Photo by Angelo Nico Daroy
Today, I will vote for change.
Fear instantly invades my being, and I start to tremble all over. I stare at my pot, at the earrings I skillfully plucked from an unknown woman’s ears, I remember all the rules that I have broken, all the tiny actions and illegal transactions and I knew I committed what I should not have. I walk as fast as a hunted stray, walking towards where I should be. My vision blurs, my speech slurs, and all I remember afterwards was seeing the gray sky lying parallel to me.
Today, I just added more credentials to my NBI resume.
In the early rising of the sun, I stuff myself with the best my social class can afford, and I leave the remains unattended. I hurriedly crossed the street while the traffic was ten seconds away from me. I clutch my phone while passing by a dark alley, and I just got to the payment center on time, on time to be the 87th in line. What better way to get past through all this but elbow the officer whilst shaking his hand with a hundred-peso bill, firmly folding it to fit between his stout fingers.
In a few minutes, I exit the humid crowded room and go on with my perfect day. Or at least that is what I thought. Instead, two officers suddenly escort me to a station with my folded bill kept on a Ziploc. Imbeciles! Their rates must have gone higher! Long story short, I got sanctioned and filing a police clearance is something I can never do anymore.
In the night, they switch off the street lights and turn off boom boxes, all leaving nothing but a view as good as shutting my eyes. At 1:00 a.m., I lie in bed thinking what could have been if change did not take over. This is not what I fought for!
“But I thought you wanted change,” the voice said.
“I did not know it would be like this.”
As I wake up to the sound of sirens and pleading voices of countrymen who refuse to accept the change they once so passionately longed for, I furiously shake my head in disgust at the hypocrisy that I myself have learned to grow with, because I, years ago after all, so blindly had my finger inked as a symbol of patriotism I thought was enough of a contribution. Remembering my longing desire to eradicate inequality – may it be in power, may it be in wealth – sends the most brutal tingles through my bones since this personal desire is going to send my own soul to the darkest depths of my Bilibid apartment.
I used to spit out chants of support along with the hopes of roaming around the streets having zero percent fear. But now, I have become fear myself. The walls of the Dam of Change have broken but I swam and rowed and traveled against it. Who would have thought that asking for change would have to mean being it, itself? No single voice sold that to me when the market was open. If I only knew, I would undoubtedly not have bought it.
In my hands now, is a pair of striking emerald earrings from a woman who thought every soul swam with the current brought forth by the breaking of the dam. My fingers caress the eye-blinding beauty of these gems and I immediately visualize the fortune I can make out of them. But with that visualization comes the image of a red-faced fuming president running after me, dumping me in the most depressive four walls the country has ever had.
Perhaps, my only escape now is the man who barely attended a meeting in the Senate, the same man whom I have put in that seat for the sole reason that he started his campaign basically throughout his career of violence as a form of entertainment. He might not know what I am doing, he might consider exceptions. Or perhaps, my other only escape is finding a job entailing me to dub every single modern song on television and I might just win the heart of the man sitting in the studio dropping jokes like deflected bombs.
Perhaps, I can blind them just exactly how they did to me three years ago. Perhaps, I can but I cannot.
This distress has me lighting today’s dose of escape. Even with that man’s intense hatred for drug-induced citizens, as of the moment there is absolutely no other route my ride called life can take. I missed the bus that would’ve taken me far from where I am currently positioned in – a place far from this hell I am living in. At this point, lighting this up is the only consolation I have left.
How do I even begin to fathom what has become of me? Is what I am really what I want? Or am I who I was except all others have moved far forward? Should I begin to feel regret, to feel remorse?
It has been a long dragging sorrowful year since I spent life here in prison and there is only one thing this repentance club taught me. It should have always been, “Today, I will change.”