The last two days in Manila, the last days of an amazing stay on the Philippines, a journey closer and closer to myself, exploring balance and peace of mind.
After a miserable try to get my head tattooed here in Manila, for god sake I was sober enough not to go for the turd I would have now to endure, I decided to kill some beers, slaughter a pig and hunt some punters down. Best company I can imagine, my spiritual brother Levi. We met at the Kalinga tribe. We met and set. Sometimes something happens for good. I would have been rather on my single room, meditating the pain, sticked with my head on the pillow. Instead, raging the disappointment of a failed inked landmark, I ended up with best people, drinking, enjoying the alternative of Makati and its red light district, hanging out with artists, all kinds of boarders, dudes and other eminently precious scum. At places I would have never discovered by my own, realizing again the wide variety of choices you have here in Manila. With pride and self-awareness, hearty and naughty. Subversive and angry. – The glossy nightmares of the Manila. Thank you Levi for introducing me to your crew and for introducing yourself as a bro. Thank you home, thank you Kalinga. Some – not even – bars reminded me of Berlin, boozy but without vegan burgers. A gang needs blood between its anger, right? Other places of Munich, posh, classy but with a metropolitan taste, the salient contrast. And Red Horse, the worst dark beer I ever had to suffer, in particular the following day. This is what I was searching for! Some rigid asian subculture. Fuck my head, fuck the inky souvenir, this is a start, this is worth the disapointment – shame on me I was, what the fuck, move on! One more many-reasons to return. The shared gratefulness leaves me as humble as fullfilled. I guess I am getting on my old days a bit spiritual, even though no worries, sacrificing on the sarcastic part of a vomitive karma. I was back at the guesthouse on 4 a.m. Alone, sneaking in, no reports, no records, no bragging about… guess I start to peel off my backpack. My notebook holds again some pages of passionate fury about the behaviour of the so called backpacker community. But you know what, I am not part of this world. I don´t waste my energy anymore on them. I sneak and hide, I tear my heart and rage if necessary, but I don´t waste my focus because of their existence, which is more a rustling noise, small human beings. “You wanna join us?” “I never wanted, my loved munchkin in the grass.” Oh, I feel the sour waves of anger rolling against my abundance of arrogance – switch.
On the next day I woke up in a the dark arse of the Red Horse. The last day before I catch the plane tomorrow morning. And my plan was to visit Cesar and the homeless in the cemetery, bring some cash with me and see how they are doing. My body was hardly movable. Neither focusing worked, no horizon in the dark arse in sight. And I knew, the visit will be intense and I will have to put myself together, not to break out in tears or feeling uncomfortable, paranoid by inattention, hang over damage. I crawled outside, nervously twinkling behind sunglasses. Had a bagel, a muffin, a coffee, felt more worst after. The light was loading up, yellow laminated darkened sky. I needed to go. I will feel very bad if I wouldn´t have kept my promise and more not knowing how they are, because of a drunken selfish fun night. No remorse. Cesar was in front of the entrance, greeting me with a smile, guiding me inside, explaining to a guy I haven´t seen before, sitting on the ground, under a pink pillow, homemade security post, that I was here before and I am only here to talk to him, Cesar, he translated. “My sister was suspicious about you too, but I told her, Florian only tries to help us and he will come back, you will see.” We passed his former grave for the night. It was demolished. The church, by order of the descendants, closed the memorial. So Cesar had to move to his daughters place. They share now a family grave, split up with a baffle made of cardboard boxes, the roof patched up by all kinds of plastic, about not a lower arm high from the stony mattress. “When it is raining like yesterday at night, we can not sleep, it´s leaking and very loud.” On one side the tomb is broken at the top, the coffin half rotten, revealing a still for god sake half covered by a red shroud decaying head. As we approached the family grave Cesar was shouting in tagalo, “[…] Florian […] Florian!” Some kids followed, one of the younger girls holding my hand, smiling. She was so scared when I first was here, about 28 days ago. The daughter welcomed me like the most of the residents of this surrealistic hell, unconfident, but denying. Ceasr explained, that the other part of the cemetery is abandoned now. The more younger homeless, more involved in illegal art of survival, opened all the coffins, took everything, what has a value, gold teeth, jewelries and other grave goods. I had to think of my bro Travis. The tomb raider would only find a pebble, covered by stacked blood, a wandering mojo. “The father was complaining why me or the others didn´t stop them. How can I? They are young and violent. They don´t want to work. They could easily find a job there”, pointing on the threatening construction site just directly behind the north wall of the cemetery, “but they are lazy. I am over-aged. Hopefully I can renew my driver license so I can work as a taxi driver. I have a friend, he is the owner of a taxi company, he promised to offer me a job if I have the licence.” I saw tears in his eyes. Again, like the visit before, the smiles disappeared, their heads falling down, I am again surrounded by hanged man, the living deads. I prepared already an envelope with some cash. When I gave Cesar the money, he didn´t even check how much it is, putting it ashamed in his pocket. This time he pleased me not to tell the others. “I need the money, Florian, I need a job. I need the money to renew my licence.” He has not to explain anything to me. Who am I to judge how he should spend the money. I feel very touched by him, in person, his fortune, his past, his wife, who already was condemned to death, the doctor, who took advantage and embedded him and his children to the vicious circle of poverty. Improving his life means improving the lives of the other 7 families, living here. I would never forget. “I hope next time, when you come back, I can offer you a chair, I can rent an apartment.” Tears rising, “Close your heart, close, not now, not here.” Rain was starting. “Please don´t tell the guard, ok?” “No worries, Cesar, I have some more money, I can give him, so he will not ask.” I told cesar the money I gave him is fundraised. I feel better if he thanks not me in person, which only works in my mind, but it works. We walked around. “You see my cats. We have snakes next to our sleeping place, I feed the cats to keep them alive, when the snakes approach, they will warn us.” I delivered the rest of my money to Bird, the guard, who is installed by the church. Suddenly his grumpy look turns into a smile. “Please share to the others.” Less smile. The kids posed for some pictures, calling me “Mr. Tattoo!”, after “Hello Florian.” They remembered me. I promise to return. I promise it from the bottom of my heart. I wish Cesar… it sounds so not enough… heart, bottom, wish… “I thank god for sending you again, that he used you as an instrument, to suport me in the right moment.” Writing this makes me crying… if man are that lost, only their belief keeps them alive… his god took everything from him… I still see the deeply rooted desperation of his lostness, emptiness. “I will be back, Cesar, I promise and we will have coffee at your apartment.” We both, maybe I persuade myself of, have tears in our eyes. Maybe because we know, that just to believe in a shift of fortune, needs more than an image of a godness. But there is now a tiny chance… sometimes it seems something is pulling the strings. Coincidence of the coincidence.
Thank you Philippines, thanks to all of you, my brothers and… no sisters yet… anyway, thank you, I return, guess this is my tip of the hat and I pull it, you metaled my day, in a most surpising inspiring and illuminating way.