It will only take a day to go around Makati and check out the notable places around the city. I’m talking about the Central Business District and its surrounding areas. Most people who have been to Manhattan can easily compare New York’s streets to our own Dela Costa, Paseo de Roxas or Salcedo.
For those who enjoy trekking urban streetscapes, Makati offers a little bit of everything that would make the cement and steel aficionado’s heart fat.
I love walking. My undernourished wallet motivates me to skip the comfort of our air-conditioned cabs or the bone-shaking ride one experiences in a pedicab. Walking around the metro has opened my eyes to things that we normally fail to notice when we go on any form of public transportation—discovering hidden treasures like Som’s and Apartment 1B.
But, as Cinderella’s tardiness made us realize, all good things must come to an end. I grew tired of just walking around and elbowing my way past the Rexona-deprived rush hour crowd. Walking around in my P500 tiangge-bought leather shoes not only got extremely painful, it wore out my shoes.
I needed a way to get around this city that would keep me fit and my coin purse fat. My girlfriend said, “Why don’t you get a bike?”
Cobwebs shrouded my dad’s old mountain bike (MTB). The last time I used it was 14 years ago. I took it for its last ride when I finally realized that my fertility was more important than how free-riding on that bike made me feel. Time hasn’t been too kind to it. The Panaracer tires were deflated, rust surrounded the stanchions of its elastomer fork. Its cyclocross drivetrain was pretty much useless; the pedals’ spindles were stuck, the shifters weren’t working, and the cables for the cantilever brakes had lost their pulling strength.
But it only took P460 to get the bike back on its rubber wire-bead feet. The hubs and bottom bracket were repacked and given all that needed lubrication. Since Victor Frankenstein never said it in Shelley’s novel, it wasn’t plagiarism when I exclaimed, “It’s alive!” upon seeing the newly-restored old bike.
It’s great to be back in the saddle again. I have spent half my life suffering from foot calluses and blisters. Biking has liberated me from the shackles of pedestrianism. It has opened my eyes to the different possible routes I can take moving from one point to another. One learns to appreciate his mortality while riding on the pothole-infested streets of this city.
I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve used the gutter as a bike track because of cabs driving too close for comfort, which means my face implanted on their passenger side windows. And this affects your route choice—you know that Edsa equals biker road kill; you also know that the stretch of Pasong Tamo between Pasay Road and Buendia during rush hour is packed with carbon monoxide-emitting jeepeneys.
One also realizes that certain places are not always biker-friendly. Passing through Burgos St., for example. A charming young lady (who was apparently gifted with a penis) hanging out in front of a gentleman’s club in Makati’s red light district once yelled “Koya, paangkas naman!”
And speaking of penises, it still worries me that this particular physical activity might significantly reduce my sperm count. But the thought that the chances of me multiplying are becoming slimmer every weekend should make everybody who knows me sleep better at night.
I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep myself recently. That’s because most nights I’d be thinking of destinations away from the city. Shortly after restoring my dad’s bike, I borrowed money from the bike’s previous owner and bought my own.
My retro MTB is now my dedicated town bike, whereas my 29er (called such because of the oversized wheels—29” in diameter, compared to the standard 26”) is what I use when I venture outside the city.
Makati will always be close to my heart, but (and most men can attest to this) like women, I think this city is going to get me killed. Which leaves me no choice but to explore the mountains of the east (Rizal) and of the south (Laguna and Cavite) and see whether I’ll have better luck on soil than on asphalt.