Resuscitating a gasping-for-breath City of Manila

Published June 28, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Elinando B. Cinco
Elinando B. Cinco

By Elinando B. Cinco


The banner headline story of The Sunday Bulletin last June 24  — BRINGING BACK MANILA’S GLORY — provoked two schools of thought.

One, avid Manilans believe that the prominence of their ever-loyal city will always be there as its enviable seal to the world. And, two, skeptical residents sadly share their opinion that the wording of the headline might as well be inscribed in its tombstone.

Defenders of Manila’s indelible eminence proudly contend that among its treasures are its being the seat of the national government, and therefore, the Capital City of the Philippines.

Its colorful history alone enshrined in each and every page of history books attracts the admiration of people worldwide in whose well-annotated libraries such treasures are found.

The doomsayers have a litany of the city’s defilements – decay, uncollected trash, criminality, petty corruption at city hall, crimes involving policemen, mismanagement.

It is no surprise at all that those banalities pose a negative portraiture of Manila. And, thus, protesters agitate for the transfer of the Capital City to either Quezon City or Makati City.

But real and genuine Manilans are not about ready to give up their city. There is a concerted effort among cultural and arts groups, chambers of commerce, civic clubs, and, of course, the city government that has been earnestly mounting up activities, though, in selected districts.

And they are concentrating on fields that Manila has so much to highlight globally – its history, culture and the arts, religious celebrations, and the like.

Already drawing in tourists and business travelers, sponsors, and patrons are the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the National Museum of Fine Arts. They are all housed in the same edifice – the old Tourism Building – on T.M. Kalaw  street.

Of quaint interest to first-timers – foreigners and locals – is the Bahay-Tsinoy that illustrates and displays items, relics, and books that focus on the centuries-old, multi-faceted relationship between the Philippines and China.

Hand in hand with these exhibits are walking tours in the Intramuros area, and the Binondo Food Wok which as the name suggests is a culinary food adventure.

Tourists with discriminating taste will find to their delight the famed Chinese cuisine as whipped up by those Binondo eateries.

Amidst these flurries of activity are humble sales pitches for the city.

Sometime in the early 1980s, I paid a visit to the ultra-imaginative adman Telly Bernardo in his agency and found him crafting a series of travel brochures on Manila.

He told me, “Pardner, where can you find a cosmopolitan city that still allows horse-drawn, small centuries-designed wooden carts to convey excited sight-seers around the city and to experience the bumps of cobble-stone streets?”

Add to that is my own candid assessment: Where can you find an 18-hole, 66-par well-manicured golf course located right in the middle of the administrative and business hub of a city that natives still call their ‘Maynila?’

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WAITING FOR TIM HORTONS AT ‘CALLE BISTRO’. There is a noticeable excitement among Commonwealth Avenue residents and employees for the delayed opening of Calle Bistro located at the western wing of Ever Mall. Among those food stalls  being awaited by patrons is the Tim Hortons coffee branch.

Media “kapihan” groups and neighboring subdivision associations, and nearby offices are just waiting to transfer their meeting place to the T/H coffee outlet since last summer. The waiting is spirited that Cebuano-speaking would-be customers are now calling the spot, in jest, “Tim Hulaton,” which in their dialect  means “to wait.”