HUMANS OF MANILA (2)

During the Walk For The Elderly parade at the CCP Complex here in Manila, I couldn’t help noticing an old lady on the phone, speaking in a distraught voice: “What? But we just spoke over the phone awhile ago!” she cried, stepping out of the crowd for a clearer exchange with the caller as her voice grew from frantic to hysterical. The caller is surely breaking a terrible news. (I would later on find out that somebody she’s supposed to be meeting with, met his fatal end along the way.)

She slipped in-between two parked cars and right there, the weight of the news brought her down to her knees. The horde of spectators still stuck on the colorful procession. How could someone be so alone in a street full of people.

For more on the drama of the life of our times, in this stage called Manila, I give you this my second Humans of Manila:

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

IMG_1208

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

Humans of Manila, Elmer Valenzuela, Manila, Malate

T’WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR

In July of 2013, I jumped on a bunch of farm workers somewhere in the plains of Camarines Sur.
Rice field worker, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

This is in pursuit of NYR2013′s photo competition titled Capturing Rice. They’re pitching rice awareness/conservation campaign across the nation (in this lavish era of rice-all-you-can) via arts and photography and packed with handsome prizes.

I’m a bounty hunter preying on big ones like this.

Planting rice, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur
This is the period when harvest time meets planting season. Where summer ends and the wet season begins. This day the heavens must’ve facilitated me with such an amazing light.

Rice field worker, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

I’m a perfect stranger to these Rinconada-speaking people as I am a foreign body to paddy fields. Let photography tear down walls.

Rice field worker, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

As an alien, I have always kept in mind to be courteous but bold. Cordial but not stripped.

Bicolanos are — in my experience — amiable folks. Hands down. The pack I chanced upon here were more than cooperative. They even pushed me to go deep into the hamlet so I’d experience this picturesque scenery I have never gotten close to ever — RICE THRESHING.

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur 

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

Rice threshing, San Jose, Iriga City Camarines Sur

This acreage lies in the idyllic town of San Jose, just outside Iriga city proper. 15 miles away from here, I trooped down to shoot another farming spectacle in Monte Calvario, Buhi town.

Rice field worker, Monte Calvario, Buhi Camarines Sur

Rice field worker, Monte Calvario, Buhi Camarines Sur

National Year of the Rice 2013

After that day in the mud, under the scorching sun, I received this one good triumph worth looking back in 2013!

NYR2013 Capturing Rice photo competition winner 3rd place, Elmer Nev C. Valenzuela

Yo, excuse me while I brag

Elmer Nev C. Valenzuela, National Year of the Rice photo contest, Capturing Rice, NYR2013

RAINBOW OVER THE RUINS (ENDNOTES)

It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home. Now to continue on with The Ruins:

Today, the Sta. Maria stands as one of the The Most Fascinating Ruins of the World. Who would ever thought a memorial for a dearly departed would one day put Talisay City on the map. For 60+ years it stood godforsaken deep in the acreage. It has withstood the test of wars, natural calamities, and human misdeeds, until sometime in 2007 when conservationists discovered the structure which led to its restoration to what it is now today.

The Ruins — as it is now called — was named by The Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) as the best landmark in the Philippines. The 4th recipient of such acclamation as an architectural accomplishment (following the Banawe Rice Terraces, Summer Cross and Capas Shrine, both part of the Death March in World War II to Bataan).

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

The Ruins, Negros Occidental, muscovado mill chimney and 4-tiered fountain

The Ruins, Negros Occidental

The Ruins, Negros Occidental

Roger Lucero. The riot tourist guide of The Ruins

The Ruins, Talisay City Negros Occidental

The Ruins, Negros Occidental

Rainbow Over The Ruins, Talisay City, Negros Occidental

RAINBOW OVER THE RUINS

For the love of Maria, he built her a palace. 

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Called it the Santa Maria.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Mariano’s a sugar baron. He is boss.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Maria, a ship captain’s daughter. Pure Portuguese charm.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Mariano wanted nothing but the best memento.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Of a one truelove.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Because none is more painful, than to outlive a beloved.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Deep in the heart of the hacienda, the Sta. Maria.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Forged with the finest mortar. Sans pareil.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Carved with two lovers’ monograms.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Like hearts on a tree.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

But then, the brutal war came.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

And the need to burn the house down.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Burn the whole testament down.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

For days, Sta. Maria defied the inferno.

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

The Ruins, Talisay Negros Occidental

Because she just wouldn’t let go.

SILAY CITY HERITAGE ZONE: CASTLES WORTH FIGHTING FOR

IMG_9831

SILAY CITY being a “museum city” and City of Museums, we turn to three of its most illustrious mansions-turned-historical landmarks. There are about 30 heritage houses spread around the town with a few declared as national treasures. I’m not really into 19th century Philippines, but every pieces of info each museum guide recites — of little or great importance — is interesting as a bombshell. We’re on a swing around a historic neighborhood. With fresh takes from the past.

Bernardino Jalandoni Ancestral House photo by Elmer Nev C. Valenzuela

First of, the Bernardino Jalandoni House Museum. Established in 1908. Property of Don Bernardino and Doña Ysabel Jalandoni. Recognized by the National Historical Institute as the first museum and heritage house in Silay City.

turn of the 20th century house, dining room, Silay city photo by Elmer Nev C. Valenzuela

French cut. Turn-of-the-20th century mansion. The original hardwood materials (from faraway Mindoro) still intact. Functional use of glass, capiz shells, steel grills, wooden louvers and panels for windows to brighten up the room.

Bernardino Jalandoni House, old staircase, photo  by Elmer Valenzuela

Living room, Bernardino Jalandoni House

Bernardino Jalandoni House

A 19th century gizmo: the erstwhile means of pressing clothes, sheets and table linens

Bernardino Jalandoni House

Also known as the PINK HOUSE.

Bernardino Jalandoni House

Bernardino Jalandoni House

Bernardino Jalandoni House

Bernardino Jalandoni House

IMG_9736

Balay Negrense

The VICTOR FERNANDEZ GASTON Ancestral House. More popularly known as BALAY NEGRENSE (Negrense House). Established by Negros island sugar industry pioneer Yves Leopold Germain Gaston of Lisieux, France. Declared in 1994 as a Heritage House by the National Historical Institute.

Balay Negrense

The Gaston’s intricate color-coded ancestral chart. But what really caught my eye was the beauteous late great mezzo soprano, Conchita Gaston.

Balay Negrense

Tales from Balay Negrense:

  • The steps were built in conformity with the old ORO, PLATA, MATA belief for good luck. The landing or the platform in the middle is for an immediate rest for the ladies since climbing the staircase can be arduous with their long, elaborate gowns on.
  • The Gastons used to throw big parties a lot. For every gathering, the Baron would be watching from atop the staircase as guests walk up the main hall. The ladies use the right flights, while the men use the left.

Balay Negrense

Balay Negrense

Balay Negrense

  • The host receive each guest with a welcome drink — hot cocoa, in two different blends. One blend prepared thick and rich, while the other, dull as a dishwater. The latter is meant to be served to unwanted party guests. Nothing short of showing the door to.
  • This is an old buzz, but I think the museum guy validated this, blame it on the coiffure: Women’s hairstyles back in the day was extremely complex and requires huge amounts of labor and time just to be a la mode. To avoid the strenuous hair dressing, the ladies keep their dos on most of the time, even in bed. Which also means hair-washing or — at most — bathing, was a seasonal activity.

Balay Negrense

Balay Negrense

  • These are the days when homes reeked of human wastes. There were no indoor toilets then. People relieved themselves into an orinola which is usually left for the next user until housemaids decide to empty it.

Balay Negrense

  • Balay Negrense’s guest lounge is off limits to children, especially during important gatherings. It’s amazing how all the bedrooms around the 2nd floor are interconnected with doors to allow kids to go around the house without going through the middle lounge.
  • Servants, housemaids, cleaners and every household helps are barred from loitering around as well.

Balay Negrense

Hofileña Museum

The HOFILEÑA HERITAGE HOUSE. The canvas says it all so meet the host, Ramon Hofileña. Boss man. A living legend. One of the great personalities Negros Occidental has ever produced. Father of Heritage Conservation in Silay. A walking tourist-wonder. Erstwhile boxer, swimmer, runner, stage actor and — nude model.

And the house, the only inhabited museum in Silay — this is where he eat and sleep.

Ramon Hofileña

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

Built in 1934 by Manuel S. Hofileña and Gilda L. Hojilla, the structure retains its original materials such as the staircase made of the lasting balayong wood. The house displays the Ramon Hofileña art collection of more than 1,000 pieces with works by Filipino masters and National Artists. The man’s got Warhols too. Unfortunately, he has now disallowed taking pictures of the artworks.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

WALL OF FAME. Ramon Hofileña on the cover story of Readers’ Digest 1980 issue titled “Where Filipino Artists Become Heroes” and other printed acclamations.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

A collection of first pocketbooks.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

The man is a riot. Just a thought, he is more fond of hyperactive pundits.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

World’s tiniest doll.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

These itty-bitty Ming Dynasty pots have a special purpose even the guys from the National Museum — as per Mr. Hofileña — have no idea about. I would love to hear some guesswork.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

Every furniture are authentic period pieces. The Hofileña House is home to Silay Printmaking Workshop which was founded in 1970. The Philippines’ first printmaking workshop outside Manila.

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House

A hundred years later, we craved for food. We met this priest at the Hofileña’s and he was nice to offer us a ride to wherever we would be having our lunch. To keep us from crooked tricycle drivers, says he. Anyone can be an angel. There will always be something to ruin tourism in a particular place. If it’s not the tourists, it’s the locals.

The people of Silay — specifically the Silay Heritage Foundation and Ramon Hofileña –  have done an amazing job in developing the place as a cultural city. They have fought for it actually. Sadly before this cultural crusade, ancestral houses here were either torn down or remade. In 1977, a road-widening plan almost brought about a wholesale destruction of Silay’s vintage buildings. Ramon Hofileña lead a campaign against it and the buildings were saved.