I was in Binondo on a Saturday night, two days before the Chinese New Year zigzagging my way through a swarm of people, all bent on scrounging for crumbs of good luck in these trying times. An old lady in thin white socks looking to buy chimes to welcome fortune. A cranky middle-aged man finding in a gold-colored frog the answer to floundering profit margins. An imperious matron with haughty eyebrows, hoping that jade mandarin ducks will be all it takes to get her husband back. A new couple, high on love but down on luck, make promises to each other as ephemeral as the delicate Chinese paper on which they pay the toothless old vendor to write their fortunes for the year of the Ox. The vendors hawk their wares loudly, in an almost indecipherable mix of English, Tagalog and Chinese, hawking everything from tikoy to redemption.
I was alone. Gus was stuck in the usual traffic snarl at Morayta. I decided to plod on and walk the entire stretch of Ongpin, entering stores that caught my fancy, stopping by the occasional food stall for a bite of moon cake or a ball of buchi given gratis. There was something intimidating about the rows of feng shui stores and those who entered them. It seemed everyone who came in knew right on what they came in for. One Nine Phoenixes, two kwei stars and hurry up, a jade talisman – the list was endless. No one had any time to attend to the Filipino-looking, non-Chinese speaking girl who could not say what she wanted.
I saw a feng shui store with not a lot of people inside and hurried to get in. A Chinese couple welcomed me profusely and asked me what I needed. I wasn’t really sure, so I just said I was born in the year of the monkey.
“Lucky… lucky… monkey” the man said in broken English.
“Really? That’s great!” I was happy. Who doesn’t want to be told he or she was going to be lucky?
“Much money…. Much happiness…. Much love…” he cackled, showing me a laminated board with all the chinese signs and their fortunes in the year of the Ox. He then told me that this is a good year for me to visualize all the things I want, because the stars appear to in my favor. Write it down, both of them prodded me.
Make your dreams as big as the universe.
And so I did.
- A new CARP law for the farmers. With the whole goody-bag of farmer-friendly benefits like indefeasibility of EP-CLOA, permanent prohibition on non-redistributive schemes like stock distribution options, and…. life imprisonment with no chance of parole for perpetrators of agrarian related violence.
- More magical trips to hidden parts of the Philippines. I feel no compulsion to hit yet another shopping mall of yet another visa-less country in Southeast Asia via yet another Cebu Pacific promo. I want to stay here, visit our secret crevices, walk down our sandy shorelines, watch the stars amidst a lush confusion of foliage, explore caves and mountains and open spaces.
- To have me and my loved ones forever free from the threat of illness – no trips to the hospital, no medicine bottles, no anything hanging like a gray overcast cloud. To know that we can live free and boundless, bear children in wombs that work, take long bus trips to forever, run off to far off places that do not have a municipal health center
- A house on a small farmlot in the province, far from the rest of the world but within the radius of Smart Bro. Preferably near any body of water. I am utterly convinced that all I need in life are brewed coffee, google, and the kind of love that corroborates who I am.
But then again, universe, I can always settle for much less. Like a new laptop to replace this old and creaking one.🙂