Reports from a city after a revolution

Filipina reporter Esperanza Roma was based in Paris most her life. She reported about the events during the so called EDSA People Power Revolution. She photographed Malacanang, Luneta Hotel in Manila, and the Metropolitan Theater.

After the EDSA Revolution in Manila, I spent several months in the old city and photographed the destruction left by the people. For someone like me, who had never experienced going to a rally or a mobilization which was what my old classmates were doing throughout the dictatorship, the experience was thrilling.

It took 20 years for me the fate led back to Manila. Large parts of the town center had now been renewed but are now dishevelled. Corazon Aquino, who was temporarily the Philippines revolutionary leader, had taken over a Malacanang presidential palace which was looted and in disarray. Books, paintings, and documents were among the things gone. Just this week she has closed the palace from the public for renovation.
I took advantage of my visit to become familiar to the land of my birth. Our family migrated to South Africa when I was 7 and then further to Germany and then finally settled in Paris when I was about to go to college. Some locations of this city, had already impressed me earlier, such as the Metropolitan Theater. Its renovation was long since decided, but for some reason they had not yet taken place and it continues to exist in an almost permanent state of decaying without totally going into ruins.
As I approached the Manila Hotel, where I stayed, I saw that the tall, makeshift walls that had been built long ago to block vandals and squatters access, were still standing. I was fortunate to be able once again to photograph the inside of this fenced area.
At that time, on my first visit, I had completely overlooked the smaller victorian-era building across the park: the Luneta Hotel. Now I went in and was immediately fascinated by what I saw: a dusty chandelier, broken furniture, walls that showed 25 years of natural degredation without any human intervention. This rarely happens. The similarity between these walls and expressionist paintings that some of artist-friends have been exploring was striking. I decided to photograph them in close-ups, showing the texture of the details. Anyone who considers these photos will uncover something which is in plain view but which remains a secret because of the enormity of the subject. These walls are not just my perception or simply the expression of the vision of an artist, but are documents of a natural and ever-changing archaeology:  art that stems from the irrepressible wiles of nature upon our built heritage.



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