I was supposed to go to a client meeting today, and the building was somewhere around Chino Roces Avenue. With the usual Makati traffic, it took me an hour and a half to get there from Eastwood. It was the first time I’ve ever gone to Chino Roces, and I had to get dropped off at where I thought the building was, based on Nokia’s Maps and Google Maps.

When I went down though, it didn’t seem to be the right building number, and I was starting to feel a little anxious.

It’s ridiculous, because I’m 23 and an adult, I told myself, and it wasn’t like I haven’t gone outside to unfamiliar places before. I mean, I’ve been perfectly okay taking the train and the jeep from time to time, even going to places like Binondo and Intramuros, but for some reason Chino Roces felt very old and dirty urban, less claustrophobic than Binondo but also unfamiliar. There were so many jeep, so much traffic, too narrow roads, and nearby empty, deteriorating buildings among other things. It was making me extremely nervous, and I was glad I had a Nokia for a phone or else I felt like trying to contact someone out in the wild would’ve gotten my phone snatched.

I tried to be brave though. Man up, I told myself. So I tried to look for the building and walked around a little. Even canceled my earlier call to get picked up to see if I can walk further on ahead and maybe I’ll find the right place.

The signs were terribly placed, and I could hardly see the address of the buildings.

I felt completely out-of-place, lost, and a sure target for anyone who’s looking to mug a stupid-looking person.

By the time I reached the end of the street and still couldn’t find the place, I gave up and decided to go home. I was getting extremely anxious, which was a tendency I’ve unfortunately developed two years ago. I asked to get picked up from the gas station that I ended up in.

Aside from the anxiety though, I felt disappointed in myself for feeling scared. I don’t know. It just felt like I shouldn’t have been scared of the place because it’s not like it was that scary, even if it were really dirty and claustrophobic? I was used to the wide, newer streets of High Street in Taguig, of the pedestrian-friendly sidewalks of Makati CBD, and the less deteriorated look of Ortigas. I’m not rich. I’m middle class and I’m not new to a bit of grime, but why was being there and trying to find my way in one of the cities of Manila scaring the shit out of me? It just felt wrong that I considered the place dubious and dangerous when maybe it’s just as ‘normal’ as any other city in Manila.

Perhaps next time I’ll be braver. :(

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