Mondays certainly reek, as Garfield would say. Reek of what, I dunno. I'm supposed to be upbeat and optimistic on the first day of the workweek, but this morning I learned from our househelp that there are people moving in next door, in the middle unit of the three apartment doors on the second floor where we now live.
Well, that should not be so bad considering we have somehow wanted to have a neighbor for an added feeling of security, especially since we've heard from the yayas that the previous occupants of our unit were broken in by thieves at, take note, 7 in the morning. Actually the moment I heard that story I wanted to pack our belongings and scamper off to the next safest place which I could not think of afterwards, but after a few deliberations, I thought that anywhere in Manila, is not safe. Ironic, but true.
I think an ounce of prevention is what is needed to reassure myself that we (Gabby especially) will be out of harm's way. Oliver is getting crazy over my paranoia every night, fastening every window with electric wires and bolting the door with deadlocks, footbolt, barrel bolt, and all the furniture I could muster to put behind the door. I know how frustrated he feels, but you see, it is distressing enough to remind myself that the reason why we moved to this place is because we wanted a better home than the previous one where we had to put up with a pesk of a landlady who badgered us no end, when all we've wanted there was to have some quiet and to be able to forget about the traumatic past when we were broken in by thieves at 6 in the evening. I think I will never get over the shock of having been trespassed by people whose identities to this day remain unknown to me. So I hope Oliver would understand why we're virtually locking us in. I need that to help me sleep through the night.
Anyway, back to the new neighbors. The bad news is that they are Maranaos. Not that I have anything against them as a tribe, or a group, or a culture. With my very limited knowledge about these people from Maguindanao, or Marawi, it would not be fair to pass a general judgement unto them. However, they, the new neighbors, are the relatives of our other present neighbors who are practically occupying 90% of the whole apartment compound, the rest of us being Ilonggo, Bicolano and Visayan.
Now, what I'm grumbling about is the fact that they are terrible SLOBS. They, as I have observed, are a filthy, grubby, messy lot who leave disgusting marks of their spit and piss anywhere they please, not even sparing the 2nd floor stairs. I should have known better than to get bothered by such trivial things. But when you pass by a place that smell like nothing short of excrement everyday, it makes your innards revolt, and HATE the slobs who leave filthy traces of themselves anywhere. As far as I know, we are the only ones I've seen sweeping the dust off our windows and the balcony, which by the way, is a common area for all five units on the second floor. Save for the Visayans who live at the far end of the apartment, the rest of them are just oblivious about their environment. To think they own cars and have kids! We are probably the poorest tenants who live there anyway, but certainly not the inconsiderate ones!
We wanted to make friends with these Maranaos, occasionally trying to flash a shy smile at them , just so to break some cold, hard ice--but they (the men particularly) just shot back an angry, if not hostile, look at us. The women are either shy or they share the same belligerent attitude towards everyone outside their creed, I don't know. But I swear that their kids go up to our unit everyday, sharing food with my son Gabby, playing with his toys, reading his books---and I don't have an inch of hatred for them.
Well, as I was trying to get a sneak of our new neighbors, I saw one woman was dressed in malong and didn't seem to have bothered to comb her hair and wash her face. I felt an instant aversion. I don't know, I think it's wrong to think it, but I feel maybe we deserve better neighbors. I don't care if they all have big cars or millions of pesos. I'm not scheming to discourse about their religion either.
Remembering the short story of hemingway, I feel that what all we middle-class great unwashed want is just a tidy, clean-smelling---well-lighted place. It isn't much to ask for, is it?
Anyway, speaking of bigotry, last night Oliver and I watched Monster's Ball at HBO. At first I was bored with the movie---I suppose I wasn't in a suitable condition to appreciate it while I was trying to put Gabby to sleep, wrestling him to the mattress half of the time. But when I finally had Gabby snoozing, I sat upright and thought, wow, this is one gripping movie. I was mesmerized by Billy Bob Thornton's character, Hank, whose bitterness and racial hatred for colored people was altered when his son (Heath Ledger, who had only a brief but compelling role) took his life away, for reasons that Hank and everything unspoken that had shrouded them in their fallen relationship as father and son had caused. Hally Berry as Leticia, the widow of the last convict that Billy Bob and Heath saw to his deathwalk, was brilliant.
The movie kept me thinking all through the night, about human bondage, the deafening silences of unspoken feelings, and the why and wherefores of it. Monster's Ball was a movie of symbolisms although we were terribly disappointed that we didn't see the sex scene (damn chauvinists!), between Halle and Billy Bob-which reportedly turned in 1 million more dollars for Halle Berry by baring her great bod.