After the Visit, a Brief Deluge

1.) “An Afternoon at the Museum” There were three of you who paid a visit to the Museum. Your feet were pulled by the news that, for one month, visitors can go inside, for free, to that repository of memory and the Muses. The neoclassical edifice itself is already a remnant of the past; in its former life, it once housed the country’s Congress. Now, after registering and leaving some bags behind, you and your friends started a tour of displayed facts and artifacts. An afternoon in the museum, so to speak. Six feet passed through the hallways where once walked the honored, the notorious, and even the obscure lawmakers of decades bygone.  Meanwhile, six eyes took a peek at the painting and sculptures located inside galleries. The galleries occupy rooms that may have once been the abode of solons from the country’s two main parties, probably charting the latest tactic in a stratagem of political warfare. “Ahs,” and “Ohs” may have crossed the minds of all three of you as you gawk at the Juan Lunas, Fernando Amorsolos, the Tampincos, the Lorenzos, the Magsaysay-Hos, and even the Resurrecion Hidalgos on display. And so much more.  And of course, all three of you realized why the nomenclatures “Upper House/ Mataas na Kapulungan” and “Lower House / Mababang Kapulungan,” came into popular usage. A writer had once explained that the terms came into being because of the locations of the said chambers. And he was right. The Upper House, or Senate, was simply located at the second floor of the building. Conversely, the Lower House / “House of Representatives,” was located at the ground floor of the building, hence “Lower House. For the price of none, all three of you came out filled 2.) THE TORMENT, THE TORRENT. It seemed the skies had had enough of the daylong more-than-bearable oppressive heat. And so, as evening set in deeper into the hour and blanketed the troposphere above Maynila, while all three of you are spending some hours of cheerful chatting and eating inside a mall, the rain clouds let it go. Around eight in the evening, rain drops patter and clamor on the asphalt roads outside the mall, intensifying until the hours-long stored emotions were released into a flash. The sounds of rain drops a-falling were to be heard inside the mall, the clamor knocking on the mall’s roof. The roads, named after a former mayor* and a saint,** were quickly filled with water. Apres le (mini) deluge, the watery aftermath. People line up outside the mall, waiting waiting for the water to subside. But tricycle drivers, smelling instant pesos in this time of stress of the unfortunate, offer a trip across the roads-turned-rivers. For P50 a head.  (It is tempting to think that the money earned may have been spent for some gin and “hardcore” liquor to gulp down their parched throats; our outrage at their greed at the moment prevented me from asking them what they would have done with the so-and-so amount of pesos earned this evening.)    Turned off by this primitive exhibition of capitalistic instinct by the pedicab drivers, all three of you just took the chance and wade across the road-slash-river. With bare feet, and pants rolled up, socks and shoes removed and carried by vacant hands, all three were seeming replicas of MacArthur in slogging through the flood. The water was black, as pitch black as the night sky over us. Don’t ask me where the gadawaful water came from (probably some overflowing drainage pipe or more likely from the houses and establishments near the mall and filled with all imaginable kinds of refuse the city has to offer). Oblivious of the putrid smell of the water, all three of you somehow made it through Taft Avenue, somewhere between Ayala Boulevard and Finance Road. Not sure of whether the LRT is still making the last trips home, all three of you agreed to take one bus just to get the hell out of the watery mess that you were into. Out, out somewhere drier, and where the vehicles were moving way way faster than in this avenue of piled up cars jeeps trucks and buses. *Mayor Antonio “Yeba” Villegas, considered as a colorful mayor of Manila in the late 1960s. ** San Marcelino

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