I went through my notes and found the following, an entry I made in 2007. I recalls a great passage.
I am still in bed. It is dusk when my supervisor wakes me up with a text message advising that I should stay home for there is an upheaval in Makati City. It seems there is an abortive coup d’Etat or such similar political disturbance. That is what the rumors say. Some few weeks ago there was an explosion in Glorieta, a Mall situated in Makati city a drive away from my home, and many a people died, and most of those who died were civilians, and most of the civilians were surely very ignorant about the political concerns in the country.
After this alert, as I walk out of my little abode, I receive another text message from a friend who asks me to come to work as early as possible for there would be a curfew. I walk slowly to the mini-restaurant where I eat often. It is a simple restaurant where the average ordinary people go. The television is on, few people are watching. The restaurant extends to a patio where Games are set. Tricycle Drivers are busy gambling their money on billiards, and they talk and tease each other and laugh as they do it. It is all fun.
I finish eating and go out of the restaurant. I watch the people move, they move with the same normal pace as ever. The cars roll on, taxis, and tricycles too. There is no sign of panic, people move as though nothing had happened, as though they were so used to these things they mean nothing to them anymore. They greet each other, they smile, they pass on with an indifferent look which seems to tell you that what they have heard is somewhere in a far-off foreign land, or it is the part of them that, already grown familiar with, they have learnt to ignore.
I prepare myself and set out for work. I get into an fx taxi. It is almost full but for the seat that I take. The Karaokes are opened, and there is music and laughter issuing from their interior. The streets are lit with the same lights that lit them since the beginning of Advent. You could tell that it is Christmas time, or that the mood is festive and joyous. The city is colorful, the bars are open as ever and music reels on from jeepneys.
As I am driven through this congested Driveway to the office, the drive slowed down by traffic, by the usual traffic everyone has to cope with, I think about the people. I think about the people whose lives have always been put at stake, the unnoticed, the ignorant, the simple folk whose care is just that their offspring may come to no harm nor arm; I think of the people whose lives are so brutally and tragically wrested from them; I think of those whom they leave behind who care no more to ask why they died, because we have been brought up in a culture where things are never explained or simply explained away; and I think of those that are born in this night of pain and indifference, in this very city of strife, and as I think I ask myself the ancient question of why men must still insist on the question of the inequality of equal men.
The decor of the city is symbolic of a time that is already there. The lights are lit. And the people wait. They wait for the Birth of Christ - the Prince of Peace, The light of the World.
I think about the peace of the people. Today I understand, the Hope of the people is born every day with the explosions that tear them out from life. In the corner of the City, an old lady builds the hearth for her household and prepares her egg plant to be eaten with rice. She does it as if it were the last thing she has gotten to do; she does it as a life’s unique ritual, a ritual whose meaning is born by its being unrepeatable. She does it as though she came to earth just to accomplish that single act, and it carries all the weight of her soul and all the joy of the moment. She does it with the love of one who, having craved to do a thing she believes she has the tact and nerve for, receives the only singular grace to perform the said act once in a lifetime.
I think about the peace of the people. Their song is not of despair. In the Karaoke, at night, as I go to work, the lonely girls who have gotten nothing to do sing and play a labeled role of the "GRO", that is what we seldom say completely: Guest Relational Officer. And she knows, deep within her that it is not out of despair that she does it, she knows that her music has to fill the moment, and has to fill it persistently. She sings because she knows every pain could be transformed into the mirth of song... She mingles in the filth of men, but she leaves her soul, somewhere, untainted, untouched, unsullied, unalloyed as she flirts indifferently with her body. She knows what endures in her.
I think about the peace of the people: and I know that you can take everything from them, but can't take them from themselves. You may frighten them with suffering, but the people have walked through blood-filled paths, they have scaled the everlasting hills, and they simply have not suffered pain, they have lived through it. They are redeemed by it, because they have known it to the dregs. You can take everything from them but the hidden joy they share of being kindred in the economy of suffering.
I am about to go home now. And I watch the City from this Tower. The curfew is lifted and I know deep within me that the Hope of the people is not yet dead. I know that someday, the people who sit in the pain of their night shall see the glory of the morning light. I know equally that their tear as their pain engenders a thousand lights that are waiting for a moment to break forth....I think about the people, the people, the anonymous mass that receives silently the blows of those who inhabit the great mansions built of the sweats of their brow and still lord it over them. And I remember that the way of Hope passes through the crucible of suffering. Only the poor are gifted with this wisdom.