Manila by night manila-by-night

There are lots of reasons why I wanted to post this photo. First, I waited more than two weeks to take it. I stayed with Sam on her first night at the condo and when I saw the view from the balcony, I swore that I’d bring a camera next time and have a ball capturing the city lights of Manila by night.

Second, I stayed in that condo for an entire day while Sam was at school and the experience was both surprising and unsettling.

Third, after last week’s torrential rains, Sam has her own stories to tell about what it’s like spending a stormy night in a high-rise building.

And last but not the least, I wanted to share what a small camera like the Canon Powershot G10 can do. Right. This photo of Manila by night wasn’t taken with my dSLR but with my compact camera using the Manual setting. Hard to believe, eh? Even the large original format of the photo is impressive.

Anyway, at the risk of starting to sound like a mouthpiece for Canon, which I’m not, I’ll let the photo serve as a testament to the wonders of that small cam called the G10. I really love it to death. Now, let me tell the stories I’ve been wanting to tell.

That day I was alone in the condo was the first time in a long time that I spent so many hours doing nothing except listen to the sounds of the city. It was a cloudy day, breezy but a bit humid. I took a shower, got hold of my book and started to read. But having spent a restless night on an unfamiliar bed, I started feeling drowsy. I thought about turning on the aircon and giving in to the sleepiness. There was no electric fan in the bedroom (Speedy would bring one later that day) and I didn’t think I would last the day without turning the aircon on. But I decided I didn’t want to fall asleep in case Sam returned for lunch. She had a three-hour lunch break that day and she might decide that three hours of hanging around the school was too boring. I stepped out on the balcony for a smoke and the breeze — no, it was more than a breeze — started whipping my hair across my face. Instead of turning on the aircon, I opened the door to the balcony and resumed reading.

Then, the unexpected happened. The sounds from far down below started to distract me. Sirens wailing (unbelievable how many sirens I heard that day), vehicles honking, the LRT roaring… I put down the book and started focusing on the sounds, trying to separate them from one another and attempting to count just how many kinds of sound there were.

I grew up in the city in a two-story house on a busy street. And I hated the noise. I hated every noise that inevitably infects a city. I hated the sound of the speeding vehicles and people shouting to get themselves heard over the din. That was one of the reasons why moving to the suburb was such a welcome idea.

But high above the city that day in the condo with the balcony door wide open, the sounds of the city didn’t hurt my ears so much. I actually found them pleasant and they started to excite me. I felt alive. Suddenly, they were no longer senseless noises. It was like listening to a pulse — a steady stream of sounds representing the lives of the people, their dreams, their agonies, their daily grind.

And I wondered if I was getting tired of my rather isolated life in the suburb. I wondered if deep inside me there was a longing to go back to the city life I grew up with. Unsettling thoughts, really. We just bought what we always said was our dream house, and there I was feeling drawn to the rhythm of city life. Because that was what all the noises amounted to — a rhythm. Separately, they might seem like discordant sounds but, taken together, they formed a rhythm that stimulated my senses like nothing ever could. It felt marvelous.

I tried to make sense of that feeling in the following days. I tried to reconcile the high I felt experiencing the rhythm twenty-eight stories from the ground with the lifestyle that city living represents. The sounds might sound great from up there but am I ready to live with the traffic and the pollution and the jostling crowds day in and day out that awaits me every time I step out of the building?

The truth is, I don’t know. I’m honest enough to admit that the city feels like a magnet these days. And even more honest to admit that my part of suburbia is fast becoming overcrowded and the once charming laid back life is turning into a thing of the past. I have no answers now and no decisions have to be made right now either.

If there is one big additional attraction, Sam said that during a storm, the howling wind twenty-eight stories from the ground is incomparable. I don’t know whether she said that in awe or in fear, but me loving the rain and the wind with so much gusto, I like what she described.

We’ll see. We will see.


  1. lemon says

    Ms. Connie, perhaps getting a place in the city for weekdays and going home to suburbia is an alternative?

    After a long day highlighted by jostling the Makati City Hall elevator crowds to reach the court, panting, I so welcome the quiet of our neighborhood.

    I once stayed at a friend’s condo in taft during a storm and the howling wind freaked me out in the same way that it excited me.

    oops. pls. delete my earlier comments.thanks.

    • Ria says

      I stay in Manila during schooldays and go home to our QC home (which is kind of in a suburb-ish area) during weekends and vacations. Going home relaxes me but staying in Manila also gives me that kick that makes me feel alive. :)

  2. lee says

    Con, laying the predicate ka ha… umamin ka na, gusto mo na ring tumira sa condo para di mahiwalay kay sam hehehe!

    seriously, those are nice pictures. parang gusto ko na palitan sony cybershot ko at parang hindi sulit ang presyo… or hindi lang siguro ako marunong gumamit =)

        • Ria says

          I moved in last weekend to another building and the view from our room there is just spectacular. I can see the bay and the lights all over Manila. Hehe the lights at the nearest casino is fun to watch LOL.

    • says

      Naku, Lee, if that condo were five times its size, I might entertain the idea. Kaso, walang functional kitchen. Maloloka ako pag di nakapag-luto at nakapag-blog hehehe

      Besides, I don’t want to cramp Sam’s style, you know? I do want her to be able to move freely without Mommy reminding her of this and that all the time.

      • says

        Nice shotConnie! Ever try taking photos during a thunderstorm? I think it was less then two weeks ago that a photo of a twister was taken somewhere in Manila Bay. I work in Mandaluyong and even at that distance I could see it reach from the clouds all the way down.

        • says

          What I’ve tried is take photos of lightnings. But timing it is so darn hard. And I’m so scared of getting the camera wet. LOL But from a high rise building through glass windows that would be a vantage point. No wet camera either.

          • Jomanette says

            Ms. Connie,

            The photo is so lovely! It reminded me of the Makati Skyline I used to adore when I was still working in a call center.

            You just probably missed the city you grew up in. After all, as you said, “part of you will always be a city girl.”

    • lemon says

      Ms. Connie, re: both girls going to college and staying in a condo and working in the city–oh no, that is one eventuality that J and I will have to think about in the future too.

      Another idea would be to get a place out of town, while maintaining a condo in the city.

    • says

      sounds like you need at least a 1 or 2-bedroom condo in the city, in addition to your Antipolo residence. if there’s a will, there’s a way. my business proposition is still open. speedy will do well on this – he’s a natural.

  3. rhodora says

    Buy a condo, Connie! That way, Sam won’t have to stay in a rented condo anymore… and Alex will be in college na rin, di ba? :D

    My daughter stayed in a condo at Ortigas for one year (she was in first year college then) and I regularly visited her and sometimes stayed for several days. I truly had a great time during those visits. Like you, I would be left alone in the unit during the day. I loved the view especially at night.

  4. d0d0ng says

    There is something about Manila that I loved the first time – its skyline and tall buildings. Never been to such place (I grew up in Mindanao and went to college in Cebu) until my first job and my first airplane ride. We always stayed late but coming out from work at night, watched the skyline and the busy street is something that took away fatigue like catching another burst of energy. Especially at payday?… anything goes. Those were the wild days. The picture provoked such wonderful memories and escapades.

    Manila hit something in me – the urge to travel to different places.

  5. says

    I always get excited of staying at high rise buildings especially at night…the city lights relaxes me to a point wherein i am so transfixed by it that all worries seems to vanish into air. :)

  6. Gigi says

    i somehow can relate… i love going “out of town” but only for small doses… 2 weeks is just right, a month is quite enough.. and anything more than that is too much! i dunno.. i suppose a city girl will always be a city girl?

  7. says

    Gigi, I think that’s just it. Part of me will always be a city girl. Always. Dunno if that makes me sad LOL

    Lemon, you know, we discussed that once as a family. Speedy thinks it’s too impractical because we’ll be maintaining two house and the expenses will be double and we might not be able to afford it. But I was thinking — what if BOTH Sam and Alex have to stay in a condo all throughout college. Then what happens when they’re both working in the city?

    Ria, I like that word — “kick.” That’s sums up the feeling wonderfully. :)