Thursday, February 28, 2013

Post Office Building & the Metropolitan Theater (the second time around)

Two years ago, I joined a walking tour of the Post Office Building and the Metropolitan Theater. It was conducted by Mr. Lawrence Chan of the Filipinas Stamp Collectors' Club. You can read about the tour here:
Part 1: At the Post Office
Part 2: The Metropolitan Theater

I joined the tour again because I read that the tour has been "upgraded" to include several other spots in the Intramuros area. I was particularly interested in the Maestranza walls and the interiors of the currently-under-renovation Ayuntamiento building. Unfortunately, some people who were able to go in the building during the previous month's tour got abusive and started selling photographs of the place. Tsk tsk tsk. So, no more free tours in the Ayuntamiento for now. The management will start charging people once the building is opened to the public. Oh well.

Before the tour officially started, we had a "class picture" with Mr. Andres Bonifacio, for whom the plaza is now named.

Photo credit: Mark John DaƱas

Gargoyles and a plant.

The Filipinas Stamp Collectors' Club was having their monthly meeting and auction. It was interesting to see the items they had. It was also a great event to do some people sketching. We got to meet an army vet--one of the group that was able to capture the famed Yamashita.

A brief lecture on philately, a pop quiz, and walking along the cool interiors of the post office was a good way to start the afternoon.

The PhilPost mascot's name is Pipoy.

Interesting plant that made its home under the gargoyles.

After the Post Office we made our way to the National Press Club building for a short lesson on art deco...

and then we said hello to the Queen.

There was an interesting story about Isabel II of Spain and how our currency (with Mexico, of course) came to be called "pera."

We did a little more walking, past the place where a monument to Magellan used to stand...

...until we reached
the Maestranza Curtain Wall!

It's been under renovation for quite some time now, and I'm glad I got to see it before the place is opened to the public. I hear they want to turn the area into an outdoor events place with al fresco restaurants. Inside the wall is just as amazing:

Galleries and spaces for exhibits!

I hope the restoration turns out really well and is meticulously managed by the Intramuros Administration. We really need more spaces like this.

It was nice to just stand here. I tried to imagine the Pasig as a clean body of water.

We continued walking, going past the Ayuntamiento (which will be occupied by the Bureau of Treasury) and dropping by Bahay Tsinoy. 


It was getting quite dark so we hurried on over to the Metropolitan Theater. We wanted to try to catch the sunset from the balcony, so off we went!

Anyone up for a game of midget basketball? It was weird seeing this inside the theater, but hey, stranger things have happened there! ;)

Up to the balcony we went, and...

Renovating the theater is taking such a long time. There are some issues here and there, but we did get to see most of the renovation work being done in the Grand Ballroom. Thanks to Boysen and their donations of (what else?) paint, the Grand Ballroom is now colored...


I call it "elementary-school classroom green" or "mental-institution green." Please forgive the blurry photos; I had been shooting purely with film and I had no tripod with me. Anyway! Yes, it's green.

At least the floor is all solid now, and there's no more danger of falling through the lower floor.

There are still plenty of things to fix in the theater. What's sad and frustrating about this is that some people who use the theater don't take care of it--just recently a certain primetime soap shot some scenes on the stage and damaged some of the wooden floorboards. Up to now they haven't done anything to fix it. 

I wonder how the Met Theater will cope in the coming months and years. I still want to see it in a much better state (it may be impossible to see it restored to its former glory; that era has ended anyway) and used as a theater. By school groups perhaps? A new dance + theater company? It's a nice thing to hope for, but I think they have to get rid of that half-and-half court first.

Mr. Lawrence Chan conducts regular tours of heritage spots in Manila. If you're interested in the Royal Postal Heritage Walking Tour and his other events, you can contact him at or through his mobile +63 919 390 1671. :) 

[Camera used for the photos: Nikon F80 SLR, loaded with Fuji Superia 100 film.]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

quick rundown

I didn't mean to let a whole month pass without writing something here, just when i said i would blog again. I probably won't get to write in detail about our family trip to Palawan last December but I surely would write about it in another blog--through the eyes of my good ol' traveling companion Miss Igorota (whose child ran away with the crocs). In lieu of a narrative, here's a video of me feeding fish:

It was so surreal, feeding fish.

Anyway here's a  quick rundown of my days. I had to wait to have my film developed!

In January I joined Carlos Celdran's walking tour of Intramuros. I brought along my trusty Canon AE-1 SLR  loaded with Fuji Superia 100 film.

It was tiring but definitely worth it (this horse is wearing headphones)!

In February I joined the Postal Heritage Tour for the second time. This time, nothing bad happened to my camera at the Metropolitan Theater, so yay!

I'll probably write a more detailed story about that tour, which took the participants not only around the Post Office Building (which will be vacated by PhilPost soon) but also some parts of Intramuros, including the Maestranza Wall. The photo above is the view from the Maestranza area. I'm looking forward to it being finished and open to the public!

Last weekend I also joined a sketching session (among other activities) at the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Quiapo. I missed sketching, so it was great spending time with other sketchers.

That's it (for now) for the quick rundown. I really want to be more descriptive here, but it seems all I can manage are simple sentences. Oh well.