Manila on my mind

If there’s one thing you’ve got to love about Manila it’s the sidewalks—this I realized while I was trying to find my way to Taft Avenue from the Metropolitan Museum on Roxas Boulevard  this afternoon. Yes, I walked all the way from Harrison Plaza in Adriatico, turned right at the intersection at Quirino all the way to Taft, whereupon I had to walk until PGH just to catch a bus going to Alabang! It was real leg work, and I couldn’t help but appreciate Manila’s wide, relatively green, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. It would have been doubly hard to walk if all I had to tread on are twelve-inch gutters, which, sadly, are what we find elsewhere in the Metro.

But what I didn’t like were the hobos I seemed to find every corner I turn. Not only were they very unsightly, they were also very unhygienic—they cooked, ate, bathed, and slept all in the same corner of the pavement they camped on. And they harangued you whenever you got out of convenience stores and fast food joints. Everybody was saying how they have finally managed to tidy up Manila in Atienza’s time, and yet I still saw those hobos today. This is the nation’s capital we are talking about, for heaven’s sakes!

The sleek confines of the Metropolitan Museum, on the other hand, were a welcome breather from the dirt and grime of the city. It was well worth seeing the Suite Vollard, a collection of copper etchings by Pablo Picasso, which was really the object of my trip. But it was even more sublime seeing the Bangko Sentral’s pre-Hispanic gold collection in the museum’s basement gallery! You’ve just got to visit it and gawk on all those gold sashes, earrings, dagger holders, necklaces, and even burial face covers! I was particularly stunned by a “dragonfly” choker—at least 6,000 gold granules hand-strung to form a three-layered necklace! It was a true masterpiece! It should give any Filipino a much-needed boost in his pride for the country.

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