Memories of a place are colored by people and experiences associated with it. In which case, OCJ was my Manila’s opening salvo. From early morning stories of the breakfast club (which I rarely had the chance to witness because, 7AM), to the teasing and exchange of banters in the rollo room, to the free food and pasalubong that magically appears on the pantry table (which means they’re up for grabs), to half a dozen titas watching over your food to ensure that you follow your healthy diet and readily scolding you (all together, in unison) at the first instance of defiance, to a pre-schooler visiting you in your cubicle to talk about little ponies, to in-office loafing (in very very rare instances, OAS) with the office barkada, to envelops going around to share love in times of need or a birthday card where you can contribute to a dozen signatures and scribbles before it’s given to the celebrator, to the collective aspiration to be called for raffles in Court-wide celebrations (and most often getting disappointed, collectively), to office babies and their early socialization to public service, to occasional release of stress and frustration and sometimes witnessing a grand showdown, to that comfortable silence of busy-ness, to a staff going around at 6:30Pm to remind you that you should have gone home 2 hours earlier, to many other memories bulkier than the sheets of paper available as scratch and shredding and relationships more robust than our reports of adjudication and judicial reform – the OCJ has made the hustle and bustle of Manila less of a strain and more of the warmth and comfort reminiscent of home.
I came in as a lad determined to prove to the world that I was more than the absence of my license, I will come out as a whole human being more capable of compassion and empathy, able to see and feel through the surface and find the heart and spirit in its most pristine form, and equipped to fight not just against what hate but ultimately for what we love.
OCJ is my Manila and it will always be.
(This series was featured in my Facebook Page beginning on the 10th day before I my resignation from my Manila employment became effective. This uncut version pays homage to my love affair with the capital. Not all lovers are given the chance to say goodbye. This is my attempt to chronicle her beauty. #10DaysOfManilaUncut )