Back to the Future in Intramuros

Another paper. This time it was dated 14 September 1999.  I wrote this yet again for History class. Our assignment was to  visit Intramuros in our spare time and write a reaction paper. Here is what I came up with.

Back to the Future in Intramuros

Intramuros today is an unkempt, untidy area swamped with squatters in not-so-hidden places.  Seeing the old Spanish village in such a state is a bit depressing but at least there is still a feel of the old Spanish era in Intramuros.  The churches, the museums, the capiz windows and Spanish styled buildings serve as relics of the past glories and civilization exclusive to Intramuros.  Somehow going to Intramuros is still a back to the future adventure wherein one gets to re-live the atmosphere and surroundings of the former Spanish village.

Honestly speaking, the Rizal Shrine in itself is quite a dull museum.  It comes across as one trying a bit too hard to show the life and times especially the glories of Jose Rizal.  The effort in maintaining it is admirable but it strikes me as a museum purposely glorifying Rizal and making him look like someone so high and mighty.  Had I not known who Rizal was before going to the Rizal Shrine, I would have taught of him as a perfect person, almost divine.  One ought to ask whether portraying Rizal in such a patronizing manner is the best way to tell the world about who he is.  In my opinion, it is not.

For me, the least interesting in the Rizal Shrine was the wall painted with the poem Mi Ultimo Adios.  I find it to be a waste of space and money.  No, it is not at all a creative way of getting the people interested in reading the original Spanish version.  At first it is a surprise to see Rizal’s last poem splattered on the walls but the surprise does not last long.  People spend just a fraction of a second looking at it then they move on to the next part.  Had they wanted to paint the wall with Rizal’s work, they could have used a color other than white and a font other than Times New Roman.

Interesting enough were the various translations of Mi Ultimo Adios in other languages.  To see Rizal’s poem written in Korean, Chinese, Japanese and French among others brought a feeling of pride to me.  The high regard for Rizal and his works never ceases to amaze me.  I just hope all the translations were accurate and faithful to the original.

However, the most interesting item in the Rizal Shrine for me was the overcoat of Rizal.  It was such a plain looking, small sized clothing but seeing it up-close gave me a more vivid image of Rizal in my mind.  Seeing what he chose to wear made me see Rizal more clearly.  The brownish-beige overcoat seems to signify that Rizal was a man who wanted to be respected, listened to and admired.  I would have loved to break the glass and try Rizal’s overcoat for myself.

I’ve been to San Agustin Church many, many times before.  But it was only now when I was required to really look around that I was able to really see San Agustin Church.  I was in awe upon realizing that the church is so big, so majestic and so elegant looking.  The many chandeliers and the big, grand images of saints further added to the effect.  The long, red carpeted aisle would provide a long procession going to the altar.  It dawned on me that San Agustin would be a beautiful place to get married in.  The church can seat many guests and it would be so photogenic as well.

However, San Agustin Church has its own share of an eerie influence.  The mausoleums and graves inside the church can get to one especially on a dark, rainy night.  Seeing the graves of the rich Ayalas and Zobels who died in 1878 gave me the creeps.  On the other hand, it also made me see how historic San Agustin Church is.  Moreover, it is a church that possesses prestige, graves and all.  As a whole, I find San Agustin Church beauteous and very Spanish looking.

Casa Manila is not exactly like Kapitan Tiago’s house as described in the Noli Me Tangere.  However, there are some similarities between the two.  One similarity was the wide stairway with rug-covered steps found in Casa Manila and described in the Noli.  Another similarity between the two was the grand piano.  I am not certain if the piano in the sala of Casa Manila was a grand piano but it certainly was big and grand in itself.  In the comedor of Casa Manila, there was a long table utilized for meals.  The same description can be found about Kapitan Tiago’s house.  Another similarity was the very spacious living room.  Just like in the novel, the sala was the most important and elaborate part of Casa Manila.
A lot of the porcelains found in the Casa were Chinese porcelains and other Asian or oriental ones.  However, the paintings were mostly Hispanic looking.  The ornaments in Casa Manila were a mix of European and Asian influences.  The same trait was said about the style of Kapitan Tiago’s home though not in exactly the same way as Casa.

The similarities end there though.  Casa Manila had no green plants unlike Kapitan Tiago’s house which was describes as filled with plants.  In the Casa, there were quite a number of plant holders or the things where pots are to be placed but there were no plants.  Kapitan Tiago’s house had numerous chandeliers but in Casa Manila, it was mostly gasera that’s all over.  In the Noli, Kapitan Tiago’s home had lots of religious paintings.  On the other hand, Casa Manila had few of these.  Instead, paintings of family members or ancestors were abundant.

In general, I believe that Kapitan Tiago’s house would be more splendid looking than Casa Manila.  I am also not certain as to whether Casa Manila is 100% an authentic replica of a Spanish house in the 19th century.  Whether or not it is, I still believe it gives a glimpse of the past.  Maybe it is not 100% accurate but what in the world is a hundred percent certain?

In conclusion, my half a day in Intramuros was time spent in a miniature time machine.  For a while I was in Spanish home, I was finding out more about Rizal and daydreaming in a church.  My day was not wasted, definitely.  Perhaps in a few years I’ll come back again.

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