A hug in Manila


‘Terminal 1’, I say to the taxi driver. ‘300 Pesos, sir’, the driver says with a tired look. I put my bags in the boot and leave the Pension Natividad in Malate (Manila). While I was here it has been raining and I thought they were the last hic-ups of the typhoon that reached the Philippines earlier this week.

Wed rive long the sea but soon have to stop. The usual traffic jam. We queue. The taxi driver complaints. We pass a gasoline station and start a discussion about gasoline prices which are now at 52 Pesos/liter. ‘When I was in Saudi Arabia’, he says, “the gasoline was 25 Centavos per liter (i.e. 0.25 Pesos/litre). Guess how much was a liter of water, sir? 10 Pesos!’, he says before I can reply. The traffic stops again. He takes a pack of medicine from his pocket. He says that since he eat four quail eggs the other day he has not been feeling well. ‘Too much vitamin in those eggs, sir. NOt good for my heart.’

We manage to go through a critical junction to the airport  and drive more smoothly. Five more minutes and there we are  at T1. We get though the usual car check at the airport. Mirror under the car and quick check of the boot. We climb up the ramp that lead to the departure entrances and drive pass next to a white cab, the back door is open as if the passengers  jumped down while the taxi was still moving, maybe in a hurry being late for their flight. But they are. They stand next to the half open door. A man and a woman. Filipinos.  They hug with passion filled with sadness. I can only see his face over her shoulder. He is whispering at her ear some words of comfort, I imagine. It is clear that she is the one who is leaving and he will stay here. They may be husband and wife or maybe lovers, it does not really matter. What matters is that most probably she will be away for a long time. He kisses her few times on her cheek. Their lips then meet  for a shy second filled with memories.

It is late afternoon and I think about how many good byes were said at this terminal today. Men and women boarding Emirates , Qatar, Etihad, Cathay, or Singapore Airways. How many good byes? How many memories filling those planes at take off?  But then again there must have been many reunions as well. Men and women exiting the arrival glass door and running towards their kids and partners after a long time spent overseas. Each with it own unique story and dreams.

I take my bags from the taxi boot and walk towards the entrance. I said my good by this morning to Katja and the girls, but will not be away for long.