Christmas at Singapore 12.24

Today was spent looking for gifts for Mom and Dad with Tricia and Patrick. We woke up quite late and rode the bus at around 10:15 am. It was already 11 am when we arrived at City Hall station. Most of the time was spent looking, comparing prices, getting disappointed, grumbling, getting distracted, buying things for ourselves, and not buying the gifts we intended to buy at the outset. Singapore is almost a network of malls and it would be unSingaporean, it seems, to not shop.

I bought three items for myself, a red bow tie, red suspenders, and black trousers (pricey ones, I must admit; I’m not a very strategic spender or product hunter). Tricia bought a lot for herself, and Patrick bought a few stuff as well. I don’t know how to spend my money, to tell the truth. I’m not much of a shopper and I find that the whole activity is uninteresting on paper. We ate spicy things. It rained while we ate.

It’s nice to ride the train here again. Nice train, nice stations. They’re convenient and accommodating and not too grimy. They’re exponentially better than what I have to put up with every day at the MRT in Manila.

Bus rides are nice here, too. They’re not the kind that will throw you out the window every time the driver steps on the break. They’re not the kind that zooms around like a small car, flitting in between other vehicles and cutting every car it sees and making a mess of things on the road, like holding up traffic on four different roads. They know their place and that is as it should be.

Although I miss some of the convenience that malls and other stores in Manila offer (like 7-11s; pharmacies, toy stores, book stores, and card stores in every mall), I generally don’t miss Manila. It has caused me pain and grief and general sickness. There are more parts of it that I don’t like than the parts of it that I like and need. In this place, it’s the opposite.

Cavite is different. Cavite’s okay. It’s home.

People back home are generally rude, mistrustful, and have a lack of common niceties and good etiquette. (Hmm perhaps that’s just Manila. When commuting.) But I understand. More people are poor, and a lot of people will do anything to survive. It has caused crime and suffering and pain and people should be more careful about other people. They live in discomfort and they have learned to harden themselves to other people. Niceties and politeness are often forgotten because some people have grown in harsh environments. They did not need it, or have grown with parents who aren’t good role models to their children. Some children didn’t have parents at all. People will do anything to survive.

People here have grown in comfort. The economy’s good. The government supports them. There is discipline. People are nice to you and the majority abides the law. This is also a melting pot of various cultures so more often than not, people have difficulty understanding one another. I have that difficulty. I don’t really get why some people kept talking even when it’s clear to both parties that they don’t really understand one another. Maybe they just like hearing themselves talk.

People are nice here. They live in comfort, their wages are okay. Maybe they aren’t really worried and all that because they can go through the day just fine without thinking about how bad their neighborhood is or that they just want to survive the following week. And that attitude accumulates and creates a certain kind of trust in the system and the community. The system and the network/construct/community looks after them, they just have to abide the law, and they have no problem with that. The law is strict. Only a few would dare break them and suffer the consequence. Why would they break it anyway? It’s sensible. You don’t have to be in a hurry in the worst ways possible. You follow the rules, the government will leave you alone.

Back home, the authority is something to fear even when you’re doing nothing wrong because almost always, they’ll find a way to fuck with you so that they could have your money, get their bit of entertainment, and maybe have their chance to vent by doing something nasty like beat you up. Almost nobody trusts the authorities. The media and word of mouth made sure of that, too. Almost everybody has been a victim of the authorities’ efforts to make a quick buck on you. And if they didn’t like you at all, they’ll hurt you until you say “please stop” or they will just kill you outright. Who trusts the police?

This is the law of the land: every man or woman for him/herself. Any sense of community is merely a facade to serve their own purposes. There could be nicer communities somewhere, true enough. But they’re quite outside my realm of experience.

People back home will humor you, though. People here seem snobbish and intimidating. I guess. And since everybody’s from a different culture, it’s hard to take it easy on what you’re gonna say and most of it is gonna be lost in translation anyway.

People back home form closer relationships easier, I think. We’re a sentimental, romantic lot. Sometimes too sentimental to the point of over-cheesiness. Or clinginess.

People here don’t seem the type that like any physical contact. Or some comfort in each other. I don’t know.

But that’s just me. I’m just a visitor. And I can’t speak for everyone from where I come from. I seem to have contradicted myself over the course of my rambling. That’s the thing: I don’t know. I don’t know where I belong. My head is in the clouds and I don’t know where home is, actually. I wanna keep looking and explore places I haven’t been to. But then I don’t know where my life is headed either. I just feel the need to put a small piece of a small part of the world into my head. To help me grow perhaps? Maybe if I traveled more, I’ll know where I’m headed. It will keep me driven somehow.

Oh what am I talking about. Maybe this is a sort of “out of place” or “out of home” sickness. That confusion of now knowing where to go or belong. I’ll try exploring my mind instead. I remember Alan Moore placing so much importance in the power of one’s imagination and I thought I should follow that more often. I’ve imagined so much but I don’t know how to use it. I don’t have the practicalities of a writer nor the street smarts to make it. I should write more fiction. The things that happen in mind are more interesting than real life things that happen in days like this.

I shall return to those fictions soon.

*end of rambling*

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