A city brims with a million writing prompts. Cityland in Makati reminds me of a quick piece I wrote about a Chinese restaurant there, aptly named Peace and Happiness, which got renamed into something like Lao Beijing. The footbridge at Buendia triggers afresh that scene in 1999, when my mom and I are crossing the footbridge headed to SM North Edsa, and a snatcher seized her bag in broad daylight. A tug of war ensued. I couldn’t remember anything else about that incident but the feeling of defenselessness – what could a nine year-old do anyway? But the footbridge in Buendia is a different story: straggling each side of a major thoroughfare you would imagine it to be well-kept. But ever since I worked in Makati in 2013, this footbridge has always been a spot of homeless people. The stench of refuse supermarket bags and excreta in plastic mayonnaise jugs is overwhelming; no N-95 mask works. Imagine: For ten years the same perennial problem exists. There is simply no other way to cross the three-lane avenue to the nearby Wendy’s to wait for someone without crossing this footbridge. Enter a branch of Wendy’s, recently renovated, with what looked more like a kiosk than a salad bar that was very popular in the 90s, now touting a limited edition Chimichurri Beef Burger, which the cashier said would take 8 minutes to do, and which the guy behind the burger bar had slathered way too much chimichurri that my wife, having seen a picture underneath my mild complaint, said resembled baby poop. Mildly revolting, but I finished the burger, even while overlooking the footbridge, with commuters swiftly tucking their masks back behind their ears.

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