Monday, March 05, 2007

The Manila that they and we knew

The Manila that they and we knew

When my English teacher writes a story and publishes it in a book, I drop by the bookstore and browse it.

When she writes a foreword to a compilation of essays published in a book, I buy and read it and write about it.

The Manila We Knew is a collection of 14 essays edited by Ms. Erlinda Enriquez Panlileo with a foreword by Ms. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo. Book published by Anvil recalls Manila then in the pre and post war narrating how much liveable the city was before than now in the 21st century.

Review in the UST Publication The Varsitarian by Ms. Myla Bantog says on the collection of essays by 12 female writers, “Every essay carries with it a certain air of nostalgia that awakens long-forgotten memories of Manila among older readers and brings a sense of longing to the younger ones, whether it be the old Assumption College on Herran St. demolished 30 years ago, the “kissing lagoon” at the UP, or the sampaloc trees which had vanished on Sampaloc Avenue, now Tomas Morato. But things change, and so does Manila, leaving only remnants of the trees that once lined its streets, and the fireflies that used to be so abundant in its gardens.”

Ms. Hidalgo in her foreword commented that while Manila of today has decayed and deteriorated, the writers have not given up on her. She eloquently writes, "This book is about the old home. These authors have opened the old camphor chest and sifted through the dusted faded treasures lying there. And from the rescued bits and pieces, the precious little olds and ends, they have woven this glowing tapestry of the Manila they know and love."
Reading the book led me to to join the Ivan Man-Dy walking tour to have a first hand experience on the Chinatown through a culinary experience and a better appreciation of the visual Art Deco of Escolta. We truly are a result of several cultural exposures whose identity is still evolving.

The book reading and the walking tour were to me visually summarized while standing at the foot of Jones Bridge at the bank of the Pasig River. Binondo at the North was my Chinese heritage that seeped in 400 years ago, the Central Post Office across Pasig River at the South and the Escolta at the immediate North were the American imprint preserved in an Art Deco form. Farther West was the Walled City of Intramuros, a legacy of the Spanish colonization in the 15th century. The banks at the West Side were the shapes and forms of the 20th century. At the far East was the post modern look of the new FEATI annex immortalized by the famous positive line "Look up young man, look up."

We certainly hope that the future for the urban dwellers is as bright as the vision the FEATI slogan plugs it.

Ms. Hidalgo ends her foreword with a line, The Manila We Knew ". . . is a testament to the city of their affection." If I may add, our affection too.

4 March 2007

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