Friday, December 30, 2016

Dawn Mass

On the first day of the Misa de Gallo, I succeeded in dragging Nanay V. to hear the dawn mass at the Santa Ana church, which was quite far, but not too far from where we live in Makati. It was still dark when we arrived. The mass had not started yet but most of the seats in front, where I can get an almost magical view of the altar, were already occupied. Nanay dragged me to one of the last remaining seats at the back, where we managed to sneak our not so tiny bodies in a crowded pew. The church, old as it is, is rather small by modern standard, but look at its design and architecture! Think about how, at the height of the bombardment in Manila in the second world war, a mass of people had once flocked into this church to seek refuge. Outside, the statue of the Lady of the Abandoned beckoned.
How  I came to live here and knew about this church was a series of serendipitous encounters.  In 2011, I came upon a Palanca-winning essay about life in an old horserace track before the property owner finally caved in to the pressures of development. I set aside that essay for a while and moved on with my life until late this year, when I was called to work here.  Trying to figure out where and how I'd live, I traced the map with my fingers, ignoring Ja's voice behind me telling me I'd be living very near the old race track in Makati. Ja used to know the capital like the palm of his hand. Long after I arrived and already sleeping in my room, I can still hear Ja's voice faintly reverberating in my ears but I continued to ignore it. 
Until one day,  diligently thumbing through the stories in the Arts and Letters section, I was drawn to a particular story which had caught my eye.  It was a book of the author who wrote about the old race track! I started reading and came upon the old church on the Old Panaderos Street.
Days later, I came to meet an old timer who, as a young journalist, used to haunt the old race track for stories and who personally knew the writer of the old race track herself! 
We had dinner at the Makati Circuit, site of the old race track! Sometimes, when I think about these serendipitous encounters, I feel some magical forces working. I did not come here entirely on my own.  

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