Thursday, July 29, 2010


The aspiration began to take shape during the time of the falling bridges. A river crossing in Kalentong suddenly collapsed when a 7-ton truck tried to cross over. Several people drowned because of the accident. Fearing a worse tragedy may happen after huge cracks were discovered under the pillars of another important bridge, Nagtahan - a river crossing connecting Santa Mesa and Pandacan - was closed to traffic.

I was in high school then and was studying at a nearby state university. We had a main building that was six stories high. On the top floor, one gets to have an unobstructed view of Makati City. Its skyline leaves first time spectators spellbound and dreamy. But for most students, such majestic sight meant nothing extraordinary. At most, it reminded them how unreachable the sky is.

Recalling the first time I fell in love with urban landscapes has escaped me now. The first pulse may have started way back when I was a 7-year old kid and my mom would bring me to my grandmother's office in Quezon City. I remember the Quezon Monument pointing towards the heavens, and also the TV transmitters in the distance whose steel bones dwarfed everything around them. The wide open spaces, the distance between gargantuan edifices and the seeming serenity of the metropolis fed my imagination.

Many years later, I would continuously search for the tallest building in the city so that one day, I may climb it and have a reunion with my cityscape.


But who would believe the good intentions of a 14-year old kid?

The Nagtahan Bridge had been closed to traffic and I snuck out of the house just to see the view up there on top of the bridge. My goal was never really the river crossing but the adjacent flyover spanning the two major arteries of Manila. The muscle around my chest throbbed with excitement as I ascended the four-lane road towards the summit. Will I get caught? Will the view up there worth the punishing walk? Will I see my vision or would it be the end of a delusion I kept for years? So many doubts ran inside my head that fifteen years later, I could still hear that tiny voice searching for assurance.

Finally I reached the summit after an eternity of walking. The panoramic view of a changing metropolis on a windy overcast late afternoon was breathtaking. The slopes of Sierra Madre peek behind the clouds. The Makati Skyline, ever snooty towards its lowly surroundings may have found a rival in Ortigas. The vast expanse of Sampaloc invites a homey atmosphere that is difficult to resist for the new settlers and the chaotic sprawl of downtown Manila hides a beast within its belly. It has been there since the beginning of time, defying the new order as the spotlight turns from one part of the city to another.

I didn't bring a camera that day and much to my regret, the Nagtahan Bridge would never be renovated again. The beauty of such cityscape burns deep in my memory that I chased every chance to see it once again. From the rooftop of a nearby high-rise apartment near my house to the Orion Deck of Paragon Plaza: From the overlooking spot in Kelly Heights to a vacant condo unit I was planning to rent in Espana Tower eight years ago. The metropolis remains the same save for several condominiums and office towers rising from the ground, and urban renewal projects that appear spectacular on blueprint and cutting edge after construction has been finished.

With each new perspective brings a refreshing insight

a hope that someday, I may not forget to bring a DLSR with me, or find myself again at the Orion Deck at Paragon Plaza on a dusky afternoon, or better yet, bring someone who secretly adores cityscapes much as I do to watch the sun lifts the veil of clouds only to hide past the horizon.

that makes me love the city even more.


Anonymous said...

This afternoon was the first time I saw the sun set from Paragon Plaza. The slow moving traffic along Edsa slithers like a vicious snake across the vibrant city. New bamboo-like skyscrapers in Makati and Ortigas, with lattices and cranes suspended on top of these structures compete to reach the sky. I wonder if in their arrogance, they would end up like the Tower of Babel crashing back to the earth someday. The endless blue waters of Manila Bay remain calm and sober, while the Laguna De Bay, which I used to point every contingent night to someone i am having a conversation with, is covered by thick rain clouds.

Forbes Park hides under a canopy of old trees, like the mythical LothloFullmetal Dreamsrien surrounded by a concrete jungle known as Makati. Fort Bonifacio, has been stripped of its emerald jewels. The only visible scars are the barren soil and the vast open spaces with warehouse-like complexes bannering signs of progress. Espana Tower along with the PLDT Transmitter is shrouded by smog rising above the residential districts of Sampaloc and Sta Mesa. Finally, the last rays of sunlight permeates the spaces between the proud and lonely condominiums of Ermita casting a long dark shadow stretching some miles away from these stately monoliths.

If only I had a camera... I would like to preserve this passing moment for eternity...

Fullmetal Dreams
Infinity of the Moment
March 23, 2004

Nimmy said...

UP Dil offers a lot of unique and emotional architectural ideas. :)

If only I had a camera... I would like to preserve this passing moment for eternity...

lesson learned. always bring a handy dandy camera. hihi

Mu[g]en said...


Nako, hindi pa uso ang digicam nung nakita ko yung view na yun. Sayang nga eh. Di bale, balang araw siguro. :)

orallyours said...

Happy is the man who loves his city. Potah mahal ko na rin si mugen. Ang galeng.

soltero said...

i can still remember Ayala from yrs back..we call the 3 buildings on the R near Edsa, The Dirty Finger...:P

davidrockens said...

cheers to the city we love!

canonista said...

I used to go to Paragon a lot! I go there at night,somewhere in the 31st floor. Where I can see the city at night. Back then, the GA twin towers haven't been built yet, so we had an unobstructed view of the western part of the metropolis. How I loved that view. I have been to the topmost part of that building, where I watched the sunset until the evening lights lit up from every direction, like fallen stars.

I somehow miss that building, it was my escape.

Darc Diarist said...

i remember that collapsing-bridge episode. school bus made turns in san juan just so we could cross the river and get to school.

on other news, i like space too! :)

maginoongbulakenyo said...

galing talaga magsulat ni mugen,kahit di ko pa nakikita yang mga sinasabi mo (or nakita ko na dati yan nung bata pa ako,madalas kasi kami sa santa mesa, may bahay dyan ang lolot lola ko) parang na picture out ko na yong mga lugar na sinasabi mo.