December 31, 2009

Have some pie

The pie that made the small bakeshop Banapple famous, especially among Quezon City residents: Banoffee. Think banana cream pie but the cream which holds the fresh sliced bananas together is caramel coffee; the cream on top is not just light whipped cream but a thick pastry cream; the cookie crust tastes like it's made of the cookie part of chocolate chip cookies, crushed and mixed with pure butter; then everything generously topped off with shaved dark chocolate. Heavenly! Or devilishly sinful, depending on how you look at it.

Banapple's Banoffee Pie
Wishing you all a new year filled with love and sweetness.

December 30, 2009


Remember the rainbow triangles which I posted five months ago? The Hong Kong-based Filipino artist, Joel Ferraris, found my post about it and pointed me to his own blog, and it turns out that its title is "Prism 24." I finally managed to get a couple more photos of his fun sculptures at SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden and here is another, titled "Rainbow Waterfalls." There's no real water, but I think it's appropriate enough to register in Watery Wednesday, don't you think? :)

Joel Ferraris' Rainbow Waterfalls sculpture at SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden

Natural or man-made, take a refreshing dip in Watery Wednesday.
Watery Wednesday

December 29, 2009

Tiny Legoland

I saw this small Lego city in Trinoma mall the same day I saw the elegant Santa, but it probably has been there since way before Christmas. It's meant to get kids asking for Lego sets for Christmas, after all.

small city made of Lego bricks

December 28, 2009

The dome

Finally, I managed a photo of the Araneta Coliseum which actually shows its dome. Previously, I've shown photos of one of its entrances and the curved footbridge which connects it to several malls in the area. Nicknamed "The Big Dome," this multipurpose stadium in Cubao, Quezon City is one of the biggest indoor stadiums in Metro Manila. Its biggest claim to fame is the 1975 Thrilla in Manila, the final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World. The glass building on the left is the part of Gateway Mall which stretches across a public road.

Araneta Coliseum

December 27, 2009

Nothing extraordinary

The atrium of SM City Marikina looks great from the inside, but from the outside, it looks like any other SM mall.

SM City Marikina

Calling all City Daily Photo bloggers! In the past, the theme for the first day of the new year had traditionally been the best of the year past. But because of some slight confusion in a discussion a month ago, our theme for January 1 is now Changes. There are currently two polls in the forum too, and I would like to request all of you to please vote. One is asking when we would like to have the Best of 2009 theme, and the poll closes on Sunday, December 27, 11:46am (a U.S. time zone but I don't know which one), so it's kind of urgent. The other poll is for the February 1 theme, assuming that February 1 will not be our Best of 2009 day. Please vote and spread the word!

December 26, 2009

Santa's helper

Getting a photo with Santa Claus in his white kingdom at Trinoma mall. Santa's suit was more formal and elegant for his photo shoot—no red, just white and gold too (which makes him quite difficult to spot).

photographer at Trinoma's 'get a picture with Santa Claus' corner

December 25, 2009


And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
Matthew 2:9b

our Christmas tree
May the light of the Star of Bethlehem shine in your homes and in your hearts today and always.

From our home to yours,
A blessed and joyful Christmas.

Exie & Hilda

December 24, 2009

The eve of Jesus' birth

Tonight, thousands of Filipinos will gather in churches for the Christmas Eve Mass, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. When I was a child, I remember that it was truly a midnight Mass; nowadays, most churches celebrate it at 10:00pm. The cribs in nativity scenes in churches have remained empty throughout the Advent season, and it will be during tonight's Mass that the image of the baby Jesus will be installed. The custom used to be widespread in homes too, but no longer, as it means having to create a little ceremony for it. This almost life-size nativity scene, or part of it rather, is in Harbour Square beside Manila Bay.

Harbour Square nativity scene
In case we all get too busy tomorrow, I would like to greet you all now a blessed Christmas!

December 23, 2009


I had to buy some things for the office yesterday and ended up in another SM mall, this time the one in Marikina City. SM is the largest chain of malls in the Philippines and it currently has eleven in Metro Manila alone, not counting its stand-alone hyper-supermarkets. The mall in Marikina is its newest and though it's the one closest to where I work, it was the first time I went there. Its main entrance leads to a three-story south-facing atrium which fills this part of the mall with bright natural light. Great space, and it looked even more impressive with the gigantic Christmas ornaments.

SM City Marikina's grand atrium decorated for Christmas

December 22, 2009


I did some last-minute shopping yesterday and saw this charming Christmas Village at The Block in SM City North EDSA. You wouldn't believe how long I had to stand with my camera at the ready to get photos of each without all the people posing in front of them.

Santa's Mail Station
Santa's Mail Station at the Christmas Village in The Block at SM City North EDSA
Elf School
Elf School at the Christmas Village in The Block at SM City North EDSA
Winter Café
Winter Café at the Christmas Village in The Block at SM City North EDSA
Nutcracker Inn
Nutcracker Inn at the Christmas Village in The Block at SM City North EDSA
Frosty Shop
Frosty Shop at the Christmas Village in The Block at SM City North EDSA

December 21, 2009

Cold and hot

Frozen cocktails, anyone? Rum and fruit juice or Kahlua? Holiday cheers to everyone! :)

frozen cocktails at 7Pecados

December 20, 2009

Star of Bethlehem

The most popular Christmas decoration in the Philippines is the parol (from the Spanish farol which means "lantern"), the star-shaped lantern that represents the star of Bethlehem which led the three wise men to the stable where Jesus was born. The parol has actually become the iconic symbol of a Filipino Christmas. It can be as simple or as elaborate as one's budget will allow, from the traditional bamboo and tissue paper lanterns to the colorful and brightly-lit ones from the province of Pampanga. This one is somewhere in between. It is made of capiz shell (mother of pearl or nacre) but left in its natural, translucent color. The lights inside blink and rotate, however, and I failed to capture it in that second when all the segments are lit up.

plain capiz shell parol

December 19, 2009


We've eaten at Rai Rai Ken Ramen House and Sushi Bar in Harbour Square so many times yet it was only during our last visit there that I noticed that their chairs are carved with their logo. Duh.

logo of Rai Rai Ken Ramen House and Sushi Bar carved on wooden chair

December 18, 2009

Last theme

We weren't able to go to the December 2 Marker Party at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay, but it turned out that it wasn't the last of the themed parties. There was another one on December 9, and its theme was "Glitter…

glittery Christmas ornament at the Glitter and Glow themed party at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay

and Glow." They gave all the guests glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Hubby dear got a blue one and mine was orange.

glow-in-the-dark bracelet at the Glitter and Glow themed party at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay

There was a different band that night, Arpie and The Multivitamins. The guy in the hat (I think he's Arpie but I don't know for sure) seems to moonlight as a stand-up comedian too—he was really funny, but only when he was speaking in Tagalog. He kept teasing the female singer that she looked like a bangus (milkfish) in her sequined dress.

Arpie and the Multivitamins at the Glitter and Glow themed party at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay

December 17, 2009

There was a crooked man

Ballet Manila (see yesterday's post), aside from principal ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, may not be as technically proficient as Ballet Philippines but it has done more to make ballet accessible to the masses. They choose pieces with strong story lines, tickets cost a fraction of Ballet Philippines', and when you do buy a ticket, you also get a free all-day pass to Star City, the indoor-outdoor amusement park right beside the Aliw Theater. I confess though that I've never been inside. The most I've done is walk down that sidewalk and if it weren't for Arabesque, I would never have noticed just how funky their doorways are.

Star City's doorways

December 16, 2009

Ballet as educational entertainment

The teenagers yesterday were lined up to watch Ballet Manila's original two-act Filipino ballet "Alamat: Si Sibol at Si Gunaw" (Legend: Bloom and Doom). Based on an illustrated children's book written by Ed Maranan, the ever-old, ever-new story contrasts love of family vs. love of power and teaches children to care for our environment. The original choreography and the costumes were based on Filipino folkloric traditions, most of them from Filipino Muslim culture. The production was a spectacle of colors and special effects, with the mother goddess Luningning (Brilliance), danced by Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, flying between heaven and earth on a moving platform attached to a track on the ceiling or using a harness. Ballet purists would have gone into conniptions, and at first, I also found it odd to see ballerinas in tribal costumes dancing en pointe but then I thought, "Why not?" Who says that ballets have to have tutus and European costumes? When I got over that hump, I could accept the production for what it was and had a grand time. The teenagers obviously had no such preconceptions and thoroughly enjoyed the ballet, judging from their enthusiastic applause throughout the performance.

Ballet Manila's production of Alamat: Si Sibol at Si Gunaw

December 15, 2009


Would you believe hundreds of 16 to 18 year old first year college students orderly and patiently lined up to watch a ballet? By the time Ballet Manila's performance started in the Aliw Theater, there were about a thousand of them. And even more astounding, they actually enjoyed it! Tomorrow, I'll show you why.

16 to 18 year old students lined up to watch Ballet Manila at the Aliw Theater

December 14, 2009

Crowning glory

I wish I could properly introduce you to pretty Em, one of the servers at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay, but when I asked if I could take her photo, she shyly shook her head no. When I said that I wanted to take a photo of her gorgeous, long, curly hair, she willingly posed for me.

Em's beautiful, long, curly hair

December 13, 2009

Seeing stars

One of the events counting down to the Ateneo de Manila's sesquicentennial was a Festival of Ateneo Music last weekend. Like last year, all the music groups of the university gathered together for a concert in the Church of the Gesù. The star-shaped lights inside the church were cycling through all the colors of the rainbow, though I only caught a few.

blue star-shaped lights in the Church of the Gesù during the Festival of Ateneo Music
white star-shaped lights in the Church of the Gesù during the Festival of Ateneo Music
yellow star-shaped lights in the Church of the Gesù during the Festival of Ateneo Music

December 12, 2009

One Big Night

Today's the day—the grand celebration of the Ateneo de Manila University for its 150th anniversary, its sesquicentennial! And the reason why I haven't been online much these past couple of weeks. We begin with a wreath-laying at the Ateneo Heroes Memorial, then a Mass at the Church of the Gesù, where the Marian procession starts which brings the congregation to the high school grounds where the rest of the event is but which is also a commemoration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception last December 8. From 6pm to 8pm, a musical celebrating the history of the university from 1859 to the present, especially commissioned for today, will be performed by members of all the student performing arts groups, though scripted, arranged and directed by theater professionals who happen to be alumni. After the musical, the real party begins with bands from the 1970s to the 2000s, also with members who are alumni, playing until midnight. The problem with working in the office that organizes these things is, all of us have work assignments throughout the entire event. So please keep your fingers crossed that I can watch some of the performances (and take some decent photos), because if I can't, I'll have to wait for the video recording and I really like live performances much better. Whatever happens, I think all of us will be glad to get our lives—and full night's sleep—back. The gates leading to the campus are decorated both for the sesquicentennial and the Christmas season. The stars with tails are traditional Filipino Christmas decorations called parol, symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem which led the three wise men to the stable where Jesus was born.

Ateneo de Manila's gate decorated for its 150th anniversary and the Christmas season

Actually, the Ateneo de Manila's 150th anniversary was on Thursday, December 10. But it being a school (and work) day, we couldn't have a big or late night to-do. So how did the university commemorate the day? As befits a Catholic institution, with a Mass. As simple as that.

December 11, 2009

Split hull

I do not know anything about this boat, even its name, which was just a string of numbers that my brain refused to remember. I just like how catamarans look. It was docked near Harbour Square last weekend when we went to the Cultural Center of the Philippines to watch The Nutcracker performed by Ballet Philippines and accompanied by the Manila Symphony Orchestra.

a catamaran docked in Manila Bay

December 9, 2009


I've already shown several photos of the historic building of the Museum of the Filipino People. Now, let's finally step inside (yes, they allow photos of the exhibits as long as you don't use a flash). The museum is the repository of much of the archeological treasures discovered all over the Philippines, hence the name. One of the first things you will see upon entering the museum is the garden in the middle, which has a replica of a traditional Ifugao house. The Ifugao are one of several tribal peoples who live in the Cordillera mountain range north of Metro Manila (it is also the name of the province where they live). The thickly thatched roof shelters the entire house down to the level of the raised floor, necessary in the rains and cold weather of the mountains. This means that one has to stoop or squat to get to the ladder which leads to the doorway.

replica of a traditional Ifugao house

Inside the museum, there is a model of another Ifugao house, which has as many varieties as there are Ifugao sub-groups. The model is not accurate in its use of materials, however. Bamboo slats will not provide much shelter from the cold winds that blow throughout the Cordilleras.

model of a traditional Ifugao house

If you want to see the colorful handwoven traditional dress of the Igorot, the generic term used for the six distinct ethno-linguistic groups of the Cordilleras including the Ifugao, the tourists we saw at Mines View Park in Baguio City last year wore them for their souvenir photo.

December 8, 2009

Cherubim on high

December 8 is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Manila. To commemorate this Roman Catholic holy day (which, beginning this year, is no longer a holiday in the Philippines), I offer you another view of the Manila Cathedral, which is also known as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The symbol on the round plaque underneath the cross is the coat of arms of the Holy See which features the papal tiara and Saint Peter's crossed keys.

detail of the Manila Cathedral

ADDENDUM: Because so many are asking. This feast day used to be a holiday for Catholic institutions all over the Philippines. But on May 20, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)—think of it as the government of the Catholic Church in the country—declared that it will no longer be so. It is still a holy day, however, and Catholic schools are asked to organize activities related to the solemnity (Mass, Rosary, forums and programs on Mary) "to capture the true spirit of the holy day and make its celebration more meaningful."

December 7, 2009

Sacred Heart

The crucifix and monstrance which I featured yesterday belongs to one of the side chapels of the Church of the Gesù. It is called the Sacred Heart Chapel, and a stylized image of Jesus showing his pierced heart and hands is displayed prominently near the front entrance of the chapel though lit artificially because there is a small room behind it. This is a very modern representation of the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for which there is a strong religious devotion in the Philippines. The text on the image is from the Gospel of Saint John, chapter 19 verse 37: They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced.

image of Jesus in the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù

December 6, 2009


The Ateneo Church of the Gesù has two side chapels. One chapel is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and the other is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This Sacred Heart Chapel is also known as the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament because it is the one used for the exposition of the consecrated Eucharistic Host—note the monstrance built into the base of the crucifix.

crucifix and monstrance in the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù

December 5, 2009

Coastal defense

The historic Fort Santiago built by the Spaniards in the late 16th century continued to be used as such all the way to the 1940s, when it was the headquarters of the Philippine Division of the U.S. Army. Old canons can still be found scattered throughout the fort today, though I don't know if they are relics from the Spanish or American era. This one is trained on Manila Bay, which used to be much nearer the walls before land was reclaimed from the sea. Trees, weeds and moss now surround and grow on the old fortification. I like that.

old canon in Fort Santiago

December 4, 2009

Raise the red lantern

I really like these bright red lanterns at Hap Chan (Chinese for 'gathering place'), a Chinese restaurant that has several outlets in Metro Manila and beyond. I used the 'accent color' feature of my camera—it lets you choose one color to focus on and bleaches the rest of the scene into monochrome. While shooting, not processing after the fact. Pretty smart for such a little thing. I wonder if its sensitivity can be adjusted…

red lanterns at Hap Chan Tea House

December 3, 2009

Two mathematicians

As part of the countdown to the Ateneo de Manila University's 150th anniversary, Philippine pianist Raul M. Sunico performed at the Church of the Gesù on Tuesday evening. Trained at the University of the Philippines, Juilliard School and New York University, Dr. Sunico's wonderfully eclectic program included pieces from Frederic Chopin, Isaac Albeniz, Claude Debussy, Franz Liszt and George Gershwin. The list of Dr. Sunico's many accomplishments as a concert pianist, orchestral soloist and musical arranger—both internationally and locally—is too long to include here, but beyond his brilliant piano playing, there are two things that endear him most to me: he arranged Filipino folk songs and kundiman (traditional love songs) for classical piano and recorded them in fifteen volumes—a legacy that will forever enrich Philippine culture; and his many projects on music education, especially for grade school children.

the Ateneo Church of the Gesù during the concert of Raul M. Sunico

I do not have a photo of Raul Sunico at the piano, unfortunately. The conditions during the concert—dim ambient light, strong spotlights, a pianist that performs with his entire body—were just too tough for my little camera. But I did get one during the photo-op before the concert. So, without further ado, let me introduce to you the president of the Ateneo de Manila University, Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ and Dr. Raul M. Sunico, Artistic Director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Dean of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music and pianist extraordinaire.

Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ and Dr. Raul M. Sunico

December 2, 2009

The oriental side

A contender for yesterday's theme day post because of the servers waiting for diners to sit on their side of the large restaurant that is Spiral in Sofitel Manila. If I didn't know any better and if it weren't for the wrought iron detail of the counter, I wouldn't have thought this was the same restaurant as this.

Spiral Restaurant in Sofitel Manila

December 1, 2009


THEME DAY: WAITING • Goodie bags filled with biscuits, candy, noodles, slippers (flip-flops) and a rubber ball waiting to be distributed to children who live in poor communities and whose homes were flooded because of the heavy rains of typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) during the 2009 Lights for Hope Christmas outreach party.

goodie bags for poor children at the Lights for Hope Christmas outreach party

It will be interesting to see how City Daily Photo bloggers interpret this month's theme. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

November 30, 2009

Private party

The elegant, old world-style private dining room (or function room, as we call it here) of restaurateur Larry J. Cruz's Filipino restaurant Abe (ah-beh), named after his father Aguilar. The rest of the restaurant uses more modern wood, rattan and fabric chairs. No photos of the food this time (Jacob and Marley, you can rest easy now—I don't want you gaining weight because of me) but I do want to say that it's very, very good. Forget the diet if you ever have the chance to eat at Abe—some of their best dishes are deep fried or feature pork veined with fat (melt-in-your-mouth delicious!).

private dining room at Abe restaurant

November 29, 2009

A staff to lean on

The two saints beside the stairs leading into the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Church are Saint Anthony Mary Claret and Saint Jude Thaddeus. St. Anthony Claret is the founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which runs this parish in Quezon City. St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes, which makes him a very popular saint in the Philippines.

Saint Anthony Mary Claret and Saint Jude Thaddeus

November 28, 2009


I've already posted a photo of Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street during the day. At night, it is a veritable beacon for book lovers like me.

Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street at night

November 26, 2009

I spy…

Masks! At the Masquerade themed party of Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay bar and club last Wednesday.

With a lovely ice bucket.
mask decorations at the masquerade themed party of 7Pecados

Under glass with a bottle of cognac.
mask decorations at the masquerade themed party of 7Pecados

Over the stage.
mask decorations at the masquerade themed party of 7Pecados

On the bar.
mask decorations at the masquerade themed party of 7Pecados

In a silver bowl of ice with champagne.
mask decorations at the masquerade themed party of 7Pecados

The last World Wide Wednesdays @ 7Pecados themed party will be on December 2. It will be a Marker Party where guests will be given white shirts and markers. Care to guess what you're supposed to do?