The bustling Metro Manila metropolis is no stranger to urbanization. Every time I go home to visit from overseas I’m always on the look out whether anything has changed. Are there new buildings? Has the traffic gotten better or worse? Is yet another new mall being built? What’s the hottest new club?
It’s a city constantly under construction. Even though I’m only in my twenties, I have already witnessed how much Metro Manila has changed, for better and worse, under the guise of different leadership and foreign exposure.
As a Makati girl, I have experienced the rise and fall of Embassy Super Club under its different iterations, the influx of traffic into ‘The Fort’ as new condominiums, bars, restaurants, and offices has turned it into the central business district and the hippest place to be seen hanging out with friends after work or on the weekends.
But once upon a time, before the gated villages of Makati started to rise, Pasay was the land of rich and the 'mayaman', recalls my pops.
When he would drive us around the city as kids, instead of playing the radio in the car, he would reminisce about the good old days. Every car ride was like taking a trip back in time. Pops would make kwento about every nook and cranny in the city—a backstory that we would probably never learn in school or even make an effort to Google. These are stories that are passed down through the generations, not via the Internet, but straight from the mouths of people who actually lived through it.
Pops tells us that, back then, Pasay shared a long coastal area with Manila and Paranaque—often a site for swimming or witnessing a scenic setting sun by the bay to mark the end of the day.
With a population of about 20 million people, Pasay was peaceful, unpolluted, well lit, and decorated with trees. People took long walks in the evening because it was safe.
Before Dasmariñas and Forbes, Pasay housed a community of ungated villages and walled properties with no condominiums. The old residents of today's gated Makati villages were once residents of Pasay. Even the original Polo Club was located in Pasay.
Like the Makati and Fort Bonifacio of today, Pasay was the gateway city and a center for trade, so its development was fast. But with a heavy heart, pops says that the fast urbanization, although planned well by the colonizers, was not executed well by the local government at that time.
Now Pasay has become forgotten, barely part of the local vernacular of the Metro Manila youth. Despite the stories I’ve heard over time, even I don’t have a clear picture of what Pasay looks like now, what more of the glory days back then. I only have the ruminations of my pops to capture that moment in time. And it’s my job to help him preserve his memories by sharing it for the next generation.
But as time continues to pass by, it’s possible that the home I know today might suffer the same fate as Pasay or continue to blossom into the metropolis of tomorrow. I’ve already seen it change so much in such a short span of time. I can only trust that years from now, I too will reminisce and share about Metro Manila as I’m driving through the city with my kids.