February 16, 2011

A lesson in tastes

I wish I could say that we were at Café Ysabel (see the posts of the past two days) for a romantic Valentine dinner for two, but I took those photos back in January. Dr. Fernando Zialcita, a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University's Sociology and Anthropology Department, teaches a course titled "Culture and the Senses," which is an exploration and study of the history of Filipino culture as evidenced not only by what we can see (art, architecture, and the like) but also by what we can experience through the other senses (smell, taste, hearing). For the lesson about taste, Dr. Zialcita partnered with Chef Gene Gonzalez who came up with a seven-course comparative degustation menu titled "Exploring Filipino Taste in Seven Courses" which they made available to others not enrolled in the class. The three-hour dinner and lecture traces the history and influences of dishes from different regions of the Philippines, and compares and contrasts them with similar dishes from Spain, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, India and the U.S. I found the lecture and tasting absolutely fascinating! And even with tiny servings, we were full to bursting by the end of the night—it was still 14 dishes, after all, and that's not counting the Queso de Bola–Edam Cheese comparison that he added. Now I'm curious about the other lessons in Dr. Zialcita's Culture and the Senses course…

menu for Chef Gene Gonzalez's 'Exploring Filipino Taste in Seven Courses'

February 15, 2011

Where's Bacchus?

A portion of a wall and the ceiling of the formal dining room of Café Ysabel. It is also the room used for large group reservations. There is another, more casual dining area which, unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a photo of.

wall and ceiling of Café Ysabel's formal dining room in San Juan

February 14, 2011

A touch of romance

Chef Gene Gonzalez's Café Ysabel in the City of San Juan has a romantic ambiance and serves great food—perfect for a dinner date today.

Café Ysabel in San Juan

Wishing you all a love-filled day.
Happy Valentine!

February 13, 2011


Ever since I was a little kid, I've always just known the ice cream in these colorful carts as "dirty" ice cream. My guess is that it was to distinguish this cottage industry ice cream from those made in big, commercial factories. And because these industries aren't strictly regulated, their sanitation and hygiene standards probably leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully, I haven't heard of anyone getting sick from eating "dirty" ice cream, which began with flavors which are distinctly Filipino: cheese (my favorite), ube (purple yam), buko (coconut) and mango, though more standard flavors like strawberry and chocolate are also available. You can choose between a wafer cone or a sugar cone or, if you find the serving size in cones too small (like my friend), you can bring your own glass and the sorbetero will fill it to the brim.

'dirty' ice cream cart

February 10, 2011

Sacred shores

Standing beside the Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument at the Rizal Park is another sculpture created by Filipino artist Juan Sajid Imao. It is titled "Soul Waves" and the plaque in front of it reads in part:
    The sculptural waves symbolize Korea and the Philippines' sacred shores which we protected against all forms of oppression. For indeed, our common sacred shore is our love for freedom.
Both sculptures were installed during the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea on September 6, 2010.

the sculpture titled Soul Waves at the Rizal Park

February 9, 2011


The Orchidarium, which proudly houses some of the Philippines' abundant wealth of orchid species, is part of the Rizal Park complex. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation (despite the open gates) when my cousin and I went on our tour.

The Orchidarium at the Rizal Park

February 8, 2011

Not user friendly

Metro Manila sorely lacks clean public restrooms. Even in the much-visited Rizal Park (and in most of our malls too, for that matter), if you want to use a clean restroom with toilet paper and soap, you have to pay for it.

pay restroom at the Rizal Park

February 7, 2011


I had no success trying to find out the name of the artist who created the sculpture in yesterday's post, but in the course of my search, I finally discovered who created the alien-looking sculpture inside Fort Santiago in the old walled city of Intramuros which I posted back in October of 2009. It is the work of Filipino artist Eduardo Castrillo, who specializes in metal (mainly bronze and brass) sculptures, and is titled "Youth's Cry of Defiance."

metal sculpture inside Fort Santiago

February 6, 2011

The legacy of a hundred years

The bronze sculpture Binhi ng Kalayaan (Seeds of Freedom) was installed at the Rizal Park during the Philippine Centennial in 1998. It is a monument dedicated to the men and women, many of whom are and will remain unknown to us, who fought for the freedom of the country against Spanish colonial rule. It also serves as a marker for the time capsule buried underneath it, which contains many documents and memorabilia related to the events of that great struggle.

Binhi ng Kalayaan monument and time capsule in Rizal Park
As is quite common in this country, I couldn't find the name of the artist anywhere on the monument, but the plaque did have the name of the President during the time it was installed: Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

February 5, 2011

Joys and sorrows

La Madre Filipina is a monument dedicated to the Filipino mother at the Rizal Park. The plaque simply says that it was created by Martinez and retouched by F. Caedo, neither of whom I can find any information about.

La Madre Filipina monument in Rizal Park

February 3, 2011


The tiny bamboo snack counters dotting Rizal Park sport the colors of the Philippine flag of white, blue and red.

snack counter in Rizal Park

So do the popcorn carts.

popcorn cart in Rizal Park

I think they should have a little yellow for the sun and stars too. And I don't mean the Aquino yellow ribbon or the cheese popcorn.

February 2, 2011

Leisurely Saturday morning

This is the wide, paved promenade around the large decorative pool in Rizal Park in yesterday's photo.

promenade at the Rizal Park

February 1, 2011


THEME DAY: FOUNTAINS • Just my luck that the fountains in the large decorative pool at the Rizal Park weren't on when my cousin and I went on an impromptu photo walk. Even the swans should have been spouting water—I took a close look and there are pipes inside their mouths.

decorative pool at the Rizal Park

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