I can write of Manila at night like the greats do of Paris. Not Manila in the morning, for it matters then, but Manila at night where it doesn't matter if it is new or old or if you are rich or poor, because it all blends into the moonlit darkness and that is when Manila becomes like a love letter. It may be Cebu that I love, but it is Manila that captivates me.
To the farmer, who left Manila for America to escape the war, and returned to see only a burned down church. To the young boy, a hundred years later, who does not see the church, but sees the romance of a concrete city. And to the ill man sitting on the corner of a street in Ermita, who has seen more of life and Manila than any of us ever will or ever can or ever want to. To the jazz bars tucked deep in Quezon where the music is sweetest, and to the congregation of poets who meet at their secret place in Makati on sacred nights to talk of the country they write for. Manila does not end.
But Manila is no moveable feast- it is a grand mystery that is far too heavy to take with you. Paris was loved because it was easy to love. The same way Florence was loved because it was easy to. Manila is far too rough to make for easy loving, but the beauty is there for everyone but the blind to see, and even then it is there for the blind to feel. One just has to try hard enough. It is what Manila represents, for it represents not the American dream, but the Filipino ambition to create their own. It does not become a question of how can you. It never will. It is a question of how can you not be romantic of Manila?
Here's to a city of extremes, and smog, and **** beauty