It was around lunchtime when I arrived at building near the complex station of the ABS-CBN. This is it. Again, I made a leap of faith by actually going to the NSO office and not breaking my mother’s advice/errand/will. I went to the National Statistics Office and paid for another Certificate I get whenever I go to another “world.” I’d like to call it another world because practically, I become an alien again. Someone who actually doesn’t know anything and anyone. I am an entity that once again floats in the glimmer of dust, silt, shining cars, skyscrapers, and metal plates on the road. Let’s not forget the everyday smell of tar being melted by the heat of the sun and the evaporation of fumes from tanks that rage with business. I just wish I will not go there. But a friend of mine, Cristopher Campos (Tope), told me that I have to think it through. He mentioned about my mother crying and my family’s expectation actually crumbling down. OUCH! As I filled-out the form as it is required before I can pay my dues, I saw the long line of people who needs the same type of parchment that I was looking for, that I needed, that was imposed to me and labeled me, Ryan de Lima Olos. God, how I wish I can have another name and another identity. Some type of name that will make me not remember a bad history, one where my mistakes are corrected. The one that is not perfect, yet, I still see myself for who I am. They not only labeled me, but for me to get that label, they numbered my station. 424. Even number, very symmetrical, amoral, weird. What are the chances of me getting a number whose square root is between 2 numbers. another is 111, and 939. It must be a lucky number. But I am still part of this long line, long list, and long waiting. The silence that creeps, except for feet going here are there made me realize and remember something, the chat. I have to walk out of the office and take a yosi(colloquial for cigarette stick). The chat last night flashed back. The chat I had with Tope. It made me realize that I am a selfish person and that whatever I will do, without the consideration of my surroundings will simply kill me, because I am part of that society, and how I act on it will surely be the same manner and intensity how it will bounce back towards me. How I wish I was born with the least need to fulfill their pressures.
From my point of view, the countryside is calling me. My life belongs to life itself. Truth be told, I enjoyed the life in the forest of concrete. But my nature belongs to that of the paddies, very bucolic. I long for the soft breeze, for a fine weather, for a window of opportunity called a storm, for a carabao’s moo and a rooster’s cock-a-doo·dle-doos. I want that patch of grass beneath my feet, and soil, real ones, growing underneath. I want the mountains, the falls, the ever changing clouds and the consistent location of the stars. I don’t want light bulbs being fixed on walls at night. I want them hanging and dancing with the night chills. I want kids who doesn’t easily get tired of books, because I will surely not show them a T.V. or a cellphone. I want them to learn how to imagine, learn the value of books and friendship like the ones we saw in Bridge to Terabithia. There is a better world than the concretes. I know that. We all know that. It’s just that we are all tied up with the cycle of what we are busy doing everyday, worrying. And here I am, just part of that cycle. And I have a smoke at hand. This is a clear manifestation of my problems. This stick of tobacco that consumes me for a few minutes. An exceptional moment of peace and relief. A puff.
As I began to seep my last piece of smoke for that moment, and the guard nodded his head again to me as a sign of greeting, I took the steps to where I was in the line of numbers. Took a seat, and decided to start a talk. It was with a lady whom I have never dealt with, nor heard of. Simple chat. A simple conversation. Asking her number, why she was there, and the talk just pursued. She talked about her life (I don’t even know how we got there and I know my interest in the topic is just out of boredom). She was a regular Filipina, a mother of two, a professor on one of the colleges in the city, and little bit of a braggart. I was hoping that it would stop, because our noise repercussion to the other end of the room, and the room began a lively conversation from different people of different walks of life. It was beautiful, there was a community. Then, she pursued, and I began to unfold. I found it dangerous, but what can a lady three quarters of my size can possible do with my identity. She told me about college, and I really began being interested. She told about abroad and in the back of my head, how I envy those circumstances. Then, she told me one thing I never expected from a fulfilled person, “Maglaro laro ka lang!” (Just toy with your life). Actually, it should be play instead of toy, but the manner she said it made me choose the word with less meaning, yet, for me, was definitely striking. I was half astounded, and half hoping. She further said that I was young, and the moment I get serious with life will be the same moment I will start to fall. “Kapag na accidente ka, di mamatay ka. ‘Di natin alam kung kailan yan mangyayari, eh ano naman?!” (If you encountered an accident, then you will die. We don’t know when that will happen, but so what?!) It was the impetus I needed. I just need to play the game. Just then, another woman with her child sat beside me. Out of nowhere, I felt a thud on my knee and the kid accidentally bumped me. The playful me, I looked at him with surprise and with a smile, gladly though, he smiled back. Another sign. Another playful being. He began poking me and making funny faces with me. He is intelligent, and quick-witted. As our conversation went on, now involving the child’s mother, our numbers were called. As I paid for my certificate, the bell rang, and the announcer said, “Let the games begin!”