Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I have slept through the sunrise.

I dreamed that we were roving through the streets of Manila, following the vehicles of other networks. Somehow, we lost them, and ended up on North Road, which was lined with smokestacks belching five-alarm bursts of smoke.

The smoke clings to your body, like the smell of too many bodies crowded into a single jail cell.

I woke up curled in the front passenger seat of the crewcab, in front of the press office of the Western Police District.

For three straight nights, I have roamed the streets from 12 midnight to 8 in the morning.

It's called the graveyard shift because it's an unholy hour; when everyone is asleep, save for the cops, the criminals, the arsonists, and those like me, who must stay awake to watch the city that never sleeps.

I met the graveyard shift media at the Central Police district, all of them hefty men in their mid-twenties who smoked constantly. When one car leaves, all the rest follow suit, tearing through the streets in order to catch a murder, fire, or car crash.

There are fewer crimes committed when it rains -- especially if it rains hard. Even criminals must have their breaks.

Thank God that even they are bound by the weather.

The next night, it only drizzled. I dashed from Ortigas-to-Caloocan-to-Quezon City-to-Manila. A man was electrocuted. A warehouse burned down. Four men were picked up for robbery. (They in turn, were robbed by the police.) World Psoriasis day. My day ended with a handshake with a man whose hands were scarred, pitted and gouged from a lifelong disease that cannot be cured.

They are treated like lepers, even though the rashes come out as a result of a genetic predisposition and psoriasis patients aren't contagious.

Many of them have been refused jobs, and shunned by their own families, once the rashes start to appear.

Another man, whom I talked to, a former electrical engineer, said that his psoriasis had only appeared when he started working. He left his high-paying job and became a filmmaker. Now he directs information campaigns about psoriasis.

He, and many others like him, are finding ways to fight the stigma, to lead normal lives as much as possible.

How much stock we set by the way a person looks! I have seen men treated like kings because they were dressed in business suits, and others treated like the dirt that clung to their clothes.

If I could only have a camera eternally fixed to my iris...to show others what I see, and not the sanitized one minute report I was commissioned to write, that never even made it on the air.

This is the first time that I have felt that words were inadequate to convey my sentiments.

No comments: