So, what did you do on Valentine’s Day?
Popular choices for couples would be to go restaurants for an intimate meal, a leisurely stroll at a garden or park, a ride on a car, boat, or plane, down time at home, or escape to somewhere secluded and almost secret.
Where was I?
Kelvin told Cat and me about this lecture-tour that would be held at Quezon City on Valentine’s Day. It would be led by no less than Prof. Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua of De La Salle University (DLSU) and organized by John Ray Ramos of Proyekto. To our little circle, we know him as the man from YouTube who talked about the life and works of national hero and artist Juan Luna—particularly the “Spoliarium”.
This particular “Xiao Time Live!” was about the late great President Manuel L. Quezon and the city that bears his name, Quezon City. While we are all fans of the Heneral Luna movie and would love to see the Quezon movie, my interest bears a tinge of shame because – despite being a citizen for more than two decades – all that I know of both the president and the city doesn’t go beyond the textbooks. I was determined to learn more.
Also, the tour excited me because I would finally be able to set foot inside the Quezon Memorial Circle. You read that right: I have never been inside the garden surrounded by the Elliptical Road. I’ve only seen the wooden sentinels that watch over what online contacts refer to as the Tower of Isengard.
Going down and through the underpass was like the fog lifting. The first clear sight that greeted me at the Circle was the Valentine market that sold teddy bears, couple shirts, and roses, among other things. Once we got past them, we had a better view of the Quezon Memorial Shrine, where the Quezon Memorial Museum was.
Frankly, I thought it would be mostly yuppies and older scholars. But I was surprised that students outnumbered us. I believe some were from the University of the Philippines while most were from DLSU and accompanied by another professor, whose name I never got. A number of them were taking up Urban Anthropology.
Though our pace through the galleries was relaxed, I failed to get photos of any of the displays. There were just too many of us. And I spent a good deal of the time avoiding the students who kept talking over the lecture.
Despite the noise, I still learned so much from Prof. Xiao Chua. Here are some of them:
- Pres. Quezon was an alumni of both Colegio de San Juan de Letran and University of Santo Tomas and was a schoolmate of Emilio Jacinto, another Philippine hero
- He possessed such good looks that it was effortless for him to be a ladies’ man and to have woman troubles, specially one that had to be settled in court
- Contrary to popular belief, there is a difference between the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act and the Tydings-McDuffie Act, one that made Pres. Quezon favor the latter and lobby for it in the US
- He had so many things planned for the place that would eventually bear his name and part of it has to do with the fact that Manila has been connected to the Spaniards for too long
- His late wife, Doña Aurora Aragon, was key to Filipinas’ suffrage
Our walking tour took us out of the galleries of Quezon Memorial Museum and into the shrine itself that contained the remains of the president and his first lady. From there, we made a stop at the Quezon House then onto the Quezon City Experience (QCX), which is another museum and a green building; the structure, which was opened just last year, makes use of natural light and has left the trees in the area intact.
QCX refreshed my view about my city and its people. Not only that, it also answered my questions about the weeping angels of the shrine and the origin of the names of the many barangays or villages. And just before parting ways with Prof. Chua, he told us that we are the first batch to take this particular tour!
Discovering a newfound love and respect for my city and its namesake? Best Valentine’s yet.
For updates about tours, lectures, and other activities like “Xiao Time Live: Quezon: The Man, The City”, you could follow them on https://www.facebook.com/proyektoph.