Leave the apartment, check the lock. Nearly called a locksmith last week.
Down 16 floors. Say “Good morning!” to the security guard as he opens the door. Sling the backpack diagonally across my front and out into the heat.
Left is the laundry service, four money changers, the most famous bar in Manila, and Kink Cakes, which sells exactly what you think it does.
Right is the way to the office.
Along the side of the shopping mall, closed at this hour. Stay to the right of the footpath, anything else confuses everybody.
Past the crowd outside the recruitment agency, spruiking dreams and jobs in the Middle East.
Down the 50cm step from footpath to road, helpfully matched with a wheelchair symbol on the other side.
Past the fallen tree, the Philippine Airlines training centre, the pedocab drivers asleep in their cabins while early 90s pop blasts from their speakers.
Right, and cross the road with care, between gaps in the jeepneys and motorbikes. Past the construction site proudly proclaiming, “182 days without recordable loss of work incident!” - as it has read for the last two weeks. Contemplate the use of the word, “recordable.”
Left again, past veggie stalls, cigarette stands, disabled beggars and the Supreme Court.
Right onto United Nations Avenue. We are the only UN agency in the street. Fight through the largest crowd, outside a “clearance centre.” This could be interpreted as referring to its demolition site appearance, but it is where all jobseekers must apply for a security check. The five-year-old kids do a brisk trade in Black Ballpens here.
And here we are, another smiling security guard, through the metal detector and into the compound: green lawns, regional flags, the walkway flanked by a koi pool with resident tortoises.
On the way home, more than half the trip is through the mall.