The Philippine National Museum of Fine Arts

She eyed him with curiosity. “You’re asking me to write a piece about Manila? I haven’t been there in a couple of months though.”

He laughed. “Just tell me what it’s like there.”

She looked at him doubtfully. “Well, okay.” She leaned back on the sofa they sat on and looked out the window. “Let’s see… Manila is such a melting pot of cultures and history, really. It’s home to the university belt, Chinatown, the presidential office – that’s Malacañang Palace, the Philippine General Hospital, the National Museum and Art Gallery-”

With this, she stopped and stared at him, her eyes glowing.

“The National Art Gallery! Oh, my heart.” She excitedly took out her phone and began looking over her albums. “I love the National Art Gallery.” She stopped and put a finger on her lips. “Ah, right. It’s called the National Museum of Fine Arts now. Anyway, so many paintings, sculptures, works of art! Truly magnificent treasures.” She showed him her phone and scrolled through it as she happily described each photo. He smiled patiently.

“… And this, this is Spoliarium.” He saw her pause for a bit and gaze at the photo in reverence. “It’s an old painting made in the 1880s by Filipino painter Juan Luna, but it’s still breathtaking. It’s really big, like 4 meters high and 7 meters wide. Of course, my photos can never do it justice, not with its detail, its colors, its magnificence…” She sighed. “Whenever I go to that art gallery, I always spend some time reveling in its presence.”

He grinned at her. “Well, I sure would like to see that.”

She instantly brightened. “Oh yes, I would love to take you there! We could spend a day there, then check out the renovated museum…”

She went on and on about what kind of activities she’d plan for them and what the itinerary would look like, what kind of food trips they’d go on…

And he just looked at her, reveling in her presence and enjoying her delight in reliving the Manila of her reverie.

For  J.

First written March 21, 2018.

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