Thursday, May 20, 2010

Breakwater (First Part)

Tucked behind the monolithic Folk Arts Theater is a quay with no name. This narrow passageway to nowhere extends the CCP Complex by a few meters over the bay. Used for berthing ships like the Floating Casino, it also serves as a dating spot in the evening and a calisthenics ground in the morning.

The quay used to be the westernmost tip of the city before the Esplanade at MOA opened its doors to mall goers. With stiff competition drawing away its pilgrims, (save for some fisher-folk who temporary anchors their boats for shelter) parts of the walkway has now crumbled after years of neglect and constant pounding from nature.

How I found the quay has already escaped my memory. What I remember were the days when friends used to call it the breakwater. The quay was our sanctuary. It was a place of refuge when college life became a drag. It is where some long-time friendships were forged and broken hearts found some comfort. The most breathtaking sunsets leave its final light along its shores. With a 180 degree view of the sea, the panoramic view of the sun sinking beyond the horizon never fails to lift even the most downtrodden of souls.

Work has become tedious these past few days. There were too many demands from clients, while employee satisfaction hangs on a balance. Life was full of turbulence as well, especially when all I did was to search for hook-ups and decline the invitations for one reason or another. Last night however, I decided to end the cycle with an early morning neighborhood encounter. It wasn't as memorable as I recall, but the hunky guy partner was hot.

I went to bed late but still decided to wake up early to get ready for work. But the day break lull called me back to sleep. Sending a text message telling my superior I'm suffering from a severe headache, I went back to bed deciding only to wake up when the sun was already up.

The night before, mom told me that she found the real estate tax receipts that we were searching the whole week. Settling our dues for this year has immediately become my priority. Therefore, I volunteered to go to city hall and pay the mortgage tax using my own money. The amount wasn't as hefty, but it still cost a lot of money. After leaving the taxpayer's office, I headed straight to Eclipse - only this time - to work out at its sister gym in Mabini. The gym was a ride away from city hall so instead of wasting my time taking a round trip to Mandaluyong, I sought the head coach's permission to grant me access to the machines.

With the workout routine finally complete, the allure of Manila Bay suddenly drifts into my consciousness. The gym was two blocks away from baywalk and I thought doing my cardio there would burn some calories while enjoying the seascape.

Crossing Roxas Boulevard from Quirino Avenue, I caught glimpse of the Floating Casino glistening under the scorching sun. It was already late afternoon but the summer heat remains intolerable despite the cool breeze blowing from the sea. Yet, with the sight of the Floating Casino moored in the distance came a flash of memory - of some juvenile acts I did when I was young and ready to try things without doing it again.

It was the summer of 2000. A friend from high school invited me to a joint since he had a contact who sold Amphetamine in their neighborhood. High on drugs, we decided to take a stroll just to let the substance wear off. Our walk trip began from Robinson's Ermita and ended somewhere near the breakwater. Tracing back our footsteps spanning an entire decade, both of us have managed to pull ourselves together to become junior officers in our respective field. Last time we spoke during a friend's wedding, he said he's a trainer at Sykes.

Approaching the corner of the Cultural Center is a spot where I met the first guy who showed me his man-stick. I was with a friend who just came into terms with his sexuality. We used to hang out a lot. With our platonic bonds giving us the freedom to explore, sometimes we stayed outside until past midnight just to find out how people like us prowl in the dark. Our wanderings lead us to spend the night at CCP and there we met him - a young looking stud who turned out to be years older than us. He shared stories about his "straight life" under the elevated ramp of the Tanghalang Pambansa, while me and my friend wearily listened. He then mentioned something about watching the Bench Underwear Show, which immediately raises our doubt about our new-found acquaintance. Before we could absorb his fondness for Mariah, he began groping my best friend while gazing lustfully at me.

I have never walked this far inside the CCP Complex. It seems like everywhere I look bears semblance to a distant past where life was less complicated and easier to walk out. In those days, whenever someone hits rock bottom, we simply run towards the bay to get some fresh air. Now we have varied ways to see a challenge, but still remain ignorant of the actions toward finding a goal.

Walking past the Folk Arts Theater, I saw a banner hanging on to a rafter. It says Bulwagan ng Panginoon and then I remember how Pastor Ed Lapiz exalted the Filipinos for having a unique culture whenever he gets to talk in class. I miss the guy. Aside from being the most open-minded preacher I know, Pastor Ed is a good friend who never fails to remind me to be proud of what I already have.

The Manila Jumbo Floating Casino comes into view after turning right from the Folk Arts Theater. I have not seen the floating restaurant in its crowning glory yet, but another blogger took a good picture of the place a few years ago. The sun was still high when I arrived at the quay. Defying the blistering heat and the warning sign that says no entry, I crossed under piles of wood blocking my path and inched towards the end of the road only to find the edge of the world already carved out by the sea.



gillboard said...

mukhang malapit ka nang maging photoblog... hehehe

Yj said...

though the sunrise gives positive energy that helps us get through the day, the beauty of sunset never fails to give me hope to look forward to another sunrise....

and not to mention the memories it bring.... :)

Eternal Wanderer... said...

Mugen <<< Ang Bakla sa Breakwater.


Guyrony said...

Everyone has a story by the breakwater. I myself had held hands with someone by the bay.

It was, I thought, romantic, until it turned out to be just lustful.

thecuriouscat said...

We used to dine sa floating casino/restaurant few years back, masarap naman chinese food doon. Dati din nug d namin ma afford ticket sa star city ng kaibigan ko pumunta kami sa may ccp, e wla pang rent ng bike kay pumunta kami sa may breakwater at nag-usap lang 'til almost sunrise. dami nga tao dun, now that you mentioned it, naalala ko mostly boys nga lang nakikita ko dun.