Manila: Of Love and Friendship

“Love, like an art, needs more work and effort to become a masterpiece,” this was my thought while I busied myself looking at the pictures I took when I visited Manila a week ago. In the chasm of time, Manila has been a witness of my struggles in love.
"Praying for the Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran Church"

Manila confirmed my vulnerability about my feelings in the past. It had saved memories of my first boyfriend while we lit a candle in Baclaran Church praying for a fortified relationship but still ended in failure. The city also witnessed my restlessness when I learned that my 2nd boyfriend exchanged vows with a woman he barely knew for a month. Manila never got tired of bearing my heartaches for years.

Love in Manila
Like a kaleidoscope, my visit in Manila is of a different pattern this year. I no longer cry for a failed relationship I left in Cebu some years ago. Rather, it’s a triumphant cry of the woman I become – strong, resilient and independent. The wrinkles below my eyes were there for a reason. They served as a symbol of a woman who has undergone a real transformation.
"Statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz"

I knew I am grooming an “alpha” female inside me. With my wits and understanding about the world, I knew how every decision can lead me to either failure or success. After all, life is a programming language. It works in Binary – one or zero. With all or nothing orientation, I knew the risk of falling in love again. And again, Manila is a sole witness of a Love I pursued in the City of Dreams.

The Scribbles in my Heart
“Let me have those bits and pieces of you.
Let them stay in my heart; fix the jigsaw.
I do want you whole and yet, still live life your own.
This tricky fate, sometimes elusive,
parted us apart - that I can’t believe.
Though years have passed, you still linger in my heart;
and together with those happy memories.

Those gestures you did?
Dear, they left imprints.
Just as you chase the storm somewhere west;
Just I shape lives somewhere east,
This distance is the reason why we ended like this.
But as storms ended and as lives were molded,
Could we meet up somewhere and catch what time has left?”

When the 1st of February last year, 2017, peeped in, I wrote this prose when I thought fate played with me and the man whom I poured my heart out yet still ended in friendship. I looked back at the time when distance was not an issue between the two of us. I looked back at the time when I was simply his princess. Of moments when the only thing that mattered was the two of us looking at the starry skies while feeling the cold evening breeze by the beach. We were building our dreams together no matter how insane they were years back.
 "Saw these kids playing under the rain and swimming in this fountain"

Now, Manila became a witness how I struggled to be with the man I love and with the promise of not losing him again.
  
Back to Basic
Dating with someone never revived in me until I realized that I was actually dating the Manila guy. When I told him last December in Mt. Pulag that I’d be back in Manila, it was actually a promise I kept for myself.  I did a lot of promises with him years back and as the old adage says, “Promises are meant to be broken,” I never fulfilled a single promise I made with him. This time though, I meant to make each one come true.
"Walking on the bridge and looking back at the Chinatown"

So the basic of dating with the guy whose first impression of me was totally beyond the norms happened. Our approach with each other changed. I was impressed by his on-point decision and maybe, he was impressed of my reserved actions. I could no longer see the young guy I dated on full moon by the beach four years ago. Maybe, he could no longer see in me the young girl he dated while watching the fireworks display three years ago. We both became mature. We both became someone irrelevant of our previous self.

The Rain and the Umbrella
Who says the rain will stop someone’s trance to another place? Not if you have an umbrella with you.
When I received his message that he was about to meet me in Quaipo Church in that rainy Saturday morning, I started to feel younger again. It’s the same horse galloping in my heart with its stomp getting stronger and stronger as the man I laid my eyes with gets nearer and nearer to me. I was abandoned by my reserved manner when I met him at the entrance door of the Black Nazarene Church. I simply just let loose of my smile and ran to meet him with so much joy.  I became a girl again in a snap!
"Dinner at A. Venue Food Bazaar, Makati"

The rain amplified my feelings as it brought us closer with each other. The umbrella was a tool for us to be closer while walking under the rain. The sightseeing tour from Chinatown, Binondo to the Manila Cathedral was a romantic place of what was termed as a “busy city”. I just simply saw orderliness amid the chaotic capital.

I Travel to Imitate Love
Of all places I had gone to, Manila taught me a lot of things. Vulnerability will lead you to deceit. Stronger people will likely survive in a land of Dreams whose reality is there for the taking. Maybe, in a fairytale world, the Manila guy was my knight in shining armor. But then, I am not a damsel in distress nor a princess who needs a prince.  I am a Queen ready to defend her King. I saw a King in him whose decisions are just and fair. I saw a Queen in me steadfast and supportive. I know how his love molded me and how mine to him. So my travel in Manila was a symbol that I am willing to travel an extra mile to be with the man I love.
"Went to McKinley Hill for this Little Venice"
"Ended my Manila Tour at SM MOA by the Bay"

Cliché it maybe, let me end this article with Paulo Coelho’s quote in one of his books, “Love. No one can force himself to love, nor can he force another person. All you can do is look at Love, fall in love with Love, and imitate it.”

Note: A Valentine article for the first week of February. Happy Heart’s Month! 

More about Manila in these following articles:
1. Manila: Of Fate and Devotion
2. Manila: Of Food, History and Arts
3. Manila: You Gave Me Both Worlds
4. Manila and Its Architecture
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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