May 31, 2010


Fourteen years ago tomorrow, Exie and I got married at Mary the Queen Parish in the City of San Juan. Our lunch reception was at the restaurant Chateau 1771 in the El Pueblo Real complex in Ortigas Center. It closed last year—for good, I thought, because it relocated to the newer Greenbelt 5 mall in Makati City, a location which better suits its fine dining atmosphere. Happily, I discovered earlier this month that the company only closed the El Pueblo location temporarily. Its interior has been completely renovated and it is now named Café 1771 but it still offers some of the original dishes and its charming facade has been retained. I'm glad to know that our wedding reception memories are not just memories now.

Café 1771

Happy anniversary, love of my life.

May 30, 2010

No less grand

The main facade of the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, better known as the Manila Cathedral, has three doorways. The central doorway, which is the biggest, has large wooden doors with bronze relief panels depicting the history of the church, over which is a grand arch inscribed with the dedication of the church. The two side doorways are slightly smaller though their arches are just as richly ornamented with elaborate reliefs.

arch over a doorway of the Manila Cathedral

May 29, 2010

Poverty gap

A cousin who has lived in Chicago since he was four years old recently came to the Philippines to visit and he told me that one of the things he noticed about Metro Manila was the great disparity between the rich and the poor here. Which reminded me of this photo I took last year and meant to use for the October 2009 CDP theme day, Contrast. I ended up not using it because I thought it was too depressing to use for theme day and also because we had just been devastated by typhoon Ketsana, known locally as Ondoy, and I wanted to post something about it. But my cousin is right. All big cities everywhere have to struggle with the problems of homelessness, but nowhere is the poverty gap more evident than in the megalopolises of third world countries, where luxurious modern skyscrapers stand side by side with sprawling slums and shanty towns. I did not see which Filipino fashion designer owns this atelier, but it is in front of Penguin Café Gallery in the City of Manila.

homeless person sleeping in front of a fashion designer's atelier

May 28, 2010

Sunset glow

The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) is located in the same complex beside Manila Bay as the Cultural Center of the Philippines and designed by the same architect, National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin. It was officially opened as Asia's first international convention center when it hosted the September 1976 IMF-World Bank Meeting. Many other convention centers have opened in Manila since then, but the PICC remains the venue of choice for important conferences. With so many great-looking modern architecture in the metro, the PICC's wide and squat concrete and glass block no longer looks attractive either, but when the sun sets over Manila Bay, the PICC takes on a golden glow reminiscent of its glory days in the 70s and 80s.

Philippine International Convention Center

May 27, 2010


Shomal by Hossein is a restaurant that opened in TriNoma mall fairly recently and it specializes in Persian, Indian and Arabian cuisine. The food is as rich, interesting and luxurious as the furnishings, and we will definitely go back to try more of their dishes. And hopefully, I will remember to take photos of the food before digging in and ruining their presentation.

interior of Shomal by Hossein restaurant

May 26, 2010

Rural town

The small island province of Marinduque, from where we began our Bellarocca trip, has six municipalities and no cities. They are typical of rural Philippine towns, whether they are inland or coastal, from their architecture and available services to the layout of their streets and the kind of transportation used. Of course, there are differences from province to province and from town to town, but by and large, these are what you can expect in much of the country.

Towns are always centered around the municipal hall and, if they happen to have been founded during the Spanish colonial era, they would be facing the church across a wide plaza. The municipal hall of Gasan was not laid out in such a manner and the architecture is not typical of the period either, which makes me suspect that this building is relatively new. With no one to ask questions from, however, I cannot say for sure. Note that almost everywhere you go in the Philippines, you are likely to encounter at least one statue of National Hero Jose Rizal.

municipal hall of the town of Gasan in Marinduque province

Around the municipal hall are small commercial buildings. Even the homes near it have commercial establishments on the ground floor. The easiest way to go around the town is the ubiquitous tricycle.

houses with commercial establishments on the ground floor in the town of Gasan in Marinduque province

Within the town proper, roads are typically made of asphalt or concrete. As you go farther, they turn into gravel roads until they are nothing more than one lane dirt paths which vehicles have to share with people and farm animals. Animals usually have the right of way.

dirt road outside a town center in Marinduque province

The wood and concrete houses of town centers give way to houses made of bamboo and nipa, with a smattering of hollow blocks and galvanized iron if the family is relatively well-off. Because this community is strung out on the main coastal road of Marinduque, the houses have access to electrical power. Remote and lone homesteads do not have that luxury. But even in this area, most do not have plumbing and running water—many of the houses that we passed still have outhouses.

house made of nipa, bamboo, hollow blocks and galvanized iron in Marinduque province

The entire island of Marinduque is serviced by one airport, which is located in the municipality of Boac, the provincial capital. It does not have an online system so everything, from checking passenger names to computing total passenger and luggage weight, is done manually. It has a two-story control tower and the runway is made of gravel, which residents are free to cross to get to their homes behind the airport. Believe me, this is quite big as far as island airports go—I've seen much shorter runways and more rustic airport structures.

Marinduque provincial airport
the two-story control tower of Marinduque provincial airport

May 25, 2010


I have featured many of the beautiful buildings and ruins of the historic walled city of Intramuros, which used to be the city of Manila during the Spanish colonial period. Now let me show you the most glaringly out-of-place structure in the district. Called the Clamshell, it is a huge airconditioned tent used for commercial and tourism exhibitions and trade fairs. It stands on the corner of Santa Lucia and Anda streets, which used to be the location of the Ateneo de Manila University when it was still in Intramuros. To come upon this tacky structure, especially when it's screaming with promotional banners and streamers, after seeing the elegant Spanish architecture of the rest of Intramuros, is jarring, to say the least. I really hope that the Intramuros Administration and our Department of Tourism decide to take it down in the very near future.

Intramuros Clamshell exhibition tent

May 24, 2010

Billions served

McDonald's was first brought to Manila by businessman George T. Yang in 1981. It now has close to three hundred branches all over the Philippines; some are company-owned and some are franchises. The bigger branches have any or all of the fastfood giant's additional services: McCafé, PlayPlace, drive-through, or being open 24/7, including holidays! In Metro Manila and a few other cities and provinces, McDonald's also offers 24-hour delivery. What's your country's McDonald's like?

McDonald's sign at night

May 23, 2010

Spanish mission

Another view of the facade of the St. John the Baptist Parish Church, better known locally as Pinaglabanan Church, this time with its bell tower. The church is located in the City of San Juan which were still the boondocks in 1896, the year that the church was built. That year also saw the start of the Philippine Revolution, when Filipinos took up arms against the Spanish colonial authorities.

Pinaglabanan Church in the City of San Juan

May 22, 2010


The Philippine National Art Gallery, the home of Juan Luna's Spoliarium, is a 1916 American colonial era building which used to be the Philippines' Legislative Building, just as the building of the National Museum of the Filipino People used to be the Finance Building. This is the Legislative Building's elegant marble spiral staircase with wrought iron banisters and a softly gleaming wooden handrail. I just wish the gallery staff didn't keep supplies and trash under the stairs, even temporarily.

spiral staircase at the Philippine National Gallery of Art

May 21, 2010

Reading lamps

When I posted a photo of the west facade of the Rizal Library in the Ateneo de Manila University with its sparse windows, someone commented that she doesn't like buildings without windows. In fact, it is only the east and west sides that have few windows so that the interiors do not get the full strength of the sun's heat. If you've ever stayed in equatorial countries during their summers, you can understand why this architectural design principle makes a lot of sense. However, the north and south sides of the library are almost nothing but windows, providing lots of natural light in the reading rooms during the day. Of course, they still have to use fluorescent lamps at night.

Rizal Library in the early evening

May 20, 2010


I have mentioned the Philippines' Spanish colonial past, right? Whatever Filipinos may think of those three centuries, it can't be denied that Spain shaped much of our current culture. And that includes our food. Paella, anyone?


May 19, 2010

Mug shots

I envy countries whose citizens don't need visas to travel to other countries as tourists. Very few countries don't require them from Filipinos and most of them are in Asia. To visit the U.S., Canada, Australia or any European country, we need a visa (not that I blame them, but that's a story for another day). The documents that accompany the application form basically have to prove that, one, we have the means to support ourselves while we're in their country and, two, we will go back to the Philippines after the trip. That means bank statements and a return ticket. Visa applications cost too, hence the check, and the photo requirements are so strict (no smiling!), they always end up looking like mug shots. The Canadian embassy has one over the others though: it doesn't require a personal appearance, so there is no likelihood of a consul's personal prejudices affecting the application negatively.

Canadian visa application documents

Today, my husband and I are off to Toronto for the wedding of my eldest nephew, the son of one of my brothers. This will be our farthest and longest trip yet, and we're both very excited. And since my other brother and my aunt (my mom's only sister) will be flying in with their families too, this will be a truly special occasion for me. I scheduled posts for the three weeks that we will be away and I'm hoping that my brother has an extra computer that I can use while we're there, but if I don't get to visit your blogs in the next few weeks, you know why. Be good, be safe, be happy.

May 18, 2010

High and low

Looking out across the rooftops of some of the upscale residential subdivisions around Capitol Hills Golf & Country Club from the roof deck of Dencio's Bar and Grill. I've already posted a photo of the building being constructed on the right, which will become the tallest building in Katipunan Avenue when it's done. The cluster of buildings on the left is the residential and commercial condominiums of Eastwood City. These are all in Quezon City, but the farther buildings in the middle are already in the Ortigas Center of Pasig City.

Quezon and Pasig City skyline from Capitol Hills Golf & Country Club

Calling all City Daily Photo bloggers! Our theme for June 1 is Funny Signs. That should be fun! And don't forget to vote for the July theme!

May 17, 2010

Blue wonder

I'd never seen a Blue Sea Star (Linckia laevigata) until these ones at the Manila Ocean Park. Isn't that blue just fabulous? The Linckia genus is one of those with regenerative powers. It can sever one of its arms in self-defense to escape from a predator and grow it back later (I just learned that the word for it is autotomy). It can also reproduce asexually, separating an arm which will grow four tiny stubs until the whole thing matures into another sea star. Isn't nature just so amazing?

Blue Sea Star

May 16, 2010

Steel tower

This is the bell tower of the Santa Maria della Strada (Our Lady of the Way) parish church in Quezon City, still draped in its Easter robes. I remember how, when it was first unveiled, reactions to its design were varied, to put it mildly.

bell tower of Santa Maria della Strada parish church

May 15, 2010


I have to confess that I have a thing for bathrooms and powder rooms (which we call the comfort room or CR for short). I dream of the day when we can have all of ours renovated to look like those featured in Good Housekeeping, but until then, I love peeking into those in hotels, restaurants and posh homes, even if I don't need to use them, just to see how they're decorated. This is the powder room at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay. Both the attendant and I hid behind walls while I was taking this photo—a fat lot of good that did us.

powder room at Sofitel Manila's 7Pecados by the Bay

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

May 14, 2010

The last days of summer

During the past two weeks, Manila's daytime weather has still been that of summer: hot. But it has also started becoming very humid, and late in the afternoon, dark clouds would gather, the wind would become a little cooler and sometimes, rain would fall in the early evening. I saw this young man flying a kite in the brown fields of the University of the Philippines as the sun was setting behind the evening's rain clouds. Pretty soon, the grass of the fields will be bright green again.

sunset behind rain clouds

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

May 12, 2010

Toy planes

The small planes of two of the Philippines' local airlines at the Manila Domestic Airport. ZestAir has orange and green markings, and Seair is periwinkle (though its logo is multicolor).

planes of ZestAir and Seair at the Manila Domestic Airport

May 11, 2010

For women

The second residential hall built in the 1960s inside the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo de Manila University was Eliazo Hall. It was built two years after Cervini Hall, in 1968, and named after the Jesuit priest Father Jose M. Eliazo, SJ. When the university turned co-educational in the 1970s, Eliazo Hall became the women's dormitory, and it has been ever since. I can only speak about Manila architecture, but the two buildings' patterned concrete blocks just scream the 60s to me.

Eliazo Hall in Ateneo de Manila Universitiy

May 10, 2010

For men

Cervini Hall was one of two residential halls for students built in the 1960s inside the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo de Manila University. It was inaugurated in 1966 and named after the Jesuit priest Father Andrew F. Cervini, SJ. When the university finally turned co-educational in the 1970s, Cervini Hall became the men's dormitory. And if you're wondering about the yellow ribbons on the trees, they're leftovers from the death of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino on August 1, 2009 and not the university's endorsement of the presidential candidacy of her son Noynoy.

Cervini Hall in Ateneo de Manila Universitiy

Whatever your faith is, please keep the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers today and in the next few days. We go out to vote for our national and local governments today. Please pray that the elections and the counting will be clean (election cheating has always been rampant here), that there won't be too much violence (asking for no violence at all is not realistic), that the new counting machines will work without a hitch (it's the first time we're using machines—counting was always done manually in the past), and that we finally elect good leaders who will selflessly work for the good of the country and of all Filipinos (rather than those who will just work for their own enrichment).

May 9, 2010

In her heart

This is the companion piece to the stained glass window featuring St. Ignatius of Loyola behind the altar of the chapel of the Loyola Retreat House in the town of Angono in Rizal Province. It is a depiction of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a devotion to Mary which focuses on her interior spiritual life. The 19th verse of the 2nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke, after Mary learns from the angel that she will soon be a mother, sums up the concept well: "And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." Quite appropriate for a spiritual retreat center.

Immaculate Heart of Mary stained glass window at the Loyola Retreat House

Many countries, including the Philippines, are celebrating Mother's Day today. So, to all mothers: may you have a wonderful day filled with love and joy. And to everybody: no matter how flawed or imperfect our mothers are, they dedicated a large part of their lives to us—please tell them how much you appreciate that in any way you can.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 8, 2010

Funhouse mirror

This is one of the huge, mirrored supporting pillars inside The Podium mall in Ortigas Center. They make for such crazily fun reflections, young children immediately run to them when they enter the mall.

mirrored pillar at The Podium

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

May 7, 2010


On the second day of our recollection last week, the first prayer period was at 6:30 in the morning. So I finally woke up early enough to catch a sunrise. Only to discover that, from the highest point of the Loyola Retreat House (which was the second floor deck), the sunrise was behind the trees and over the next hill.

sunrise behind some mango trees

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

May 6, 2010

No room…

to run,

cassowary at the Malabon ZooDouble-wattled Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)

to crawl,

albino Burmese python at the Malabon ZooAlbino Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus)

or to fly

kalaw or Rufous Hornbill at the Malabon ZooKalaw or Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax)

at the Malabon Zoo. :'(

wire fences and cages at the Malabon Zoo

May 5, 2010

Boiled koi

This is the small koi pond of Dencio's Bar and Grill in its enviable location on the roof deck of the strip mall beside the Capitol Hills Golf & Country Club. Outdoor dining is nice, but not for lunch in the middle of the Philippine summer. Even the koi are taking shelter in the shadow of the pedestals. Thank goodness the restaurant has an airconditioned dining room.

koi pond of Dencio's Bar and Grill in Capitol Hills

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

May 4, 2010

It's a jungle out there

SM City North EDSA has a fun and educational exhibit going on until the middle of the month. Titled "Safari Adventure" and running the entire length of the mall's Sky Garden, the exhibit features animals found in an African savanna ecosystem. Some displays have animatronics and audio narration, and all have informative banners. This is definitely not my clearest photo of the various set-ups, but I love how the display contrasts with the lights, billboards, buildings and Metro Rail Transit System in the background that I just had to use it.

Safari Adventure exhibit in SM City North's Sky Garden

May 3, 2010

State-ly columns

A longer view of Quezon Hall, the main administration building of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, with the statue of the Oblation, which I posted for the CDP May theme day, in its small green plaza. The University of the Philippines, or U.P. for short, is the country's premier state university.

Quezon Hall of the University of the Philippines - Diliman

May 2, 2010

A gym for the spirit

The two-day prayer recollection that I went to earlier this week was held at the Loyola Retreat House in the town of Angono in Rizal Province, east of Metro Manila. It is run by the Society of Jesus and visitors and retreatants are greeted by a statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola holding his Spiritual Exercises, which was the basis of our recollection, though in a much shorter form.

driveway of the Loyola Retreat House in Angono, Rizal

Almost hidden among the trees at the back of the retreat house is a small shrine depicting one of the most important events in the life of Ignatius. He was a Basque soldier and after his conversion, he made a pilgrimage to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain where he lay down his arms and armor in front of an image of the Virgin Mary.

a shrine at the Loyola Retreat House in Angono, Rizal

The Loyola Retreat House is nowhere near as gorgeous as last year's Caleruega. It is actually quite spartan in its furnishings and design, but since it is used strictly as a venue for spiritual retreats, I think it was a much better choice—it was completely quiet. The most extravagant adornments in the center are the beautiful stained glass windows in the small chapel. Again, St. Ignatius is depicted holding the book of the Spiritual Exercises in one of the four large windows behind the altar.

stained glass window depicting St. Ignatius of Loyola at the chapel of the Loyola Retreat House in Angono, Rizal

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

May 1, 2010

An offering

THEME DAY: STATUES • In 1935, the fourth President of University of the Philippines, Rafael Palma, commissioned sculptor and professor Guillermo Tolentino to create a monument based on the second stanza of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal's "Mi Ultimo Adios" (My Last Farewell) which would be the identifying landmark of the university. The result was the Oblation (noun, something offered in worship or devotion), a naked figure of a young man with face tilted heavenward, eyes closed, arms outstretched, hands open and chest forward—a grand pose of self-offering. The original statue, made of concrete painted to look like bronze, is now kept in the university's main library. The statue in front of Quezon Hall, the administration building, is a bronze replica recast from the original and unveiled in the Diliman campus in 1958.

the Oblation in the University of the Philippines - Diliman

See more statues in the virtual global museum that is City Daily Photo on this first day of May. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.