Demolition and Dying

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By Evangeline Murillo

Tea For Two

Thursday, August 28, 2014


THE usual route to school passes by a residential house and a bar side by side. They must have the same owners? Recently, the house showed some changes, like a renovation or refurbishing. A day ago, the house was being torn apart, beam by beam, post by post. Surprisingly, the bar above it was being disassembled too, wood, nails, posts and all. Today, I see one last remnant of the bar...a steel spiral staircase climbing to nowhere.

I remember the Winchester house in the USA continuously being built by the widow of the gun magnate... stairs leading to blank walls, doors that don’t open but construction goes on because she follows a seer’s advice of continuously building to prevent the evil of the guns created by her family from bouncing back into their lives. Demolition. Dying, piece by piece.

A sad sight is the tearing down of old houses one has known all his life. There are many buildings in Baguio that have been demolished and later replaced by modern structures and other constructions, just like dying, then a rebirth. Some structures built on the same site become more functional when replaced. The replacements become bigger and better equipped. For other infrastructures, they simply are created and built, then taken apart and get erased from the face of the world. This is like dying...seems like dying. Does the body go out of function part by part till there is no life left? Or is one enormous bang brought on by a giant steel ball for demolition? Then, quiet, no more.

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SM now takes the place of old Pines Hotel. The lingering nostalgia is still felt by Baguio born and grown residents. The mall today is huge and bright, and the boutiques offer much more to buy, but the character of the old, the rustic and the historical...these will linger and embed in people’s memories. Will they be gone too someday?

The Pines Hotel on Luneta Hill was a sight to behold. The semi old Baguio meant the Sunshine bus at Pines Hotel running daily, straight to Manila, and the hotel teemed with children in the swimming pool on holidays. The buffet lunches were good, the live shows were good, and the piano keys under Valerie were great too. But that was not really old, old Baguio. It was just a continuation of what once had been.

The Center Mall now stands on the burned area where old buildings were. Some sold jewellery, others were into the liquor business, and still others had a conglomeration of odds and ends from books to toiletries to hardware materials. How time changes things, places and people. On Session Rd. was Cafe Amapola built much later, where clients could sip their drinks while seated on mats. The food was great too but the earthquake did much to erase its existence from the earth. And yes, the Old Pagoda shop at the De Guia Bldg. Remember the Chinese lady who knew how to tell fortunes and who did fung shui too? The things she sold...figurines of animals, silver and gold jewellery, home decor etc. But her presence, that was part of semi old Baguio. Another Chinese couple had a restaurant at the corner of Assumption Rd. and Session Rd. where now stands the different educational supplies, a bank, etc. They used to sell champuy, dikiam, bottles of soft drinks and snacks while one sat on old tables and "batibot" chairs. Life is fast, changes are realilties. Rebirth is possible but, living then dying...this is a sad story as ever. A friend lay lifeless in the coffin. A demolition job, then dying. Is there more to life than this? Bagiuio, never get demolished, never die, please? I love you.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 29, 2014.

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