It was around midnight, and I was on my way home when a companion and I stopped by a sarisari store in Pureza Street, Manila, near the PUP extension building. We were sipping (not sniffing, haha) Coke when something came into our view that almost made the Coke come out of our noses. Four soldiers in full battle gear, their M-16 rifles by their side, were walking towards us.
It was surreal, like we were transported to that place in Fernando Meirelles’ “City of God” where goons and heavily-armed drug dealers stalk the streets. In this case, however, the goons were government troops, much more better-dressed and -armed.
For a while, I was tempted to bring out my camera to “shoot” the soldiers. Colleagues from Pinoy Weekly were not so successful in trying to capture images of those soldiers in the urban poor communities. When our photographer John Clemente was in Payatas, he had to hide in a bush while the soldiers pranced in the street. He ended up taking shots of the soldiers’ heels from around a hundred meters away. Similarly, Ilang Quijano tried to photograph soldiers stationed in Tondo from a third floor of a barangay building, and ended up being chased away by the offended soldiers.
Looks like this is a time to haunt those soldiers, paparazzi-style.