On the Obstinacy of Traffic


For reasons unfathomable, the metropolis has turned—virtually overnight—into the world’s largest parking lot. From Pasig to Makati, from EDSA to Shaw, the entire road system is in total gridlock. I’m accustomed to Manila traffic—have written novels, composed symphonies, invented religions, cured cancer, brokered world peace and achieved extraterrestrial contact in the long stretches between points of departure and arrival—and I’ve still been flabbergasted by the vehicular constipation of the past two days.

It’s been, in a phrase, utterly baffling.

And it’s been pervasive too. Twice in the last few days I’ve veered off C5 out of sheer intimidation—and found all my alternative routes (i.e., Ortigas, Julia Vargas, Lanuza, Henry Javier, etc. ) to be just as bad. It doesn’t help that my impending month-long departure requires handling errands in at least four different cities (which may as well be four different countries given the length of time and amount of effort required for travel).

My only consolation on the road has been a stash of original Mariah Carey CDs lent by the father of a very good friend (don’t ask). While the expansion of her bust size has unfortunately correlated, in recent years, with the contraction of her vocal range, Ms. Carey was, during her peak, one of the best female artists of her time, and to this day, I can sing every single line of every single track of her Daydream album (albeit at two octaves lower than Ms. Carey’s renditions, and even then I have to do an occasional falsetto).

Still, listening to a favorite artist from bygone times can get just a tad bit old when you’ve heard the same CD five times straight, and the wall of traffic in front of you means you’ll get to listen to it five times more. All of which simply means that I’ll need to start digging for my Carpenters collection.

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