We sure looked grim and grimy. Three days and 2 nights of an almost no-sleep duel with a deadline did that. The weird tasting almond flavored coffee (I hate it!) and fast food chow (Jollibee TLC, Burger King Jr. Whooper, and Chow King Beef and Wanton Noodles in alternates) also connived. But finally, the last edits were done and INAFI’s policy paper on migration and development plus a collateral project proposal were soon emailed away. I asked Watalubs to hunt for some real food then went straight to an indulgent shower anticipating a long, uninterrupted sleep.
But that was before our Chapter Program Manager rang up to remind me of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines’ annual National Council meeting. Now I remembered why I brought along a Barong Tagalong (actually, a cross between a camisa de tsino and a Barong Tagalog I brought for my travel to Japan; I hate collars!). So off from the shower, to the barong, to the car. Real food and sleep will have to wait.
But then again, food can wait but sleep can’t so I dozed off as Watalubs drove off to Makati through the eskinitas and short cuts of his days as a taxi driver. It was almost an eternity when a jolt woke me up.
“Asan na tayo?”.
“Makati?” I can only see a narrow road flanked by rows of quaint old buildings. “Sigurado ka?” I was expecting the chic high rises and wide avenues of Ayala.
“Yes ser. Nasa Poblacion na po tayo.”
Poblacion. So Makati has one too. Then it came to me. Makati has an old church at its Old Poblacion!
“Ihinto mo sandali!” I rummaged my bag for my notebook and scanned through the well-thumbed pages and its crazy notes and annotations. There it was; boxed and scrawled in big capital letters was “Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, D.M. Rivera Street, Poblacion, Makati”.
“Heto, hanapin natin.”
Guided by my old but reliable E-Z Map Philippines Travel Atlas, we combed the streets for D.M. Rivera, counter flowing one ways, getting lost in narrower eskinitas, and going back and again. We actually passed by the church several times before finding it on top of small rise hidden and tucked among old buildings, a maze of wires, and the creeping urban jungle.
The Franciscans established the first evangelical mission in what is now Makati before turning it over to the Jesuits in 1607. Fr. Pedro de los Montes (SJ) started building what is now the Church of San Pedro and San Pablo on top of a hill called Buenavista. It was completed in 1620 and the Jesuits administered it until 1768. The church was rebuilt/reconstructed in 1920 and again in 1975. It is more popularly known as San Pedro de Makati which is shortened into San Piro or Sampiro.
And there I was in my National Council meeting regalia doing awkward contortions as I shoot the church with my just acquired Nikon D40, watched by an amused couple probably dating in the small plaza, several passersby, and an ice cream vendor. My phone rang. It was the National Council people asking where I am. I told them I got lost.
Back in the car, I instructed Watalubs to beat it fast.
“Napunta na ba kayo sa simbahan ng Las Pinas?”
“Malapit na lang dito yun ser.”
That got me thinking. On the next turn, I called the National Council and told them I am trying to find my way and I will be really late.
“Ituloy mo sa Las Pinas.”
Malapit na turned out to be a 45-minute drive but I didn’t care. It turned out to be my first attempt in fiddling with my Nikon D40 with Ken Rockwell’s “Nikon D40 User’s Guide” on hand. It was high morning and the strong white light of the glaring sun is not ideal for shooting. That got me started on exposure compensation. I went around watched by a couple of curious nuns and a group of street kids. A sexy young lady gave me a look then moved away perhaps thinking that I was shooting her, which I wish I did.
The church is probably the first stone church of Las Pinas whose construction was initiated by Fr. Diego Cerra (OAR) in 1792. It was also Father Cerra who installed the world famous bamboo organ in 1816. The church was rebuilt/reconstructed in 1829, 1863, 1880, and lately in 1975 under the supervision of Architect Francisco Manosa.
The phone rang again. It was the National Council asking me if I can make it by lunch. By then, my Barong Tagalog was drenched with sweat. Wife was also visiting my sister-in-law in Taguig. So I told them that I’m still lost and that the car overheated and that I might not be making it after all. Then off to Taguig where I had a Phad Thai lunch with wife at Oddy’s in Market! Market! .
It was a fun way to get lost.