Minority Report


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It’s past midnight downtown, the streetlights light up empty streets.

A man on a motorcycle talks to another man leaning on a post, there’s a small woman with a bag, a boy in the background walking somewhere.

And in the middle of all this kamingawan are these happy girls, completely out of place, like bright spirits suddenly fallen from the sky.

There’s a mysterious, almost surrealistic quality about night in Dumaguete. Just when you think that it’s only hot and empty, that nothing interesting will ever happen, you come across inexplicable scenes like this. Or other scenes equally strange:

It’s late, you’re walking down a dark street, sure that no one else is around. Then, out of the darkness comes a man. He approaches you, staggering under strange items for sale: large model sailboats, guitars, electric drills –nothing that anyone would buy on a dark street at night. When you don’t respond, he walks away with a resigned smile.

Two teenage boys walking along, laughing. Maybe drunk. One of them whispers something in the others’ ear and then hits him, hard. They are instantly surrounded by onlookers out of nowhere. They dance around each other for a minute with awkward martial arts gestures; finally one of them falls down, everybody leaves. Quiet again.

A parade suddenly appears: drummers and bells, street dancers and slow cars. But there are no signs, no banners, no way to know who or what this is all about. And then it’s gone, and the street is empty again.

In European cities, everything follows a tight schedule. Even revolutions are announced two months in advance. Here, you never know what will happen at any time. Everything is a last minute operation. Events are so revised and postponed that even when they actually happen, it’s always a surprise. This prevents boredom.

It’s October now, the start of the “Silly Season” of fiestas, fashion shows, founder’s days, street parades, beauty pageants — that lasts until New Year’s. The uncertainty that pervades daily life will double and triple now. The result is a kind of mild anarchy; but anarchy with a smile.

In the picture, these girls, these happy spirits in white who appeared suddenly on the midnight street — they were probably dressed for some event that started three or four hours late, and finally finished long after most of the city was asleep. But they’re still smiling.

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