I still managed to go around Dumaguete and see the sights, as well as taste their food and learn about the place. I had read up on it before I went, and I was given some tips on where to go by my online friend Zerisse, who is from Dumaguete. Still, nothing quite beats the actual experience.
On the plane again The only time I’ve been in a plane was when I went to Cebu last 2006. The experience was truly amazing, from the moment I arrived at the airport until the plane landed in Mactan. I still felt excited, as giddy as any kid who still finds wonder in something so ordinary (though I think flying is not an ordinary thing).
I was disappointed that neither Lolo Sal nor I got a window seat. The plane (we took Philippine Airlines) was a small one, with three seats at either side. I was in the middle, and Lolo had the aisle seat so he could stretch a bit. Occasionally, I’d peek over my seatmate’s shoulder to the world outside.
The weather wasn’t good when we left. It was raining really hard since the morning, and the flight had been delayed for nearly thirty minutes: first, the call to board was about ten minutes late, while the weather hindered take off for nearly 20 minutes. There were already five planes behind us and two ahead before we were cleared.
Other than that. It was a rather quiet flight. When the captain announced that we were descending, I took a look outside and was surprised that the plane was flying very low above the sea. That had me worried because my previous experience with flying had us above land at that height. Soon, the water was so close, I nearly asked my seatmate “Kuya, wala pa ba lupa?” The next thing I knew, I felt the thud of the plane’s wheels as it hit the runway. I learned then that the Dumaguete airport’s runway starts/ends at the shore of the beach. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, I read an entry in Ivan Henares’ blog about his tour around Sta. Ana, Manila with the Heritage Conservation Society. In the entry, he talks about the richness of the Sta. Ana area (he notes is as “the seat of the Kingdom of Namayan, one of three major kingdoms that dominated the area around the upper portion of the Pasig River before the arrival of Spaniards.”) and how several historical homes and buildings were being torn down to make way for malls and shopping centers.
One of the houses in danger of such fate is the Jesuit Xavier House, the home of Father James Reuter.
Built in 1859, it is one of the two houses inside the Society of Jesus compound. It served not just as the home to Jesuit priests here in the country for the past 50 years, but was also the center for the first EDSA revolution. It survived bombings, hurricanes and other natural disasters, only to be brought down by the need for profit and commercialism.
The Inquirer news article published today, March 31, says that it was the SM Group who purchased the property. Despite the denial of Fr. Jose Cecilio Magadia, provincial superior of the Jesuits in the Philippines that a deal has been reached, a representative of the SM Group said that a supermarket is being planned for the area.
What bothered me more was the part in the article that said there was a “willing seller” for the property and he didn’t bother mentioning the opposition coming from conservation groups regarding the sale. Father Reuter turns 94 this May, and has called the Xavier House his home for the last 40 years. The house is more than just an architectural treasure, but also a living testament to the history of the Philippines.
Reports say that SJ superiors have asked Fr. Reuter to move out of Xavier House and relocate to either Ateneo de Manila University or Xavier School in San Juan. The priest, however, said that he doesn’t want to go.
“Money is nothing, and this house is something,” he said. “The memorial we have in this house is worth more than money.”
Unfortunately, historical preservation doesn’t seem to be much of a concern here in the Philippines, especially for cities like Manila. Many older buildings are still in place and some programs to keep them alive are ongoing, but mostly through the initiatives of private persons and often foreigners, not the government or locals.
I understand the need for advancement and progress, but I wonder if they have ever thought of ways to achieve this without sacrificing these architectural treasures? Other countries, not just the Western ones, but even our neighbors here in Asia are able to do it, why can’t we?
In a recent episode of Bobby Chin’s World Café Asia, he said something about how our country is fast becoming a “mall culture.” I don’t think that was meant to be a joke, but a statement of a fact, to which I can’t help but agree to. I once told a friend that you can visit any province in the country and you’ll find an SM mall. Despite knowing that a mall equals establishments equals jobs, I am still saddened by the loss of what used to be where the mall(s) now stand.
Reuter said he fully understood that the SJ had run into serious financial need to sustain its operations.
“There was talk, there is talk of selling Xavier House for money. The superior apologetically said that. That to my mind will be a terrible mistake,” he said.
“It’s not that they want to sell this house, but they need money, and that’s a terrible thing. Love of money is a vice and the Jesuits don’t have that. They need money, which is a different thing,” said Reuter.
He shuddered at the thought that the house would be demolished to give way to business. “You shouldn’t sell a place like this for money,” he added, saying the money could be raised in “some other way.”
What ways could that be? Perhaps the Jesuit community could’ve done more? Perhaps the students of the Ateneo and Xavier schools could’ve banded together to help raise funds and save the Xavier house? Perhaps all of us who are concerned could reach out and help… I hope only it’s not too late.