So a few years ago, I wrote this story set in 1896 Manila which had a Brit visiting Old Manila to check on his eccentric uncle who had added a mysterious woman to his will. This story was just another variation of the original story I’d written in 2000 back when the only options one had were a clunky Gateway desktop or an expensive Dell laptop.
Unfortunately, I lost that manuscript because I never printed it out like I did my other stories. But that version, which was set in a fictional village hours from Manila, was more out of this world than the 2013 version which I’d set in Old Manila with its esteros (canals) and grand Spanish architecture that mostly got destroyed during the bombing of Manila in WWII. As part of my research, I did the A to Z Blog Challenge in 2014 with a focus on Old Manila which got me more entrenched into that world as I wrote over 40K words.
But I had one problem.
I’m a visual type of learner. I need to see things to write about them. But even with all the research, I couldn’t “see” the Old Manila in full color, not when colored pictures didn’t exist then. My imagination could only go so far even with all the logistics of where this cigar factory or that hotel were located.
So to the disappointment of readers, I abandoned that project (right when it was getting good, too… sorry).
But then today, I found this from a post on my personal Facebook page. Someone rebuilt that part of Manila’s glorious past into a cultural and heritage center called the Las Filipinas Casas de Acúzar in Bataan, Philippines.
An aerial view of the resort which holds heritage tours and the individual buildings serve as meeting venues, hotels, and private houses to rent during one’s stay.
This bridge shows up early in my story:
As does this hotel:
With I suspect, the original of this replica:
And then a house like this where a grand dinner is held:
Another house like this below. I hear some of these homes were moved from their original location to Bataan, where this center/resort is located.
These were called esteros that would have flowed from the greater Manila Bay (which right now is filthy) and through where cascos, flat wide boats would have transported people and materials to and from the homes and using the esteros to other parts of the city.
So yup, I’m in writer’s heaven although I can’t continue this story where this story left off yet. I’ve got three more ahead of it!
Note: All photos property of Las Casas Filipinas de Acúzar