Monday, September 16, 2002

into the walled city

I had a client meeting in Intramuros, in Old Manila, and left Greenhills two hours early because of the rain and the anticipated traffic. Suprisingly, I arrived earlier than I expected and had time to reacquiant myself with the area, which I had not visited for the longest time.

Every building in Intramuros is colored in grays, oranges and browns. Majority of the buildings retain the memory of the Colonial Period like a deeply imbedded scent. The streets are narrow and lack the loud sounds of other places, as if visitor and local alike kept to an unspoken rule of leaving the very air undisturbed.

I found a series of stalls offering the cheapest food imaginable, and for a grand total of P35, I had caldereta, adobo, steamed rice and a mango shake. I watched women with boots and aprons keeping vigil over viands, and old men with delicate black cigarette holders blow smoke elegantly. There was an odd sense of civility, a certain timelessness so different from the caterwauling I am used to in eating places elsewhere.

If places had voices, Intramuros would have a soft one, lightly accented with heartbreak.

After my meeting, unable to find a cab, I rode a pedicab for P10 and was brought by a straining old man to the taxi that would take me home.


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