06.06.08 NFA Rice / by John Javellana

Today has got to be one of the most inauspicious days I’ve had so far. I woke up as if I had a leprechaun drilling inside my head from all the drinking last night at the oar. As usual, every Friday I have to switch cars because of coding so I had to go with the old lancer today and to my dismay it just overheated as I was already at Roxas. I didn’t have a choice but to have it fixed at a gas station. Took them two hours to fix the radiator but I was really happy that the petrol station was nearby Derek’s place so I decided to watch the NBA Finals as I waited for my car to get fixed. Celtics won, and it kept my head from loosing its cool.

My car was finally fixed and I was already driving towards the NFA warehouse in Quezon City when all of a sudden my air conditioning lost any signs of chill. And it was freaking hot! Fuckin torture I tell ya. Four hours in a sauna car under the wrath of the blazing sun as I drove all the way from Manila to Quezon City to Makati and then back home to Alabang - all under unbelievable traffic and heat. Even the fact that I got pretty okay photos for today couldn’t pacify the vexation caused by the broken air conditioning.

My assignment today was to shoot the long lines at the NFA warehouse. As I got back home and reviewed my photos, I couldn’t imagine why I was ranting like a hell just because my air conditioning broke down. I was really saddened by the sight of people having to line up for hours and hours just to have rice on the table for dinner. People ran, trying to get ahead of one another every time the gates open for the next batches of purchasers. Tensions filled the lines especially when overtakers try to sneak in. Tired and exhausted faces were predominant among the smiling ones, evident from the mixture of characters; from the elderly to the infats who were present in the seemingly never ending lines. The sight of relief uttered in the faces of the buyers struck me.Finally they could go home after a long wait in line.

Majority of them go through this process every single day. We have been doing rice photos for months already and it has been quite mechanical the past weeks. From different locations such as Banaue, markets, rice fields for the rice crisis assignments but I don’t think nothing made me realized how serious this is other than the faces of people I would see in line. Ever since rice prices started to soar, thousands of Filipinos have flocked the NFA warehouses and stall to be able to purchase subsidized rice. Most of us, or I would bet, anybody who could read this blog would never have to experience lining up for rice.

Basked in luxury, people usually end up complaining more. Even in the most puerile of things. Living in comfort possess nothing wrong as my good friend Happy would say it. Imagining yourself into the lives of those who do not have as such can sound selfish, but really can bring about different insights and understanding of others - as well as the self. We now live in trying times, especially in the Philippines. And being naive about what is happening can be a snag for anybody.