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Anna sent me this poem set to video called Subway Love written by Max Stossel. Upon watching it, it immediately evoked my own sentiments on public transportation and commuting in Manila. The words are beautiful, the film itself perfectly capturing the poem. But to me, the piece is more than just a take on “missed connections” as some have described it, or a fanciful, idealistic viral video that will inspire people to fall in love with strangers in the subway, or in our case, the MRT or jeepney. To me, it invites everyone to just pay more attention to the present.

We live in a world where everyone’s in a hurry but still always late. It’s almost as if there is never enough time on our hands, and we’re always thinking more of the destination than the journey. If not that, then most are serially glued to their mobile devices. Trust me, I’ve seen standing MRT passengers playing Clash of Clans on their cumbersome smartphones (and even iPad) even if it meant an arduous balancing act in a crowded train (at the expense of those courteous enough to actually grip the hand rails). Countless men and women, rather than being in the now, are more intent on scrolling through Facebook feeds and social media timelines even when on the road, terribly anxious to miss out on everything even when ironically, he or she is missing out on the present and dislocated from reality.

Subway Love is a little reminder for us to loosen up a bit. We seem to be a generation of frantic, eternally busy, and preposterously unavailable men and women, caught up in the loop of man-made distractions and fleeting joys, with no second to spare for observation or feeling that we resemble machine more than flesh. Maybe if we can, even for a moment, detach ourselves from our devices, betray our impatience and annoyance, we can afford a little more clarity: see things, see people, with a little more empathy.