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Your short quiet old men
leaned against
tired old McArthur,
vainly fanning himself
against the heat and noise
of rowdy young jeepneys
and inner city boys,
who unapologetically
rush by
in an explosion
of sound and colors.
And the Fair old lady
in her Plaza
cannot help
but sit smugly
in her faded glory,
haughtily turning her nose up
at the hurried
push-you-out-of-the-way attitude
of harsh and brash
common pedestrians,
occupying every nook and cranny,
unashamedly
flaunting their gaudy wares.
She sighed
longing
for her genteel past
of folded fans and indolent calesas.
But stone-faced Father Cruz
bade her hush,
in deference to his Saint,
and to accept this new Manila
so distant and yet
so familiar
so vibrantly dismal and yet
so kinetically alive
with her rows of lighted signs
hanging in the air
like glittering faux jewels
clashing
with centuries-old
unkempt faces
peering down
along the bent back
of wizened Escolta.

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