Manila, May 29
I left my earphones at the office. Forgot to unplug it from the PC after I watched on YouTube Vice Ganda’s public apology for his Jessica Soho joke that went wrong.
I had no choice, then: I would run an errand while listening to the world and my thoughts. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise — for the history geek in me, at least.
I was disenchanted with Manila because I thought of it as a city already left behind by its neighbors. While Ayala, Ortigas, Eastwood, BGC and Alabang are experiencing construction booms, the nation’s capital remains stagnant.
Vintage buildings, blackened by soot, are now hollow, instead of being hallowed. Public parks and even road islands are “home” to homeless families.
Streets are well-lit, but the light reveals a harrowing mess, left behind by its own occupants: street vendors, public transport drivers, and commuters, among others.
Much like the city’s history, architecture and the arts, most Manileños are barely surviving, waiting to be treasured and appreciated.
The taxi I was in passed through Roxas Boulevard, which runs along the shores of Manila Bay, world-famous for its breath-taking sunset view.
Statues of prominent Filipinos (Manuel Roxas, Jose P. Laurel and FPJ, to name a few) stand tall in select spots along the wide avenue.
Historic, enduring structures also line up the boulevard: from the CCP Complex and the Central Bank Building to the US Embassy and the DFA Building.
Then there’s Luneta Park, the Rizal Monument, and the mighty flagpole in front of it. I’ve been there twice this year alone. Seeing it again still visited by lots of tourists — both local and foreign — evokes in me a sense of pride for our country. As proud as the “men who can’t be moved”, the guards standing for hours in front of the Rizal Monument.
A few moments later, I arrived at the COMELEC main office in Palacio del Gobernador, inside the walled city of Intramuros, to retrieve some much-needed documents.
The building is a thing of beauty. Its interior was more captivating: visitors get to have a red-carpet entrance leading to the elevators.
Palacio del Gobernador is among the structures surrounding Plaza Roma. The others are the Manila Cathedral and the Bureau of Treasury building.
Northwest of Plaza Roma is a block of old buildings called Casa Rocha; behind it is the gate to Fort Santiago.
Later in the afternoon, I ventured from the Treasury building towards the former Treasury building: the Aduana, now in ruins, but restored by government. Across the street was a lot where the Sto. Domingo Church once stood. A BPI branch now occupies that lot.
I also saw the headquarters of the Manila Times in one of the old buildings along Andres Soriano Jr. Avenue.
On the way home, I chose to commute via jeep to LRT Carriedo station. Check out the sights I saw: the Jones Bridge, the Manila Central Post Office Building, the gate to Manila’s Chinatown, a street called Escolta, the Sta. Cruz Church, and the old BPI Building beside Plaza Sta. Cruz, where the awe-inspiring Arsenio H. Lacson Monument stands at the center.
In my lifetime, I would like to see a “rebirth” of Manila through a major overhaul of its public transportation, the transformation of its people to law-abiding ones, a fair implementation of its laws, and an efficient delivery of public services to its people.
Before I die, I hope to see Manila with a strong connection between its colorful past and its vibrant future.