Manila! Born and raised…

I was born and raised in Manila.

Outskirt of Intramuros

The old Manila was bustling and fast-paced, even by today's standards. There were just less people!

It was busy, thriving, bustling.  There were jeepneys galore — not really the type we now know about, but simple, no-nonsense jeepneys generally rust-colored or green.

The first home I remember was in Santa Mesa — more precisely, Manga Avenue.  We lived in the backhouse of my lola’s “out of town” estate — she lived in Azcarraga but for some reason kept an empty house in Manga Avenue.

I remember looking out from the second story windows into the large, park-like garden of Ramon Magsaysay’s home.  He even kept three deer there, and they munched away at the trees the whole day.

My first playmate was Jackie Guggenheim, son of the German ambassador, who lived a few houses down.  A few more houses down lived Dr. Meyer, the family doctor.

Manila old taxi

Taxis in Manila then used American cars (there was nothing else!). Common were the Studebakers and Fords.

To me, it was a treat to take a taxicab, but I only got to ride in taxis when it rained.  There were no floods in Manila that I can remember.

Trains still ran under the Santa Mesa bridge (I suppose today you would call it an “overpass”).  At the foot of the bridge was Pacific Sporting Goods, where my Dad, my brother Albert, and I would browse for bats, and basketballs, and other sporting goodies.  Dad knew the owner, so they would sit and chat behind the counter and Albert and I would walk up and down the aisles to see what was new.

Manila Matorco

Matorcos idled along at about 15 mph along Dewey Boulevard from Luneta to Baclaran and back. True open-air fun!

These were the days when a “pasyal” to Luneta (now Rizal Park) with dinner at Hwa Nam or Delicious Restaurant was a treat.  We would take a jeepney to Quiapo, then another to Luneta.  We’d walk along the bay, watch the sunset, eat kropeck or popcorn, and ride the Matorco.  Do you remember the Matorcos?  Those blue double-deck buses, with the upper level roofless and open-air, ran from Luneta, past the US Embassy,  to the end of Roxas Boulevard (then known as Dewey Boulevard) slightly past Baclaran.  They would make a U-turn there, and head back to Luneta, where they would turn around in front of the Manila Hotel before disembarking.

Manila Old Delicious restaurant

Delicious Restaurant in Binondo...a favorite for so many years.

We would then take another jeepney to Binondo for dinner, usually at Hwa Nam or Delicious restaurant.  I knew nothing about Chinese food then — just pancit canton, barbecued pork, and my favorite (for so many years this is all I ate at Chinese restaurants), pinsek prito.

Then Ateneo de Manila, where Albert and I were studying, moved to Loyola Heights…and we moved to St. Mary street in Cubao.

ateneo grade school chapel

We had Mass and confession every week in this chapel. This is the Chapel of the Holy Angels in Ateneo Grade School.

Those were my formative years, when I made friends I would keep for the rest of my life.  Dony Faylona, Bong Pineda, Bonggoy Manahan, Tito Tesoro, Rey Hidalgo, Boy de Borja, Arben Santos, Arps de Vera, Frankie Boquer, Sluggo Zablan, Junbo Borromeo, Yel Adiao, Lito Tagle…these and many more are guys I will remember and who will be my friends always.

After graduating from the Grade School, I moved on to the Ateneo High School.  However, I didn’t finish high school there…the family moved to Baguio, and I transferred to St. Louis University.


5 responses to “Manila! Born and raised…

  1. I am Joseph Zablan. I had typed my Dads name in google and came across this site. He has been gone for the past 11 years and obviously his memory is always in my mind.

    It nice to know that you were good friends with him.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Joseph. I now monitor and moderate this blog because its original author, my brother Philip, passed away in December 2009. I’m glad he brought you a happy memory.

  3. Hello, Albert. The “ber” months are almost here and, somehow, my thoughts stray to October, the month of Our Blessed Mother Mary, and the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels (Oct 2) — which happens to be Philip’s birthday. I revisited this site because I remembered my dear friend, whom I miss. God bless and take care of you all. — Rey Hidalgo

    • Hello, Rey — Here’s Albert’s reply, in case you aren’t subscribed to Philip’s blog. — Louie

      Thanks, Rey. Philip’s birthday was always a school holiday – and he never let me forget it! 🙂
      He missed the old gang from Ateneo a lot, and had wanted to go back for a visit, but just never made it.

  4. Thanks, Rey. Philip’s birthday was always a school holiday – and he never let me forget it! 😉
    He missed the old gang from Ateneo a lot, and had wanted to go back for a visit, but just never made it.

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