January 30, 2013

A journey to enlightenment

Enduring many hardships, the birds flew over a wide desert and seven valleys looking for the Simourgh, the King of the birds. After the last valley, they reached the dwelling place of the Simourgh, where they were given entry by the chamberlain. They discover that there was no one there. a scene from Tanghalang Ateneo's 'King of the Birds'
But after holding the staff that the Simourgh's chamberlain handed over to them, the birds realize the truth: that they are the Simourgh and that the Simourgh is them. a scene from Tanghalang Ateneo's 'King of the Birds'
"The King of the Birds" is the last production of Tanghalang Ateneo for this academic year, and is based on a 12th century poem by Farid ud-Din Attar. I loved the costumes and the production, and though I believe that there is much wisdom in Sufism, I also think that the attempt to distill and articulate all of that wisdom in a few words results in some of the silliest phrases I've ever heard.

January 29, 2013

Pocket jungle

overgrown yard The house across ours has been empty for about half a year now. It was supposedly bought by a developer who was going to build row houses, but nothing has been done yet and we have not even seen a shadow of the new owner. In the meantime, the trees, vines and grass have so grown unchecked that the house can hardly be seen anymore.

By great luck, one of our barangay security was walking down the street when I was taking this photo. I guess that was only when he took a hard look at the state of the property, because the next day, there was a small army of barangay ecoworkers mowing the grass and trimming the trees.

January 28, 2013

Killing season

January 24 issue of the Philippine Star This was the headline of the Philippine Star, one of the country's biggest daily newspapers, last Thursday. This year is an election year for us—local and national, though not including the president—and the first probable political assassination has just occurred. It won't be the last. Robberies have been on the rise too—"fundraising" for election campaigns. Very few of the killers or robbers will be caught, and even fewer will actually be punished. Welcome to Philippine politics.

January 27, 2013

What beach?

The wide, white sand beaches of Boracay are well-known among tourists all over the world, but I have to confess that my husband and I had never visited the island until his youngest brother got married there last June.
 high tide at Boracay during the monsoon season Trust that our first time in Boracay would be at the beginning of the southwest monsoon, when there was hardly any sign of its fabled powder-fine white sand because of the high tides.

But I exaggerate, of course. The waters would recede in the afternoon and we could walk comfortably on the well-packed sand to one of Boracay's equally fabled cafés, restaurants and bars. And I am very happy to report that the sand definitely lives up to its reputation.

January 26, 2013

Mother and daughter

colour logo of Mom & Tina's Bakery & Café painted on a brick wall To save on the cost of packaging, Mom & Tina's Bakery and Café (see yesterday's post) uses only blue and white on their boxes and jar stickers, but a full-color version of their charming logo is painted on the faux brick wall of their Regis Center branch. Their space here is narrow (which also makes taking pictures of the interior difficult), so to visually expand it, one wall is entirely covered with a huge mirror.
 Weekend Reflections

January 25, 2013

Down home goodness

counter of Mom & Tina's Bakery & Café Welcome to my favorite restaurant at the Regis Center: Mom and Tina's Bakery and Café. Delicious soups, pastas and main dishes, and absolutely irresistible breads and cakes, in a cozy and charming country cottage interior.

January 24, 2013

The colonel

the KFC across the Regis Center The balcony on the second floor of the Regis Center wraps around two sides. Yesterday's photo was the view from the building's long, main side on Katipunan Avenue. The view from the shorter side on Fabian dela Rosa Street is that of a 24-hour, 2-story KFC (and some of the thick utility cables which give the Regis Center its power). Many of the KFC branches in Metro Manila also deliver, and this one does. How about the ones in your city?

January 23, 2013

Across the street

view of northern side of Ateneo de Manila University from Regis Center And this is a view of the northern end of the Ateneo de Manila University from the Regis Center. The red-roofed building is the Ricardo and Dr. Rosita Leong Hall, the home of the School of Social Sciences. The field on the left, which is separated from the property of Miriam College by a tiny creek, is soon going to be developed for the museum, theaters and offices of the university's arts and creativity hub.

January 22, 2013

The road to temptation

extension of footbridge leading to the Regis Center I don't know if the owners of the Regis Center (see yesterday's post) paid for it or not, but the footbridge across Katipunan Avenue between Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College now has an extension that leads directly towards the commercial building. I just wish the kids wouldn't leave their trash on it, no matter how neatly they set it down.

January 21, 2013

Everything you want

Regis Center The Regis Center right across Ateneo de Manila University. First stop: the bank on the ground floor to withdraw the money you'll be spending in the building. Second stop: the bookstore, to buy a book or magazine to read while you're in the… Third stop: any one of many eating places on the first and second floor. Fourth stop: the gym on the third floor, to work out all the calories you've just consumed. Fifth stop: one of the salons on the fourth floor, to either get a massage for aching muscles or get prettified after sweating it out.
I'm just glad the other five floors don't have tenants yet.

January 20, 2013

Artist of the week

jukebox at Macy's Diner I haven't seen a jukebox like this in decades. Found this one in Macy's Diner in Laoag City in the province of Ilocos Norte. It still works and those are real 45s in there. Only Php5 (U.S. 12¢) per song.

January 19, 2013

Lost in translation

interior of Saint's Alp Teahouse Saint's Alp is a Taiwanese teahouse which started in Hong Kong. They have some rice dishes, toast, and other snacks, of course, but their specialty is some really fancy (and high calorie) tea-based drinks. Just don't ask me about the name—I don't get it either.

January 18, 2013


brick sidewalk at the Ateneo de Manila University Back in October, I posted a photo of a portion of the concrete sidewalks in the Ateneo de Manila University. Just three months later, that same sidewalk is now wider and paved with bricks. The workers aren't quite finished with the entire university yet, but they're getting there. I love it.

January 17, 2013

My last farewell

replica of Jose Rizal's prison cell The Jose Rizal museum inside Fort Santiago in Intramuros has a replica of the prison cell where the Philippine national hero was incarcerated before his execution by the Spanish colonial government. It was in this cell on the eve of his execution that he wrote his final poem, left untitled by Rizal but now known as "Mi ultimo adios."

January 16, 2013

Touch me not

old copy of Jose Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere The museum inside Fort Santiago in Intramuros dedicated to Philippine national hero Jose Rizal has one of the oldest existing copies of his novel "Noli Me Tangere." By writing the book, Rizal was trying to expose the injustices committed by the Spanish friars and government officials in the Philippines. It was first printed in Berlin in 1887.

January 15, 2013

Sharp and pointy

Jose Rizal's medical instruments Inside Fort Santiago in Intramuros is a small museum dedicated to Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, who was imprisoned in the fort just before his execution by the Spanish colonial government. The museum houses some of his memorabilia, including this kit of medical instruments which Rizal used in his profession as a doctor. The thing is, he was an ophthalmologist—I don't think I'd want any of those tools anywhere near my eyes.

January 14, 2013

A mouthful

interior of Crisostomo Restaurant Back in 2009, I posted photos of a lunch that my husband and I had at the then-new Crisostomo Restaurant at Eastwood Mall in Quezon City. Now I discover that they have three additional branches: one in Muntinlupa City and another in Pasay City, both of which are part of Metro Manila. The third one is in Santa Rosa City in the province of Laguna. I looked at photos of the interiors of all the restaurants, and I can only describe them as "modern turn-of-the-19th-century Filipino-Spanish" design. It's an awkward description, but the results are quite charming.

January 13, 2013

The guard on a hill

The town of Bantay in Ilocos Sur is best known for its 1590 church and bell tower, which was also the site of a battle fought by the revolutionary Diego Silang and his men against the troops of the Spanish colonial government in 1763.
 St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur Named St. Augustine Church, after the Augustinian friars who established the parish, the church is also the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity.
 separate bell tower of St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur The bell tower stands on top of a hill some distance away from the church.
 the bell of St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur Tourists are allowed up the tower (using some scarily rickety stairs), where the guide will invariably point out that the historic bell was used in the filming of the popular local action fantasy movie Ang Panday (The Blacksmith). Unfortunately, I can no longer remember if he was referring to the 1980 film starring the late Fernando Poe Jr. or the 2009 and 2011 films starring Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
 view from the bell tower of St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur view from the bell tower of St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur view from the bell tower of St. Augustine Church in Bantay, Ilocos Sur According to an Ilokano friend, the word bantay means "hill" in their language. The word also exists in Tagalog, where it means "guard" or "to guard," which is also appropriate because the tower has commanding views of the town, the not-so-distant West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and the distant Cordillera mountain range.

January 12, 2013

Too easy

Crispy Pata is a very popular local dish, even among Filipinos. Pata is Spanish for leg, and the dish calls for a whole leg of pork, which is first simmered until tender then deep fried so the skin is very crunchy. It is usually served with a soy sauce, vinegar, onion, and chili dipping sauce. Though very high in cholesterol, the combination of crispy skin and tender meat is irresistible, and it is not uncommon to see people picking at the bone to scrape off every last bit of goodness. So imagine our delight when my friends and I discovered that Sérye Café Filipino serves boneless crispy pata.
  boneless crispy pata Of course, some folks would say that that takes away half of the fun of eating crispy pata.

January 11, 2013

Pick-up sticks

sticks decorating the wall of Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge Probably one of the most unusual interior decorations I've seen in quite a while is this wall in Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge. They're just a bunch of sticks glued to each other and suspended a few inches before a concrete wall. The pattern they create match the abaca fiber lamp in the room, which I used for my end-of-the-year post. Doesn't it remind you of the children's game, though?

January 10, 2013


deluxe room in Hotel Céleste On New Year's Eve, my husband and I stayed overnight in Hotel Céleste, a small boutique hotel at the corner of Makati and Arnaiz Avenues, a short walk away from Makati City's countdown party. We booked online and didn't really know what to expect, though the hotel had good reviews in both Agoda and Trip Advisor. The lobby wasn't spectacular, but our room was lovely, and, because Céleste only has thirty rooms, very quiet and peaceful—a marked contrast to what it was like in the streets and what it would have been like in bigger hotels with their hundreds of rooms. And for the first time ever, we didn't have to call housekeeping for more pillows.

January 9, 2013

Renewable energy

bamboo bicycle Bamboo bicycles have been around since the 19th century, but it was only in the mid 2000s that they began gaining serious attention. They make a lot of sense to me. Unlike metals which need to be mined and processed in highly damaging and polluting methods to be usable, bamboo are some of the fastest growing plants in the world, and are, therefore, ecologically and even economically sustainable. I didn't see which particular company made this bike—the Philippines now has several—but it was on display at the Human Nature store (see yesterday's post).

January 8, 2013


chairs made out of corrugated cardboard Chairs made out of the corrugated cardboard used in packing boxes! Aren't they fantastic? Quite appropriate for the store of my favorite all-natural products, Human Nature, which advocates environmental sustainability, and also promotes other social enterprises.

January 7, 2013

Last of the season

Joseph, Mary and Jesus wearing the rich fabrics of Mindanao The Zamboanga Peninunsula of the Philippines, like the rest of Mindanao, has a large Muslim community, so the group assigned this region for the Ateneo de Manila University Christmas Parks chose to clothe Joseph, Mary and Jesus in the richly-patterned fabrics common to many Muslims in Southeast Asia.

Yesterday, the Feast of the Epiphany, marked the last day of the Christmas season for Roman Catholics, and the Ateneo de Manila will begin dismantling the Christmas Parks today. I regret not being able to take photos of all sixteen parks, but I did better than last year, when I wasn't able to take a single photo of a single park. The Christmas Parks has been mandated by the university president as an annual project—a new tradition, if you will—so I will have another chance this coming December.

January 6, 2013


bamboo hut In the Philippines' rural areas, bamboo huts are still widely used for homes. Traditionally, the roof is made of nipa palm leaves. Though the roof of this one has been replaced with corrugated iron sheets, it still sports a small fringe of nipa under the peak. The raised floor, which is also made of bamboo, has many uses: it helps with air circulation and cooling; when it rains and the ground outside turns to mud, it prevents the mud from seeping into the house; and the sheltered space underneath is also where the family's animals (especially dogs and chickens) can sleep at night. This hut was along the Pan-Philippine Highway somewhere between the towns of Pagudpud and Burgos in Ilocos Norte. Not quite so remote—they're on the power grid.

January 5, 2013

Colorful blocks

stylized rendition of an Ivatan nativity scene The School of Humanities' creation for the Ateneo de Manila University's Christmas Parks is a colorful and stylized interpretation of Jesus' nativity in the islands of Batanes. The province is the northernmost of the Philippines and is composed of ten small mountainous and rocky islands, and traditional Ivatan houses are made of those same rocks—echoed in the construction of the Holy Family. The hair of Mary and Joseph evoke the "hairy" headpieces worn by the Ivatan. Called vakul, they are made from abaca fiber, and are a protectection from both sun and rain.

January 4, 2013

Born in a metropolis

infant Jesus made out of old computer parts and plastic tubing Aside from the bottle cap mosaic/stained glass nativity, this was my other favorite among the sixteen Christmas Parks of the Ateneo de Manila University. Also a mosaic, but this time made out of computer parts with orange plastic tubing for accent.
 nativity scene made out of old computer parts, CDs and plastic tubing The three figures of the nativity are made of the same materials.
 nativity scene made out of old computer parts, CDs and plastic tubing set in Manila with building and made of used foil snack bags The setting for this particular nativity is the National Capital Region (NCR), which is more popularly known as Metro Manila. And the two things which distinguish the region from the rest of the Philippines is its skyscrapers and light rail transit systems, here made out of used foil snack bags.

January 3, 2013

Christmas elegance

parol in front of the Ayala Museum The Ayala Museum's very elegant interpretation of the traditional Filipino parol, or Star of Bethlehem.

January 2, 2013


Makati City has been hosting a New Year Countdown street party for quite a few years now, but it was the first time that my husband and I managed to go.
 New Year Countdown party of Makati City A stage was set up at the intersection of Ayala and Makati Avenues—two of the major roads of the central business district—for a street dance competition and lots of bands. The tents at the sides of Ayala Avenue housed food stalls, and for the duration of the party (which started at 7:00pm though we only went at 10:30pm), drinking liquor was allowed on the streets.
 New Year Countdown party of Makati City There were lots of projection screens for people who were far away from the stage, whether by choice (like us) or because they could no longer get to the front because of the crowds.
 New Year Countdown party of Makati City At five minutes to midnight, Makati's mayor, Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr., and his family and political allies, were called onto the stage. Present was Junjun's father, Jejomar Binay, the current Vice President of the Philippines and the former mayor of Makati. VP Binay is reputedly going to run as president in 2016. About the only thing that ruined the night for us was the emcee introducing him as "the next president of the Philippines." A little too premature there.
 New Year Countdown party of Makati City The city even had its own 2013 ball, but I don't think it dropped from anywhere—it was just hanging on the stage. Unless I missed the drop because I was looking at the fireworks.

January 1, 2013

And more lights!

The spectacular finale of the fireworks show in Makati City after the new year countdown.
 fireworks in Makati City after the new year countdown fireworks in Makati City after the new year countdown
May this year be as wonderful for you and everyone you love. 
Happy New Year!