“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.”—Lisa Kleypas, Blue-Eyed Devil (via durianquotes)
“Bourne Legacy” director Tony Gilroy once said of Manila, “It’s just so colorful and ugly and gritty, raw and stinky and crowded.”
It’s the kind of statement that you’d expect would land Gilroy before a mob of angry Filipinos, but the quote, which was uttered on PBS’ “Charlie Rose Show” early this year, barely made a blip. There was no outrage — none of the jeers Lucy Liu got when she said she didn’t want to get dark because it would make her look “a little Filipino;” no calls by Malacañang for a public apology, as the Palace did when Teri Hatcher’s character on “Desperate Housewives” asked to check her doctor’s diplomas “to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines;” and no threats of a persona non grata declaration, as Hong Kong columnist Chip Tsao received when he called the country a “nation of servants.”
Perhaps it’s because what Gilroy said is true. Even in the city’s brightest corners, I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’d argue that Metro Manila, this chaotic urban sprawl of 13 million inhabitants, isn’t gritty and raw, and stinky, and crowded. Visitors are stunned by the traffic, the poverty, and the collocation of shanties and skyscrapers. A Singaporean tourist I met this week, speaking on the shambles of the city’s heritage sites, exclaimed, “There’s nothing here!” At least Filipinos are a heck-load fun, he said. This was his consolation.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had two years ago. I was walking in Ho Chi Minh with a group of folks I met at a film conference when I was introduced to a Swedish math lecturer who had spent a few months teaching in the Philippines. He started telling me about his time in the country, and he uttered the most poetic description of our 7,107 islands that I’ve ever heard.
He said, “The Philippines is such a crazy place, and yet you meet the sanest people in the world there.”
“There’s an opposite to déjà vu. They call it jamais vu. It’s when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is always a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar.”—Chuck Palahniuk, Choke (via 13neighbors)