DISPLACEMENT doesn't need distance. It's an urban commonplace where estrangement and enmity happen with the frequency of a fire alarm or the screaming siren of an ambulance. Here's a reprint from my latest opinion column in Sun.Star Cebu (29 August 2006 issue):
Thank the heavens we’re no planets, or we’d be on a collision course more often than we hear prophets of doom about the world’s end.
Long before scientists bumped off Pluto from the planetary clique, and whittled it down to size as merely a “dwarf planet,” our own world has been getting smaller. To the level of the trivial goes our trite tendency for turf wars and clan rivalries, after all. As if we were aliens among ourselves hardwired for each other’s invasion.
Why, here this side of the equator, even a parking space becomes a battleground. Or so it seems to the son of Cebu’s governor and the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (CIIB) who were in the mood for Star Wars in front of the entrance of an uptown bar one recent night.
Hotheads of the world, unite; you have nothing to lose but your cool.
True, it’s getting cramped in here up to a choking point, and spitting fire comes breezy where there’s barely a breathing space for a handshake. We’d never run out of bones for each other’s contention, and going to the dogs seems to be the only way to push borders, if not to stretch our threshold of tolerance or patience.
Finding a place or even a day unbroken by the usual outbreak of hostility looks like a blind wager while astronomers now get more elbow room to redefine and render obsolete our notion of the solar system.
Talk about finding a place under the sun, and we might as well cover ourselves against ultra-violent rays with newspapers perennially stifling and blood-stewing from the prerequisites of conflict.
Space is of the essence, but that sounds as esoteric as astral travel where there are hardly public places to sit down awhile under a tree and to let the ill wind stirring in one’s head to scatter in the manner of dry leaves.
If looking for a parking space gets as dizzy as steering one’s way out of labyrinths, as motorists can attest, finding a park could be the fastest way to reach a dead end. Or, to rub elbows with lovers, licit or otherwise, whose threadbare intimacy and privacy are frayed at the edges by the invasion of the city’s derelicts and perverts bracing for their prey.
Spaced-out. That’s what one intuits while loitering through the heart of the metro where the homeless, beggars, and vendors might as well have raised their stakes in the sidewalks and overpasses. The bottleneck, clearly, is not only down the road where rage goes with the exhaust fumes.
Getting into each other’s way, unlike planets in their respective orbits, there’s plenty of time and lot of space only for breathing smoke down each other’s necks.