Sunday, July 15, 2007

Manila (a cocktail of diverse cultures) 2

Story by TJ

On the way to Intramuros (official site), they passed by Rizal Park, where José Rizal was executed. The park was named after this national hero of the Philippines who advocated social and political reforms during Spanish rule (late 16th century to late 19th century). As others were listening with rapt attention to Rizal's anecdotes, Hanson was engulfed in a surge of repentance. He wished he could have learned more about Rizal and Filipino history before this trip. "If I at least googled him before coming here, I would know better about this interesting polymath," he muttered.

The first stop Hanson and the others went to in Intramuros was this 426-year old Manila Metropolitan Cathedral.

Since a wedding was being held there by the time they arrived, they did not have a tour inside. Just when Lily was backing up the car, a little boy around the age of 10 suddenly began to rap on the trunk. He continued to rap until the car came to a stop. Lily rolled down the car window, gave 5 pesos to the boy, turned over and said, "This is our custom. In many countries people may knock on your car to warn you against a wall, a ditch or something. Here we knock to tell the driver it's ok to keep on backing up the car." She continued, "I gave him 5 pesos in case he broke my window."

It was only a 2-minute drive from Manila Metropolitan Cathedral to Casa Manila Museum ("casa" means "house" in Spanish), a time tunnel into the lifestyle of a rich family during Spanish colonial period.

Kenny and Justin read out the introduction of this museum, which they printed out from Intramuros website:

"...The vases are Ming, the wooden furniture is Victorian. Walls are Baroque. The high ceilings and wide narra planks for flooring are Castillan. And the capiz windows and louvers were adapted by the Spaniards to provide better ventilation in our tropical climate..."

"Narra is our national tree and Capiz is a province in the middle of the Philippines," Lily explained.

The picture below shows capiz windows.

"An amazing view," exclaimed Hanson, "What geometric forms can you see from here?"
"Trapezoids," Justin said with confidence.
"A combination of a sector and a trapezoid," Shelly added.
"Parallelograms?" Kenny murmured.
"Arches, rectangles and triangles," Lily interrupted while surveying the panorama of this atrium.
Hanson smiled at their answers as if he was conducting a symphony.

Indeed, this marvelous piece of architecture is imbued with the beauty of equilibrium and steeped in a myriad of cultural elements, something that Hanson has always looked out for on an urban trip. That evening the group had a feast in a boat-shaped restaurant...

...and went for a stroll on the sidewalk of Roxas Boulevard, next to Manila Bay.

Lily sent Hanson back to New Solanie Hotel. When leaving, Kenny sent Hanson a buko pie (buko means young coconuts in Tagalog) as a pasalubong (souvenir).

This reminded Hanson of the buko pie he bought on the way back from Taal volcano and of the fact that he couldn't go there again as all his friends would have to work the next day. For the following two days, he would need to explore the city alone.

To be continued...

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