CCP Complex, Manila

My hotel's location at the CCP Complex, a prime real estate of reclaimed land located along Roxas Boulevard, gave me a good reason to go out early this morning and see the world that Imelda Marcos had envisioned back in her glory days during the 70's. The whole reclaimed land along Manila Bay's southern coast is about 1,500 hectares but only 88 hectares is actually designated as CCP Complex, a sprawling area that was meant to be a showcase of Philippine arts and culture.

I had an hour and a half to spend before heading out to the airport and I reckon walking around the area will also mean giving my legs some work-out after that long-haul flight from New York. Just across the street from the hotel is the Philippine International Convention Center. A blaring announcement at this early hour in the morning told me that a graduation ceremony is going to be held right there today. It's March, a graduation month indeed! Streams of people were coming towards this conference center as I walk past it, togas and black robes and garlands mixing well with the hurrying crowd.

The streets are wide and clean - a direct contrast to the claustrophobic streets of Ermita and Malate. Obviously, this was part of an ambitious master plan. Over the years, things have changed and restaurant businesses have crept in. There's a bunch of them as I walk past Aliw Theater where I remembered watching a Gary Valenciano concert 4 years ago. At this early hour of the day, I see that many Manilenos are caught by the fitness bug. In front of the CCP Theater, people were either jogging or walking. At an open area next to the Manila Yacht Club, anyone up for it can just join in the free aerobics: the blaring music makes even the odd ones in flip-flops join effortlessly. Here's to more lean and mean Manila citizens:
I did my own brisk walking this time and went straight for the crumbling Manila Film Center. What used to be the imposing columns gracing the facade is now covered with cheesy tarpaulin advertisements. How times do have changed for this supposedly center for film festivals. In front, the walls are starting to peel apart, the gray cement color more like the color of death. A group of students are doing their morning rituals of running up the inclined driveway to the center's main entrance. From a film center to a makeshift track, why not?

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