Snapshots of Manila at dusk on a Wednesday

Down a narrow alley, a little girl blows bubbles with her father in the middle of the road. Street vendors walk by with buckets of peanuts and cashews. A little boy stares out of the window of a massive, lumbering bus, hissing and groaning through rush-hour traffic. His mother closes the curtain. Red taillights blink on and off; vehicles lurch, brakes screech. Horns honk. At a brightly lit fast food restaurant along the road, every table is full. Someone on a motorcycle is delivering a pizza. There are clouds on the horizon – dark, thick gray ones. Maybe typhoon clouds. Already it has been raining all afternoon, though it has finally softened to a drizzle. People are shaking off wet umbrellas and carrying towels over their heads. They run to their cars with a sense of urgency and hurriedness, trying to get home before the downpour starts all over again. Inside the jeepneys, a bare bulb illuminates the faces of travelers on their way home, scrunched together onto its benches, peering out tiny windows as raindrops fly from its rooftop. At roadside fruit stands, more bare bulbs hang naked and brilliant over bunches of bananas, freshly-cut jackfruits, watermelons, and prickly lychees. On the sidewalk, a man with a guitar and an amplifier is belting out sappy tunes to entertain the dozens of people waiting for buses or jeepneys. The lights of buildings start to come on, illuminating offices, restaurants, and apartment living rooms; many people are still working, or just finishing up for the evening. Some are just beginning.


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