Room for Rent

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Artwork by then seven-year old 
Niccolo Sebastian Beldia
“Room for Rent” was published in The News Today on August 2, 2005.

The new urbanites make up almost half of the population in this city (I picked up the stats at an abandoned coffee table so you don’t have to believe this). However, that little piece of information suggests that people have been spending a lot of time looking for comfortable temporary homes, from the nearest to ones sitting on the dusty outskirts of the city. The farther it is from schools and the popular malls, the cheaper a room will cost. That’s one must-know for anybody who is still homeless at this point.

A ritzy room? Far-flung. The present state of our economy lashes the truth out to everyone’s face that only a few can afford posh-smelling rooms. The blessed few include those who were born with rich parents and ones whose parents can’t take the blame for allowing their overgrown kids to have a steamy intercourse with poverty. A place that’s just right and comfortable should already be considered a temporary abode three doors away from heaven.

It’s the 21st century and ‘right’ can mean a place just a little better off than Joe’s Apartment. We live in a third world country and you are not a moron who doesn’t know what that means. If you have seen that 90′s film then I’m pretty sure you are saying no even just to the thought of developing a mental picture of that unspeakable place. Never again. That’s one for dementia. A roach-free, dust-free yet affordable room is a needle in a haystack. The handful who begged the gods for a good place would have to pay back with a minimum of eight years of exaltation. If it was the god of the coconut you prayed to, good luck. May you have wonderful years of praying to the fruit of life. Unlike in churches where you can peacefully drift off to sleep during sermons, this one requires you to go through the pre-meditative to the deeper stages of praying.

There are so many things to consider when looking for a room (don’t look for an apartment unless you have four to seven kids to squeeze in there. And oh, a husband too. This is not Manhattan and a room sounds very sensible and affordable). Here are a few things I discovered while hunting for a room. Trust me, I prayed harder, and to a more powerful goddess, so I found me the perfect bachelorette’s pad that has a pretty kitchen sink (an extension to a supposedly mini kitchen) that I know I’m never going to use unless I can successfully drag a friend in there to create a proper meal for me.

Oh, no John . Sharing a bath and toilet with the whole barangay is not exactly my idea of comfortable living. One thing rooms for rent don’t include are private comfort rooms. Like cigarette and ashtray, aren’t those two supposed to go together? It would be unfair to judge that as a less tasteful Pinoy character, but never the less I’m so tempted to say that…so I’m saying that. More than anything, anybody renting out a room should realize that bathing and defecating are two of the most private and eventful moments in a person’s life everyday. I know of some people who stay in there for hours (reading, writing, daydreaming, burning the telephone line, eating a bar of chocolate while taking a dump). Although I stick to a less momentous ritual, I still don’t fancy the idea of welcoming anybody to my seat of power in the bathroom. Unless one bears my last name or if one has been a friend for no less than ten years that I’m even friends with the bacteria he or she carries, then that person is not my bath time buddy. But who’s complaining? One comfort room for four to twelve people is what is considered normal around here. So if you can’t afford a room with a private bath, include Prozac in your medicine purse.

Too shabby, not so chic . We have a great excuse for keeping nearly dilapidated furniture in our homes. Each member of the family has a long list of sentimental reasons for keeping something even if it is already falling apart. The same goes for stuff inside rooms for rent. They call it fully-furnished. I found out that some owners don’t really furnish these rooms for the client’s comfort, but what they are renting out also serves as a dumping site for old furniture. Now that’s not very sentimental. It’s never encouraging to keep your underwear in an old cabinet where termites and their homies can party endlessly. After all, they never share rent.

Finding Nemo and Joe’s kin . The first thing you need to check in the room you are eyeing to rent is leaks. When you turn on the faucet and you start to feel drizzles on your shins, don’t be scared to take a peek under the sink. You are entitled to that information. It’s bound to turn your room into a pool, and if you’re not lucky enough, it will turn you into hapless Nemo. Also, try vocalizing inside the bath. If roaches of different sizes start coming out from the drain, then you are out of luck. They built their kingdom long before you came.

Power Puff . The temptation to choose a room near your school or your place of work is irresistible. It does justice to your savings. Fares go up every so often that some people sometimes have to choose between food or rent, food or fare. The downside of it is, if you live within the hustle and bustle of the city, you will have to sleep with dust puff pillows and dust-coated windows. If your financial status will allow you to live in a nice room a little farther from the streets, then you’ll be doing yourself a big favor. It’s safer especially for your health.

Students are luckier because they can ask for a raise in their weekly allowance without having to struggle with the union. That is one thing I miss about being in school (at least until I started working when I was in sophomore college). I would choose a good hour during the weekend when I could discuss with my father the financial challenges other people experience. I’d make sure I included suicidal stories and then I’d inject my own need to have higher allowance. It always worked for me not because I had a knack for discoursing, but because my father took pity in such elaborative effort I made to ask for a higher allowance.

Now that I live on my own, I only have my silhouette to discuss my financial worries with. And it helps a lot that I have a space I call my own where my shadow actually answers back without shame.

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