Monday, May 16, 2005

Cool spot in Manila

Another hot weekend. Has the realm of Hades ascended to the surface? A day in the old walled city and a look-see at the old Film Center. Discovering a cool place. Another humid weekend in Metro Manila, luckily found a cool spot to hang out. We went to Intramuros this weekend. Along with my nephews and father we made a pilgrimage to the walled city. Stopped by San Agustin Church and decided to check out the museum. I almost recited all the mysteries of the rosary upon entering the museum. The museum was a sanctuary against the heat. High ceiling and the adobe provided a buffer against the heat. Of course the air-condition in one of the rooms also helped a lot. They reorganised the museum since my last visit. All the important items were now in the first two rooms on the first floor. Described and annotated with the writings of Nick Joaquin. The room was packed with treasures and assorted stuff accumulated by the Augustinian Order over the years: the monstrances, several crosses, vertically challenged saints, vestments, very old books and among other things a wooden carabao! You could just stay there forever the amount of history before you and the pleasing environment provided by the air-conditioner. I do miss one item, the figure of the pilloried Christ that would make even Mel Gibson wince. One of the interesting things about visiting churches or religious museums is to look at the statue or paintings of marytrs and saints. Most of them are depicted not as they ascend heaven, but during the moment of martyrdom, ie the way they died. One martyrs was beheaded by the Chinese, another was speared by a Japanese warrior who was depicted as a Mayan. Needless to say my nephews were much interested in these depictions. My own favourite is the saint who has a bolo on top of his head. I guess some pagan decided to bury the proverbial hatchet, resulting in the martyrdom of this saint. There are more exhibits on the second floor and is accessed by climbing up a stair case made of stone ballasts of an old galleon ship. Entering the room facing the sea you realise one of the reasons the Spaniards choose this site. The cool air of the sea breeze came in. Despite the humidity a cool gush of wind came in from time to time to refresh the inhabitants of the walled city of Intramuros. We ended the museum tour with a trip to room full of jars, a room full of vestments, another array of paintings depicting the martyrdom of severel members of the orders, and pictures/paintings of the churches founded and operated by the Augustinian order. I must say my favourite church built by the Augustinians was the Miag-ao in Miag-ao, Ioilo. I spent some time there during the 80s and 90s, 1980s not 1880s, and truly it is a magnificent church, said to be built on egg yolk and rocks. While waiting for my mother, who was attending a food fair nearby we went to the ECP Film Center. Where once Imelda stood to welcome the likes Jeremy Irons there was now what seemed to be a Egyptian themed paper mache facade for our version of a lei girls show. Its nice to see the old theatre being used anyway. And at least its a little bit cleaner now, less unscrupulous individuals cavorting about. The place even has a Korean-themed restaurant. Anyway walking to the back one will pleasantly find a wide open space and fresh sea breeze coming in. We would have stayed longer except that we seem to be bothering the two slumbering Korean gentlemen, perhaps they are the owners of the Korean restaurant. Also my father was also noting that the place was falling apart, my father said "the area was improperly reclaimed", since the floor of the center seemed to be bursting from beneath causing fissures to appear. If its hot again next weekend and you want to cool off try visiting the film center, you might see interesting things and be nice to the sleeping people.


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