One of the things I like about the location of my current work is that it’s near Old Makati or Sampiro de Makati. I’m referring to the Poblacion and Bell-Air areas.
The environment in this part of Makati is different from the often fast-paced and snobbish Ayala Central Business District and Fort Bonifacio. Despite of some modern structures and high end establishments, the area still keep a sense of tranquility particularly along Nicanor Reyes Street.
Nicanor Reyes Street is formerly known as Reposo, which means to repose or rest. The place was called Plesantero or pleasant place during the Spanish times. According to Guillermo Gomez Rivera, Reposo was a place outside the pueblo or town. It was a park and a cemetery but along the road was a row of vacation houses owned by the old rich and stretched as far as the old Camino Real (now Sta. Ana) and Pasig River. Behind and along the vacation houses also were vast rice fields and a row of fire trees, brought from Spain by the Ayala and Rojas families.
It is believed that the famous Nicanor Abelardo wrote and composed the romantic song La Perla del Pasig, the Mutya ng Pasig in his rest house near the river along Reposo.
The serene environment of Reposo was conducive to gatherings of people. It was a picnic area and a favorite place for street parties and other affairs especially in May just before the beginning of the rainy season. These celebrations were complete with bands, dances, rondallas and zarzuelas. Today, the short stretch of Reposo plays host to an annual art event held usually at the later part on the month of May.
An organization called Grupo Reposo is actively working in transforming the old Reposo strip as a premiere art destination particularly for the visual, culinary and performing arts. One of their first projects is to adorn the outer walls of Manila South Cemetery with artworks by some of the leading Filipino contemporary painters.
While walking along the strip, I immediately recognized the works of Armida Francisco, Aileen Lanuza, Joey Ibay, Jose Tence Ruiz Jr., Elmer Torio, Vincent de Pio, Egai Fernandez, Hermes Alegre and Lydia Velasco.
Just across the Lydia Velasco mural is the treasure of Reposo –the Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle.
Built by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin in 1968, the design of this parish church in Bel-Air Makati is symbolic of the manner the martyr died crucified on an X-shaped cross. The butterfly shaped floor plan emanates from this cruciform.
Many other symbolic features mark the tent-like structure, including the giant chandelier over the altar which serves as a halo over the copper cross by National Artist for Visual Art, Vicente Manansala.
While Makati will always be associated with its soaring concrete buildings, commerce, and shopping, a walk around in its old district revealed a city alive in history, culture and art.
Some of the murals on southern side of Reposo Street from the corner of Jupiter Street are gone. It was scrapped off or covered by galvanized sheet to give way to a condominium building.