July 31, 2009


Today is the feastday of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. All Jesuit institutions in the Philippines (and maybe worldwide for all I know) are on holiday today. Today is also the anniversary of the dedication of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù. This image is just above the altar of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, one of the two side chapels of the Gesù. Sculpted by Justino "Paloy" A. Cagayat Jr. of Paete, Laguna (a town known for its highly-skilled wood craftsmen), this is a very unusual Immaculate Conception because of her Filipina features and dress. Some people find it hard to get used to since most images of Mary here are very European, but I like it.

Immaculate Conception in Filipiniana dress at the side chapel of the Church of the Gesù

July 30, 2009

Of talented youth and a flustered photoblogger

Manila's performing arts season has started! And the first play that I watched was Repertory Philippines' production of The Fantasticks, the world's longest-running musical. Repertory Philippines, or Rep as it is more popularly known here, is one of the most prolific professional theater companies in Manila. It first opened its doors to the public in 1967 and has brought in many international plays and musicals that most Filipinos wouldn't have had a chance to watch if it weren't for them. Meet PJ Valerio and Julia Abueva, who play the lovers in the musical. PJ is 19 and Julia is all of 13 years old! Even at their tender young age, both are already stage veterans.

PJ Valerio and Julia Abueva in Repertory Philippines' production of The Fantasticks

This photo actually has a story behind it and it's longer than my commentary above so I hope you'll indulge me. Repertory Philippines, like other professional performing arts groups, does not allow photos inside the theater unless they give permission. So during the intermission, I approached a lady at the front of house and asked if I could take a photo for the blog at the end of the play. She said that the actors will be at the lobby after the play, but I wanted a photo while they were still on the stage and said so. She said that she would talk to the stage manager and would look for me inside the theater. By the end of the play, I still didn't have any word, so I behaved and kept my camera in my bag even during the curtain call, which was when I was thinking of taking the photo. Imagine my surprise when she approached me then and asked me to come close to the stage because the cast would come out again after the curtain call so I could take a photo. Eek! So I did and the cast did come out again and I wanted to die of embarrassment the entire time! Especially when other people in the audience started taking out their own cameras and going up to the actors asking to pose with them and all. What's even worse, I was so totally flabbergasted, I was shaking and my photos didn't turn out well. Too blurry to be usable, and overexposed too because all the stage lights were on and I wasn't able to adjust the settings for hurrying to get it over with. Sigh. I really want to thank Rep for all the bother and to apologize for not being able to post a photo of the entire cast after all that fuss. I think there are two lessons to be learned from this experience. One is for Rep: I hope they continue having the meet-and-greet on stage rather than in the lobby. It was nice seeing fans and friends mingling with the actors on stage. The corridors going out from the theater are so narrow it can take forever to go out and most of the audience miss the actors outside. And one is for myself: Next time I ask permission to take photos from any theater group, I have to specifically say that I just want to take them during the curtain call.

July 29, 2009

Tiny bubbles

The unusual and modern water feature in the square connecting the two wings of The Medical City, a large hospital complex along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City. While I was taking pictures of it, a security guard came up to me to ask me to stop because photos aren't allowed without the permission of the hospital's marketing officer. Hate that.

glass water feature at The Medical City

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

July 28, 2009

Triangle and dome

I still haven't had the time to walk through SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden, but I did pass near enough to take a photo of this triangular rainbow sculpture with the amphitheater's dome in the background. Not surprisingly, the amphitheater is called the Sky Dome. And I just thought of something: What do you call a rainbow when it's not bow-shaped? :)

triangular rainbow sculpture and Sky Dome at SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden

UPDATE: The artist, Joel Ferraris, has informed me that the title of this sculpture is "Prism 24."

July 27, 2009

Read the fine print

My husband and I always thought that La Maison was a French restaurant. It isn't.

La Maison steakhouse

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

July 26, 2009

Where to?

This curved footbridge leads from the Araneta Coliseum, but for the life of me I can't remember where it leads to. Probably to Farmers Plaza, the mall behind me, but don't rely on that or you might get lost. The sad part is, I know I've walked through that footbridge several times in the past. Sigh. The green glass structure to the left of the coliseum is another mall, Gateway.

curved footbridge at the Araneta Coliseum

July 25, 2009

Woven light

Kabisera ni Dencio's, a restaurant at Bonifacio High Street, is a showcase not just of Filipino food but also of Filipino furniture and handicrafts. Even the lanterns on the walls, made largely out of textured resin, have a touch of Philippine handicraft with its freeform natural wicker weave.

resin and wicker lamp at Kabisera ni Dencio's

July 24, 2009

Metal monstrosity

When our typhoon season rolls in, some of the more responsible outdoor advertising companies roll down the large tarpaulin billboards found all over Metro Manila. Too many have fallen in the past and brought down power cables, destroyed property and caused car accidents. Of course, the empty metal frames make for an awful city skyline, but then I think that's true of most advertising billboards in general.

empty billboard frame

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

July 23, 2009

Mobile clinic

I see mobile clinics like this only on two types of occasions. They go to large companies with health care benefits for their employees for scheduled annual physical examinations—more convenient than having employees go to clinics and hospitals and taking the whole day off for it. And they're also hired for big events with lots of people in venues without their own clinics. They're usually stationed in the parking lot, like this one was.

mobile clinic

July 22, 2009

Spanish Dramatist or Filipino Saint

This ornate white fountain stands in Plaza Calderón de la Barca in front of the Binondo Church in Manila's Chinatown. The plaza is named after Pedro Calderón de la Barca, a Spanish dramatist of the 17th century whose play La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream) continues to be reinterpreted and staged until today. This tiny space is also known as Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, after the first Filipino saint who happens to be from Binondo.

white fountain in Plaza Calderon in Binondo

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

July 21, 2009

It was modern in the 60s

Beside the main building of Quezon City Hall stands this squat, oddly-shaped building with a relief featuring Manuel L. Quezon, some Quezon City landmarks, and the industries and products for which the city was known at the time the hall was built. The main building was severely damaged by a fire in the 1980s and renovated extensively, but this unusual structure has remained unchanged since the 1960s. (It also looks like it hasn't been washed since then, but I digress.) I believe its architectural style is now called Mid-Century Modern. I've lived in Quezon City all my life, but I still don't know what's in there.

Quezon City Hall

Just another reminder to all CDP bloggers to vote for the September theme! And are you ready with your photo for August 1? The theme is Night, and as I love night shots, I'm definitely looking forward to blog hopping on that day.

July 20, 2009

Strange fusion

The kids that run Pino restaurant have a knack for creating dishes that sound strange when you read the descriptions in the menu but taste absolutely heavenly. This is one of them. Cheese sticks with nori (seaweed) wrapped in wonton wrappers, deep fried and served with strawberry sauce and nori relish. Pino's Nori Cheesesticks is supposed to be an appetizer but I can eat all eight finger-sized pieces for dinner.

Nori Cheesesticks at Pino Restaurant

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

July 19, 2009


The Very Reverend Adolfo Nicolás is the current Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the largest male religious order in the Roman Catholic Church. He is only the thirtieth Superior General in the order's 469-year history (St. Ignatius of Loyola being the first) and was elected to the position on January 19, 2008. Fr. Nicolás is Spanish but he has spent more than half of his 73 years in Asia, mostly in Japan but also for about ten years in Manila. The headquarters of the Jesuits is in Rome so Fr. Nicolás is now based there, but he returned to Manila for several days last week to visit the Philippine Jesuits. He gave the keynote address during the Jesuit Basic Education Congress hosted by the Ateneo de Manila University and, though I'm not involved directly in academics, I was lucky enough to have been able to attend his talk. In case any of you are interested in the "Issues and Challenges in Jesuit Education Today," a three-part video of Fr. Nicolás' talk is available here, here and here. But only if you use Internet Explorer—I use Firefox and it can't even detect what kind of plug-in is needed to watch it.

the Very Reverend Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus

July 18, 2009

2.4 meters

Fort Santiago in Intramuros was established by the Spanish conquistadores in 1571 but the original fort was made out of wood. The stone walls were erected only between 1589–1592. The walls are 2.4 meters (8 feet) thick and 6.7 meters (22 feet) high. The main entrance, which stands behind the moat I posted last month, is 12 meters (40 feet) high. The large coat of arms just above the arch is the Pillars of Hercules version of the abbreviated coat of arms of the Spanish monarchy at the time. (Comparing it to the illustrations in the Wikipedia entry, I think the sculptor made some errors though.) Philip II was king of Spain at the time of the conquest, which is why the islands were called Las Islas Filipinas.

main entrance of Fort Santiago in Intramuros

July 17, 2009


I like the contrast of the huge cranes of North Harbor in the background and the small sailboats docked at the Manila Yacht Club in the foreground in this Manila Bay scene.

sailboats and gantry cranes in Manila Bay

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

July 16, 2009


Another Filipiniana dress from the exhibit that I caught at the SM City North mall. The butterfly sleeves, simpler neckline and contoured bodice identify this as a terno. Traditional dresses such as the terno and Maria Clara are still worn by Filipino women nowadays, but usually only during formal occasions. However, this is also the first time I've seen a terno's sleeves made completely out of beads and golden ornaments. This fantastic creation is the work of David Ocampo.

terno with fully-beaded sleeves created by David Ocampo

July 15, 2009

Relaxing rooftop

This rooftop swimming pool is probably the most charming spot in the entire Bayview Park Hotel. The rooms are nothing extraordinary, there's only one café, the business center and gym close at 5:00 p.m., and the lobby doesn't even have armchairs so guests could at least sit while waiting their turn at the check-in counter. But Bayview Park does have several things going for it: compared to other hotels along Roxas Boulevard (which runs parallel to Manila Bay), it's very inexpensive (especially when booked through Agoda); it's one of the stops of the colorful hop-on-hop-off jeepneys; and it's right across the U.S. Embassy.

rooftop swimming pool of Bayview Park Hotel

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

July 14, 2009

A giant in Philippine telecoms

Another round of introductions today, this time with one of the Philippines' most powerful men, who happens to still be eligible too. Manuel V. Pangilinan is the Chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), the country's largest telecommunications company, and Smart Communications, the country's leading and most popular cellphone company. That's just the tip of the iceberg but I am not about to list all his positions in the many other private companies, sports commissions and social development organizations that he is involved with in the Philippines. Let me just add that he is also the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Pacific, a Hong Kong-based investment and management company with operations all over Asia. He is turning 63 today so: Happy Birthday, Mr. Pangilinan!

Manuel V. Pangilinan

July 13, 2009

Rough rear

This is the Giant Japanese Spider Crab (Macrocheira kaempferi) at the Manila Ocean Park. According to the sign beside its tank, it is the largest living arthropod in the world and is believed to have a life expectancy of up to 100 years. Because it is a particularly old species of crab, it is often referred to as a living fossil. I think he got tired of all the people staring at him and all I could photograph was his rear end.

Giant Japanese Spider Crab

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

July 12, 2009

This should have been scenic

Standing on the outer walls of Fort Santiago beside the Pasig River, one can look east and see Binondo (Manila's Chinatown) across the river and the Manila Central Post Office building just beyond Jones Bridge. The 25-kilometer Pasig River connects Laguna de Bay (the largest lake in the Philippines) and Manila Bay. During the Spanish colonial era, it was a very important transport route, but because of uncontrolled population growth and industrialization after WWII, the river was neglected. Factories and scores of informal settlers on its banks dumped—and continue to dump—their waste in it, using it as their personal sewage system. Since the 1990s, the Pasig River has been considered ecologically dead. Needless to say, its pollution also affects Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay. There have been several attempts to gather support for the river's rehabilitation through the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, but they have been intermittent and never gained much ground. With 50,000 to 100,000 potential voters settled (illegally) on its banks, and national elections coming up next year, I don't think that any attempt to rehabilitate the river will succeed any time soon.

Pasig River with a view of Binondo, Jones Bridge and the Manila Central Post Office

July 11, 2009

A butterfly's sister

Meet Pia Guballa, an 18-year-old freshman Psychology major who has a passion for photography. When she was seven years old, her brother Migi, who was only four at the time, died of a congenital heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot. As a way of providing her an outlet for her grief, her mother Cathy gave her a journal to write or draw anything every time she remembered her little brother. So she did. And this year, Cathy and Pia re-wrote one of those stories and turned it into a children's book illustrated by Frances Alcaraz. It is the story of Migi's hospitalization and death from the point of view and experiences of Pia as a little girl, and is the first of a series of special topics for children planned by Anvil Publishing. It's about time.

Pia Guballa with a banner of her book 'Heaven's Butterfly'

July 10, 2009

The first 'black pope'

This is the statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556) which stands inside the main campus of the Ateneo de Manila University. Ignatius (also Iñigo or Ignacio) is the Basque founder of the Society of Jesus. The sculpture depicts an important moment in his life, when he decided to turn his back on his military past and dedicate the rest of his life to following and serving God. He went to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat where he left his sword and military vestments before an image of Mary. If you look closely, you'll notice that the sword is chained to Ignatius' wrist. It's an almost-irresistible temptation for graduating students who want a special memento of their Ateneo years. It's still the rainy season in the Philippines and our skies in Metro Manila have been this dreary almost everyday this past week.

statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola

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

July 9, 2009

Soft and silken

One of the most common street snacks in the Philippines is taho, though it probably came to us through China. It only has three ingredients: fresh soft tofu, arnibal (a syrup made from caramelized brown sugar), and tiny sago pearls. It's filling, high in protein, provides a quick dose of energy because of the sugar, and, most importantly for many Filipinos, it's cheap. This serving in a regular-sized plastic cup costs only 10 pesos (US¢20) and they're available in the smaller, water cooler-sized cup for half the price. Don't let its looks deceive you—taho is delicious! You can see a taho vendor in one of my Baguio City Series posts from last year.


July 8, 2009

Rainforest waterfall

The most beautiful environment of the Manila Ocean Park is the Agos (flow) section. Ferns, vines and a waterfall provide a wonderful and dramatic backdrop to the fish tanks that contain creatures found in river ecosystems, like the Giant Arapaima which I posted back in March.

Agos (Flow) section of the Manila Ocean Park

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

July 7, 2009


Those who visit this blog regularly may have noticed by now that I have a thing for restaurant interiors. This is Café Puccini, an Italian restaurant at the Fort Strip in Taguig City's Bonifacio Global City. In this case, it was the stone oven and the golden chandelier that caught my eye. Our shy server didn't quite know where to look when she saw me taking pictures in her direction.

Café Puccini at the Fort Strip

July 6, 2009

The east concessionaire

Back in 1997, the water distribution system of Metro Manila was privatized to raise much-needed revenue for the government and to provide better services. The metro was divided between two companies, with the Manila Water Company getting the eastern areas. The initial contract with the government-owned Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) is for 25 years but just last month, the contract had already been extended for another 15 years. I'm glad. They have been replacing old water pipes throughout their service areas and, aside from the fact that this conserves precious clean water, ever since Manila Water took over we have had no problems with weak water pressure or, worse, interrupted water supply—not uncommon in the years before 1997.

Manila Water van

The verdict is out: the August 1 theme for City Daily Photo bloggers is Night. And don't forget to vote for the September theme!

July 5, 2009


I've shown you photos of the pretty rooftop gardens of Trinoma mall here and here. Right across that huge mall is another huge mall, SM City North EDSA. SM, owned by the Sy family, was the first modern mall in the northern part of Quezon City, but through the decades, it had come to look a bit seedy and it never had upscale American or European brands and shops, so the more affluent residents of Quezon City and Caloocan City still had to go south to Makati City to do their shopping. When the new and more beautiful Trinoma, owned by the Zobel de Ayala family, opened with its designer boutiques a few years ago, rich Caloocan and Quezon City residents finally had a place to shop. And since it also had the more affordable local stores, not to mention numerous restaurants and cafés around its green terraces, Trinoma pulled away quite a lot of SM's customers. So SM City North was forced to renovate extensively, building The Block then razing The Annex to the ground and rebuilding it. It also built this Sky Garden above what used to be its open car park. The Sky Garden opened the week after I took this photo. Next time I go to SM City North, I'll try to walk down its 400-meter length just to see what's there.

Sky Garden of SM City North EDSA

July 4, 2009

Ringing for world peace?

The very first World Peace Bell was a gift of the Japanese people to the United Nations in 1954. It was founded with coins donated by delegates to the UN's 13th General Conference in Paris in 1951. It symbolizes the countries' wish for a peaceful world free from wars and the threat posed by nuclear arms. The original is in the UN Headquarters in New York, Japan has five, and fifteen other countries have one each, including the Philippines. Ours, given in 1994, is inside the Quezon Memorial Circle, and it desperately needs some maintenance. The paint is all faded and I don't think it even has a clapper anymore. Sadly, I think it's a reflection of the state of Philippine politics.

World Peace Bell replica inside the Quezon Memorial Circle

July 3, 2009

A city of shoemakers

Marikina City is known as the shoe capital of the Philippines. The industry started here back in 1887 and it continues to be the biggest source of leather goods in the country. The city lies in a valley, and the hills in the background are part of the Sierra Madre mountain range. The green area in the foreground (behind the tree that's blocking the view) is the Loyola Memorial Park, a cemetery. I took this photo from the ridge that marks the eastern border of the Ateneo de Manila University, which is in Quezon City. The orange glow is merely a reflection of the sunset behind me.

Marikina Valley

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

July 2, 2009

Zombie plaza

One of the few industries that continues to grow in the Philippines is business process outsourcing (BPO). The most common services offered here are customer contact services, finance and accounting, and human resource. Eastwood City (the same place with the pretty mall) was one of the first property developments that offered office buildings specifically targeted to the BPO industry. E-Commerce Plaza is only one of the eight there and collectively, they're called the Eastwood City CyberPark. Now, why my title? Well, with clients from all over the world, most BPO companies operate 24/7, especially call centers. All their employees get assigned the graveyard shift at one point or another, hence the nickname for them: call center zombies.

E-Commerce Plaza in Eastwood City

July 1, 2009

And it will remain so

THEME DAY: EMPTY • At the chancel of the Manila Cathedral, there is a lovely pulpit on one side of the altar, but it has stood empty for many years because priests now give their homilies at the lectern on the other side. Above the retablo is an image of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Manila and after whom this minor basilica is also named.

pulpit and shrine of the Immaculate Conception inside the Manila Cathedral

Containing nothing, not occupied, lacking substance or value, the absence of activity, having no purpose, and to remove the contents of. These are the different meanings of empty and we're bound to see all illustrated by City Daily Photo bloggers. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.