Turning Maria Clara into a vixen

Manila Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 24 › view all entries

The capital of the Philippines is Metro Manila, which is composed of different cities, including Manila City, Quezon City and Makati City, to name a few. In a global perspective, the word 'Metro' is often dropped, hence, when speaking with a non-Filipino, we do understand that when they say Manila, they refer to Metro Manila. But for us Filipinos, when we speak with each other and we say Manila, it refers only to the City of Manila.

For me, it is important to emphasize this, as I want to highlight how Manila city could be different from the other cities in Metro Manila, like Quezon City, for example, where I was raised, since I was 3.

Manila would have its own reputation, its own quirks, and it would be most popular being the city where important events in the Philippines' history happened and also as it is currently where the main government offices are located as well as a lot of major Universities and Colleges. Therefore, I am describing Manila in the eyes of someone who did not grow up there.

As a child, I went to Manila for field trips to the zoo and planetarium, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila Bay and few visits to my aunt who works in the Supreme Court of the Philippines. On my highschool years, it would be about visits to museums and other places for school requirements, and additionally those few weeks I spent in one hospital where my grandfather checked in alive (and almost healthy looking like he was not sick) to have an operation and checked out as a stiff corpse after complications. My University years would be about going to review school for taking the Accounting board exams, hotels for CPA oath taking and formal parties, from time to time visits to the Universities where my parents work as professors, and to a lawschool to wait for my boyfriend. 

From what I've mentioned, one could say I've seen a lot of Manila, but actually I have not seen much then, as there were a couple of important faces of Manila that only now, I had the chance to meet: the historical and classic place of Intramuros, where within the ancient walls one will see the evolution of life and culture in Manila from the Spanish colonization to the Japanese to the American and down until today as an independent Republic that had now a quite extraordinary culture where a lot of ironies could be seen, perhaps as a result of all these various influences that it is so hard to explain how the culture could be both conservative and liberated at the same time.

I like being inside Intramuros, as it is like being in a place where I could think that I was living a life in a safe recluse, that as I walked in awe along the nave of San Agustin church and see its interior's grandness, I could pretend I was following a typical Filipina's dream of walking down that long red carpet aisle for a happily ever after ending, or rather, should I say, beginning.

However, there is life beyond these walls, that other face which is also part of reality, the one which pops your idealist bubble and make you see how poverty can lead people to adopt a life which make them let go of their values to survive, and evenmore at the hope that a superior culture would save and take them away from their own damned one. Perhaps, this is again a mentality brought about by being a colony of different nations for centuries of time -- dependency was inculcated at the back of the minds. I am fortunate enough to be living a life out of poverty, where I do not need to sacrifice my values to just survive. I could make my own choices, to extend my understanding, my patience, my values not because I wanted to survive, but because I wanted to be loved.

Yes, this is foolish especially when you have let your guards down and still end up having a big question mark on your face. Funny how the more I wanted to show my real self, the more I tend to lose it. Funny how I have been trying to break away from the stereotypes, but somehow I still end up feeling like one of them. Well, perhaps I just analyze too much.


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photo by: Deats