Musing Around Manila

“The Philippines needed a modern cultural center for operas, concerts, and plays, and [I] planned to achieve a monumental one through its dimensions, elevations, and splendid decorations, and through its harmonious liens it would symbolize an organ or a cathedral.”—Juan Arellano, architect 
"Then out came a woman to meet him
    dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent.
 (She is unruly and defiant,
    her feet never stay at home;
 now in the street, now in the squares,
    at every corner she lurks.)"
—Proverbs 7:10-12, New International Version

For five times I've gone to the University of Santo Tomas (for I am to attend there in my first college year), and so I've been further oriented into Metro Manila. My eyes have been opened to the surfaces and sights of the wide city during those visits.

I've started to gain observations I have to get used to, as well as be familiar with, being not only a college student but also a regular commuter. From the reality of being packaged like a can of sardines while riding the Light Rail Transit (LRT) train; to the clear contrast between the living salaryman and the dying bystander; to the threatening vulnerability of people like me to be victimized by criminals.

For my fifth visit to the Metro, however, I have explicitly seen 2 realities I am going to share to you, dear reader. One is something I've seen since my second visit, and the other is spotted during my latest visit.

Abandoned theater

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After landing at LRT's Central Station, I have to go to a jeepney which will lead me to the university campus. It's a long way there, but there is one building that I have crossed, and will cross often.

It is a large structure with fine furnishings around it. It is mostly pink in color, but through time, tattered by dust. It used to be a theater, but at the present, an abandoned building. It's called the Manila Metropolitan Theater (MET), which must have been a great haven of culture and arts in its glory days.

It is so unfortunate to see what once was created by the government during the American colonial period, and flourished by it (or perhaps exactly write: by former First Lady and Manila governor Imelda Marcos), is now left like trash, after alternating renovations, reopenings, and closings.

At this moment, I don't think the government will deal about this. Do they even care about it, while facing issues of corruption, and maybe thinking about another plan to amass the people's money?

I don't know yet if the National Commission for Culture and Arts has advanced their tripartite agreement between the Government Service Insurance System and the Manila City Hall regarding MET, but I really hope I will see this theater refurbished, refurnished, renovated, and restored—in its architectural beauty and cultural purpose.

Dangerous outskirts

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Far enough the campus of UST, is an avenue named after a former senator—Claro M. Recto. Recto is a place for secondhand textbooks, false certificates, accessible dry seals, as well as various markets. One of these markets is alarming, however.

Being oriented to the avenue's grounds, I have spotted dangerous outskirts containing demoralizing, loathsome businesses. On one side are advertisements hand-painted with something like "untamed virgin" (yuck), and on the other are painted signs and printed posters of immoral movies, perhaps like those HBO and other cable channels in USA will air at night since the 80's(just knew that out of being a TV enthusiast).

Indeed, a movie theater of perverse films still exist, which I think was an infectious trend around the times of President Marcos. I even spotted an R-18 warning.

For real, these are dangerous spots remaining in these corners of Manila. I even doubt if many are still drugged by these forms of entertainment, though digital age brought seamless formats.

Isn't it that former Manila mayor Alfredo Lim, as far as I know, did his best in closing these businesses during his lead? Isn't it that the "city's red light districts" were eradicated at those times? Yet now, these things are still rampant, still vulnerable to unguarded minds, even bypassers! Won't today's administration in Manila bust these brothels and theaters (not worthy to be called a theater!)? Don't say they will let this be the status quo!

May there be a way for these establishments to be removed, and may the public have minds and hearts that will shun these degrading corners.

I might cover more observations like these in the future, and I have just revealed two which I feel are needed to be penned, typed, and now read by your eyes, and digested by your minds in this blog.

Not only were my eyes opened to reality, but I, in my whole being, have began to bring up concerns, that now through this blog post I have extended as causes—a cultural one and a moral other.

What do you think about these observations? Do you have your own observations too? Please drop a line: comment, or tweet @adrianconoza

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