Sunday, March 18, 2007
My Mother's Manila
What was old Manila like? I mean, the Manila before World War 2 crushed and tore it down. My mother used to describe it, with tinges of regret and much nostalgia, to me and my siblings. It has been difficult to imagine knowing how Metro Manila has become—over 15 million people, cramped with homes even on railroad tracks, along river fringes and under bridges.
“Old Manila was nothing like the Metro Manila you people know,” she said. “No litter on the streets, no graffiti on walls, no jaywalkers, no pickpockets, no slums, and definitely no reckless taxi drivers.” Roxas Boulevard (called Dewey then) was a serene parkway. Manila Bay was a family resort. The Manila pier was the longest and most modern in the world. And Pasig River? It was a place where romance bloomed. (Maybe a little like Luboc River in Bohol today—clear, clean, and charming.) That era was called "Peace Time" or the Age of Optimism.
My mom’s gone now, but before God took her with Him, she would lament, “You young people don’t walk anymore. All you do is ride the car, bus, taxi, jeepney, tricycle, and now LRT and MRT! Walk, walk, walk!”
Then she would reminisce about her daily brisk walks. (I think I may have gotten my love for walking from her.) She’d walk from Paco, where her parents in the province built a halfway house, to the University of the Philippines, Padre Faura, where she was a B.S. Pharmacy student, “It was a good five-kilometer distance,” she’d brag, “and I traversed it four times a day!” In those days they went home for lunch.
Well, there were no fumes, dust, smog, sidewalk vendors, or a horde of impatient, sweaty pedestrians—and other obstacles—that make brisk walking in that part of town an impossible endeavor today!
This week, I finally saw and pictured exactly what my mother was talking about and the places where she walked briskly. I found this video taken before we (yes, us, bloggers and surfers) were born.
I invite you to watch and enjoy the Manila that was my mother’s: previous post.
(Video is 6+ minutes. For uninterrupted viewing with music of a bygone era, please allow it to download before playing.)