Monday, 27 October 2014

Graduation Day!

(Written by: Paolo M. Bustamante; Photos by: Mars Guisala)

It has been days since my graduation, and now it has dawned on me that I am officially unemployed.  These past few days, I spent my time reminiscing the roller coaster ride that was college.

I recall the time I picked out a college.  I was a fresh faced 4th year student from La Salle Greenhills, and getting into De La Salle- College of Saint Benilde was far from my mind.  I never entertained the thought of going to college there simply because I was never aware of what I want out of life. However, in a bizarre sort of way, I ended up here. One thing was for sure though; I have always wanted to take up something that had to do with the Arts. I then, aspired to take up AB Fine Arts in UST mainly because of the old feel of the campus. But the enrolment process was so long and hard. There were so many people, stacked up one in front of the other in squiggly lines, and to anyone who knows me well I have little patience for situations like that. So, I didn't take it. I also thought that I would not be pleased with the notion of submerging my foot into a mixture of polluted water, rat piss, human piss, and garbage juice -every time it rains. So, I said no and I never looked back.

I went to the registrar's office of CSB and inquired about the course offerings. I initially wanted to take up Culinary Arts, because the idea of food and smiles generated by food, entices me. But I have no patience to cook my own food, I usually buy my food or have someone cook it for me. I go hungry and I eat! The process in between, doesn't exist. I felt like this was going to be a hard decision to make all alone. I asked, "What do fresh high school graduates usually take here in CSB? Oh, and what course would make me filthy rich?" The lady answered, "Export Management"!

In my first year in CSB, I was not satisfied with what I took. Numbers and calculations inspire me to take a long nap every time. I felt like a fish out of water, being in Export Management. I simply did not belong here! I played with the thought of possibly shifting to AB Philippine History at De La Salle University, but then again I would be really bored to death because reading is so ZZZzzzzz… I felt like I did not have a sense of direction or purpose. I immediately shrugged that negative feeling off and said to myself that, "Someday, b*tches will bow down to me!", and it made all the difference.

As a freshman, I recall going to the newly built School of Design and Arts Building every lunch time. I would spend most of my time hanging out with my batchmates there and ranting about my course, until one of them got fed up (I guess...) and suggested that I shift to Mutimedia Arts. To cut the long story short, I got in and shifted. It felt right and it felt like Mutimedia Arts and I, were a match made in career heaven.

(Loyalty Awardee YEAH!!!)

However, I did have a lot of catching up to do. My first few weeks in SDA was really awkward. I felt so out of place and I had to make friends all over again. There were cliques who already shared strong bonds of trust and friendship, which was built during the time I was in Export Management. The “Archi” students hung out together, the fashion bloggers walked with each other to class, the film majors shared lunch... while I was alone just like Cady Heron in “Mean Girls” when she just moved from Africa to “The real world”.

I was really psyched about my first day in a course I cared about. I distinctly remember that my first subject was photography. We were tasked to shoot buildings and monuments; it made me so excited because I was fond of old buildings and structures around the Manila area. Also, it inspired me to start my blog and to put my appreciation for these structures out there. May 2, 2011 was the precise moment I gathered the confidence, strength, and will to start my own blog about my city;s built-heritage. You don’t just forget “eureka” moments and “lightbulb” days like that. Unlike my other schoolmates who were so into food and fashion blooging, I struggled to start my blog without being aware that I could have a specific group of readers and enthusiasts. Being a heritage enthusiast and conservationist, I already felt alone in a sea of fashion mavens and foodies. I never thought that I could find people like me through my blog.

At first, blogging was a bit disheartening. My views were low in number. I constantly compared my blogs that were set up by my schoolmates, and it made me feel a bit discouraged. But then I realized that, “Of course, there will always be a market for food blogs and fashion blogs. They’re fun and people generally like them!” Then, I pushed on with what I started –blogging, posting, maximizing online opportunities, and putting my advocacy out there. In time, everything gradually improved. I was getting a steady stream of viewership from the Philippines and abroad! I even met a lot of people who share the same interest! They are much older, though. But I did not mind, it was still a blessing in my eyes.

Everything was going so well, even though this was something I never really expected. I just went along with what I felt in my gut. I tried to do well with everything I set my heart and mind to, whether it involved blogging, studying or being a friend. Given the progress that I have reached, I thought that it was time for me to establish my own trademark. I want people to see my work and know that it’s mine. 

(with Rookie)

During my last term in CSB, that period wherein I had to do my thesis, I picked the topic: “Preserving the Built-Heritage Structures of Manila”, given my advocacy and interest.  My medium was a detailed website and a 10 minute video.  Come defense, I was so pleased to know that my professors were happy specifically regarding the 10 minute video.  They’re attention was grabbed by the fact that it makes people aware of the state of our heritage buildings, which was very poor.  However, I was a bit offended about their doubts regarding my abilities saying, “Parang hindi ikaw ‘toh”.  Maybe it doesn’t seem like heritage conservation is my interest, upon anyone’s first impression.  But most heritage conservationists, DO NOT look like heritage conservationists.  What does a “heritage conservationists” look like anyway?

When I was doing my production for the thesis, my adviser Ms. Abigail Cabanilla, was really hands on in helping me, which I was really thankful for.  She’s a lifesaver.  She gave out ideas on how I can execute my video well, and how the flow and the mood of my video should go.  I was really blessed to have someone like her during my college years. She is the type that really pushes you to fuel your advocacy and she seems really proud of her students, which felt very empowering.  I recall those instances where she pushed me to join certain contests about celebrating your city, wherein the prize was a trip to Paris. She is simply the best.  I am short of words on how to properly describe her, but “best” is enough to encapsulate who she entirely is. 

(With Victor)

While I was in the process of doing my thesis the professors in MMA are really there to support and help.  Mr. Nestor was one of the best professors in Video Production.  Take note, he was never my professor, but he was always there to help students in need.  This is what I really love about my school:  The professors we have push students to be better and to strive harder to be the bests at their respective fields.  I truly believe and hope that they will really guide future Benildeans into being one of the best, as they did us.

(with my motha')

To cut my lengthy thesis story short, I aced it wearing my barong proudly.  I am proud to say that I really got a high score, but I lost all of my files because some bitch stole my hard drive.  It was still fine, though.

(Team EST.1571 and Team Consilience)

In my last term in CSB, we were required to make a graduation exhibit.  It is the MMA major’s very own “Rite of Passage”.  Hence, we brain stormed in our class and I was pleased that my group mates agreed that our theme would be about The City of Manila (something that is really important to me). The exhibit had a great turnout.  Shortly after, college was over. (Thank you to my adviser Mr. Paul Samonte)

A huge and fun-filled chapter of my life now closes. I am really proud to say that I am a Benildean. This post is more than just a nostalgia post.  It is a gratitude post.  I am thankful for everyone who helped me along the way.  They have taught me life lessons that I will bring with me forever, the most important lesson being: No matter what school you came from, it is what you do after college that truly matters.  My school and my teachers taught me to do what I love, they nurtured me to be a person who achieved things out of passion.  That is what makes Benildeans truly one of a kind.

Animo Benilde!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

#INTRAGRAM Intramuros without Filters Talks

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

I would like to thank the Pamanstaan ng Lungsod ng Maynila for having me as their guest speaker. It was truly an honor to be able to impart my knowledge in heritage conservation to an eager audience. I hope I have inspired the students of PLM to somehow deepen their interest in heritage conservation, and I trust that I at least awakened a spark of awareness regarding its importance.

 Mr. Cleve Arguelles

 Ms. Sandra Martinez
Chief Tourisim Promotions Divition of Interamuros

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Save the Genato House

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

A week ago, a student majoring in Architecture from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, asked me for help on her thesis.  She asked me for suggested areas in Manila that features an array of ancestral houses and pre-war structures.  I advised her to visit the R. Hidalgo, Bautista and Bilibid Viejo Streets, in Manila.  In my experience in documenting, advocating for the preservation of heritage houses, and studying these structures in my own pace, I am certain that my suggestions will surely help her in accomplishing her thesis.

Not long after I suggested her these places, I received a message from her about an ancestral house in R. Hidalgo that was about to be demolished.  I thought, this is really a bad month for heritage houses!  This month, a lot of heritage places were torn down - the thought of which, by the way, reminds me of that scene in "Fight Club" where the buildings comprising the cityscape slowly crumble down, as Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter passionately kiss.

Anyway, I immediately messaged my good friend Stephen Pamorada who is currently the president of The Heritage Conservation Society-Youth, about the said house.  He was very upset about the news because his group called, "Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista" will be hosting a tour around Quiapo on September 28, 2014, which planned to include the Genato House in their tour itinerary.  Sadly, plans must change.

According to "Memorable Manila Houses", the very elegant mansion of Ramon Genato was renowned during the 1880's to the 1890's as a gathering place of the "alta sociedad de Manila" or "Manila's high society".  During special occasions (which were often, I assume), it served as a party place and ballroom area for the rich and the famous, during it's heyday.

Along with the message, the student told me that while they were walking around Quiapo, the vendors around them recommended the old house because of its antiquity and old charm.  According to her,when they asked if about the house to the guards, they halted them and said that they are not entertaining anyone regarding the house because it is in the process of demolition. It has been in the process of demolition last September 11, 12, 13, 2014.  Afterwards, the engineer stated that no one should be allowed inside the house, for it will be demolished and turned into the school's new annex.

Stephen told me that he was able to talk to the owners about the house.  The superior said that "The durability of the house is poor" and that, "They were fortunate enough to be able to see the interiors of the house", as well. 

Thinking about it just makes me a bit sad, especially as a heritage conservationist.  Manila is 400 years old.  However, it does not look like it is 400 years old!  We keep blaming other people and parties for the city's lost charm, but we never even tried to take steps and measures to save what was left for us from the past.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Save the Anda Monument

By: Paolo M. Bustamante

Here’s an update fresh from “Bummer Land”: The government is removing the Anda Monument from the Anda Circle! Apparently, it has no significant value whatsoever... The monument, situated at Bonifacio Drive was proposed to be removed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), because it was deemed to be the ONLY solution to ease the traffic situation. The proposal was approved by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), The Intramuros Administration, and surprisingly, by The National Historical Institute.

To any of you who don’t know the historical significance of the Anda Monument, here is a quick recap: The Anda Monument was originally placed near the Pasig River and it was moved along Bonifacio Drive after the war after the construction of the Del Pan Bridge. It is one of the few surviving monuments in Manila since the war, hence it’s historical and cultural significance and value. Now, you can imagine the intensity of my disappointment.

The rotonda was built to commemorate the legacy of Simon de Anda y Salazar, a former Spanish Governor-General of Manila. He was known for organizing the resistance movement against the invaders during the British Occupation of Manila and for his military service during the Seven Years’ War. Simon d Anda y Salazar died on October 30, 1776 in the Hospital de San Felipe, in Cavite at the age of 76.

Aside from the monument erected in Bonifacio Drive to honor his legacy, municipalities such as “San Simon” in Pampanga, “Anda” in both Bohol and Pangasinan were named after him. A street was also named after him in Vitoria, close to his hometown Subijana in Northern Spain. Clearly, he has made remarkable things during his time.

Although Simon de Anda y Salazar is not a Filipino, he has mostly served our country being Manila’s Governor-General during his prime. Also, if you think about it, our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal has a monument in both Germany and China, despite of the fact that he is a Filipino national. I don’t think the Germans and the Chinese think about issues such as nationality, what matters most to them is giving due honor to individuals who deserve it.

(my friend Toia Avenido)

Our former President Carlos P. Garcia gave a speech on June 8, 1957 about the monument of Simeon de Anda y Salazar, as it was just erected. He tackled the historical and cultural significance of Simon de Anda y Salazar, how he was a Governor-General for the Filipinos, and how he changed Philippine history forever.

To quote President Carlos P. Garcia, “Why must the memory of Simon de Anda y Salazar, a Spanish governor-general, be immortalized in Philippine history? Why should a monument be erected to perpetuate his name? These are questions that must be answered on this memorable occasion that we set aside to rededicate the monument in his honor. I will start by saying that Simon de Anda transcended his time. Sent by Spain as a colonial governor over the Filipinos in 1770 at a time when colonialism was generally identified with abuses, oppression, and exploitation of the colonized masses, Simon de Anda on the contrary defended the Filipinos from such injustices and despotism. Simon de Anda was a hero in three important episodes of Philippine history.”

In recent news, according to Rappler: "The DPWH has not yet finalized plans of where to move the monument. But according to NHCP Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, the commission's recommendation in 2012 was to transfer the monument to Maestranza Plaza inside Intramuros, also in Manila. "| Rappler

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Save the "Madrid House"

Last month, my classmates and I made a stop on one of the most beautiful houses in San Nicolas, located at Madrid St. cor. Lavesarez St.

I showed them the house before it is gone. I wanted them to see what Manila used to be because I want them to appreciate the beauty of our city. My classmates were deeply saddened when I told that that this house will soon face the wreaking ball.

(My classmates, Michelle & Mike)

In the last decade, the district of San Nicolas had lost a huge number of heritage houses in the area and I think someone has to speak up about that.

Last year, I blogged about the demolition of one of the oldest houses in San Nicolas and that is the "Lavesarez" house. It is just a block away from the "Madrid House". Unfortuatrely the Heritage Conservation Society & the Heritage Conservation Society- Youth lost that battle. The Lavesarez house was demolished to give way to a parking lot.

Last week I saw a post by my fellow heritage conservationist (who shall not be named), and he said that the house will soon be demolished. He is doing his part by protesting and posting on Facebook to preserve this building.

(The demolished "Lavesarez House")

We have this old notion about old buildings, when we say that when building is old we always think that it has "ghost" or "multo" living inside the building. Or since the building is old it is ugly and out of style. Because last week I went to Doroteo Jose and I saw the old ancestral house of Rosa Rosal, when asked the caretakers about the house, he said that there are ghost that show up in the night.

Maybe in 40 years, the only thing that is "historical"  is the BGC Buildings in Taguig. I hope we do something about it. We need to act now before it is too late. I observed that the youth is more active when it comes to these kinds of thing that's why I am encouraging the youth to do your share so that we have something to pass on to the future gereration.

Let us voice out our cause to Mayor Erap.

The "Madrid House" is one of the oldest architectural structure in San Nicolas. It was built during the late 19th century and it survived the Second World War and anyone proposing that it be demolished is doing a great disservice to the nation. The house will make a perfect hotel or a restaurant just like in Vigan. I hope the new owner realizes the strong economic potential of conserving the house.

About a month ago, I received information that one of the conditions of the house was if no one will rent it, the house be demolished. I hope that the owners understand that the house that they own is a priceless artistic treasure. We hope to see the house restored to its full glory in the future.