June 30, 2009

And I thought it was just for cooking

Last year, our national government announced a big push for taxi cabs and buses to convert their gasoline and diesel engines to biofuel or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) engines. I can't find data about how many have converted, but it must be a good percentage already judging by the number of different refilling stations slowly appearing all over the metro. In converted taxis, the LPG cylinder is located in the trunk of the car. It looks jerry-rigged and is not a pretty sight, especially in an old car that looks about ready to fall apart, but with lower nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions—not to mention the lower cost per liter—who cares?

LPG tank in car

June 29, 2009


I just wanted another photo of Eastwood City Walk, the unique dining and shopping center whose design I like so much. It wasn't until I uploaded the photo that I noticed the two guys sitting across each other on the benches just beyond the arch.

Eastwood City Walk

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

June 28, 2009

Where is our blogger?

Here's a funny thing about Philippine national hero Jose Rizal: though he is considered a hero against Spanish colonial rule, he never asked for independence from Spain. In fact, a review of his writings showed that he wanted Spain to recognize the Philippines as a province rather than a colony. All he wanted was for Spain to recognize Filipinos as equals, with the same rights before the law, and the freedom of assembly and speech, as Spaniards. The civic group that he formed, La Liga Filipina, advocated reforms through legal and peaceful means. But because of the publication in Europe of his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, both of which were very critical of Spanish friars, he was declared an enemy of the state by Spanish authorities. Despite disavowing the revolution, he was arrested, court-martialed and executed by firing squad. Wielding a pen and ophthalmoscope rather than a sword and pistol, Rizal, through his writings and martyrdom, served as the catalyst for the Philippine Revolution. This painting depicting Jose Rizal's trial, imprisonment and execution hangs in the Rizal Shrine, a museum inside Fort Santiago.

painting of the execution of Jose Rizal

Freedom of assembly and speech—that was all the protesters in Iran were exercising before their government began the violent crackdown against them. Freedom of expression—that was all our fellow City Daily Photo blogger from Tehran was exercising before he was arrested with hundreds of his countrymen.

Today, the CDP community is posting in support of his freedom and the freedom of all Iran. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

And if you feel strongly enough against the violence to lend your name to a petition to be sent to all members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, and all UN member states, then go to Avaaz's Iran: Stop the Crackdown page.

June 27, 2009

A bouquet of electrical flowers

Last October, I posted a photo of the unusual and pretty lamp of Bizu Patisserie in Greenbelt. I saw it again in their Promenade branch but against walls of a different design. Back then, I called it a splash of light but Olivier of Evry Daily Photo saw un beau bouquet de fleurs électriques (a beautiful bouquet of electrical flowers). I like his description better—so much more romantic. Maybe because he's French?

interior of Bizu Patisserie in the Promenade, Greenhills
And because I'm sure that people will ask where the pastries are, they're here, here and here. Enjoy!

June 26, 2009

A bright spot

Looking south towards the hills of the province of Cavite from a ferry in the middle of Manila Bay, I saw clouds moving towards the east to join the rain clouds that were already over Metro Manila. The edge of the largest cloud was lit by the last rays of the setting sun. When we reached Manila, it was dark, cold and wet.

clouds over the province of Cavite as seen from Manila Bay

You can view the beautiful skies of our world through the Sky Watch Friday home page, but before you do, please spend a few minutes for one country whose people right now are facing a such a violent crackdown against their right to make their voices heard that I am sure none of them are even noticing what their sky is like, much less appreciate it. Please sign the petition of Avaaz (which means "voice" in many Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European languages) for Iran to
Stop the Crackdown.
The link is to the English page, but you can choose from thirteen other languages.
Sky Watch Friday

June 25, 2009

Mr. United Nations

Carlos P. Romulo (1899–1985) was a diplomat, politician, journalist, author and soldier. As a journalist and author, he was the first Asian to win a Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in the Correspondence category (1942) and is a Philippine National Artist for Literature. As a politician and diplomat, he served under eight Philippine presidents, from Manuel L. Quezon to Ferdinand E. Marcos. He was the president of the Fourth General Assembly of the United Nations in 1949. Somewhere in the seal of the UN, between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, there is a little dot that represents the Philippines. That dot is there because of Romulo. So it is quite fitting that this statue of him stands at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and United Nations Avenue in the City of Manila.

statue of Carlos P. Romulo

June 24, 2009

Island life

The best location for a Starbucks coffeeshop that I've seen in Metro Manila is the branch in Trinoma mall. It's on the 5th level roofdeck sitting in its own little island full of palm trees and green bushes, surrounded by a pond with tiny cascades and misters.

Trinoma mall branch of Starbucks

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

June 23, 2009

Can you?

Kamirori, a Japanese restaurant along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, serves uni (sea urchin) sashimi in cucumber cups with calamansi, a little plate of soy sauce and a dab of wasabi paste. Do you think you can eat it? I can't. This was my friend's order, not mine.

uni (sea urchin) sashimi

June 22, 2009

Glass nests

The headquarters of Nestlé Philippines in Rockwell Center, Makati City. To its left is the Joya Lofts and Towers and behind it is The Manansala. Both Joya and Manansala are upscale condominium towers developed by Rockwell Land and, like its other condominiums in the center, are named after distinguished Filipino artists. The dark blue, rounded glass tower on the right is the PHINMA Plaza, the head office of the PHINMA Group, an investment holding company involved in property development, education, finance and energy.

Nestlé Philippines headquarters in Rockwell Center, Makati City

June 21, 2009

Say "Cheese!"

This is my last photo about the Ateneo de Manila University event in Intramuros last Sunday, I promise. I just couldn't resist taking this shot for two reasons. First, the cop with our two 'pious and devout Indios.' He was a member of the Highway Patrol Group that escorted the motorcade, and he spent the two hours before the mass taking photos of everything with his camera phone. He also asked a colleague to take his photo while posing with all of the classic cars and with as many of the student-actors that he could waylay. I think he ended up with more photos in his cellphone than I did in my camera! Second, it's also not everyday that I see a Jesuit scholastic (student) lugging around a camera.

cop posing with costumed student-actors in Intramuros

And now it's time to remind all CDP bloggers out there to vote for the August theme! The theme for July 1 is Empty. You still have nine days to capture an image for it, if you don't have one yet.

June 20, 2009


I mentioned on Monday that after the mass, procession, groundbreaking and breakfast in Intramuros, the motorcade started and that the first stop was a mall along Padre Faura Street in Ermita, Manila which used to be the location of the Ateneo de Manila from the 1930s. The highlight of the motorcade were these beauties, parked in front of the Manila Cathedral before everything started. Let's get one thing straight first: I don't know anything about cars, so please don't ask me anything about them. I had to take photos of their logos just to identify them correctly for this post. Neither do I know if they are the correct cars for the era. All I know for sure is, they got everybody ogling them in Intramuros and people clapped when they arrived in Padre Faura.

MG – That's all the logo I could find on the car
light blue convertible MG

MG – Couldn't find the model on the car either
red convertible MG

Mercedes Benz 190 SL
red convertible Mercedes Benz 190 SL

Chevrolet Camaro SS 350
black convertible Chevrolet Camaro SS 350

Karmann Ghia – With automatic stickshift
red convertible Karmann Ghia with automatic stickshift

Mercedes Benz 280 SE – Also automatic
pale yellow Mercedes Benz 280 SE automatic

Ford Mustang 289
black convertible Ford Mustang 289

June 18, 2009


To complete the effect of being in mid-19th century Manila, the procession in Intramuros from the Manila Cathedral to the San Ignacio Church ruins included two types of vehicles in use at the time. The carruaje (carriage, pronounced kar-wah-heh) were used mostly by the upper classes. Our young 'European lady' took a ride around the cathedral while the mass was going on. During the procession, two carruajes transported the cardinal, the head of the Philippine Jesuits and the president of the Ateneo de Manila University.

carruaje, horse-drawn carriage, in Intramuros

The tranvia (tram) was used as public transportation by the middle and working classes. The tram was also horse-drawn and could sit about a dozen people. Unfortunately (or fortunately—the poor horses!), the Intramuros Administration doesn't have any of those anymore and this modern version is motorized and can sit much more than twelve. It transported our school officials, some of whom looked like little kids when they were boarding, grinning from ear to ear.

replica of a tranvia, tram, in Intramuros

June 17, 2009

Patroness of the university and of the country

The Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the Ateneo de Manila University and of the Philippines. So it was not surprising that the short procession from the Manila Cathedral to the ruins of the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros last Sunday included a beautiful statue of her on a richly decorated carroza (float). Both the statue and the carroza are much more ornate than the one the university uses every December.

the Immaculate Conception on a carroza

June 16, 2009

Mid-19th century Manila

During the Ateneo de Manila's grand sesquicentennial kick-off event last Sunday, student-actors were recruited to re-create the atmosphere of 1859 Manila. They came in period costumes, walked around the Plaza de Roma and the Manila Cathedral, talked to each other about things that would have mattered to people at the time, and generally acted as if they were residents of mid-19th century Manila. Meet some of the very interesting characters of old Manila:

The pious and devout female Indios (natives), probably spinsters, were walking around the plaza praying the rosary. Sometimes, they entered the Manila Cathedral to pray inside too.

pious and devout female Indios during mid-19th century Manila

I forgot to ask if she was a Peninsulare (Spaniard born in Spain) or an Insulare (Spaniard born in the Philippines). She could even have been an Indio from a wealthy family who has traveled to Europe. On second thought, scratch that last guess. I don't think she would have been allowed to walk around unescorted if she weren't European.

lovely, young European lady during mid-19th century Manila

When it comes to cockfighting, race and education don't matter. It brought together these Mestizos (half Spaniard, half Indio) and Indios. The three on the left are obviously Ilustrados (educated) while the one on the right looks like a peasant.

different races and classes of men brought together because of cockfighting during mid-19th century Manila

Two members of the Guardia Civil (civil guard) were patrolling the area the entire time.

members of the Guardia Civil in mid-19th century Manila

A wealthy Chinese merchant was also walking around the plaza, probably to meet with European traders. He wouldn't have had his home in Intramuros though. If he were a Catholic Chinese, he would have lived in Binondo just across the Pasig River.

rich Chinese merchant in mid-19th century Manila

Two students of the Escuela Municipal de Manila, a primary school for about 30 sons of Peninsulares and Insulares, were running all over the place. Neither the Guardia Civil nor the strict spinster friends caught them.

students of the Escuela Municipal de Manila, which became the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, in mid-19th century Manila

In 1859, the city-subsidized school was turned over to the Jesuits. In 1865, when it was elevated to a secondary school, its name was changed into the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In 1902, during the American colonial period, the government stopped its subsidy and it became a private school for boys. Six years later, in 1908, the school finally dropped the word 'Municipal' from its name. It has been known as the Ateneo de Manila since then.

June 15, 2009

Blue day

Last December, I mentioned that the Ateneo de Manila University will be celebrating its sesquicentennial, its 150th anniversary, on December 10, 2009. Yesterday was the grand kick-off celebration for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Since the Ateneo is a Roman Catholic university, it was but fitting that the day began with a mass. And since Intramuros was where it all began in 1859, the mass was held at the Manila Cathedral. It was concelebrated by about fifty Jesuit priests (I didn't get an exact count) and the main celebrant was Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, the Archbishop of Manila. The mass was at 7:00 a.m. but we were there at 6:00 a.m. to greet and welcome all who were attending.

facade of the Manila Cathedral decorated for the 150th anniversary of the Ateneo de Manila

I posted a photo of the ruins of the Jesuit San Ignacio Church last week and wrote that the Intramuros Administration would be building an ecclesiastical museum on the site and that the groundbreaking ceremony would be held on the day that the returning Jesuits set foot in Manila in 1859. That was yesterday too. After the mass at the Manila Cathedral, there was a procession to the ruins a few blocks away. The land was blessed anew by Cardinal Rosales and four Jesuits, the Pangkat Kawayan bamboo orchestra performed for the crowd, and breakfast was served on the old walls of the city fortress.

the groundbreaking program for the new ecclesiastical museum that will rise at the ruins of the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros

After breakfast, the motorcade began. It stopped at all the past and present campuses of the Ateneo de Manila University. When the Intramuros campus of the school was destroyed by a big fire in 1932, it was relocated to Ermita, Manila along Padre Faura Street. Since the school again transferred to Quezon City in the 1950s, the lot was sold to the Gokongwei family which owns a chain of malls and department stores in the Philippines. So, yes, the first stop was at a mall: Robinsons Place Manila. There was a simple ceremony to unveil a brass marker beside the mall's Padre Faura entrance. On the marker was etched an image of the old school building and an explanation of the school's history in that location. What made the ceremony memorable was the presence of about two dozen alumni who studied in the Padre Faura campus. They even sang one of their favorite Ateneo cheers after the unveiling of the marker.

Padre Faura Street entrance of Robinsons Manila decorated for the unveiling of a marker explaining Ateneo de Manila's history in that location

Unfortunately, I missed the rest of the motorcade because of my assigned tasks for the day. In fact, I missed all the ceremonies yesterday except the one at Padre Faura. I was at the Manila Cathedral, but wasn't able to attend the mass. I saw the procession begin, but wasn't able to join it. I walked to the San Ignacio ruins, but only to immediately get in a car to go to Padre Faura, so I missed the performance and the breakfast. Yesterday was work for me and for everyone in our office, after all. But once it 's produced, we can all watch the video of yesterday's events and be proud of the fact that everything came to be because of us.

June 13, 2009

Archdiocese, cathedral, basilica

The cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila, known by all as the Manila Cathedral, is located in Intramuros. It is the sixth cathedral to rise on the site since 1581. The first cathedral, made of bamboo and nipa, was built after Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull in 1579 creating the Diocese of Manila under the Archbishopric of Mexico. In 1595, Pope Clement VIII elevated the diocese into an archdiocese. The cathedral at the time, the third structure, was described as having "three naves and seven chapels" and seems to have been the design followed in its next three reconstructions. The present church was built after WWII, from 1954 to 1958. In 1981, Pope John Paul II honored the Manila Metropolitan Cathedral by declaring it a minor basilica and it now also retains the title of "Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception." The plaza with the fountain in front of the cathedral is called "Plaza de Roma" which I will feature in a separate post.

Manila Cathedral

June 12, 2009

Maria Clara

During my recent trip to The Block in SM City North, I chanced upon an exhibit of Maria Clara gowns as interpreted by young Filipino designers—the mall's way of commemorating the Philippines' Independence Day, which is today. Maria Clara is the heroine in the novel "Noli Me Tangere" written by Philippine national hero Jose Rizal. She epitomizes the traditional Filipina: meek, obedient, loving and God-fearing. The name has also come to refer to the type of clothes worn by Filipinas during the late Spanish colonial era—a mestiza dress combining indigenous and Spanish influences. I know that it's another cheeky way of commemorating this day, but I think that it's quite fitting too since we consider our Independence Day as the day that General Emilio Aguinaldo declared our country's independence from Spain in 1898, rather than the day that Americans granted us our independence. This black and white gown was created by Edwin Uy.

black and white Maria Clara gown by Edwin Uy

June 11, 2009


In a little green spot in the Quezon City Hall grounds stands a totem pole which serves as a friendship marker between Quezon City and New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, which have been sister cities since 1991. The marker was installed during the first official visit of New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright (now on his third term) in October 2004 when Quezon City celebrated the 65th anniversary of its founding. I can't find any information about the totem pole though. Is it an authentic totem pole shipped in from Canada? Or was it carved by Philippine artisans to mark the occasion?

totem pole commemorating the visit of New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright to Quezon City

June 10, 2009

School opening… sort of

The main entrance of Claret School of Quezon City looks quite elegant but just around the corner, they didn't even bother putting a smooth concrete finish on the wall of cemented hollow blocks. But they did ask the kids to paint illustrations on it. I just hope the school didn't cut those trees because of the painting project. The school year of the Philippines usually begins in the first two weeks of June, but many schools have delayed their opening by a week or two because the A(H1N1) virus has finally made its appearance here and is spreading quickly.

wall of Claret School of Quezon City painted by children with illustrations

June 9, 2009


Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, or EDSA for short, is one of Metro Manila's most important arterial roads. One end of its circumferential, 24 kilometer (15 mile) length lies in Caloocan City in the north. Then it passes through Quezon City, Mandaluyong City, Makati City and Pasay City, where its other end lies. In an effort to ease the flow of traffic on EDSA, flyovers and interchanges were built over major intersections. And in the hope that fewer buses would be needed on its route, the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT) also runs along most of its length. Neither seems to have helped much. About the only time that EDSA isn't congested is Sunday mornings, which was when I took this photo from the Quezon Avenue MRT station.

EDSA and MRT track near Quezon Avenue

June 8, 2009

Michelangelo's turning in his grave

This is what happens to nude statues in Manila. And this is just a little one decorating the entrance of Music 21, another KTV (karaoke television) venue. And I've just realized that I have never seen a nude statue displayed in any public place in Metro Manila.

wooden replica of Michelangelo's David with a scarf covering his reproductive organ

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

June 7, 2009

Like the phoenix

This is all that remains of the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros, the sueño dorado (golden dream) of the Spanish Jesuits when they returned to Manila in 1859 after an absence of almost one hundred years. Inaugurated in 1889, the church survived the battles during the Spanish-American war period and a big fire in 1932 that destroyed the adjoining school building of the Ateneo de Manila. In February 1945, the Japanese put the church to the torch and because all the interior details and furniture were made of hardwoods, it took four days for the fire to consume everything. The church is lost forever, but back in September 2008, the Intramuros Administration announced its plans to build an ecclesiastical museum amid the ruins of the San Ignacio. With the assistance of the Department of Tourism and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the project is finally pushing through. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new museum will be next Sunday, June 14—the same day that the returning Jesuits disembarked from their ship one hundred and fifty years ago.

ruins of the San Ignacio Church in Intramuros

June 6, 2009

Beer and sisig

For the best Kapampangan (from the province of Pampanga) food this side of Quezon City, nothing beats Trellis Restaurant along Kalayaan Avenue. It opened in 1980 and I think that it single-handedly popularized sisig in Metro Manila. Now, almost every Filipino restaurant serves it. Traditionally it's made of pork, but there are now tuna, bangus (milkfish), and even tofu variations. I haven't had pork sisig in years, but Anthony Bourdain has this to say about it: "If you've never had this divine mosaic of pig parts, chopped and served sizzling and crisp on one side on a screaming hot platter, then you've yet to have one of the world's best beer drinking dishes." One of these days, I'll have to order it just to take some pictures.

Trellis Restaurant on Kalayaan Avenue

June 5, 2009

Gantry cranes

Mid-morning on a clear day, one can look out towards Manila Bay from the CCP Bay Terminal (where the ferry for Corregidor Island docks) and see the big cranes of the North Harbor. The breakwater shelters the Manila Yacht Club.

Manila Yacht Club breakwater and North Harbor cranes

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

June 4, 2009

Like sardines in a can

Binondo, Manila's Chinatown, is a very densely populated district. According to the 2007 population census of the Philippine National Statistics Office, more than twelve thousand people are packed into its .66 square kilometer (.26 square mile) area. All of the buildings I see there are narrow and at least three stories high. Most of the apartment buildings also have shops or eateries on the ground level.

narrow building in Binondo, Manila

June 3, 2009

Within the walls

The historic district of Intramuros in the City of Manila was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. At the time, Intramuros was considered the city of Manila itself. Its name is Latin for "within the walls" and is an accurate description of the city fortress, surrounded by moats and thick, high walls. This is the moat just outside Fort Santiago, one of the oldest fortifications in Manila. It was built for the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi in 1571 at the north-western end of the city where the Pasig River joins Manila Bay. Over the walls, you can see some of the facilities of Manila's North Harbor.

moat and walls of Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila

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

June 2, 2009

And a myriad other colors

Red Box is an upscale karaoke entertainment center franchised from Hong Kong. They have lounges in China and Malaysia, and they have three branches in Metro Manila—one each in Makati City, San Juan and Quezon City. Aside from karaoke, some of their rooms are set up with poker tables and billiard tables! I've never been inside one of those special rooms, but I was just thinking: wouldn't it be difficult to concentrate on your game if someone's singing?

Red Box Karaoke sign

June 1, 2009

Ghost runners

THEME DAY: FEET • Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City is one of the fastest-growing mixed-used upscale land developments in Metro Manila. Running seems to be a popular sport among the residents of BGC's many condominium towers. We were about to end our day at nine o'clock in the evening yet the runners were still out in full force. And all I caught were their disembodied feet.

late night runners in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig

Run, jog or walk on over to the portal to see how City Daily Photo bloggers are interpreting this month's theme. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.