Last Friday I met a couple of Japanese filmmakers at a conference. They were here only for the weekeend. Questions. They asked if the food we were having for lunch was 'Filipino.' I said no. Green salad, some bit of chicken with mushrooms and lapu-lapu lathered in cream. No, I said. Not Filipino.
Where does one go to eat authentic Filipino food? I struggled to think of good restaurants. There was Abe. I didn't think Barrio Fiesta served edible food anymore. There was Kanin Club. And...what else?
Where does one go to purchase pirated DVDs? Well. Our collection is quite extensive. I boasted of having seen titles from as far as the Czech Republic.You go to this place in Makati, or this place in Ortigas. Oh and Quiapo of course. You wouldn't find it difficult, the DVDs will come to you.
And where does one go to see "interesting" places? I figured filmmakers might like Cubao X. Mogwai was there. Maybe they had something good screening. But no, they'd already gone there the night before. I blame the heat on the roof deck where we shared a lunch table. I couldn't think of an "interesting" place in all of the city. Well what about the music scene? Where do musicians go to play? There were some places in Makati, but no, I explained, I don't go out anymore. I felt not a bit of shame. I have known you far too long and familiarity has bred ambivalence. My fascination, my appetite for the novelties you offer has waned. No longer a stream of endless possibilities. No longer the malleable paradise of my imaginings. For now.
Two years has been too long. And while you will always be home, like my mother will always be my mother, in you I fear I cannot fully self-articulate. The familiar, the known, the old structures and ways of being all combine to dampen, to repress, to hold back. My city of twelve million has me in a choke-hold. As I roam the planes of your belly and feel the beat of your very heart, I feel to want to cleave unto you again I must away.
In two months, I shall leave again. And in the leaving, the loving.