Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ermita, Once More

Manila before the Pacific War boasts of some charming boroughs, one of which is Ermita (the spanish of hermitage). But since time lavishes the opportunities for change and growth, Manila today has departed from its classic Spanish-Filipino ambience.

Bounded in the north by a vast 60-hectare area which we call the Rizal Park, which old name is Luneta or Bagumbayan (new land), in the south by Calle Herran (Pedro Gil today, in case you do not know), in the east by Taft Avenue (after William H. Taft), Ermita's landmarks have heeded the call of progress, modernization and tourism. As years (decades to be exact) passed by, Ermita has changed, and indeed it had a drastic metamorphosis.

Before, Luneta's historic claim was its ground where our national hero Jose Rizal, fell to his death, now Luneta promenaders love it for all the funning, relaxing and loving (love-making also included) it offers. This old field now includes Chinese, Japanese, and Italian gardens, a children's playground, and shady corners for the lovers (hmmmm).

Ermita was known before as a red-light district, which offered rows of night clubs, cocktail lounges, and beer joints that have catered to the wants of locals and foreigners as well as entertainment plus (you know what I mean, don't you?). After these nightspots were closed down by former mayor Alfredo Lim, nightlife in the area has dwindled. This has been picked up again with the help of the emergence of the nearby Malate district and the Roxas Boulevard Baywalk area in the nightlife scene.

Still, the splendid sunset at Manila Bay happily continues to hold Ermita's habitues spellbound to its scenic view. Hotels near it simply add a patch of grandeur to Roxas Boulevard's long stretch of sea (and hope, perhaps). Not to mention the neon lights that illuminate the bay at night.

Other than nightlife, there are a number of shops and boutiques that offer some good buys. The Supreme Court, just near the DOJ and NBI, the most frequented places by the media, making Ermita a noisy place, literally because of strikes and rallies around the corner. Sidewalk vendors add up to that, with the funny facts that they hide their products under cars to avoid detection from police raiders or even worse, under open manholes (!).

Universities and hospitals are also include in the attractions of Ermita, including the Philippine General Hospital, Manila Doctors' Hospital, Adamson University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, University of the Philippines and the Manila Science High School. The students of the schools menitioned have actually turned the nearby Robinson's Place into a bustling shopping center and rendezvous with several other coffee shops and outdoor-type cafes.

Whether the Ermita frequenters are attuned to the streets or the stars, Ermita is a place where one can go to bare his soul (pure or putrid, no matter what). Ermita is quite simply a place that hankers to be left alone.

I will be frequenting Ermita once more, second semester is about to begin.

*ang tawag kaya sa tagalog ng Ermitense (people who frequent Ermita) ay Ermitanyo?

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Arnel C. Uyaco Jr.
Sixteen Seventeen years old.
UP Manila Sophomore.
An alleged loverboy.
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