November 29, 2008

Red egg

Tomato and red egg: a simple and perfect accompaniment to my lechon kawali lunch. Until very recently, this small red tomato was about the only tomato variety available in our markets, and we use it both for cooking and for salads. Itlog na pula (red egg) or itlog na maalat (salty egg) is salted duck egg. Raw eggs are coated in a salt-soil-water mixture, stored for more than two weeks, washed, then hard-boiled. They are usually dipped in red food coloring to distinguish them from regular chicken eggs in grocery shelves and markets. At home, I usually chop the tomatoes and eggs and mix them together to form a salad. I love it with a big, fat, de-boned tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish).

fresh tomato and salted red egg

November 28, 2008

A school cafeteria lunch

I just realized that though I've featured quite a lot of food in my blog, I've never posted any Filipino food. So I've decided to share my lunch with you: lechon kawali. (Please pardon the plate—it's from our school cafeteria.) Lechon, or litson—if used without a second word specifying the meat—is a whole roasted pig and is usually served only during special occasions. Lechon kawali, which probably started as an attempt to replicate lechon at home, means pan-roasted pork, though it's not really roasted. It's pork belly with the fat and skin still on (very important!) boiled with salt, pepper and garlic until tender, drained and patted dry, then deep fried. (No, it's not very healthy at all, and I just know I'm going to get a scolding from my husband as soon as I publish this!) My dipping sauce was liver sauce, though some prefer a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and sili (capsicum pepper). Then of course, there's the ever-present rice, a staple of every Filipino meal. Rice here is not treated as a side dish—it's not meant to be eaten separately, but together with the main dish. Tomorrow, I'll show you what my side dish was.

lechon kawali with liver sauce and rice

November 27, 2008


Those who checked out my Magical blooms post in my other blog when I asked for help in identifying the flowers we have in our garden will find this image familiar. Thanks to Anty, an Indonesian who now lives in Ireland, I finally know what it is! It is Orthosiphon aristatus and is found mainly in Southeast Asia and tropical Australia. Its most common names are Java Tea and Cat's Whiskers. It turns out that this plant is medicinal—it is mildly diuretic and antiseptic, and good for the kidneys, bladder, liver and urinary tract. Now I need to find out how to prepare it to take advantage of its many benefits.

Cat's Whiskers or Java Tea plant

November 26, 2008

Night creatures

Personally, I like Harbour Square even more after the sun sets. The trunks of the coconut trees are wrapped in lights the whole year round, not just during the Christmas season.

Harbour Square after sunset

November 25, 2008

Scenic dining

Harbour Square is a dining promenade located across the Cultural Center of the Philippines right beside Manila Bay. It has more than a dozen restaurants and cafés, and this is where my husband and I have an early dinner when we watch performances at the CCP. The three young ladies in black are waitresses, holding out menus and encouraging people to try whatever restaurant they're working for. Harbour Square is also where I've taken all my photos of Manila Bay so far. This was around 5:00 in the afternoon and the boat for the sunset cruise hadn't left yet.

late afternoon at Harbour Square

November 24, 2008

Water transport

Not transportation on water but transportation to carry water. In And not a drop to drink, I posted a photo of the water filtering station where we buy our drinking water. We don't really have to go there ourselves—the shop delivers using this motorcycle and custom side car.

drinking water delivery motorcyle

Find more Odd Shots—or post your own—at Katney's Kaboodle.
Odd Shots Monday

November 23, 2008

Wall Street of the Philippines

Ayala Avenue is the main artery that runs through the Makati Central Business District. There used to be a time when almost all major corporations, local and global, had their headquarters here. Because of the traffic congestion and better tax breaks in other Metro Manila cities however, quite a few companies have moved their headquarters though still keeping a presence in this very important financial district.

Ayala Avenue

November 22, 2008

Franchised Italian

Italianni's, a member of the same group of restaurants that owns T.G.I. Friday's, styles itself as a family-style restaurant, which basically means that their servings are huge! This is the interior of their Bonifacio High Street branch. The last time I ate there was with my sister and we had the Spinach & Artichoke Formaggio and the Grilled Squid Salad. Yummm!

Italianni's at Bonifacio High Street

November 21, 2008

Red faced

The distinctive tower of the Manila City Hall, which was designed by Antonio Toledo in the 1930s. As seen from the passenger side of our car, through the windshield, from across Padre Burgos Street. Taking pictures while desperately trying not to be a great nuisance to my husband who was driving.

Manila City Hall clock tower

November 20, 2008

A very good option

The University of the Philippines Health Service is a 50-bed primary care hospital located inside UP Diliman. For the students, faculty, employees and dependents of UP, consultations with physicians are free. For faculty and employees, the free service extends even after retirement—a boon in one's senior years when health care costs shoot up. Not being from UP myself, I do not know if other services like laboratory tests are also free. What I am sure of is that 'outsiders' may also avail themselves of their health services, and at a very low cost compared to private clinics, hospitals and healthcare systems. I had to bring our maid to the UP Health Service recently for a recurring fever and my bill—consultation with a family physician, complete blood count (CBC) and urinalysis—came to a grand total of only PhP315, just a little above US$6. She's okay now, in case you're wondering—the recurring fever was caused by a mild infection which just required an antibiotic.

University of the Philippines Health Service

Just a reminder to all you CDP bloggers out there: If you haven't voted for the January theme yet, please do so! The poll is in the January Theme Day Poll forum topic. Please help spread the word too!

November 18, 2008


The dining, shopping and entertainment promenade of Eastwood City frequently has bands performing in one of several plazas. The Eastwood Central Plaza is the biggest of them, with the stage, café tables and chairs under a huge tent. Many of the concerts held here are multi-band events, and this is where my husband and I discovered some great local jazz groups several years ago. The last time we were in Eastwood, there was a rock concert titled 'Boombox Live' and it was colorful, foggy and loud! Maybe a decade ago, we would have stayed and screamed along with the young ones but… We just took a peek then skedaddled out of there. I also had to do a little web search to find out if Boombox was the name of the event or that of a band. It was the event—the concert featured a dozen Filipino rock (Pinoy rock) bands. Boombox Live 2008 was in early October, hence the 'living sculpture' in the scarecrow costume.

Boombox Live 2008 at Eastwood City's Central Plaza

I would just like to share a beautiful contest site with you all: World Challenge is an annual global competition aimed at finding projects or small businesses around the world which show enterprise and innovation at the grassroots level. I summarized the 2008 nominees in Creating hope. Please take the time time to read it or, better yet, please visit the World Challenge website. As a member of a blogging community that features the varied sights of cities and towns all over the world, I'm sure you will appreciate what these people are trying to do.

November 17, 2008

A slight disconnect

I've always associated this type of drawing and lettering with, well, punks. You know: non-conformist, rebellious, slightly violent teenagers. In fact, it's the type of drawing that I expect to see as graffiti in the seedier parts of the metro. What I don't expect it to be is a promotion for literacy. Bookay-ukay is the used-books store near our house. Yay for this new breed of punks!

Bookay-ukay sign

Find more Odd Shots—or post your own—at Katney's Kaboodle.
Odd Shots Monday

November 16, 2008

Discreet advertising

I'm not crazy about electronic billboards in general, but if they were all as tastefully done as this one, I may not mind them too much. Especially if there are no other billboards on the road—a rarity in Metro Manila. This is the only billboard I've noticed along Roxas Boulevard. I guess no one's willing to spoil the view of Manila Bay and its wonderful sunsets. I'm glad.

electronic billboard

November 15, 2008


Café Breton is the only restaurant I know of in Metro Manila that specializes in crêpes and galettes. I've posted a photo of its interior in Sweet and savory in Bretagne and a photo of two of its galettes in Galettes. Now here is a photo of one of its crêpe chefs. I can watch them make those ultra-thin pancakes for hours—their speed and control is absolutely fascinating.

crêpe chef at Café Breton

November 14, 2008

Of car parks and malls

I don't have figures to back me up, but I honestly believe that Metro Manila has more malls and shopping centers per square kilometer than any other city in the world. The stretch of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) between Ortigas Avenue and Shaw Boulevard in the cities of Pasig and Mandaluyong has five malls, and there are two more within walking distance. You're seeing two in this photo. I'm standing on the 7th level of the car park building at the east side of Shangri-La Plaza mall looking northwest. The area with lots of trees is the mall's open car park, and the yellowish building to the left is its other car park building. I don't know what the low white building after the trees is—I suspect it's a power generator—but it belongs to SM Megamall, which is the long white and blue building on the right receding to the distance. The wavy roof in its open car park is the pedestrian walk which leads from EDSA to the mall. You can also see the elevated track of the Metro Rail Transit System, better known as the MRT, on EDSA. And notice the tall tower on the right? That's the Galleria Corporate Center and at its base is the Robinson's Galleria, the third of the five malls in this stretch.

Shangri-la and Megamall car parks

Visit the Sky Watch Friday home page and tour the skies of our beautiful world.
Sky Watch Friday

November 12, 2008

The two towers

After getting stopped from taking more pictures of the RCBC Plaza by its security guards, my husband and I crossed Gil Puyat Avenue to look for a place to eat at The Columns, which was our original intent. The Columns is a set of condominium towers with restaurants and cafés at the street level. I asked a guard there if I could take a picture of the building and he said no, sorry. But he didn't stop me from taking pictures of the RCBC Plaza across the street. So here it is again, this time with its two towers. Yesterday's photo was taken at the base of the curved edge of the tower on the right.

RCBC Plaza

November 11, 2008

Hug a building

The RCBC Plaza has an awesome location in a triangular piece of land at the corner of Ayala and Gil Puyat Avenues in the Central Business District of Makati City. It has two glass towers for corporate offices: the Yuchengco Tower, named after the family that owns the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation and the Yuchengco Group of Companies, is 46 levels and Tower 2 has 41 levels. Between them is the 3-level concrete and stone Podium which has a chapel, food court, bar, clinic, gym, museum and theater. I wasn't kidding about the title—I propped my arms on the stone wall of the Podium to take this shot. And it is the one and only shot I got because two security guards came up to me to tell me that it was bawal (not allowed). I don't understand why. I mean, I can understand if people are not allowed to take photos of the interior for security reasons—it's the headquarters of the bank, after all. But an exterior that's so prominent even in an area full of tall buildings? That everyone can see from two major roads? I really don't get it. Anyway, I'm just thankful that they didn't ask me to delete the image from my camera.

RCBC Plaza

November 10, 2008

Second term

Term breaks at the Ateneo de Manila University are used to repair and renovate buildings, classrooms, roads, pathways and other facilities. The first semester of school year 2008–2009 ended on October 11 and I took this photo the week after, when I had reason to pass through the area. These workmen were not just renovating—I think they were actually building something new. The fluorescent tubes on poles means that they were working through the night (in shifts, of course)—probably rushing to finish whatever it was in time for the first day of the second term, which is today. Now I have to go back to find out what the new structure is.

construction workers at the Ateneo de Manila University

November 9, 2008

King of the road

The jeepney is unarguably the king of Metro Manila's public transportation system. Our light rail system is still severely limited. Buses ply most major thoroughfares but their size makes them unwieldy for narrower roads. Which is where 'jeeps' come in. You can get to almost anywhere in the metro using only jeeps since their routes criss-cross. Just be prepared to breathe in volumes of polluted air since none of them are enclosed or airconditioned. Neither do they have doors or seatbelts, so you have to hold on to the bar which runs down the length of the jeepney's roof inside. When I was a kid, all jeepneys were elaborately painted with Philippine landscapes, flora and fauna, religious icons and such. Those are rare nowadays but they do still exist. Some, like this jeep which just goes around the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines the whole day, have taken to mobile advertising. And for those places where even jeeps don't have routes, we have tricycles and pedicabs. I don't have a photo of a pedicab yet, but a tricycle is here.

U.P. Ikot jeepney

November 8, 2008

La Divina

When the Philippine Opera Company staged Terrence McNally's Master Class, they set up a small pictorial exhibition about Maria Callas just outside the theater. Divine her voice and performances may have been, but her life was definitely worldly, and maybe even a little hellish with the too-early deterioration of her voice and her frustrated love. The role of Callas in this play is a non-singing role—which is good, because Cherie Gil is a superb actress but I don't think she can sing, at least not well enough to be realistic as a diva assoluta.

Maria Callas exhibit of the Philippine Opera Company for Terrence McNally's Master Class

November 7, 2008

Book aquarium

Last theme day, I showed you the cozy corner inside A Different Bookstore's Eastwood City branch. This is what the shop looks like from the outside. You can't see the couch from this angle—it's on the left side, near the back. The bookstore doesn't have its own café inside but there's really no need for one anyway. To the right of the bookstore is a Starbucks, across it is a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and along the open-air promenade is a Café Xocolat. You'll find me at Coffee Bean with a mug of tea latte. The bookstore is open until midnight, and the cafés—well, we've never stayed out there long enough to see them close shop.

A Different Bookstore, Eastwood City Walk

November 6, 2008

Holy House of Mercy

Macau's historic Santa Casa da Misericordia was built in 1569 and was the region's first house of charity. It provided a home for Macau's needy elderly, orphans and the widowers of sailors lost at sea. It is now a museum of charity. What has this to do with Manila? When we went to Eastwood City, it had a promo going on: every thousand pesos (I think—I just remember it was high) spent in its shops or restaurants would give you a raffle ticket for a chance to win a trip to Macau. This ten-foot model of the Santa Casa da Misericordia was promoting that promotion. No raffle ticket for us—I just wanted some Go Nuts Donuts.

model of Macau's Santa Casa da Misericordia

November 5, 2008


A small portion of the lovely shopping and dining promenade that is Bonifacio High Street, looking towards the exclusive condominiums of Serendra, in the fast-developing Bonifacio Global City. BGC is located in the city of Taguig and used to be the home of the Philippine Army, known then as Fort Bonifacio, named after Andres Bonifacio, one of the leaders of the Philippine revolution against Spanish colonial rule in the late 19th century.

Bonifacio High Street and Serendra

I just discovered today that My Manila was listed as one of 20 Awesome Photography Blogs - Manila, Philippines in ILovePhotoblogs. How cool is that? Of course, when I saw the fantastic photography in the other sites, I felt like a poor relation. So far, there are lists for 15 cities from all over the world. If you look at them, I'm sure you'll recognize some of our CDP blogger friends! And if you have favorite photoblogs, you can tell Rick about them by leaving a comment.

I Love Photoblogs

November 4, 2008

It's cool, at least

Yesterday, I showed you the the waiting area of the arrivals section of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, a photo which I took from the parking lot. This is what you get when you pay the 30 pesos needed to get inside that building. In the upper floor, there's a Jollibee (a Filipino fastfood chain) and a Kopi Roti (a Singaporean coffee franchise), and toilets down that narrow corridor. You only get cold hard metal seats, but at least the place is airconditioned—a blessing in Manila's humid climate. The lower floor isn't airconditioned though—so your arriving passenger can hear you yelling and see you waving like mad when you catch sight of him/her. This is where I took the photo from the other day, with the lens right up the glass so I wouldn't get any reflections. And just for the record, I didn't have to yell and only had to wave once for my sister to see me. There are advantages to being tall.

inside the waiting area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport

November 3, 2008


Can anyone enter your city's airport terminal building? I'm curious, because at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, only passengers are allowed inside. When I fetch relatives arriving from their homes in other countries, I have to wait in a small building which is separate from the main building. And to enter that waiting area, one has to pay 30 pesos (about 60 U.S. cents). It may not seem like much to pay, but if the entire extended family has come along to greet the person arriving, that can add up to quite a lot. So, many people end up waiting outside the building—watching the TV screen announcing the status of flights, trying to catch a glimpse of the arrivals area over the heads of the people inside the waiting area, or sitting on the curb patiently waiting for the time of the loved one's arrival. No one is allowed inside the departure area either except for passengers, who have to show their tickets to the security guards to get in. The guards are also very diligent in making sure that cars don't stay long, so any goodbyes that must be said have to be said before getting to the airport.

outside the waiting area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport

November 2, 2008

Terminal 1

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has four separate terminals located along the border of Pasay and Parañaque cities. One is the Domestic Terminal. Terminal 2, better known as the Centennial Terminal because it was finished during the 100th anniversary of the Philippine declaration of independence, is for the exclusive use of Philippine Airlines. Terminal 3, which just opened this year and is the most controversial because of construction and legal issues which haven't been completely resolved yet, is currently being used by Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and PAL Express. And this is Terminal 1, which is for all other international carriers. I took this from the air-conditioned upper floor of the waiting area the night that my sister and nieces arrived. The covered pedestrian walk links the waiting area to the arrivals area, which has large signs with the alphabet on them—the idea is, if you're an arriving passenger and someone's picking you up, you wait under the sign with your surname's initial. Duty Free Philippines has a small shop there in case you forgot to buy pasalubong (gifts) for your host, family or friends. Above the shop—where the flags and globes of light are—is the departure area. Unless I'm the one traveling, I absolutely hate going to that level—it means that yet another of the people I love is leaving. My sister and nieces flew out yesterday afternoon. I miss their laughter already.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Terminal 1

November 1, 2008

Cozy corner

THEME DAY: BOOKS • I remember a time when most bookstores in Metro Manila were glorified stationery and school supply stores. What books they had were mostly textbooks, reference books and required school reading. A friend in the publishing business once told me that the biggest bookstore chain in the Philippines actually bought 'discards'—I don't really know how to call it: when publishing houses in the U.S. would gather up the remaining copies of almost-sold-out old inventory and sell them by weight. All that's in the past now, thanks to book-loving entrepreneurs who decided about fifteen years ago that Filipino readers deserved more than that. A Different Bookstore is not big and the in-store selection isn't very wide, but the titles and authors are well-chosen, and you can order any book you want that you can't find in the store. They were one of the first bookstores to encourage browsers to sit down and read a few pages—or even an entire chapter—so one can decide whether to get a book or not. If you're a regular customer and you give them your email or cellphone number, they'll inform you whenever they have sales. Many excellent bookstores have opened in the past decade, some larger, some smaller—and even that large chain was forced to re-think its corporate vision and now has better bookstores and well-trained staff—but A Different Bookstore will always occupy a warm spot in my heart.

house in Magallanes Village decorated for Halloween

Take a reading tour around the world through the lenses of CDP bloggers! Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.