Colorful coin purses made of handwoven fabric from the Bicol Region. Selling in the streets of Manila for six pieces for one hundred pesos—about 38 U.S. cents per piece, or less than five dollars for the dozen in this picture.
The ornate mirror, ceiling and angel sconces at Café Ysabel in the City of San Juan. Unfortunately, the effect is a bit marred for me by the presence of the flanking speakers and large airconditioning units.
Liteware Computers is an authorized Apple seller and service center, and is housed in two small converted apartment units along Kamias Road in Quezon City—a rather noisy and dingy area full of tiny shops selling hardware and automotive supplies. However, it offers some of the best prices for Apple products in Metro Manila. I guess their overhead costs are not as high as those big and fancy Apple stores located in high-end shopping centers.
Simbang Gabi (night mass) or Misa de Gallo (Spanish, which literally translates to rooster's mass and means dawn mass), is a traditional novena of masses before Christmas that many Filipino Catholics practice. Among Catholics, a novena is a nine-day devotion to obtain special graces. Simbang Gabi at the Ateneo Church of the Gesù started on December 15 with a performance of Filipino and foreign Christmas carols by the Banda Zabat brass band a few hours before the evening mass. Banda Zapat comes from Gapan City in the province of Nueva Ecija, 92 kilometers away.
I like how some people grow plants on the branches of trees. The trees don't seem to suffer for the presence of their guests and the variety of leaf shapes make everything even more interesting. Just don't ask me what tree or plants they are, okay? :)
It took me some time to realize what these silver tubes hanging from the ceiling of Ye Dang Korean BBQ Restaurant were. I'd never seen extensible exhaust tubes before. Necessary in a restaurant where the barbecue is grilled at your table.
I guess this photo is a good summary of the kind of weather we have in the Philippines—sun and rain, that's it. It's just a matter of degree.
The Mindanao cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, and smaller towns around them, have been devastated by floods caused by Typhoon Sendong (international code: Washi) and the death toll is now more than 500. If you can spare a little, please help the 8000 families who have been affected by the floods. The most convenient way to donate is online through the Philippine Red Cross' website but if you want to know about other options, please leave a comment and I will try to give you more information. Thank you.
The Loyola House of Studies is the home of Philippine Jesuits-in-training (through their Juniorate, Philosophy, Theology, and Tertianship years), and their faculty and formators. This iconic facade of the building, which was built in 1965, overlooks the Marikina Valley.
Because of the district's hustle and bustle, and the inadequacy of Philippine rules about building signs, it is easy to miss the pre-war architectural gems of Binondo, Manila's Chinatown. The Uy-Chaco Building, which houses the Binondo branch of Philtrust Bank, stands right behind the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch. I've featured the arch in the past, but it wasn't until several years later—and a relatively long wait for the people I was meeting with—that I noticed the building. Information about it on the web is contradictory; it was either built in 1914 and designed by Samuel C. Rowell or built in 1930 and designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro.
In an effort to ease the flow of the metro's badly congested traffic, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) decided to close off most national roads' intersections and put U-turn slots instead. Their positioning are trial-and-error experiments, so the MMDA has to use non-permanent and moveable road barriers. Looks like someone tried making a U-turn from an outer lane and is being issued a ticket.
A typical scene near major public transportation hubs in Metro Manila, with jeepneys, vendors, graffiti and glued-on announcements on footbridge pillars, thick and tangled utility cables, and people texting.
Of all the mementos and historical artifacts in the "Rizal in Ateneo, Ateneo in Rizal" exhibit (see yesterday's post), this small, unassuming alcohol burner caught my fancy the most. The day before his execution on December 30, 1896, Jose Rizal was visited in prison by his mother, sisters and nephews and he whispered to his sister Trinidad that there was something hidden inside the burner. When it was given to his family, they discovered a folded piece of paper on which a poem was handwritten by Rizal. Untitled and unsigned, it is known popularly as "Mi Ultimo Adios" (My Last Farewell). The images in the background are of a replica of Rizal's prison cell inside the Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago, Intramuros. The alcohol burner is on loan to the Ateneo Art Gallery from the family of Estanislao Herbosa, a nephew of Jose Rizal from his sister Lucia.
For those interested in reading the poem, here are a few links:
Today is the 150th birth anniversary of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal, and Filipinos all over the world are celebrating it, not just today but throughout the year. Rizal studied in the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, which is now the Ateneo de Manila University, and the school will be commemorating his life and works with exhibits, lectures, books and performances until December. These activities were launched last Friday with the opening of the "Rizal in Ateneo, Ateneo in Rizal" exhibit at the Ateneo Art Gallery curated by foremost Rizal scholar and historian Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo. This 1930 bust of Jose Rizal at the entrance of the exhibit is by Philippine National Artist for Sculpture Guillermo Tolentino and the background is an image of the ornate entrance of the old Ateneo in Intramuros.
PETA Theater's "Care Divas" ran from February to March of this year, but it proved to be so popular, it extended to April and is being performed again this June and July. It is a musical comedy about five transvestite Filipino overseas workers in Israel at the time of the Intifada (not specified, but I assume it was the second). During the day, they are caregivers for elderly Jews, but at night, they metamorphose into fully made-up, high-heeled drag queen club singers. The themes that the play explores include migration, homelessness, relationships, alienation and identity—in the most melodramatic, outrageous, hilarious, loud and bittersweet manner. Just the way most Filipinos like their storytelling.
This was the scene at the theater lobby after the play. It was the first time I saw theater actors here mobbed like they were rock stars!
My last post about our short vacation in Baguio City is about the one thing that many Filipinos consider essential to a good vacation, wherever it may be: food. And Baguio has a plethora of places to eat, from tiny eateries along busy roads to elegant and romantic restaurants, any of which might offer regional or international cuisine. So here are some of the places where we ate; but no photos of the food—fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view. :)
Our room at Casa Vallejo came with breakfast for two at their Hill Station restaurant everyday. We just had to have dinner there once too; their specialty dishes are all slow-cooked.
PNKY Travel Café is owned by a family that loves to travel. The menu is very international but the recipes have all been tweaked to take advantage of Baguio's wonderfully fresh vegetables and fruits.
There is nothing fancy about Vizco's Restaurant and Cake Shop, which is located on Session Road, Baguio's central and busiest thoroughfare. Just good, solid and inexpensive pasta and pizza, and lots of cakes. The restaurant itself is small, but they seem to be one of the most popular caterers in the city.
The dishes of Café by the Ruins are chosen to feature some of the best natural ingredients of the region but that does not necessarily mean that the recipes themselves are regional, though some are. It also has a lot of vegetarian options, which I think has to do with the fact that many of its regular clientele are artists and writers.
Not that we approve of it, but my friends and I agree that their mall in Baguio City must be the best-looking of all the SM malls that we've seen. The ones in Metro Manila (and in most other Philippine cities) look like gigantic concrete bunkers with a little glass thrown in. We figure it's all because of the full-length balcony and the tent-like roof.
Some of the huts in Tam-awan Village are not reconstructions though. A few are original Ifugao and Kalinga huts from the 1920s and 1950s which were transported and reconstructed on the site. In keeping with the beliefs of the Cordillera tribes, at least one bulol (rice god—see previous post) guards each of the huts.
The terrain of the lot where Tam-awan Village is located is also faithful to the mountainous locations of Cordillera tribal villages; so is its layout, which means walking up and down narrow mud and stone trails to get from one hut to another. Even with the support provided by intermittent bamboo rails, it is not easy when it has just rained and the short but steep trails are slippery.
Tam-awan Village has also become a center for contemporary Cordillera art, with exhibits all year round and art workshops which, like the village, help foster an understanding and appreciation of the Cordillera culture and heritage. A few of the huts are used as galleries and many artwork are also displayed in the café.
I liked many of the artwork displayed in Tam-awan Village's galleries, but what really caught my eye were these two moss-covered stone bulol in front of the café. I especially like the fertility goddess with a plant growing on her head.
The BenCab Museum just outside Baguio City is a treasure trove of sculptures and carved functional objects from the tribes who call the Cordillera mountains home, and of Filipino contemporary art, many of which feature traditional symbols and elements from those same tribes, which are collectively called the Igorot. One of the most prevalent and powerful symbols among the objects and artwork in the museum is that of the bulol, the rice gods. Despite the difficulties that the highland terrain impose, the lives of the Cordillera communities center around rice cultivation (five of the region's 2000-year-old rice terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Rituals and sacrifices to the bulol were made to ensure abundant harvests and protection from natural calamities. The antique hardwood bench below has two bulol carved on the backrest. The artwork displayed above it is Leonard Aguinaldo's "Bulol Mandala" (rubbercut, 2002, 91 x 91 cm).
Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto Cabrera, BenCab, settled in Baguio City in 1986 after living in London since 1969. His current home and studio is located a few kilometers away from the city, in the town of Tuba.
Beside his home is the BenCab Museum, a repository of the artist's varied collections, with one floor dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art by emerging Filipino artists.
BenCab's house and museum are located on the slopes of a ridge, at the bottom of which is a rocky stream, which he has harnessed to naturally water his garden and organic farm, and even to create a pond. Benguet's elevation, the stream and the ridge collude to create a perpetual fog in the area, and the sound of running water is the perfect background for an artist creating and a mortal appreciating.