April 30, 2009

Pink columns

The Manila Central Post Office is one of many American era (1898–1946) buildings that can be found in the City of Manila. It was designed by Filipino architect Juan Marcos de Guzman Arellano in the neo-classical style in 1926. It sustained heavy damage during WWII but was rebuilt in 1946, preserving most of the original design. Aside from being the main post office of the City of Manila, it is also the headquarters of the Philippine Postal Corporation. The sculpture of "The Postman" is a fairly recent addition. It was installed in 1975 and dedicated to the men and women of the postal service.

facade of the Manila Central Post Office building

Just a reminder to all CDP bloggers that tomorrow is the first of the month and that means Theme Day! The theme for May is Shadows. Don't forget to vote (twice!) for the June theme too. Head on over to the June 2009 Theme Day Poll right now because voting ends on Saturday!

April 29, 2009

Reality check

Yesterday, Jacob and Per Stromsjo asked why it was necessary for homes in Metro Manila to have privacy walls: are they for privacy, robbers, or both? The answer, of course, is both. I'll explain the privacy aspect some other time when I have a photo that can best illustrate it. Let's just say that it's a reaction against certain Filipino cultural traits. However, this photo will explain why there is a fear of robbery, whether in the home or while walking in the streets, even in broad daylight, and why houses have privacy walls and subdivisions have guarded gates. It also explains why Filipinos tend to carry their backpacks in front, turning them into chestpacks, even when they're traveling abroad. No excuses, no opinions, no solutions—just the facts. According to the 2006 Poverty Statistics report (the latest currently available) of the Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board, 32.9% of Filipinos are poor. Who are the poor? "Those that cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their basic needs of food, health, education, housing and other amenities of life." According to the same report, 14.6% are "subsistence poor" which means that they cannot even afford "basic food needs, which satisfies the nutritional requirements for economically necessary and socially desirable physical activities." So what are you seeing in the photo? In the foreground is the open parking lot of an upscale mall and the fancy roof of its connecting escalator and path. The wide, white expanse is the paved lot of some demolished building which is being used as a parking lot for trucks and cement mixers. And just beyond the concrete, a sprawling poor community squatting on government land. However painful it is to admit, I don't think there is any barangay in Metro Manila that doesn't have an urban poor community, whether they're 'informal settlers' or not. Yesterday, Boise Diva also wished for us that privacy walls will become unneeded. I wish the same but it will take a lot of hard work and much, much better men and women in our government than we currently have. But I haven't given up hope.

large urban poor community beside an upscale mall

April 28, 2009

White house

Privacy walls are almost a necessity in Metro Manila, and more and more people try to make the walls look like an integral part of their home rather than just something to keep strangers out. I like how the owner of this house extended the privacy wall to accommodate those extra large doors then created a covered path to the front door of the house.

white house with extra large doors in the privacy wall

April 27, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

The street sign at the corner of Ongpin and Salazar Streets in Binondo, Manila's Chinatown, is the fanciest in the area. With brightly colored little Chinese dragons atop the names, it is probably the most photographed street sign in the metro. I took a photo of it from the street but there was a huge red shop sign behind it which kind of drowned it out so I decided to take a photo of it from the other side. And immediately burst out laughing! I hope the barangay council never corrects it!

Ongpin Street sign with upside-down N

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

April 26, 2009

A room with a view

This is not in Metro Manila. Again. One of my husband's cousins got married in Tagaytay City in the province of Cavite yesterday afternoon and the house that the bride and groom rented for the reception has a magnificent view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano. Taal Lake is the third largest lake in the Philippines and is located in the province of Batangas. It has several islands and the biggest is where the still-active Taal Volcano is. The reception was supposed to be outdoors so guests could enjoy the view but it rained the whole afternoon, shrouding the entire lake and ruining their original plan. It was bright and sunny when I took this photo this morning, but the dark clouds beginning to form signaled yet another wet afternoon.

Taal Lake and Volcano viewed from Tagaytay City

The reception was eventually held in the living room of the house. Even on cloudy days, wouldn't you just love to have a view like this from your home? I know I would!

picture window in a house in Tagaytay City overlooking Taal Lake

Urban or rural, natural or man-made, take a sightseeing tour of our world's diverse scenery!
Scenic Sunday

April 24, 2009

A smaller dome

This glass pavilion is the prettiest entrance of Gateway mall in Cubao, Quezon City, right across the Araneta Coliseum. It is also an extension of the dining area of Italianni's, the restaurant right beside the pavilion.

Gateway mall's glass pavilion

April 23, 2009

Don't touch!

The lionfish is one of my favorite tropical fishes. It's so flamboyant, I just love it! Of course, those extravagant spines are venomous, and though not normally fatal to humans, the sting is still very painful and the possible effects (headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties) don't sound very comfortable either. With a plate of glass separating us at the bahura (reef) section of the Manila Ocean Park, this beautifully menacing creature posed no danger to me at all.


I still have four more posts to complete my Corregidor Island Series but they take much longer to write and I've just gotten a bit too busy to do so. I will get back to them when I have a little more time, but to answer Vogon Poet's question in the last post: Yes, Japanese tourists visit the island. So many, in fact, that the tour operator keeps a pool of Japanese-speaking guides just for them.

April 21, 2009

Corregidor: The tunnels

Corregidor Island had a vast network of tunnels built under solid rock. The Americans designed Fort Mills solely to ward off attacks from the sea but they soon realized that it would be very vulnerable to attacks from the air. So in 1922, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the help of the Philippine Scouts and a thousand convicts from Manila's Bilibid Prison, began work on tunnels that were meant to be a bomb-proof storage and personnel bunker. Its main tunnel was built under Malinta (full of leeches) Hill and the tunnel complex came to be known as Malinta Tunnel. It was finished in 1932.

entrance to Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor Island

During the Battle of Corregidor, Malinta Tunnel served as the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur and was also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government under President Manuel Quezon (you've seen him before here) and Vice President Sergio Osmeña. Today, the main tunnel is the venue of an audio-visual show about the siege of Corregidor. With a script written by National Artist for Theater and Film Lamberto Avellana and sculptures made by National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva, the show is a must-see for WWII history buffs and for anyone who would like to understand what so many men and women had to endure for our freedom. (Please pardon the fuzzy picture. It was the best I could do in the darkness without using a flash.)

main Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor Island

The main tunnel had 24 side tunnels branching from it. Much narrower and lower than the main tunnel, it was actually these laterals that served as storage areas and headquarters. Some of them led to other entrances, and two of the tunnels led to their own tunnel complexes. One of these was the underground hospital which had 1,000 beds. The main tunnel was restored for the lights-and-sounds show, but many of the smaller tunnels collapsed during WWII and remain that way.

one of the collapsed lateral tunnels in the Malinta Tunnel complex in Corregidor Island

Back outside, the island is also riddled with tiny tunnels and caves. I forgot to ask the guide if these were connected to the Malinta Tunnel complex, but he said that they were used by both American and Japanese snipers.

entrance to small cave on Corregidor Island


April 20, 2009

Corregidor: The guns

Corregidor Island is only five square kilometers (about two square miles), but by the time WWII started, the Americans had installed 23 coastal gun batteries and 13 anti-aircraft artillery batteries on it. Of these, only five are still easily accessible and included in the tour, though we only visited two. Battery Hearn, completed in 1921, was named after Brigadier General Clint C. Hearn, who commanded the harbor defenses of Manila and Subic Bays in 1919. It was armed with one of the two longest-range seacoast guns on the island. The gun was manned by one officer and 33 enlisted men, four of whom were stationed in the well beneath the carriage. In 1941–42, it was used against Japanese artillery placed in the coastal towns of Naic and Ternate in the province of Cavite.

seacoast gun in Battery Hearn in Corregidor Island

Battery Way, completed in 1914, was named in honor of 2nd Lieutenant Henry N. Way, 4th U.S. Artillery, who died in service in the Philippines in 1900. It was armed with four 305 mm (12-inch) guns used mainly to penetrate the decks of enemy warships. Each gun had a crew of 14 men. The last gun firing against the Japanese before Corregidor surrendered on noon of May 6, 1942 was from Battery Way. Its breech block froze at 11:00 am, warped by the heat of constant firing. That morning, the gun crews of Battery Way suffered 70 percent casualties.

guns in Battery Way in Corregidor Island


April 19, 2009

Corregidor: The ruins

I am going to break the rules of CDP again today and in the next few days. Yesterday, my husband and I took a day trip to Corregidor Island in the province of Cavite. Corregidor is a tiny, tadpole-shaped island which sits at the entrance of Manila Bay. Because of its location, it has always been strategically important in the defense of Manila and it played a large role during the Pacific War, that part of WWII which took place in the Pacific Ocean especially against Japan during the reign of Emperor Hirohito. The Philippines was a Commonwealth under the United States at the time, and many American soldiers were killed alongside Filipino troops during the Battle of Corregidor, the last battle to keep the Japanese Imperial Army from getting access to Manila Bay. Everything on the island was destroyed or heavily damaged during the war and all the ruins are being maintained by the Corregidor Foundation. A regular U.S. army post on Corregidor Island was established in 1908 and named Fort Mills, in honor of Brigadier General Samuel Meyers Mills, Jr., Chief of Artillery of the U.S. Army from 1905 to 1906. This was the Headquarters and Chapel.

Fort Mills Post Headquarters and Chapel ruins in Corregidor Island

The Middleside barracks could accommodate 3,000 soldiers—1,000 on each of its three levels.

Middleside barracks ruins in Corregidor Island

Another view of the Middleside barracks from a completely collapsed end. When I said that the Corregidor Foundation maintains the ruins, I meant exactly that: they are trying to keep the ruins as they were at the end of the war. Notice the struts that are keeping the second-story wall in place. You can also glimpse the white beams in the third-story rooms that are holding the roof up.

Middleside barracks ruins showing supporting struts and frames in Corregidor Island

The Mile Long barracks could accommodate 5,000 soldiers. It was actually less than a third of a mile long, but it was still one of the longest in the world, hence the soldiers' nickname for this Topside barracks. This end was heavily bombarded by the Japanese because they had heard that General Douglas MacArthur, Allied commander in the Philippines, was using it as his headquarters. Yes, he was, but he wasn't in the barracks at the time of the bombardment.

Topside barracks, more popularly known as the Mile Long barracks, ruins in Corregidor Island

Like any other U.S. military base, Corregidor Island also had recreational and entertainment facilities for the troops stationed there. This was the local 'Y.' And I didn't notice them during the tour, but I'm seeing depressions in the field in this photo. I'm thinking that they must have been caused by artillery shells.

YMCA building ruins in Corregidor Island

And this was Cine Corregidor, a movie theater.

Cine Corregidor ruins in Corregidor Island

Another view of Cine Corregidor, this time from inside the building. I'm at the stage area looking towards the entrance. The theater obviously had an upper balcony. Can you imagine how grand it must have been before the war?

interior of Cine Corregidor ruins in Corregidor Island

There are many more interesting ruins in Corregidor, but the tour was running on a tight schedule and honestly, half a day is not nearly enough time to visit everything. To do so, you'll have to hire your own guide and vehicle, and stay on the island for at least two days. CORREGIDOR ISLAND SERIES #1 OF 7

April 18, 2009

A treat

Another little treat from Bizu Patisserie—this one is called Amour: orange chocolate mousse between layers of crème brûlée and brownie—just because it's my birthday! :)

Amour pastry from Bizu Patisserie

April 17, 2009


The cement is mixed on the ground and poured into a large container with a spout. A crane hoists the container to the rooftop. A slide controls the flow of the cement so it goes to where it's needed. One person has to guide the spout to the slide, and four men have to make sure that the cement flows. Other workers are waiting at the other end of the slide. So how do they construct buildings in your city?

construction workers on a rooftop

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

April 16, 2009

The Big Dome

Well, one entrance to it anyway. I was just way too near to get a photo that will give a better sense of what this stadium looks like. "The Big Dome" is the nickname of the Araneta Coliseum, probably the biggest indoor stadium in Metro Manila. It is the venue for many basketball games, boxing matches, cockfighting derbies, concerts, prayer rallies, and the annual Binibining Pilipinas (Miss Philippines) beauty pageant. The first really big event that I remember being held here was the 1975 Thrilla in Manila, the final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World. (No, I didn't watch it. I was too young. And even if I wasn't, I wouldn't have watched anyway. I just can't watch boxing. Sorry, Pacman.)

Araneta Coliseum

April 15, 2009


Looking out towards Manila Bay at noon on a hot and humid summer day, one can hardly tell where the sea and the sky meet.

Manila Bay at noon in summer

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

April 14, 2009

Candle, shrimp or lollipop

I'm such a doofus when it comes to plants that I always have to ask for help in identifying flowers in my own garden. Thanks to Elaine (who ended her Willits Daily Photo after a wonderful year but who posts in her Willits Photo Overflow every now and then, and continues to moderate the Monthly Theme Days forum for CDP bloggers), I now know that this is Pachystachys lutea. Its common names are Golden Candle, Golden Shrimp and Lollipop. Which name do you think suits it best?

Pachystachys lutea
I now have names for four of the twelve flowers I originally posted in Magical blooms last August. But I've just discovered four new ones blooming in our garden and needless to say, I don't have names for any of them. If you have the time, may I please ask for your help again? They're in The blessings of Easter. Many thanks!

April 13, 2009

Caged sidewalk

In many of Metro Manila's major roads, the sidewalk is separated from the road by barriers. Sometimes, they're just waist-high rails but in extremely busy roads and intersections, wire mesh barriers are higher than your average Filipino. These are meant to stop people from (1) using the road to walk on; (2) crossing the road just anywhere and anytime; and (3) flagging down buses, jeepneys and/or taxis wherever they happen to be when they see the vehicle. It's only been a decade or two that road rules for pedestrians and commuters are being enforced more strictly and it's been a struggle. After all, roads in the provinces (the rural areas) are meant for everyone and everything, whether they're people, animals or vehicles. And I have no figures to show but I suspect that people like me who are Manila-born and bred and whose parents were also Manila-born and bred are actually a tiny fraction of the metro's population. I'm submitting this as an Odd Shot Monday post because I'm sure the barriers will be odd for those in other countries, but to be honest, this is a very common sight in Metro Manila.

high wire mesh barrier separating sidewalk from road

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

April 12, 2009

Fountain of youth

Today all over Metro Manila, malls competed for their share of consumer pesos by hosting Easter programs and games for children. For such-and-such amount spent in the mall, children can participate in arts and crafts, get their face painted, join games and go Easter egg hunting 'for free.' We have turned into such a mall culture, it's scary. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun though, and I liked The Podium mall's centerpiece in the game area: a fountain filled with brightly colored plastic Easter eggs. We were at The Podium to have lunch with my husband's family at Banana Leaf Curry House because today also happens to be my mother-in-law's birthday.

fountain of plastic Easter eggs
Happy Easter, everyone!

April 11, 2009

From Italy, by way of New York

The elaborate paper tole map of New York City and funky lighting fixture of Napoli Pizzeria Ristorante in The Block at SM City North (a mall). The World Trade Center towers are still there, but written underneath its name (which can't be seen here, sorry) is 9/11/2001.

paper tole map of New York City at Napoli Pizzeria Ristorante

April 10, 2009

Into your hands I commend my spirit

Being mostly a Catholic country, the Philippines has been on holiday since yesterday, Maundy Thursday, the first day of the Easter Triduum. Yesterday, the mass, which commemorates the last supper, included a re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and ended with the body of Christ (the consecrated hosts) being placed in the altar of repose, where they will stay until the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. There are no masses today, Good Friday. Instead, other prayer services commemorating the passion and death of Jesus are held: the recitation of and sermons about his seven last words, the way of the cross, and the chanting of the pasyon (the paschal narrative in poetry). There will be no masses tomorrow, Black Saturday, either. But vigils will be held in most churches, which will culminate early Sunday morning in the salubong (meeting), a celebration of the first meeting of the resurrected Christ with his mother Mary. This is a portion of the arched ceiling of the Binondo Church, which is covered with paintings depicting scenes from the life of Jesus. The rectangular paintings at the bottom are the guides for the way of the cross, half of which are on the other side of the church. In most churches, one just goes around the periphery. Here, it seems that one is meant to cross from one side of the church to the other as one prays and remembers the suffering and death that Jesus Christ had to go through.

paintings of scenes in the life of Jesus on the ceiling of the Binondo Church

April 9, 2009

Keeping the flame alive

In the Philippines, April 9 is Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), a holiday meant to commemorate and celebrate the bravery and heroism of Filipino soldiers during WWII, especially in the battles of Bataan and Corregidor. The surrender of the starving and emaciated Filipino and American soldiers in Bataan did not mark the end of their suffering—the Japanese forced them to walk 97 kilometers (80 miles) to their prisons in what is now called the Bataan Death March. This bronze flame is the Ateneo Heroes Memorial, the university's small way of remembering its alumni who fought during the war. It stands in front of the Church of the Gesù and is dedicated to Jose Rizal, Philippine national hero and Ateneo alumnus.

Ateneo Heroes Memorial

April 8, 2009

Down from the hill

Graduation ceremonies at the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo de Manila University are always Thursday to Sunday of the last week of March. Thursday is for the Grade School, Friday is for the John Gokongwei School of Management and the Loyola School of Science and Engineering, Saturday is for the Loyola School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences, and Sunday is for the High School. The guest speaker for the two Loyola Schools graduations was Chris Lowney, former Jesuit turned investment banker turned author. The title of this post is from the university's school hymn, always sung at the end of the graduation ceremonies. After spending so many years learning and training, the day has come for these young men and women to end their isolation. I hope they do well for themselves and for their families, and I also hope that they never forget one of the most important values that the university tried to teach them: service for others. I think this world sorely needs more of what Mr. Lowney calls "heroic leaders."

Ateneo de Manila Loyola Schools graduation 2009

April 7, 2009

Two in one

One building, two uses. Two entrances, two lobbies, one atrium, one skylight. The corridors of Discovery Suites, the hotel, are open to the atrium. Those of the office levels are covered in glass. The building is named the Discovery Center and is in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

atrium and skylight of Discover Center and Discovery Suites
P.S. It's evening and we're at the lobby looking straight up the atrium to the skylight.

April 6, 2009

Ready to jaywalk

Does anybody know what kind of tree this is? And whether those things around and hanging from it are roots, vines or branches? There's a tree just like it on my route home from work but it's not as magnificent as this specimen along Roxas Boulevard in the City of Manila.

Roxas Boulevard

April 5, 2009

End of the visit

The two-week visit of my sister and three nieces has ended. They went back home yesterday and, as is always the case the day after any of my family leave, I'm feeling out of sorts again. So I decided to post another photo from our trip to Subic Bay, where we actually did nothing but hang out at the All Hands Beach (yes, there is an Officers Beach). All my nieces are water babies and on the first day, my sister told them they had to get out of the water by 6:00 p.m. Here they are squeezing water play out of the last few minutes while the sun set behind some of the mountains of Zambales. The youngest has just gotten the floaty, the middle one has decided she just wants to sit on the shore, and the eldest is that little dot beside the first string of buoys.

sunset at Subic Bay

Urban or rural, natural or man-made, take a sightseeing tour of our world's diverse scenery!
Scenic Sunday

April 4, 2009

Farmers Plaza

Farmers Plaza in Cubao is one of the oldest malls in Quezon City. It was built before shopping was supposed to be an 'experience' and the shops were small and crowded, and the corridors dark and narrow. It underwent a major renovation when the Metro Rail Transit system was constructed because one of the MRT's largest stations would connect directly to it. On one side of Farmers Plaza, and the reason for its name, is Farmers Market, one of the oldest, largest and cleanest fresh produce, meat and seafood markets in the city.

Farmers Plaza

April 3, 2009

Community center

The smallest unit of government in the Philippines is the barangay. The closest English word for it would be 'village.' Each barangay has at least a small room where the elected officials can meet and where the secretary and one or two other staff members can stay to process forms, set appointments, and settle disputes and complaints. I remember when our barangay hall was one dark and tiny room with two small desks and one shared typewriter. Through the decades, the barangay has set aside money from its budget and requested funding from our congressmen and mayors to add more facilities. Now, our barangay hall is two stories high with several multi-function rooms that can be rented for parties and events, and there's a playground, tennis and volleyball courts, a covered basketball court and a small gym. The park now even has a grand-looking entrance. The last time I went there, they had torn down one side of the tiny senior citizen center to make it bigger.

U.P. Village Park

April 2, 2009


Our neighborhood, which was established in the early 1960s, has an unusual number of duplex homes like this. I don't know if the word is used elsewhere or even if other countries have such houses. Basically, a duplex is two houses made to look like a single house. If you look closely, you'll see where the dividing wall is. I think it was a way to go around the minimum lot size one could buy as prescribed by certain neighborhoods. Do you have duplexes in your city?

duplex house

April 1, 2009

Toxic yellow

THEME DAY: YELLOW • The longhorn cowfish (Lactoria cornuta) has horns at the front of its head, hence its name. It is not a food fish as its flesh is poisonous and it also releases a toxic substance when harassed or stressed. They come in different shades of yellow, from bright yellow to olive. I saw this lemon yellow specimen in the bahura (reef) section of the Manila Ocean Park.

longhorn cowfish

It'll be interesting to find out how many shades of yellow we'll see from City Daily Photo bloggers around the world. And I also wonder how many shades we'll actually be able to give names to! Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.