August 1, 2010

The crisis

I've made my peace with Manila and was proud to say that homesickness didn't affect me anymore and that I could call Manila "home". I felt out of place last time I visited Munich and was looking forward to come back to the Philippines were for a while now things seemed more comfortable, more familiar.

Until 2 days ago. Unsuspecting, I hailed a taxi after my pilates work-out. I had a good day, a good training session and was feeling invigorated. Barely sitting in the car, my happy day turned into a nightmare and I have yet to sleep through the night without visual flashbacks.

The short version of the story is that the taxi driver got into a verbal fight with a pedestrian who dared crossing the street in front of the car. After some shouting and lots of bad words, it got physical and the pedestrian kicked shut the door and side mirror before walking away. The taxi driver popped open the trunk, and I first assumed it was accidentally because of the door slammed that pushed him back inside. He was fuming and I tried calming him down. But instead he got out and to the trunk and pulled out a gun and ran after the pedestrian, leaving me in the running car on the middle of the street.

I grabbed my bags and got out of there as quickly as possible. I was scared he might come back and I had to intention in being in a car with a mad man. What if he's ran after me because I saw what he did? I just walked away and around the corner to get away. I didn't hear any gunshots, but I was terrified nonetheless. My body was shaking and I could feel the tears swell up in my eyes. I wasn't physically capable of hailing another taxi, so I just walked back the few minutes to my office and calmed down there. D. picked me up a while after.

Growing up here, D. was worried but not shaken to the core as I was. People seem exposed to that type of crap around here. I had never even seen a gun until I moved here. These type of stories make the news in Munich and I don't know anyone who even knows anyone to whom something remotely similar happened. So how does one get over this experience and move on?

I had to ride another taxi going to work today and my pulse was racing throughout the trip.
If I were unpractical (and rich), I would pack my bags and hop into the next flight to Munich or Paris. I find myself wondering if I could deal with such things in the future. Can I raise children in such an environment. D. wants me to get a car, but there have been plenty of carnapping stories in the news lately and I'm not talking remote areas in the middle of the night, but streets I pass regularly. Is safety a sacrifice I have to make living here?

I want to forget about it sooner rather than later and be able to live without wondering if I'd be better off living in Europe. I used to see all the advantages of living in Manila, now all I see is the negative. I still hope prevails that time will heal wounds and erase memory.

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