Thursday, August 04, 2005


With true mixed emotions, I was giddily happy/somewhat sickened to stumble upon the place where old Manila houses go to die. After visiting the
Dimasalang Flower Market, I took a turn on Laong Laan St. and realized that on the corners of Maria Clara and Quintos are two shops/warehouses that peddle bits and pieces of old Manila - literally. At the entrance of their storage area, I saw a stunning white art deco wrought iron staircase on sale for Php12,000.00. Was it perhaps cannibalized from some newly demolished mansion in Malate? I also saw dozens of second hand mahogany bannisters (sold to a German man); a series of large wrought iron carriage lamps; and huge slabs of real Chinese granite going for Php10,000.00 per slab (I dread to think about the architectural marvel from which these were stripped.) And for an added surrealist touch, here were also quite a few wooden carousel horses strewn about.
But ironically, although I was surrounded by the evidence of Manila's terrible track record in historical structure preservation, I was strangely relieved to see that the city's heritage architecture can still find a second lease on life. I realized that even though its original form was lost due to the ignorance of some property developer, the essence of it's character can still find its way into the hands of someone who will truly appreciate it.
This only confirms my suspicion that the beauty of Manila's heritage architecture never dies; it only gets transferred. Just another way of ourselves reinterpreting the reinterpretation of ourselves.
Picture above: Just a few of the doors, fences, and bannisters on sale.