Wednesday, August 30, 2006


This Tuesday was supposed to be uneventful. I only had one errand to attend to — stop by my alma mater, Mapua Institute of Technology over in Intramuros to request for a particular school record which I had been reneging on doing. From SM Manila Mall, I decided to just walk it.

Many thoughts came to mind while enjoying this late morning walk; foremost was the release at this time of the year of New York City’s schedule of Fall-Winter events — music, theater, and dance. As much as grand and awe-inspiring these presentations are and have always been, I always kept an eye out on avant-garde and experimental performances usually held at Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Public Theater at Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan. There are also obscure venues all over the city that host such mind-boggling, cutting edge performances.

Anyway, as I neared the gate of MIT, to my right is a walkway that leads up to the wall of Intramuros. I thought it would be a good idea to check out; hoping the view from up there will be of photographic interest.

It sure was! And as I marveled at its vista and started photographing, I heard some kids below beckoning me to take a picture of them, which I did much to their delight. This reminded me of what Sidney and I talked about — most folks immensely enjoy being photographed; my mother, of course, among them.

I then went back to my original intention and took more shots of this part of Intramuros, including a shot of Manila City Hall’s clock tower. I continued to walk along the wall — thinking how this place reminds me so much of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. It seemed as if there was only one architect that built both places, though in San Juan, their Intramuros is called El Moro.

I was somewhat startled from my thoughts when as if suddenly, two figures appeared before me — they were on top of one of the antiquated canons; two kids from the same group I had taken a picture of earlier. Obviously, they wanted another but closer picture of them for me to take so, I once again gladly obliged.

Up close, I realized their costumes were made from rice sacks; nothing at all like what I had originally perceived — tribal costumes from some faraway Philippine province. It piqued my curiosity enough to start asking them questions. They weren’t part of the Department of Tourism’s WOW special program, but rather contestants to a competition being held at their school nearby; scheduled at one o’clock that afternoon.

I then walked over towards the rest of their group and introduced myself to their performance coach/teacher. He briefly told me about this competition being conducted by the school's Pilipino teachers. I then asked in jest if it's true that like Ramon Magsaysay High School students, Manila High School is also made up of very smart students. They suddenly became too shy to respond, but they all invited me to come and see the competition as their guest. I promised them I would.

Right after concluding my errand at MIT, had a quick lunch at the nearby 7-Eleven, and then crosed the street towards the gate of Manila High School. After trading my photo ID for one of their visitor passes, I was shown the way to the school’s grounds were the event was to take place. And there I began to see some students dressed in other theatrically-inspired garments.

The event started as scheduled and I was immediately captivated by the performance of the first group, and then eventually by the rest. Their cheerful faces on these photographs were unlike the demeanor they possessed during their respective performance. These young people seemed like seasoned stage artists with attitude filled with heart and soul. I was very much impressed, indeed; in fact, teary-eyed at some point. They were simply amazing.

The theme of the competition was to interpret a piece of Filipino poetry about Philippine pride. Their performance as a whole was really hard to define or confine to a particular context — it was in essence, avant-garde theater at its best! If they were doing music, I’d easily define it as jazz. It was pure theater; not sure if they were even aware of it, for they all seemed simply immersed in the Zen-like bliss of their performance.

Mrs. Magalong, a Pilipino teacher and the event’s director, asked me to return this Friday to get a copy of this piece (which I intend to post along with more pictures of these students’ while in performance so as to enable the readers to gain better appreciation of these young people’s passion). She also invited me to watch another of the school’s program scheduled on that same day, which made me feel so lucky and honored.

I once learned the universe gives us whatever it is we harbor in our thoughts. And since last weekend, I was much absorbed with New York City’s cultural events usually scheduled to begin in September; making me long for them. And although I don’t particularly enjoy New York’s late fall and winter months, going to these shows helped me cope with New York’s unendurable chilly weather.

And with these thoughts permeating my consciousness, the universe presented me with that walkway in Intramuros, and upon taking the detour it presented, I was led to a string of magical-like turn of events; its highlight was my getting invited to an incredible avant-garde performances by Manila High School’s intensely gifted students.

I praise this school and its dedicated teachers for inspiring these young minds to nurture and manifest their artistic skills! How I wish my old high school — only a few meters away — was this much fun.

I wish to thank the students and teachers for their invitation, but most especially for their having brought a piece of Manhattan to Manila even for a couple of hours. For that alone, I am most grateful.

I will post the second part of this entry as soon as I get a copy of the piece from which their performances was based from.


posted by Señor Enrique at 10:38 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was some awesome experience you just had. Imagine, your purpose was just to get some school records and you were exposed to another world. And the costumes of the kids were very colorful and they looked very happy. Nice pics!

August 30, 2006 12:53 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Wonderful images of those students (I am getting jealous ;-)at your pictures)
My favorite is the close up of the girls in white make-up.

This is the fun part of Manila. Wherever you go there is always something going on.
The sad part is that events are not (well) announced. I have a hard time to figure out what, where and when.

August 30, 2006 1:24 PM  

Blogger ipanema said...

Judging from their looks I bet they enjoyed every minute of their performance. I haven't witnessed any of this kind of late. You're lucky.

August 30, 2006 1:35 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It felt magical, Ladybug! It also reminded me of what I once learned from the artist Duchamp, and how he made use of chance as a factor in shaping his works of art.

And of course, there was the French chemist and bacteriologist Louis Pasteur who made famous the statement: "Chance favours the prepared observer."

Thus, my running into this group of students and their having invited me was in itself a gift of chance that I was compelled to accept. Hence it felt like a gift from God or the universe via this group of wonderful students :)

No need to be jealous, Sidney :) It was pure chance! But once again, you are right about our wonderful city. There are so many great happenings constantly going on, but we are without a clearinghouse or a center of information to publish a schedule of these events.

Looks like a Wiki for such purpose is also in order.

I think the events at this school has something to do with celebrating "Buwan ng Wika." I'm not exactly sure what program the school will present this Friday, but you are more than welcome to join me and photograph the event. It will start promptly at 8:00 am from what I was told.

Thanks, Ipanema! Yes, I do appreciate the opportunity of having been invited.

I should also mention the apparent rapport most students of this school have with their teachers, which was quite admirable. And such trusting relationship between the school's faculty and the student body somehow extended to someone like me -- a complete stranger -- for I was made to feel welcome, almost like an alumni of the school, in fact.

What a hospitable ambience!

Incidentally, this is what I want to spotlight in this site of mine -- the endearing charms and wonders of Metro Manila!

August 30, 2006 2:34 PM  

Blogger Gayzha said...

You have a very wonderful view of life ... Hope there are more people like you! :)

Indeed there are moments like these that should end up in National Geographic and other tourism media that would enhance and improve the image of Manila - towards the interesting and positive!

August 30, 2006 3:03 PM  

Blogger Rey said...

Intramuros is always a great place to walk. The stone walls with dew plants express so much of its rich history.

It's intersting how you parallel the winter festivities of New york with that of the school's talent-enhancing program/competition. I do agree that sometimes our heart aches for things we missed and we find bliss in things that remind us of those events/people.

August 30, 2006 3:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks much, Jase; truly appreciate your kind words.

Nonetheless, I do believe that life is nothing more than a succession of choices and decisions -- preceeded by thought, which then fuels our corresponding action.

Since having made a home of Manila more so than New York, I had made a decision from the begining to focus on what's beautiful about Manila and its people.

Hence despite others' points of view, personally, I think I have enough positive resources (and gifts from above) to keep me busy with showcasing the good about our beloved Metro Manila. :)

August 30, 2006 3:27 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Very well said, Rey!

Actually, it is the "spiritual high" one attains from an incredibly performed piece of music or dance or theater that I was longing for, and much to my surprise and delight, it was delivered by these young people.

Goes to show what a significant role artists play in our society since time immemorial.

And it is for this simple reason, Rey, that I pray that you, as an artist, will manifest your visions, for I trust you will bring much awe and joy to our people! And I mean that seriously :)

August 30, 2006 3:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was really a wonderful experience.

I like the picture of the girls with white make up. Meron na ka kompetensya si Sidney.

Galing mo talaga.

August 30, 2006 6:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've also heard about Manila High School's reputation of producing smart students. If this is just an example of the activities that students do there, it's no wonder why.

You're right, Fall is just around the corner. The days are getting less warmer and the nights are starting to get chilly over here.

I admire your perspective in life. You really live up to your tag line "the prepared observer."

August 30, 2006 9:07 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh so you studied in Mapua. My husband is the VP Legal blahblah there. Heh I don't know the complete title. Anyway I have been bugging him to take photos of Intramuros. You beat him to it.We did take some photos of Manila Bay. I should drag him next time for a stroll in the Walled City

August 30, 2006 9:13 PM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Nice shots ! Nice shots !! Esp the one's where they painted their faces white! good framing btw.

Look at their eyes.... you can literally see unlimited potential. Good blog btw !

On another note:
Sigma is releasing a new SLR (SD14) with a 2nd generation foveon sensor.

August 31, 2006 5:26 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hahaha ... that's funny, Myepinoy, but I'm no where near Sidney's league.

The girls on the photo that you like remind me of the famous Cirque du Soleil performers.

Thanks you, Myepinoy!

A nephew once asked, Niceheart, if what I mean by prepared observation is "contrived observation." I said no, and then told him about Duchamp and Pasteur.

This would be the time of the year in NYC when I would start feeling melancholy because of the change in season :(

Thanks, Niceheart!

Noemi, I highly recommend that you and your husband take a couple of hours off and join Carlos Celdran's historical tour of Intramuros. You may take photographs while doing it.

Thank you, S.A.

Yes, these girls really know how to project various emotions though their facial gestures -- you'd really think they're professional artists, right?

Are these lenses that Sigma is selling? I have a dial up and taking too long for the images and info to load, but I will go to an Internet cafe to explore these URLs. Pretty amazing colors; exquisitely vivid!

August 31, 2006 7:08 AM  

Blogger Senorito<- Ako said...

Sorry Eric,

Sigma came out with a new SLR "body" that uses new generation foveon sensor instead of CCD/CMOS.

Btw, The girls with white faces I think deserves a 8x10 print !

August 31, 2006 7:23 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

great pictures you have here! if i have the chance, i would also go for a walk along the walls of intramuros. there's so much to see! and that's a place that i won't get tired of visiting over and over again.

good thing that you chanced upon manila high school's event. i've been relying a lot on the newspaper's weekly events but there were only a few that caught my interest.

August 31, 2006 7:35 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks for the info, S.A.! I'll keep an eye out on this Sigma dSLR. Its foveon sensor seems radical!

Thanks, Carla!

Yes, Intramuros is worth going back to, not to mention that it's really photogenic.

I ought to go back to checking the newspaper listing of events going on in our city.

August 31, 2006 9:28 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to read the piece in which their theatrical performances was based on.


Judging from the pictures, I am sure all of them had fun and did a grea job. Too bad I could not witness it myself.

August 31, 2006 10:29 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

It is written in Tagalog, Kyels, but you may ask a Filipino friend of yours over there to translate it for you.

August 31, 2006 10:32 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Tagalog is a lovely language, in my humble opinion. It has similarities with our national language; Bahasa Malaysia. Just a little bit though.

I shall ask a friend to translate it to me after you post the piece up.


August 31, 2006 12:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly, it was one surreal morning wlak you had, like traipsing into the what is known and then suddenly bursting into a magical realm of existence. The folk dancers and their colorful dresses actually reminds me that there is so much spiritual about our selves, that we dance and sing our way to explain and manifest what mere words could not evoke; but only the languages of our body movement.

August 31, 2006 2:09 PM  

Blogger christine said...

Wow what a great morning, and best of all it was unexpected! I love the pictures, especially those of the girls in white masks.

August 31, 2006 5:07 PM  

Blogger vina said...

and i believe there are really beautiful albeit small surprises in store for us everyday, if only we just open our hearts and embrace every opportunity!

great shots señor!

August 31, 2006 7:50 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is true, Kyels! After all we came from the Malay race also :)

You humble me with your prose, Major Tom. Very well said and so true! Indeed, we would all benefit from allowing our spirit to express itself as only it knows how to do. :)

Yes it was, Christine. Very magical, indeed. Like you, a lot of people was touched by those amazing faces in the photo. They are truly creative even in their make-up and costume design.

I totally agree, Vina! There as so many wonderful and magical things that happen before us; unfortunately, we are so consumed with negative energies that come into our space that we become blinded to recognize them when they appear.

August 31, 2006 8:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One word of advise for our kababayans who will visit Intramuros. If you are going to take the Kalesa ride (tour) make sure you clear with the kalesa owner/driver how many hours would his fee covers. Else, he will be asking you additional fee for excess hours.

This happened to us (my daughter and me) last April06.

It is going to be a long weekend for me (sept 4 - labor day) so I am waiting for a new posts eric. LOL.. Just kidding

August 31, 2006 9:04 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And all along I thought everything was pretty much all right because of the WOW Philippines program administration. Thanks for the warning, Myepinoy.

Don't worry ... I've got lots to share with everyone since I'm doing the Escolta to Quiapo walking tour this Saturday with Carlos. Also have to pick up the poem tomorrow morning and post it.

Indeed, my pleasure, Myepinoy ... hehehe!

August 31, 2006 11:12 PM  

Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Great pics, Filipinos have to be the most photogenic people anywhere.

You mentioned San Juan's El Moro, when were you there last? I loved that place. I wonder if The Intramuros originally used to have a view of the Bay the way they have at Puerto Rico's El Moro?

September 01, 2006 12:04 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Last time I was in PR was a long time ago, Phil. Went with a group of friends to attend our friend's wedding in Boqueron.

September 01, 2006 7:46 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

seeing 'the wall' made me reminisce my good old college days, *sniff* *sniff*

September 01, 2006 7:57 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

They allowed me to take pictures inside MIT, Analyze. I'll post it another time :)

September 01, 2006 9:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you lucked into this performance!

I have a Mapua Institute of Technology sticker on my laptop :-)

September 03, 2006 1:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, that is interesting, Aurea -- MIT for both Mapua and Massachussets Institute of Technology :)

I am wishing you the best, Aurea -- that is one fine school you are in right now!

September 03, 2006 6:32 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eric.

But I really do have a Mapua Institute of Technology sticker on my laptop, not just a generic MIT - it has the seal, and "founded A.D 1925" on it! One of my cousins went there :-)

September 04, 2006 12:13 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oooops, I meant the acronym MIT stands for both Mapua and your school :)

September 04, 2006 6:13 AM  

Blogger miss imagineer said...

hi mr. enrique! it amazes me to learn that you're a MAPUA alumnus, what was your degree and your batch? just curious... i'm a soon-to-be-alumnus myself, hihi hopefully i'd be marching down at PICC this coming August. your blog is really great and informative. and your photos are so impressive and really really great, i found myself distracted in the midst of my horrendous tasks at work, hehe but i guess my being 'pasaway' was really worth it =) Intramuros had been my second home for almost seven years and it was such a shame that i rarely got time to enjoy and discover its beauty.. well maybe i'd try to make time bago man lang ako magpaalam sa pagiging studyante... gOdbLess you!

July 07, 2007 12:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hello Miss Imagineer!

I only attended its high school, but I'm curious as to your focus of study at Mapua. How exciting. A lot of Mapauans I know have done very well in their respective career.

Thanks much for visiting my blog. Share with us your thoughts now and then; I'm sure you have interesting insight, especially about things in Intramuros and etc.

Have a good Sunday!


July 08, 2007 7:04 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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