June 30, 2008

A novel, visually

My favorite of Migs Villanueva's paintings at the Duetto exhibit. Reflecting her talents as both a painter and a writer, the title of this painting is "Outline of a novel."

Migs Villanueva's painting, 'Outline of a novel'

June 29, 2008

Portrait of a writer as a painter

Meet Migs Villanueva, a friend and one of the artists featured in the Duetto exhibit. She was a classmate of my husband when he was still studying for his Master's Degree in Creative Writing, and I always thought of her as a writer. In fact, she has won first prize twice for her fiction in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the Philippines. It turns out that she has been a painter longer than she has been a writer. The two paintings in the photo are hers.

Migs Villanueva

June 28, 2008


Duetto is the name of the joint exhibit of artists Migs Villanueva and Anna de Leon at Galerie Stephanie in Libis. They hosted a reception last night for their friends and family. It also happened to be the birthday of Migs, a friend of my husband. Instead of a guest book, they placed a piece of canvass on an easel with Duetto written in block letters, provided a box of oil pastels and invited everyone to doodle on the canvass. They obviously had other artists among their guests—note the flamenco dancer and the dove. Someone has a sense of humor too—read what he wrote at the lower right corner.

Duetto, an exhibit of artists Migs Villanueva and Anna de Leon

June 26, 2008

Unusual taste

Blissful Belly, the little vegetarian restaurant (well, it's really more like a small canteen) along Xavierville Avenue in Quezon City, has some unusual juices. The reddish drink on the left is tamarind iced tea and the greenish one on the right is sugarcane juice. The tamarind tea tasted so much like the rolled-in-sugar tamarind candy we have here, it felt weird drinking it. Amazingly, the sugarcane juice wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. Both tasted very good, but I'm doubtful of the health benefits attributed to them.

tamarind iced tea and sugarcane juice

June 25, 2008

Monkey bars

Some of the garden paths in Greenbelt, a sprawling mall in Makati City, are lined with these bamboo trellises. Remember those monkey bars from your childhood playground? Don't you just find them so tempting? (PHOTO BY DOGBERRY)

Greenbelt garden path bamboo trellis

June 24, 2008


Last Saturday, just before the typhoon hit Metro Manila, my girlfriends and I decided to meet for lunch because we hadn't seen each other in months. We decided to meet in Shangri-la Plaza and decide where to eat when we were all there. This is where we ended up: Clawdaddy Crab House and American Grill. We had pasta, calamari and chili crab. I have to say that it was the most enormous crab I have ever seen! My two girlfriends finished the crab, but we had to bring home the calamari and pasta in a doggie bag. And Raymund Magdaluyo, if you ever chance upon this blog, my friends and I would like to thank you for the light and refreshing lime pie you sent us. It was the perfect ending to an extremely rich meal.

Clawdaddy Crab House and American Grill, The Ledge, Shangri-la Plaza

June 23, 2008

Just debris

I really am very blessed. Typhoon Fengshen—Frank, here in the Philippines—left our home and neighborhood unscathed. Even in the area near my office building, the worst that happened was branches were blown off the trees. Frank stayed in the country for only a day and it left last night, but not before causing heavy flooding in many streets and towns all over the Philippines. Our Department of Education decided to call off classes today (which turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day) because many students still wouldn't have been able to travel to school. You can view a short video of Frank's aftermath from Reuters here.

fallen branches from typhoon Frank

June 22, 2008

Waiting for passengers

I'm lucky to live in a relatively organized neighborhood. The tricycles waiting for passengers near the closest bus terminal don't clog the street where they wait in line. In fact, they got permission from a couple of government agencies to use the space behind their walls as a terminal of sorts. Our tricycles are also color-coded depending on where they can go and where they can wait. I've already posted a couple of photos of tricycles: see a closer view of one in "Tricycle" and a passenger's view of the street from inside a tricycle in "View from the inside."

tricycle terminal

June 20, 2008

Philippine handicrafts

Welcome to one of my favorite mall shops: Kultura (culture). It sells nothing but Philippine handicrafts, from hardwood furniture to home accessories, formal clothes to beachwear, jewelry to toys. Narra, bamboo, rattan, pearls, shells, coconut, piña and batik are just some of the wonderful materials that the products are made of. In this one store, you can get items crafted from all over the Philippines.

Kutura store

June 19, 2008

Fun wall

Yesterday, I showed one side of the restaurant Pino. This is the opposite wall—cartoons! Drawn with black markers of different thicknesses. Fine and fun. Much like their food. And probably the young owners too.

cartoons on Pino restaurant's wall

June 18, 2008

It's fine

A tiny restaurant named Pino—Tagalog for 'fine'—opened near our house less than a year ago. I adore its interior—all the varied textures! Wood and chrome furniture, wicker and embroidery accents, and a black crystal chandelier (which is way too low for me—I keep hitting my head on it when we sit at the table in the photo) in a room painted all in white hung with small paintings in plain white frames and matting. Even the food is as multi-textured as the interior design. Imagine breaded fish fillet, but the batter is made of nori (dried seaweed). Imagine maki (rolled sushi), but instead of raw fish, it's stuffed with crunchy salmon skin. When you get to meet the owners and the chef, the experimentation and daring are not surprising. All of them are young (in their early twenties)! My husband and I both hope that the restaurant does well so they'll stay open and continue experimenting for a long time.

Pino restaurant in Diliman, Quezon City

June 17, 2008

Dashboard toys and more

I just couldn't resist taking this shot inside the taxi cab that my husband and I rode to work yesterday morning. Shrek and five other stuffed toys hanging from the windshield and sun visor. On the dashboard was a red pillow and mini brandy glasses with what looked like colored stones. Then, of course, there's the rosary (in this case, several rosaries) hanging from the rearview mirror—a common sight in this mostly Catholic country. In between two of the a/c vents is also a tiny icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And finally, if you look at the mirror on the visor, you'll see the pattern of this guy's seat covers: a gray and tan tiger print!

dashboard of a taxi in Manila

June 16, 2008

A 50-year-old dream

When the Ateneo de Manila University moved from its old campus in Padre Faura, Manila to Loyola Heights, Quezon City in the 1950s, the Jesuits dreamed of having a church built on the highest point of the campus. It wasn't until fifty years later that that dream was realized. In 2001 the Church of the Gesù was built and dedicated during the Feastday of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It is named after the Il Gesù, the mother church of the Society of Jesus in Rome, Italy. The design of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù, though very modern, is also very Filipino. Its pyramidal roof is reminiscent of the roof of the nipa hut, the Philippines' traditional house, now only found in rural areas. The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the left stood alone for many years on that highest point. In commemoration of this fact, the area where the church stands is now called the Sacred Heart Hill.

Ateneo de Manila Church of the Gesù and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 15, 2008

Ivied walls

These are the walls of another neighbor up the street. They have a corner house and the stone wall delineating their property is completely covered with ivy. The iron spikes on top, though they won't deter a robber intent on entering the house, will at least make the experience just a little more unpleasant. At least, that's what my neighbors hope.

ivied perimeter wall

June 14, 2008

View from the inside

I posted a photo of a tricycle, the king of Manila's smaller roads, back in March. This is what it looks like inside the sidecar when you're a passenger. We were riding down Katipunan Avenue (yes, Avenue—five lanes wide each way) in Quezon City which has signs every hundred meters or so saying that "Tricycles are not allowed on the whole length of Katipunan."

from inside a tricycle

June 13, 2008

Killing time

When that unexpectedly strong rain poured the other day and caused awful traffic, my husband and I decided to walk across the street to have an early dinner. The entire length of Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City is full of small restaurants, being near four universities. Of course, we ended up in a Japanese restaurant again. This is the interior of Kitaro, the same restaurant that delivered our sushi platter a few weeks ago. Have I mentioned that we love Japanese food?


June 12, 2008

Philippine Independence Day

Today, 12 June 2008, the Philippines is celebrating its 110th year of independence from Spain. Even the malls got into the action—with Independence Day sales and decorations using the colors of the Philippine flag. This is what The Block at SM City North EDSA looked like over the weekend. I know this is a cheeky way for me to mark our independence, but I just couldn't resist.

Independence Day at The Block, SM City North EDSA

June 11, 2008

After a downpour

Can someone tell me why traffic gets horrendous after a downpour? There must be an explanation out there somewhere! We had to kill two hours before we dared go home from work today—with gasoline prices being what they are, we didn't want to spend one hour stuck in traffic for a trip that normally takes us ten minutes. Still, the rain was much appreciated, especially after more than a week of humid 30˚C (86˚F) and higher weather.

evening traffic along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City

June 10, 2008

Who will buy my vegetables?

Manila's streets are full of "informal vendors" selling anything and everything from fresh produce and fish to umbrellas and clothing accessories. This is especially true in streets near major transportation stops. At the start of the day, this old woman and the young man helping her—most probably her son or a nephew—wheel in their cart from wherever they get their vegetables, stake their place on the street or along a sidewalk, and push it back home again at the end of the day (or earlier, if they're lucky enough to sell everything before evening). They're a boon for working wives and mothers, who buy their vegetables after getting off the bus from work so they can cook dinner when they get home.

vegetable cart

June 9, 2008

Shoot me

With a flu vaccine, that is. The medical insurance company of the Ateneo de Manila University offered flu vaccinations for the employees of the school and their dependents at a 50% discount—PhP400 (a little less than US$10) instead of the regular PhP800. Needless to say, many of the employees took advantage of the offer. A couple of nurses set up shop in a classroom with their disposable syringes and needles with pre-measured doses of vaccine, cotton balls and alcohol. After my shot, I kept getting asked if it was painful. No it's not. It's just like being bitten by a red ant but the pain doesn't last as long.

flu vaccination

June 8, 2008

Nielson Tower

The Nielson Airport was built by Laurie Reuben Nielson, a businessman born in New Zealand, on a 42-hectare piece of land owned by Spanish-Filipino Enrique Zobel during the American colonial period. It was inaugurated in 1937 and soon became the primary gateway between Manila and the rest of the Philippines, and between the country and the rest of the world. During World War II, commercial flights were relocated so that Nielson could serve the U.S. Army Air Corps. In the 1960s, the vast track of land in Makati of which the airport was a part, became a premier commercial and financial hub. Nielson stopped being an airport but the terminal building remained, to be put to different uses. When I was a child, it was a fine-dining restaurant. Now, it is The Filipinas Heritage Library, and the home of an extensive collection of rare Filipiniana. For those of you who read my When bookworms wed post in Happy at Home, this was the venue of that lovely wedding.

Nielson Tower, Makati City

June 7, 2008

Fill 'er up!

The business end of a Petron gas station. None of the gas stations here in Metro Manila are self-service, even though the pumps are automatic. All are crewed by young men who, after punching in the number of liters you want or the amount you're willing to spend, offer to check your water or clean your windshield. Then they get your payment, take it to the cashier, then bring you back your receipt.

Petron gas station

June 6, 2008


These are the gasoline prices in Petron today. Regular gasoline is the third from the top. That equals about US$1.23 per liter. There are about four liters to a gallon, so that makes regular gasoline here about US$4.92 per gallon. Sigh.

gasoline prices in Manila on June 6, 2008

June 5, 2008

The lights of Manila

The workshop I attended last weekend was in Antipolo City, in the province of Rizal. The place where we stayed is on top of a hill, and this was the view from the deck off the dining room. Those tiny pinpricks of light are the lights of Metro Manila. We could see the entire metropolis from Alabang in the south to Marikina in the east. A little point-and-shoot in my shaky hands does not do the view justice, but I guess you can just imagine how gorgeous it was.

the lights of Metro Manila as seen at night from the hills of Antipolo City, Rizal

June 3, 2008

Aussie art exhibit

The reason why I was able to see the new Australian ambassador was because of Under my skin, a touring exhibition featuring five Australian artists: Emil Goh, David Griggs, Pat Hoffie, Megan Keating and Louise Paramor. They are participants of the University of Melbourne's Asialink, an arts residency program which enables Australian artists to live and work in different Asian cities. The host gallery for the Philippine exhibition is the Ateneo Art Gallery. Here we see guests and visitors chatting away just before the opening, waiting for the ambassador to arrive.

Under my skin, Asialink touring exhibition

June 2, 2008

Instead of grass

A neighbor several houses up the road has this tiny plant in their front lawn instead of grass. Now that it's been raining a lot, the plant has sprouted some cute, little yellow flowers less than an inch long. I think it looks great, though I have no idea what the plant's called. Of course, when I pass their house, I keep wondering if they'll feel great to walk on with bare feet too. Maybe one of these days I'll just take off my sandals and try it, and just hope they won't notice any crushed areas.

little yellow flowers