The Other ManilaMike Bozart / Actions & Adventure
another pSecret pSociety pshort pstory
The Other Manila by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | July 2017
The Other Manila
by Mike Bozart
© 2017 Mike Bozart
On a delightfully mild – weather-almanac-indicated-typical 61º (Fahrenheit; 16º Celsius) – ovation-overlapped overcast June afternoon, a Friday in 2017, Monique (Agent 32) and I (Agent 33) found ourselves on an RTS (Redwood Transit System) bus, headed to Eureka from ACV (the Eureka-Arcata airport) via California State Route 255. As we started to curve around the northwestern corner of Prussian blue Arcata Bay, I remembered that the little community of Manila lay just ahead. With Monique being a Filipina, I knew that she would be interested in adding this only-13-feet-above-mean-sea-level (four meters) bayside township to our nebulous North Coast itinerary.
“Want to get off in the other Manila, asawa?” [wife in Tagalog and Cebuano] I asked her. Get off?
“Sure, 33. Maybe we can find out how the little hamlet got off scot-free with that big-city name.” 33? Scot-free? She knows that I’m recording. / Bana [husband in Cebuano] is already in audio-record mode. I can sense it.
At about a quarter to five, we disembarked on a desolate Peninsula Drive and walked up to the Manila Community Center. However, it was closed. Darn! / Oh, no.
“We’re out of luck, 32.”
“Where do we go now, Parkaar?” [my ailing alias]
“Not sure, Monique.”
“When is the next bus, Lieutenant Lugnuts? [sic] Or, is there a next bus, 33?” Gosh, are we going to be stranded here overnight? There’s no Uber or Lyft here. Where would we sleep? / Lieutenant Lugnuts? Ha! I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Could we possibly walk to Eureka? With her platforms, way too far. [3.8 miles (6.1 km) away] Don’t even think they allow pedestrians on the bridges. [They don’t.]
“Well, let me pee first,” I said as I walked towards the free-standing restroom building. “Then maybe my brain can figure something out.” Oh, boy.
“I’ve got to go, too,” Monique disclosed. “I think I’m beginning to leak.”
Fortunately, the urination station’s doors weren’t locked. We relieved our bladders. Once back outside, we saw an RTS bus pulling up to the bus stop. It was a northbound bus that was headed to Arcata. Drats! That one is going the wrong direction. / Darn it! That bus came FROM Eureka. Now, when is the next bus TO Eureka? Hopefully soon.
An older Asian man of slight build and an Asian boy of eight or nine years were the only passengers who stepped off the bus. They started walking towards us. Maybe he knows.
“Hello sir,” I said as the gap between us shrank to ten feet (three meters). “Would you happen to know when the next southbound bus arrives?”
“There are no more southbound buses stopping here today,” the venerable, still in good shape, gray-haired, brown-skinned, orange-ball-capped man said. Oh, crap! That’s just great. / Why didn’t my bana research this first. Probably too busy daydreaming.
“I see,” I said with an overt groan. At least it’s not raining.
“There is another northbound bus at 5:55,” he continued. “You can take that one to the Arcata Transit Center. Then you could get on a southbound bus that goes down [US] 101. Where exactly do you need to go?”
“Downtown Eureka,” Monique chimed. He kind of looks like a pinoy. [male Filipino] / She certainly looks like a pinay. [female Filipino]
“Filipina?” he asked Monique.
“Yes,” Monique answered. “I’m from Siquijor.”
“Ah, that small Central Visayan island province.”
“Yep. Where are you from?” Monique then asked.
“Luzon – Antipolo,” he replied.
“Very nice views of Manila from there,” my wife said.
“And, a little cooler,” I added.
“Yes, it is,” the late-60-ish Filipino American agreed.
“So, where are you guys headed?” I asked him.
“Up to the sand dunes behind the playground,” he divulged. “My grandson just got a new kite that he wants to fly. I think there’s more wind out there.” Ah, so that’s what’s in the young lad’s hand.
“Mind if we tag along?” Monique asked. “Looks like we have 53 minutes to kill thanks to my kano.” [Philippine slang for American] She laughed. Zing.
“Sure,” the elder Filipino American cheerfully assented.
“Salamat,” [thanks in Tagalog and Cebuano] I said.
“You know the dialects?” he asked me.
“Just a few words,” I answered.
“Just the bad words,” Monique clarified. Zinged again. She’s up 30 – love.
We three adults had a chortle. However, the Filipino American boy had grown bored with our conversation; he was intent on getting to the dunes as soon as possible to get his brand-new kite airborne. All that grown-ups like to do is talk. Bleh!
We then all walked, single file, past the playground and main building. Then a narrow loose-sand path led us past a patch of maritime forest. Eighty-eight seconds later, we had arrived at an area of mostly vegetation-carpeted sand dunes.
The eager chap marched up a dune that was maybe eleven feet (3.35 meters) tall. We all followed him. He stopped on the crest and unpackaged his kite. It was a cherry-red dragon with indigo outlines and white eyeballs with black diamond-shaped pupils.
“Awesome kite,” I said. “What’s your name?”
“Keoni,” he softly stated.
“Keoni, just let me know if you need any help launching it,” I offered. “I have lots of experience in flying long kites off of short piers.” Crickets. That attempt at humor bombed rather (un)spectacularly. / What did he just say? / Hubby with another certified klunker. [sic] I’m now up 30 – -15.
Keoni, though, was consumed by the task at hand and just nodded. He was quickly assembling the six-to-seven-foot-long (two meters) nylon kite.
“How did this American township get the name of Manila?” Monique then asked the thin Filipino American gentleman.
“It got the name right after World War II,” he replied.
“For fighting alongside the United States?” Monique inquired.
“Quite possibly,” the man responded.
“Was it a Philippine encampment?” I asked, completely oblivious to the origin of the name.
“I’m not sure,” the jolly old fellow replied.
“Do many Filipinos live out here in little Manila?” Monique then asked.
“No, there are just five of us,” he stated. Only five! / How strange.
Keoni soon had his kite completely assembled. He then walked over to a sand dune that was maybe ten meters (33 feet) away. He stuck the rear point of the kite in the sand and then walked back with the spool of twine. A future aviation engineer here. / Smart lalaki. [boy in Cebuano and Tagalog]
Keoni then waited for a strong gust. Suddenly he gave the white string a sharp tug. Up the kite shot into the gray sky. It quickly climbed to around 150 feet (46 meters). Impressive self-launch.
“Nice job,” I commended Keoni.
“He’s pretty skilled at this now,” the older Filipino American relayed.
The dragon’s tail was whipping about like an agitated snake in the brisk onshore breeze. The menacing eyes made it look like something right out of a low-budget sci-fi flick.
“Your kite looks like a mumu, [phantom in Tagalog] Keoni,” Monique proclaimed.
Keoni just smiled. He was enjoying the debut of his new kite, as well the demonstration of his kite-flying skills to a pair of adult strangers. Must not let it crash.
I looked out at the nearby ocean. Not sure if I could live here. The terrain is quite low and the tsunami risk is quite high. Though, I guess that little Manila has been lucky so far. They haven’t experienced anything like Crescent City [82 miles (132 km) north] did in 1964. Crescent City even suffered damage from that Japanese earthquake in 2011 – from all the way on the other side of the Pacific. That article in Slate [online magazine] said that it was the tsunami capital of the United States. Still, all it takes is one. A not-overly-massive tsunami could go right up and over these dunes and push little Manila into the bay. / Wonder what ominous, paranoid, natural-disaster thoughts my bana is having now. Guess I’ll read them next month. / Wonder how these two met. When? And where?
“Do you like the climate out here?” I asked both of them. I just knew that my hubby would ask a weather-preference question. Never fails.
Keoni, still kite-preoccupied, slowly nodded.
The older Filipino American smiled. “I’ll take the cooler weather here in little Manila over the steamy heat of metro Manila,” he replied. “Even Antipolo is warmer now. Maybe global warming is real. It sure felt like it the last time I was there, back in 2013.”
“Me, too,” I concurred. “I wouldn’t last long in big Manila. Granted, it’s a mega-metropolis with many attractions and plenty of things to do, but the sauna-esque, never-a-non-hot-day weather is a deal-incinerator for me.”
“He hates hot weather everywhere,” Monique then informed.
We then quietly watched Keoni flying his dragon kite. He made it do barrel rolls with his left hand on the twine and his right hand on the spool. This kid is really adept at this.
“You’re an expert kite flyer, Keoni!” Monique exclaimed. I’ve impressed the grown-ups.
Keoni smiled, but stayed focused on his kite. He then had it swoop down towards a distant dune, only to have it make a hard U-turn a yard or so (a meter) from impact. The dragon’s head then screamed back up into the ash-colored, foreboding sky.
“You know, for a long time I thought that Manila was spelled with two l’s – not one,” I announced to break the silence.
“But, you realized your error once you met your cute Filipina, right?” the old man suggested with a grin. Not exactly sure when I became aware of the correct spelling. / Cute? That was nice of him.
“I guess it goes back to Manila folders,” I resumed. “When I heard that term in grade school, I felt sure that there was a double-l in Manila – like vanilla. The peculiarities that one remembers.” Just you, bana.
“Do you remember the last time that you were in the other Manila?” the senior citizen asked. The other Manila? Just play along. Maybe a short story precipitates.
“This Manila here – tiny Manila?” I asked to be sure of which one he was referencing.
He just smiled with a gleam in his dark eyes. What’s going on here?
Monique looked at me with a most-interested expression.
“I’ve never been to this Manila before,” I calmly confessed.
“It’s ok, it’s ok,” he repeated. Maybe already touched by senility.
“I haven’t accumulated the requisite unaccounted-for time,” I declared. What?!
“We’ve all had our other Manila moments,” he said. “It’s ok.” That shemale nest. That wild threesome. With her sister.
Once aboard the 5:55 RTS bus to Arcata, Monique looked at me. “About your ‘other Manila’ moments …”
Suddenly, without any warning, the dragon kite crashed into the bus’s windshield.