Project Glocal teamed up with Old Manila Walks to give Transi(en)t Manila’s artists not just a look at what the city streets have to offer, but also to provide inspiration and insight that the artists may infuse into their art.
|In Plaza Miranda|
Ivan ManDy lead us from 98B’s headquarters in Escolta down the road to Sta. Cruz Church, situated in the heart of Manila’s downtown. A quick backgrounder of Manila’s (and the country’s) colonial history explained why the heritage areas of Sta. Cruz, Quiapo and Binondo were once important to the country’s social, economic and cultural fabric, but has slowly decayed as the city’s centers migrated elsewhere.
|The Black Nazarene attracts believers from all walks of life.|
But more than that, early Sunday morning on the church patio opens one up to what is important to the Philippines as a people: a curious mix of faith and enterprise. At Plaza Miranda, several replicas of the Nazareno draw curious crowds of believers, street urchins bearing religious amulets are quick to wrap them around wrists and limbs and then ask for donations, there are people you can ask to pray for you, or even light a candle for specific blessings one desires.
|The Hidalgo Underpass is now an almost clean but well-lighted place.|
Down the newly renovated Hidalgo underpass, the dinginess has disappeared in the bright lights. There are many things to see and buy and eat. But as one emerges on the other side of Quezon Boulevard, a quick left turn down Bautista Street reveals the dilapidated and sorry states of what used to be grand mansions that once belonged to Manila’s rich and powerful.
|This house is more than a hundred years old.|
The house of the Nakpil-Bautista clan has been converted into a museum that preserves the mementos of its illustrious family members. The Nakpils were intimate to the figures and events that helped shaped the nation. Bonifacio’s widow Gregoria de Jesus later married into the family. A trio of paintings depicting her life with Bonifacio and Julio Nakpil adorned one of the walls. There are mini-exhibits that focused on the Katipunan and its members. There is a set of chairs which have seated Rizal et al during the founding of the La Liga Filipina in 1892.
|The ticket to Bahay Nakpil is in the form of a cedula |
to keep up with the Katipunan theme.
Next door and in a much sorrier state is the Boix House. The heritage house is owned by the Jesuits, and used to be a warren of rooms that nested nearly thirty impoverished families. A small group of artists and conservationist volunteers have been working tirelessly to clean up the over a hundred year old house and get it in a better shape before it all falls apart.
|Students from Adamson University gifted this reconstruction model plan |
to the Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista.
The volunteer we talked to showed us a preservation and reconstruction plan made by students from Adamson University. While they have no money yet to put such refurbishments in place, the groups interested in preserving this heritage house holds fund raising activities just to manage the upkeep. And yet, they were nice enough to give their visitors some foldable fans to help cool us down. “We’re all neighbors here,” the man from Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista said. “We need to help each other out.”
In that street, there is also a woodcarving workshop where religious sculptures are made. Sometimes, rebultos are also sent by their owners for repairs. We found the father and son team working on a female wooden santo sculpture whose proportions were too big and had to be cut down to make it more female-like--basically, it’s like liposuction for sculptures. It’s fascinating what you find if you only know where to look.
The tour group crossed the underpass back to Plaza Miranda and made our way to Ongpin for lunch at Ang Tunay Beef House. At one o’clock in the afternoon, it was already last call for orders before they close up for siesta. After eating, we went back to where it all started, at 98B. A closing chat was given by Ivan as to what else can be found in Old Manila that might serve as inspiration for Project Glocal’s artists and allies.