1. Turn of the century bird’s eye view drawing of Manila.


  2. Just because misleading advertising is kind of irritating. Don’t forget to read the fine print.

    "Trump Tower Manila is not owned, developed or sold by Donald J Trump, the Trump Organisation or any of their affiliates…Century City Development Corporation…used the "Trump" name and mark under license from Trump Marks Philippines LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms."

    Like I’ve said before, it’s a marketing firm peddling aspiration by licensing international ‘names’ for their projects. In other words, they’re the Bench/Penshoppe of real estate developers.

    Website: Trump Real Estate Portfolio - Manila

  3. The Quote

    Manila was uniquely beautiful: she was universally know as the Pearl of the Orient, a jewel beyond price. Many cities were destroyed between 1942-1945-a long list in which the names of Stalingrad, Hamburg, Warsaw, Dresden, Berlin, Hiroshima stand out prominently…Yet in the case of Manila, something rare, and something irreplaceable, was destroyed. The Philippines lost their capital, but the world had lost a city whose very evolution, drawing upon the cultures and histories of four different continents, had made it part of the international heritage.

    - The Battle for Manila (pg. 16)

    The Photo

    Aerial photograph of Intramuros and Manila taken during the 1930s.

  4. Manila in 1938.

    Couple of things to note in the video. Obviously, pre-World War II, so this was the city they were calling the Pearl of the Orient. This was the city that was burned by the Japanese and bombed into submission in 1945.

    First off, the video is obviously American propaganda (the Battle of Manila being a ‘great’ naval battle and all), but even then it has important historical value. See, this is precisely the idea behind William Henry Scott’s “cracks in the parchment curtain.” 

    Second, our canals were lively and a centers of life in the city; trade and transport was normally conducted through the canals. Think about how are post-WWII development (or lack there of) has eviscerated a once central part of Manila life. Bangkok is famous for its canals and boat based trade, it was something we had as well.

    The criticism I always hear about videos like this is that it shows the best of Manila and its environs. So. What. That was what parts of Manila was like in the 1930s. What is important is that we try and recapture some of that uniqueness and beauty of Old Manila. Heritage is an integral part of urban renewal; especially when the city still has so many of these areas. It is these places that make Manila, Manila. And the Philippines, the Philippines. They should be points of national pride and should be treated and respected as such. Intramuros is still standing, the bridges still span the Pasig; Manila Hotel, old structures, and old homes still exist. Though they are threatened.

    What is backward looking is to ignore the importance of heritage in rebuilding a city and a nation. There is nothing more backward thinking than to say that heritage plays no part in uplifting and enriching a nation and a people. The idea that preserving and utilizing heritage sites is antithetical to economic growth and poverty alleviation is a reductive and simplistic understand of the relationship between a city and her citizens.

    We are our heritage. And our cities should reflect that.


  5. Reportage on History (1820): Death in a time of Cholera

    A new series, one attempting to ‘report’ on historical events as if they just happened; with attitudes and contextual elements preserved. Errr…yeah let’s see if it actually works. This one concerns the first epidemic in the Philippines, and its bloody aftermath.

    Authorities still have not figured out when or where the first case of the disease occurred. But we do know that by the first week of October 1820 it had spread throughout the villages along the Pasig, most especially Tondo. As well we know that many in the Walled City and the more affluent areas were left relatively unscathed. The worst hit were those of the natives; the Indians as the foreigner visitors, especially the French and British, would refer to them. And as the disease spread, leaving death and dismay in its wake, anger soon followed. Anger among the ravaged, the lost, the bereaved. Anger at loss that they did not understand. And soon that anger turned outwards. The inexplicable nature of what was happening in their quiet towns in Tondo stirred up hidden passions and unspoken resentments; the object became the foreigners, the interlopers as they were seen. A disease of the body spreads rapidly, but can take time to kill. Diseases of the soul, of the mind, can spread even more quickly, can be even more deadly, and can be even more destructive.

    Trading in Disease

    Cholera morbus, as we now know it to be, began in India; in the slums of Kolkata; a city that us in Manila can sympathize with. We have also been under the thumb of the British, though for not as long nor as destructively as they. The city of Kolkata, like the entirety of India, is the plaything of British economic interests. As they have finished their exploitation of that fair and mysterious land, their eye has turned every Eastward. Thus, we felt the military reach of the British in 1762; they left Manila in ruin. And now their traders and businessmen are circling Manila, putting down roots, and pushing the colony to open and develop. For many years Filipinos, hijos del pais, have been demanding for the Philippines to open up too. Governor-generals of foresight like Basco y Vargas and Simon de Anda worked to achieve that very thing. But there are some, and many of us do feel, that the changes have come too fast, too furious, with little concern for protection or interests of the natives, creoles, and mestizos alike. Local businessmen whisper about this; wondering what exactly Spain and the foreign community has planned for us. The colony itself is being left behind in favor of foreign expansion. After so many years of demanding more freedoms and independence, after fighting off the British, after finally doing away with the pernicious galleon trade, are we too allow ownership and control of our fair city and colony to be moved offshore? Because what it feels like we are less opening up, than being forced open. 

    We see what is happening across the Pacific; with our brothers in Mexico. It might very well be that their revolution, becomes our fight as well. This sense might very well be the root of resentment, of fear and anger, that exploded on October 9, and carried on for many days.

    Death along the Pasig

    What we do know is that it was probably brought in by a trading ship out of India docked in late August; traveling out of Bengal, that province most horrendously attacked by the dreaded cholera. A disease that had never stepped foot on these fair Islands. As a matter of record, this was our first ever epidemic. Is it any wonder that the people reacted so violently?

    The ship was the Merope, captained by a man named Nichols. He and his ship have disappeared; set sail, probably never to return. Devastation left in their wake. We are not sure who the first case was, but we do know that the first foreign case has been identified as a Frenchman. His body was wrapped in a carpet and left to rot near some esteros. It did spread fast, in those areas where the Indians live along the Pasig. By September untold numbers of Indians are dead, we have never been able to get a precise tally, but it numbers in the thousands.

    Cholera is a wasting disease, causing severe and involuntary continuous vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases, ones that I witnessed myself in my travels through the huts, leave the victims shrunken in, chapped lips, and pale. Wasted away in just a day, dead by the next. It is pitiful to watch, the weakness, the slow slide into senility and pain. To watch them curl up in pain from the lack of water, desiccated is the term. That is what they became, desiccated. Like the mummies I have seen in London, or those you find in far Egypt. The children are the worst, they cry pitifully, not understanding why they are suffering. The elderly are hit the hardest, and die the quickest. But the cholera even kills the strong and hardy. The sheer helplessness and horror is what turned to anger, I believe. Rage against the unknown and the uncontrollable. Dismay at the lack of assistance from a government sworn to protect and defend.

    Manila did not have a medical doctor of its own at the time. Only through the intervention of some kindly foreign visitors were any lives able to be saved. One of the most prominent and active, who gained the appreciation of many Indians, Spaniards, and hijos del pais alike for his efforts is Paul de la Gironiene. Who we all know now, as he is a bit of a celebrity; though as we know prone to hyperbole and a touch of self-adulation. Any man who has sat at a dinner with him knows the truthfulness of that remark; however he remains a wholly engaging and warm man, who seems to have developed an ardent love affair with Manila, Cavite, and the inhabitants of this colony.

    In an interview Messrs de la Gironiere described the situation: “the terrible scourge, cholera…quickly ravaged the whole island. Within a few days of its appearance the epidemic spread rapidly; the Indians succumbed by the thousands; at all hours of the day and of the night…the streets were crowded with dead-carts.” At this point Messr. de la Gironiere stopped for a moment to collect himself. I must confess I to became lost in memories of those days. 

    I am reminded of a passage I read describing the Black Death, that era that lingers in our memories even centuries after: “Soon the corpses were lying forsaken in the houses. No ecclesiastic, no son, no father and no relation dared to enter…” In the case of Messina, described above, the disease was brought by foreigners as well; their ships set aflame and driven out. But the evil had already taken root; it was eating away at their city. That too is what happened here.

    Foreign Eyes and Bloody Days

    Some how the story spread among the Indians that the disease was brought by foreigners; they were to blame. And even worse, it was believed that the city, our water, was poisoned deliberately. I can only attribute this to the discovery of the body of a cholera slain Frenchman in an esteros. No matter, there was simmering anger already; anger about the disease, anger about intrusions and encroachments of arrogant men hailing from Britain, France, and Russia who considered themselves superior. It exploded.

    Those caught in the cross fire did not deserve to be so. Many, such as de la Gironiere and others, freely gave their time, efforts, medicines to save what Indians could. But once the passions of the people were inflamed, no amount of good deeds done were going to save them. Even Gironiere himself was only saved through the intervention of an Indian leader who remember his efforts to save his relative. Some foreigners, such as one who wishes to remain anonymous, attributed it to “jealousy and hatred.” That is possible, but I firmly believe that fear was the motivating factor. And with certain priests and friars further inflaming passions by claiming that “…they have poisoned even the waters, and they administer poison to the sick, purposely to exterpate the whole race of Tagalians” [sic], while at the same time ponderously and vituperatively proclaiming the end of the world, there is little surprise that violence and mob rule became the norm.

    On October 9, 1820 everything came to a head. Reports indicate that upwards of 3,000 men (predominately native, but mestizos and creoles made an appearance) armed with knives and bludgeons commenced at 10 in the morning to begin massacring all the ‘Strangers’ they could lay their hands on. Messr de la Gironiere describes the scene: “Poor Dibard, the captain of the Cultivateur, was one of the first victims. Almost all the French who resided at Manilla were slain, and their houses were pillaged and destroyed. The carnage only ceased when there were no longer any victims. One eye-witness escaped this butchery, namely, M. Gautrin…who, at the moment I am writing, happens to be residing in Paris. He saved his life by his courage and his muscular strength. After seeing one of his friends mercilessly cut to pieces, he precipitated himself into the midst of the assassins, with no other means of defense than his fists. He succeed in fighting his way through the crows…having received three sabre-cuts upon his head, and a lance thrust in his body…” This scene was played out in every locality where there was a concentration of foreigners; British, Russian, French, Chinese all were killed. The only ones who escaped were the Spanish. Naturally, all others who are sons of the country emerged unscathed; except for their losses to cholera.

    The orgy of violence continued for two days, practically unabated. Our Governor-General was slow to respond to the crisis; despite pleas from the community to intervene. Alas, Folgueras is man blessed with an array of astounding intellectual and physical gifts; but his lack of interest in the goings-on of his colony is something of a a curse. This is a perfect example. It was only two days after the first signs of violence that he released his troops; even then eye-witnesses have reported that troops stood aside if they came upon violence or murder being accomplished. They seemed content to allow the storm to ride itself out. We, like others, wonder to what extent the government allowed the Massacre to continue. We seem to see the hand of the Spanish in this.

    On October 20, 1820, Governor Folgueras did release a statement: “…to the natives of the Filipinas Islands, and especially those in the district of Tondo…” He continues to lambast the natives for falling for pernicious rumors and lies, perpetuated to inflame passions and cause riots. Folgueras even goes to say that the mountain Negritos or the Moros of Jolo would never have entertained such folly. But for all the thunder, there seems to be little action. Even as he reminds that the traders have brought prosperity to the Islands, Folgueras remains silent with communicative action. As  yet, not a single arrest has been made or a single indemnification paid.

    In all the tally counts over eighty Chinese dead, eleven English reported, and a number of Frenchmen as well. The damage to property has not been counted, but many homes were looted and destroyed. This is on top of the death by the epidemic.


    The colony is trying to heal; return to the way it was before. But that might very well be a foolish dream. There is little to feel for the Massacre than shame and regret. Yet, we cannot lose sight of the thousands untold Filipinos who died because of cholera. While some foreign elements are threatening never to return to Manilla again, we can already seen them venturing back. They are compelled by economic interests and the reach of the great trading companies that have for so long coveted the natural resources of the Islands.

    Even if Tondo and Manila now seem physically almost recovered, the xenophobia that seems extant among certain populations, even if only expressed in a moment of extreme duress, must be addressed. The unknown is always frightening, and Manila is becoming unknown and unknowable, even to those who have lived here all their lives. The Spanish government must be more proactive. The years of sitting in the Palacio, with little mind to what is happening in the city and its surrounding environs, is at an end. The government must start reaching out to the people; before they reach out for the government.

    For within the Islands is festering a distrust of foreign elements, one that can only be counter-acted with empowerment and renewed understanding. I wonder if that connects to our recent history with the British invasion, or if it is more a product of the rapidity with which Manilla has changed in the last few decades. Either way, the natives are beginning to assert themselves and I suspect that a certain sense of discontentment with the actions of the government and the management of the colony are being expressed. While certain British and Russian gentlemen link the unrest to recent moves to expand freedoms for the natives, I believe it far more likely that it is a result of a continuing lack of representation in the affairs of government. Instead of pulling back on the expansion of freedoms and rights, we must forge ahead. We cannot continue to allow our government to be dictated to by self-interested international elements. The welfare of the colony and its people must take precedence. That does not mean barring foreigners from entering our land. Far from it! Their trade, capital, and expertise are valuable commodities in the drive to develop the Philippines. But the inhabitants of this land must be partners, they must also be developed and not exploited. That is the cry being raised by certain creoles like Luis Rodriguez Varela. Of course, for his troubles, he found exile. But his ideas may very well be true.

    Manilla is licking her wounds inflicted during the Epidemic and the Massacre. Physically we were hurt, but our communal psyche has also been severely damaged. That is something from which we must recover. As a people, we know the pitiful depths to which we can sink. But, the city is resilient, as our near history has proven. We must take note though that a sense of restiveness is beginning to spread. The Spanish government should well consider what would happen if the passions of the natives were turned against them. That is a battle in which the hijos del pais, following in the example of their Mexican brethren, could well join. The city is changing; we as a people are changing. And while we are bowed by the lingering aftershocks of disease and violence, it is not a state that will remain for long.

    Manila always recovers.


  6. February Bloody February

    Nick Joaquin once mused that the dominant hue of fin de siecle was red. Red for passion, patriotism/nationalism (Love in other words) and blood. The blood of martyrs and men who sacrificed all for Filipinas. For him, the idea of fin de siecle (so connected to decadence in Paris) in the Philippines was truly passion and…loss.

    February 1899 saw the start of the Philippine-American War (War mind…not insurrection). A war that would see at a minimum 200,000 Filipino civilians dead, along with 20,000 Filipino combatants (not to mention the loss of life on the American side). What started out with a $20 million ‘purchase’ from Spain of an colony battling for its independence, became a long drawn war between a new colonial power and a nominally free nation; a war that would end up costing the United States more in life and money than the Spanish-American ‘War’.

    The first shots of the Philippine-American War were fired on February 4, 1899; with the Battle for Manila raging from the 4th to the 5th. What came next was a long-drawn out and bloody affair that lasted for years in the provinces (you know, because they were organized, under Aguinaldo and the Philippine Republics accepted leadership); and did not end with the capture of Aguinaldo in 1902. The resistance devolved from there, lasting into the 1910s, even in the 1920s in some places. They lasted in the form of guerilla warfare. We forget, but the Mindanao resistance was some of the fiercest around (the US army had to adopt the single action Colt 45 because of the much needed stopping power to halt tribesmen). And let’s not forget the lengths that the US army went to quell organized and armed resistance: water torture, starvation, slash and burn techniques, mass murder and ultimately targeting civilian population centers to dissuade support of their countrymen. What started in February with the first Battle for Manila ended with hundreds of thousands of Filipinos dead, tortured and damaged. Resistance did not really relent in the country side though, even after formal hostilities ended and the Philippines was under US control. Pockets of religious-based and millennial (millenarianist) resistance were found well into the American era.

    1945 saw the start of the 2nd Battle for Manila, this time though the US was coming to the rescue of their abandoned territory. For three years the Japanese had brutally occupied the Philippines; to the toll of approximately one million deaths throughout the country. Cities were decimated, and while it has become popular to blame the US retaking of places like Manila for all destruction that was found, upon review it appears that much of the damage pre-dated US military moves. Cities in the South found themselves brutally overtaken by ‘benevolent’ Japanese forces. In a pathetic connection to the Philippine-American War, an aged General Ricarte acting as something of a show pony for the Japanese. A way to say: "Look we’re liberating you from foreign influence!" The exchange of one colonial power with a brutal occupying power is not liberation.

    What came next, from February 3 to March 4 is one of the bloodiest episodes of urban fighting in the Pacific Theater, and World War II. More damage was done and more people were killed than almost any city. Our losses in life and property rivaled those found in Warsaw, Tokyo and even Hiroshima.

    Over 100,000 Filipino civilians murdered, brutally. It was not by bombs falling, but at the hands of angry and scared Japanese soldiers; soldiers who believed in the rightness of their cause and the indestructibility of their nation. Faced with the specter of defeat the took out their aggressions in February on a trapped Philippine population. The stories are not well known, but they are there to be found. Whole families murdered, babies speared for sport, women raped on the streets. And homes set on fire with people trapped inside; only to be shot when they tried to flee death by burning. By the end of February, the Pearl of the Orient was no more. And a shell-shocked and decimated people who, aside from a select few disreputable collaborators, had never given up and never stopped fighting, were free. There was something to save, to rescue, because Filipinos never gave up.

    Fast forward to 1986, our country found itself again under a repressive regime fighting for freedom. This time though it was not a foreign colonial power, but our own. Lead by a man and his wife who sold themselves as saviors of a country, instead becoming one of the most corrupt duos in human history. The blood spilled though was not to be found in February 1986. That came before, that came during over a decade of systematic dismantling of democratic structures; of plundering and theft; of salvaging and kidnappings and outright government-sanctioned murder and terrorism.

    In February 1986, we saw something the world had never seen before: A people rising up, peacefully, powerfully and undeniably to retake their independence. That was People Power in it’s purest sense. No violence, no desecration and destruction, looting or thievery in the streets. A people took back what was rightfully theirs. Millions of Filipinos were in the streets. And all the failures that have come since, all the backsliding, compromises and self-inflicted wounds, cannot obscure that one seminal moment. No matter how much we’ve tried. In 1986, People Power resonated throughout the world. And there was…hope and love in the streets and throughout the country that day.

    The power of February is found in the Filipinos love of country. This is truly the month of patriotism, of nationalism, of love of Filipinas. In 1899 we went to war for our independence; in 1945 we survived and fought an occupying force; and in 1986 we peacefully took back what was ours. There is a redemptive power to be found in love.

    February is a month of sacrifice, heartache, pain, love, and resistance in our history. One day, we’ll harness that spirit to rebuild our country. One day soon, I pray.

    In the meantime, it’s time to reflect on what came before, what we continue to love, and what we can do for Filipinas tomorrow.


  7. The Forgotten Colonizer

    When we think of colonialism we think of, let’s be honest, just the Spanish. It’s to be expected; it lasted almost 300 years. And they’ve always been painted as the colonial overlords of the Philippines. We naturally forget about the American period, except in generalities, since it usually is glossed over. Unsurprisingly as well, the Spanish period in its actualities is little known. But, there is another colonizer, another colonial entity, that predated the Spanish. No it’s not the Dutch, the Chinese, the British or the Japanese. If, as Nick Joaquin says, Catholicism is the engine behind the formation of the Philippines, then Islam was the colonial engine that was supplanted. The Philippines was colonized under the Cross, but it was the johnny come lately to the religious colonial game. Islam predated Catholicism by decades. And it’s something we don’t really consider when thinking about colonial entities in our history. Civilization was carried throughout the Islands on the wings of prayers.

    I remember hearing someone arguing that Intramuros should be razed down and the fort of Rajah Sulaiman built in it’s place. Since, you know, that was originally here and thus more authentically ‘Filipino’. You’ll find this type of conceit floating around quite often: To get to the ‘original’ Filipino you have to peel away the layers of Catholicism and Spanish influence; they say that what existed prior to the coming of Spain is authentic. Yet, if that were the case, what you uncover is just another layer of colonialism. Though this time Islamic. I though tend to follow Joaquin and Roces: Even if you unmask the Filipino to get to the authentic, what you find remains the same. What is ‘Filipino’ is a reflection of the process of acculturation. Almost all culture is begged, borrowed, stolen and influenced in some way or another by outside influences. It’s the way of the world.

    There are still some historians who say that what is authentic is what existed in 1520, prior to the coming of the Spanish. Or at least that is the ‘Filipinos’ we should strive to recreate. They carry that ideological thread started by some of the Propagandists and enhanced by American historians. That Spain was the interloper, Spain was misguided and Spain supplanted Eden. Well, if Eden was another colonial entity and only in existence for a few decades then have at it.

    To use a sensationalist example (forgive me) to illustrate a point I’ll return to Intramuros. Manila prior to the coming of the Philippines did exist in some form, mainly recognizable as a ‘datuship’, not a kingdom as some like to say (thanks to a friend for making me reconsider this). However, Manila as an entrepot likely only dated to 1500. At that point, the royal family in Borneo married off one of their sons into the a leading family from the area, establishing a toehold. Maynila was in fact a Bornean trading post. If the true ‘Filipino’ is as they say who existed in 1520, then basically we find another ‘victim’ of colonialism. Well drat, that’s no fun at all. Unless we are arguing that whichever colonial influence arrived in the Philippines first had dibs. 

    In the zeal to craft the perception that there were kingdoms in existence prior to the Spanish some of our historians have ignored elements of foreign influence. What we had though were not kingdoms, they were more along the line of datuships; and only existed in areas where external influence was seen (for example, trading areas where ‘rajahs’ held sway). This idea of the Philippines as untouched and pristine falls apart in the face of historical reality. More to the point, the idea that the authentic ‘Filipino’ is one shorn of external influence (ie colonialism). If that were the case then Sulayman, Humabon and Lapulapu were not authentic or original either.

    The example of Maynila and the intermarriage of a Bornean royal prince with a ‘ruling’ family is by no means unique in the Islands. Scott rather well points out,

    The chiefdom of Manila, located in the present Intramuros district, was probably founded as a Bornean trading colony…with a royal prince marrying into the local ruling family. This was a common practice by which Islam spread throughout insular Southeast Asia: the first sultan of Sulu was the son-in-law of a Sumatran prince, and the sultanate of Maguindanao was founded by a scion of the Malaccan royal family. Chinese records list Mindoro (Ma-i) as a dependency of Brunei in the fourteenth century…

    Scott, Barangay [emphasis mine]

    The nature of the Philippines prior to the coming of the Spanish was complex, outlying regions with trading areas had some nominal foreign influence. While the highlands and more isolated regions saw some protection of indigenous tribal culture. Meaning, as always, that there is no simple definition of what was the dominant ‘identity’ and culture in the archipelago.

    Islamic influence in the Philippines predates Spanish incursions into the archipelago. In many ways, we only note that they came first, but we haven’t done much to study its influence in the Islands. The fact is, Islamic and foreign trade influence was relatively limited, only apparent in certain areas. The process that began with the introduction of Islam and trade accelerated under Spain. Spain continued that process of opening up the Islands to additional external influence (both Asian and European alike) and consolidating territorial rule. 

  8. Stuff from my library.

    Whatever grave doubts one may have as to colonial extension on the part of America, we have gone too far, either by design or chance, to recede. It cannot be denied that we owe it as a duty to the natives and to humanity that the islands should not be restored to Spain (even if they were they could not be held for a year). Any division of them is absolutely impracticable. This would induce constant friction, and the ruin of Manila…One owner must hold the whole country and prescribe uniform duties and government…

    With strength, firmness, justice, and fair dealing, we can do anything with the native, and make a happy and prosperous country beyond any present expectations.

    Harper’s Pictorial History of the War with Spain - 1899

    Oh right, self-government and all that (you know what we thought they were going to support):

    All these accomplishments do not argue greatness, but they do show that they are something more than ignorant and brutal savages. I do not mean to ascribe to them all the virtues - they may be liars and thieves, it is a wonder they are not worse after the environmental and example of centuries - but to my mind they are the best of any barbaric and uncivilized race.

    Awwww…ain’t you sweet.


  9. "Beyond the economic importance of Manila, the city was a culturally vibrant melting pot, a place whose social and cultural complexity would only increase with the introduction of Americana. It was an urban center boiling over with indio (native), Chinese, hints of Japanese and other ‘Asian’ influences, co-existing with Basque, Spanish, British and French influences, to form a flavor that was the foundation of “Filipino”. Manila in 1900 hinted at what the Philippines could have become, what it still could be: a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural global entrepot."
    — Excerpt from the book

  10. "I, like most residents, maneuver around the city without a mental aerial map (without, even, a sense of North, South, East, and West); instead, I get around with images of seriality, that is, routes that I can trace by imagining the flow of adjoining objects on particular pathways. This is the kind of fluency one develops in a congested, view-constricted space like Manila. One might call it imaginary urban tunneling, except that all the tunnels are above ground. And when one moves through this saturated space, submerged in the inundation of people and matter, it is like swimming underwater in a shallow metropolitan sea."
    — Nefertiti Xina M. Tadiar, Manila’s New Metropolitan Form