Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Coop Building’s Love Letter to the Portal West

by Karlo David.

Inday Portia, my gorgeous, gorgeous Inday Portia West. Light-bringer to my night, reflector of who I truly am. The young students pay court to your stairs of love. Whenever you play those erotic sound boxes of yours, my very foundations tremble. My façade is perpetually blushing in terracotta at the sight of your glassy beauty. Oh, will you ever learn to love this miserable Coop Building in front of you!
I am old, and you are young. Oh I am old baby, older than these bukot-bukot pedicabs. Older than these portals – older even than some of these acacias. But oh, how young I feel when I look at you! When I think that we are aligned, I imagine that my coop merchandise is like what your National Bookstore once was, or that my cafeteria is like one of your coffee shops.
But I know – alas, I know, that you will only have eyes for Dodong Hibbard. Prominent, important Hibbard, center of attention since the 1930s.
But what do you see in him, Inday Portia! His history? Ah, if you want history, baby, I have it more! Of all the buildings built by Charles Glunz, only I was called the builder’s home. Tatay Charles only saw that Dodong Hibbard as a commissioned project – one that took a particularly long time to make – while I was his special haunt, where he planned the designed of many other buildings (including that Dodong Hibbard). The Japanese allowed people to die in him, baby! They used him as a makeshift infirmary, while I was the Mission Hospital for a time before Nyor Langheim moved it to Dodong Katipuning.
You like his erudition? Hay Inday Portia, he brags about being a library once, but he was only one for a brief time, and only because Inday Cafing decided to stop being a lib and become the cafeteria. His artistic side? Dodong Gihol by the port has been a music place way before Dodong Hibbard housed the fine arts. And his style? Art Deco – ha! Baby, I’m Spanish-American bahay na bato fusion, he’s just following western trends.
Hay baby, I know. Oh I know, all too well, that you will never love me. Like this very school, you will never love me. I am Tatay Charles’ attempt to be local, Dodong Hibbard was a demonstration of the school’s wish to be Western. Just like you. I was built to blend in, the two of you designed to stand out.
Like this school you will never love me. I am far too local.
But who am I to talk? For I too have fallen in love with you, Inday Portia. I too am a fool of that xenophobia that now enamors you to Dodong Hibbard, I too am mad with desire for your youth, for your utter foreignness, for your divine incongruity with the acacias.
And I have been consistent in this attraction to the foreign, too. You are young so you do not recall, but I once had a fancy for Inday Isiu, whose Stick Style architecture was beautifully incongruent with the Boulevard haciendero mansions, until she too began to grow familiar. Inday Cafing tried to woe me from across the quadrangle, but she was far too local for me. Even after Inday North Pole donned that pawnshop and internet café of hers across the street from me, I could still not find myself to like her. It is only you, with that utter, utter, foreignness, that I now desire with such intensity.
Oh! I am trying to win you with my localness, but here I am enamored by your exotica! Why must I suffer this contradiction with my unrequited desires!
Oh, how I wish the rumors are true that they will demolish me. Never, never again would I see reflected from your glassy beauty how I will ever be local and how you will never love me. Let me die – let me die, Inday Portia! – let me die seeing myself crumble before your utter indifference.


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