Monday, February 12, 2007


Exactly sixty-two years ago this month, the capital of the Philippine Islands was brought to it's knees through fire and sword in a conflict known as the Battle of Manila 1945. Caught in an unfortunate encounter between the United States Armed Forces and the Japanese Imperial Army, Manila, a city once known as the "Pearl of the Orient" was beaten down to a disease ridden wasteland, it's citizens transformed into quivering madmen.

Sadly, every year this month goes by without much fanfare (most Manilenos care more about Valentine's Day and the EDSA Revolution), and every year I come up with assumptions about what the city would have been like should this tragic incident never have happened. For starters, I believe that the genteel residential districts of Ermita and Malate would still be intact and populated by it's original residents, the island of Corregidor would still be operating as a military base, the Tranvia trolley system would still be plying the streets, while the seven churches of Intramuros would still be standing. It would have been a completely different city from what it is today, and I perhaps would be a completely different person because of it.

And now thanks to my friend Butch who sent me this Google Video link called Old Manila, I now have a brief glimpse into what Manila was like before 1945. It's a home movie shot by a Manila visitor and it's a priceless account of what we lost and what we as citizens should aspire to recreate. Be sure to check out the Manila tram system in full operation, the clean canals of Binondo with it's sleepy residents walking along it's banks, and a brief shot of some suburban beach resort (which I might assume is Pasay?) with people actually swimming in the Manila Bay.

Manila is dead. Long Live Manila.

Also, thank you to life partners Te and Lisette for the wonderful post on your blog. So glad to have had you both on the tour.