Street-Bound: Manila on Foot

Another book from ANVIL was Street-Bound: Manila on Foot by Josefina Manahan.

This was a not so random pick. I love to walk. My resume' includes; walking from Monumento to Blumentritt, a sweaty hike from SM North to UP Diliman, several forays from Blumentritt to Recto, leisurely strolls from Blumentritt to Rizal Park(yeah, no prize as to guessing where I live).

The book is well written, and following the author in and around Manila is easy. The narration is pretty straight forward; "turn right at", "now walk straight ahead to", "you should now be at"and the locations are easy to locate in the cute maps included (they look like the maps I scribbled when I began walking in Manila). The recounting of anecdotal reminiscence and the mention of particularly memorable ( to the author) people adds a certain folksy charm to the book.

But sadly...

I had heard that the book was outdated. I did not expect it to be painfully so. In some places the Manila described is so far removed from the Manila now that the author may well be speaking of Manila under the Spanish. In some cases following the author's narration along the major streets of present Manila left me with a distinct sense of "this couldn't be it". Partly, I think the fault lies in the author, at times she was brilliant...she captured a fleeting glimpse...a mood, a sense of places with deep historical significance for people who should have recognized that sense of history. Which just serves to create an expectation that those places may still be there...hidden away.

Sadly, politicians, businessmen, developers (and perhaps to a certain extent...certainly we too) just don't give a damn.

I just know that what little is left of the Manila 10 years ago may be gone 10 years from now. In that case, if you're like me you'd be thinking "I should try and see all of what's left". And so the book accomplishes exactly what the author set out to do...inspire people to walk in and around Manila.


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