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Sunsets December 31, 2012

Posted by Alex Sawit in Stuff in General.

By Alex Sawit

31 December 2012



Sunset on the Amalfi coast, as shown on the video screen that evening.



“You like sunsets?”

There was an unmistakable sparkle in her voice when she said those words to me. Here I was, faced with the sight of a tall, long-legged, vivacious German maiden with her long, straight, chestnut hair pinned up, standing across the cashier’s counter. Yet the first thing she asked me completely sidestepped the obvious purpose of my wine shop. I understood why. I walked behind the counter and courteously attended to her inquiry.

I glanced at what she was looking at. There, prominently displayed on the video screen close to the wall like a hanging painting, was a sunset framed by a panoramic view of day’s end. It was nothing short of spectacular. Seen from the sea cliffs of a rugged coastline, the deep-orange orb glowed like a burning ember, dipping behind the sea while setting fire to row after row of clouds in the sky above.

I told her that, yes, I like sunsets.

That was all it took for my customer, Steffi, to become one of the wine shop’s happy new friends. I learned that Steffi has been living in the Philippines for some time and that she resides most of the year in that paradise of white velvet sand and blue water called Boracay. I learned, too, how much she loves that jewel of an island she calls home and how much she is captivated by the sunsets there.

I know exactly how she feels and more. Call me a connaisseur de couché de soleil, if you please.

I’ve heard it time and again from foreigners that our country has the best sunsets on earth. Having done a bit of traveling myself, as far across the ocean to the shores of California and as far across continents to the coast of Brittany, I’ve seen enough elsewhere to make me wholeheartedly throw my support behind that belief. The most beautiful sunsets are right here in the Philippines. End of discussion.

I once worked in an office at a landmark building along Manila’s main boulevard. It was there, with those famous Manila Bay sunsets that were my daily privilege, that I tutored myself. Many aficionados feel that there are no sunsets anywhere else better than those over Manila Bay. My preferred perch was actually not several stories up in the building but on the first level outdoors. I could sit on that marble ledge, exposed to the elements with my back to the building’s columns as if safeguarded by mighty trees, my feet dangling high above the sidewalk and my face catching the salty breeze blowing from across the water. Even now, years later and with an educated taste for afternoon light, I still feel that this is the most meaningful vantage point in the whole city for enjoying a glorious sunset over the bay.

The architects who designed Ramon Magsaysay Center probably didn’t have those sunsets in mind but one could be forgiven for thinking that they did. No other building along Roxas Boulevard is more transformed by capturing light from the westward sun, which turns this iconic structure into a vivid ivory beacon visible from a great distance, standing resolutely, facing the horizon.

“A truly great structure, one that is meant to stand the tests of time, never disregards its environment,” expounds one of my favorite film characters, the architect Simon Wyler from the movie The Lake House. “A serious architect takes that into account. He knows that if he wants presence, he must consult with nature. He must be captivated by the light. Always the light. Always.”

I guess I’m an architect. Pages are my foundations; keystrokes are my construction method; words are my creations and my legacy. And whenever I consult with nature, it always rewards me as surely as the sun bequeaths itself as fire in my blood.

No, I don’t like sunsets. I love them. From Manila to Boracay, from Baguio to Batanes, in all their many different splendors, I love them.







Before my new friend flew back to her island home, she promised to send me a treasure trove of sunset photos she’d taken from Boracay’s famed White Beach (a few of which are pictured here). “Please come visit,” she texted, inserting a smiley face in the message. “It would be nice to chat over a bottle of wine under the sky there!”

Certainly. The whole gang at the shop would love that. What could be better than an afternoon of wine and conversation with a like-minded group of friends watching the sunset on that beautiful white sand with the waves lapping at our feet?

Hmm, come to think of it…a moonlit night on that very same beach spent with someone wonderfully real would be even nicer. But that’s another story.





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