Conserving Manila’s Heritage Sites

Today I read this article in ABS-CBN News Online about the social commentary of Dolce Amore, a prime time soap about the degenerating status of heritage sites in Manila. The show went to Paco Park which I’ve also visited and found to be barely maintained. They also went to Luneta Park and discussed how the local government can allow, in the name of increased revenues, an eyesore to be built.

dolce amore
Source: ABS CBN News Online

I find it really sad that the local government of Manila has failed to identify what the city is capable of. In a bid to be like Makati or Quezon City or the other cities in Metro Manila, they have allowed capitalists to enter and build business structures around the city – in the process destroying the heritage sites.

Manila could have been a great city had it stuck to a well-thought out development plan. She could have been an old university town filled with various universities and cultural sites. They could have concentrated on that – developing a vibrant, safe and pollution-free (or lessened) university belt. Sadly, even though there are many universities in the area, the students live in fear of petty criminals and risk their lives in vehicle-infested roads. Slums surround the campuses adding to the pollution and derelict view of the area.

Parks – pocket parks – are virtually non-existent since those that exist have become home to homeless people. The only lung in Manila left has been virtually forgotten. The once grand architectural wonder buildings have been discarded – left to rot until they are eventually destroyed to make way for “better and modern” ones.

Comprehensive_Land_Use_Plan_of_the_City_of_Manila
The Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Manila City Legend: Green – Parks; Dark Blue – University Zone; Red – High Intensity Industrial Zone; Yellow – High Density Residential Zone Click image to view clearly Source: Wikipedia

I am saddened that my children may never see Manila with her cultural heritage intact. I, myself, am sad that what I see are mere vestiges of a once glorious past.

Shall I stay on the sidelines? But what can I do?

A visit to these derelict sites, which I’ve always planned but never do, is, I believe, the start.

Is Sex Still Taboo in the Philippines?

 

This, by far, may be the only post in this blog that would discuss anything remotely related with sex – my observations and opinions of it. Unfortunately, it will not digress to my experiences of the matter as I have little or no experience of it at all. What I do know about sex is that it is something performed by almost everyone yet discussed by almost no one. My brother recently saw his ex-girlfriend, already 4-5 months pregnant, and she was only 17 years old. Apparently, the people engaging in pre-marital sex are getting younger and younger.

Is our country, then becoming as liberated as the Western culture she so idolizes? Has our country already forgotten the virtues of virginity and the sacredness of sex as something to be treasured till the wedding night? Perhaps the bombardment of movies and TV shows, both local and foreign, that showcase some amount of pre-marital sex in their plots encourages the teens and young adults of today to experiment with something purportedly glorious yet inculcated as forbidden till wedded.

A guy friend of mine was shocked when I candidly brought up the topic of sex in an otherwise normal conversation. He was not used to discussing sex with a girl, apparently. Yet I countered that how can sex be a taboo topic in conversations when everyone seems to be doing it already. Why not talk about it openly, reminiscent of something like Sex and the City, and perhaps in doing so gain more understanding and education about the matter. Why continue to downplay it as if it is some hideous act that needs to be screened or censored. My friend was amazed at how liberated I can speak about the topic when my beliefs about it, I must admit, are traditional. My concept of the act is liberated but my perception of when it should be done or performed and with whom is traditional.

I adhere to what my parents have taught me that sex is sacred and should be within the boundaries of marriage. Yet I also believe that people should be informed more about what it is, what happens, how it happens, how it feels, thus justifying why it should be saved for more appropriate circumstances.

I asked my friend about his sexual experience – how does he find and if it is something that you would crave on a daily basis once you’ve tasted it. Was it as glorious as what the movies and racy paperbacks portray? He answered me with an empathic NO. Sex was not as wonderful as what the movies and pocketbooks lead us to believe and it is not something one would crave daily. I can hardly believe his answer. My perception of the act is something mind-blowing; something exciting; something glorious. Perhaps if it was performed in the right time with the right person and in the right boundaries, it would be.

Sex was created by God long before sin entered the world. See Genesis 2. Adam and Eve had sex before they committed the original sin. Therefore, sex is not something dirty as what prude elders sometimes warn youngsters about. Yet before they had sex, God first blessed the union. They didn’t have sex without God first joining their hands in marriage. Of course it wasn’t stated whether theirs was a mind-blowing and wonderful sex but I bet it was. It was something not tainted with guilt or worry – guilt that they are doing something their parents warned them not to do (yet) or worry that they may acquire some disease or unwanted fruit. It was a worry-free, blessed union and I bet they enjoyed every moment of it.

Now that is the kind of sex I want to encounter. I do not deny (and again, those who will read this and will see me or know me personally please don’t react) that I am liberated when it comes to sex. Yes I’ve watched some porn (not a habit though), read magazines and pocketbooks and is versed with positions and other stuff related to sex. I do not think it is really something I should be ashamed of. I am just studying something I would be doing in the future. Heck, I even know the physiological aspects and explanations of what happens during the sexual act – thanks to my Bio education.

And so I look forward to it. But much as I want to experience it right now, I know that I will never do so until I meet the right guy and we have been joined in the eyes of God.

 

*Note: The opinions stated are mine and mine alone. I do not condemn anyone nor do I preach anything about sex. I do not even wish to impose this to other people knowing that everyone is entitled to live his or her own life.

Dying Superstitiously

How come that in our culture there are simply a lot of superstitions surrounding death, some of them even sounding really absurd? We are all familiar with the superstition that one must consume all food or beverage taken from a wake and must at no occasion bring it home with him as this would merit ill luck. 

My relatives have taken that superstition to a new height. Apparently, they also thought that one must have no left-overs after the burial and since there were a lot of raw meat left in the fridge, well, they had to cook them all and serve them to everyone. 

Then again, another superstition I have recently heard, and an even more absurd one, is that when a woman is widowed because it was her husband who died, then she should be quarantined (parang virus lang eh) in the sense that no other married woman must lay eyes on her lest they also lose their husbands. Now, ain’t that absurd! If it is a person’s time to die, it is his time to die. Period.

Well to satisfy superstitious people, my lola gave way to such practice but when they were all gone, she still met with her daugher-in-laws and even my aunt who is recently married. How would she really live if she won’t be surrounded by people. Grief, especially one that begets loneliness, should always make a person be surrounded by people so as to ward off the lonely feeling. So why should someone be quarantined just because of silly superstitions?

Well, this is afterall our culture. Superstitions make our culture colorful and lively. But if we let them rule our lives, then woe to us indeed.