October 31, 2009

Not itsy-bitsy

I think Mr. Spider wants coffee and donuts from Go Nuts Donuts as his Halloween treat.

Go Nuts Donuts mascot with Halloween spider

6:07PM UPDATE: Oh wow. I've just noticed in my Dashboard that this is my 500th post! I've been waiting forever for it and almost missed it. Geez…

October 30, 2009

Paving stones

My favorite road in the Ateneo de Manila University. Except in very special circumstances, vehicles are not allowed on it.

road with paving stones and large acacia trees in the Ateneo de Manila University

October 29, 2009


The regular academic year in the Philippines begins in June and ends in March. Most colleges and universities divide these ten months into two semesters, though a few offer trimesters. For those with only two semesters, the last two weeks of October and the first week of November (with some variation) are usually the semestral break. While students and faculty are on vacation, other school personnel use the time to clean, repair and renovate classrooms.

stacks of school chairs outside a classroom

October 28, 2009


Since we're already at Sofitel Philippine Plaza, let's take a peek at Spiral, the hotel's flagship restaurant. It is one of the most popular buffet restaurants in Metro Manila, with open cooking stations and the widest array of multi-cuisine dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the lovely spiral staircase that leads from the lobby to the restaurant, and its unusual and very striking spiral sculpture.

spiral staircase and sculpture of Sofitel Philippine Plaza's Spiral restaurant

October 26, 2009

Shaken, not stirred

From October 21 to December 16, Sofitel Philippine Plaza is hosting themed parties at its luxurious 7Pecados by the Bay bar and club. Last Wednesday's theme was "Casino Royale" and I think even James Bond would have approved of the booth that my husband and I chose. Instead of seats, it has a lounge chair for two. And don't you just love those crystal-beaded walls?

lounge chair for two at 7Pecados

The cover charge, amazingly tiny at only 200 pesos (about US$4), not only gives you entrance to the club. You also get two drinks of your choice, peanuts and wasabi peas are already on your table, and servers with trays laden with various hors d'oeuvre walk around the room offering more filling treats to all the guests. The theme was also applied to the drinks—you have to choose your drinks from the bar list at the entrance and instead of drink stubs, you're given playing cards which correspond to your choices. I used my 6 for the Mai Tai (dark and white rum, curacao, grenadine, pineapple juice, orgeat syrup and lime juice) and the 10 was for a Long Island Iced Tea (sweet and sour mix, vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec and Coca-Cola).

drinks and bar chow at 7Pecados

The smaller aces of spades in the photo above, each labeled with a face value of 1000 pesos, was for one of the night's main attractions: casino games. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) lent 7Pecados a Black Jack table with two dealers (cute dude—I like his dimples)…

Black Jack table at 7Pecados

and two slot machines. Of course, this was all just for fun so no real money was involved.

slot machines at 7Pecados

The casino games were very popular that night. I'm glad I got photos before the crowds arrived. The handsome 27˝ iMacs were quite popular too. Just for World Wide Wednesdays —WWW@7Pecados, which is the party series' name—the bar also becomes a mini internet hub.

www7pecados Casino Royale themed party at 7Pecados

And what's a party without music? The band was good—they had everyone swaying to the beat even as they were playing games or chatting away with friends. I asked the girl at the reception table their name, but my liquor-soaked brain didn't retain it. (Thanks to a friend in Sofitel, I now have their name: Blind Curve.)

band at the www7pecados Casino Royale themed party at 7Pecados

I couldn't resist this next shot. The ceiling of 7Pecados is completely covered with mirror tiles and I found it fascinating. So now I have an unusual portrait of me and my husband. And the guy in the next booth.

self portrait using the mirrored ceiling at 7Pecados

The next World Wide Wednesdays themed party at 7Pecados by the Bay is on November 4: Knock Out Night. (I just hope that's not what I'll be like—knocked out—at the end of the evening.) Who wants to come? Everyone's invited!

sign of 7Pecados by the Bay

October 25, 2009

Milk candies

Pastillas de leche originally from the province of Bulacan. Carabao's milk and sugar. Soft, bite-sized, creamy, melt-in-your mouth sweetness.

pastillas de leche

October 24, 2009

Outdoor photography

Caught a beautiful and unusually-mounted outdoor photo exhibit at the plaza of Eastwood Mall. I like how the photo banners are mounted on the planters.

outdoor photography exhibit at Eastwood Mall

October 23, 2009

Wired sky

The evening's rain clouds limned by a rosy sunset, a little haze from vehicular pollution, and the ubiquitous power cables crisscrossing over your head. Welcome to Metro Manila.

power cables across a sunset sky

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

October 22, 2009


I can't believe I've never seen a papaya blossom before. Maybe it's because most fruit-bearing papaya trees I've seen are taller than I am. But this little 5-foot (1.5 meter) tree just outside my office window started blooming this week. It's almost hard to imagine that that tiny little flower can turn into such a big (and delicious) fruit.

papaya blossom

October 21, 2009

One big rock

"Specific Gravity" by Reg Yuson, a sculpture and water feature at Bonifacio High Street, a shopping and dining promenade in Taguig City.

Specific Gravity by Reg Yuson

This is what the whole piece looks like. No matter how many times I've seen it, it always fascinates me. And I'm definitely not the only one.

Specific Gravity by Reg Yuson

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

October 20, 2009

Rising from the ashes

This isn't about Baang Coffee but about the mugs that they use in their coffee shops. This distinctive pottery style—the rough, speckled, natural body with the smooth, color-glazed lip—is the work of master potter Lanelle Abueva Fernando who has her studio and a garden café in Antipolo City in the province of Rizal. The speckles are caused by her use of volcanic ash from Mount Pinatubo. Back in 1991, Mount Pinatubo, located 90 kilometers north of Metro Manila, blew up in one of the worst volcanic eruptions of the 20th century. Lanelle's production of these pieces began as her way of helping the Aetas displaced by the catastrophe. She brought some of them to her workshop and taught them pottery, using the same material that destroyed their homeland in the first place. Now, it is Lanelle's most popular signature design. Each piece is handcrafted so there are never any two that are exactly alike.

Baang Coffee

It's that time of the month when I remind all CDP bloggers to please vote for the December theme! The theme for November 1 is Doorways. I'm actually dreading this because most places here have privacy walls and I can't even see the doors, much less take pictures of them. Ach!

October 19, 2009

A book by its cover

I know I've posted quite a lot of restaurant and food photos but really, it's hard not to when food and social eating are such significant aspects of life in Manila. But not all eating places here are fancy or fastfood restaurants. Early in the life of this blog, I posted a photo of a pares-pares, that ubiquitous Manila streetside eatery with no airconditioning that's open to all the fumes of the city's old and refurbished vehicles. The presumptuously-named Friuli Trattoria is slightly better in that it has airconditioning, but its chairs are little more than steel stools with tiny seats on the first floor. (Don't ask about the Batman lamp yet.)

Friuli Trattoria's first floor

The seats on the second floor, which you get to by a narrow and steep spiral staircase, are these equally uncomfortable plastic monobloc chairs. The coffee machine on the left makes a horrendous racket when it's in use and the low ceiling definitely does not help. (Paper bats tacked to the ceiling and a Batman lamp downstairs—I think you can guess why now.)

Friuli Trattoria's second floor

Friuli is located in a tiny converted townhouse and is only a ten-minute walk away from our house. The service is uninspired at best, but it serves great pizzas, breaded and deep-fried mozzarella sticks, and fancily-shaped gelato. Here is one of our favorite pizzas, the simple but yummy Margherita: mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Friuli's version also has green bell pepper, which Neapolitan pizza experts will probably protest against, but we're not complaining.

Friuli Trattoria's Margherita pizza

October 18, 2009

A different scene

Metro Manila has a vibrant theater scene that begins in June and ends in March of the next year. There's a healthy mix of local and international plays, though non-Filipino and non-English language ones are usually translated into one or the other. Even then, performances of the sarswela—a genre that combines spoken and sung scenes, orchestral music, and dance—is rare nowadays. The form comes from the Spanish zarzuela, which spread to its colonies, which in turn developed their own traditions, the Philippines included. The extended centennial celebrations of the University of the Philippines included a sarswela festival, for which they invited the theater arts groups of other universities. This performance of "Sa Bunganga ng Pating" (in the mouth/jaws/maw of the shark), written by Julian Cruz Balmaceda in 1921, was by a group from the Far Eastern University. The music was arranged and conducted by Professor Chino Toledo.

performance of the sarswela 'Sa Bunganga ng Pating' by the FEU Art Theatre Clinique with Prof. Chino Toledo conducting the orchestra

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

October 17, 2009

Raise the roof

Though I root for the Blue Eagles when it's basketball season, I have to confess that I'm not really much of a basketball fan. The only reason why I was at the Back 2 the Bonfire program last week was because our office was involved in organizing the event. In other words, it was just work for me—fun work, but work nevertheless. Anyway, we were at the parking lot early so we saw the stage being set up. We arrived while they were hanging flood lights and speakers from the ceiling frame and we wondered why the ceiling of the stage was so low. It looked kind of claustrophobic. Then these guys grabbed chains at the four corners and started pulling them to raise the ceiling. Oh!

men setting up a stage

But what happens when a chain gets stuck? Then someone has to climb up to untangle it by hand.

men setting up a stage

October 16, 2009

Empty isn't always bad

Bonifacio Global City in the City of Taguig is one of the fastest-growing mixed-use land developments in Metro Manila. It still has large tracts of empty land but almost everywhere you look, you'll see high-rise buildings going up. BGC is named such because the land used to be the location of Fort Bonifacio, the home of the Philippine Army. That in turn was named after Andres Bonifacio, one of the leaders of the Philippine revolution against Spanish colonial rule in the late 19th century.

Bonifacio Global City

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

October 15, 2009


On Thursday, October 8, I announced that the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles won the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men's basketball championship and the Blue Eaglets won the juniors' title. On Saturday, October 10, their fans gathered at the grade school parking lot to honor them at a program called "Back 2 the Bonfire." The title celebrates the fact that this is also a back-to-back championship for the Blue Eagles so this is the second year in a row that we've had a bonfire. Other teams were also honored for winning championships during the first semester: the grade school basketball team, high school swimming team, high school judokas, men's judokas and men's golf team. The program ended with the lighting of the big bonfire, only the top of which I could see because we could no longer move from where we were. University administrators estimate that there were eight thousand people crammed into the parking lot that night.

the crowd at the Back 2 the Bonfire event of the Ateneo de Manila
the crowd at the Back 2 the Bonfire event of the Ateneo de Manila

October 14, 2009

Can you see it?

The Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) is a relatively small freshwater crocodile found only in the Philippines. It doesn't grow more than 3 meters (about 10 feet) in length and is found mostly in the northern part of the country. In fact, it is named after the island of Mindoro in Luzon. Unfortunately, it is in the critically endangered list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), originally because of commercial exploitation but now because of human encroachment on its preferred habitats and also because of bad fishing methods. As of August 2009, the IUCN reports that the total population surviving in the wild is estimated at only 100 mature individuals. Thankfully, several conservation societies have created captive breeding and releasing programs for it. Together with awareness and education campaigns for local communities, the programs might just succeed in bringing it back to healthy population levels. The Manila Ocean Park has several Philippine crocodiles in its Agos (Flow) section, where I (barely) saw this one enjoying a quiet moment under the rainforest waterfall.

Philippine crocodile at the Manila Ocean Park

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

October 13, 2009

One blogging nation

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that My Manila made it as a finalist in the Best Photo Blog nationwide category of the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards. That alone was a big surprise because I knew that the category was very popular and would have had lots of nominees. When I visited the other finalists and discovered that out of the nine, seven were professionals and the other two were serious hobbyists, the fact that my blog even made it to the finals was even more astounding. I think that most of you know by now that I don't even think of myself as an amateur photographer. I tend to think of myself as a blogger who happens to have photos in my posts. Though I knew that I couldn't win given the exceptional quality of the photos of the nine, my husband and I still attended the awarding last Friday, October 9. I've never been to an event of that kind and wanted to see what it was like. This was the poster in front of the venue. The screen shot of My Manila is the first of the dark blue squares in the L. And in case you're wondering, the winner of the Best Photo Blog category is a photographer named Estan Cabigas.

Philippine Blog Awards 2009

It's funny how things turn out sometimes. I wrote this post on Sunday and scheduled it for Tuesday, then I got news on Monday that Jacob and Lois Anne had given me their Pixel Perfect Award! Coming from two amazing photographers, it's a great honor. So now I have strangely mixed announcements. Strangely mixed, that's me. :)

Pixel Perfect Award The Pixel Perfect award is given to a photo blogger who exhibits exceptional photographic skill in terms of artistic creativity, composition, sharpness and exposure. The criteria for receiving this award also includes a commitment to the City Daily Photo community.

Thank you, Jacob and Lois Anne!

October 12, 2009

WWII alien

At least, that's what this looks like to me. I saw this sculpture made of old scrap metal inside Fort Santiago in the old walled city of Intramuros but couldn't find any kind of information about it. I won't be surprised if the metal came from weapons and vehicles used during WWII, which also caused the damage to the building behind it.

metal sculpture inside Fort Santiago

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

October 11, 2009

Banking on the Lord

I didn't know anything about the United Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) until I checked their website. The community specializes in helping each other solve their problems (financial, health, family, spiritual) through prayer and faith. Since everyone has some kind of problem all the time, I imagine they have a pretty big congregation. This is their main church in the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City, a highly commercial district so it's not surprising that the church has rented out space in front to Security Bank. It is right across Farmers Plaza, the Araneta Coliseum and Gateway Mall. That's the Eurotel hotel, which I posted last month, peeking on the left.

United Church of the Kingdom of God in Cubao, Quezon City

October 9, 2009


If you stand on one end of the plaza in front of Eastwood Mall (where the dancing fountain is) and look up, this is what you see.

residential and office towers around Eastwood Mall

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

October 8, 2009

Training grounds

The Moro Lorenzo Sports Center (MLSC) of the Ateneo de Manila University was constructed in 2001, and has multi-purpose courts which can be used for basketball, volleyball and badminton. It has an indoor track oval, a gym and a sports medicine clinic, aside from a chapel and a café. It is named after Luis F. "Moro" Lorenzo, Sr., an alumnus of the university, a former basketball player, and, before his death in 1997, a very successful businessman. The MLSC is where the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the university's men's basketball team, practices everyday. This afternoon is the third and final game of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men's basketball championship between the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors. Last year, we won against the De La Salle Green Archers. I'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed today! Go Blue Eagles! One big fight!!

Moro Lorenzo Sports Center

6:06 P.M. update: The Ateneo Blue Eagles beat the UE Red Warriors 71–58! Woohoo!!! And the Ateneo High School's Blue Eaglets also beat De La Salle-Zobel 61–51! A double championship! Congratulations, boys! And thank you.

October 7, 2009


Caught in slow-moving traffic one rainy morning, I finally noticed the graffiti-covered buildings under the Katipunan Avenue flyover. They're not abandoned but are still being used as offices of some kind. And no, I wasn't driving.

building with graffiti along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City seen through a wet window

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

October 6, 2009


By all accounts, Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal was a polymath, a Renaissance man—he was an ophthalmologist, writer, sculptor and painter, and could speak at least ten languages. He was an avid sportsman too—fencing, pistol shooting and martial arts. Economics, anthropology, architecture, cartography, sociology—the man practiced almost everything. When he was exiled to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, he designed and built a small hospital and a water supply system, and opened a small school and taught agriculture. This statue of him stands outside the Rizal Shrine inside Fort Santiago in the old walled city of Intramuros. It's kind of deceiving because it makes Rizal look so tall when he was all of 59 inches (150 cm) in height. But with brains like that, who cares about his height? Definitely not any of his Filipino, Spanish, Japanese, British, Belgian or Irish girlfriends.

statue of Jose Rizal inside Fort Santiago

October 5, 2009

Natural polish

So how do Filipinos who don't have electric floor polishers or vacuum cleaners with a gazillion attachments keep their wood and stone floors shiny? With a bunot, half (or two-thirds, in this case) of a dried-out coconut husk—without the shell, which is too hard. The husk's fibers are soft enough not to scratch wooden floors but tough enough to withstand the vigorous polishing that floors require. Of course, this method requires that one be healthy and very fit, without knee or hip problems of any kind. Put one foot on the bunot and just slide it back and forth, following the grain of the wood. Guaranteed to strengthen your arches and leg muscles, and give you a great aerobic workout. And I've just realized while cropping and editing this photo that our bedroom floor needs to be waxed and polished very soon.


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

October 4, 2009


The arch over the central doorway of the Manila Cathedral is inscribed with the Latin phrase "Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus." As far as I could understand the word-by-word definition in the World Star website, it means "We consecrate to your immaculate spirit and entrust to you for safekeeping." The Manila Cathedral is also known as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. I hope that Vogon Poet gets to visit today so he can confirm or correct my translation.

detail of doorway arch of the Manila Cathedral

October 3, 2009

And now, back to our regular programming

Beginning with food! Nothing is more typically Pinoy than comforting each other, celebrating or just gathering to talk, than doing so with lots of food. Seafood pasta (squid rings and shrimp in spicy tomato sauce) from Pino restaurant.

spicy seafood pasta

October 1, 2009


THEME DAY: CONTRAST • First of all, I would like to thank everyone who came by these past few days to ask about my family's safety. Seeing all those messages of concern was truly heartwarming. Secondly, I apologize for not visiting much this week, but I think most of you know and understand why. Those of us who were lucky enough to have escaped the wrath of tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana) are trying to help its hundreds of thousands of victims in our own little way, whether by donating food and clothes, volunteering time and physical labor, or spreading useful information. You have probably seen many images of Ondoy's devastation already, so as a contrast to those, I offer you images of a relief operations center located in the Ateneo de Manila University. It is only one of many around Metro Manila and though not the biggest, "Ateneo Task Force Ondoy" is probably one of the most organized and orderly. Traffic marshals guide vehicles bearing donations inside the courts where volunteers unload, sort and pack them into plastic bags.

sorting area for Ondoy relief operations center

More volunteers form human chains to load the bags into trucks, vans and SUVs, which are also volunteered by their owners. Between the Philippine Jesuits' social apostolates and the university's social involvement organizations, areas that need relief goods are readily identified and contact persons in the area help ensure that distribution is orderly.

loading area for Ondoy relief operations center

While immediate relief assistance (food, water, clothes) continues, Ateneo Task Force Ondoy has begun the next two phases of its operations: health and clean-up. Recovery will be slow and this will be a sad Christmas for many, but as long as there are people who are willing to help and people who can make sure that attention will not waver several months down the road, our people will recover.

The first of the month is always Theme Day for City Daily Photo bloggers around the world. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.