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Still walking this way

Looks like Christmas is still on

My favorite exercise is walking, which, at least for me, is both exercise for the body and the mind. I don't do it often because I don't feel comfortable walking in our villageI could make a long list of things that make walking unenjoyable where I livebut I've decided to give it another shot, because this pandemic has had me getting used to being locked in my small house and I hardly get any exercise. 

The beautiful thing about walking, at least for me, is that as soon as I do it, I am reminded that I do enjoy it, no matter where I am. In college, I walked often from La Salle to CCP and from La Salle to Lawton. When I transferred to UP Diliman, my friends and I would walk from our tambayan beside the now gone FC building to wherever, often Philcoa. When I worked for The Philippine STAR, I'd often walk from Port Area through Intramuros to Liwasang Bonifacio, where I'd catch the bus home.

For a couple of years, I lived in Sampaloc, and I walked on a flooded España Boulevard from Welcome Rotonda to my apartment on Forbes Street (which was actually renamed Arsenio H. Lacson Street in the early 70s, but nobody called it that; they called it Por-bes which I kept pronouncing as Forbes should be pronounced on jeepney rides and nobody jeepney driver ever got me. But I digress.)

So, walking. The longest I've walked in Manila is still during the EDSA 2 revolution, and even then, as we were demanding Pres. Joseph Estrada to resign, I enjoyed seeing the sights along the way from the EDSA Shrine to Shakey's Quirino, I think, where my friend and I decided to hole up in because we'd heard that the rally was going to Malacañan Palace but Erap had already said he was leaving. We were tired and hungry (and hangry) from having been at the Shrine since the day before, so we ditched the rally for an airconditioned and empty Shakey's and was treated to news on TV of Erap exiting the Palace.

When I lived in Project 4, I walked to establishments along Katipunan Extension, like Countryside Restaurant and Kopi Roti and Route 196, and once to White Plains Avenue for a Marcos is Not a Hero rally in 2016. I wished I could walk to Eastwooddistance wasn't the issue; safety was. 

I wish walking around Manila were similar to, say, walking in Paris or Manhattan. But as Carlos Celdran kept saying, if you look close enough, you can still see the city's beauty. I guess that's what walking has done for me: It has taught me the art of looking close enough.

I've been looking closely in my neighborhood again, and taking bad pictures of things I found beautiful. As soon as I stepped out of the house, I saw that our bougainvillea tree was in full bloom after its extreme Typhoon Ulysses trim. Then there was that small brown dog the was on a roofnot a balcony, mind you, but an actual roof--watching me walk by. One of the houses I passed had a collection of hibiscus planted along the fence and they all had flowers. Things like that make my walks interesting.

And then there are the people. Sometimes, at our village commercial centerthe point of my walk where I turn backI buy things, like food or lottery tickets. The other day, I lingered around the lotto stall, and when I finally decided to get a ticket, the man manning the booth saw the shapeless bag I had slung across my chest and told me to roll the piece of paper so it wouldn't get crumpled. It's important to not get it crumpled, he said, his voice both gentle and wise.

That same day, I decided to buy some barbecue at the stall along the village church's creek, seeing that there weren't any people. My bill was P52, but she smiled and charged me only P50. Tonight, my bill was P61, and when I struggled with finding the right coin in my purse, she laughed and said to give her P60.

What I miss is smiling, albeit shyly, at people and making painfully awkward stabs at small talk. Things are more difficult now that I have to wear a face mask and a face shield, and, of course, with this virus basically a talking disease. 

But at least there's still a world to go out to, and I'm hoping so profoundly that it will open up again soon. In the meantime, I'll continue taking walks and looking closelyenough to keep on hoping.        


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