Previously: Sueños de Manila
|Credit: Manila Nostalgia|
I was born and raised in Manila. This is home. I can look the other way and forget that its streets reek of human excrements, and in some unlit corners, await the riding-in-tandems who will take your purse and phone away. I have no problem accepting that our roads disappear when thunderstorms inundate the city, and no matter how the homeless turn the sidewalks into their open-air-bedrooms at night, or the trash piles when the garbage trucks forget to collect them in the morning, I still see a hidden gem that will forever make this place unique.
Forebears say this used to be the Pearl of the Orient. This is the city where seven mother churches crammed within the old walls of Intramuros; the place where expats came to conduct business in Spanish and broken English in Escolta; the port where tradesmen from China sold goods and services to the masses in Binondo and San Nicolas. When one needs to be seen, there is the Avenida, lined with fancy theaters showing silent films, or the waterfront promenade at Bagumbayan with its tropical breeze blowing from the sea. Never without a doubt that the sunsets then are as breathtaking as they are today. And at times when I yearn to romanticize the old days; when the calesas and tranvias still ply the routes now taken over by jeepneys and pedicabs; when the ordinary folks still speak in archaic Tagalog; and when it was still possible to hear mass in Latin at the Manila Cathedral, you can't help but feel a great loss for everything that could have made us prouder urbanites was gone forever when bombs start dropping and obliterated our city.