Wednesday, March 16, 2005


March 16, 2005
Roxas Boulevard - March 16, 2005,
originally uploaded by
After a 19-year long absence, it gives me great joy to welcome the bougainvilla flowers back to the center island of Roxas Boulevard. These vibrant blooms, first planted for the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant by former First Lady/Governor of Metro Manila/Minister of Human Settlements Imelda Romualdez Marcos, form a great part of my childhood memories. Images of crimson and violet flowers flitting outside the window of my grandfathers Renault on a sunny 1977 Manila afternoon are still fresh in my minds eye. Sadly, these lush colorful bushes were one of the first casualties of the 1986 revolution. Once Cory Aquino was swept into power, the Department of Tourism, then headed by Secretary Antonio Gonzalez, had all the bougainvillae uprooted as a knee jerk reaction to all things Imeldific. In its place, frangipani trees were planted until they too were moved to the side islands for reasons of bad feng shui, bad air, or bad aesthetics. I just hope the bougainvillae stay for good this time. There is a reason why Imelda chose them. They are perfect for the maintenance standards of the city. They thrive on neglect and bloom when urinated upon. And despite the backdrop of Marcos' human rights violations and the systematic rape of the Philippine economy, these flowers stand as a testament to an era when Manila was more orderly, more cultured, and, for the lack of a more specific term, more beautiful. Congratulations to the Department of Public Works for getting over the bitterness and bringing Madame's flowers back where they belong.