I knew it was going to happen one day and that day was today. Just this morning as I was warming up at the gym, a small, balding, effeminate man approached me and asked, "Are you Carlos Celdran, the guy who does the walking tours?"
I said, "Yes I am."
And he said, "I'm DL. I own the Avenue Theater."
Now I must admit, my heart did rise to my throat a bit when I heard that. This was gym time, my personal time to relax, and I was in no mood to get into an argument
about his/his family's decision to destroy a piece of our history. Surprisingly though, he did not come across as antagonistic and instead kept asking me questions about the history of the building, even asking for my contact details. I told him the Avenue theater was the only survivor of WWII on that side of Rizal Avenue and directed him to my blog to see photographic proof (which I posted above to make it easier for him to find). But even more surprising was how he went on about how some of the first FAMAS
award ceremonies were held there and how it was designed by National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil. Jeez, if you knew it was such a historic building, why in heavens name did you tear it down? Judging by your fancy cellphone, it's obvious you don't need the money that badly.
And as he rambled on, I kept wondering to myself why this man was being so cruel to me. Why was he bringing up the subject of the Avenue Theatre when it was no secret that I thought his family was despicable and deplorable
to tear it down. I mean really, why even start talking to me? You already made your blood money off the carcass of this building, now you want to make a friend? Get the f*** away from me.
However, I soon realized that he was not doing this out of malice, but only because he was clueless about the relevance of the building and about Philippine architectural history. His ignorance and lack of art and the culture in his life became even more evident when he said to my face: "You know the Odeon Theatre? I tore that one down too."
before smiling as if expecting some form of approval from me. I felt sick. But whether he approached me with intent or simply because he lacked emotional intelligence
, the end of our conversation spoke volumes about how the loss of our heritage architecture can be linked to the Philippine elite's disconnection to the history of the country which earns them their money. After I peppered our entire conversation with terms like "absolutely shameful", "tragedy and waste",
and "doing a disservice to our nation"
without getting the smallest rise out of him, I finally had to ask "Don't you feel any remorse about tearing down our heritage architecture?"
He simply shot back, "No. I didn't grow up here"
before going back to his treadmill screen to watch TVE