A friend was overdramatically distraught when the Imperial Theater was torn down to make way for Shopwise. Along with the dilapidated theater, the dingy bowling alley, the bakery somewhere in between, and the crumbling ice cream parlor literally crumbled, too. The old Regional Trial Court also disappeared. I have to admit, it also gave me quite a shock every time I passed by the demolition site. It definitely was not a refreshing sight. It was all about being sentimental, that time. A landmark went flat in days.
Suddenly, my past life flashed before my eyes.
I used to go to the bowling alley when I was younger. I spent a fair deal of time lofting balls, and occasionally, getting lucky strikes. I remember the boys behind the wall fussing about the pins after each turn, then sending the balls back across on the ramp in between lanes. Ice cream sundaes followed the games. As for the theater, I only got to hear stories. My nannies would spend their days off with their friends to see whatever’s playing in the movie house. They get more than their money’s worth since the theater showed two movies back to back. The infamous bed bugs that inhabited the theater seats added humor to their stories. But a long time ago, when life was slow, this was entertainment at its finest.
A lot of locals felt sorry when the historical cinema was demolished. The establishments were more than landmarks. They also made their mark in the souls of the people they welcomed through their open doors. It would be funny telling a jeepney driver, “Mama, isang Shopwise,” when we’re used to “Imperyal po, isa lang”. The old cinema used to carry an air of charm. Familiarity is comforting. Do we feel bad about these buildings? Obviously, though, what really got to us is change.
I am pretty much fond of old things. But saying goodbye to the Imperial Theater and the bowling alley was easy. They stood there, useless and abandoned for a long time. The RTC was appalling, I wouldn’t have cared less. These white elephants were already threatening. They could collapse with age and decay. They stood on prime lots, their existence wasting the financial potential of the area. The charm long gone.
I am a sentimental fool. I pretty much preferred the theater being restored and reopened. It would have a sweet appeal. Just like those kept maintained in other countries. A good ol’ ice cream parlor would be a nice place to take our kids on Friday nights, right? But the thing is, they are just buildings. Cut the melodrama over them. If we cared so much for our city, why don’t we look a little further? How about Hinulugang Taktak? How about the White Cross? Who goes there now? What about the businesses that closed down recently? And I’m sure every one misses the vast red lands of our city. It would be a nicer thought if the people of Antipolo took care of the theater as well as our well-loved waterfalls. It would have been majestic if the beauty and charm of our city went hand in hand with modernization. Unfortunately, modernization is doing a part to ruin what was once a thing of splendor.
Maybe, the fast-paced lifestyle we now live has caused us to be apathetic. Do we really care about the city to have the right to whine about the changes? Are we doing something to stop the congestion and the pollution? Do we just sit there and wonder where the creek went and why the street gets flooded? Do we stop and check out the merchandise in that tiny store? Maybe, we should stop and think about what Antipolo really is to us. Or are our complaints superficial?
If change happens, it is because we allow it to. Inevitable as it may seem, we play a major role in it. We should welcome changes if they are beneficial. If it means more jobs, more opportunities, and if these provide comfort welcome them with open arms. If it means bulldozing eyesores such as dingy shanties to make roads wider and the view clearer, accept them. The only time we should stop change is when it becomes destructive. But looking around us, it seems that we chose the latter. We are responsible for the early demise of what we once hold dear. What should we do?
Ironically, the last time I saw this friend of mine, it was in the vegetable section of Shopwise.