Archivo del Autor: Jerónimo González

Acerca de Jerónimo González

____________________________________________________________________________________ Mi nombre es Jerónimo González, una ocasión, cuando Albert Einstein visitó mi país, ya convertido en una celebridad, me las arreglé para hacerle una pregunta, de física, lógica y casi de filosofía. 5 años después él intentó ubicar a la incógnita persona que en aquella ocasión le hizo tal pregunta. No tuvo éxito.

Chanel n.º 5

[Visto: 51 veces]

En la entrevista de trabajo del trabajo que hasta ahora (creo que) tengo – de algún modo – llegué con Eduardo Barboza a un tema ligeramente impensable: la supervivencia de los libros. Le dije que mi opinión es que los libros nunca desaparecerían, me parece que le hice una referencia a la lectura del periódico por la mañana, tal vez le mencioné lo que significa el acto de pasar una página, ante lo cual Eduardo concordó, y me contrató. Ahí en el Estudio Echecopar me quedé siete años, esa es historia conocida, hasta que de algún modo terminé cambiando de domicilio de Avenida de la Floresta 497, piso 5 a este lugar llamado Gund Hall. En los meses que he pasado acá he conocido personas que realmente tienen zafado un tornillo, lo cual parece ser tan valioso como un Toefl mayor a 105 en una aplicación a la escuela. Yo, por lo general, pienso que tengo varios de esos como mis amigos, e incluso uno de ellos como uno de mis mejores amigos. Pienso en Harry, que mientras deja cargando en su laptop el video de su presentación del taller durante 2 días seguidos me lleva al ensayo de una banda improvisada de músicos de distintas escuelas donde él finamente toca los timbales o un huevito que hace sonidos. Pero luego, cuando crees que lo tienes todo controlado, y que como habitante cotidiano de Gund Hall ya has reducido tu capacidad de impresión a un nivel aceptable, llegas a uno de los lectures que hay en Piper Auditorium a las seis y media de la tarde uno que otro día y recibes de un porrazo una redefinición de lo que consideras la no convencionalidad. Eso fue esta presentación de Irma Boom en el lecture de hoy día, de la que te pido que escuches del minuto/segundo 58:49 al minuto/segundo 1:05:35, y quizás te animes con ello a escuchar la conferencia entera. Quisiera escribir aquí quién es Irma Boom, pero la verdad es que eso aún no lo he comprendido. Sé que enseña en Yale, aunque creo que ni eso es correcto, creo que viene de Yale. Hizo una presentación de unos libros. Podríamos decir que hizo un “book presentation”. Ha sido como darse cuenta de improviso que aquel autor de El Monstruoso Libro de los Monstruos tuvo que tener un encuadernador y un diseñador gráfico, o una persona que hiciera ambas tareas, que materialice el concepto de lo que sería su libro. A eso es a lo que aparentemente se dedica Irma Boom, a llevar al extremo la materialidad de un libro para que con muchas más herramientas que la mera imprenta un autor pueda transmitir ideas a través de un vehículo físico; en buena cuenta, a asegurarse de que, aunque el cd haya reemplazado el disquete, y los análogos hayan pasado a ser indesigners, poca duda debe caber acerca de la supervivencia de los libros.

 

Inti Raymi

[Visto: 101 veces]

Se ha elegido hace poco a un nuevo actor para el papel de Inca en la ceremonia del Inti Raymi que se realiza cada 24 de junio en Cusco. La escenificación por años ha sido una tradición teatral alimentada por la industria del turismo, el motor económico de la región. Pero siempre ha tenido un componente solemne, identitario; en cierto momento de la ceremonia el Alcalde de la Provincia del Cusco se acerca al anda del Inca y simbólicamente recibe sus consejos para gobernar a su pueblo. El “Encuentro de Dos Tiempos” le llaman. El nuevo actor de Inca reúne unas cualidades particulares. No solo habla bella y enérgicamente el quechua, su lengua materna. Tiene una reconocida trayectoria en el arma de Ingeniería en el ejército habiendo llegado al grado de General de Brigada. Resaltó por su labor social especialmente en el rescate de personas en La Convención durante los deslizamientos de la última época de lluvias. Goza de la cultura y cosmopolitismo que da haber vivido en varias ciudades durante su carrera militar. Nunca, sin embargo, ha dejado de estar en Cusco en las fiestas de junio y julio. Por si fuera poco, también afirma tener un parentesco con el Inca Huayna Capac. Los periódicos de la ciudad celebraron su elección pero las redes sociales lo hicieron aún más. La primera ceremonia del Inti Raymi con él trajo algo más de gente que lo habitual. Lo mismo sucedió en las siguientes ceremonias. A través de los años el Inca ha empezado a ganar un gran reconocimiento por los cusqueños; interpreta magistralmente al Inca, pero también tiene un gran carisma como personaje público. El entusiasmo por el Inca se ha contagiado en los miembros de la ceremonia del Inti Raymi, muchos de ellos jóvenes soldados de la Cuarta Región Militar Cusco. Los bailarines de las comparsas se sienten cada vez más identificados con sus personajes y los cultivan cada vez más durante el año que transcurre entre cada ceremonia. La política formal y los notables contemporáneos de la ciudad ya no pueden sino elogiar el ascenso del Inca. En el Encuentro de Dos Tiempos de los años recientes, ambientado en la Plaza de Armas de la ciudad, el Inca ha empezado a dar al Alcalde consejos cada vez más reales y acertados. Le exhorta a liderar el paro regional por el aeropuerto de Chinchero. Le impele a paralizar la construcción de dos nuevos hoteles lujosos en el Centro Histórico. No pasan más que unos días hasta que las exhortaciones son Ordenanzas en el Diario Oficial El Peruano. En momentos de crisis los periodistas y la sociedad civil han empezado a recurrir al consejo del Inca. El Inca aprovecha siempre la oportunidad para persuadir al pueblo para reproducir los ideales andinos en la sociedad de hoy. El Inca empieza una progresiva reivindicación de la estructura política Inca y con ello va aumentando el respaldo de la sociedad cusqueña. Los jóvenes no dejan de crear páginas y perfiles en redes sociales con sus imágenes y de compartir los videos de sus discursos. Pero los militares son su mayor capital de apoyo y legitimidad. Siguiendo la influencia del Inca, las propias brigadas de la Cuarta Region Militar cada vez tienen una mayor identificación con el mundo incaico y empiezan a usar trajes más andinos en sus entrenamientos y desfiles. El Inca ya es una figura regional y nacional y empiezan a entrevistarlo en medios internacionales. Una periodista de la Deutsche Welle le ha llamado el Pachaquteq del Siglo XXI. En Cusco los historiadores lo comparan más bien con la figura de Mateo Pumacahua. El Alcalde Provincial lleva la administración cotidiana del Cusco pero las decisiones fundamentales de la ciudad tienen que ahora pasar necesariamente por la opinión del Inca. Hace poco vetó una iniciativa del Alcalde de concesionar uno de los parques de la ciudad a una empresa de estacionamientos. Los jóvenes acogen el movimiento y las comparsas del Inti Raymi son ahora multitudinarias por el entusiasmo de los escolares y universitarios. Ya hay tantos aspirantes a participar en la ceremonia que una gran parte se tiene que contentar con apoyar como voluntarios en la organización. Estamos hablando ya de miles de personas. Este año, tras la revelación de unas grabaciones de llamadas telefónicas de políticos y empresarios, se produce una crisis política profunda en el país por casos graves de corrupción que involucran a empresas transnacionales brasileñas, los políticos del partido mayoritario del Congreso, los últimos cuatro presidentes del país y singularmente el Gobierno Regional del Cusco. El Hospital Antonio Lorena y la Vía de Evitamiento en esta ciudad han sido casos de corrupción tan graves que han terminado con el Gobernador Regional en la cárcel. La gente sale a las calles cada vez más frecuentemente para exigir responsabilidad y la remoción de todas las autoridades actuales. Hay quienes exigen una reforma política. Hay quienes exigen una refundación del país. Hay quienes reivindican el sur andino y la centralidad del Cusco milenario. Cada vez más reclaman la voz del Inca. Con todo, Junio ha llegado. Los cusqueños se vuelcan a las calles para las procesiones, desfiles y danzas, pero esta vez cada celebración es un motivo para reivindicar el aspecto político de lo cusqueño, lo andino y lo sureño. El 24 de junio del año 2019 el Inca toma la palabra en la explanada de Sacsayhuaman y, ante una multitud sin precedentes venida de todo el sur del Perú y ante las cámaras de las mayores cadenas de television mundiales, anuncia el restablecimiento del imperio Inca, el Tawantinsuyo, con su capital en el Cusco y condena a la desaparición a la fallida y corrupta República. Hace, además, un llamado para que las poblaciones de Lima, Arequipa y todo el territorio inca se unan a la causa de la refundación del imperio. La gente presente aprueba el anuncio por aclamación y empiezan a corear el Haylli Qosqo y el Haylli Tawantinsuyo. El Inca toma la palabra una vez más instando a los presentes a prepararse a descender a la ciudad y tomar el Palacio Municipal. El teatro ha terminado.

Grabaciones del Evento:

 

 

 

The end of career assessment tests

[Visto: 108 veces]

Every second matters. Literally. Every particle of time is carefully billed to the client – 300 dollars per hour, partners; 150 dollars per hour, associates. That is how law firms make their money. And there is a timer in my computer that I must activate when I take a phone call, when I talk to a colleague, when I get a coffee in the kitchenette, when I check my twitter, when I look through the window. At the end of the year, I will have billed fifteen percent over the goal of 1,700 hours and receive two extra monthly pays from the firm. On the weekends, I often sit to read a book and a few seconds pass until I realize that I don’t have to activate any timer for that.

You, on the other hand, have a more relaxed rhythm. Every day you ride your bicycle to your classes and greet the smiling custodial staff in the entrance. You are now studying at the school of design, a place where there seems to be a fascination for anarchic attitudes. You use a portrait instead of the required landscape layout and you get the attention of the professor. You bluntly disregard the prompt of the project and you get praised in the final review. Tomorrow you have a mid-semester review for your project. But no pressure. You sneak in a visual art talk and start drawing some diagrams while listening. You just have to make sure to come early tomorrow to find space in the busy plotters. And of course, you must come dressed all in black – that is an essential part of professional design.

*            *            *

My father is also a lawyer but in an entirely different world: he has been a judge for more than 20 years. My grandfather was also a judge, so probably for my father the career choice came in a similar way: as naturally as without thinking if it was truly the right one. Not that the profession was imposed, but how to choose anything else if law was always there?

In primary school, sometimes my father would pick me up and take me to his office. Always dressed in his custom-made suits, he would never lose the friendliness with which he would greet so many people in our way to the Courthouse. The Courthouse, a typically unpleasant experience for anybody. To me, it meant the chance to use my father’s desktop and play Hover. The workers, serious and sometimes hostile with most of the public, would come to me and say hello to the perhaps future lawyer and judge. I think by them I still wanted to be an astronaut or a firefighter.

House as a child was full of legal books. And of course, case files – stitched towers of documents describing (not always truthfully) the lives and actions of people. Sometimes my father would call me to where he was working,

– “Son, you want to help?”; It would surprise me that children could be of help with legal work.

– “Mmm Ok!”; Not that helping sounded thrilling, but I was always glad to see him at home.

Your father is someone who since you can remember was either visiting a new plot of land or supervising the construction of his building. You would often go with him. The projects were always small scale but still you wondered how those beams hold themselves up. You preferred not to ask because the foreman was requesting his pay “will there be tip today, boss?”

He would always consider moving to the new house when finished – it would only happen once. But he would always tell you “This will be your room, son, what do you think?”. You would cautiously take possession by walking around the room and looking through the window. 

Although he developed this occupation with no professional design degree, no surprise to see you now putting together the model of a house in the school of design. You went to college in a different city and visited your hometown a couple of times a year. Your father would pick you up from the airport and ask you:

– “Son, do you want to give a look to the construction?”. He might even have some cement bags in the back of his truck.

– “Mmm Ok!”. Not that the visit sounded thrilling, but you were always glad to be home.

And it was true enthusiasm what you would see in his eyes. He would immediately drive you to the place and show you the advances as an architect would do with the owner. Maybe he did see you as the owner.

*            *            *

My father and I could not have more different personalities. He has that magic of getting anybody who talks with him to like him. We are sitting in the table with my family and he tells a story. When I realize that I was also there when it happened, all are already laughing their heads off – Could I have told the story?

For me, beginnings – in high school, the university or the workplace – meant always an enormous unrest. Perhaps the reason is the fear to interrupt, to ask the obvious, to look lost, in short, the fear to bother – so powerful in me and almost non-existent in my father. With the years I came to appreciate his character and put greater and greater effort in creating and keeping friendships as he does. Never, however, has he stopped being the center of our family celebrations. That is an axiom that I wouldn’t try to question.

You never came to terms with your father’s personality. He is someone who not only knows how a column is built, but also what the basics of adulthood are. He washes his car at least once a week, he cooks an amazing “piqueo”, he knows how to open a bottle of beer without opener. You never learned those.

You spent your life just reading and writing, and only recently your hands made a debut putting together small models. He had many times tried to teach you things. Never succeeded. Perhaps there has always been a connection there. That excitement of your father trying to teach you something. Then his smile at your “mmm, yes maybe” with which you would immediately start forgetting it.

*            *            *

My work in the firm usually entails meetings and review of documents. It is other lawyers who check my reports and take on the crowd of the Courthouse. Until today, I even didn’t need to sign a lawsuit. But if the client wants me on a case, and so does my boss, who am I to contradict them? especially if all the extra hours will be paid in advance.

I finish my beautiful lawsuit, it goes through the double-check of the firm, and the moment to sign it comes, and I am not sure about that little detail: the client signs in the center and the lawyers in the right side? Was it the opposite? The bureaucrats of the court might make problems for something as minimal as this. There is a procedural lawyer in an office five steps away from mine. But I take the phone and call someone who is even closer.

You have to design a whole neighborhood from scratch. Two weeks have passed of you talking about the increase of the demographics and the vernacular architecture of the area. Now it is time to draw. It is just interesting how it is easier to design with some kind of constraint, a hill, an existing group of houses, a landmark. However, this time you have a site that is completely flat, no hills, no vegetation, no buildings. It is your call the design of the streets, the blocks and the houses.

You see the white page in front and ask yourself where to begin. What is the basic size of a block? Of a floor plant? How does a beam hold itself up? There is an architect seating two desks away from you. But you take the phone and call someone who is even closer.

*            *            *

– “Dad, can you talk? I need help with something”.

– “Son, how are you, what is it?”

That is how our phone calls would begin when I was working in the law firm and now that I am studying in the design school. Always he has made the time to talk either in the court or in his construction site. Never, however, I had stopped to think, how come I could rely on him both for things of law and design.

The official version of my mind has always been to consider my father a very different person. That has been challenged now that I came to graduate school to complement law with design. I am not sure if my father is complementing anything with anything. He is more likely juxtaposing his profession with his original vocation; the Courthouse in the mornings and the construction site in the afternoons. But is it a coincidence that I am following a similar path? Or was it determined by my relationship with my father? And are our paths actually similar?

I think all of that is true and false. We both do law, but he would never become a scholar on it. We both do design, but I want to study it, not practice it. Perhaps we are identical, and at the same time the opposite. I always thought myself as choosing my path by preference, but I now realize that preference is shaped by life. What else could be chosen by a teenage reader of case files and construction supervisor.  Perhaps this is the end of career assessment tests, and maybe I am just trying to fulfill the job description of a good son.

 

Smokescreens

[Visto: 264 veces]

It was so old that it felt natural to see it closed. Its look, its smell. Its locks were extremely worn-out, and its covering leather was so dark that its geometric decorations were almost lost. The old trunk was the place where for years my grandmother had kept her valued objects. It was also the place where she would keep the gifts that she used to bring from her trips to the US. Those treasures. I recall seeing the old trunk open only once every few months.

What might be inside now? Perhaps an extra-large bag of M&Ms.

As opposed to my other grandmother – my maternal grandmother, who had spent her retirement traveling around the world, I had always questioned the repeated trips of my paternal grandmother to the US – why spend so much money going always to the same place? The reason was that she used to go to visit her daughter about every other year. My grandmother’s oldest child had married an American about 30 years before. She had left Cusco and moved to Gothenburg, a small town in the American Midwest, that, as my father said to me with a smile when I tried to find it in the map of the US, “It’s not there, Gothenburg isn’t even in the map of Nebraska”.

From those trips, my grandmother would usually come back charged with a bunch of gifts. Except for some specific requests of my father or his brothers, my grandmother would be very cautious with what she brought. Most of the gifts would rest in the trunk awaiting the next birthday or Christmas celebration.

In those days in Cusco, she would spend her time seating in her bedroom, wrapped up with her immense jackets and always wearing her SAS shoes, watching ballet shows in the Film & Arts channel and perhaps eating some artichoke. But always just in an angle that allowed her to look in the direction of the trunk at the end of the corridor. Inevitably, as kids that trunk would cause my cousins and me a lot of anxiety every time we would visit my grandmother’s house.

What might be inside now? Maybe some board games as fun as the Guess Who game that arrived last year.

However, despite the curiosity and the consciousness of being so close to the content, we never did much advance in order to force it open. The fact is that not only the old trunk was locked, but it was also blocked with other objects. A candelabrum was always impassive on top of the trunk as a tribute to the painting of my deceased grandfather that hanged in the wall behind. The smell of the fire and the wax of the candle. The habit of my family of always leaving the lights of this room off. Everything seemed to warn you to be careful.

The only couple of times that I saw the trunk open were the occasions when Elena opened it. Elena used to be my grandmother’s aide. As such she was not only the keeper of the whole house but also the only person entrusted with the key to the trunk. She had been with my grandmother since before I was born and our affection ties with her had grown as much as her authority over all of the grandchildren of the house. Forcing the trunk and knocking down the candelabrum? I would not want Elena to catch me in that moment.

One day, she came with the keys that were hidden god knows where and opened it to take out a request of my grandmother. I was with Alvaro, maybe also with Arturo. Our children eyes immediately searched the interior looking for toys or candy. We could not see any. The trunk was full of documents and some office supplies. Perhaps legal documents, perhaps title deeds, nothing that I as a kid would be interested about. However, our disappointment was quickly broken when Elena took out a bundle of candy canes and gave one to each of us. We received them with immense joy, no such candy could be found in my hometown.

In an instant, the trunk would be closed again, the candelabrum replaced, and its contents hidden to us. All until it would be briefly opened months later to reproduce the same scene. In the new occasion, it would be some cherry Twizzlers the smokescreen to distract us from the old trunk and to keep alive the permanent curiosity about its content.

Napoleon

[Visto: 237 veces]

My name was given by my parents. My mother wanted me to be named after her father “Jose”, and told my father that he could add any other name before or after. He chose to add his own name after and I ended up being called “Jose Carlos”.

It is for me a little annoying to live with my name because it is impractical. Two names, though common in Peru, ends up being too long when sharing it with people. However, I can not share only one of the two names as many people do, because “Jose” or “Carlos” alone are too generic names. And I don’t identify myself with them, I am not Jose, nor Carlos. This has been even more problematic outside of my home country. It is quite difficult to share my name with foreigners for whom even its pronunciation gets complex.

I wonder how it would have been to have a more simple name. I think I would hate to have a very common one such as “Pedro” or “Diego”. In that case, I would prefer to keep “Jose Carlos”. However, it might have been incredible to have an uncommon one-word name such as “Hercules”, “Ulises” or “Napoleon”.

Despite of all, I think I have come into terms with Jose Carlos. The nickname of “Seca”, that people have used to call me since I can remember, helps to have a one-word label. And also it has helped to think about people like Mariategui and Borges that might have shared this thought at least for some moments.

Los Respetuosos

[Visto: 247 veces]

No importa tu tamano, ni lo que en ese momento tengas entre las manos, al ver la senal te tienes que agazapar, tratar como sea de esconderte entre los chatos arbustos y quedar en silencio. Los ojos todos se enfocaran en esas dos personas. La mama que lleva de la mano a su pequeno y que se detiene de improviso. Con esa naturalidad en su movimiento se agacha a los pies del nino para amarrarle las zapatillas. El nino casi instintivamente extiende sus brazos a los costados, preparandose para mantener el equilibrio y con una gracia casi torpe trata de levantar su pie pero consigue mas que todo levantar su rodilla. La mama lo regresa a su posicion normal, con solo un distraido gesto, con casi solo su voluntad, sin tocarlo o mirarle a los ojos. Y tirandose el bolso hacia la espalda empieza a atar los cordones. Y lo hace en tres partes. Primero entrecruza las agujetas y tira de ellas fuertemente. Luego hace una oreja y la asegura con un nudo. Finalmente hace la segunda de las orejas, asegura el nudo y acomoda los excesos. Cuando se levanta y lo toma de la mano para seguir caminando, las imagenes vuelven a difuminarse y la bulla de los espectadores renace progresivamente. Ya se escuchan algunos gritos. Se escuchan algunos reclamos. Y sientes que alguien esta detras de ti, esperando a que dejes de interrumpir el camino.

Higher Speed

[Visto: 246 veces]

From the very first hours in Bangkok, it could be felt a special level of intensity in the city. Among other elements, you could witness an additional speed of the people walking in the street, an additional layer of diversity in the restaurants and shops, and a juxtaposition of the contemporary growth of the city with some very local elements of the built environment. When exploring the city, one could find a very popular Japanese restaurant with an amazing variety of beers and dishes from that country, all behind an infinite density of cables hanging over the street. At the same time, it would immediately call the attention the fairly well-developed infrastructure overlaying the continuous presence of the golden architecture and symbols of the country in almost every big building, public space or crossroad. Naturally, another omnipresent element in that mosaic was the water, which is what we came to study in the city. The group of interviews that we had in this city introduced us to the idea of a metropolis whose familiarity with the water could be dated up until the agrarian origins of the canals that today go through the urban area. Nowadays, all those canals are part of a complex infrastructure that is devoted to carry the increments of water in the rainy season and eventually take it to the sea. In addition, something that entirely contrasts with the two cities that we visited previously is that the canals also play a role as a means of transportation for Bangkok with a very smart system of water-taxis that cross the city or take the people from one edge of the Chao Praya River to the other. One cannot help to envision this level of coexistence with the water as a possible future for Manila, Jakarta and other cities where the water is perceived as a latent threat.
As in the two previous case studies, the interviews and research that we carried out took us to one specific site, Phoemsin Village. It was an informal settlement in both sides of the Song canal near the Don Mueang airport. Among the objectives of the government is the widening and deepening of the canals of the city, in order for them to perform better the task of serving as a container and pathway for the increase of the level of the water. One of the things that hinders that task is the presence of communities that live in the informal settlements in the banks of the canal. Something quite interesting is that, despite the people in the area do not have legal title to the land, there appears to be clear consciousness of the impracticability of making a complete removal of the residents of the settlement. Be it for the conviction on the unfairness of a forced displacement of the communities or for the fear of the political costs of such a program, the projects developed by the government have procured to keep the residents of the informal settlement in their original place. With that objective, the government has developed several stages of housing opportunities. Despite the relative success that the program appears to have had, this case shows some clear differences with the previous two cities, since the intervention of the state has come with a very little explicit participation of the people. On the one hand, when asking professionals that had worked for the government about the input of the residents in the design of the developments, the main reference that we received was that of the different colors that the stages of the developments have. On the other hand, when asking the own residents of the neighborhood about practices or strategies that they adopt in anticipation to episodes of flooding, we were also told that there were not particular physical elements or organizations that they rely on, and that they trusted the work that the government has been doing in order to deepen the channels for avoiding the flooding of the area. All in all, the community that we visited seemed to have a very thriving environment and with a lot of room for activities in the public space, a landscape that contrasts very starkly with the very precarious shacks that are still located in the other edge of the river.

Upstream Marikina River

[Visto: 376 veces]

I don’t even remember where I heard that of the two things to which a person could stare forever and ever, the fire burn and the water fall. Worried so much throughout this trip by the destructive effects that water can have for the daily life of entire communities, there were not many moments when we stopped to watch the water in its beauty as we did today in Wawa Dam, northeast of Metro Manila. The rural landscape that you find along the river over here is a diametrically different type of coexistence that the water has with the people than in the two cities that we have visited so far. The rocks, the waterfall, its sound, the surrounding green did nothing more than remind me of the similar places along the Vilcanota River that I used to visit with my family when I was a child. Of course, something that you don’t find there in the Andes and that is so common along the Marikina River is the use of bamboo. I will not try here any clever description of the different benefits of using bamboo in the building of houses in the edge of bodies of water, I shall leave that to the big-time expert on that, Astrid. I can only choose one of the million pictures that I took of this amazing house, that in a beautiful synthesis combines rather contradictory ideas such as strength and flexibility, space and verticality, definition and incompleteness.

An unexpected friend

[Visto: 272 veces]

Though he has not yet reached the thirties, he has already a beautiful family: his wife Elaine, a lovely Italian-looking lady, and their 3 children. Elaine and him are Christian and attend to service every Thursday and Sunday in one of the many “Iglesia ni Cristo” of the city. I know that it is a stereotype but I cannot help to attribute much of his kindness to his religion, since basically every practicing Christian that I have personally known has that sort of tranquil soul when you talk to them. When he was younger he had the fortune to get to know almost all the cities that compose Metro Manila. He learned how to drive when he was only thirteen or fourteen years old and would drive her grandmother’s car all over the place. That is how he can very well explain what is going on with the floods in Navotas, Caloocan and Malabon, and also tell you why is it that there is a wall surrounding the La Mesa Watershed in the east of the metropolitan area. He recalls one of those occasions as the time when he had to spent the most time stuck in the traffic jam. He had just taken her grandmother to buy some groceries and when they entered the highway he saw that the cars in front were all stopped and, since the level of the water reached almost the knee of a person, he just had to stop the car and wait in the place for seven hours. Not being able to go anywhere, he had time to go further by walk and see the situation closely and even go to a restaurant and get some food for his grandma and him. Fortunately, he nowadays lives in a house that does not suffer that much with floods. He recalls that it was during the heavy floods of 2009 the only time that there was a moderate level of flooding at his home, but it was not of the severity that made so many people lose all their belongings in other parts of the city. He is not the most outgoing person that exists, he usually goes through some doubts when approaching a new person, but he usually manages to do it. In most of the cases, his youthful air and his kindness make people like him quite quickly. That is why it was just some minutes after we began the fare in his Grab taxi that he decided to speak to the person next to him, me: “excuse me, boss, and where do you come from?” Two days later, he had helped us in our research in Barangay Tumana as driver, intermediary, translator, security, negotiator, photographer, tour guide and, above all, local friend, and I had already gotten used to the “excuse me, boss”, “thank you, boss”, “see you tomorrow, boss”.

What to do next?

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We first heard about Barangay Tumana (Marikina City) through the article of Nick Espina, a scholar introduced to us by Marikit Soliman, who, in turn, was introduced to me by Erlyn Rachelle, a classmate of mine that I was fortunate to meet in the GIS Institute course that I took in June. This kind of chains have explained so many of the experiences that we have had in this trip and that I have had in the recent time that sometimes I wonder if I should just try to ride my luck rather than my effort. Unfortunately, Nick, with whom we met during the weekend to talk about his paper, did not have the contact of the people leading the Barangay anymore, since there had been elections in the recent years. Despite of that, this candidate of a site made much sense to our research as a vulnerable informal settlement on the banks of a river and we chose it for our visit. Two days later, just informed by that meeting, the weekend news about the floods in the area and a small exploration over google street, we took a Grab (the equivalent to Uber in Manila) directly to the place. In Jakarta our modus operandi had been to do a first exploration of the neighborhood by ourselves and then to come back with a local person who would ease the communication and would help us conduct some information gathering technics. However, thanks to the unexpected help of our Grab driver, from the very beginning we were able to go directly to the best sources of information: we talked first with the Captain of the Barangay, the leader of a population of around sixty thousand people, a guy very pleased to talk with us while also signing some papers that were brought to him during the conversation. He was also kind enough to assign a person for coming with us in our walk around the neighborhood. The moment that the place was going through was the opposite to that of our visit to Melayu in Jakarta. Here not only we are in the rainy season, but a tropical storm had hit the area last weekend, and this Barangay is located in one of the areas with the highest risk in the whole Metro Manila. That risk materialized during the weekend and in our walk we could see the level of losses due to the overflowing of the Marikina River. Most of the houses had a giant pile of things in front, which was composed of all the belongings that they had in their first floor and could not manage to save from the water that in the majority of cases covered most of the first floor and that in the lower areas of the neighborhood reached even the top of the second floor. What to do next?