Ang Taong Grasa ng Lopez Avenue (The Psychotic Vagrant of Lopez Avenue)

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 by Rom in Labels: , , , , , , ,

There he is roaming the streets of Lopez Avenue come rain or shine. Walking aimlessly in the early morning and taking a nap in the heat of the afternoon anywhere near the road where there is a shade to protect him from the scorching heat of the sun. Night becomes a solace in his tired soul as the cold breeze serves as his blanket.

He never worries about what to eat and where to get it; he always depends on the generosity of those people who always hand him something to eat, that is if his appearance does not become so taunting to them as well as his stink. He got the whole Lopez Avenue as a home; the street adopted him like a prodigal son—roaming along with stray dogs and other unwelcome soul wandering the street and looking for something that was never been there.

Alex Catacutan is a 53-year-old ex-soldier (according to him) who shares with me his views in life and how he sees it beyond. It took me about 30 minutes of convincing before I finally got his approval to point a camera at him and hurl away questions that instantly become a conversation so engaging that I forgot I was talking to what they called a “Psychotic Vagrant.”

I really don’t know if Alex sees himself in me or he just merely came so acquainted with my presence that he fires away tons of anecdotes and personal stories from his dwindling vault of memories. His stories came unbridled, without restriction—that borders from the death of his family to salvation and eternal damnation and even drug abuse. He speaks without batting an eyelash, just like a little boy who looks straight into your eyes chatting about nothing.

His eye speaks of different sadness in between tales of destitution and poignant events in his life. His smile shows a broken smirk from a wounded soldier that merely escapes a war-torn life. He wore an all-time black long sleeve shirt with hood and tattered grimy pants that who knows when it was the last time soap had laid a hand on it. He got a grungy shoulder length thinning hair sticking to his bony head in a shrubby moustache and a beard.

I got so many insights talking to him than any other so-called “educated” people I have met. Alex never had any pretentions when he speaks, he does not have any reputation to protect or a name to safeguard. Sometimes I stop and wonder who really the Psychotic is—the world we live in? Or the world Alex inhabit?
I got smirk from onlookers who saw me talking to Alex. Their stare penetrates me deep that somehow I feel uncomfortable. They look at us in a strange manner as if tossing insinuations in the air as we walk past them. One Jeepney driver passes our way and shouts some ridicule which made the silent gawking crowd chuckle in insolence. I really don’t care.

We part our ways shaking hands. I learned a lot from that conversation. What I was expecting is a garbled idea from the so-called muddled mind—I was wrong. His insights may not be of Philosophical or evangelical, intellectual or logical to a common mind. However, one thing is for sure, he speaks from his heart with peace. I saw in his sad eyes an allusion of peace free from want of this materialistic world we live in. A peace most of us are dying to achieve.

Truly, God give his blessings sometimes in the most peculiar ways. There is this person, broken and downtrodden but rich in peace and free from yearning. Sometimes I wonder who the most fortunate soul is.


  1. Ronnie says:

    Hi K.rom,

    You're interview with this man was kind of interesting. I can't help but to be curious about the reason why he chose to be a vagrant. As I found out with this interview, I realized traumas can really change our outlooks in life, possibly in a negative way as what happened to this man, that is if not resolved. Had he undergone a trauma therapy, he might be living a normal life now. But you're right, sometimes this man is better off than we are in some areas. Like he has more peace of mind and less worries than most of us. hehehe

    btw, in the future we can tie-up for layout and design projects, that is if my schedule allows it.
    I've been so busy lately...