to procure. The first day, the landlady assured me that the water from the tap was safe to drink, and I, trusting but not used to the local water, tried a glassful of it that sent me to the banyo with a rebellious stomach. This morning, I worked out a system that is composed of taking my empty water bottles to the town market (2 kilometers away) and use the coin-op water-dispensing machine there.*** Ten pesos yields three liters of potable liquid that’s good for two days. I should get a bigger water container next time to save on trips to and from the market.

Three days into living alone and with no other diversion other than reading El Filibusterismo, I’ve caught myself talking to myself. Maybe I should get a radio or something.


And how have you been lately?

*Faith has been with her mother for a week when I moved near The Shoe Factory. She was feeling lonely with the grown ups in our house because they won’t always play with her. She has her little brother, now a year old, for her playmate in her mother’s house so we sent her there for the meantime.

**A former track-and-field race track that was abandoned for many years. Owing to its secluded location in the outskirts of town, the place had been a favorite venue for lovers who wanted time alone for themselves. Also, this place is where people took their goats and cows there to graze, taking advantage of the lush vegetation that grew unhampered over the years.

***I’ve noticed the coin-op machine when Ta still drove me to the office and we passed by the marketplace.



  1. Earnest, it’s still okay if you visit my jungle home. I go there on Sundays (if there’s no OT). Just send me SMS.
    Bring the PKs with you! πŸ˜€

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