Rediscovering my neighborhood
I grew up in Villamor Air Base, a military camp located beside the NAIA-3 terminal. To the outsider, it was a fortress of the nation's fighter jets, but to me it was an oasis within Megamanila's growing patches of concrete. Vehicular traffic was never a problem. Before the Skyway ramp was built, there was the picturesque tree-lined thoroughfare of Sales St. And before there was the Resorts World Manila complex, there were clusters of post-war squadrons, and Newport Drive was called Manlunas St, bridging the officers' row and the airmen's village.
As I grew up, the gentrification of my neighborhood seemed quite inevitable. Like most, I was ambivalent about the changes happening while growing up. I was not resistant to change, but I was reluctant to explore the new neighborhood. Like most, I find it hard to leave my comfort zone, but I also know that staying there means losing a sense of wonder.
You can imagine what a break from the past Resorts World Manila represented to me. The first few visits there were tentative, as if I were visiting a relative I could barely recall and have lost touch with over the years. I visited Newport Mall for the first time more than a year after it opened. I realized that my hesitation to explore came from my attachment to the Villamor I knew.
Then I was literally pushed in with an offer for a "staycation" at Maxims Hotel. Equipped with my feeble sense of adventure, I took on the job. After all, my definition of an epic weekend involves long swims and lots of alone time.
There is a steely Oriental elegance to Maxims, from the opulent statues in the lobby to the recurring patterns and accents of scarlet and gold from carpet to wall. Maxims exudes a powerful presence both in facade and interior, reflecting its primary set of clientele -- jetsetting cosmopolitan executives who know their worth.
I stayed in a deluxe suite which was very conducive for both work and relaxation. Butler service came with a touchpad tablet, WiFi connectivity was fast, allowing me to shoot out and receive a few emails with nary a hitch. Phone signal was a little erratic, although it might be a blessing in disguise for one who wishes to disengage for the meantime.
Prior to settling in, I had a seven-course dinner at Impressions, a fancy place a few floors down, right across the gaming high-rollers’ Genting Club. I haven’t eaten meat in quite a while, so having a bit of seafood and poultry was quite an adventure! I especially enjoyed the crispy soft boiled egg and marinated scallops with watercress in cauliflower cream. The menu was prepared by their prized chef, and would make for a great itinerary for a date.
Stuffed from my meal, I walked around the casino area, living vicariously through the wagering lot. I wasn’t feeling lucky, and I like my risks very calculated, so I never have been particularly inclined to wager for the thrill of it and purposefully avoided the tables and slot machines. If you walk through the open areas up to the Genting Club, you will see the hierarchy of the thrill -- the plushier the seats, the higher the stakes are.
I entered the elevator after my leisurely walk and saw a man casually carrying bundles of cold, hard cash in P1000 denominations. Tried my best to stifle a gasp until I got out.
There was a lap pool at the 5th floor, with a good number of rooms opening to it. I checked in a suite in the same floor, but opted for the other side which opens to a private jacuzzi.
Lounging by the jacuzzi at night offers a spectacular view of the NAIA 3 runway. You could see the airplanes taking off, their tail lights flickering like pulsing quasars. Growing up in this neighborhood makes you immune to the noise of airplanes taking off, but looking at the seemingly mundane, everyday occurrences in your neighborhood from a different perspective can turn things around.
The new playground
Adventures don't always involve jumping off a cliff or heading off to the navel of the world. The adventure, that “epic” experience can sometimes be found right in your backyard.
I greatly value my alone time, and staycations have always done wonders for my soul. This particular staycation was, oddly enough, an adventure in itself - from eating meat to seeing loads of cold, hard cash sashaying by the gilded lifts.
I have embraced this new development in my neighborhood over the course of my stay at Maxims. Little did I know that there was a little sanctuary, a place to escape from the daunting demands of a fast-paced world. I didn’t have to go too far to experience the relaxation I have been looking for after a harrowing elections season - it was right up my alley.
So welcome to my neighborhood, friends. Let’s have that epic weekend. -- Rappler.com
Marga Deona is a military brat, born and raised in an air force base. She's part of Rappler's sales and marketing group and is back to being vegetarian after her seafood-laden seven-course meal.
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
Take discussions to the next level with Rappler PLUS — your platform for deeper insights, closer collaboration, and meaningful action.
Sign up today and access exclusive content, events, and workshops curated especially for those who crave clarity and collaboration in an intelligent, action-oriented community.
As a bonus, we’re also giving a free 1-year Booky Prime membership for the next 200 subscribers.
You can also support Rappler without a PLUS membership. Help us stay free and independent by making a donation: https://www.rappler.com/crowdfunding. Every contribution counts.