February 29, 2012

One block

Jaime C. Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City
Jaime C. Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City
One small block—that's the size of the Jaime C. Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City. It is one block of prime real estate, surrounded by medium- and high-rise commercial and residential condominiums, in the heart of the Makati Central Business District. I just love the fact that it exists.

February 28, 2012

Inside outside

the Veranda of Robinsons Galleria
Aside from interior halls dedicated to various restaurants (see yesterday's post), Robinsons Galleria mall also has a wing whose restaurants have direct access to the outdoors, which lets them stay open later than the rest of the mall. Called "Veranda," the outdoor area is roofed, an absolute necessity with our alternating rain and intense sunlight.

February 27, 2012

Pick one

East Lane on the 2nd level of Robinsons Galleria
East Lane on the second level of Robinsons Galleria mall is a corridor studded with restaurants on both sides.

February 25, 2012

Caution: low headroom

motorcycle parking under a flyover
What can a city do with the low but wide space under the ramps of flyovers (elevated highways)? Turn it into a parking lot for motorcycles! An eminently practical use at the heavily congested corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue in Quezon City.

Today, though, this space will probably be jammed with people, not motorcycles, since it is the 26th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

February 24, 2012

Eye candy

Jan Leeroy New's wearable art at the 2012 Art in the Park
Jan Leeroy New, the same artist who draped the Rizal Library Special Collections Building with the creepy, red "Balete," also had an exhibit at the 2012 Art In The Park (see yesterday's post). Aside from his booth, he had two girls walking around the park in his fluorescent plastic "Wearable Art." I can't quite decide whether they look more like flowers or underwater creatures. And no, they aren't for sale.

February 23, 2012

Bright welcome

artist Charlie Co's installation at the 2012 Art in the Park
A one day art fair open until midnight with food and drinks and live music in an al fresco setting—that's what Art In The Park is. The artists who participate in the fair are given one rule: all the pieces have to cost less than Php30,000 (about US$700). The Museum Foundation of the Philippines organizes this annual event to encourage people who do not normally visit galleries or invest in art to do so. And the artists and artist groups, whether well-known, up-and-coming or students, are given the opportunity to introduce themselves to other galleries and to a wider market. Visitors to this year's fair were greeted by Bacolod-based artist Charlie Co's colorful, cosplaying vaudeville trio (strictly my interpretation, okay).

February 22, 2012

A civil monster

a Honda Civic full of decals
I have no idea. I saw this Honda Civic studded with sponsor logos on the driveway of Tatung's Garden Café (see yesterday's post) and just had to take a picture of it. I don't think it belongs to Chef Myke Sarthou, though.

February 21, 2012

My home is your home

interior of Chef Tatung's Garden Cafe
We recently discovered yet another lovely restaurant near our house: Tatung's Garden Café. Chef Myke Sarthou converted the ground floor of their house in Sikatuna Village into a warm, intimate, and quite romantic setting for diners to enjoy his delectable creations. I just read that he introduced two new cheesecakes the other day, Brazo de Mercedes (custard-filled soft meringue roll) Cheesecake with a cashew crust, and Kamote (sweet potato) Cheesecake with caramel sauce. It's only been a week since we were there, but it looks like we'll be visiting again very soon.

February 20, 2012

Beyond cultures

Tanghalang Ateneo, one of the student theater groups of the Ateneo de Manila University, is currently staging Japanese playwright Suzue Toshiro's "Fireflies," using an English translation by David Goodman. It is directed by Filipinos Ricky Abad, a sociologist and theater artist, and BJ Crisostomo, who is also a playwright.
Japanese screen with actors' photos for Tanghalang Ateneo's production of Fireflies

From the directors' notes:
"To Suzue Toshiro, the image of fireflies becomes a metaphor of the relationships among three interconnected couples who struggle to share intimate feelings with a special someone but are unable to do so completely."

Dave Fabros as Hayakawa and Laura Cabochan as Tomoyo
Dave Fabros and Laura Cabochan in Tanghalang Ateneo's production of Fireflies

"A moment of mutual affection may surface one moment, but this spark, like the glow of fireflies, quickly disappears."

Laura Cabochan as Tomoyo and Nicolo Magno as Nakagawa
Laura Cabochan and Nicolo Magno in Tanghalang Ateneo's production of Fireflies

"Life moves on, the pursuit for intimacy continues but the outcome remains the same: it's one random 'firefly moment' after another, never a sustained bond."

Ella Palileo as Megumi and Mirick Paala as Murai
Ella Palileo and Mirick Paala in Tanghalang Ateneo's production of Fireflies

"Is this twinkle, or series of blinks, all one can expect from intimate relationships? Or shall one dream big and go for love's eternal flame?"

Set design by Ohm David and lights design by Jonjon Villareal
the set of Tanghalang Ateneo's production of Fireflies

A Filipino interpretation of a Japanese play translated into English. I wish I could ask you all to watch it.

February 19, 2012

Bottled light

chandelier made of old beer bottles at Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery
If old shoes used as planters (see yesterday's post) aren't quirky enough for you, how about a chandelier made of old beer bottles? Too bad it was daytime when we went to Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery—I would have loved to have seen what it looks like lit up. And I think that Red Horse Beer should buy this piece by Nathan Apilado.

February 18, 2012

Fashionable plants

old shoe used as a planter at Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery
At Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery (see yesterday's post), reused and recycled objects are not only found in the pieces that they sell. Everything at No. 10-A Alabama Street is old, refurbished, recycled or repurposed. I couldn't help but notice the planters all over the place. I saw tub and toilet planters in the back yard, huge old CRT monitor planters inside the house, and a fashion show of shoe planters lining the path from the gate to the front door.

Jetro Rafael of Van Gogh is Bipolar thought up and made these shoe planters.

February 17, 2012

Something else

Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery
Number 10 Alabama Street in New Manila, Quezon City (see the previous two posts) is the home of Resurrection Furniture and Found Objects Gallery. They sell a few original vintage pieces, like the vanity and ornate mirror, but their strength lies in giving new life to what other people call junk. The chest of drawers—which I absolutely adore—is made of salvaged wooden planks; notice the drawer pulls that come from a variety of pieces so each is unique. The lamp on the floor in the foreground is made of the narrow side of old CPU towers, and the silver flapper lampshade of the piece on the chest is made of soda can tabs. The gallery sometimes has guest artists to exhibit in the house (which really is a house, by the way); the crochet sculpture is by Aze Ong and is part of her "Liwanag" (light) touring exhibit.

February 16, 2012

Tea for me

teapot and cup illustration scratched on a driveway
The driveway of yesterday's 10-A Alabama Street, New Manila, Quezon City.

This teapot was etched on wet cement by Robert Alejandro of Papemelroti. It's dry now, of course.

February 15, 2012

Blue bird of happiness

gate painted with a blue bird
At 10-A Alabama Street, New Manila, Quezon City.

This blue bird was painted by Robert Alejandro of Papemelroti.

February 14, 2012


Noun. A love spell, either in potion form or a charm.
recipes for love spells on the wall of Gayuma ni Maria
Gayuma ni Maria. A restaurant in Sikatuna Village in Quezon City with some of the naughtiest names for food I have ever encountered. And if you need some assistance during this day of love, leave a comment and I'll email you the high-resolution file of Gayuma's wall of love spells. :)

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 13, 2012

New life

bayong covered in patchwork fabric scraps by What If Handmade
A lowly bayong—a coarse but sturdy tote bag made of woven palm leaves, commonly used while buying vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry and meats in fresh markets—is given a lovely coat that is just as environmentally friendly, made of a patchwork of wonderfully textured fabric scraps, by What If Handmade, a social enterprise that repurposes old and used fabrics.

February 12, 2012


Santa Maria Della Strada Parish Church in Quezon City
Circular and with open grillwork rather than solid walls to bring the outdoors in, the parish church of Santa Maria Della Strada (Our Lady of the Way) in Quezon City was inaugurated in 1983.

February 11, 2012


bowls by Ugu Bigyan
I do not know anything about pottery or ceramics, but I do know that I like the creations of Quezon potter Ugu Bigyan (see yesterday's post). I love how he uses organic patterns and shapes, and especially how he mixes textures—all of which result in pieces that are a delight to see and to touch. Take these bowls as an example. They are pinched, pushed and pulled after first being shaped perfectly on the wheel. The exterior is left unglazed, and the creamy white clay has speckles of brown in different shades. The colors inside the bowl run into each other like clouds, the glaze is matte in some areas and glossy in others, and the bottom has a whimsical spiral [inspired by pako (fiddlehead fern), maybe?]. You know you have an authentic Ugu Bigyan piece when you see his distinctive signature at the bottom or the back.

February 10, 2012

Of clay and water, leaves and wood

Follow us
ceramic fish on a path in Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden

to the home,
house of Ugu Bigyan

garden patio at the house of Ugu Bigyan

and workshop of master potter Ugu Bigyan,
pottery showroom of Ugu Bigyan

whose art is inspired by the leaves and roots of plants which abound in his spacious garden,
mossy pond with stone frog at Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden

where one can sit or lounge,
small nipa hut with lounge chairs at Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden

or take a siesta on bamboo, surrounded by bamboo;
small nipa hut with a bamboo daybed at Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden

and, if you call in advance, the master potter will don a different apron and cook for you.
nipa hut with a dining table at Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden

Ugu Bigyan Potter's Garden is located in the town of Tiaong in the province of Quezon, about 100 kilometers southeast of Manila.

February 9, 2012

Southern Tagalog cuisine

As I promised yesterday, here are photos of the meal that my husband and I enjoyed at Patis Tito Garden Café.

pako or fern salad at Patis Tito Garden Café
Ensaladang Pako (Fiddlehead Fern Salad). Pako, or fiddlehead fern, is the curly top of young, edible ferns. I do not know what this variety of edible fern is, but I do know that it grows in the wild in Southern Luzon. The simplest and most common way of eating it is with tomatoes and a soy-flavored vinaigrette. Patis Tito Garden Café serves it with grated cheese, crunchy garlic bits, scallions, and a mild and creamy mustard dressing.

petite lumpiang gulay or fried vegetable spring roll at Patis Tito Garden Café
Petite Lumpiang Gulay (Fried Vegetable Spring Roll). Vegetables rolled in a rice flour wrapper and deep fried is a common dish in the Philippines. However, most of Manila's fried lumpia uses togue, or mung bean sprouts. Patis Tito Garden Café's location in the heart of the Philippines' coconut-producing region gives it easy access to the best and freshest ubod, or heart of palm, and that is what they use in their lumpiang gulay. Served with a vinegar dipping sauce, it was the tenderest, creamiest lumpiang ubod I have ever had.

bulalo or beef shank and marrow stew at Patis Tito Garden Café
Bulalo (Beef Shank and Marrow Stew). Good bulalo requires two boilings, the first to get rid of impurities and the second, at a very slow, very long simmer, to extract the full flavor of the beef and marrow. Patis Tito's bulalo is enhanced with onions, lemongrass, garlic, and Visayan fermented fish paste—all very mild, resulting in a delightful play of flavors—and served with green beans, young corn and Chinese cabbage. Needless to say, it is the beef marrow that gives bulalo its wonderfully sinful taste.

Unfortunately, I was not able to take a photo of our dessert, which was Turon con Latiksaba (plantain banana) and jackfruit rolled in a rice flour wrapper and deep fried, and served with latik (a native coconut caramel) and toasted sesame seeds. I took a short walk while waiting for it and by the time I got back to our table, my husband had eaten half of it already. Men.

February 8, 2012


entrance to Patis Tito Garden Café
Patis Tito Garden Café is located in the City of San Pablo in the province of Laguna, about 85 kilometers away from Manila.

main dining room of Patis Tito Garden Café
Featuring Filipino cuisine in an al fresco garden setting, the main dining room is one large covered patio with coconut tree trunk pillars supporting a high ceiling. Many of the wood cutout details are made by local artisans, and the room is full of a wonderfully eclectic mixture of Filipino and Asian furniture, crafts and art.

portraits of Patis and Tito Tesoro in the main dining room of Patis Tito Garden Café
The café is owned by Patis and Tito Tesoro, whose portraits adorn one wall of the dining room. Patis is a well-known fashion designer who specializes in Filipino formal wear using fabrics from natural and handwoven fiber. She was in the café when we had lunch there on Saturday, and she came up to us to introduce herself and chat a bit, but I was too shy to ask for a picture. The rest of the time, she spent puttering around her garden.

patio just off the main dining room of Patis Tito Garden Café
Just off the main dining area is an intimate patio with garden furniture and a stone sculpture of an Asian goddess.

whimsical pond-themed fountain at Patis Tito Garden Café
At the foot of the statue is a whimsical pond-themed fountain. I'm glad the water wasn't running, else we might not have seen the koi and lotus.

entrance to the garden from the dining area of Patis Tito Garden Café
How can one resist a stroll through the garden when the entrance beckons so beguilingly from the dining area?

garden paths at Patis Tito Garden Café
The meandering paths are an invitation to lose oneself in the gardens of Patis Tito Garden Café.

moss-covered statue at Patis Tito Garden Café
More Asian stone statues can be discovered in the garden. I especially love this moss-covered one.

rooster mosaic on the floor of Patis Tito Garden Café
When walking around Patis Tito Garden Café, it is important to look down too. The fine feather details of this rooster mosaic is just amazing.

silver pheasant at Patis Tito Garden Café
Tito and Patis Tesoro are bird lovers too, and the garden has plenty of large cages with a variety of tropical birds. They had several kinds of pheasant, which I'd never seen before, and I found the bold, graphic coloring of this silver pheasant particularly striking.

house with woodcut details at Patis Tito Garden Café
There are several buildings at the back of the garden which are off-limits to guests. Some are obviously storage and work rooms, but this lovely house with woodcut details is probably the apartment of some of the Tesoro's live-in staff.

store and Tito and Patis Tesoro's apartment at Patis Tito Garden Café
Tito and Patis Tesoro also have their own apartment within the compound, in a house built in a traditional Filipino architectural style. The main living quarters are on the second floor, and the first floor serves as a storage area and provides much-needed air circulation in this tropical country. The first floor is now a store which sells Asian and Filipino jewelry, fabrics and one-of-a-kind treasures.

And don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the food—it's the reason why we went to Patis Tito Garden Café, after all. Come back tomorrow for a vision (wish I could say "taste" instead!) of our delectable meal.

February 7, 2012

Not for Valentine

hand and foot sculptures at Casa San Pablo
Last year, my office spent its annual R&R at Casa San Pablo, and because the place is so soothing, my husband and I decided to stay there this past weekend. It still abounds with the lovely and charming details I discovered last year, but the new sculpture which I noticed on the veranda is not quite what I would call charming. Sometimes, the taste of Boots Alcantara—the owner, manager and innkeeper—when it comes to art is just a little too strange for me. Thank goodness he usually doesn't put them on display at the Casa.

February 4, 2012

Legendary generosity

the wolves and the kettle of the Loyola family crest
The wolves and kettle of the Loyola family crest has a legend attached to it. The story goes that the family was so wealthy and generous that after feeding their soldiers and servants, they had enough to feed wild animals. To commemorate the family's generosity, a carving of two wolves eating from a kettle was placed over the doorway of their castle in the Basque city of Loyola. Of course, heraldic sites make no mention of the story. The legend persists, however, because generosity is one of the graces that St. Ignatius and his followers constantly prayed for. The wolves and kettle illustration over the castle door is real, however, though it is now a stone relief and not a wood carving. This is a resin replica which my former boss, a Jesuit, had commissioned as a gift to the Ateneo de Manila University's most generous donors.

February 3, 2012

A century-old vision

Sarabia Optical shop
Sarabia Optical was founded by the country's first Filipino optometrist, Federico Sarabia Jr., who opened his clinic in 1908. It currently has thirteen branches all over Metro Manila, and nine more in various parts of Luzon.

February 2, 2012

A comparison in tastes

four sauces for pochero
Another year, another trip to Café Ysabel for a multi-course degustation with Chef Gene Gonzalez for Professor Fernando Zialcita's "Exploring Filipino Taste Through Comparisons" course. Many of the items in the menu were changed this year, and one was changed somewhere between the announcement and the day of the dinner. Since the pair that was removed was one which we compared last year, my husband and I didn't mind the change at all. Instead of comparing two kinds of dishes, one dish—pochero, a stew with a tomato-based sauce—was to be tried with four kinds of dipping sauces. As Chef Gene pointed out, in Asia especially, the use of additional sauces and condiments does not necessarily mean that the dish is bland; nor is it an insult to the cook. So we tried two kinds of vinaigrette, a tomato salsa, and an eggplant chutney. With no exception, everyone at our table liked the eggplant and red onion chutney the best.