Often times I am led to wonder how life would be different had I ventured forth in Manila and sought employment there. Many times I still like to think back on the what if’s of my career path. What if I haven’t left Manila? What if I applied for a work in Manila? What if I worked in Manila? Would life be different?
Of course it would! Instead of the relaxed jeepney ride I go through daily, passing through rice fields and inhaling fresh air, I would be subjected to the highly stressful bus/jeepney/MRT ride passing through rows and rows of buildings, through hours of traffic, squeezing through throngs of people and inhaling polluted air. Instead of waking up two hours, sometimes even an hour and a half, before work time and having lots of time to spare for breakfast, preparation and travel, I would be waking up 4 to 3 hours before work time and be rushing through the day, eating while travelling.
Yet there is the promise of a higher compensation and the threat of higher living costs. There is the promise of greater career glory (more internationally known companies and brands) yet the threat of being too far away from the top and thus a slave of lower management.
But the biggest difference for me – a very big defining factor actually, would be the way Manila has been hit by typhoons recently. And the scary outcomes of such.
During my 5 years stint at Manila living, I had only encountered one strong typhoon – Milenyo (2006). I was in UP then, and it was horrific hearing the strong winds lash at the dorm’s windows. I feared night time for with it came darkness – unbearable darkness covering the entire campus. I can specifically recall a time during the typhoon, I was of course sheltered inside the dorm and since I wanted to read a book and the light inside my room was too dim, I went down to the basement – our dorm’s study area which has bigger windows (along ground level) and thus brighter. Well, I found out that the wind was also stronger there. I thought it would shatter the glasses. Once the typhoon was over, the whole campus was amiss. Lots of fallen trees were everywhere. There was no electricity for days. I even remembered coming back to campus from a dinner in Katipunan and facing scary and eerie darkness inside campus. Good thing I still managed to secure a ride to the dorm.
After Milenyo, no other typhoon made a mark in my memory. Not until Ondoy (2009) and Pedring (2011).
I was scared of Ondoy. It hit Manila bad. I was scared and grateful. Grateful that I wasn’t there. I can’t imagine how flood waters could engulf the areas and streets I used to explore. It frightened me because of the very real possibility that had I been employed in Manila at that time, I may be facing the worst natural disaster of my life. After that, I swore I won’t work in Manila – not for all the attractive compensation it may offer. Not if I can help it. All those won’t matter if I get swept off by a flood or traumatized by such a disaster. I was in the midst then of changing my career and considering flying off to Manila. But after watching how Ondoy ravaged Manila, I changed my mind and stuck to the comforts of home.
Now, here comes Pedring. Just when I was meditating of working in Manila once more, Pedring had destroyed Baywalk and ravaged the entire Roxas Blvd. area not even sparing the US Embassy or the Sofitel hotel or MOA. To think I used to stroll through these places. It was horrendous, once more, for me.
Manila has been hit time and time again – by typhoons and floods. Earthquakes, I guess it has yet to experience. Yet I am loathe to be there to experience it. Admittedly, I have lots of friends there – friends I’d love to see very much and get re acquainted with. Yet I am loathe to uproot from my family and love one.
Yes, Manila holds many promises for me. The promise of career boom, the promise of staggering compensations, the promise of fame and fortune. But to what extent would I go to claim all these? To the extent of going to work amid rain and strong wind? Amid transport strikes and various crime modus operandi? Amid air and noise pollution? Amid the threat of a poorly planned urban city?
Oh Manila. The beauty you promise me. And the danger you hid beneath.