The city is a fact in nature, like a cave, a run of mackerel or an ant-heap. But it is also a conscious work of art, and it holds within its communal framework many simpler and more personal forms of art. Mind takes form in the city; and in turn, urban forms condition mind. - Lewis Mumford
There was a time when I was supposed to go to Baler but got left by the bus because I arrived at the bus station ten minutes late. I was in the mood for travel and didn't want my free time to go to waste so I went to another bus station in search of a ride that would take me to an alternative place. I made a quick call to a friend from the Metro and was soon on a bus heading towards the south.
I arrived a couple of hours later and got bombarded by heat, smoke, and dust. It was exactly how I remembered it to be - an urban jungle filled with sprawling edifices and crawling vehicles with an occasional rumble from the distance. As I waited for my friend to pick me up, I couldn't help but feel a bit of nostalgia for the place where I spent a large chunk of my childhood - a place that I once called home. Everything that was once familiar have long been forgotten so I braced myself like an explorer venturing into the unknown.
I met up with my friend and we let ourselves get lost in a sea of faces. I didn't have a concrete list of places to visit so we just followed the crowd for some time - crossing busy roads and hopping on packed trains while on the look out for lonely places and secret abodes.
The Metro is a busy place. A fast paced society where people hustle and bustle through modern cliffs and canyons. For a person who spent most of his life in the rural province, this place is an enigma. It isn't really a far cry from how it is portrayed by the media. A place said to be teeming with monsters who lurk in the shadows of the poorly lighted streets silently waiting for their prey. But one couldn't help but ask - is that really all there is to it?
I was definitely surprised at the train station when I saw people wearing their backpacks in front. There's just something sad about seeing people being too conscious about security in broad daylight.
Fortunately, although eclipsed by bad news, the Metro is still home to people of good will - people who are not afraid to help the oppressed, people who are compassionate towards the less fortunate, and many others.
After much deliberation, I asked my friend to take me to the National Museum to see Juan Luna's Spoliarium which has been in my bucketlist ever since I saw its replica in a museum in Vigan. The painting is enormous and I'm glad to have been able to see it in its full, restored glory.
We also found a special item while roaming around. I have only seen photos of the Manunggul Jar from textbooks and the old one thousand peso bills so it was a surprise to find it there along with other ancient Philippine artifacts including the various items obtained from trading with other Asian countries.
As we strolled along the corridors, we were bombarded by paintings and sculptures from different generations of Filipino artists. I loved the paintings that depicted how the now urbanized cities used to look like.
There was also a permanent exhibit dedicated to our ancient writing script known as Baybayin (incorrectly known as Alibata). It was a timely addition since there has been a surge in the interest on Baybayin in recent years.
Fort Santiago was also close by so we hired a ride and visited the Rizal Shrine before heading out to Makati to look for the hostel where I was due to spend the night.
Before I left the following day, I visited Ayala Museum and was lucky enough to catch the Philippine Ancient Gold exhibit and the Fernando Zobel exhibit. I've been meaning to visit the place so I could pick up my certificate for the Filipino is Waterproof Exhibit in Japan where one of my artworks was included but I was told that it was at the main office. My bad for not contacting them earlier before visiting. I visited all the exhibits and then took off to find my way to the bus station bound for home.
Like the mist that suddenly comes and quickly disappears, I, once again, spent a short-lived moment in the Metropolitan's embrace. She has been overshadowed by a dark veil for some time now but if you know what to look for and where to find them you would be surprised to know that she is still there in one piece like a beauty asleep - one who rouses to show her elegance and grace to those who seek.