I used to sleep naked in my bed,
covers all around me
come morning, bed head
till the earth shook one day
this was no time for play
it’s certainly not fun
when you’ve come undone
So I’ve stopped sleeping naked
in my bed
though it’s not just earthquakes
that fill me with dread
there’s one more thing to add
to my list of insecurities
just one more thing -
and that’s zombies.
We’ve really only got this one home,
this I know is true
It sustains us, it nourishes us,
no matter what we do
For it gives us everything we could ever need
each and every hour
from its highest peak to its deepest trench
there’s beauty in every flower
There’s grace in every sunrise
sweet repose with every sunset,
clouds to bring us quenching rain
how can one ever forget?
With every drop of morning dew
there’s a secret to behold
if only one stops to listen
and allow earth’s beauty to unfold
So we do what we can
to care for what’s been given
It can’t ever stop -
this is the home we all live in.
Come to the banks of Pasig, oh darling of mine, Come, for the light of the day is about to fade, Come right now, only for you my banca’s waiting By the side of the quite bank underneath the leafy bamboo shade.
Excerpt from By the Banks of the Pasig River,
poem by Jose Rizal, 19th century
Rio Pasig or the Pasig River (Ilog Pasig in Filipino) was Manila’s lifeline and center of economic activity. During pre-Hispanic times, some of the prominent kingdoms of Namayan, Maynila and Tondo thrived along its banks. When the Spanish established Manila as their site of operations in the Far East, they built the walled city, Intramuros, along the river’s southern bank.
To get to and from the different districts outside of Intramuros and along the region, ferryboats were the mode of transportation. However, by the 1600′s, bridges were built to connect one district to another.
Among the well known bridges built over the Pasig River was the Puente de España (Bridge of Spain), which connected the districts of Binondo and Santa Cruz. This was the first bridge to ever cross the Pasig River and was opened in 1630, replacing the ferry service before it. Interestingly, it was built at no cost to the Spanish royal treasury, because it was built by the Chinese mestizos or sangleys to relieve themselves of the ferryboat charges.
The bridge was damaged during the 1863 earthquake and damaged again during a flood in 1914. It has been replaced by the Jones Bridge during the American Occupation.
Esteros or canals all emptied into the Pasig River from various districts and municipalities of Manila. Houses along the banks had the view of the water which no doubt fed their gardens and provided them with water for bathing.
Another geographical feature of the city of Manila is its system of esteros. These esteros were actually the Pasig river’s estuaries branching throughout the city. Through the esteros, farmers all the way from Laguna peddled their vegetables and other goods to the residents of the city who waited for the boats of these vendors to pass by the back of their homes. The products were usually tossed up to the buyers. The esteros served also as drainage, as a means to easily put out fires and to give off that cooling effect. Imagine having clean streams of water running behind your house!
Mangroves called “nilad” and bamboo plants used to grow abundantly by its banks—Pasig River was never still, as bancas, cascos, and steam boats cruised by and residents took quick afternoon dips to cool off from the tropical heat.
One of the main modes of transport along the Pasig River were the cascos. Cascos were wide flat-bottomed boats with arched roofs that transported people, livestock and cargo through the many districts found along the river. Families lived on these cascos as well.
The Pasig River of today, however, is but a memory of what it used to be. With industries cropping up along the banks of the river, and temporary dwellers lining up every space available along the esteros and the river itself, it has become so polluted that ecologists have considered it unable to sustain life.
There are ongoing programs to clean the Pasig River one estero at a time. It will take time to recover its grandeur, which American urban planner Daniel H. Burnham described in 1910 as the “Venice of the Far East,” but with hard work and education, it will happen.
The area outside of Old Manila before the Spaniards came used to be farmland, flanked by water canals because of its close proximity to the Pasig River flowing into the Manila Bay. Among the many water-based plants growing in the region was a variety of cabbage called Pistia statiotes, which the natives called kiapo. As time went on, the areas were reclaimed from the marshes and along with the areas of Binondo, San Nicolas and Ermita, the district of Quiapo was born.
Through the years, Quiapo became home to many notable entities, such as the Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel (beer!), the Spanish Royal Navy Club, and the El Renacimiento of the Katipunan movement. It came to be known as the “downtown of Manila” and here, one also found grand residential houses along the many esteros or waterways that channeled clean water for their gardens as well as provide an efficient mode of transportation via cascos.
In a time when the main modes of transportation were chiefly naval, such geographical feature made Quiapo a suitable site to establish trade and commerce, an open port and an easy entrance to the heart of Luzon.
Quiapo was and is also where one finds two grand churches – Quiapo Church and the Basilica Minore of the Black Nazarene, home to the black Jesus of Nazareth statue revered by millions of Catholics.
One of the best known streets in Quiapo is Hidalgo Street, considered in the 19th century as “the most beautiful street in Manila.” This was where many of the wealthy residents lived (outside of Intramuros) and some of their homes are still there to this day, though one, the Enriquez Mansion which was called “the most beautiful house in the islands” in 1910 was transferred to Bataan and in its place is a 10-story commercial building.
Known as the Home of the Heroes of the 1896 Revolution, the Nakpil-Bautista house was home to Julio Nakpil, musical composer of the 19th century revolutionary movement, the Katipunan and Gregoria de Jesus, organizer of the women’s corps of the Katipunan.
Quiapo not only had the most beautiful street of Manila, it also housed the loveliest park in Manila, the Plaza del Carmen, and the most spacious public market, the Mercado dela Quinta.
Quiapo was also the home to Manila’s early theaters, the only surviving 19th century theater being the Teatro Zorilla, located at the corner of Calle San Pedro and Calle Iris. Also known as Dulaang Zorilla sa Maynila, it was named after Jose Zorilla, Spanish poet and playright.
“The Teatro Zorilla…was built to serve as theatre or circus without any regard to its acoustic properties; hence only one-third of the audience could hear the dialogue. There was a permanent Spanish Comedy Company…and occasionally a troupe of strolling players, a circus, a concert, or an Italian Opera Company came to Manila to entertain the public for a few weeks.”
Quiapo today is a bustling mix of old and new, home to the Black Nazarene and also a large Muslim community in Manila, and is a place to see not just the historic homes (preserved or not), but also experience the food and shopping.
I’ve discovered a few more blogs that interest me during this month of blogging A to Z. We’re almost on the home stretch and one more week, and we should be down to Z! Q was quite a challenge for me, that’s for sure, but as soon as I usually find something to write about, I then have to stop myself from writing a novel!
Anyway, which bloggers have I discovered today so far? Well, quite a few!
If Only I Had A Time Machine
For her A to Z challenge, she tackles historical events and a few of them are my favorites in history – from the Black Plague to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb!
Storey of Stories
Keith talks about the places he’s lived or visited for his A to Z Challenge.
Dianne posts about make believe fairy tale characters for her challenge, another one of my favorite topics!
So there you have the five bloggers participating in the A to Z Challenge who have caught my interest this week! It’s amazing all the places we get to visit, people we get to meet and things we get to learn just from visiting other people’s blogs!
P is for Piña fabric, a filmy fiber stripped from the Red Spanish variety of pineapple grown outside of Old Manila. Piña fabric is well known as a lustrous, transparent cloth made from pineapple leaf fibers, which are stripped off, dried, tied together to form a continuous strand and then woven.
It is painstaking job, and not one to be relegated to machinery, as each strand of piña fiber is hand-scraped and knotted together one by one to produce a continuous strand.
“Handwoven piña cloth embroidered intricately were greatly prized then and believed to have matched, or even surpassed, the most intricate laces or other luxurious handiworks in vogue in Spain and France at the time. Piña cloth was such an important novel cloth material that in 1571, it was used to pay royal tribute or poll tax imposed on the inhabitants.
“Piña cloth weaving reached its peak of perfection in the late 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century. Piña cloth became one of the most sought after handwoven materials because it was a suitable wear to tropical climate and due to its uniqueness and beauty, it offered the most feminine and refined look in an age of elegance and romanticism. Piña cloth then was described as “one of the most beautiful fabrics of Manila . . . only used in the dress of the wealthy, being too costly for common use…”
“Philippine piña was so notable then that items like handkerchiefs, gowns and linens were considered worthy gifts for royalty. In 1862, a piña handkerchief was presented as a wedding gift to Princess Alexandra on the occasion of her marriage to Edward VII by Edward Parr, one of the moving spirits of the Manila British Community. Today, a replica of this can be found in the piña collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Other outstanding gifts to royalty and heads of state were also discovered and were said to be so well-received.
Piña cloth was one of the Manila’s major exports. It was often blended with other indigenous materials like cotton, abaca or silk to produce a soft delicate-looking fabric. When woven with silk it was called piña-silk or piña-seda. Piña fabric even found its way in the Americas, as seen in this 1855 dress made.
Among the most notable uses of the piña cloth is in the national costume, specifically for the baro or blouse which Filipino women wore, and the present-day Barong Tagalog, the national dress shirt of the Filipino male.
The shirt is translucent, silky and often accented with delicate embroidery. It is worn untucked, reminiscent of the way Indios, or the natives were supposed to be dressed during the Spanish colonial period to distinguish them from the Spaniards, mestizos and other non-natives.
Here is a look at how piña cloth is made, all by hand.