Thursday, March 14, 2002

Trapping Apartments

Damn, I never realized finding an apartment would be so tough. I thought I'd stay for 2 days, Tuesday and Wednesday, in Manila just to look for one. I wanted one in the Malate/Paco area so I would be near where Wasted will be shot. I don't like "Bedspacer" spaces because I want a room all to myself. And a room really, is just what I was looking for. With it's own toilet and if possible, already furnished. There were two ways I could find one, and that is through the classifieds and through house to house search. I got a room at a hotel in Malate and I immediately started looking. I first tried looking via house to house and I spent hours walking the streets of Malate just looking for "Apartment For Rent" signs. I listed down places that I liked to call on later. Those whose landlords I did get to talk to preferred mostly tenants stay a minimum of a year. I would be needing a place for only 2 months. So I soon got nowhere fast. Some of the places were just too expensive for me. I eventually got tired, went back to the hotel and started calling. I tell you, talking to landlord owners are like talking to parents of a girl you're courting. They want to know what your job is to see if you could pay for the place, they demand to know just exactly what you intend to do with the place. No business, no offices allowed. This one particular landlady I talked to was specially protective, and she really didn't have anything to worry about, but the problem was she just couldn't understand the kind of work that I had.

Landlady:" So where do you work?"
Me: "I work at home."
LL: "What? You mean you don't have a job?"
Me: "No, no, I have a job, I just take it home with me."
LL: "You don't have an office?"
Me: "Well, not really. My home is my office."
LL: "What? No, you can't use the apartment as an office."
Me: "No, no, I won't turn the place into an office. The kind of work I do, I just so happen to be able to do it anywhere I wish to live."
LL: "What kind of work do you have?"
Me: "I'm an artist. I guess you can consider the place to be my art studio"

(At this point the woman goes ballistic.)


Well, I gave up after that.

I guess it was probably my fault as well because I somehow failed to explain my situation to the woman. I guess to some people, "ARTIST" is still a tag that labelled one as someone who didn't have money and just lays about all day dreaming. The next time, I'll tell them I'm an ARCHITECT and that I had a BIG project in Manila which I need to supervise closely. I would just be needing a place to stay. I'll avoid terms like "Working at HOME", or "ART STUDIO", or stuff like that.

Day turned to night and night turned to day and I was ready to start again.

Having run out of places to call on my list, I turned to the classifieds and I found one that looked promising. I called and a nice sounding and quite an accommodating woman answered. Now this is more like it, I thought. So I told them I was an ARCHITECT, and that I had a BIG PROJECT in Manila that I needed to supervise. In a way that was true. I was an Architect, and I also had a big project I need to look after in Manila. I wasn't really lying, I was just telling the truth selectively. Sufficiently impressed, the woman gave me instructions on how to find the place. It was quite complicated but with map in hand, I was sure I could find it. And it wasn't very far. She instructed me to just find this certain commercial building, and the apartment would be exactly right in front of it. Ok, off I went.

Confident that I may have found a nice place, I sent a text message to my girlfriend Ilyn saying that I may have finally found a place. After some walking I found the commercial building and when I looked right across it, I found....a clump of houses that looked like a slum area. What the fuck? Ok. I checked again. The right commercial building, and right across it...oh man. The place looked beat up, patched together with used plywood. I got out of there really quick. I'm not going to pay money they asked to live in a dump like that. Shit.

Terribly disappointed, I called Ilyn to tell her what happened. After a shock, I usually walk it off. After half an hour of just aimless walking, I suddenly found myself on a real nice street with lots of bedspacer spaces for students. And there I found a studio for rent. The place isn't Manila Hotel, but it was allright, I called the owner right away and I'll see the inside of the place on Friday. The owner did warn me that he can't reserve the place for me, apparently burned by people who reserved the place and never followed up. I hope the place is still available on Friday, and I hope I do like it, which I have a feeling I will. Hopefully. Maybe. Let's see.