I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

29 October, 2013

Manila, Manila

Manila City Hall Clock tower as seen from a building on UN Avenue
 I take it back---I do miss Manila after all. Not this Manila around the City Hall with squalor included...

but this Manila Bay...smell (or stench) and all.
40 years of life in Sangley Point Cavite, Las Pinas, Pasay, and Paranaque plus a strong olfactory sense combine to base my life's memories in this west area. Memories triggered by...this bay's air.

Dragon boat training
Manila Bay; Cavite on the horizon

     I've raved about Santa Rosa, Laguna, and claim not to miss Manila. It is true, I, and as I found out, other friends who have relocated, do not feel the need to go to METRO Manila.
Inside Fort Santiago
      Old Manila, I did not realize I missed. Until a return to Fort Santiago and the walls of Intramuros this week.  From a childhood of picnics with family in the grounds of the Cultural Center by the water, getting there by walking on Taft Avenue; to my twenties when I would go to the Fort on spontaneous drives, through weddings, events, tours...Intramuros is my Manila.  The random trips in my twenties were actually whenever I felt down and in need of solitude, a nearby escape.
    Strange that the history of dungeons, the captivity, colonial rule and martyrdom, were my refuge...and provided me a return to a feeling of ''freedom".   

     I still fantasize (albeit overly-romantically---life wasn't exactly easy especially if you were an Indio; it is always the toilet system in Casa Manila that reminds of how satisfied I am living in this century). Nick Joaquin's stories add fuel to this fantasy...

---anyway, as I was saying I still fantasize about how it would have been like...

    to reach Manila via the Pasig river the way Rizal did from Laguna.  

The grounds certainly look much prettier than my husband and I recall. We each have our own sentimental memories of visits as children with family, weddings, events and school tours...most of all, memories of ...dates with other people!

    Now my trips back to the old walled city have added memories...With a child experiencing it for the first   time..."everything old is new again".  It is joyful to hear such a young one exclaim "I love the Old Town!"  She named it such and it was she who begged to "go back to the Old Town".  It was nice hearing her beg to return to the bay "to see the sun set into the water".  Manila may be ugly, unplanned, and impoverished in parts. It is still my Manila. I'm still happy in Santa Rosa, but the familiarity of this old city, the knowledge (and stench, yike) of its streets in my blood make me. Maybe, in my forties, roots and the sense of belonging someplace have finally mattered more than ever.

12 October, 2013


     I guess I've sighed about this before...someday we will be able to post scent. For now I will have to skillfully describe it.  It's too difficult to do.

     Let me just say since October started, the air out here and especially in the hills of Puting Kahoy, Silang, has been pleasantly cool and breezy. Christmas-y if you will.  And now, outside there is again that woody (woodsy?) fragrance.  A young friend from Silang pointed out how dusk comes earlier...at around 5 p.m.  A few nights ago I saw the first star, bright above, and in the same evening stepped out and breathed this woody air.  It is thanks to the many trees around, I guess.  We had munia baby birds in September, and they've since flown the coop.  What is left is just some light rain since last night from Typhoon Santi. Not much in this part of Luzon. As usual it is Aurora, Quezon that is hit hard.  That eastern portion of the country is beautiful, raw, nature and I would love to visit.  However I would only visit it and Albay province in the summer, I guess. I am no intrepid surfer.

      So anyway, in this Southwestern portion we are not feeling the storm. We have this, freshly-bathed foliage.  This poinsettia has grown to four times its size since being transplanted in our garden back in April. I purchased it last Christmas from the amicable cancer-survivor Ms. Gloria at Solenad 2, Nuvali. She was there weekends, selling a large variety of potted herbs and dispensing friendly advice about diet and lifestyle. 
It was from her I bought pots of Ashitaba (Gynura Procumbens, actually) to give as gifts.  I came away with more, though. Inspiration.

   Last weekend I ran through that weekend market and she wasn't there. What was there was a lot of kakanin, fruit juice like buko, and rows and rows of grilling going on. The barbeque smelled so good, but somehow, I've not been craving for beef or pork meat in any form.  That's what there was plenty of there.  I even saw intestines on skewers (aren't those called isaw?). Those looked interesting, a Filipino delicacy.  I recall my nose not being too attracted to the ihaw scents enough to actually buy last year; and Ms. Gloria, a vegetarian, saying they didn't affect her at all.  Don't get me wrong I'm not saying I'm turned off by the smoky tent...there is corn as well, and I'm glad Filipino food is featured in there.  We need places that still showcase and sell Filipino culture especially here in the middle of the global/mostly American franchises. Otherwise, travelers would just be going "anywhere", wouldn't we. 

     Ah! Speaking of where this is going, I've gone everywhere and nowhere again. Time to just enjoy this air, and watch as the poinsettia leaves turn red.