Monday, December 17, 2012


There is the heavy drone of the AC labouring to keep the heat out. The sounds bounce off of the cement walls and glass windows in a way that oddly enough complements the humming bass of the AC. To me it is more than ambient noise that must be tolerated when one pays homage to our churches of consumption. I wonder what these sounds mean to others? What is it about noise that we value so much? My mom belongs to that generation (and class?) of Filipinos who seem to associate noise with gaiety, and with gaiety - well-being. Silence or lack of noise makes my mom uncomfortable. Noise means happiness.


We take for granted the structures which hold the shell of our bodies, and within them our diwa, our malay. Being away from home allows me to see anew these same everyday structures/strictures.I see class everywhere. Even more so in these conspicuous spaces of consumption. It is most apparent in the manner of speech. Today I went into two coffee shops. This morning it was Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. This afternoon it is Caffe Bene. Both times the ladies behind the counter who took my order addressed me in English even when I spoke to them in Filipino. Now I wonder if this is standard policy. Will the speaking of Filipino somehow break the fantasy of luxe which they carefully conjure the moment I step through their doors? Will it somehow remind me that the space out there - public space - is not like the privileged private space in here, the price of which is probably included in my
coffee cup? Class. I see it in Singapore of course. But right here, right now in Manila I am reminded that we need not be of different skin colour or nationality for there to be deep inequality.

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