Friday, April 14, 2006

Intramuros

Two afternoons ago, I was agonizing over the fact that my friends decided to go to Intramuros Thursday (yesterday). I really wanted to go to Tagaytay.


In hindsight, I’m thanking the gods (God) for giving me such great friends.


Car15 said it best when he told the Prince of Darkness- henceforth, PDid- that I was more into the nature trip. And of course, I spent most of yesterday trying to sell another climb. The last time we made a climb was two years ago in Makiling. We were clearly long overdue for another, and since Sagada was clearly out of the question because my friends had to work on weekdays (I'm doing the Review, so I'll be relatively free until after September), I was thinking that maybe another climb to Makiling was possible. All we’d need was an overnight stay. (Isn’t there a three-day weekend coming up?)


We met at the Law parking lot at 0830. Very very early morning for a holiday.

It’s only 0830, mind you, because I told PDid in jest that maybe we should meet early, as opposed to meeting at our usual time of, well, the afternoon. My friends agreed, haha. I’d forgotten that we were all morning people.


After we’d exhausted our high-fives and our kamustas, P drove to Pasig to pick up B, then we headed for Intramuros.


The last time I was at Intramuros, we (the Team and I, for OLA, the Office of Legal Aid) were supposed to meet with our clients in the COMELEC building. Of course, it wasn’t the COMELEC building in Intramuros that we were supposed to go to- I’d understood the directions wrong- but there you go: the last time I set foot in the walled city. I mean, I’d gotten to see the Cathedral, but that was only for its parking area. That was it.

Yesterday, the traffic was very light. In fact, there a lot of Porsches careening happily about. "Di sila takut sa tansan ngayun," Car15 observed, guffawing. We parked near the Cathedral and promptly joined the throng doing the Bisita Iglesia.

Oh, but the bisita we were doing was remotely religious. We only wanted to do the rounds of the old Manila. In fact, a little while later, I nearly lost my temper at a 7-11 when this clerk refused to give me a phone card just because I didn’t have small change. I thought 7-11’s Should have change for big bills, I mean, they do have people coming and going and leaving them money and all. It was a good thing that PDid came to the rescue before I stormed out of the store. He had change for my P500. Anyway, doing the rounds, losing temper, equals hardly, maybe not at all, religious.


It’s amazing how Intramuros, that small piece of real estate, can connect you with your past and with your identity. Or not. Before the day ended, I quickly realized that we really haven’t our own identity, or, maybe it should be more apt to say that, we really don’t know who and what we are.

I remember that there was time when everyone seemed to want to talk about our possibly joining the US as one of its States. That was the vogue then. As if, by becoming Americans, we’d suddenly rid ourselves of our myriad of problems. Maybe it will; maybe it won’t. It’s just sad that we’ll want to look to others for solutions before we look to our own selves for the answers.


We clambered up the wall after the short stop at the local 7-11. The sun was beating down on us, but somehow it didn’t seem hot at all. I think it was the ocean breeze that prevented us from breaking into a terrific sweat. You thank god for small favors.

We looked at the cannons. We marveled at the thickness of the walls. The old lookouts all smell of piss, by the way. The City of Manila should take better care of the place.

After passing by the marker which marked 1 Victoria Street, where McArthur used to have his home, we sat down and thought that we could maybe play a game of Games of the Generals there. It would have been a fitting tribute to the General, by playing a game of strategy created by a Filipino, where an American general's home used to be. But there wasn’t a shaded area we could annex and play on.


By the way, PDid and Car15 were telling me that Intramuros was a better place when Dick Gordon was running Tourism. You pine for the good old days and wish that things stayed the same.


We walked by the old Ateneo compound and explored the ruins of the old Jesuit church. It sat across the street from where AdM used to be. Car15 reminded me that Rizal looked towards the spot where Ateneo was, before he was shot. I’m really not your history guy.


We walked towards Chowking, in front of the Cathedral. Maybe we could play Games of the Generals there? Nah. It was too crowded. I pointed to Max’s. That should do fine.


Walking towards the resto, we can’t help but notice the marker for the plaza fronting the Cathedral. First named for the King of Spain, then its name kept on changing depending on who our conquerors were. It’s kind of sad, really. There we were, looking for identity in the Old City of Manila, and all we could find were the chains that bound us to colonists. Maybe it’s high time we conquered ourselves for a change.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jobert said...

You should try Carlos Celdran's Intramuros tour (450/person). It's really really worth it. I plan to go back with my whole family this May. Hey! Maybe, we'd bump into each other. I would be the grumpy guy with two hyper active daughters...

I learned a lot. And I mean a lot from that tour. Do take the deluxe tour.

Check out tour dates at his blog: http://celdrantours.blogspot.com. Just scroll down.

4:38 AM  
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12:32 PM  
Blogger Talang Pula said...

i will, jobert. thanks.

i'll be the one with the two hyperactive friends. =)

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