September 30, 2010


These are the magnificent friezes, columns and chandelier in the main lobby of the National Art Gallery of the Philippines, which used to be the Legislative Building of the country. I know that the architectural details have been there since the early 20th century, when it was built during the American Colonial Era. Unfortunately, I do not know anything about the chandelier, not even whether it is old or new. If I may hazard a guess, I think it's both. The main chandelier looks like an antique but the organic glass shapes and curvy rods with balls at the end are a newer addition. In fact, the addition reminds me so much of Filipino artist Impy Pilapil's work. What do you think?

chandelier at the National Art Gallery

If I ever find out, I'll let you all know, of course.

September 29, 2010

The firm

Only a quarter of a century old, Puno & Puno Law is one of the best-known law firms in Manila. Like most other law firms in the country, they can handle almost any kind of legal case but their particular specialty is corporate and regulatory laws. Thankfully, we were at their offices because of an event and not because we needed their services.

Puno & Puno Law Offices

September 28, 2010


For the life of me, I just can't get a decent photo of my own grade school and high school, Holy Family. Barbed wire runs on top of its walls and utility cables are thick all over. This is just the side of the school; the cables at the front, which is in our neighborhood's main street, are even worse. Holy Family School is run by the Siervas de San Jose (Servants of Saint Joseph), a religious missionary congregation founded in Spain, and is an all-girls school. It is separated from Claret School, an all-boys grade school and high school, by a single, low wall. Needless to say, a lot of heckling and eyelash-batting goes on around that wall during recess and lunch break.

Holy Family School

September 27, 2010

Artificial wings

This is the introductory piece of Filipino-German artist Kawayan de Guia's exhibit titled "Bored on the Fourth of July." He was the recipient of the 2008 New York Art Project residency grant which is selected annually by the Omi International Arts Center. "Bored on the Fourth of July" was shown in the Ateneo Art Gallery last year but I forgot to post it back then and just saw it again yesterday when I was cleaning up my iPhoto. From the exhibit notes:
    In two sets of images and texts, Kawayan puts forward a critique and commentary on the human propensity to consume that he witnessed in America and rediscovered on his return home. It is a propensity, a hollow greed that America projects on the world. In this world, shopping is the new drug; the source of fleeting mass-produced moments of happiness and artificial healing.

neon wings in Kawayan de Guia's exhibit titled 'Bored on the Fourth of July'

September 26, 2010

Tolling for a century

Here is a side view of the 1896 St. John the Baptist Parish Church, better known locally as Pinaglabanan Church, showing the bell tower which is separate from the main church. You can also see here where its unusually-shaped but beautiful stained glass window is.

Pinaglabanan Church

September 25, 2010

Green means yes

I feel like such a hick for posting this because I'm sure they're common in more developed countries, but I just had to because I was actually delighted when I realized what they were. I noticed them on the ceiling of the parking building when we last went to an SM Supermall, and it took me several seconds before I understood what they were for. A green light means that the parking space is free and a red light means that a car's parked there. Now, drivers don't have to crawl through all the lanes looking for a free slot; just one look at the lights and they'll know whether they can park on that level or move on to the next. Isn't that so clever? I doubt if they'll help ease the awful traffic around Manila's humongous malls during weekends though.

red and green lights in a parking building

September 24, 2010


Seen while walking out of the Ateneo de Manila University campus on our way home at 6:00 in the evening a few days ago.

big cloud over Ateneo de Manila University

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September 23, 2010

Almost opaque

I posted a similar photo of the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University back in May, but one taken in the early evening when the windows look completely transparent. I just find the difference in the opacity of the windows—depending on the light and the time of day—absolutely fascinating.

Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University

September 22, 2010

The king of sending

The Philippines' answer to UPS and FedEx: LBC. Its international destinations are not quite as extensive but its fees are much cheaper. It also has two services which the other two do not offer, both aimed at our large population of overseas workers. The first is money remittance, which is necessary in this country where most of our people do not have bank accounts. The second is the balikbayan (returning countrymen) box, a box of a specific dimension which is sent from another country to the Philippines and which can be filled with anything and everything non-perishable no matter the weight. It is sent by sea so it can take up to six weeks before it reaches its destination but it's usually the only way to send heavy things back home.

LBC boxes and sign

September 21, 2010

Morning exercise

I don't know who they belong to, but every morning I see two white hens pecking away in the front yard of our neighbor across the street. When they reach a bit beyond her gate, they turn around and go back down the road where they came from. Not a scenario most people would expect in a metropolis like Manila, but you'd be surprised what other farm animals people can keep in their houses here. We don't have a law regulating things like this after all.

white hen in front of my neighbor's house

September 20, 2010

Give praise

The FEBIAS College of Bible in the City of Malabon may be small and its buildings a bit dilapidated

FEBIAS College of Bible

but it has one of the biggest and most handsome trees I have seen in the metro

huge tree in the FEBIAS College of Bible campus

and lots of other plants besides, all of which give the small campus a certain graceful air.

FEBIAS College of Bible campus

FEBIAS stands for Far Eastern Bible Institute and Seminary, the original name of this interdenominational Bible school when it opened in 1948.

September 19, 2010

September 18, 2010


The headquarters of the Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas (Philippine Navy) is dwarfed by the headquarters of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines). Both are along Roxas Boulevard in the City of Manila.

headquarters of the Central Bank of the Philippines and the Philippine Navy

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Weekend Reflections

September 17, 2010

The governor's gate

This small doorway through the thick walls of Intramuros is called the Puerta Postigo del Gobernador because it was near the Spanish Governor-General's palace. This is the door that Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal walked through when he was brought by Spanish soldiers from his jail in Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan where he was executed by firing squad in 1896. The little room where the guards of this doorway stayed was also where the young Manuel L. Quezon, who much later became the President of the Philippine Commonwealth, was incarcerated after he surrendered to the Americans in 1902.

Postigo del Gobernador in Intramuros

September 16, 2010


When Bayani Fernando was the chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), he had the facades of the squatter areas fronting major highways painted these hideous shades of pink and blue, a color combination which he also used for many of the metro's footbridges. Pink happens to be the favorite color of his wife, former Marikina City Mayor Marides Fernando. Bayani himself used to be the mayor of Marikina too, and the color was first used extensively in that city. I wonder if the new MMDA chairman, Francis Tolentino, will bother repainting the shanties and footbridges, and what color he'll choose. And in case you're wondering what the wire fence is, they're used to block pedestrians from crossing highways.

squatter homes painted pink and blue

September 15, 2010


I have featured several formal Filipiniana gowns in this blog already. Now here is an example of formal Filipiniana menswear. The Barong Tagalog (literally, Tagalog clothes) is usually made of piña (pineapple) or jusi (abaca) silk fabrics which are both very thin and translucent. The even tone and smooth texture of the fabric of this shirt marks it as being made of jusi, piña being more textured. This particular Barong Tagalog is also a fusion piece, incorporating ikat details at the collar, cuffs and shirt front. The ikat weave is common among many South American and Asian countries. In the Philippines, ikat weaving is practiced mostly by ethnic tribes in Mindanao.

jusi Barong Tagalog with ikat details

September 14, 2010

A roc's wingspan

Persia Grill is one of many restaurants on the Sky Garden of SM City North EDSA mall. I must say that my husband and I weren't impressed with the food we ordered, but I do like their sign and lanterns. If someone can tell me what this creature is supposed to be, I'd really appreciate it.

Persia Grill sign and lanterns

September 13, 2010


I like how the roofs of the Grade School and High School departments of Miriam College, which older Manileños know better as Maryknoll when the Maryknoll Sisters ran it, blend so well with the trees in their campus. This was taken from the matching green pedestrian overpass in front of the school during a Saturday afternoon, hence the scarcity of cars and school service vans in the parking lot.

Miriam College grade school and high school

October's theme for City Daily Photo bloggers is Graffiti. That's going to be fun! Don't forget to vote for the November theme too!

September 12, 2010


Of course, I cannot write about Buddy's restaurant without showing you the food that Lucban is best known for: pancit habhab and Lucban longganisa (which, in the unique and highly recognizable Tagalog dialect of Lucban, is pronounced langgonisa). Two things distinguish Lucban's sausage from those of other provinces: its heavy use of garlic and the fact that the pork is not ground as finely. In fact, it is almost a disappointment if a piece does not have chunks of fat. The best way to cook it is to fry it in its own fat until it is tostado (toasted). Crunchy Lucban longganisa is one of my comfort foods and always brings me back to childhood summers spent in Lucban. I'm half Lucbanin, though I've lost my accent—and the use of peculiarly Lucbanin words—ages ago. And just a special note to Francisca: I had my first sip of lambanog on my 8th birthday!

pancit habhab and Lucban longganisa

September 11, 2010

Leaves of rice

The Pahiyas Festival celebrated in Lucban and in other towns in the Philippines is a harvest festival. It is always held on May 15, the feast day of San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Laborer or Farmer). The highlight of the festival is a procession of revered religious icons followed by the town's prettiest girls in fancy gowns, which begins and ends in the parish church. The houses along the roads where the procession goes through—the route is changed every year—are decorated just for the festival and this is what pahiyas (ornaments) refers to. The decorations are composed of the fruits of the harvest and Lucban has a special kind of ornament made of rice, called kiping, which is why the festival attracts thousands of tourists every year. Grains of rice are pounded to a flour and mixed with water and food coloring to form a paste, which is then brushed over leaves and left to dry. The result is thin, translucent, jewel-toned leaves which are used to cover the houses' facades or strung into elaborate designs, like this almost two-story high chandelier which graces the entrance of Buddy's restaurant in Quezon City.

kiping chandelier in Buddy's restaurant along Timog Avenue

Smaller kiping lanterns are hung all around the restaurant's interiors, and the flower pattern at the building's facade is echoed by the beautiful light fixtures on the ceiling.

flower-shaped light fixtures in Buddy's restaurant along Timog Avenue

A photo collage about Lucban—the higantes, the procession led by the statue of San Isidro, Mount Banahaw, the parish church, and a house richly and colorfully decorated with pahiyas—curves along the wall of the staircase which leads to the second floor.

Lucban photo mural in Buddy's restaurant along Timog Avenue

September 10, 2010


During the opening of the Timog Avenue branch of Buddy's restaurant (see yesterday's post), the owners recreated some parts of the Pahiyas Festival. It was a fun treat seeing higantes (giants)…

higantes (giants) at the opening of Buddy's restaurant along Timog Avenue

and a brass band. Of course, both attracted quite a lot of attention from passersby, including a vendor hoping to sell some balloons to guests with little children.

brass band at the opening of Buddy's restaurant along Timog Avenue

September 9, 2010


The town of Lucban in Quezon Province is most famous for its Pahiyas Festival, which I Heart Manila featured extensively last month. Almost as famous is the town's longganisa (sausage) and pancit (noodles). Buddy's is the only restaurant that I know of in Metro Manila that specializes in Lucban cuisine and it just opened a new branch along Timog Avenue in Quezon City. The flower design over its entrance is typical of the festival's decorations. Lucban pancit is regular street fare and usually served on a piece of banana leaf—no plate, no fork—and one is supposed to eat it straight from the hand. Because of that, and the sucking sound that people tend to make while eating it, it is also known as pancit habhab. Of course, customers don't have to do that in Buddy's though I won't be surprised if they have banana leaves in stock just for those who want the experience.

Buddy's Pancit Lucban at Longganisang Lucban restaurant along Timog Avenue

September 8, 2010

A simple feast

This stained glass window is located over the door of the chapel of the Loyola Retreat House in the town of Angono in the province of Rizal where we had a spiritual retreat last April. I thought it appropriate to post today because many Filipinos will be attending Mass in celebration of the Nativity of Our Lady. It is not a holiday but it is a holy day in this largely Catholic country.

stained glass window with wheat, grape vines and a chalice

September 7, 2010

Black, white and red

The Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall, named after the husband and wife who gifted the Ateneo de Manila University with the building, is the home of the School of Social Sciences.

Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall

September 6, 2010

A modern folk tale

I am loving the theater group Entablado's musicals of seeming children's stories. Last year, it was Rene O. Villanueva's "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit" (The First Pig in Heaven) with its environmental message; this year, it is Christine Bellen's "Si Pilandok at ang Bayan ng Bulawan" (Pilandok and the Country of Bulawan), a folkloric retelling of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. Bulawan is a country named after its sun whose population is divided into two factions that can't get along with each other. The corrupt leader and his evil henchmen steal the Bulawan so they can start selling its light and heat to the people and make lots of money.

the corrupt Datu Usman in the play 'Si Pilandok at ang Bayan ng Bulawan'

Pilandok is the resident trickster with a good heart who decides to steal it back. He asks help from the nation's five gods (Faith, Strength, Wealth, Beauty and Wisdom) but their very natures work against them in their rescue efforts. So Pilandok tries it on his own but he is caught, and it is only when the two factions decide to work together—with their gods—that they manage to rescue both Pilandok and the Bulawan.

the five gods in the play 'Si Pilandok at ang Bayan ng Bulawan'

I'm sorry that I don't have a picture of Pilandok but his character was moving around so much I couldn't get a clear shot. We watched the play at the Rizal Mini Theater of the Ateneo de Manila University but it is also going to be shown at the Meralco Theater on September 11. More information about it on Oliver Oliveros' blog.

September 5, 2010

It's not low-cost housing

Here is another view of the Berkeley Residences from the other day, but from the bottom of the green footbridge which leads to Miriam College. Because Halcyon asked whether it was affordable housing, here's a little more information about it. If you take a look at its floor plans, you will notice that the units are tiny, but these are actually the standard among most condominium buildings in Manila nowadays. lists their cost from 1.8 to 4.3 million pesos (40,500 to 96,700 in U.S. dollars) depending on whether they have one or two bedrooms and also if they are on the pool level or not. Is Berkeley affordable? For the majority of Filipinos, no it's not. But compared to other condominium buildings, and especially houses, in the metro, yes it is. 

Berkeley Residences seen from the front of Miriam College

September 4, 2010

Pink behemoth

For ten months back in 2008, Filipino artist Impy Pilapil's large, outdoor sculptures for the exhibit titled "Interactive: The 12 Senses" were on display in the gardens of the Ateneo de Manila University. Many of us were very sad when they were dismantled because they added such bright spots of color to the campus. Happily however, two pieces were retained. The bamboo Chime Halo was reinstalled when the new Rizal Library was finished last year and this one, Surge, was never removed. One of the Ateneo Art Gallery curators told me that it weighs a ton, which is probably why the artist decided to keep it in the university.

Impy Pilapil's outdoor sculpture Surge at the Ateneo de Manila University

I'm glad. I think it looks great in the rock garden beside the Manuel V. Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership along my favorite brick path.

Impy Pilapil's outdoor sculpture Surge at the Ateneo de Manila University

Did you see me reflected on the glass window of the first photo? :)
See what's reflecting what at James' Weekend Reflections.
Weekend Reflections

September 3, 2010

Gray and green

The looming 35-story residential condominium along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, which I first wrote about in March, is almost done. Only the pavilion on the roof deck remains unfinished. It's called the Berkeley Residences and the developer is the SM Group of Companies, the same company that filled Manila, and many other parts of the Philippines, with enormous malls. The Philippines is still in the middle of its monsoon season and our skies look like this, or worse, almost everyday. It's a bother, but as long as there are no devastating typhoons, I don't mind much—just look at that wonderfully green grass!

Berkeley Residences seen across a field of Ateneo de Manila University

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September 2, 2010

Ziggurat ruins

Not as tall as the abandoned building behind Quezon City Hall but in a more prominent location, this terraced eyesore stands on government property at the corner of one of the roads which radiate from the Quezon Memorial Circle. When the land was still empty many years ago, the rumor going around was that Ayala Land was negotiating to lease or buy it so they could build a mall there, which would have been their first in Quezon City. When this terraced structure went up, the rumors became even fiercer. Then construction stopped completely without any explanation, as is quite usual in my country, and the thing's been standing there since. Ayala Land did eventually build a mall in Quezon City and I don't know if there's any truth to the old rumor, but the design of certain parts of Trinoma sure look very similar.

abandoned construction along the Quezon Memorial Circle

September 1, 2010

Narrow opening

THEME DAY: OPEN AIR MARKET • Alright, I'm cheating a bit for the City Daily Photo theme day today. Metro Manila has several well-organized upscale weekend markets nowadays (markets where rich people don't mind being seen at), but I was too lazy to go out on a Sunday morning just to take pictures since it's the one day in the week when I don't have to wake up early for work. So here is a view of a quite unintentional open-air market: an alley in Manila's Chinatown in Binondo. Contrary to what its narrow, busy streets look like, Binondo has one of the highest land values in the metro. So it is hardly surprising that stores and vendors use every available space to set up their merchandise, and that includes alleys and sidewalks.

alley with market stalls in Manila's Chinatown

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