13Cs Going on 30s - SunStar

13Cs Going on 30s

By Denver Ejem Torres

“When I have fears that I may cease to be” — John Keats

Illustration by Geraldine Sypiecco
Illustration by Geraldine Sypiecco

THE 13Cs came like the giant birds sent by the Lady of Lorien in the movie The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey, saving the tired and weary office workers and mallgoers-commuters who had been waiting forever across Ayala Terraces from completely losing their mind. Whichever way you turn during peak hours, this is the common scene around town, people on the verge of going mad, and some, the strongest among us, are on the brink of bursting into tears over the worsening traffic situation and the poor transportation system of Cebu City.

I love taking the front seat and chatting up with the driver. So one time I struck a conversation with the driver and told him about my nagging theory. I insisted that with the influx of BPO hirees from the provinces of the Visayas and Mindanao, undoubtedly, the population of Cebu residents has doubled or tripled. In 2010, the year I moved to Cebu, the streets were less congested. To this observation, the driver agreed and said: Aw, siyempre, gamay pa man ang sakyanan.

Then I told him with the cold certainty of a deductionist that there’s just not enough jeepneys to service commuters headed to the Banilad-Talamban-Pitos area. But he dismissed my theory outright, and declared: Dili uy, tua tanan sa Colon. Naay one thousand kapin ka 13C diri sa Cebu. What he was saying was that all of the jeeps were stuck in Colon and I was pointless. That of course was the end of the conversation.


I turned 30 in Cebu. I spent most of the previous years of my life in my hometown, Cagayan de Oro. On the year I turned 30 I was met with an unnamable anxiety. I was pervaded with mixed feelings. I felt I was graduating into a different self or another stage in life. I felt myself changing, transforming into someone else.

There was a certain period in my childhood and even in my 20s that I had this burning desire to wear skirts. In high school, I was a fan of Carrie Bradshaw. I dreamt of strutting in the streets of New York with my skirt on. To go with that skirt (possibly an Oscar del a Renta), I thought I should maintain a pair of hairless legs. And so I did. I paid a hefty amount of money for my trips to the waxing salon every fortnight. But I eventually got tired of having my legs waxed. As I approached the last year of my twenties, I admitted to myself that the skirt will not match my new self. And then one day the unthinkable happened: I started growing facial hair.

When I finally turned 30, I went through an existential moment, I began to notice more closely the changes (physical or spiritual) I have gone through in the recent past years. The changes taking place are still beyond full comprehension.

And then there’s the feeling that my childhood is getting really far when I started to sense that my ability to be astonished and awed by simple things is slipping away. I am really anxious about this change and terrified at the thought of losing the gift of being astonished at simple things.

I am worried that sooner or later I will abandon things in favor of another pursuit. As in my writing, what if I will want something else. Or I will not want to write anymore. What if I will cease to be who I have been in the past 30 years. Sometimes I am afraid of the future moods of my mind.


I hope that the truth of the impermanence of things, which includes moods, views, visions, extends to the concerns of this city and that finally, the newly elected leaders would see to it that the current traffic and the PUVs management problems would “cease to be.” I hope too that our leaders are not waiting for any magical help from the Lady of Lorien. Because, I guarantee them, it ain’t coming to Cebu.

*Denver Ejem Torres is turning 33 by 11/11. He is anxious most of the time about being single, the effects of living alone forever, getting his own place, and many other sundry stuff… but hopeful.

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