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A Dream City

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The treasures of Intramuros are not exhibited in the show-window; there are no show-windows. Neither are the things richest in human interest revealed unto the wise and prudent, but unto those who approach them with sympathetic hearts and understanding minds, The brusque and program style of the rapid-change American tourist is of no value for finding things in Intramuros. For be it known that things here must be hunted up and discovered. There is not a single guide in the whole Philippine Islands, and no native will admit that he knows anything, at least not the first time he is asked. To all this treasure world the common Filipino is indifferent, and it is useless to ask the simplest directions. The policemen and the secretary of the Merchants' Association are the only sources of information.

To understand Intramuros and find its charms, the pilgrim will have to enter the land of dreams and become himself an Oriental for the time. If a masterpiece of art or music must be interpreted in the spirit of its conception and execution, how much more this hoary old museum of things gathered by the hand of time. The East and the West have need to learn of each other, and he may well turn Oriental for a while, and find the key to the present confusion in the Orient. Let us make a trial.

It is not without significance that the East furnishes the victims of the poppy plant. Some tincture of the cup of Lethe has been poured into the caldron in which is brewed the mental potion of the Oriental, and the floating mists of fragrant dreams weave in and out of his vision.

The West is known by its deeds, the East by its dreams. The Anglo-Saxon lives in the concrete, the Oriental in the shadows. The American, having found a "proposition" in a field, makes haste and sells all that he has and buys that field that he may dig therein and get "results." The Oriental inhales the drowsy fumes of some far-off good that was , or is, or is to come--it little matters which--and is content.

Two great world forces have hitherto gone their own ways, each sufficient unto itself and utterly oblivious of the other. Two peoples from opposite sides of the earth have come together here in Manila, and the result is a state of confusion and commotion that dismays the visitor. Success, failure, achievement, discontent, ingratitude, great plans and petty tyranny are indiscriminately mixed together, and what sort of a "medicine" the resulting brew may produce is yet to be seen.

The average of man who comes here has all his lifetime been subject to the opinion that the universe is founded upon the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon, and that besides him there is none else. He is a saturated solution of self-confidence in the way of thinking and acting and meeting life on the big high way, and the first intimation that this side of the world is not only different, but that it knows little about him and cares less, comes as genuine surprise.

Here is a land where men are measured not by results, where life is not contained in the abundance of things that a man possesses, where something besides balance sheets and bedrock chances are the final goal, if indeed it has any final destination. And the old East is rich in that one commodity in which the new West is utterly and hopelessly bankrupt. We are millionaires in time. We may not be long on houses and lands, and every new day does not lay at our feet the opportunity of a lifetime to get in on the ground floor, but we have time and to spare; and with all their progress and power and pomp, the kings of commerce are miserable paupers pitiably begging, as they rush along, for a morsel of time in which to stop and live.

If the pilgrims is to live in the East for even a short year, it is well to begin by coming to the mountain of dreams, for the mountain will never come to the pilgrim. And with all seriousness the pilgrim needs the mountain.

Earth has no cure
For the nervous quest,
The tense unrest,
The hurrying haste of fate:
Like the soothing balm
Of the tropic palm
And the land where things can wait.

To be content with such things as we now have and to enjoy the days as they pass may after all be worth something, as well as the mad rush after the morrow's sun that never yet rose till the bubble has been pushed back another twenty-four hours.

Intramuros is a fitting capital of this land of dreams. The soldier dreams of discharge, the business man of quick shipments and low freight, the American women of fans and fascinators. The Ilustrado dreams of independence, the tao of rice and fish and the cockpit, the señorita of sorbete and the baile.

To the stern demands of modern progress Intramuros yields not a word of her tale of treasure, but to the touch of human sympathy she opens a door into a rich storehouse.

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