My late grandparents' house in the Tomas Morato area was always a fun place to go to. My grandpa -- Lolo Luis -- had this Philippine handicraft business where they'd export stuff to Japan, Europe, and America. My aunt, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, Belinda Olivares-Cunanan, had this antique shop in the lower level of the house that gave the house an atmosphere and ambiance out of Old Manila. And I loved it. I loved the scent -- as long as it didn't smell of molds, dead air, and yucky stuff.
My Lolo Luis was an inspiration. After World War II, they had lost all their money, but he and my Lola were able to work really hard to put my dad and all his siblings in school (the boys in Ateneo and the girls in Maryknoll). And later, he would go around the country buying raw materials for the handicrafts business even to the point of sleeping on bancas in Romblon. Talk about toughness and resiliency. He -- like all my gradfolks -- made a huge impression on me. I certainly wish I was even half the man he was.
My grandparents' have passed away and the house and the antique shop are no more. For awhile there, the house was used as a location for shoots for movies such as Sanay Wala Nang Wakas, Maaalala Mo Kaya, and many others. Distinguished thespians from Cherie Gil, Dina Bonnevie, and Christopher De Leon have shot their scenes in the old house. Although I've never been a fan of Filipino films, I made sure to watch each and every one of the films that used the house as part of its location shoots. Hahaha. I was house fan boy! Maybe that's why I enjoy contributing to Homestyle Magazine.
Even my parents' house in Industrial Valley, Marikina was used for a Sonny Parson's movie (I forget the title of this lousy flick with good reason). Now that Parsons' movie wasn't widely distributed and the only place within my immediate area was in Cubao at the old Ocean Theater along EDSA corner Aurora Boulevard. It was a shitty movie house and the movie was quadruple that. I remember wearing a baseball cap and hiding my face lest someone I know see me entering this dingy and smelly hole. Now I had to endure like an hour and twenty minutes of a crappy film just to see our house that never came out (they edited out the scene). Hahahaha. Damn. Even now when we all talk about that at home everyone makes fun of me.
But back to my grandfolks' place in the Scout area. It's not what it once was. Tomas Morato now is like restaurant row and there's like rapid development around the area. The house has some squatters for neighbors and is a huge eyesore. My brother has decided to take up residence there rather than allow it to fall into a state of disrepair. He's made some changes and cleaned up the place. It's certainly seen some better days, but it's still not bad (except for the bathroom hahahaha). And by the way... that old telephone? Yes, it works. For real.
During my other younger brother's birthday last Sunday, I took some shots of the old house. The family has been debating whether to turn the tear down the whole lot and put up a ritzy condo while the other half of the Olivares clan opposes it. Like they need the money. If ever, they should preserve the place and re-decorate it.
Whatever happens, I took some shots that will always carry a piece of me, my dear departed grandfolks, and a slice of Old Manila.