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Thursday, June 20, 2019
BAGUIO

Catajan: Maharlika

Grapevine

IT WAS the city's first mall if you could call it that.

I remember people sitting under the “pyramid” ceiling in the hope to absorb good luck as square benches formed into a box, lined the two Egyptian typed roofs.

Now, the spot where the benches were stationed house stalls selling mostly cellular phone accessories and fake electronics.

No one thinks any good will befall them if they hung around.

The narrow escalators still don’t work and I don’t remember if they ever did but recall everyone anticipating its operations as no place in the city even had escalators at that time.

At the basement, a kiddie corner was set up along with food stalls to match. Fun rides and bump cars lured kids to Maharlika and was regarded as a treat because it was the only place that had that.

On the second and third floors were posh shops selling imported items including Fred Perry leather suede shoes, Sperry, Topsiders, Dragonfly and Tretorn were being ogled on by the penniless as it was the popular footwear for the lucky ones who had money to spare. The Jansport shop was also there with the prized backpacks which were also pelted with longing looks.

Now the shops are mostly beauty parlors manned by drag queens and transgenders who haggle even before you start speak. They ask if you want a rebond when they see your hair is curly or a perm is your straight.

Dress shops for rentals and tailoring services, the antique shop that is never really open, a derma clinic, music store and px shops selling soap and chocolates still operate but are far and in between.

The Tummy Fillers outlet has long been closed which was a favorite for burgers, baked macaroni and chilidogs.

All that has changed.

At the rooftop of Maharlika today stands a dozen small establishments, mostly bars and karaoke joints which was allowed by the management making the place look cheap and unkempt, reeking of cheap alcohol for the thirsty.

Extensions to the sidewalk, roof deck and third floors has been made turning the place into a labyrinth.

It looks horrid.

The word “Maharlika” means many things, at the time the structure was built it was a pet project by the First Lady, Imelda Marcos, who had many structures built in the city.

History says the former Philippine President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos wanted to change the name of the country to “Maharlika” and named a lot of structures and areas to the word he associated to nobility.

The late dictator attributed his [contested] war conquests to a group he said he led called “The Maharlika Unit.”

However, Etymology dictates the word “Maharlika” is derived from the Tagalog words, mahal and likha, or from the the three words “ma,” “har” and “likha,” bashing the meaning given by Marcos altogether.

The place now neither looks noble nor a loved creation.


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