It’s a burning midday and I’m watching a group of boys stand on the railings of a bridge. All but one of them are preparing to jump into the murky waters of Manila Bay dozens of feet below. Wet from their previous leaps a few seconds earlier, their skins glisten under the sun. They take a long, deep breath.
I take a few steps back, holding up my phone and focusing its camera on them. “Okay, I’m good,” I tell them.
“One,” I say aloud.
The boys bend their knees.
One by one they hit the water.
I’m in Navotas, a city in northern Metro Manila known for its fishing and fish-related industries. The mucky waters surrounding the city isn’t exactly conducive for a quick swim, but it provides a source of seafood for small-time fisherfolks and large-scale trawlers.
Navotas’ busiest place is the fish port, which, at 47.5 hectares, also stands as one of the largest in Asia. It’s a bustling place, teeming with vendors and buyers, and receiving tons of seafood daily from commercial fishing vessels that stop at the nearby pier.
MJ, the boy who stayed behind, quickly walks towards me. “May I see their picture?”
I show him a photo of the bridge railing, but without his friends. “I pressed the button too late. Let’s do it again.”
MJ shrugged and walked back to the railing. “You jumped too early!” he yells at his friends. “Climb up here and jump again!”
I don’t get to escape Metro Manila for the past few weeks, but it doesn’t mean I can’t have fun being a tourist in a neighboring city.