September in Manila usually comes with an air of festivity. In this part of the world, the holiday season starts three months in advance, as soon as the –ber months, as they call it – September, October, November, and December – arrive and bring the “brr”, slight chills to a tropical archipelago unfamiliar with winter.
There is no such thing as fall in this place. There are imitations of it, sensations of it, the gloom of tropical disturbances and low-pressure areas. But very rarely does the city cover itself in dying leaves turned gold, red, or auburn. Most trees simply shed their greenery, shrug them off, and proudly bathe stark naked in the weakened sun.
In place of snow are afternoon thunderstorms – some cool enough to lend an air of nostalgia perfect for the holidays, others too strong it puts the city in a standstill, paralyzed by flash floods on haphazardly built roads and highways, choking the narrow roads by overflows from gutters and sewers.
The ninth month carries its own burdens. There is something frail and distant about it, almost as if it is unraveling as one writes, or as people speak. Some of its days assume a greater responsibility of altering you, leaving you a melancholy unbeknownst to other months. But most days are quite simply, odd – stretched enough to blend onto the next, no apparent end and beginning in sight.
Of course, there are apprehensions with my theories. Perhaps, September isn’t as malleable as I think it is, or as I hope it would always be. Men are frightened by time wasted and find it easy to convince themselves they have forgotten the days, or found the nights exquisitely swift, perhaps to cover up for their own recklessness handling such precious seconds.
Today, ominous bands of grey clouds hover in the city. According to the local weather bureau, another low pressure area has been spotted outside the country, strengthening over the island’s warm seas, ready to wreak havoc whatever way it can – suspend classes, disrupt office work, claim houses, or claim lives. To most, it’s just another gloomy September, another day closer to Christmas, another night inching towards the end of another year. While there is hope, there is also skepticism. Too many Septembers have passed to indulge in dangerous hopes.