I was only nineteen, young and vulnerable, when I first met you. We’d been together for barely five months. In that short period of time, you taught me lot of things. You gave me lifetime memories to treasure and unforgettable experiences that I fondly recall each time you cross my mind.
I decided to leave home for you, because I knew you would offer me something better. I’d been told that you were reckless; that you were too dangerous to be with; that you were too much for me to bear.
They were right. But as much as there were negative things associated with you, I’ve seen the other side of you unknown to people who claimed to know you so well. I’ve seen that deep within you, you were good and nurturing.
I grew up relying everything from my loved ones. I grew up restrained around my comfort zone that was why I was scared at first. My family too, was scared for me because they were not used to sending me away. They were scared of what could possibly happen to me while I’m with you. They were used to sheltering me to the point of overprotecting me, which I find strangling and suffocating.
I even remember my family getting too dramatic and teary-eyed as I bid them goodbye. I could not count how many times they hugged me and advised me to be careful. My grandmother even told my friend who fetched me at home to take good care of me because I’m still a baby.
First thing you taught me was independence. You taught me how to stand on my own feet.
I learned how to cook and prepare food for myself. Thing I never did back home. With you, I experienced for the first time to be free of financial support from my family. I worked for myself. I worked for my own financial expenses. I learned how to economize. And that was the first time in my life that I actually felt alive and proud of myself.
With you, I learned the value of taking care of one’s self. That on top of everything, health is the most important.
It was one evening, when I came home from work combusting of fever. I cried like a baby and immediately called home because I thought I was going to die. But thank God that my friend was there to take care of me until I regained my strength.
With you, I learned how to value time and to be more flexible. Because you were fast-paced and if I didn’t move along with you, I would be left out.
I had to be flexible because with the distance I had to travel on the way to my workplace, I had to wake up early to be able to punch in on time at work. It was a two-time ride and truly exhausting, but I was able to put up with that six times a week for almost five months.
With you, I learned that it’s okay to trust, but not to be so trusting.
Remember when I opted out to walk my way until Taft Station, after attending mass in Baclaran Church. Before going home, I decided to withdraw some cash from an ATM kiosk inside the mall. I was on queue when a woman approached me and introduced herself as my mom’s friend. My gut told me not to entertain her as I didn’t know her, but she was too good at her way of acting that she was able to summon me into a hypnotic state. To cut the story short, she was able to take everything that I had that day; my bag containing all my valuables.
The Mall Management helped me get back home after the inquisition about the incident. I came to know that the woman was a member of Budol-Budol Gang.
It was something traumatic but I was still glad that nothing really bad happened to me that day. What was taken from me was really nothing of value. My life and safety was more important. It was a lesson learned, and so after that, I learned to be more vigilant of my surroundings.
I also remember the funny times we shared together.
Remember the first time I ride MRT, and when people started to crowd the wagon, I began to panic. I freaked out and started screaming “Disiplina lang po!” which I later on realized was funny. Because no one even look my way and I’m not sure if they heard my shrill scream.
The same funny experience when I was on my way home from Baclaran Station. I was supposed to get off at Libertad Station, but I end up at Gil Puyat because no one dared to make way when I reached my station.
Those were just some of the funny experiences I had with you which I still laugh about when I remember these days.
With you, I learned a lot of things that I find too many to recount. You taught me that there’s so much more to learn in this world, so much more to life outside the parameters of my comfort zone. You opened both my eyes to the many possibilities and sad realities which made me realize that I’m one lucky soul to be here. You taught me to look at life in the brighter side, no matter how hideous things were. You taught me lessons that will surely get me through my journey in life.
You might have been labeled menacing, treacherous, and ugly, but for me, you’re still one of those I had been with that I will never forget. Despite the bad things I experienced while I was with you, someday soon, we will be together again. I will come back for you, and we will create memories once more. I miss you, my urban love, MANILA.