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by Lionel Emil Javier |

by: m.


Illustrations from: KidIllus


Me and my friend were having a conversation a few weeks ago inside a Grab ride. It was a Tuesday afternoon, and we were stuck in traffic. As very friendly banters would go, we were talking about all these wonderful countries like Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. All of these countries had very lively art all over the city – and he was not talking about scribbles and murals, although it was present: he was talking about houses. Streets. All of which are pretty ordinary, if you think about it.

But the thing was, he’s pointing out how colorful they were that he considered it artful.

As he was explaining, I interjected with a question: “So… what’s your point?”

He immediately told me this: “I wish Manila was this colorful and less dull.”

That may not be the most accurate recollection of a conversation, but it got me thinking really hard: with all the talks about grit and grind, have we really pictured Manila as grunge?An interview with a local artist I was very fond of described Manila to have “a certain kind of aesthetic grunge.”

All things considered, I was really puzzled at how things don’t seem to lock in. I often hear people talk about the ‘hustle’ in our country, so the terms ‘grind’ and ‘grit’ are super familiar for me.You could even say that it’s a way of life.

I think Filipinos are familiar with the hustle, and have been living life like that.

You can say that there are really far gaps at the cultures of the mentioned countries with ours. That is a hundred percent valid. But I was curious. I was hungry for an answer.

I wanted things to make sense.

And then I recollect about the history of our country. Its current state, and how subjective the view of culture would be with each Filipino citizen. I remember the current state of our country and its streaks of mishaps and trials that streamlines all the way down to the past.

Then it kind of clicked.

What if the reason why Manila was so grungy to my friend is because the people around us were seeing life as grungy, too? What if the dirt and grime we see along the roads of Buendia is how we relate to everything that makes the Philippines a country?

Or maybe it’s the social atmosphere that we have.

The way we see our life reflects with how we interact with it. The same goes with how we represent and see our country.Characteristics are only fruits, and not the root itself.

Everything may not be rainbows and sunshine, but life’s not just about the grit and grind of it.

So, I really hope you’re asking: “so what was the point of this article?”

I’m giving you something you might want to think about. Just because something as trivial as colors around the Philippines is not a need for the country right now doesn’t mean that it didn’t start a relevant dialogue with a person like me. Maybe it got you thinking, too.

To sum up this thought-invoking write-up, it’s time to ask ourselves: how do we live our lives?

We’ve only got one life to be curious about.