May 29, 2008

New Australian ambassador

Meet His Excellency Rod Smith, the new Australian ambassador to the Philippines. His appointment was announced in January 2008, and he took up his new post only in March 2008.

Australian ambassador to the Philippines Rod Smith

May 28, 2008

Load me

This is my neighbor's gate across the street. The wife is a stay-at-home mom and has a little business going on the side—loading credit for prepaid cellphones. The Philippines is supposedly the texting capital of the world, and most people choose prepaid lines rather than subscriptions because one can buy credit in small increments. This has spawned an entire industry of selling phone credit, and these banners can be found all over Metro Manila. All you need is a computer, internet connection and a business agreement with the service providers. She sells load (that's what Filipinos call cellphone credit) to two of the biggest cellphone companies in the Philippines: Smart and Globe.

Smart and Globe banners

May 27, 2008

Sushi platter

I mentioned once that Metro Manila is food delivery heaven (in "Kenny on wheels"). It's not just fast food like burgers and pizza that gets delivered here. This sushi platter was delivered to our home by Kitaro. And yes, my husband and I finished off the whole platter in one sitting.

Kitaro sushi platter

May 25, 2008

Dr. Manager

The Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH) opened its doors to students only in school year 2007–2008. It is a partnership between the Ateneo de Manila University and The Medical City. The school's dream: produce doctors who can lead and effect the systemic changes that the Philippine health sector badly needs. Hence the Doctor of Medicine and Master in Business Administration double degree, and the unusual curriculum and mentoring system of the school. The President of the university puts it thus, "If we are going to graduate doctors who are only going to leave the country, then I will close the ASMPH."

Ateneo School of Medicine and Publish Health

May 21, 2008

Wet leaves

This is the pattern of the garden paths in The Medical City. I love it! When we can finally have our patio fixed up, this is what I want for the floor.

garden path

May 19, 2008

An oasis at the hospital

One of the biggest hospitals in Metro Manila, The Medical City along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City has two towers. One has the doctors' offices and the other has the patients' rooms and labs. In the middle of the two is this small oasis of greenery—a respite from the clean, modern architecture and interior design of the hospital. Off one side of the meandering path is a very modern fountain; on another is a Starbucks and a Pancake House, both of which have umbrella tables outside so you can have your coffee or meal within view of the garden.

The Medical City

May 18, 2008

The other side of the stairwell

The fire extinguishers in the previous photo are on the left side of the clinic's stairwell. This is on the right side. The waiting area of the medical and dental clinics of the Health Alternatives for Total Human Development Institute, Inc. (HealthDev Institute) is really just a corridor with benches and this little decorative grouping. The clinic's fees are less than half of what one would normally spend seeing a doctor in a private practice and the service is much better than what one would get in a government-sponsored public hospital or community clinic—a very good alternative indeed. More than the clinics though, the HealthDev Institute also provides health development training and planning for various schools, communities and provinces in the Philippines.

HealthDev Institute

May 16, 2008

Red alert

Beside the stairwell at the clinic I usually go to: a locked glass case with a fire hose and fire extinguisher, a second fire extinguisher and the fire alarm. They're the first things you see after the reception area. Not very nice to look at but you can't miss them during an emergency.

fire hose, extinguisher and alarm

May 14, 2008

Dipping bread

The first time I encountered olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping bread was at the restaurant Italianni's in Makati City more than a decade ago. Now it's served as a while-you-wait-for-your-order appetizer in other Italian restaurants. This is La Maison's version, served with a white, sour baguette and a black, sweet baguette. Of course, I had to ask why the bread was black—it's squid ink.

olive oil and balsamic vinegar

May 13, 2008

Kenny on wheels

Manila is food delivery heaven. Pizza and burgers are the most common, but a lot of regular restaurants also deliver. This delivery motorcycle from Kenny Rogers Roasters was right outside the clinic I went to yesterday—someone was having a late lunch. Obviously the only delivery because the guy wouldn't have left the container wide open otherwise.

Kenny Rogers Roasters delivery motorcycle

May 12, 2008

Through two windows

Mercury Drug is the largest drugstore chain in the Philippines. This is the branch along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City where my husband bought my medicine this morning after my visit to the doctor. I was too woozy to go down so I stayed in the car to wait for him. I took this shot through the windshield, which definitely needs some cleaning. Why Mercury displays toilet paper and tissue paper in its front window, I have no idea.

Mercury Drug display window

May 11, 2008

A little more secure

The neighborhood where we live was never meant to be a gated community. But break-ins and robberies are now so rampant in Metro Manila that our neighborhood association closed off all streets with access to the main road except for one. That road now has a little guardhouse with two security guards at any given time who scrutinize—and log—all vehicles and individuals coming in and out of the neighborhood. There's even a phone in that little structure, and you can call the guards for help in getting a taxi cab. Mighty convenient when it's extremely hot or when it's raining.

U.P. Village guardhouse

May 10, 2008

Tower and moon

The broadcast tower of TV station ABS-CBN in the heart of Quezon City. Taken late in the afternoon of April. The moon was out early and you can see it as a tiny, pale spot on the right.

ABS-CBN broadcast tower

May 8, 2008

Taxi cab information

Except for a few companies with large fleets, most taxi cabs in Manila are owned by individuals who have less than five cars. Many actually own just one and drive it themselves. I don't know if it's required by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, but the name of the cab, its license plate number and the owner/operator's phone number are usually painted inside, on the door. I like it, because the first thing I do when I get in a cab (aside from telling the driver where I'm going, that is) is to text that information to my husband as a safety precaution. This is the cab I rode to work this morning. Oh, and that sticker? It says that you shouldn't pay the fare if the taxi meter seal is broken.

taxi cab

May 7, 2008

After the shopping

Half past eleven at night along the open-air walkways of TriNoma mall's 5th level, a lone sweeper empties trash bins and cleans up the mess left behind by shoppers, movie goers and diners. Filipinos love malling (whether most actually buy something is another matter altogether) and shops don't close until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.

Trinoma janitor at night

May 6, 2008

Standard room

This is what a standard room at the Richmonde Hotel looks likes. You get either two singles or one double bed. There's an armchair with a footstool—perfect for reading because of the swivel lamp beside it. Hidden by the TV (which has cable, of course) is a desk and chair. The cabinet under the TV hides a small refrigerator and a safe. Behind me to the right is a clothes closet and to the left is the bathroom. Nothing fancy, really, but definitely comfy.

Richmonde Hotel room

May 5, 2008

The Richmonde Hotel

The Richmonde Hotel is located in Ortigas Center, Pasig City and is walking distance from the Shangri-la Plaza mall and the Manila Metro Rail Transit System train station. It is probably one of the least expensive hotels in the area and is relatively small, with only about 200 rooms. It has a restaurant, bar, lobby café, and health club with a gym, indoor pool and sauna. An overnight stay gives you free access to the health club and a buffet breakfast the next morning. The only real problem we've had with the hotel is its elevators. It has three elevators, but in the three or four times we've stayed there, only two could be used. One always had a sign saying that it is undergoing maintenance, and sorry for the inconvenience.

Richmonde Hotel, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Philippines

May 4, 2008

Chai Latte, anyone?

I have two favorite coffee shops in Manila (no, Starbucks isn't one of them). One is The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a franchise from California brought to the Philippines in 2003. I especially love their flavored Chai Lattes—Moroccan Mint, Tropical Passion and Double Vanilla. They also have a yummy Eggs Ben all-day breakfast plate for which they use turkey ham and rosemary fococcia (an Italian flat bread).

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

May 3, 2008

Is King Arthur in Manila?

I find this one of the most surreal buildings in Metro Manila: Camelot Hotel along Mother Ignacia Avenue in Quezon City. I don't remember the year it went up, but I was still young and even back then I thought the concept strange. Whatever possessed the owner to build a pseudo-castle in the middle of Quezon City? I've never been there, much less stayed there, but it must be doing good business because it's still a hotel after all these years. Pardon the washed out colors please—I was pretty far when I took this and my camera's lens obviously can't handle the distance.

Camelot Hotel in Quezon City, Philippines

May 1, 2008

Makati skyline

From the small apartments and townhouses of eastern Quezon City to the skyscrapers of Makati City—the view from ABS-CBN's 13th floor roofdeck. To get from here to there as the crow flies, you would be going through the cities of San Juan and Mandaluyong too. The towering buildings in the background are those of the Makati Central Business District, where many of the largest banks and global corporations have their headquarters.

Makati skyline