Manila 1970’s



Deedle was born and raised in the Philippines. She published an essay and a poem about the lockdown in The Incompleteness Book and The Incompleteness Book II, and her poems have also appeared in the literary issue of Silliman University Journal, and Tomas, the journal of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies. She is Project Manager for New York Writers Workshop and lives in Brooklyn, New York.



She says: “I wrote the first draft of this poem when my husband Tim and I were living in Florence in 2009.  Though I had been living in New York for over 10 years at that point, I  have always considered Manila my home and wrote Manila, 1970’s as I was feeling homesick. Since I was born in 1963, I had grown from a child to a teenager in the 1970s, a decade of cultural and political change in the Philippines. The poem is my homage to that place and time.”  






This is a photo of Deedle Rodriguez-Tomlinson in Manila.
Author, author: Deedle Rodriguez-Tomlinson Photo provided by Wonderlust




Manila 1970’s


I grew up at a time 

when the men and women of Manila

paid three pesos to see movies.

They smoked in the theaters,

tendrils of smoke rising

into the light of projectors 

showing gritty Tagalog films 

like the one where a probinsiyano

searches for his hometown sweetheart 

turned prostitute in the city, 

pining for love lost on the corner of 

Ongpin and Misericordia.


I grew up at a time 

when the men and women of Manila 

shared sodas in pre-war ice cream parlors

walked hand in hand along Manila Bay at night, 

sat on the sea wall by Roxas Boulevard, watching lights from

Laguna fishing boats bobbing in the distance,

wishing the night would never end.


I grew up at a time 

when the men and women of Manila 

married in ancient churches, 

took 7-hour bus rides to Baguio City

where they breathed cold mountain air 

craved each other’s warmth

when the fog rolled in at night, 

their faces glowing in the heat of the hearth.


I grew up at a time 

when the men and women of Manila 

made love to music that

opened with pops and crackles

on mammoth speakers 

the moment the needle touched the 

shiny black surface of 45’s like

Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ You.”


And when I look back,

I wish I was all grown up then,

a woman in love with a man,

once upon a time in Manila.


First published in Tomas, Journal of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Center for Creative Writing And Literary Studies (2015)



This is a photo of Manila, Philippines, circa 1970
Manila center, circa 1970 Photo provided by Wonderlust