Sampaloc a tourist spot?

Of late, Koreans, Africans and Iranians have become part of the crowd of Dapitan street. They ride jeepneys, eat in canteens and get soot just like the rest of us. Most came here to study. Virtually they are all over the university belt and have fairly gotten along with their everyday businesses with a few strings of Tsaghalowg: especially the untranslatable para poh and bayad poh. As an aside: Vin Diesel during a movie promo here in the Philippines said that jeepney’s the coolest ride on the planet (or to that effect). He had a photo inside a passenger jeep with one foot (with shoes on) stepping on the seat. We’ve forgotten to tell him that, “This ain’t States man, our street’s got a rich concoction of every kind of excrement and excretions.” We’re cool with that custom but it just doesn’t go well with shoes on the seat.

How do our Koreanos, Africanos and Iranianos fare with Sampaloc’s reality? They are a spectacle, specially the Afrikanos. One day I happened to cross path with one of these guys and he was like a lamp post. Do you need to be that tall?

These guys did not come here of course to spend their time under a coconut tree with pinacolada in hand. I grew up in Sampaloc without thinking ever that the place could be a tourist spot. Well, let us just put it that way. For everybody knows that Sampaloc is not White Plains, is not Makati, is not New Manilahhhh. You kind of arrive at the idea of Sampaloc via negativa. Or by sui generis Sampaloc is Sampaloc, like Tondo is Tondo. Sampaloc is like “It’s charming but it is so magulo, mausok, maingay and I always feel like someone’s stalking behind me to make dukot my wallet. But it’s charming.

During vacation some years ago in Bacolod: one evening I sat beside my aunt after dinner to watch news. The news to my discomfort was about pick-pocketing in Sampaloc, fire in Sampaloc, quarrels in Sampaloc and garbage problem in Sampaloc. I asked myself, is that so bad in our place? Television do indeed form images for us. Such that those who have not been to Sampaloc have a thoroughly mediated idea of it as portrayed by the media – intentional or not.

Luckily, the flux of foreigners studying in universities in Manila presents a different dimension of Sampaloc. Without doubt the district is indeed hugely wanting of improvements (I mean IMPROVEMENTS!) but despite these lack people coming from different countries to stay in a pang-masa place largely change common impressions. I think beside unknowingly giving the signal that Sampaloc is a safe place to live in, they do so with the realization that Filipinos aren’t that hard to get along with – another reason why you should not wage war against us, aside from the fact that war is not our hobby.                  

Apart from the “It is more fun in the Philippines” slogan, which is about places, we should also keep in mind that what is more attractive than places is people. I think we have an attractive culture. We can know this by letting ourselves be known. Peace.

We pray for the safety or our foreign students.


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