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  • Dan Albert S. de Padua

Beating the Heat

My phone says it’s 35 degrees centigrade. Feels like 40. It’s so hot you can fry eggs on the window sill. I know because I sat on the window sill to try to catch a breeze. Aray. It’s so hot you wake up in a pool of sweat despite the airconditioner and two electric fans working full time on the highest settings. It doesn’t help that you’re waking up at noontime but, hey, it shouldn’t be that way, right? It’s so hot that I’m willing to risk facing the Night King and ten thousand white walkers just to enjoy the snow north of the Wall. To those who proudly say they don’t watch Game of Thrones: Go away. Mainit ang ulo ko.

But, seriously, it’s hot.

I want to get out of the city and maybe go to the Summer Capital of the Philippines—Japan. Everybody goes to Japan nowadays. Not just Tokyo, but Osaka and Kyoto and Nikko, which I thought was a hotel in Makati, and even Hokkaido, which I thought was just a brand of canned sardines. Obviously, I don’t know much about Japan. I’ve been there (What kind of middle class Filipino would I be if I hadn’t?) but, come to think of it, I didn’t enjoy it that much. Ordering ramen required dealing with an intimidating machine at the door of the restaurant. Plus, the gigantic UniQlo stores there didn’t carry stock in XXXL. So, no Japan. Besides, after paying my TRAIN-increased taxes, I feel I need to save money.

Maybe I can drive somewhere. But where? I never understood why people go to the beach at the height of summer. Beaches are hot. The sun beats down and reflects up off the sand and seawater, cooking beachgoers bibingka-style. Coconut trees are lousy at making shade. The fronds are useless and if I stand in the shadow of a coconut trunk, two thirds of my torso will still be in the sun. Get in the water, you say? If I don’t want my skin to burn painfully and peel off in great sheets a few days later, I need to spray or smear icky sun block all over my body including my face. I hate that.

So, where?? Tagaytay? Traffic. Baguio? Traffic. Home to Los Baños? Alabang pa lang, trapik na.

Maybe I can stay in Manila this weekend, go to a mall and eat halo-halo. A friend of mine prefers the extremely fine ice shavings and sophisticated toppings of bingsu. This Korean concoction is nice but I love my own, my native land, and bingsu doesn’t evoke the memories that come with the ube and leche flan of a special halo-halo. Swinging in a hammock, whistling for a little wind and hearing a wisp of air rustle the bamboo just a tiny little bit before fading away. Watering the plants and watering my brothers under the mango tree. And Mom making halo-halo. She had the full line-up of beans, nata de coco, sweet corn, buko and ice cream in the kitchen and we could put as much or as little as we liked in our glasses. Then, my mom, who did a hundred and one things for us every day, would take the hand-held ice shaver and scrape and scrape and scrape a block of ice until we each had our halo-halo. I tried doing it but the cold metal ice-shaving shoe was hard to hold and I could never seem to fill it up before the ice started to melt. It was Mom’s birthday a few days ago. Now I feel guilty.

I’ll just stay home.

If you’re in the area, drop by. I plan to be sitting in front of the house in ratty shorts and an old sando pulled up to my armpits with a dark, squat bottle of beer in hand.


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