After relieving ourselves, the wife bought Summit bottled water (alkaline) and one big siopao, to somewhat cover for the “cost” of using their restrooms. Stepping out of the resto, we rode a public jeep to Pier. In no time, we were at the back of the archaic Post Office building and walking around it, I remembered earlier days.
“This is where I used to accompany Roland and Merit when they were yet sweethearts. I served as their ‘bodyguard,’” I told my wife. Roland was a schoolmate and the president of our Christian fellowship in FEU. Merit was his girlfriend. When he accompanied her to where she took a ride home in Cavite at almost midnight during our college days, he asked me to come along as some sort of a bodyguard.
I also remembered when my late dad used to drop by the Post Office regularly from his office to mail letters to my sister in the US and to mail my article contributions to newspapers. I tried to imagine him walking up the stairs in front of the building and along the corridor. “My dad was often here,” I told my wife.
There were times when dad would ask me to mail some letters for him. So, before going to FEU, I dropped by the Post Office. I reminisced everything like it happened only yesterday. My wife listened as I recounted some of them.
After mailing some letters, we started out again and crossed the highway, looking for the overpass to Sta. Cruz. I showed her Liwasang Bonifacio where protest marches often happened. It was there I and my comrades had protested against the US military bases in the early 1990s and when a bomb had suddenly exploded and had made us run like crazy. Suddenly, there was my friend Manny Tagalog, selling sandwiches. I had felt dizzy that afternoon of the protest and I had urged him go home with me because things had been getting tight. He told me the sandwiches weren’t selling anyway, so we walked a bit and took the first pubic jeep home. At home, we ate his sandwiches. I told all this to my wife and she laughed, couldn’t believe it.
At last, I and my wife found a public jeep to Sta. Cruz and rode it. It was quite a while before we reached Bambang Street near Tayuman, Manila. In fact I dozed off a bit after watching how Rizal Avenue had taken on a new character and after passing by Recto Avenue (lots of memories passed my mind as I looked at the old shops and restaurants, particularly how I used to hiked there in high school and college with my buddies–and alone by myself as well), and got shaken wide awake when we were just one corner away from Bambang.
We got off the public jeep and felt like we were in another country, a sky of huge concrete (LRT) right over us like a menacing canopy. It cast some dark shades in the surroundings and made shops around look like caves. Somehow, our recollection of the place gathered back to us after a few moments and we were re-oriented. Now we knew which way to turn. My wife recalled how it was in the area she bought a good quality but cheap stethoscope years back. She sounded so excited about it. After walking a bit, we found the small shop where we’d buy my sister’s ECG machine. But the technician who’d demonstrate the machine wasn’t there yet.