November 25, 2010

Smoggy afternoon in the city

From another balcony on the other side of the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, a view of the City of Manila with the small white yachts docked at the Manila Yacht Club. The concrete bunker in the foreground is the Folk Arts Theater. Its formal name is Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, after one of the Philippines' greatest poets, though no one I know has ever called it that. Imelda Marcos had this covered amphitheater built in 1974 especially for that year's Miss Universe Pageant, and since then has been used mostly for concerts and religious gatherings. In more recent years, however, it has been quite neglected and ignored as a concert venue.

view of Manila from Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza

November 24, 2010

Unknown jungle

A view of Pasay City from a balcony of Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. Except for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I rarely have reason to go to Pasay and know next to nothing about it.

view of Pasay City from Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza

November 23, 2010

Easy to miss

From the road, the ancestral house of the Legarda family looks like any of the few 1930s houses in Manila that survived World War II—though better maintained than most—and belies the wealth of history that lies within. The garden in front is planted with many herbs which are used to season the dishes served in the restaurant.

view of the ancestral home of the Legarda clan from San Rafael Street

Only this small wooden sign on the privacy wall announces that the house is the proud location of La Cocina de Tita Moning. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #9

sign of La Cocina de Tita Moning

November 22, 2010

Old world elegance

As I mentioned at the start of this series about the ancestral home of the Legarda family, the house is now also a fine dining restaurant called La Cocina de Tita Moning. Appetizers are served in the sala (living room) while you wait for your table in the dining room to be prepared. All the china, glassware and silverware on each table were actually used by the family and their guests across three generations, and the beautiful table settings are complemented by elegant Italian glass birds of different shapes and sizes. The menu of the restaurant are from recipes which date back to the time of Alejandro and Ramona—European and Filipino family favorites and special occasion dishes served to their distinguished guests. La Cocina de Tita Moning is operated by the long-time servants of the Legarda family, and the small scroll on the table introduces each of them and tells their stories. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #8

pumpkin soup at La Cocina de Tita Moning in the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 21, 2010


An all-white bedroom in the ancestral home of the Legarda family displays the wedding gown of one of Alejandro and Ramona's daughters. Isn't that train just magnificent? • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #7

wedding gown on display in one of the bedrooms of the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 20, 2010

Ornate whimsy

With my fascination for lamps and lighting fixtures, a lamp was bound to catch my eye in the 1937 home of Alejandro and Ramona Legarda. I just love the young person with a monkey cavorting all over this particular metal chandelier. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #6

metal chandelier at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 19, 2010

Another hobby

Aside from being an avid photographer, Dr. Alejandro Legarda was also an amateur radio operator and a member of the Philippine Amateur Radio Association. He had a room specially built for his radio equipment on the third level of their house and when he got too old to walk up the stairs, everything was moved to a room on the ground floor, where they remain on display. However, the equipment that you see here are actually his newer ones, the older equipment having been donated to a museum. Because of his hobby, Alejandro once saved a boat from a storm at sea and received an award for it. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #5

antique radio equipment on display at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 18, 2010


Dr. Alejandro Legarda was an avid amateur photographer. He kept his own dark room in their home and was one of the first members of the Camera Club of the Philippines; he remained a member until his death in 1993. His now-antique cameras and other accouterments of early to middle 20th century photography are on display in their own room at the Legarda ancestral house. According to the guide, most of the photos in the house were taken and developed by Alejandro. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #4

antique cameras on display at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 17, 2010

Victorian nightmare

Alejandro Legarda was an Obstetrician & Gynecologist and had a clinic in his house. In fact, one of his sons was born in this very clinic. Yes, the skeleton is real; Alejandro used it when he was in medical school. Pardon the title, but I couldn't help it; this clinic just reminds me of Victorian sanatoriums and asylums I see in movies • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #3

clinic of Dr. Alejandro Legarda at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 16, 2010

Pride of place

The interiors of the Legarda ancestral house is a perfect example of American colonial era home design in Manila. I will not be the only Manileño to say that it reminds me of my own grandmother's house. What I find absolutely amazing is how everything—from the furniture to the bric-a-brac—is wonderfully preserved. It is to the Legarda family's credit that the younger generations resisted the urge to modernize the home (well, except for the air-conditioner, that is).

living room of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

The living room has two sets of seating. The one above flanked by family photographs, and another directly across, above which hangs the centerpiece of the room: a painting by Filipino artist Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo (21 February 1855–13 March 1913), a contemporary and close friend of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal. Titled "La Inocencia," it is still in its original Art Noveau frame and is believed to be a painting of Hidalgo's mistress in France. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #2

living room of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 14, 2010

Ancestral home

Welcome to the home of Alejandro Legarda and his wife Ramona Hernandez, now a museum and fine dining restaurant called La Cocina de Tita Moning (The Kitchen of Aunt Ramona). Built in 1937, it was one of Manila's first art deco houses. It is located along San Rafael Street in the San Miguel district of Manila which, before the war, used to be one of the city's most elegant neighborhoods and home to many of Manila's most elite families. Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines, is also in the San Miguel district. In the next few days, we will be touring this elegant house where Alejandro and Ramona raised four children and which was used by three generations of the Legarda clan. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #1

foyer of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 13, 2010

Chinese pastry

Probably the best Chinese bakery in the metro is Ho-land in Binondo, Manila's Chinatown. Their specialty is hopia, flaky puff pastry filled with a sweet mung bean paste—delicious, especially when freshly-baked. They also have mooncakes, tikoy (a glutinous rice cake), peanut cakes, and other Chinese delicacies. They've also expanded the hopia line by introducing new fillings. I think their original hopia is still the best, however.

tikoy and different kinds of hopia at Ho-land

November 12, 2010

Two towers

Looking out the roof deck of Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street, which has a skylight at the lower level, towards a pair of condominium towers, one done and one still being constructed, in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City.

pair of condominium towers in Bonifacio Global City

November 11, 2010

D.I.Y. burgers

Another new little eatery in our neighborhood is The Burger Project. Choose your bun (whole wheat, potato, sesame seed), patty (tofu, chicken, beef), cheese, toppings and sauces. Quite innovative since most burger places here, franchise or independent, let you choose only the toppings and sauces at the most. The tofu burger was a disappointment, however; I'll try the chicken burger next time.

The Burger Project

November 10, 2010

Legacy of resistance

Lapu-Lapu, a Datu of the island of Mactan in the Visayas, is considered the first Philippine national hero for having resisted Spanish colonization back in the 16th century. This statue of him in the Rizal Park, sculpted by Juan Sajid Imao who also created the Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument, stands between the Museum of the Filipino People and the Department of Tourism. He is looking directly towards the monument of that other premier Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, after whom the park is named.

statue of Lapu-Lapu at the Rizal Park

Reminding all CDP bloggers: our theme for December 1 is Time, and going back to community tradition, that of January 1 is Best Photo of 2010. The February theme poll is up too and will remain active until the end of December. Don't forget to vote!

November 9, 2010

My world, literally

The Western end of the Rizal Park is marked by a relief map of the Philippines in a pool of water. We're at the Southern end of the country—geographically, we'd be standing in the Celebes Sea, with Malaysia on the left and Indonesia to the right and back—and the islands nearest us are those of Sulu and Basilan, which are both part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. I wish I could have taken a photo from a higher vantage point, but unless I stood on the Light Rail Transit's track, this was as high as I could get. I was completely fascinated with the map as a child and I still am.

relief map of the Philippines at the Rizal Park

And That's My World!
That's My World Tuesday

November 8, 2010

The art of eating

During the past three years, our neighborhood has become quite a popular location for small, independent restaurants and bars. Aside from Trellis, which has been around since the 80s, there's Pino, Tomato Kick, Friuli and Kiss the Cook, and many others that I have not yet featured here—all within walking distance or a tricycle ride away from our house. Makes for very happy taste buds but I'm beginning to despair of my waistline. Leona Art Restaurant used to be located in a different part of Quezon City but recently moved in too. Both their grilled and fried pizzas are good and we're looking forward to trying other items on their menu. I should ask the owners why they call it an "art restaurant" but I won't be surprised if it has to do with all the eclectic, quirky and lovely decorations they have in the place.

Leona Art Restaurant

November 7, 2010

Golden dragon

The ornate ceiling of the pavilion in the Chinese Garden of the Rizal Park. I apologize for the upside down dragon, but I couldn't cross over to the other side because there was some kind of student workshop going on at the time.

ceiling of the Chinese pavilion at the Rizal Park

November 6, 2010


A statue of Confucius (551–479 BC) in the Chinese Garden of the Rizal Park.

statue of Confucius at the Rizal Park
"When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them;
when we see men of a contrary character,
we should turn inwards and examine ourselves."

November 5, 2010

Of glass and light

Inside the Quezon City branch of Alba Restaurante Español. I just love the wine bottle holder that they built into the wall separating the foyer from the main dining room.

wine bottle holder in the wall of Alba Restaurante Español

November 4, 2010


Alba Restaurante Español probably has the best-value weekend lunch and dinner buffets in Metro Manila. The buffet always has paella and includes their most popular meat dishes—Cochinillo Asado (oven-roasted suckling pig), Lengua Sevillana (stewed ox tongue with mushrooms and olives in sherry gravy sauce) and Callos a la Madrileña (stewed ox tripe in tomato sauce), among others. They also offer several desserts, including their yummy Canonigo (soft meringue cake with vanilla custard sauce). All for only a third of what hotel restaurant buffets cost nowadays.

Alba Restaurante Español

November 3, 2010

Rat Pack

As Francisca pointed out in my DQ ice cream cake post, Halloween is gaining a foothold in Metro Manila. Especially in the South, villages decorate for the holiday and kids go trick-or-treating. And what's driving it? Commercialism, of course. Hotels have parties for both children and adults to increase room and banquet sales, and malls are decorated to the rafters, have special shows and even allow children to go trick-or-treating among their stores. This trio—born of a marriage between a ghost and a pumpkin, apparently—was greeting shoppers at SM City North EDSA mall's Sky Garden. Somehow, they reminded me of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.

a trio of orange ghosts at SM City North EDSA mall

November 2, 2010

A perfect day for a picnic

In the Roman Catholic calendar, November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. The difference is a matter of faith and theological doctrine, and too long to discuss here, so just follow the links to Wikipedia if you would like to know more. Whether Catholic or not, however, most Filipinos spend November 1, a holiday in the Philippines, at the graves of their loved ones. And except for some prayers, there's usually nothing solemn about it either. The day becomes a reunion of sorts for family and friends, with food and drinks, and lots of talk and laughter. No, it's not disrespect. Rather, think of it as thanksgiving and a celebration of life—both of those who have died and those who are still here. One thing I'm glad about though is that Loyola Memorial Park has finally banned blaring music—hearing more than a dozen songs playing loudly at the same time can drive one crazy. Families who expect to spend the entire day at the cemetery rent tents to provide shelter from either the sun or rains, either of which we can get at this time of the year. Because I don't like crowds, I went to visit my parents' graves on October 31, which was hot and sunny. I'm glad I did because it was drizzly the whole day yesterday.

Loyola Memorial Park, the day before All Saints Day

November 1, 2010

Spanish carriage for a Spanish city

THEME DAY: PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION • The kalesa is a horse-drawn carriage introduced to the Philippines by the Spaniards in the 18th century. It is still used as public transportation in certain parts of Manila, especially in the district of Binondo, but fancier ones like this—more properly called a carruaje—are used mostly for sightseeing in the old walled city of Intramuros. This man was waiting for tourists at the nearby Rizal Park.

elegant kalesa or carruaje in Rizal Park

See what people all over the world use as public transportation. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.