The only respite I thought of yesterday morning after my night-shift job was my college apartment. Our house in Bulacan, though unscathed from the rains, isn't a good option: the routes are either flooded or to be flooded. (Later that day, my father would text me that they're having a brownout and though the house is relatively dry, they're having a hard time dealing with the remaining water supply).

While having a breakfast at McDonald's--the Crispy Chicken Burger which I scorned all throughout the meal, having thought of it as nothing but beef gunk, mayonnaise patted only on one side of the sandwich (it created this half-moon)--Chee told me it isn't a good idea to go home. My girlfriend and I found ourselves considering Los Banos, which we hastily did with a taxi and another bill of Php150. I've never liked taxis or the rates they employ, but in those times where we just wanted to get out of Manila, it's the most reasonable amount to pay for.

Oh, good lord. Just by the sight of the Fiesta Deli in Agapita--a kind of a Room of Requirement novelty store which sells just about anything, when you need it (last week's Chicken Samosa, this week's Chorizo, etc.)--I had this really good feeling in my chest, the way writers write about coming back to where I came from. I did grew up in Los Banos for five years, and it formed me. It was the subject of (over)sentimentality, of (and this is Lacan's) going back to plenitude, to paradise.

I ate lunch with my girlfriend at the carinderia where I almost always eat my meals during college, and for Php115 we had two bowls of nilaga and three cups of rice and a fried chicken and shanghai, plus chilled rambutan for dessert (for free). The turon vendor near the provenan (where they sell deep-fried chicken proventriculus) asked us to sit for a while. We bought some avocados across the street (Php20 a kilo), then bought some cheap rambutan in the talipapa just by Raymundo Gate. I recognized a few faces: a cousin, an old friend, an old professor, but the rest of the faces I longed to meet have graduated last year, too, and Los Banos was just another place, like a portrait on the wall we've been wanting to get in a la Blue's Clues.

We ended at Robinson's and hoarded groceries. Everybody else did.