diliman walk, solitary

First comes anxiety, a flurry of internal movement, and then comes the urge to run. To run is to search for stillness. Where to is a matter of nostalgia.

I face Espanya distracted by the varicolored glare of headlights and lampposts, shop signs and the remnants of rain on the asphalt. It is rush hour. I cannot rush home. I stare at the jeepneys inching past me, and curse the smoke-belchers, the traffic, and the insufficiency of public transportation. Minutes pass, and then an hour. I flag down a rundown FX, and it begins to rain again.

One finds calm in the state of being in transit, when neither origin nor destination beckons—no regret or hurry, only time suspended.

It is still raining in UP Diliman. Louder and louder goes the downpour, drowning out the sound of car honks and students’ chatter and the mountaineers’ footfalls on the pavement. I walk around the acad oval, red umbrella in hand, and hum a tune that sounds like mourning in my head. But all I can hear outside me is the pattering of rain.

These tree-lined avenues are a compendium of memories. Looking up, you can make out pictures woven into the branches’ netted silhouettes. Each acacia tree has heard a tale, a word for every leaf, a secret for every seed. Plant enough stories and you may call this home.

I have walked this road a thousand times. Weather and circumstance may change, but some things never do. The distance between lampposts remains constant; joggers still count 2.2-kilometer rounds. The Sunken Garden sinks about two centimeters every year; lovers lying low in its shadows sink deeper. Students hang out at the AS Steps; AS may never be called PH. Fares may go up and routes may vary, but the Ikot jeep still goes round and round and round. The acacia trees have been here forever and I hope they always will.

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