Pandesal Discussions

Sa Mga Kuko ng LiwanagSa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag by Edgardo M. Reyes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Ella, why are you reading this story? This is not your timeline no more..." -Dad

It is not me who only read this book, but also my mum and my dad (in their younger years). And when both of them saw me reading Edgardo Reyes' work, they opened this discussion:
"Ano ang meron sa Maynila na nawala ngayon, at ano ang nananatili pa rin?"
(In Manila, what are those that no longer exists, and what are those remained?)

Me, knowing that this discussion will not only end at the last person who eats the last pandesal (and yeah, that is how we spend breakfasts together), Mum started sharing her sentiments, saying that this exists from then until now...

Ugaling Tondo: If there is a land called Tondo, people having this trait will live on. I, for one, doesn't believe in her sweeping generalizations (and BEING STEREOTYPICAL), but somehow as she explained her side, there is a touch of truth. Bruised by hardships, raised by a lifestyle of isang kahid, isang tuka, and having a loud, maangas approach to anyone.

Promise of the Promised Land called Maynila: If this is still the Capital of the motherland (the Philippines), the promise will live on, no matter how false it is to some people. She elaborated her theory of political play during National Elections, why most people who became Presidents are natives of the mainland Luzon. People from other lands (i.e. Mindanao Islands) are being migrated by a politician, giving them the promise of the Promised Land ("nasa Maynila ang pag-asang mabago ang takbo ng iyong buhay, kung pinanganak kang mangingisda, hindi lang doon magtatapos iyon... blah blah blah") with a caveat: those being migrated will support the politician who sponsored their "exodus" to the Promised Land.

Ella: And then what happens after elections?
Mum: "Anong problema ko dun bilang pulitiko? Basta panalo na ako, okay na!" ("As a politician, is that my problem? As long as I win, it'll be okay!")
And so people who did the exodus seemed to be exiled. Cannot go home without enough money, not even enough to sustain their daily needs.

And yes, these are only two of her usual long list (I guess mothers have the habit of making long lists, haha). She says the corrupt practices, the political play, the crab mentality.

What my dad told us, is this:
"Nawala na ang pagiging barako ng Maynila, kasi natabunan na ng mga Beki!" (Manila lost its manly trait because it became overwhelmed with gays)

Mum conceded. She too, concurred to the comic rebuttal of dad.
And when I thought of it, yes. I have high respects with gays, and I have good friends who are effeminate at best, but I get my Dad's sentiment. One example he made mention is his dramatic encounter with his family. Mum was pregnant by then (with my eldest brother).

[cue the drama]
Dad: (to his mother) Ano naman kung buntis ang asawa ko? (and yet, they were not married by then)
Lola: Iwan mo yang babae yan, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo.
Dad: Mahal ko yung tao, at papanindigan ko siya. Bakit, sino bang makikisama? Kayo ba? AKO NAMAN DI BA?

CHEESY, I KNOW!!! But then he says:
"Ella, marami pa bang ganyang lalaki sa tingin mo - sa panahon mo ngayon? Eh kung simpleng blind date hindi ka siputin, paano pa kaya kung buntisan ka!?! Wala. Kaya kami ng nanay mo, taimtim ang dasal namin na makilala mo ang iyong katapat. Barako, at hindi ka tatakbuhan."

That is why this goodread will give you the realistic backdrop of my city, of whatever is happening before. If you are reading this in a park, or in a coffee shop, or somewhere serene, if you close your eyes, the words will being you to Misericordia, or to the old Odeon theatre in Recto, like a time machine. When you opened your eyes, you will realize how grateful you are, sitting in a soft chair inside the coffee shop, sipping your tall English breakfast gone cold.

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