MNL by Night Photowalk: Travel Photography in the New Manila during Pandemic


Matapos ang ilang taong pagliban ay nakasama akong muli sa MNL By Night photowalk sa Binondo District, Manila noong December. (Oo, alam ko na sang buwang atrasado pero may saysay ang tsika ko! Napaka abala lang ng life schedule ng Hoshi). At kahit alam kong naka-DSLR lahat ng makakasama kong travel photographers, go pa rin ako with my phone camera. Importante sa akin ay makagala at muling ma-experience ito. Sa bagay, kinikilala ko aking sarili ko na dokumentarista at content creator kaysa sa pagiging batikang photographer, charrot! 

After several years of absence, I had the chance to join MNL by Night Photowalk again in Binondo District, Manila, last December 31. (Yeah, I know it’s a month-late post but worth sharing! Hoshi’s life schedule is so hectic). And even if I knew that I’d be with travel photographers who use DLSR, I didn’t hesitate to join and use my phone camera. Anyway, I identify myself as a documentarist and content creator rather than being a superb photographer, just kidding!  

Don Ramon Santos Building na naitayo noong 1894 ay may istilong Neoclassical Revival arkitektura ni Joan Josep Hervas Arizmendi.

Sa Escolta na kami nagkita-kita ng grupo, sa pangunguna ng supreme internet action star AXL Guinto. Iba ito kasi dati ay sa bandang Quiapo pa kami nagkita-kita. Minsan sa Casa Boix sa Hidalgo Street, pero madalas sa harap mismo ng Quiapo Church o Plaza Miranda. Iyong Escolta ay isa sa lugar na hinihintuan namin. 

Our group met in the Escolta area, which the supreme internet action star AXL Guinto led. It was different because we usually met around Quiapo Church or Plaza Miranda before. One time it’s at Casa Boix near Hidalgo Street. Escolta was just one of the stopover points. 

Travel Photographers in Manila by Night and Ikot Manila
Travel Photographers in Manila by Night + Ikot Manila
  • Escolta. Ang kakatwa, itong MNL By Night photowalk ang talagang nagpakilala sa akin sa Escolta. Napapadpad na rin ako banda rito pero mas sa Binondo Church, Manila Chinatown/ Ongpin, at Divisoria. Doon Kasi ako iginagala ng Nanay ko.

The funny thing is that it’s the MNL BY Night Photowalk reintroduced me about Escolta. I went around here before but more to the side of Binondo Church, Manila Chinatown/ Ongpin, and Divisoria. My mom used to bring me to these places. 

#ManilaColours Regina Building Burke St. side
Likurang bahagi ng Regina Building. Ang gusaling ito na ang dating ngalan ay Edificio Roxas ay naitayo noong 1915 sa arkitektura ni Felix Roxas. Noong 1934 ito ay nabili at pinalitan ng pangalang Regina Building. Sa panahong ding ito ay dinisenyuhan ito ng Beaux-Arts Style architecture ni Andres Luna de San Pedro.

Ang naaala ko noong unang makaikot ako rito ay hangang-hanga ako sa guide namin noon na si Stephen. Naipaliwanag n’ya ang ilang mahahalagang istorya ng Escolta. Ito pala ang masasabing financial district noong bago pa nagkaroon ng Makati o iba pang business districts gaya ng BGC, Ortigas, Eastwood, at iba pa. Itinuro niya sa amin ang dating headquarters ng mga kilalang korporasyon sa bansa. Isa na roon, iyong isang pinagtrabahuan ko.

In one of our first photo walks, I remember I amazed with our young guide, Stephen. He explained some important stories about Escolta, like it was the financial district before Makati came in and other CBDs such as BGC, Ortigas, Eastwood, etc. He also reintroduced to us the former headquarters of some prominent corporations in the country. One of those was my former employer.  

Patalastas

Sa pagkakaalam ko magaling ako sa Kasaysayan (asignatura), pero bakit parang wala pa ako sa klase noong itinuro o may nag-ulat tungkol sa Escolta. Ahahaha! Ang nalala ko na lang ay binanggit ito sa Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere o El Filibusterismo. 

I thought I was good in History (subject), but it seems that I was not in our class yet when Escolta was lectured or reported. Ahahaha! I only remember that it was mentioned in Noli Me Tangere or El Filibusterismo. 

Lamp Posts along Jones Bridge
Lamp Posts along Jones Bridge, Manila
  • Jones Bridge. Dito ang unang istasyon ng MNL By Night o #ManilaColours photowalk. Ang nakakatatuwa at nagdagdag sa ganda nito ay mga streetlights o lamp posts. Ang proyektong ito ay nagawa lamang noong 2019 sa pangunguna ng Manila administration ni Mayor Isko Moreno. Ang mga poste ay may iskulturang likha ng arkitektong si Jerry Acuzar, na kilala rin sa pagdisenyo ng Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar sa Bataan. Di umano ang kabuoang gastos para sa mga poste ay nagkakahalagang  Php 20M.

Jones Bridge. Here’s the first station of MNL by Night or #ManilaColours photowalk. This time, what makes Jones Bridge even more beautiful are the lamp posts. It was a project launched only in 2019, headed by the Manila Admiration of Mayor Isko Moreno. The sculptured posts were created by Architect Jerry Acuzar, a renowned designer of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan. By the way, the lamp posts project costs around PHP 20M.

view of Jones Bridge in 2013
Manila Colours Lamp Posts sa Kahabaan ng Jones Bridge
MNL by Night and Ikot Manila Photowalk participants
MNL by Night and Ikot Manila Photowalk participants

Siguro iisipin ng iba ay gastos lamang ito. Subalit, sa aking pananaw ay isa itong magandang proyekto para sa espesyal at makasaysayang lugar. Itong Jones Bridge ay ipinangalan sa Amerikanong mambabatas na si William Atkinson Jones. Siya ang may akda ng Jones Law, ang batas na nagbibigay ng kasarinlan sa lehislatibo ng Pinas mula sa impluwensya ng Estados Unidos noong 1916. Bukod sa relasyon sa kasaysayan, may benipisyo rin ang ganitong proyekto sa turismo, negosyo, transportasyon, at seguridad ng mga nagdadaan. 

Probably other people thought it was a mere expense. However, in my opinion, it is a beautiful project for a unique and historic place. Jones Bridge is named after American lawmaker William Atkinson Jones. He’s the author of Jones Law, a decree passed in 1916 that honors Philippine Legislative independence from the influence of the United States. Apart from the historical relation, the lamp posts project also benefits tourism, business, transportation, and security for pedestrians.

View of PhilPost from Jones Bridge side
  • Philippines Post Office. Mula sa Jones Bridge ay matatanaw na ang likurang bahagi ng gusaling ito na naitayo pa noong 1926. 

Philippine Post Office. From the Jones Bridge, you can already see the backside of this building built in 1926. 

Ang kakatwa ay kung may ilaw na ang Jones Bridge, yung gusali naman ng  PhilPost ang wala. Sa ilang beses ko na pagsama sa MNL by Night ay palaging may ilaw ito sa gabi. Ito rin isang rason kaya mas magandang kuhaan o gawing subject. Ang ganda ng Neoclassical architecture nito ay disenyo nina Tomas Mapua, Ralph Doane, at Pilipinong Juan Marcos de Guzman y Arellano. Pero kung nasa harapan ka na naman na mismo ng PhilPost ay bongga na ang ilaw. Samantala, kung mula sa bahagi ng Liwasang Bonifacio at naka camera phone ka lang, mainam ang malapitang kuha. 

The odd thing for me was when Jones Bridge had lights; the PhilPost had none almost. In the number of times I have joined in the photowalk, the building is always lit in the evening. It’s also the reason why it’s picture-worthy. Its Neoclassical architecture is designed by Tomas Mapua, Ralph Doane, and Filipino Juan Marcos de Guzman. But if you go in the front side, the PhilPost’s lights are impressive. Meanwhile, if you are in Bonifacio Square and using a camera phone, it’s better to go closer to Philpost.   

MNL By Night Philippine Post Office
See the beauty of nature? Even you have no advanced knowhow in photography or superb camera…

Nga pala, nakapasok na ako sa isang bahagi ng gusaling ito noong sumama ako sa Postal Heritage Walking Tour. May kalumaan na talaga sa loob pero puwede pa namang pagdausan ng pagtitipon.

Noong MNL By Night, ang tumatakbo sa isip ko habang kumukuha ng litrato ay kwentong katatakutan sa KMJS. Mayroon daw nagpakita ritong mga espiritu na namuhay mula ng pa noong World War II ayon sa ilang empleyado. At kung babalikan ang kasaysayan, isa ito sa nawasak sa kasagsagan ng Labanan sa Maynila

By the way, I’ve already entered to a part of the building when I joined the Postal Heritage Walking Tour. The interiors were old, but the rooms can still be used as a venue for a simple event. During the MNL By Night, what was going through my head were the feature horror stories of KMJS about it. According to some employees, some ghosts from World War II are showing up here. And if we go back in history, the Battle of Manila ruined the building.

  • Liwasang Bonifacio. Kung may ‘di pa nagbago parang itong lugar na ito. Maraming tao ang pagala-gala o nanatili rito sa gabi kahit mga bata. Sanay naman na ako sa ganitong senaryo dahil palagi ako sa Maynila. Sa ibang banda, noong gabing yon ay nakasaksi ako ng mga namimigay ng pagkain. Nakakatuwa na kahit papaano ay naiibsan ang gutom at lungkot ng mga naroon. 

If there’s one place that hasn’t changed yet, it’s Bonifacio Square. Many people are still roaming or staying here at night, even young children. I am accustomed to this scenery since I am always in Manila. On the other hand, I witnessed that night two to three fire trucks with individuals giving food to the people here. Glad that with those food giving the underprivileged people in Liwasan got something to satisfy their hunger.

MNL By Night Bonifacio Square
MNlL By Night Photowalker meets Bikers
  • Lawton Secret Garden. Hindi ako sigurado kung may partikular na tawag sa bahaging ito, pero mukha na talaga itong parke ngayon. Dati-rati ay isa lamang itong normal na lugar na daan-daanan ng tao. Ngayon ay komportable na itong tambayan o lakaran kung papunta o galing ka sa Lagusnilad na kilala ring Manila City Hall Underpass. 

I am not sure if it had a particular name before, but it’s every inch a park today. In the past, it was only a regular place where people could pass through. Now you can comfortably stay or walk here if you are going to or coming from Lagusnilad, a.k.a Manila City Hall Underpass. 

Photowalkers taking photos of Secret Garden from Liwasang Bonifacio side
View pfg Bonifacio square from Lawton Secret Garden side
Lawton Secret Garden
  • Metropolitan Theater. Kahit sandali, sumaglit din kami sa harap ng teatrong ito na nasa Lawton. At ikinakatuwa ko ang bagong sigla nito na ngayon ay may ilaw, guwardya at parol pa. Binabati ko ang NCCA na bumili nito para muling buhayin, pagandahin, at buksan para sa pagtatanghal. 

Even if it was quick, our group also went in front of this theater in the Lawton area. And I appreciated that this has new lively vibe with matching lights, guards, and Christmas lanterns. I commend NCCA for buying this cultural heritage to revive, beautify, and open it again to be a show venue. 

Si Juan M. Arellano rin ang architect sa likod ng Art Deco style ng Metropolitan theater, habang ang Italyanong si Francescano Ricardo Monti ang lumikha ng facade. Nga pala, sa pamamagitan ng postal heritage tour ko rin napasok ang Metropolitan Theater noong wala pa ito sa pamamahala ng NCCA. Noong panahon na ‘yon ay makikita rito ang kalunos-lunos nitong kondisyon. Para itong abandonadong gusali talaga na puwede nang gibain.

Juan M. Arellano is also the architect behind the art deco design of this theater, while the Italian Fracescano Ricardo Monti created its facade. By the way, it was also through the Postal Heritage Tour that gave me a chance to enter Metropolitan Theater when it’s not yet under NCCA management. During that time, you would see how pitiful its condition is. It’s really like an abandoned building ready to be demolished.  

Metropolitan Theater in 2013
  • Bonifacio and the Katipunan Revolution Shrine. Isa pang kapuring-puring pagbabago sa Manila ay ang shrine na ito. Totoo yong sinabi noon ni Manila Mayor Isko Moreno sa isang video n’ya na madumi at makalat sa paligid nito. Pero ngayon ay malinis, maaliwalas at magandang kunan ng mga litratro. Nakapagtataka nga na kung ano pa yung malapit sa City Hall ay iyon pa ang di napapansin ng mga nakaraang administrasyon ng lungsod. Hindi ko naman nilalahat, siempre.

Another praiseworthy change in Manila is this modification done in this shrine. It is true when Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said that it’s messy and unpleasant before in his video streaming. But now it’s clean, pleasing, and good for photography. It’s interesting that of all places, this shrine is so close to city hall and yet mismanaged before. Of course, I am not generalizing all former administrations that did their part. 

view of Manila City Hall Clock Tower

Dito ko rin tinapos ang aking pagsama sa photowalk. Tumuloy na ang grupo sa SM Manila para maghapunan. Sa pagkakaalam ko ay tumuloy pa sila sa Intramuros at Luneta. Nag-alala rin akong walang masakyan pauwi pagpatak ng ika-siyam ng gabi.

Hanggang sa susunod na photowalk o Travel and photography!

It’s also where I ended my photowalk. The group went to SM Manila and would continue the photowalk around Intramuros and Luneta. I wished to continue the journey

but I was worried that I would have a hard time commuting after 9 pm… So there, until the next photowalk or travel photography!  



About Hitokirihoshi

Slasher Star: passionate Content Creator, grade 1 Digital Marketer, on-the-go Filipina, progressive Technopreneur, frugal Traveler, nurtured Cinephile, Music lover, abstract Crafter, Digital Nomad, Millennial Baby, Multipotentialite, and Yuccie?

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