June 30, 2010


Today, the Republic of the Philippines welcomes its 15th President. Benigno Aquino III, the son of Ninoy and Cory, is more popularly known as Noynoy. Since his victory in the elections earlier this month, he is now also known as P-Noy, a play on our slang word for Filipino, Pinoy. His formal oath-taking and inaugural address will be at the Rizal Park's Quirino Grandstand in the City of Manila. The inaugural reception with other government officials and the diplomatic corps will be in Malacañang Palace, Mr. Aquino's office and home (in a smaller house in the compound) for the next six years. However, his real home is in Quezon City and, after the formal stuff, he will go to the Quezon Memorial Circle for a big street party. The memorial and fountain have been dolled up with colored lights, and I saw them for myself last night from the pedestrian overpass near my jeepney stop and tricycle station. Of course, with evening rains now quite regular again, party-goers are being asked to bring umbrellas, preferably yellow.

the fountain and monument of the Quezon Memorial with colored lights for Noynoy Aquino's inaugural street party

Whatever your faith or beliefs, please say a little prayer for Mr. Aquino and my country. Corruption is deeply embedded and widely rampant in our government, and poverty so pervasive and such an overwhelming problem, that he will need all your good wishes and everyone's help. He will have mine.

June 29, 2010

Corner showcase

Back in September of last year, I featured the lovely carved wood screen of Adarna Food and Culture, a restaurant that specializes in Filipino historical recipes. Every nook and cranny is filled with heirloom home accent pieces. The lamp and table would have blended well with the interior design of my maternal grandmother's house. I question the black rotary dial phone though—until the early 1980s, our phone was just like that.

home accent pieces inside Adarna Food and Culture restaurant

June 28, 2010

More Filipino than…

Roman Ongpin (1847–1912) was a Chinese-Filipino businessman, nationalist, civic leader, patron of the arts and philanthropist. He was born in Binondo, Manila's Chinatown, of immigrant parents. He secretly supported the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish colonial government and, when the Philippine-American War broke out, Ongpin again secretly supported the revolutionaries against the U.S. But the Americans found out and he was imprisoned from 1900–1901. Binondo's most famous street—the one with the funny street sign—is named after him.

statue of Roman Ongpin in Binondo, Manila

CDP bloggers! There are only three days left to vote for the August theme and to prepare your photo for the July 1 theme day: Reflections. Why do I have the feeling that James was the inspiration for this one?

June 27, 2010


When the sun has completely set, the Church of the Gesù is a beacon of light in the Ateneo de Manila University campus. Especially for the students who live in the dormitories beside it.

the Ateneo Church of the Gesù at night

June 26, 2010

Something old and something new

One of the city's iconic landmarks, the distinctive architecture of the 1965 Toronto City Hall also serves as the city's logo. This was part of the view from my aunt and cousin's hotel room.

Toronto City Hall

The magnificent 1926 Ontario Government Building is now called the Liberty Grand and is an events venue. My nephew's wedding (the reason why we were in Toronto in the first place) was in its lovely courtyard, and the dinner reception was in its Centennial Room.

lakefront entrance of the Liberty Grand in Toronto

N & A: I hope the two of you had a great time touring Europe! D & B: Words are not enough to express our gratitude for everything that you gave us and did for us. But, thank you. And I hope we get to see the four of you in Manila next year.

And to everyone who came by during my past two weeks' virtual Canadian tour: I had a great time reliving our visit while choosing and editing photos, and researching and writing the posts, and I hope that you enjoyed your visit too.

June 25, 2010

Tourists in Niagara: A most charming town

About half an hour's drive away from Niagara Falls down the parkway along the Niagara River is the lovely, historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL). It is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, hence its name, which was originally adopted as a postal address to distinguish it from the town beside the waterfalls.

gazebo at Queen's Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake

NOTL was first settled in 1781 by families loyal to Britain. The town was destroyed during the War of 1812 but its residents rebuilt. Many of those 19th century homes, and civic, religious and commercial buildings survive to this day. The Prince of Wales Hotel boasts that it was established in 1894.

Prince of Wales Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake

The town is home to the Shaw Festival which showcases the works of George Bernard Shaw. The playwright lends his name to the flower-draped Shaw Café and Wine Bar.

Shaw Café and Wine Bar, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Another "George" famous in Niagara-on-the-Lake is The Royal George, a theater which is a venue for the Shaw Festival.

The Royal George Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake

According to one of its plaques, the Niagara Courthouse was built in 1847 for the United Counties of Lincoln, Welland and Haldimand. The counties went their separate ways (then merged again, but with different partners) and the old courthouse was renovated to include a theater which is also used during the Shaw Festival.

the old Niagara Courthouse, Niagara-on-the-Lake

One of the town's most famous residents is the artist Trisha Romance, whose artwork features heartwarming scenes of families, children and homes. Trisha has since moved to a farm, but her former home still serves as a gallery, both for her work and that of her daughter Tanya, who is also an artist.

The Romance Collection Gallery, Niagara-on-the-Lake

On the Niagara Parkway just before Niagara-on-the-Lake, in the middle of the region's wine country, is the tiniest chapel that I have ever seen: The Living Water Wayside Chapel. It only has two pews inside and was meant to be a place to rest for people walking along the parkway, but it is so adorable that it has become popular as a wedding venue.

The Living Water Wayside Chapel, halfway between Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake

June 24, 2010

Tourists in Niagara: Amusement

Welcome to Clifton Hill, the amusement and entertainment area just above Niagara Falls. My husband and I took a ride on the SkyWheel, which gives a fantastic view of the falls and the river.

the SkyWheel at Niagara Falls

Clifton Hill is a street full of amusement centers, restaurants, gift shops, themed attractions and hotels. Though my husband and I didn't go to any of the attractions, I had great fun looking at all the outrageous signs and displays. I think the House of Frankenstein is a haunted house, but poor Mr Monster was forced (notice the chains) to sell burgers at the neighboring Burger King so I have no idea who's doing the scaring in the mansion.

Frankenstein's monster selling Burger King at Niagara Falls

My favorite building was Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, designed as a toppled-over tower with a view of the pipes underneath the building. But someone has to explain to me how the car managed to stay on the street.

Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum at Niagara Falls

Is there anything else that Ripley's could have considered to place on top of the tower's spire?

Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum at Niagara Falls

Even if you don't play, the architecture and interior design of Fallsview Casino Resort is worth the visit. Though it also has shops and a theater. This is the upper part of the fountain in the lobby—Victorian Era meets Industrial Age.

the fountain at Fallsview Casino Resort at Niagara Falls

I love the dome over the escalators that lead down to the food court and the promenade overlooking the falls.

glass dome at Fallsview Casino Resort at Niagara Falls

June 23, 2010

Tourists in Niagara: The falls

Again thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, we were able to see firsthand one of the most amazing waterfalls in this world. I only have one word for Niagara Falls: awesome. Here is the Maid of the Mist at its closest approach to the magnificent Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls

The American Falls are separated from the tiny (comparatively speaking) Bridal Veil Falls (on the right) by a small island. The American Falls may not be as spectacular as Horseshoe Falls, but it definitely looks much more dangerous with those huge boulders at its base.

American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, Niagara Falls

My sister-in-law's brother and sister went on a Maid of the Mist ride. My husband and I didn't (the wind was still too cold for us and we didn't relish the idea of getting soaked), but we did go behind the falls. This is the view from the first portal in the tunnel. In the farther portal, there is almost nothing to see except a solid white wall of water.

view from under the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls

My favorite spot on the promenade was where I could watch the water go over the rock ledge and turn from dark to light green. I found it absolutely mesmerizing.

water going over the edge of the rock, Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls

On our second trip to Niagara after the wedding, this time with my aunt and cousin, we were blessed with a rainbow at the falls. It was wonderful.

rainbow at the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls

George, this post is especially for you.
Natural or man-made, take a refreshing dip in Watery Wednesday.
Watery Wednesday

June 22, 2010

Tourists in Toronto: Brick

I have to beg the indulgence of my blogger friends from the North. Brick buildings may be a common sight to all of you, but they are rare here in Manila so I was fascinated by the different kinds of brick architecture that we saw in Toronto.

The Royal Conservatory of Music.

The Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto

Canadian Opera Company.

Canadian Opera Company, Toronto

No. 8 Hose Station. I'd never seen a fire station with a clock tower before either.

brick fire station, Toronto

Steam Whistle Brewing. They only make one kind of beer, a pilsner, which I tried (along with many other kinds of beer—we don't have as much variety here in Manila). It was fine, but of all the beers we tried, I liked the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout the best.

Steam Whistle Brewing, Toronto

St. Lawrence Market. The neighborhood around this historic building is also called St. Lawrence.

St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

One of the many buildings which house shops, galleries and restaurants of all kinds along Queen Street West in the Art & Design District.

shops along Queen Street West in the Art & Design District, Toronto

Funky Junky at Kensington Market. If I lived in Toronto, I'd do much of my clothes shopping at Kensington Market, one of the city's older neighborhoods. Shops in brightly painted historic buildings selling retro, vintage, multicultural ethnic and army surplus clothing. It is also the location of Average Joe's Café, owned by Chinese-Canadian Joe Ng. His coffee was the first we had in three Canadian cities that was brewed the way we like it—strong.

the Funky Junky shop at Kensington Market, Toronto

I never found out the name of this church. Neither can I remember now what district I saw it in. But I love its domed spires and the painting over the doors. Very unique in my eyes. (6.23 UPDATE: My cousin tells me that this is St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on Bathurst Street. Thanks, Ana!)

brick church, Toronto

St. Stephen-in-the-Fields. Surrounded by big, beautiful, leafy trees, it had a poster on a wall saying that it was available for rental for performances, meetings, classes or weddings.

St. Stephen-in-the-Fields, Toronto

June 21, 2010

Tourists in Toronto: Distillery District

Toronto's Distillery District used to be the site of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which began as a grist mill in the early 1830s.

Distillery District in Toronto

Some of the facilities in the company's industrial complex beside Lake Ontario included the distillery, mills, a boiler house and several warehouses. All in all, the company had more than forty buildings of various sizes and uses in the area. It even had its own wharf, though that has long been demolished. Gooderham and Worts ceased operations in 1990.

Distillery District in Toronto
Distillery District in Toronto

In 2003, the revitalized buildings of Gooderham and Worts opened as a pedestrian-only arts, culture and entertainment district. No franchises or chains are allowed by the new owners and the historic buildings now house restaurants and cafes, art galleries, and shops offering unique jewelry, furniture, clothes and home products. Various sculptures can be found in different areas of the district, one of which is Dennis Oppenheim's "Still Dancing." (We call it the egg beater and the funnel. Heehee.)

Dennis Oppenheim's 'Still Dancing' sculpture in the Distillery District in Toronto

June 20, 2010

Tourists in Quebec: Basilique-Cathédrale Notre Dame de Québec

The exterior of the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica Cathedral is relatively simple, with no elaborate reliefs or ornamentation. It also looks quite small from the front until you notice how far back it extends.

facade of the Notre-Dame de Québec, Quebec City

The interior, however, is another matter altogether.

interior of the Notre-Dame de Québec, Quebec City

Here is a closer view of the altar and its ornate, golden baldaquin (canopy of state).

golden baldaquin of the Notre-Dame de Québec, Quebec City

The magnificent stained glass windows along the nave depict scenes from the life of Mary. Here are the three from the childhood of Jesus: his birth, his presentation at the temple, and his finding in the temple.

stained glass window at the Notre-Dame de Québec depicting the birth of Jesus
stained glass window at the Notre-Dame de Québec depicting the presentation of Jesus at the temple
stained glass window at the Notre-Dame de Québec depicting the finding of Jesus in the temple

June 19, 2010

Tourists in Quebec: La Boutique de Noël

I had never seen a Christmas specialty shop before. How wonderful to have a spot of Christmas all year round!

La Boutique de Noël in Vieux-Québec, Quebec City

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

June 18, 2010

Tourists in Quebec: Quartier Petit Champlain

Old, charming, narrow buildings full of fashion and artisan shops and cafés squished into a long, narrow street—welcome to the Petit-Champlain Neighborhood of Vieux-Québec.

Rue de Petit-Champlain, Quebec City

The signs of the shops are just as interesting and lovely as the merchandise that they sell and I couldn't help but think of Raf and his Hang Ups blog. This Woodpecker's Shop specializes in wooden sculptures and products. (What else?)

shop sign at Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City

I saw these cats at a window watching people as they walk by and I just had to take their photo for dear, sweet Luna.

wooden cats at a shop window at Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City

Halfway down Rue du Petit-Champlain is a small park where shoppers can rest their weary feet. The neighborhood is built at the foot of the cliff below Château Frontenac and the cliff's stone can easily be seen in the park.

small park at Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City

I'd never seen building, shop or house numbers with 1/2 before.

shop number 67 and 1/2 at Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City

At the southern end of the street is the Petit-Champlain Mural, illustrating the origins and history of the neighborhood.

Fresque du Petit-Champlain at Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City

At the northern end of the street is Breakneck Steps, which is how one walks between Quartier Petit Champlain and the upper town of Old Quebec. There are several shops and cafés just off the stairs to break the climb. However, if your knees really can't handle them, there is always the Funiculaire du Vieux Québec.

Escalier Casse-Cou at Quartier Petit Champlain, Quebec City