On the Hazards of Walking

Some avenues and streets are conducive to reflection.

Katipunan is not one of them.

I realized this earlier today while walking back to the studio from National Bookstore. I’d covered more than half the distance when it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken my eyes off the sidewalk since I’d exited the store.

(In the concrete ecosystem that constitutes Katipunan’s supposed sidewalk, a safe traversal requires vigilant navigation through such obstacles as pits, potholes, puddles, sewers, errant tricycles, swerving taxis, double-parked sedans, triple-parked SUVs, and a number of itinerant bakeries, fishball vendors, coconut juice hawkers and Japanese corn stands. A moment’s distraction can mean either falling into a pit or getting hit by a truck or falling into a pit after getting hit by a truck.)

Such unflagging attention to details that can determine one’s physical survival means that one isn’t left with any space to think.Thinking while walking requires the safe monotony of evenly-paved roads and the absence of sudden movements within one’s peripheral vision. This is probably why the Philippines is such a mess. We don’t have the kinds of roads that support thinking. We don’t even have the kinds of roads that support walking. What we have, instead, are miniature boot camps and survival thoroughfares.

One day, I’ll think about all this at more length. But not now. Not while I’m in Katipunan.


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