When I'm excited, I can't keep my mouth shut. If something caught my fancy, I make it known to everyone how much I love it. I rave about it! So it was really an agony not to tell Ketty when sometime in October I decided on what I was going to give her for her birthday last December. Occasionally, I'd drop hints about it, and she would always tell on me. "Ayan ka na naman, di ka mapakali." I'd always reply, how much I can't wait to be in Manila so I can finally give her my present.
My gift was a walking tour of Intramuros by Carlos Celdran. I hate to say this but I probably enjoyed it more than Ketty. Not saying that she didn't enjoy it because she did. It's just that its impact on me was so huge, that I was left bewitched, bothered and bewildered. I've been on a few guided tours before, but this was different. Tour guides normally are just tourist information in flesh, Carlos Celdran is a tour guide in love. Manila seemed like a misunderstood, battered but nevertheless beautiful woman. When he was dishing out facts about the tour, he was telling it with so much passion that it almost felt like he was talking about his lost paramour. There was a sense of longing. Throughout the tour you'll be left laughing, reflecting, heart-broken, and wondering. Sometimes all at the same time.
In honor of the hundred and so thousand Filipinos who died, Carlos chose the San Agustin Church mausoleum to talk about Manila during the Second World War. He couldn't have picked a perfect setting. What I heard was heart-breaking. The new information weren't in our books, much less taught in school. Amidst the countlesss tombs, our group was enveloped by melancholia as we reflect the atrocities of war. The haunting ambiance added to the drama. Candle lights danced while the air carried the smell of wilted flowers. He showed pictures of a devastated city that left us pensive and contemplative. A moment of silence was all we could offer for everything that was lost.
After the tour, I sort of wished that Manila is a person. Somebody I can touch and look in the eye because I want to give her a hug.
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