An apology to Manila (1 of 3)

I commute to my dormitory every week when I was a student. At times, I have two options: To take a bus from taft Avenue to Philcoa or take the MRT from EDSA-taft and go down at Quezon Ave. Either way, it's the same... the sight, the dirt and most especially the people. I've been a patron of public transport for 4 years and counting (as if I have a choice anyway). I’ve passed by these places, placing them with no regard anymore. I used to be so in love with Manila, thinking maybe someday, I would be able to walk freely with no fear.

Then, I just changed. I felt hatred at first, because of the traffic, the lack of buses going home, the unpleasant sight that passes by the train windows. Then, towards the end, I stopped caring. I started traveling again, and finding more and more things to nitpick about my city. I blamed Manila for everything. Why aren’t you like this, why aren’t you more like that, why can’t we have this, why can’t you do that.

And then a couple of weeks ago, i got invited by a small group of photo enthusiasts to join them for a photowalk in Manila. I did not hesitate to join Nim, Jeric, Lee and Ja. I started thinking that it would be a really great opportunity to capture the city I used to hate, up close using my lens. We started at Legarda LRT Station, Mendiola Bridge, San Sebastian Church, and down to the camera-proof district of San Miguel within the strict supervision of Malacanang Palace.

San Beda Church a.k.a Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat
The interior of this church is worthy of admiration. The details of the ceiling stood out, which reminds me of the paintings on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel in Rome. I often wondered how would it be like to have our churches beautified because it has also a great opportunity for tourism. We have hundreds of churches here!

Afterwards, a short walk from the church, we entered the grounds of a supposed to be no-camera zone, as told by an officer guarding the gate. It was a heartbreaking news for all of us since, our main target for that day was to see the beautiful and old houses that line up San Miguel. We were obviously frustrated, especially Nim, who invited us here, add that up to the searing heat of the 12-noon sun on a slightly overcast and humid day.

I sneaked a shot from one of the houses while we were walking, but unfortunately, it was overexposed. A disheartening fact that i found out is that in a small area such as this, the contrast between the diplomats and the ordinary people can be clearly seen. On one side you see big houses, the other, shanties. It was pointless to stay in San Miguel so we just hailed a taxi and preceded to Binondo for lunch.


Benavidez St., One of my favorite streets in Binondo

A long walk from Recto cor. Soler street  gave me a lot of opportunity to shoot in this lazy Saturday afternoon, but the camera i recently acquired had some problems so some photos were not exposed properly. On the other hand, s much as I want to try out other restaurants to eat except Wai Ying, the unadventurous side in me emerged earlier than usual. Nevertheless, Wai Ying fastfood in Benavidez St. never failed to satsify me.

Dimsum madness

Our next target location was supposed to be in Manila Chinese Cemetery upon unanimous agreement over dimsum and radish cakes. We also received news that our last companion Ja, couldn't make it so it's going to be the four of us who will spend the day taking photos.
Binondo area along with Divisoria and Escolta used to be the central business district of Manila decades ago. My parents can still recall how they spend the weekends at Plaza Fair in Sta. Cruz and Avenida. If ever they need supplies, Binondo area is lined up with specialty shops that cater to their needs. But now, as urban historians and planners always preach, there will always be a time that the CBD will be moved to a new place, where it will flourish for some time, and afterwards after a new location started developing, the old will wither, and enter a stage of urban decay. That is the case of old Manila.

Thunder started to roll above us, a hint of an approaching storm. We figured it was impractical to walk from Binondo to D.Jose station where we will ride an LRT, so we just hired a taxi, again. Fortunately, it started to rain when we were already inside the cab so it spared us from getting wet... (yet).
As far as I know, Manila Chinese Cemetery is located somewhere in the north, near Abad Santos. So we just asked the taxi to drop us below the station and from there we figure how to get to the cemetery... and that's the time the the clouds unleashed its global-warming-induced heavy rains. We have no choice but to wait in a rainshelter beside the road.

Seconds passed... Minutes....

Hours... (de, joke lang.) Several minutes... and we decided to go back to Manila (escolta) and figure everything there. A single LRT ride would be enough. But first we have to run a few meters under the rain. We got wet, obviously. We even have to hire a tricycle just to cross the street because of the flood.

I can't blame the rain for it just  falls down on its own accord. What we need are proper rain shelters where people can spend their time in the public, doads that don't get flooded after a short span of rain, and streets where people can walk safely on the sidewalk without fear of getting hit. Other nations did it. Why can't we?

I became blinded by my hatred, I became irrational. I blamed a city that is asking the same questions that I asked. It’s not asking itself, it’s asking me. It’s asking us, everyone of us who has ever wished to live somewhere else.

To be continued.

I’m so sorry, Manila. What am I to do? I guess I’m just going to have to love you unconditionally, which is how it’s supposed to be. If you want to see my companion's photos, you can visit their site:

Nim of Sunburnmotel
Jeric of Rustyjerk


  1. ang ganda ng mga kuha mo na umuulan...linis nakuha pa yun ng camera mo! haha

  2. Love your photos pa din!

    I like Manila. I love the textures. I like the stories told by the streets. Madumi, mausok, magulo pero I wouldn't be able to appreciate the beauty of other places in PH had I not experienced all the chaos in this city. Sometimes we get frustrated by it pero okay lang. I dunno.

    And I miss Nim!!!

  3. I love how you told the story.... cant wait for part 2

  4. agree! favorite ko din yung may sidecar at km post na picture.... =)

  5. It's nice when you get to discover things you don't notice everyday. And nicer when you see it with your lens.

    I've been to Manila several times already but I believe I haven't even seen a speck of it. Manila is too big a place to discover at once.

    I hope I could do also do a similar photowalk in our place too. :)

  6. At ngayon ko lang napansin ang nakakabulag mong Blog Title. Hahaha.

  7. Thanks! Sa katunayan eto din yung isa sa favorite shots ko =D

  8. Wala kasi akong makitang matinong header eh... *hint* Gusto ko sana ng magandang header... Hayyy *hinthint* HAHAHA

  9. Although I have reached a handful of places in Manila, i still have no right to say that I knew her. In fact, if i will gauge myself, i have probably known less than a tenth of what she has to offer. :D

    Where are you from, anyway? Thanks for droppin by! :D

  10. Thanks ian! I will post it soon :)

  11. I regard this post as a break from the Sagada series hwahaha.

    Thanks robbie. I am still in the stage of getting-to-know-Manila... :) And yeah, it sort of brings us back to reality whenever we come home from a trip in the province.

  12. Ang ganda nung rain pictures nung nastranded tayo dun sa may parlor!!!

  13. Awesome shots as always, and di lang basta naging photowalk siya ha, naging photoadventure close to photoswim na ang peg. Sama ko next time mag-photowalk kayo!

  14. Ang ganda ngayon ko lang nakita : )

  15. Ang galing mong kumuha ng photos... like I'm a fan naooooow!!!


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