My contact in Quezon City did come through at the last minute and invited me up to the barangay today, so I quickly wolfed down my breakfast, packed up my laptop, and raced up to the barangay with a dozen donuts under my arm.
And as I got off under charcoal-grey thunderheads by GMA, it began to rain, for the third day in a row. One of my interviewees once complained that people in her area blame queer people for bringing bad weather. I don't believe that's the case, but if it is, I would like to apologize to Northern Luzon for this typhoon.
It started to pour to the point where grit was spraying up from the street, so I ducked into a carinderia where I got puto and 3-in-1 and found a chair in the crush of people having lunch or eating to avoid the rain. As it turned out, the barangay office was just down the street, and the friend I'd contacted there pulled up a chair at her desk and I hung out there for the afternoon.
Like, all afternoon.
I interviewed two of the employees in the office while we waited for interviewees to show up, but as appointments came and went, my friend apologetically shrugged. "It's the rain," she said. "And nosebleeds."
I thought that seemed odd, but didn't ask about it. One of the city's employees showed up out of nowhere with a bowl of lugaw that I devoured. I made it to Vermont. I peed. I ate a donut. I had another cup of 3-in-1. I peed again.
Finally, another interviewee showed up, and we polished off my third interview for the day. As we wrapped up, my friend asked if I could return on Friday.
"I probably can," I said.
"Good." She cocked an eyebrow. "And maybe it won't rain, and maybe we'll have fewer nosebleeds."
And then she explained that "nosebleed" is slang for the panic when you're expected to speak in English and run out of English vocabulary or stress out about underperforming. And this is how pouring rain and a flood of nosebleeds made for a pretty relaxing day in Quezon City.