The day he arrived in Manila was one of the most exciting moments of Emeliano’s life.
The sun was up at its scorching peak but he didn’t mind it at all. It’s as if the stress was washed away by the scenery in the horizon. He stuck his head out the window of the bus as the wind of a better future kissed his face with a welcoming coolness. He saw towering concrete buildings racing for the sky, bustling pedestrians, a few calesas and automobiles. All these sights made his heart leap with joy. It’s just the beginning of wonderful things to come, he probably thought.
Manila for sure was on a transition to join the industrialization of other key cities of the world, and it was a risky transition that he just had to partake in.
He came from Bicol– a strapping young lad ready to seek greener pastures in a promising city that was Manila. At eighteen, Emeliano left home to fulfill his dream of a better life away from the fields, the trees, the mountains and the sea.
He felt discontented living a life among farm animals. He loved his home, his parents, his grandfather and his brothers who were scattered among his uncles and aunties back in his hometown. Indeed, he loved them with all his life, but there was a fire in his mind and soul that raged on. It was dark during nights in the province and he had heard tales of enchanting lights, blinking all throughout the night in another place. A better place.
He’d only had experience working in the fields and in the sea, with occasional jobs in construction sites and as a cook for a rural eatery. He didn’t have any diploma to show, just the optimism and ardor to make it in life. On that glorious day of his arrival, he only had a couple of bills in his pocket and a piece of paper with a direction to reach his destination,
He stayed in the house of his Tiya Maria in a little town in the metro called Pateros, the center of commerce and trading of balut and the then, famous alfombra slippers in the 70’s. He shared a room with his cousin Imben who just ended his work with a construction site as the building neared completion and lesser workers were needed. Together, they went out everyday looking for a job.
Emeliano landed a job in construction. He worked day and night, as a foreman and as a help in his auntie’s small piggery. He was efficient in his job; making sure materials were well approximated and evenly distributed. He was entrusted of keeping the inventory. He also took care of the pigs, making sure it was well fed and clean. He also did rounds in the neighborhood to collect kitchen and table scraps to be used for feeding the pigs. In one of those instances, Emeliano thought the city already threw all the beautiful things it could throw at his direction.
It probably happened one sunny Sunday morning.
To be continued…