In 2011, three years after the typhoon Ondoy, I was determined to make my boys powerful swimmers like me. Considering that my first born Ruben Guinolbay II (RG), was already a good swimmer who could out swim any average 6 year old, I decided to go back to the place where I learned how to swim, for the benefit of my second son, Miguel Guinolbay (MM).
Long before the fast food chain, there was a historical place called the Army Navy Club. The Army Navy Club was built between 1900 and 1911 and was a glamorous place until around the 1930s.
In the 1980s, my siblings and I became members of the Army Navy Club swimming team under Coach Liwanag “Wawag” Gonzales. My dad was a member of the Club. A lot of people visit the Manila Bay to view its famous sunset but my family and I always enjoyed an unobstructed view of Manila Bay daily.
However, when I brought the boys (RG and MM Guinolbay) to my old home-ANC, instead of an average public pool, I was saddened by the Club’s appearance which is in its highly dilapidated state. The lifeguard even prevented me and the boys from entering the pool and to quote what he said: Ma’am di po pwede kutis ng mga anak niyo dito!
I cannot help but wish that had I been a lawyer already at the height of the Club’s controversy in 1997, I would have volunteered to defend its case pro bono. It was practically my second home, the place where I first learned how to swim, played tennis, hunted my first Easter egg and belted Smokey Mountain songs in its piano bar.
It is noteworthy that this Club had a piano bar and a grand ballroom which looks like a smaller version of the Manila Hotel’s ballroom. This is not a surprise considering both are American colonial structures. My memories of the Club’s ballroom is incomplete without mentioning the wooden signs which hung on the ballroom’s posts stating: To All Ye Ghosts of this Room…. Little did I know that my particular interest in this wooden sign addressed to the ghosts of dead soldiers would haunt me and inspire me to make Halloween a tradition in my workplace and in the street where I live.
In closing, its just welcoming that there are developments being undertaken in the area to restore the club to its old glory. I am so excited and could hardly wait for it to finish considering that Army Navy Club is a national treasure and definitely part of the Filipino Cultural Heritage.