I joined a blogging group at the office and this week’s challenge is to take part in The Daily Post photo challenge. This week, I’m posting a photo that shows what “local” means to me. And because it’s extremely difficult to get me to shut up about a topic I love…
For years now, when people ask me where I feel most at home (outside of my actual house), I’ve always answered, “Cubao.” It’s hard to express in words exactly what Cubao meant to me when I was younger, and what it symbolizes now. But I’ll try.
I worked in Stellar for a few months back in the mid-2000s. At the time, I still drank heavily and hung out (never partied) at Cubao’s beer dives. I always felt welcome there. Because I had friends who worked or lived there, I could always be sure of having a person to drink with, even if I show up at 2:30 AM on a Tuesday.
Here’s a bit from a Facebook note I wrote in 2015 when I had my heart shattered to a kajillion pieces and fled to Cubao for comfort.
“Cubao has been much changed since the days I used to head there late at night, to find someplace to drink, and someone to drink with. This was a daily occurrence several years ago. I’m 30, I’ve changed so much from who I used to be (or, more accurately, how I used to act) and while I will never again trawl the streets hoping to bump into a single-serving friend, I still hold a soft spot for this place.
It was my safe house.
It’s weird to have such an attachment to a place, much more one that most people see as nothing but a bus stop, a place to rest and get your bearings while you figure out where to go next. But, as I observed while I was in the Visayas and spotted an FX headed to Cubao Aurora, all roads eventually lead to Cubao.
This depressing/exhilarating jumble of 60s-era buildings, 80s movie houses converted into churches, sidestreet carinderias, luxurious condominiums, and glittering boutiques serving the upper class. Women with shopping bags from Gateway Mall walking alongside men burdened with bags of fresh meat and produce from Farmer’s, little old ladies, mothers with their children, call center workers unwinding with a drink or two or seven at Oyster Boy.
The way the wind, trapped by high-rises and released by one-level supermarkets, whips around you like a baptism. It is a place of comings and goings, of meetings and partings of ways, of beginnings and ends.”
My husband and I went to Cubao yesterday, hoping to get a beer or two at X for old times’ sake. It felt weird, going to Cubao X and not knowing anyone. I felt a bit like an overseas worker who’s spent years away from the Philippines and then come back to find that the idealized vision of Pinas he’s created in his head is so far from the truth as to be depressingly laughable.
But despite all the changes, I’m not bitter.
After all, Cubao, like home, is where the heart is.