One of my fondest memories in college was of a classmate who is a committed long-distance walker. On the surface, the guy is clearly saving up money for costly rides, although he always defends, “I just likes looking at nature. And it’s fun!”
Almost every day on weekdays, my classmate would patiently and giggly walk from Quezon City to Mandaluyong at least five to six kilometers a day. That’s twenty-one pesos in savings, and an hour and a half of time you’ll never get back.
But the term “fun” for excessive walking, as the classmate would describe it, is non-sensical for my part until I get to try the activity myself. You really get the thrill most especially when (1) you’re not in a rush and enjoy everything that surrounds the long walk, (2) the traffic is supremely intense and this unsurprisingly makes for a great time-saver, and (3) you just like to shed a few pounds like I do.
The occasional long walks in Metro Manila are irresistibly gratifying and irritating. Gratifying in the sense that it makes you feel liberated from the congestions that surround you, be it traffic jams (warning: you’ll be reading this word a lot here) to the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped in a vehicle over extended periods. There’s something worth celebrating, even tiny, to the fact that you become your own vehicle. Walking from Ayala to Boni after work, or Antipolo to Quezon city during weekends, at least once a month, felt like rebelling to a system that urges you to endure your short patience.
Enjoyment aside, I can not agree more to the notion that walking vast measures is a dangerous commitment, especially in this climate where everyone in the public could just mob you in a flash. For some, it’s something they do because they have no chance but to. It’s difficult to embrace the reflective (or meditative) pleasure of walking if there’s a person rushing home due to an emergency because rush hour conditions on the road never helps.
I will always adore the people who makes positivity out of the extreme situations, in the middle of traffic jams the least. The ones who resort to even the craziest of solutions, and still find the beauty in it.
There is an unexplainable feeling embedded in walking great lengths that is uniquely personal. It’s an activity that I think is more than just a way to escape something, but a quest into something very intimate. Writer Rebecca Solnit puts it best in her book “Wanderlust: A History of Walking”:
“A lone walker is both present and detached, more than an audience but less than a participant. Walking assuages or legitimizes this alienation.”
Maybe my classmate feels the other way around, but we can always agree that it is fun (sans overflowing smoke, loud car horns, and strangers you can’t just trust, of course). Last time I heard from him a few months ago, he still does it a lot.
Photos from Yabee Eusebio, Rey Borlaza, Aldarinho and BlackBoxGuild.