Contrary to what people strongly believe, me and Malate aren’t one. This doesn’t begin to picture though how tightly intertwined the web of Malate and my life are. I am the quintessential Malate boy – born and raised, bred and buttered. Malate is as much a part of me as I am a part of Malate. This is the reality that I have to live with, whether I like it or not.
It was during the hey days of Malate, when it was the hub of socialites and artists and was considered the core of both creme and bohemia, I was born. In the telling minutes after the midnight of the 9th day of the 9th month, a mother never reached her destined hospital and decided to give birth to a son. The birthplace – Nakpil Street. O what a portent, had anyone known!
Save for the times I was away for vacation in the province or abroad, Malate is where I ate, slept, played (in more than seven ways from Sunday!), studied, splurged, laughed, wept and more importantly grown. Malate has invested in me more than I could count and more than I could extol. Malate knows me inside and out, more than I would have wanted it to.
The result of Malate knowing me inside and out is like Newton’s third law of motion. As it gets to know me, I have gotten to know and love Malate like it was meant to be. That little bakery by the fruit stand in San Andres, the nice seamstress near Adriatico, that cozy Italian date place on that road to FB Harrison. Little nuances that makes the place unique and makes the experience as ones own.
From the time when Malate was rife with streets straight from American geography (Nakpil was Vermont, Agoncillo was Kansas, Apacible was California, P.H.Lim was Indianna) I have learned to enjoy it and laud it for its free spirit and welcoming arms. Its boundaries are like the arms of the Liberty welcoming all without qualms and judgment. I always tell people to go to Malate and enjoy its appeals for themselves.
Judge not Malate for it hast and wilst not judge thee.
People say Malate has faded, that Malate has lost its splendor, that Malate is a hotbed of theives and hooligans not to mention the abundance of prostitutes. Yes, this may be true at times. But Malate is way more than what its image is. Malate is not what it looks like or how things seem. Malate is about how you make your own future. Malate is there so one can discover ones true self and to welcome diversity for everyone else.
This relationship with me and Malate was forged by the common desire for democracy and freedom of expression, to live a life worthy of la vie boheme! Nurtured by the struggle to prove its worth as its crowds ebbed and flowed and its splendor sparkled and faded. Time will come when Malate will truly be gone but my love story with it won’t end.
I am a Malate Boy and I dare anyone to take it away from me!
Make your own Malate as you let Malate make you.