Itanong Mo Na Lang Sa Guardia Civil

“itanong mo na lang dyan sa mga guardia civil.  mas alam nila ‘yan.” (just ask the civil guards.  they know it better than we do.)  that was what a couple of manila policemen told me earlier today when i went to intramuros and asked them about the location of a specific building.  they pointed me to this skinny man stationed just a few meters where they were standing.

men in guardia civil costumes. photo courtesy of

i could only imagine how the guy felt wearing his long sleeved light blue uniform and hat under the very sunny manila sky.  i was wearing a black turtle neck with 3/4  sleeves and i was sweating beads and there was this man wearing an ancient military costume.  it’s been pretty gloomy and rainy these past several days in the metro, and today’s  weather was something i was not expecting.   if only i knew that there was not going to be a single drop of rain  today, i would have worn something else– a top whose color would reflect and  not absorb light perhaps!

after getting the directions to the place where i was going, i could not help but be amused with what just had happened.  i just talked to a guardia civil… in this day and age! i was sort of half expected to suddenly see myself wearing, not a black knitted top, but rather a beige embroidered terno complete with relikaryo, and a lacy abaniko in my hand, seeing frayles walking around  holding their rosaries, insulting some poor leper on the side of the road.  the catholic bishops’ conference of the philippines’ (cbcp) office was just along that stretch of street, anyway! (kidding 🙂 )

although my walk was a bit uncomfortable due to the weather,  a part of me was also enjoying it. i don’t usually go to manila ’cause i rarely  have reasons to go there, and when i do go there, i usually travel in a car and mostly just along roxas boulevard and up to the cultural center of the philippines or somewhere in rizal ave, and on a number of times, in divisoria.  although there was a time when i did briefly study in a school in kalaw and i only used public transportation, still, i do not frequent manila.  i just find manila chaotic.  yes, it has its charms, but it’s mainly chaotic for me.  there’s just too much noise, traffic and too many people!  i just didn’t really appreciate it… until today.

a typical intramuros scene. image courtesy of

the last time i went to intramuros was several years back.  a friend of mine and her classmates from her MA class, and i, went aboard the greenpeace ship, esperanza.  we went to the port for a tour of the ship,  which had just spent a few months out in the indian ocean.  it was temporarily docked at manila bay before it’d set out on one more voyage in another part of the world.  after the tour, we went to intramuros and took a walk inside its walls and saw all the horse carriages, the huge blocks of concrete which made up the facade of most of the buildings there, and walked a little bit more outside its walls. but the walk ended there.  i didn’t really see manila / intramuros.    however, today was different.

the manila postal office at night. image courtesy of

my first stop in manila was the postal office. i got off the fx and walked towards it.   it was my  first time to see it that close.  the style of the building (pardon my inarticulateness when it comes to this area.  i am not an expert in architecture styles) with its imposing columns was beautiful (although i think it needs a little bit more maintenance.)  the fountain right in front of it spewed huge amounts of water straight up into the air.

i then rode another jeepney, which dropped me off to intramuros.  as i crossed the street, i was greeted by this serene church, the manila cathedral, which was being watched over by another guardia civil.

as i  continued to walk, i was also able to see the palacio del governador, the cbcp, the san agustin church

San Agustin Church’s facade

and other quaint  looking restaurants and buildings, which seemed to transport me to the colonial  era.

unfortunately, since my main agenda that morning was to find an office and not a walking tour of manila, i was not able to see more of the  place.  in another time, maybe.

i think one nice way of appreciating manila is to really walk its streets.  yes, they may be very crowded, noisy, messy and even dangerous looking, but by walking its streets,  one can fully see the beauty that it is commonly missed or taken for granted.

i just suddenly remember a scene from one of my favorite movies, “before sunset,” which stars ethan hawke and julie delpy.  hawke is an american writer (visiting paris for a book tour) and delpy is french.  hawke suggests that they take a boat tour of the seine river so he could see more of paris.  delpy hesitates at first, embarrased to ride the boat ’cause she says it’s only for tourists.  eventually, she decides to come with him anyway.  during the tour, they see the notre dame church and hawke is amazed by its beauty.  delpy, although a parisian and has seen the church many times over, sees it differently this time.  she then thanks hawke for inviting her to the boat tour, because she appreciates the beauty of paris more this time around.

i guess people who live near or get to see scenic spots/cultural sites often don’t really get to appreciate it that much.  i mean, you’re there, you live right near it and seeing it every day somehow diminishes your fascination about them.  but i guess, it wouldn’t hurt to see these cultural sites once in a while through the eyes of a tourist.  only then maybe, will people get to really see them, appreciate and value their existence more.

i just hope people realise this soon before another historical site is neglected and / or forgotten.

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