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The Other Side of the War Story

By seven_k8 Dec 04, 2013 505 Words
The Other Side of the War Story
Thinking about the 1890’s in the Philippines, what comes to mind are katipuneros in their straw hats, kamisochinos and red trousers, raising their bolos in the air, fighting for the freedom of the country – basically, a bloody era of wars between the brave natives and the powerful conquistadores. It is probably only natural; since young, we have been taught in school that the Spaniards brought nothing in the country but bloodshed and indolence, aside from a few euphemisms now and then to appease the brutality for the children’s young minds. Truthfully, never have I thought that there’s another side to the tale, a side where style and glamour exist despite the noises of revolution. For the Filipino commoners, the Indios as they were named by the Spaniards, the last years of the 19th century were probably nothing but a cycle of dreadful tasks and the sporadic uprisings. But for the elitists – it’s a whole different story. Manila was transformed into a European dreamland, a place for enjoyment and leisure as songs and dances filled the streets and even most of the elegant houses. The passion of the Filipinos for music was taken to a whole new level. The essay Merriment Mix by Doreen Fernandez speaks of the musical scene of Old Manila in a very enchanting way – the soothing sound of woodwinds as the military band plays a serenata accompanied by the blow of the cool sea breeze, the roads filled with carriages that brought in men and women elegantly dressed for an afternoon of strolling along the bay; or the soulful music of the piano coming from the house of the prominent mestizo echoing across the street, indicating a night of tertulia. Music, as it seemed, was highly associated to prestige and utmost sophistication. For the elites, and for me as well if it were possible, old Manila was the place to be. The thought of hearing the crisp sound of the violins even in the narrowest streets, joining clubs where skills and friendship were celebrated with sweets and copitas of wine, beautiful faces hidden behind abanicos, ladies clothed in elegant gowns while walking around with grace – this is definitely my cup of tea. But what I would really want to experience is hearing the seranatas of a symphonic band as I stroll along the old sea wall Calzada, watching the sunset and feeling the cool breeze. It is no doubt my definition of romantic, and the best way to relax after a day of hard work. If I could, I would turn Manila back to that time where everything’s calm, classy and beautiful. But no matter how I dread the fast-paced city of Manila right now, the scorching heat, the traffic jams and the bright lights and loud music of bars at midnight, I have to look at the bright side and appreciate its growth. Who knows, old Manila may come back someday, this time with freedom and no rumors of war.

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