Seizing Spaces

Backdrops: Erik Sausa (1,2), Hanna Pettyjohn (3,4), and Jacob Lindo (5,6) 
Photos by Ranie Catimbang
I often catch myself thinking, shouldn’t we be running in this part? Those kids in the movies are always being depicted recklessly running in dimly lit side streets, but do you know how hard it is to fucking run in a typical Manila street? To elaborate:
  1. Too many cars double parked.
  2. A racing motorcycle (or truck or CRV) will render you dead on arrival.
  3. Bangketas (what we call these side-walks) filled with land mines of dog poop or broken glass or –
  4. – The sidewalks being just plain… little. Some sidewalks I encountered were barely a foot wide. What exactly were they being literal about with these footpaths, really? And then in some streets, sidewalks double as house extensions / sari sari store tambays areas so you have no choice but to take to the road. Bangekta does not sound like Bangko (bench) without reason, after all.
  5. Everything just stinks (I mean, I grew up here. I know what it is. Doesn’t mean I’m automatically immune to it). The gutters flow underneath.

So that night we were walking (taking on the whole of Pasong Tamo extension) and we had come from an exhibit opening of an artist we’ve never heard of. We just happened to know that it was an exhibit, there was gonna be a lot of paintings, and the good old Pale Pilsen, red and white wine, and pichi pichi. Free.

Art galleries are good looking at art and learning for new things, but also for pictures and posin’ and such. Especially in this day and age of 1×1 Instagram frames. The colors of paintings, against all that white, really just good look captured in digital. Makes you look smart, somehow, since it’s automatically more profound than some random cupcake or frappe.

The artist was an impressionist; his paintings were renderings of thick, sharp blobs and tubes emptied out onto the canvas; then teased with a stiff brush to form microscopic plateaus, or combed out into S curves with a metal thing. Pretty easy to dissect, and with about 20 of those things going on, we had a ball.

“What exactly is this supposed to be?”
“You’re supposed, you know, to just stand in front and feel the first thing you feel.”
“Oh. Well, I feel the anger and sadness in this one. See how heavy the paint is here? He dabbled as he was contemplating in between fits of jagged anxiety.”
“I like this one, it’s brighter.”
“Oddly all the strokes seems similar.”
“They’re studies.”
“Do you know that they’re serving red wine?”

We walked our way from there to the train, and actually we walked a little fast lest a snatcher creepeth behind us, and for good measure I brandished the good old pepper spray on my free hand. So that’s our transition  sequence, the part where the garage-rock score gets louder and we’re just smiling even though inwardly, we’re out of breath. That’s how we tell you, we’re either too young or too broke to drive. We do not run, it’s more of a sticky, hyper-walk thing (given the humidity, happens all the time). But the lights are not less dim and our laughter not less true. (05/18)


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