I remember the old houses in which I had the privilege to live. They had high ceilings, expansive living areas, and front lawns. They even had carports even if the owners didn’t have a car. I suppose this was standard design back in the 50’s and the 60’s, when middle class Manila had the space and the materials to spare.
It may have been in the mid-70’s when houses became more compact. Lower celings, carports that doubled as garages, and gardens that looked more like closets. I suppose this was because builders were starting to feel the economic crunch and space had become scarce.
If one walked leisurely down Buendia Avenue (as if one could) and looked at the buildings that have sprouted side by side in anachronistic order one could tell what year an edifice came to life, just by the design. Low concrete buildings squeezed in between high-rise metal buildings. Glass windows framed in aluminum on the checkered faces of steel buildings.
Some of the old buildings, rendered obsolete by today’s commercial requirements, have disappeared. Either literally torn down and ripped to its foundations or given a radical facelift (such as the Insular Life Building at the corner of Ayala Ave. and Paseo), the necessity of change and renewal has given old avenues that I knew as a child a face that still awes me even as I traverse its sidewalks today.
*Photos from lakbaypilipinas.com