February 28, 2010

First Filipino Saint

Lorenzo Ruiz (c. 1600–1637) was a Chinese Filipino layman with two sons and a daughter who lived in Binondo, Manila's Chinatown. Falsely accused of killing a Spaniard, he was granted asylum on a ship with three Dominican priests. When the ship landed in Japan, the group was arrested for their Christian faith and tortured. Lorenzo refused to recant his faith and was finally subjected to the horrendous form of torture called tsurushi. After two days hanging upside down in an enclosed pit, he died from bleeding and suffocation. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila in 1981 and canonized in 1987. This statue of him stands in the small Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz in front of the Binondo Church, which is formally titled the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz.

statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila

February 27, 2010

Glass slivers

The facade and main entrance of the Ateneo de Manila University's new Rizal Library faces west. To reduce the heat inside and the need for air conditioning, the only glass on this side is a corner window whose frame sticks out beyond the wall, and the tall, narrow window of its main stairwell.

west facade of the Ateneo de Manila University's Rizal Library

See what's reflecting what at James' Weekend Reflections.
Weekend Reflections

February 26, 2010

90 proof

Philippine alcoholic beverages have traditionally been made in backyard operations and you couldn't get any unless you went to the regions which produced each kind. A few companies now produce them commercially, both for local consumption and for export. This bottle of lambanog in a woven wicker bottle holder is available at Kultura, located in all SM malls, and makes for a great gift and souvenir.

lambanog in a wicker bottle holder

Lambanog is produced mostly in the province of Quezon from the sap of coconut flowers which is cooked, fermented and distilled. Do not ever make the mistake of serving or storing lambanog in plastic containers—its alcoholic content is enough to melt plastic.

lambanog label

February 25, 2010

Same old, same old

Krista by Pablo Baen Santos, 1984, oil on canvas. One of the pieces in the social realist collection of the Ateneo Art Gallery currently on display in the exhibit "Fractions of an Intangible Whole." From the exhibit notes:
    This work depicts inang bayan (Philippine motherland) with a crown of barbed wire around her mouth like a gag. The work simultaneously embraces the themes of nationalism, censorship and the strong influence of the Catholic tradition in the Philippines. The Philippine flag and a sea of protesting bodies forge the backdrop as the female Christ holds her clenched fist in defiance.

Krista by Pablo Baen Santos
One year shy of the silver anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, not much has changed in Philippine politics. In many ways, it is even worse than during Marcos' time. Corruption is rampant and has filtered down to all levels of government, public education is a joke, poverty levels have not improved, environmental degradation is uncontrolled, and journalists still fear for their lives. Even if we manage to elect an ethical president in May, there will not be much to celebrate during the revolution's silver anniversary. It will take much, much longer than a year to apply breaks to the downward spiral that our country has gotten itself into since that historic moment.

February 24, 2010

The mice will play

Just before guests were expected to arrive at the gala night of the sarswela "Walang Sugat" at the Ateneo de Manila University, the ushers in their formal Filipiniana clothes took turns posing in front of the photo wall made of wood and capiz shell. These panels echo the windows and screens found in old Spanish colonial houses, rarely seen nowadays except in a few preserved historical homes. I loved how Nico and Tonette were so un-selfconciously enjoying themselves hamming it up for the photographer that I decided to snap a photo of them myself.

Nico and Tonette hamming it up in Filipiniana attire
Last Saturday's gala was a work night for me too so I didn't watch the play nor get other photos. I hope to watch this weekend and since they're allowing photos, as long as you don't use a flash, expect a few from me in the near future. In the meantime, I have a little information about the sarswela form here, and the university website has some photos of "Walang Sugat" here.

May I please ask you all to help me welcome Mia of Life in Manila.... and elsewhere to CDP? Mia lives and works in the southern part of the metro, and works for a foundation that supports many social development and charity organizations, and you'll be seeing many photos from her that I will probably never have on my blog. Mia is also a personal friend of ours and this is her nth blog—she keeps starting one then stopping, starting and stopping, you get the idea. If she gets a warm welcome from the community, then just maybe, she'll be inspired to continue this latest one. Thanks, everyone!

February 23, 2010

Understated playfulness

One of the ceiling lamps of Burgoo American Bar and Restaurant in The Block (a mall in Quezon City). Much more subdued and elegant than the brightly-colored lamps in their branch in The Podium (a mall in Pasig City), but just as playful.

ceiling lamp of Burgoo American Bar and Restaurant in The Block

February 22, 2010

We'd rather sit, thank you

So far, we are the only culture I've encountered which serves cocktails where guests sit around a table. Have you ever experienced such a thing?

cocktails served at a table

February 21, 2010

Legendary saint

I saw this beautiful statue of St. Veronica in the studio of an artist friend who had just finished retouching it and was about to send her back to her home parish in the province of Bataan. Veronica is the woman who was supposed to have wiped the face of Jesus while he was carrying his cross to Golgotha. The event is commemorated in the 6th station of the traditional form of the Stations of the Cross, which many Catholics all over the world are now going through because it is Lent. The story goes on to say that Jesus' face was imprinted on the veil that Veronica used (not to be confused with the shroud which supposedly covered his body during his burial). There is actually no historical evidence of nor scriptural reference to this woman or the via crucis event, though a few other miraculous legends circulated in Europe during the Medieval Ages about Veronica (if you are interested, you can read the discussion in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic Online and Wikipedia). So why call a probably non-existent person a saint for what is probably a non-event? I like how the Catholic Encyclopedia put it: "…there is no reason why the belief that such an act of compassion did occur should not find expression in the veneration paid to one called Veronica…."

statue of St. Veronica

February 20, 2010

Living the luxe life

My husband and I had the wonderful opportunity of staying at the Opera Suite of Sofitel Manila over the Valentine and Lunar New Year weekend. The Opera Suite is the hotel's top, single-bedroom suite and 'luxurious' is the only word that I can think of to describe it. And this beautiful suite is only just the beginning of what proved to be a fantasy weekend.

A foyer with a mirrored wall welcomes guests as they enter the suite. Off to one side is a powder room, whose open doorway is reflected in the mirror.

entrance foyer of Sofitel Manila's Opera Suite

The foyer leads to a spacious sitting room with a large sofa and lounge chair with big, soft cushions which face an entertainment center with surround-sound speakers.

sitting room of Sofitel Manila's Opera Suite

When we arrived, there were fresh fruits on the dining table and a personalized welcome note from the hotel manager, Goran Aleks. Each room of the suite has a balcony, for a total of four, overlooking the swimming pool and Manila Bay.

dining room of Sofitel Manila's Opera Suite

The bedroom has another large TV with a DVD player on a chest of drawers facing the king-sized bed. I have to say that Sofitel's pillows are the softest I have ever hugged or laid my head on! And, being the pillow hog that I am, I love that they already put out two pillows per person; in other hotels, we usually have to call housekeeping for extra pillows. (Please pardon hubby-dear's backpack there. And see if you can spot my floppy gray bag in the previous photo.)

bedroom of Sofitel Manila's Opera Suite

Except for the space taken up by the powder room, the bathroom is as long as the suite (this is only one end of it). And it's not just a bathroom; it's also a dressing room, with a vanity, closets and another chest of drawers. Needless to say, the bath is a whirlpool bath.

bathroom of Sofitel Manila's Opera Suite

The last room in the suite, which proved to be a boon to my laptop-toting, sleep-challenged Valentine date, is a study with a wide desk and an armchair with a footstool—perfect for reading. There was another personalized letter for us on the desk, this time listing all the services and privileges that come with being on the exclusive Club Sofitel floor, but more on that some other time.

study or office of Sofitel Manila's Opera Suite

See what's reflecting what at James' Weekend Reflections.
Weekend Reflections

February 19, 2010

Big cloud, small sailboat

Watching a most unusual sunset on Manila Bay. The orange color seems to be blocked by the big cloud and the rest of the sky remained blue even after the sun had completely set. I loved that the sailboat crossed the bay while I was taking photos, and I waited for it to get to the exact position—just so.

sunset with big cloud and small sailboat in Manila Bay

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

February 18, 2010

First Filipino

Fr. Horacio V. de la Costa, SJ (1916–1977), Atenean, historian, writer, teacher, priest, patriot. The first Filipino dean of the college of arts and sciences of the Ateneo de Manila University. And the first Filipino superior of the Philippine province of the Society of Jesus.

Fr. Horacio V. de la Costa, SJ

This statue, a gift of the Ateneo High School Class of 1952, stands in front of the building which bears his name, the Horacio de la Costa Hall, which is currently the home of the Ateneo de Manila's Loyola School of Humanities.

Fr. Horacio V. de la Costa, SJ

Reminding all CDP bloggers: The theme for our March Theme Day is Passageway. The April Theme Day poll is up too and we get two choices again, thanks to Demosthenes. Please vote and spread the word!

February 17, 2010

Good afternoon. Good morning.

The Philippine Plaza's lagoon-shaped swimming pool has been famous in Metro Manila since the 1970s when National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin designed it for the Westin group. In 2005, Sofitel took over its operations and refurbished the entire hotel, including the pool which now has bright blue tiles.

lagoon-shaped swimming pool of Sofitel Manila

Sofitel Manila has every right to boast that it is Metro Manila's only resort hotel. With twelve acres of landscaped gardens beside Manila Bay, it is easy to forget that the big, bustling metropolis is just a kilometer away.

Sofitel Manila's swimming pool and gardens beside Manila Bay

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

February 16, 2010

Sweet heart

A few of the pastries available at Galette, Sofitel Manila's Patisserie & Chocolaterie. The heart-shaped cake was a special for Valentine's Day. And yes, their pastries taste as divine as they look.

pastries at Galette Patisserie & Chocolaterie

February 15, 2010

Pun-ny no. 1

X-trim Hair Fixers. A salon along Matalino Street, Central District, Quezon City.

X-trim Hair Fixers
"I love to hate puns," says Hilda in Manila.

February 14, 2010

Double red

Metro Manila has been red this past week because of this double special day. These Chinese lanterns and banners were hanging from the roof of the Greenhills tiangge (bazaar) because of the Lunar New Year.

red lanterns and banners for the Lunar New Year

Since it's also Valentine's Day, hearts and cupids were also decorating other parts of the shopping complex. But I thought I'd post something from the tiangge that women would appreciate receiving today. The bazaar has different sections and one of them is dedicated to jewelry. Rows and rows of stalls with rows and rows of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings made of semi-precious stones, crystal, coral, pearls and cloisonné.

a jewelry stall at the Greenhills bazaar

Happy Valentine's Day and a Prosperous Lunar New Year to all!

February 13, 2010

Ask for your receipt

Back in 2003, our Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced that they will be requiring taxis to install meters that could issue receipts. In 2006, our Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) got into the act and announced that they will require taxis to issue official receipts. Last year, both regulations finally began getting implemented, with February 2010 as the stated deadline for full compliance from taxi operators. But since they would still rather not declare their full income because of taxes, drivers will not automatically print and issue a receipt unless the passenger asks for it. Neither do some stores, actually. My title is taken from the sign that the BIR requires shops to post. Maybe they should make a small one for taxis.

receipt-issuing taxi meter

February 12, 2010

All in a day's work

Our office always makes it a point to document all our events, both for the university website and also for our sponsors. I don't know what our grounds maintenance personnel uses this platform for, but it's great for recording an event taking place in a huge field. And isn't that acacia tree top just luscious?

recording an event from a small platform attached to the top of a ladder

By the time I finished my circuit around the field, my office mate was already holding an umbrella up. Probably not so much to keep the heat of the sun off, but because she can't see what's on the LCD screen for the glare.

recording an event from a small platform attached to the top of a ladder

I wish I could send some sun and heat to those still in the grip of winter. Our evenings and dawns are still a bit cool, but Metro Manila is already hitting 32°C at mid-day!

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

February 11, 2010

Frozen delight

Newly opened at Petron Square Katipunan, near our place of work: Frutti Froyo, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop where the cost of your treat is based on weight. They always have at least six flavors of frozen yogurt available at any time (the kiwi fruit flavor, which is nice and tart, goes very well with the blueberry, which is sweet). Just two tips when getting a treat here. First, do not fill your cup to the brim (even the small cup is good for two servings). Second, go easy on the syrups and toppings, even the fresh fruit; aside from adding tons of calories, the toppings are heavier than the frozen yogurt and instead of cheering you up, your treat just might upset you. Unfortunately, my tips are a bit too late for some of our friends, who went a little ga-ga their first time and whose eyes popped when they got their bill.

Frutti Froyo

February 10, 2010

A lesson in perspective

Two more luxury residential condominium towers in Rockwell Center, and the last of the series for now. On the left is Hidalgo Place, which is across the Ateneo Professional Schools. On the right is the Rizal Tower. This photo is deceiving in two ways. One, Hidalgo Place is a long, rectangular building and this is only its narrow end. Two, Rizal Tower is much farther than it looks here. It is 47 floors high, compared to Hidalgo's 24.

Hidalgo Place and Rizal Tower

February 9, 2010


The Joya Lofts and Towers are luxury condominiums in Rockwell Center, across the Nestlé Philippines building and Power Plant mall. The towers are supposedly yin-yang shaped, but I don't quite see it from this perspective. I guess the relatively low building in the middle has the loft units—the windows are tall enough. It's a nice idea, but who wants a view of the street?

Joya Lofts and Towers

February 8, 2010


I don't think Metro Manila has a residential-commercial complex that doesn't have a mall, and Rockwell Center is no exception. The entire complex centers around Power Plant, seen here through the stairwell window of the Ateneo Professional Schools.

Power Plant mall seen through the Ateneo Professional Schools stairwell window

This is the narrow south end of the mall, whose ground level is occupied by Zara, a Spanish clothing chain store. Power Plant is named such because the 15-hectare Rockwell Center used to be the site of a thermal power plant, which closed in 1994.

Power Plant mall

The entrance of Power Plant across the street from Nestlé and PHINMA is flanked by cafés and restaurants, as is its counterpart on the other side of the mall.

one entrance of Power Plant mall

And because he still hasn't been to Rockwell and he was looking for the mall a couple of days ago, this post is for Steven of Cavite Daily Photo. When you finally get the chance to go to Power Plant, enjoy your shopping, Steven! :)

February 7, 2010

In the trenches

The Law School and Graduate School of Business of the Ateneo de Manila University are located in Rockwell Center in Makati City. Though other cities have been competing aggressively during the past decade to get companies to relocate their headquarters by offering big tax breaks, Makati is still considered the premiere financial and commercial center of Metro Manila. Hence the location of the two schools, both of which offer continuing education courses for professionals. Its little palm-shaded brick building provides a visual respite from the glass towers which surround it.

Ateneo Professional Schools in Rockwell Center

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

February 6, 2010


Nestlé Philippines (left) and PHINMA Plaza (right) share a circular driveway. From afar, they look like they're beside each other. But when you get near enough to see their main entrances, you realize that they're across each other. To me, it looks like a battle of the corporate buildings, refereed by The Manansala, a luxury condominium tower.

Nestlé Philippines, The Manansala and PHINMA Plaza

See what's reflecting what at James' Weekend Reflections.
Weekend Reflections

February 5, 2010

Metal awning

The headquarters of Nestlè Philippines at Rockwell Center in Makati City, right beside (or across, depending on your point of view) yesterday's PHINMA Plaza. I was too near to get the logo at the top but you can see it in last year's photo.

Nestlé Philippines headquarters

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

February 4, 2010

A wave of glass

This is the PHINMA Plaza in Rockwell Center in Makati City, owned by the PHINMA Group, a holding company with investments in property development, construction products, education, energy, finance and business process outsourcing.


When I posted a photo of the headquarters of Nestlé Philippines back in June 2009, PHINMA Plaza was peeking beside it and I thought that the building was round. It turns out that only the facade is curved and the rest of the building has flat surfaces.


It took me almost a year to finally visit Rockwell Center again and fulfill your request, but VP, this one's for you.

February 3, 2010

Morning zombie

7:15am. Waiting for a colleague at the Starbucks across the Ateneo de Manila University to go to a conference in Makati City. Sitting in the sun because anything lower than 24°C makes me shiver. Staring at the school rush hour traffic (grade schools and high schools usually begin classes at 7:30am). This is probably the closest I will ever get to posting a sunrise photo on this blog.

Starbucks at 7:15 in the morning

February 2, 2010

Death mask

"Louis" of San Francisco Bay Daily Photo correctly guessed who the bust in front of yesterday's narra screen was: St. Ignatius of Loyola (Spanish, 1491–1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus. What pleased me too was the gut reaction of Julie of Sydney Eye ("It looks like a death mask!") because in a way, she was correct too. The bust is bronze and cast by Filipino sculptor and SF Bay resident Earl E. Enriquez from the death mask of Ignatius; or if you want to be precise, from a plaster cast made from his death mask which is kept in the Jesuit archives in Rome. I agree with Mike Rose and Chuck Pefley that the pedestal supporting the bust is not a great choice, but what is intriguing about it is that the height of the pedestal with the bust represents the actual height of Ignatius. Based on the dimensions of his death mask, and a surviving soutane and pair of shoes, it is estimated that San Ignacio de Loyola was 5 feet and 3 inches (160 cm). The bust and screen are part of the "Faces of the Ateneo" exhibit, one of four special exhibits of the Ateneo Art Gallery for its 50th anniversary, running until March 15.

bronze bust of St. Ignatius of Loyola

February 1, 2010


THEME DAY: WOOD • This high relief screen made of narra and painted a deep chocolate brown is all that remains of the woodwork of the 19th century San Ignacio Church in Intramuros. The screen is attributed to Isabelo Tampingco (or Tampinco, 1850–1933), one of Manila's best sculptors at the time. Tampingco and his atelier were commissioned to create all of the San Ignacio's interior woodwork and it was largely because of their handiwork that the church was hailed as the most beautiful in Manila from the late 19th century to the early 20th. The church was put to the torch by the Japanese in 1945 during the Battle of Manila. The screen survived because it was borrowed by the RVM sisters from the Jesuit priests before the war and used in their central house in the southern part of the city, which was not as badly razed as the northern areas. All that remains of the church itself is its concrete shell. Come back tomorrow to find out about the bust, but would you care to guess who it is?

carved narra screen of the San Ignacio Church

See glorious photos of wood in all its varied colors and textures from City Daily Photo bloggers. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.