August 31, 2013


Club Intramuros Golf Course The Club Intramuros Golf Course is located just outside the Spanish colonial era 16th century walls of Intramuros, which are barely peeking between the trees to the right of the golfer. The green and white building towering over the course is the 1977 expansion of the Manila Hotel, which first opened its doors in 1912.

August 30, 2013


It all started with the shocking discovery earlier this month of a scam headed by one woman involving fake non-government organizations (NGOs), ghost beneficiaries, and the pork barrel funds of our lawmakers (officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF) which resulted in the theft of billions of pesos of Filipino taxpayers' money. As details of the breadth of the plunder were released, normally lackadaisical middle-class Filipinos suddenly couldn't sit still. A no-organizer Million People March to Luneta (Rizal Park) event was created in Facebook, scheduled on National Heroes Day, the last Monday of August. People were simply asked to gather in front of the Quirino Grandstand with family and friends—maybe even have a picnic—to show the government the number of citizens who want the pork barrel system scrapped, and to demand that lawmakers involved in the scam be investigated and prosecuted.

at the Million People March in Luneta So, gather we did, despite the threat of rain.
  at the Million People March in Luneta In fact, it rained over the weekend and the field was very muddy. People just avoided the muddiest parts.
 at the Million People March in Luneta In the two weeks that the event page was up, people got a bit more organized. The leaders of the biggest groups joining the protest met and agreed that the center of the field would be reserved for those without affiliations. More militant groups—with their banners and chanting—would stay at the periphery. My ground-level photos don't do the crowd justice; see this photo from Paulo Alcazaren, who uses a drone for his aerial photos.
 at the Million People March in Luneta I think that organized groups were the minority that day, however. More people came with their families and friends, and despite the seriousness of the issues being discussed, the atmosphere was very relaxed and even—dare I say it—fun.
   at the Million People March in Luneta Someone was even flying a kite. I must admit, the wind was perfect for it, especially since Rizal Park is just beside Manila Bay.
 at the Million People March in Luneta Many people came with their "abolish the pork barrel" t-shirts and banners, like these three young students with their "The evolution of pork" banner.
  at the Million People March in Luneta There was ample media coverage, of course. ABS-CBN's Korina Sanchez set up an elevated platform with a tent so she could interview famous personalities who showed up at the rally. Juana Change (actress Mae Paner) came in her signature red lingerie and a Miss Piggy mask and wig.
   at the Million People March in Luneta Musician, writer and activist Jim Paredes refused to be interviewed on the platform, saying that he wasn't an organizer but just a participant. So ABS-CBN found a way to interview him on the ground, where he was surrounded by other participants who stopped to listen to him speak.
 at the Million People March in Luneta Unlike the issue of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, religious and lay persons agree about the pork barrel—it has to be scrapped if the Philippines is to progress beyond patronage politics.

August 26, 2013

City lights

Manila skyline at night This is the skyline of the City of Manila as seen from the 9th floor patio of The Bayleaf Intramuros. The two neoclassical buildings just beyond the trees are the National Museum of the Philippines. The National Art Gallery is the building on the left, which used to be the Legislative Building. The Museum of the Filipino People is the building on the right, which used to be the Finance Building. Both were built in the early 1900s during the American colonial era, suffered extensive damage during WWII, and reconstructed soon after.

August 25, 2013

Evening lights

a window of 9 Spoons restaurant at night 9 Spoons, the 9th floor restaurant of The Bayleaf Intramuros, overlooks the Club Intramuros Golf Course and has commanding views of the historic, neoclassical government buildings along Padre Burgos Avenue. Our table had a lovely view of the Manila City Hall and its distinctive clock tower. Aside from the lights and bayleaf-patterned screens of the restaurant, also reflected in the window is the keyboardist who provided the evening's pleasant dinner music.
 Weekend Reflections

August 23, 2013


Kanji Beef salad of 9 Spoons restaurant "charred beef, Asian greens, vegetables, roasted sesame dressing" – That was the simple description of the Kanji Beef salad in the menu of 9 Spoons, the 9th floor restaurant of The Bayleaf Intramuros. My husband was expecting small slivers of beef when he ordered it; imagine his surprised delight when he saw these three generous slices. And for only 390 pesos (less than US$9). We've had all-vegetable salads that were more expensive. I had to have a little bite, of course—the beef was tender and tasty, and the roasted sesame dressing was delicious!

August 22, 2013

Modern elegance

curved stairs at the lobby of Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila The lobby of The Bayleaf Intramuros isn't quite as stark as my photo the other day makes it seem. That is simply the sight that greets you as soon as you enter the doors. Off to one side of the lobby is this warm and cozy corner with tables and chairs, and a baby grand piano, though no one was playing during the weekend we were there. The lovely curved stairway leads up to the function rooms on the second floor.

August 21, 2013


premier room of Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila The rooms of The Bayleaf Intramuros are as modern as their lobby (see yesterday's post). Except for the suites, they are all decorated in black and white, and one of three unique colors.
 premier room of Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila Ours was very, very orange.

The two other colors are lime green and aubergine. Which would you prefer?

August 20, 2013


lobby of Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, ManilaThe Bayleaf is a boutique hotel which opened two years ago in Intramuros, the oldest district in the City of Manila. Stepping inside its modern and minimalist lobby after seeing 17th-century walls and buildings can either be jarring or soothing depending on your frame of mind.

August 16, 2013


small outrigger canoe attached to the outrigger of a bigger canoe A tiny outrigger canoe attached to the outrigger of a larger canoe that serves as a ferry between islands. We call all outrigger canoes bangka in Tagalog, whether they're motorized or not, or whether they're big enough to carry 60 passengers or just two.

August 13, 2013

August 12, 2013

Running blue

blue track oval The new track oval of the Ateneo de Manila University is blue, the school's color. It goes around the Moro Lorenzo Football Field (football as in soccer, not American football) and can be used only by varsity team athletes. It's the first time I've ever seen a blue track oval—very striking.

August 11, 2013


Bonifacio High Street at nightBonifacio High Street has many fantastic restaurants and is, therefore, very popular as an evening destination. Because of this, even the shops stay open late—until midnight, at least.

All these years of blogging, whenever I posted something about Bonifacio Global City (BGC), I identified it as part of Taguig City. Just this August 5, however, the Court of Appeals declared that BGC is part of Makati City. Of course, Taguig can still raise the case to the Supreme Court, and they probably will, with six billion pesos (US$ 137.7 M) in annual revenue at stake. My problem is, will I now tag this post as Makati or Taguig?

August 10, 2013

Gentleman farmer

Ernest Escaler Ernest Escaler is the president of Gourmet Farms Inc., the producer of the delicious lettuce and pesto chips in yesterday's post. He began the farm in 1987 with coffee beans, then added herbs and vegetables in the 90s during the slump in the coffee market. Even back then, all of the farm's produce were organically grown—when "organic" wasn't being boasted about in product packaging (at least, not here in the Philippines). Gourmet Farms' retail products now include bottled salad dressings, pasta sauces, spreads, and dips, all made from their organic produce and all free from preservatives, too.

August 9, 2013

Salad chips

lettuce and pesto chips from Gourmet Farms I just discovered yummy new products from Gourmet Farms: lettuce and pesto chips—tasty, crunchy, all natural, no preservatives. Unfortunately, unlike their coffees, herbal teas, salad dressings and pasta sauces, these chips are not available in Metro Manila's markets; one has to go to the Country Store in their farm in Silang, Cavite to buy them. The only reason I got to try them out was because Gourmet Farms sponsored an event where they were given a kiosk to sell their products. I should have bought more.

August 6, 2013

School history

Heritage Room of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School As I promised, here is the Heritage Room of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School where yesterday's mural is located. The room displays mementos from the school's 150-year history, and statues of the Immaculate Conception, the school's patroness, and St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order which runs the school. Another room off to the right, which I wasn't able to take a photo of, features portraits of all past headmasters of the Ateneo Grade School, who have all been Jesuit so far. If I'm not mistaken, the Heritage Room was built soon after the school celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2009.

August 5, 2013

History in blue

mural inside the Heritage Room of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School The mural inside the Heritage Room of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School shows images from the 150-year history of the school. Based on this, the school has had four seals since it was first established as the Escuela Municipal de Manila in 1859. It also has had two special, double seals. One was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the school, and the other its 150th—its sesquicentennial, which filled this blog back in 2009.

I didn't go up to the mural to check what it was made of, but I doubt very much if it was handpainted. Tomorrow, I'll show you the room where I saw the mural.

See murals from around the world in Monday Mural.

August 4, 2013

One-stop wedding shop

The Wedding Lounge The Wedding Lounge (see previous post) is a boutique which gathers all the services one needs for a wedding—or any large party, for that matter. Invitations, gowns, jewelry, cakes, flowers, photographers, videographers, makeup, chocolates… about the only thing you need to provide yourself is a bride or a groom.

August 1, 2013

Tiny icy panes

The Wedding Lounge CITY DAILY PHOTO THEME DAY: STREET LAMPS • The street lamp in front of The Wedding Lounge is probably part of the design of the RFM Corporate Center building, where it is located. It seems too low and too small—more decorative than utilitarian—to have been placed there by the city of Mandaluyong. Unless that little lamp is fitted with a very strong light bulb.