I moved out of my parents’ home in San Juan when I was 21, just a few months after graduating. I was young and reckless and in love, and needed the freedom to make huge life and career decisions out on my own. The place I chose to live was Westmont Village, a highly-compressed modular condominium complex sitting behind a branch of Westmont Bank on Sucat Road, in the middle of Parañaque City, a southern suburb of Metro Manila.
My room (pictured above) had a total area of about a hundred square feet, and was shared with one other person. I took the top bunk. The room was one of three in the condo, whose owner rented them out to workers in need of affordable middle-market housing — usually workers at nearby Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It was somewhat cramped, far from luxurious, without air conditioning or TV, and when it rained, the windows would often leak. Still, it was home to me for three and a half years, with a nice north-facing view of the airport, and just a jeepney ride from my then-girlfriend’s home, and a much longer jeepney + bus ride to work in Makati. (Optionally, I could take the Tamaraw FX shuttle from McDonald’s BF to Landmark Mall, but that cost P35. Sucat-dwellers, you know what I’m talking about.)