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19 March 2012

Manila in Retrospect

I have strong interests on everything that is old. Old houses, old pictures, old things, even old music (heck I so love opera!). I like seeing things or souvenirs that have survived the tests of time and I am very eager to know their stories, why they are like that, and how they survived. I am not a fan but I like going to museums to have a closer look on the preserved artifacts that relate their own stories to us just by looking at them.

So I joined this tour that I saw in Facebook. It was headed by Rence Chan, a 20-year stamp collector and an employee of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost). It has been his advocate for years already and he has been doing this for FREE! Pre-registration was necessary because permits were needed to be asked and an exact number of participants must be determined. I initially asked my best friend to join but unfortunately she wanted to pursue other things on that day. So I asked my officemate to join who registered at once and was equally excited as I am for the tour.

Rence, our tour guide, is the one in green shirt. ;)

Day of the tour came. We assembled ourselves at the Liwasan ng Bonifacio in front of the Headquarters of the PhilPost. The expected number of participants was 65 but only 30 arrived. At around 1 PM, Rence started his speech / lecture about the points of interest of our tour (e.g. stamp, stamp collection, brief history of the postal services in the Philippines, etc.) right at the Liwasan. Afterwards, we took a group picture of ourselves in front of the Bonifacio statues for souvenir. And then we went inside the PhilPost compound to start the tour.

Inside the compound, we were first brought to the two smaller buildings erected beside the main building. The bigger one is the PhilPost Annex building with four floors, but the 4th floor is condemned already and no one is using it. The ground floor is the cashier and the second and third floor is the Postal Museum and Library. And the fourth floor is empty because, like I said, it’s condemned. The other building, which is a smaller one, is totally condemned and is not being used anymore. It was a former warehouse and printing office where the PhilPost would print their stamps and other documents. Now, PhilPost has partnered with different third party companies to print their stamps.

 I apologize for my inability to give you detailed information as I did not take down notes while the guide was talking and I have forgotten most of his imparted knowledge. Yeeha! ;D

Next, we entered the main building of the compound, the PhilPost Head Office. It is where the letters, parcels, and other things were being received and dispatched. It is also the office of the PhilPost executives and high officials. That day, an auction and exhibit were being held on the lobby. Auctions in the PhilPost are for the items that were sent by people via PhilPost but were not received or claimed by the recipients here or abroad for some reasons. An exhibit of the stamps by the stamp collectors were also held there and it was one of the greatest exhibits I have seen. One of the officers, Ray Ong, discussed tirelessly the stories behind each frame and each stamp and they were all amazing, especially if you will imagine the hard work being exerted just to achieve the collections that were displayed there. I saw the first ever stamp, the Black Penny, the Postal Marks which came before the stamps and other rare collections that even dates back to pre-war era and some even cost millions!

By the way, PhilPost will soon be converted into a hotel so getting a last glance at its structure, I guess, is a wonderful idea.

Next stop, we went to the theater notorious for its ghostly and supernatural apparitions, the Manila Metropolitan Theater, one of the most glorious theaters during its earlier years. It was greatly damaged during the World War II. It has undergone several restoration attempts but for unknown reasons, the restorations were not finished and my personal visit gave me a glimpse of how bad the condition of the theater is. Upon entrance, I saw the former grandeur that it might have been boasting but are now ruined. The furniture and fixtures inside are obviously expensive, from the woods to the doors, to the tiles, and others. It was a magnificent structure clearly set aside and taken for granted. Vandalisms are everywhere. It is such a waste of fund used to build it and I hope restorations will be pushed through. It will surely be one of the grandest theaters when it reopens.

Yup, it's me! :)

Next stop we just had a stroll to the Escolta, The Burkes building, and the Calvo building which was the former home of the GMA Network before they transferred in their current building in Timog corner EDSA. We parted ways at one end of the Jones Bridge after the Calvo visit. Six of us decided to eat to a famous eatery in Binondo named “Estero.” They initially joked us that it the dirtiest eatery ever so I grew interest in it. But after seeing it, I thought it was just okay. The food, however, is affordable and delicious. What made this dinner out marvelous is the bonding that we had while eating. We arrived there barely 15 minutes before 7PM and we left at around 8:10 P.M. We talked happily, laugh at each other’s jokes, and shared experiences. I was usually shy and timid to a new crowd but I was very jolly that night. I guess because my new found friends were also very friendly and talkative.

So there you have it! A different Sunday for me because I would just normally stay at home and read a book, watch movies at our DVD player, or just look blankly at the ceiling until the day ends. It was a day full of new learning and knowledge that made me appreciate history, architecture, social interactions, and walking!

Till next time! Yeeha! ;D

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