Para sa Araw ng Maynila


This article is part of Aurora Metropolis’ #Manila448 Series in celebration of Araw ng Maynila. The views expressed by the author does not reflect the view of organizations he represents or he is affiliated with.


Mga kaibigang Manileño…

Alam kong alam ninyo na ipinagdiriwang natin ang Araw ng Maynila. Oo, ipagdiriwang. Hindi dahil walang pasok. Pero isang tanong ang laging lumalabas sa aking isipan: Alam pa kaya ng mga taga-Maynila kung bakit may Araw ng Maynila?

June 24, 1571, itinalagang kabisera ng Kaharian ng España sa Pasipiko ang naghaharing lupain sa tabi ng isang aktibong look sa kanluran ng Luzon. Kilala na ng marami ang yaman ng kalakalan at kultura sa Maynila bago pa dumating ang mga Kastila. Pero ang proklamasyon ni Miguel Lopez de Legazpi sa Maynila ang sinasabing nagbukas ng mas malaking pintuan ng siyudad sa buong mundo. And the rest is history.

Noong bata pa ako, bago kami mag-one-day-holiday dahil Araw ng Maynila ay may mga activity kami sa eskwela para gunitain ang okasyon. At kahit June 24, may mga kaklase akong pupunta sa iba’t ibang lugar sa Maynila para magsaya sa mga event na ino-organize para sa ispesyal na araw ng aming siyudad. Masasabi kong ang henerasyon ko ay maswerte dahil alam namin kung bakit walang pasok ang June 24. Siguro, meron piniling magpahinga, pero ginawa ang araw na ito para imulat ang ating mga mata at isipan sa halaga ng kasaysayan ng siyudad na minamahal at kinaiinisan natin paminsan-minsan.

Payong Manileño, lalo na sa mga kabataan: Huwag natin hahayaang maging mangmang sa tunay na kahulugan ng Araw ng Maynila. Ang pagpasyal sa mahahalagang lugar sa ating siyudad ay simple ngunit mahalagang pagbibigay-pugay sa kadikalaan ng Maynila sa kasaysayan ng daigdig.

Nandyan ang Rajah Sulayman Park sa may Malate na nakaharap sa Manila Bay. Nandyan din ang Intramuros, ang dambana ni Andres Bonifacio sa tapat ng Manila City Hall, ang Chinatown sa Binondo at, siyempre, ang Escolta na isa sa mga nagpanatili ng korona ng Maynila bilang isa sa mga pinakamahalagang siyudad sa mundo sa nakalipas na mga siglo.

At siguradong sa mga paaralan ninyo ay kinakanta ang Awit ng Maynila. Tulad ng kung paano ninyo kinakanta ang Lupang Hinirang, nawa’y isapuso ninyo ang ating himno. Sa bawat titik nito ay nakaukit ang ambag ng ating siyudad sa ating lahi. Hangga’t patuloy nating tinatatak sa ating puso’t isipan ang mga salitang ito ay walang dudang patuloy nating ipagmamalaki ang ating pagka-Pilipino.

Let’s be proud of our Manila. It is not just a capital city, but also a center of Filipino pride, now and always.

Let’s explore Manila!


Lem Santiago
Blogger, Aurora Metropolis




Dear Mayor Isko


This article is part of Aurora Metropolis’ #Manila448 Series in celebration of Araw ng Maynila. The views expressed by the author does not reflect the view of organizations he represents or he is affiliated with.


The election of Francisco Domagoso, popularly known as Isko Moreno, as Mayor of Manila has become a breath of fresh air for Manileños who are frustrated over the administration of Joseph Ejercito Estrada. His promise to “bring back the glory days” never flourished and the loss of order was unpleasantly evident all over the city. For most locals, six years were enough and it’s about time to kick Estrada out of the throne. Although lagging behind other progressive cities where young leaders are leading their constituencies, at last, by 12 noon of June 30, 2019, Manila will have a young politico to serve as the Philippines’ de facto “Little President”.

A new local chief executive like Domagoso is always equivalent to new beginnings and new plans; however, old goals and old assurances will remain in order of battle. In the case of Manila, it equates to one strong yet unheeded word – “revival”.

Since the city’s annihilation in 1945 due to the Second World War, leaders before us kept on talking about returning its “glory days”. Restoration of the city’s picturesque and lavish character seemed impossible because most of the ruined structures were uniquely built centuries ago. Moreover, as response to the call of the New World Order after the war, Manila was forced to “modernize” which changed its course in the next seventy years. While attempts were done for its gradual revival, the idea of revitalization remained a grand dream waiting to be fulfilled in a grand way.

Revival is indeed an ambitious word for a city like Manila. In urban planning, creating new empires using new blueprints is way cheaper than reviving old empires using old blueprints. While it is practically true, some oldtowns and cities around the globe continue to blend old designs with new technology to preserve its identity and reflect its history for next generation’s sake. Some of them have maintained its stature as leading world capitals because they successfully and effectively merged the past, present and future in their city’s invigorated characters.

Imagine: Manila could still be a prominent world city like Paris if we managed to take care of old structures that shaped its image as the modern city of the Far East before the war. Manila could be more diverse than Hong Kong if we managed to effectively mix the old and the new after the war.

Truth be told: it is not easy to revive Manila’s lost glory. But is it really too late?

It may not be a unique proposition, but if the new Mayor of Manila will have his time to read this, let this author—a simple Manileño who never stops telling the story of this city to the world—to share his two cents to our new young leader:

Dear Mayor Isko…

Please take care of what we have from Old Manila. I am not debunking the traditional definition of revival but as we follow another New World Order, the city—through your leadership—must protect what is left from our glorious past whatever it takes while we continue to redevelop our city. We have seen countless great structures, some of them were sites for historical veneration, being knocked down in the name of modernity and commercialism. It is now the time to exert Maharnilad’s powers to stop ruthless demolition and reckless alteration of old houses, old buildings, old markers and old monuments. You actively pushed for the revitalization of Escolta, Manila Zoo, Lawton, Arroceros Park and other city-owned public spaces during the campaign. Manila needs young blood to find her lost soul and the key to make the search effective is YOU. But we will not just sit here and do nothing. We will help your government make it happen through our own means. Lead us and everything will follow.

It is not easy to revive our desired glory for the Capital City. But it is not too late. Never too late.





A Manila-style world class NYE countdown


We are amazed when cities of the world welcome the New Year from the last minutes of December 31st up to the first hour of the first of January. It’s not just about the colorful fireworks but also how they highlight the best of their cultures embodied by their famous landmarks and customs. They consider it an annual tradition where locals gather as one hopeful nation and watch a fresh start unfolds at the tick of first midnight of the year.

Here in the Philippines, we opened the New Year differently and dividedly – literally. Although it’s not really bad to celebrate in different places at the same time, the fact that it is being done separately doesn’t count the reality that we are somehow divisive in a very special occasion. In many countries, despite divisiveness and conflicts, they celebrate in one public venue and witness the change of years together because it is a rare moment for them to unite, reconcile and enjoy as one. We Filipinos are boasting ourselves as a unified country, but are we able to show it to the world in the first hours of the New Year?

We never had one countdown celebration in an iconic landmark like what New York does to Time Square or Paris does to Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower. We were not able to get featured in any international media because we can only offer typical fireworks displays and musical concerts sans paying tribute to cultural or historical symbols our hopes and aspirations in our country’s next chapter. We never staged our biggest and most united Filipino-themed countdown party that we can show globally and we can be truly proud of.

This leads to a proposition that is actually long overdue, as far as I am concerned. Manila has the majestic and historic clock tower at Manila City Hall. As part of our everyday lives for the past seven decades, the clock tower remains to be the distinct symbol of time, not just to the capital city but to the entire Philippines.

The Manila clock tower is situated at the nerve of the country’s historical core. It is surrounded by some of the most important structures the equally-iconic Post Office, the Metropolitan Theater which is known then as our “cultural center”, the Legislative Building which currently houses the National Museum and the august walls of the old powerful citadel called Intramuros. It is our Big Ben – a landmark that was and still serves as a witness that stood the challenges of a fast-changing world but never lost its endurance and elegance.

No local or national celebration in recent memory that highlight the Manila clock tower. As one of the most famous landmarks in the Philippines, it was never used in a globally-publicized special event to prominently represent our country like the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Manila clock tower may not be as huge as those structures, but the story and history behind its existence is more than a reason to show its hands strike at 12 every January 1 around the globe.

As we celebrate the seventh decade of this iconic structure in line with the upcoming 450th founding anniversary of the City of Manila in 2021, I call on the national government and the city government to pay homage to the grand old tower of the Filipino nation. It is time to show it to the world as the icon of every New Year’s Eve celebration in the Philippines starting New Year’s Day 2020. It is the perfect time to project a real Manila-style NYE countdown party that the world deserves to watch and admire.