Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Wandering with dress shoes

if you plan to take a long walk, don't do it with dress shoes. it is best done with a comfortable pair of walking shoes. but it was a beautiful day, the sun wasn't oppressive and a light, cool breeze accompanied me along the way as i found myself wandering in intramuros. comfortable or not, i didn't care.

intramuros is a nice interesting place, rich in history and culture. too bad it is wealthy in garbage littered in its streets. i even found the rotting remains of a rat, its bones already exposed.

still, i found other unique stuff out here. along sta. lucia st., there's this bronze statue of an indio guardia civil armed with a musket with a long bayonet. the statue's shows the guard cleaning his teeth with a toothpick. although he appears to be wearing the elaborate upper garment of a spanish law enforcer, but one would immediately notice that his trousers are rolled up and that he is barefoot. i wonder how the intramuros guards, who by the way wear replica uniforms of the katipuneros, would feel if the intramuros administration decided to have them go around barefoot.

nearby there were also bronze reliefs of the president of the republic. gma's is already there but it seems somebody has vandalized her mole. i kid you not.

anyway, although it isn't my first time to explore intramuros. i've tried exploring the wall when i was in high school to find a spot where we could shoot our video about crispin and basilio in rizal's novel noli me tangere.

i came across a spot i think i've never visited before, the Baluarte de San Diego Garden. i first thought it was just a modern garden carved into the massive wall, but as i wandered aimlessly inside, i discovered a stone spiral staircase that led to the upper section of the wall and there i discovered that it was part of a huge tower. it's a unique structure, well at least something you don't get to see everyday if you're not from around here. the place, which is on the upper level of the tower and wall, looks like a grassy meadow surrounded by fortifications and in the middle, there's this huge "hole" where one finds a labyrinth-like structure. from my perspective, i couldn't determine what the structure's purpose could be since i found no evidence of entrances. it could've been used as a prison or cistern. a plaque at the spiral staircase, however, says the place used to be a foundry for cannons and an armory, but i still wonder how that could be.

yes it was nice, but i was a bit disappointed seeing rubbish all around. i wonder if the korean tourists walking behind me as i write these words on a photocopy of my transcript feel the same way.

the cool breeze led me on and i left the baluarte and walked around again. i walked by PLM's (pamantasan ng lungsod ng maynila) canteen. the aroma of sauted garlic and onion in the air greeted me and teased me to jot it down. but the cool breeze urged me to carry on.

i finally saw the changing of the marine guard of honor at the rizal monument in nearby luneta. at around 9:55 am, i saw 2 marines with M1 rifles and bayonets marching towards the direction of the monument. they marched fast even though they were obviously marching in "pahingang hakbang" (relaxed march) since their rifles were carried at a 10 o'clock angle rather than 12. when they reached the precincts of the monument, they proceeded to hold their rifles to the 12 o'clock position. they marched towards those whom they were going to relieve. these guys went into attention as the fresh guards marched towards them, halted and faced them. they all executed present arms and then order arms. the old guards simultaneously executed right shoulder arms and marched off, whilst the new ones took their spots, about faced and executed parade rest. that's it.

i also visited the boardwalk for the first time. prior to that i observed that the rocks at water break below is inhabitted by creatures which to me were crayfish out of water. i don't know if they were indeed crayfish though. for me they're icky but i was reminded of a survival show at bbc hosted by ray mears where he basically told and showed his audience that these critters are the best source of protein that a survivor could get in a rainforest. eeewww...

anyway, the boardwalk reeked with the smell of cockroaches, although i saw none in the light of midday. downbelow at the water, i saw some people bathing, only a few feet from floating garbage. as i reached the norht end of the boardwalk, i saw a ship: the Manila Floating Hotel and Restaurant. i didn't know we had such a thing around. anyway, it isn't a new concept. because of the foreseen shortage of tourist accomodations for the olympic games in greece, yacht owners have actually made their vessels available for the tourists. same concept, different scale.

anyway, i went around back to the quirino granstand. workmen were busy preparing it for the president's speech on wednesday. they were raising flags all over the place. i wish these flags could be donated to various government offices especially the local police precincts, where the flags have faded in time and darkened by pollution and dust.

after another long walk, i had lunch in chowking in UN ave. i was lucky enough to get a corner table with a wonderful view of the intersection below. i decided to tke my time and rest, especially having considered the distance i've taken. i've been observing a traffic officer doing his job during the lunch time jam at the intersection of UN avenue and Maria Orosa. i admire the guy. he's probably not getting much in remuneration, and the heat, dust and smoke won't do him any good either. but he's still "excited" in his job, though you wouldn't and couldn't see it in his face. despite the heavy traffic, he still found time to help several old chaps with directions. however, i'm sure that for some people, seeing this guy with the bloated tummy would rouse thoughts of a corrupt law enforcer out to get a bribe if chances permit. but i don't see him that way. such generalizations are stupid. the more acceptable generalization for me is that this guy is one of the many underpaid, unappreciated people who work for us, invisible to us even if they are right there in the middle of an intersection.

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