Exactly a decade ago, my teaching career was launched in a giant disco ball. It was actually the glass ball facade, several stories high, of a mall in Shanghai. With its Vegas-tacky spherical design, Metro City was a head-turning landmark in Xujiahui, a subway hub and entertainment center of Xuhui District. In daylight, it resembled an errant crystal golf ball wedged between skyscrapers; at night, it turned psychedelic, wholly lit up in neon lights that changed colors and spelled out Chinese characters, outshining the gleam of neighboring shopping centers.
What better way to make history come alive than to wear it? I couldn’t pass up putting on the past when I got the chance.
The heritage town of Taal lends itself to a little historical cosplay. A few hours south of Manila, the town can well be a century away after a quick costume change. Generally regarded as the center of Tagalog culture, Taal has preserved its tangible and intangible heritage, such as ancestral houses, traditional local cuisine, cottage industries, and one Baroque church, the largest in Asia.