Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sueños de Manila

Manila City Hall Clock Tower

When former president and now mayor Joseph Estrada appointed Carlos Celdran as Manila's tourism consultant, his sound judgement was welcomed with open arms and collective jubilation.

Celdran may have been known as the guy who went to the Manila Cathedral to protest while the clergy performed the blessed sacrament. But before his fall from grace, he walked the cobbled streets of Intramuros offering educational tours to Balikbayans and curious onlookers. He was the guy who wore colonial dresses, and his knowledge of Spanish Manila breathed life into the walled city. Celdran is also a well-known social change advocate, and his liberal thinking might bring change to a city falling into obsolescence.   

Being the hand-picked guy of an outsider whom many of us didn't put into office, we know that Celdran appreciates the city some prominent and old-time residents still fail to see. It is, and has always been the parts greater than the sum of its whole. Manila is an agglomeration of histories and events, that one needs to weave a single narrative - like tapestry - in order to tell its story.

It is true that the city doesn't need more skyscrapers and malls to make it attractive. Contrary to claims by the old mayor that we need an urban enclave like Eastwood and Fort Bonifacio to catch up with modern times, it is the city's cultural treasures that will return Manila to prominence.

I don't know what's on Celdran's mind, and how he will make recommendations that is faithful to his vision. But with the support of the mayor, and social media as his way of collaboration, I have no doubts he will deliver. In a way, the news of his appointment begins my own re-discovery of the place I call home. This I will put in words as I journey around the city and see what can be done to bring back Manila's old glory.


No comments: