Mornings and rude awakenings

Manila-- I live in a neighborhood of mixed commercial and residential structures. Next to the apartment where I'm staying is a 24-hour food arcade and round the corner is a smaller food plaza that has a couple of videoke joints. Across the street is a 24-hour gas station, and across it, a restaurant with a band playing on gig nights of Fridays and Saturdays.

By this cast of characters alone, it can be that noisy out there. Traffic often skids like a snail during certain parts of the day, as the neighborhood is an area of many offices, particularly call centers such that call center agents on different work schedules have helped change the morning scene by drinking beer at 7am; a few hotels, a lot of restaurants, after-office dives, a few comedy bars and coffee shops.

What makes it interesting is that, because of its configuration, it never sleeps. It may be a cliché to say that but I remember going out at 2 am on a Thursday to take a break from writing, breathe some air, probably drink an unusually timed morning coffee and see what's going on outside.

Unsurprisingly, the streets were teeming with mostly young people promenading like it was high noon. In the nearby Starbucks, there were a few people inside because everyone was outside fusing smoking with coffee.

Sometimes, I wake up to the siren of a police car and people yelling. The corner food plaza allows its customers to drink alcohol, and often times, it's messy. There would be brawls between both men and women and then the police car would come. Then someone gets arrested.

There was one time I stepped out very early for an appointment. The barangay (village) volunteer police officers were breaking up a fight between two drunk women whose arms were entangled with each other's hairs. And as expected, the wailing p