March 31, 2008


People in Manila generally don't like walking. Blame it on the heat (or rain, depending on what season it is), humidity, pollution, and the fact that quite a lot of our streets still don't have sidewalks. If you don't have a car, motorcycle or scooter, this means having to take public transportation. Aside from taxi cabs, public transportation on Manila's major roads includes elevated trains, buses and jeepneys. On smaller neighborhood roads though, the way to get around is by pedicabs and tricycles. This is a tricycle, a motorcycle with a covered side car. Before you ask, no, it isn't safe—no seatbelt, no door, no safety measures whatsoever. Neither is it comfortable—no suspension system, so you feel every bump in the road and if you're tall like me, your head will hit the ceiling with every bump (I've taken to stooping and looking at my feet every time I ride in one). Also, tricycle drivers seem to think that just because they're small, they're exempt from all traffic rules. Notice how this one's parked in a yellow-striped corner (and I won't be surprised if the guy doesn't even know what those black and yellow stripes mean).


March 30, 2008

Pinoy Penman and SMB Light

Jose "Butch" Dalisay Jr. is a Filipino writer, teacher, Mac addict, gadget geek and collector of fountain pens. He was short-listed for the 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize for "Soledad's Sister." San Mig Light is currently the beer of choice in Manila because it's as good as it's big brother, San Miguel Beer pale pilsen, but with fewer calories—perfect for the young ones who are weight and shape conscious, and for older ones who need to watch calories for health's sake. This was taken during a writers' night at Mag:net Cafè Katipunan—art gallery, cafè and bar, which holds exhibits, indie film showings, poetry readings, improv theater, book launchings, and jazz and rock gigs. (PHOTO BY DOGBERRY)

Butch Dalisay and San Mig LIght

March 28, 2008

White and simple

I've been seeing this little white flower since I was a kid, yet until now I don't know what it's called. I don't even remember anyone actually referring to it or talking about it. It grows anywhere and everywhere, and blooms in all three seasons—summer, rainy, cold. Its leaves are round and waxy, and its roots are very shallow, which is why it can grow anywhere, even in the cracks between paving stones. The gentlest tug will uproot the entire plant, yet in the strongest typhoons, the stem bends almost to the ground and it survives. The flowers are simple and don't have any particular scent. Most of them are white with yellow centers and this one with a fuschia center is unusual. The other day, though, I saw a variety with purple blooms. Leave me a note if you know its name. (PHOTO BY DOGBERRY)

white Madagascar Periwinkle

March 25, 2008

A tangled mess

Power cables, telephone cables, even cable television cables all strung haphazardly on a concrete pole bristling with wooden dowels. I think this started as a post for power cables, but utility companies here just use whatever post is available—doesn't matter who put it up. This post is at the end of our street, and our neighborhood is strictly a residential area. Imagine what a post in a commercial area looks like!

power and telephone lines

March 24, 2008

Behind the treasure chest

When you go inside Books for Less, the used-book store my husband and I frequent, it looks like any other book store. Until you get a look at its storeroom. This is what it looks like—wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling boxes of old books yet to be sorted and displayed properly in the main shop. (PHOTO BY DOGBERRY)

Books for Less storeroom

March 22, 2008

Treasure hunt

Books for Less is the first used-book store chain in Metro Manila to sell more than trashy romance novels. It is because of them that I have been able to try out genres other than my usual science fiction and fantasy. This branch along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City is where my husband and I usually go treasure hunting. On its left is what used to be a restaurant, but it's closed now; to its right is an abandoned gas station and garage. (PHOTO BY DOGBERRY)

Books for Less Commonwealth

March 21, 2008

Baja de las campanas

The 25-meter triangular belfry of the Ateneo de Manila University's Church of the Gesù has an 18-bell carillon and one Angelus bell. It stands several meters to the right of the church, built in 2005 (the church was built in 2001), and dedicated during the Feastday of St. Ignatius of Loyola on July 31. The bells were made by the Royal Bell Foundry Petit & Fritsen B.V. of Holland and are inscribed with the names of Catholic Saints, both Jesuits and others. The Angelus bell is inscribed with the phrase "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One."

Ateneo de Manila University Church of the Gesù Bell Tower