Sunday, October 24, 2010

Old Manila, New Manila: Then and now in pictures

My uncle Erning, a doctor who's now retired and living in Kentucky, sent me an email with images of old Manila from the archives of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  I've seen my share of these images but somehow this newer set struck a chord inside me.  Strange that my octogenarian-uncle who last set foot on the Philippines about 40 years ago would be so inspired (or nostalgic) to send us, his Philippine- and Manila-based relatives, glimpses of what the city used to look like. In any case, I felt the urge to take a closer look at this city which I call home (and often overlook? take for granted? maybe both) and see what has changed maybe not for the better but transformed, nonetheless.  Save for the captions, I guess the images speak for themselves as to how far ahead (or behind, depending on whether you see the city as half-full or half-empty, single stepping-forward or double stepping-backwards) Manila has gone.  You, dear reader, be the judge.



Old Binondo
Binondo entrance from Jones Bridge • BEFORE: look Ma, no arch yet!

Escolta-Binondo Sweeper
Binondo-Escolta NOW: more wires, more billboards, more to sweep

Old Recto
Claro M. Recto • BEFORE: close to squeaky-clean and traffic-free

Recto 2010
PRESENT DAY Recto - perennial bottleneck!

Old Quiapo
Quiapo THEN: Unbelievably crowd-, vehicle- and vendor-free

Quiapo 2010
Quiapo NOW: Orderly chaotic (or chaotic yet orderly?)

Old Avenida II
Avenida THEN: crowded with people, not vehicles. Look Ma, no LRT in sight

Avenida 2010
Avenida NOW:  choked with jeepneys on weekdays, overshadowed by the LRT

Old Ayala Avenue
Ayala BEFORE: traffic?  What traffic?

Makati 2010
Ayala NOW: More buildings, more vehicles, more traffic

Lest you think I find Manila Claire Danes-ish grim, grimy and redolent (my choice of adjective) of roaches and unmentionables, I'll admit that inspite of the dirt, the traffic, the wayward jeeps and the recalcitrant cabbies, the often-too loud karaoke blares, the late trains and always-swerving buses, I find this city charming in all its quirks.  It's just that looking at these old images makes me think it's not surprising old-timers, with misty eyes and that faraway, dreamy look, will always have something wonderful to say about the Manila of bygone days.

Attribution: Images of old Manila are digital images from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries • New images are taken using Nokia N8 camphone, fine-tuned using CS3 • Lagal[og] thanks Nokia Philippines for arming me with the 12-megapixel N8.  I wouldn't otherwise shoot alone along Recto with my Nikon DSLR to get these snaps.
InFlight Manileño's Manila Post Card 
The labels and identification of the sites were done by the University of Wisconsin and were unchanged.

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