Tuesday, February 21, 2012

City trek


A boy takes a breather from his hike and looks down on the vehicles below the Ayala walkway one December afternoon

It is 4:30 in the afternoon. Makati workers prepare to end their work day. I step out of the train into the Ayala MRT station. I am just about to start my own. My office is roughly a kilometer from this stop. I can take a cab but I choose to walk.

Shoemart is connected to the station. With east- and west-bound lanes for pedestrians, the store accommodates human traffic as though it were part of the architecture. The smell of fresh flowers, tropical fruit, baked bread and warm brownies from the ground floor wafts upwards.

The bridge to Glorietta leads to a sea of white paint -- an overdue promise of new stalls. The mall used to be a hub with spokes Gloriettas 1, 2, 3 and 4 -- sticking out. Four years after the 2007 explosion, a quarter of the mall remains closed. The lights are not as bright. People just pass by the shops instead of going into them. I ask myself: Will it ever be the same?

At Landmark, theres a line of twentysomethings in vintage t-shirts and sling bags in front of a Chatime counter. I wonder: Is it the tea or the pride in holding a cup of the popular brand?

The walkway begins where Landmark ends. The late afternoon breeze cools the beads of sweat on my forehead. There are posters, plants and occasional ATMs I meet uniformed employees, happy to head home. They walk briskly, the heels of their shoes clicking on the pavement. They talk on their cell phones, compose text messages or bob their heads up and down to music only they can hear.

Occasionally, I run into a Caucasian man holding hands with a Filipino woman. I tell myself: Who am I to judge?

I get off the elevated walkway and take 387 more steps to my building. When I arrive, the newsroom is abuzz with stories. Then again, so am I.

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