July 31, 2008

House plants

This house just leaves me in awe every time we pass by it. And I keep wondering how much time the owners spend maintaining it. STUCK IN TRAFFIC SERIES #3

house covered in vines and other plants

July 30, 2008

The search

I don't know what it's like in the rest of the Philippines, but every time there's a civic project in Metro Manila, our local officials and politicians always make sure that their picture is included in the posters, banners and streamers announcing the project. The third district of Quezon City has a search for the cleanest barangay (the smallest unit of government in the Philippines) and Congressman Mat Defensor's image is in all the posters. Maybe he can encourage his constituents to begin by cleaning the utility poles. STUCK IN TRAFFIC SERIES #2

2008 Search for the Cleanest Barangay

July 29, 2008


Literally. Need termite (anay) control? A new house? Jack hammer? Plumber (tubero)? Then jot down these numbers. Just don't forget to dial 632 first—63 is the Philippines' country code, and 2 is Metro Manila's area code. STUCK IN TRAFFIC SERIES #1

signs on a telephone post

July 28, 2008

Stuck in traffic

Metro Manila's traffic can be so unpredictable sometimes! Take Saturday afternoon, for example. It took me one hour to get home from work—and it's only five kilometers away! I couldn't see what was wrong and until now, I still don't know what caused the extremely slow flow. I could have gotten home faster if I just walked, but I couldn't because (1) I had the wrong shoes for walking, (2) I was carrying two heavy bags, and (3) no one in his right mind will walk among Manila's black-smoke–belching cars. This is my third photo of the interior of taxi cabs (the first is here, and the second is here), and this one is really by way of an introduction. Because the ride was so slow, I took out my camera and started taking photos of things by the roadside when the taxi was idling. So in the coming days, I'll be giving you my "Stuck in traffic series"—photos of various street scenes taken through a tinted window that was badly in need of cleaning.

Manila traffic as seen through a taxi's windshield

July 27, 2008

My hero!

Guess what we watched at the Ayala Cinemas in Trinoma last night. (Finally!) After more than a week, the gun in The Dark Knight's Batmobile isn't shooting straight anymore. Unfortunately, we weren't able to watch the movie at cinema 7, which is the only THX theater in Trinoma. We had to settle for Dolby Digital in cinema 5. I want to watch it again! And in this particular theater.

The Dark Knight poster at Trinoma cinema 7

July 26, 2008

The games children play

Well, not children exactly, but they're all kids to me now. I was on my way home from work one Saturday afternoon when I encountered these college students playing in one of the lawns of the Ateneo de Manila University. They had just finished playing dodge ball (using the large pink ball that the girl in the apple green t-shirt is holding) and were re-grouping to begin their obstacle course on another lawn. They were probably members of one student organization, using games to get to know each other and learn how to work with one another. I remember that we did too—quite some time ago.

college students playing

July 25, 2008

Doctor, dean, president

Agerico B. M. Sison, M.D. graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1921. He became that school's fifth dean in 1951. He is also the founder and first president of The Medical City, which opened its doors to the public in 1967 as the ABM Sison Hospital. The Medical City is now one of the best hospitals in the Philippines. This bust of Dr. Sison is located in the garden oasis of The Medical City.

Agerico B. M. Sison, M.D.

July 24, 2008

Sweet and savory in Bretagne

I never liked savory crepes or galettes until I tried those of Café Breton. After eating my crepe with great relish, I realized what other restaurants did wrongly: they use exactly the same batter for their dessert and savory crepes, which is slightly sweet and therefore tastes strange with meat or seafood. To distinguish between the two, Café Breton uses the word 'galette' for their savory meals and the word 'crepe' for the desserts (although if you look for their definitions in an English dictionary, you get the same description). The mural at the Trinoma branch of Café Breton caught my eye: a pretty accurate map of historic Britanny.

Café Breton

July 23, 2008


I finally got to visit Makati City again last week, but since it was work-related, I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures. I took this picture from the fifth-floor deck of the building we had to go to. My colleague and I saw the name on top of the building, Fraser Place, and because we could see living and dining rooms through the windows, we thought it was a condominium. I looked it up on the web, of course. Its complete name is Fraser Place Manila and it styles itself as a "hotel apartment." Some travel sites call it "serviced residences." What makes it different from a regular hotel? You don't get just a bedroom with a sitting area. You get a complete apartment—foyer, living, dining, kitchen, utility, powder room—from one to four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The master's bedroom has a walk-in closet, and there's even a bedroom and bathroom for a live-in maid or cook. What makes Fraser Place different from regular apartments? The rates cover utilities (power, water, gas), daily housekeeping, a shuttle service to and from business districts and commercial centers, and a parking slot for one vehicle. I took a look at the rates, and the cost of staying one night in this luxurious serviced residence is more than what a minimum wage earner in Metro Manila earns in one month.

Fraser Place Manila

July 22, 2008

Full bodied, high calorie

I'm no beer connoisseur, but this is my favorite local beer: San Miguel Cerveza Negra, a dark lager. Unfortunately, I can't have much of it anymore for various health reasons. I had a bottle last night, and consumed my serving for the month. I know some people will call me a Philistine for having my beer with ice, but with Metro Manila's temperatures, it's the only way to keep your beer cold—unless you can drink a bottle within five minutes or you're fine with warm beer.

San Miguel Cerveza Negra

July 21, 2008

Multipurpose space

The one-level basement of the independent supermarket that my husband and I frequent serves as basement parking, storage for beer bottle crates and flattened product cartons, and the locker room of the employees. It's strange that not many people park there, though the lot in front of the supermarket is always full. We always go straight to the basement because it might suddenly rain, and getting groceries in the car while it's raining can be very difficult. Maybe people just don't like climbing stairs. That, and the fact that the ramp is quite narrow and not very SUV-friendly.

basement of Shoppersville supermarket

July 20, 2008


I posted a photo of the Ateneo de Manila Church of the Gesù last month, but one taken at night. This is what the church looks like at high noon on a very sunny day. The glare from all that white can be tremendous. The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands on a little plaza with stone benches in front of the church. It is not uncommon for the students of the university to sit there, chatting with their friends, in the early evenings.

Ateneo de Manila Church of the Gesù

July 19, 2008


Looks like one of our neighbors is moving away, after moving in less than five years ago. And I haven't even met her. Our street had a getting-to-know-you party two years ago and she wasn't able to attend, then my husband and I missed the one organized last year. Goodbye and good luck, whoever you are.


July 17, 2008

Flash flood

Tropical storm "Helen" (international code name "Kalmeagi") passed through the Philippines this week. It skipped Metro Manila but since she enhanced our regular southwest monsoon, our rains yesterday were stronger than usual. The result: flash floods all over the metropolis because the drains couldn't handle the water volume fast enough. On our short, five-kilometer route to work, we had to go through four spots of this deep, muddy water. But this was still nothing compared to other areas. The cities of Navotas and Malabon, which are on the coast, had to call off classes because the floods were too deep.

flash flood

Eki Qushay Akhwan of Bandung Daily Photo has honored me with the Arte y Pico blog award. Thank you, Eki!

Here are the guidelines for the award:
  1. Recipients choose five blogs which they consider to be deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and which contribute to the blogging community, no matter what language they are in.
  2. After selecting your honorees, list the name of the blog author and a link to his/her blog so they may be visited by everyone.
  3. Each award winner has to show the award, identify the person who conferred the award, and link to his/her blog.
  4. All award winners will link to the Arte y Pico blog so that everyone will know the origin of the award.
  5. Provide a copy of these guidelines.

One can always decline the award, but I gladly accepted it, mainly for the chance to pass it on to some of my favorite blogs. Fun! It was difficult to choose just five blogs, though. But after agonizing over it the whole day, here are my choices (as eclectic as my interests):
  1. Joel of Switchblog. Joel is an artist, designer, and computer and tech geek. He gives me credit for his switching to a Mac, but even back then, his proficiency with anything technology-related was way beyond mine. Switchblog is his minimalist gadget news and tips blog. Love how it looks and if you're a gadget freak, extremely useful.
  2. David of Tamarindo, Costa Rica Daily Photo. I'll just put it this way: if my husband and I ever decide to immigrate, I know what country I'm going to push for.
  3. Elisa of Confetti Cakes. Elisa doesn't blog often, but her cakes are gorgeous works of art. Look for the cake she made for her dad—an edible sculpture of his labrador-poodle pet. It's awesome.
  4. Andy Ristaino and company of P.I.P. The Post-It Project. Miniature works of art.
  5. M. Patrizio. When I'm feeling blue, I just go to her site and I'm sure to leave with a smile on my face. She not only creates cute and whimsical illustrations, clothes and crocheted dolls—almost everything in her own house is designed to give one a warm and fuzzy feeling.

July 16, 2008

Not when I'm reading

During Bookay-ukay's opening day (see yesterday's post), they invited a band to perform. They had huge speakers turned to the street, I guess to attract passersby to visit the shop. I love bands and live performances, especially when the musicians use ethnic percussion instruments like in this group. But honestly, loud music in a bookshop? That was such a bad idea! And the shop was so small, it didn't matter that the speakers were facing the street—the volume was still painful.

band during Bookay-ukay's opening day

July 15, 2008

New hunting grounds

A new store selling used books recently opened just two blocks away from our house. My husband and I went on opening day and this scene is what greeted us. It's name is Bookay-ukay, a play on the words 'book' and 'ukay-ukay'—our word for second-hand goods (mostly used in reference to clothes). I hope the shop lasts and that they get a wider selection of books, but more than anything, I hope they get some shelves—my poor body could hardly bear all the squatting and bending I had to put it through that afternoon. Though Bookay-ukay may be more convenient, I doubt if it'll replace our favorite used-book store, Books for Less—see its exterior here and its storeroom here.


July 14, 2008


Jollibee is the Philippines' biggest fast-food chain, with locations in the United States, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Brunei. Specializing in burgers, noodles and chicken, it has more than 600 stores in the Philippines alone. It had its humble beginnings as a family-owned ice cream parlor in 1975. Now, Jollibee Foods Corporation owns other restaurant chains: pizza, Chinese, bakeshop and French deli.

Jollibee Katipunan

July 13, 2008

Lunch, ma'm?

Two weeks after the frame of the walls went up (see yesterday's Bare bones), the main room of our new office is starting to shape up—of course, it's now not just one room but several small rooms and one largish work area. I wanted to take a photo of the work in progress, and when I went in the room just before leaving yesterday, I had totally forgotten that it was noon and that the workers had settled down to have their lunch—on the floor, eating with their fingers from plastic bags. I politely asked them if I could take a picture anyway and they consented but averted their faces. Notice how they removed their slippers and put a sheet of paper on the newly-laid vinyl tiles to avoid staining them. And despite their meager fare, these men epitomize Filipino hospitality—the first thing I heard when I entered the room was, "Ma'm, kain po tayo" (Ma'm, let's eat). Of course, this same Filipino hospitality demands that the other person, if you notice that the food is not enough to share, politely decline by saying a plausible excuse like, "Thank you, but my husband is waiting for me at home." (However, if there's lots of food, you have to have some—even if you're full to bursting—or you'll end up insulting the person.)

Alingal Hall construction workers' lunch

July 12, 2008

Bare bones

The reason why I went MIA for almost a week: the renovation of the building our office will be moving into. This is the biggest of the three rooms and the one that needs most work—so much that I think it's more correct to call it 'construction' rather than 'renovation.' All the interior walls had to be knocked down to be reconfigured into the spaces that we need. I took this shot on the last day of June when the carpenters were beginning the new rooms. The most awful thing about the project was the electrical cables. When they opened the ceiling to re-wire the rooms, the electrician was met with a mess: wires spliced and joined haphazardly with no PVC tubing or connector boxes—the result of various renovations made over three decades. I do not want any accident in our office during my watch, so I had them trace all the cables and get them connected properly. A sad fact of life here in the Philippines: carpenters and other construction workers are not well-protected from the hazards of their job. They come in T-shirts, shorts or jeans, and rubber slippers. No work clothes, gloves, masks or goggles to protect them—not in small projects like this.

Alingal Hall construction, part 1

July 11, 2008

Wild, wild West

The road around Quezon Memorial Circle: eight lanes of trucks, buses, cars, jeepneys and motorcycles weaving in and out of their lanes; coming from the innermost lane to turn right at any of the six avenues radiating from it; coming in from those six avenues and promptly driving onto the innermost lane. It's a good thing I don't drive. When we're caught on that road during rush hour, I always close my eyes.

Quezon Memorial Circle road

July 10, 2008

Green mall

One thing I love about the different Ayala Malls all over Metro Manila is how they always try to add greenery to their spaces. If most of the lot is filled by the structure and the parking lots, then they add them to open spaces on the upper levels. This is the north end of Trinoma, which is open from the second to the fifth level. Aside from trees and other plants, there are also fountains on some levels. And this isn't the only green oasis in the mall. On one side of this particular oasis is a view of the northern part of Quezon City and Caloocan City. On the mall side, all restaurants. Have I mentioned that Filipinos love to eat?


July 9, 2008

Hand eatery

The literal translation of Kamay-Kainan, a restaurant that specializes in Filipino food. It means "a place to eat with your hands," though I didn't see anyone actually do so. The food's nothing to rave about (I can recommend much better Filipino restaurants if any of you decide to visit the Philippines and come to Manila), but if you're feeding two tired and hungry men—the guys who helped me haul a van's worth of old equipment to the Ayala waste market—an hour after their usual lunch time, no other place in Trinoma mall can beat its value: PhP244 (about US$6) for the eat-all-you-can buffet. This photo shows less than half of the food choices at the buffet, and there was a separate table for the desserts.

Kamay-Kainan buffet

July 8, 2008

Waste not, want not

The Ayala Foundation holds waste markets every Friday at the parking lot of the different Ayala Malls. This one is at the parking lot of Trinoma, the only Ayala Mall in Quezon City. They buy junk computer and electronic equipment, appliances, paper, PET bottles and batteries. A great way to clear your house of junk, make a little money, and help mother Earth by not adding to her trash.

Ayala waste market at Trinoma

July 2, 2008

Last call

The Institute of Philippine Culture building (actually the Frank Lynch, SJ Hall) was the location of my office for two years. Yesterday, we moved to a different building—furniture, equipment and tons of paper—and today, I finally got my desk into some semblance of order. This shot of the front doors of the IPC building was taken on Saturday, June 28, at 3:30 in the afternoon. I stayed late to pack up my things for the transfer, and since I was the last person in the building, I had to call security to arm the alarm and lock the metal grill gates and glass doors. I didn't post the picture immediately because there was always the possibility that I'd stay late Monday night too. But I didn't, so this is my memento of my last call to security from IPC.

locking the IPC building