August 31, 2008

Bay view

The hotels, apartments and office buildings of the Malate, Manila area of Roxas Boulevard as seen across the harbor of the Manila Yacht Club on an overcast Saturday evening.

Malate, Manila skyline

August 29, 2008

Japanese sweet corn

On several stretches of Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, you'd see vendors selling corn on the cob, both raw and cooked. They chose areas where there are no business establishments and just set up on the sidewalk. Cars stop beside them on the street—with no regard for other drivers inconvenienced by their doing so—and buy a kilo or two. In some stretches, these vendors were only about ten meters apart. This particular one was lucky, because the one before her was 300 meters away and the next one was 50 meters away. I could never understand how they actually made money, being so close to each other and having so much competition. I won't be able to ask them now—I just found out today that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which has jurisdiction over the metro's national highways, has removed all of the corn vendors, improving the flow of traffic. I'm also happy for pedestrians, who had been forced to step onto the road because the vendors were hogging the sidewalk. But I can't help but feel bad for the vendors, most of whom are very poor. I really hope they find themselves a better place to sell their sweet corn.

sweet corn vendor

August 28, 2008

A web of lies and deceit

The student theater group Tanghalang Ateneo is currently staging William Shakespeare's "Othello," beautifully translated into Tagalog by Rogelio Sicat and Luna Sicat-Cleto. Because the theater group is celebrating its 30th anniversary, this production of "Otelo: Ang Moro ng Venecia" features professional actors in the main roles. Though the students may have been relegated to the minor roles, they still did all of the production and marketing work. Philippine National Artist for Theater Design Salvador F. Bernal, who happens to be an instructor at the Ateneo de Manila University, designed the simple and inexpensive but very versatile stage. Just before the play started, a student announced the house rules, one of which is that photographs are prohibited without the permission of the house. Oops, too late!

Salvador Bernal's stage design for Tanghalang Ateneo's 'Otelo: Ang Moro ng Venecia,' 2008

August 27, 2008

Going home

Finally, just a word about our accommodations and travel. We stayed at the small and old Burnham Hotel just off Session Road, which is Baguio City's busiest commercial avenue. I found it on the web when I found out that The Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay was fully booked. This old place allowed me to book online, unlike the newer hotels that I found. Inside, it doesn't look like a hotel, except for the front desk. It actually felt like staying in the guest room of one's grand aunt, if you know what I mean. It could use more lights though, both in the common living room and the bedrooms—it was a bit too dark to read comfortably.

living room of the Burnham Hotel in Baguio City
I think I mentioned at the start of this series that we just took the bus from Manila to Baguio. We took Victory Liner's special, express bus. It's 'special' because each bus only accepts 29 passengers—three people in each of ten rows. The seats are recliners with leg rests, and they're wide and the leg space is roomy! I'm tall, and when I sat down, my knees were nowhere near the back of the seat in front of me. Bliss! But why only 29 passengers when there's space for 30? Now that's the reason why it can be an 'express' bus and not have stopovers. That last space is taken up by a lavatory, very similar to that of airplanes. A great convenience and a faster trip—love it.

Victory Liner's special, express bus with lavatory
And now for a small gripe. I like Victory's bus terminal in Baguio City. It's wide and clean, the waiting area is nowhere near the ticket counter so it doesn't get too crowded, and the second floor has souvenir shops. Why can't their terminals in Metro Manila be like it? The ones here are downright dingy and do not help promote local travel. I wish they'd fix up their Metro Manila bus terminals—and have more special, express buses to other destinations. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #9

Victory Liner bus terminal in Baguio City

August 26, 2008

Baguio City Hall

Walking back to our hotel after breakfast on the last day of our weekend getaway, this was all I could glimpse of the Baguio City Hall because of the profusion of trees in front of it.

Baguio City Hall
Off to one side of the City Hall was another white building with a green roof—the color combination that I have always associated with Baguio's buildings. I managed to find a sign identifying it as Baguio Central School, and when I searched on the web for it, I learned that it is a public school built in 1923, destroyed during WWII and rebuilt in 1949. It is now considered a heritage school and was renovated in 2004.

Baguio Central School
Between Baguio City Hall and Burnham Park was a tiny park dedicated to Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. The old man sitting in the shade at the bottom of the monument was totally unmindful of the fact that I was standing there taking pictures. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #8

monument to Jose Rizal in Baguio City

August 25, 2008

Lovely restaurants

During our trip to Baguio City, my husband and I made sure that we ate each meal at a different place. No, I'm not going to post photos of all seven because I didn't take pictures of all of them. You've already seen one in the first of my Baguio series: the Baguio Country Club's Verandah, where we had breakfast on the first day. Neither am I going to post food photos—because I forgot to take pictures (again!) before we started eating. I'm only posting two pictures this time, and it's because I love how these restaurants look. Except for a few touches of bamboo, PNKY Café looks more like a European country cottage than a Filipino restaurant with its colorful murals and paintings. I love how the bright colors contrast with the warm wooden furniture. It wasn't our first time to eat there, and we think that their food is really good. The rice that they serve is organic red rice grown locally in the mountains of Benguet. The café is in a small structure beside a house, where PNKY has a bed and breakfast, and a shop with lovely handcrafted furniture and home accessories.

PNKY Café in Baguio City
Café by the Ruins is new to us, though it's been around since 1988 and is always in people's lists of places to eat in Baguio. It is across City Hall and the property used to be where the home of Baguio's first American civil governor was located, but the house was destroyed during WWII—hence the name of the restaurant. Many of its regular customers are members of the Baguio Arts Guild and some of their paintings are displayed near the entrance. Our breakfast was very good, but I won't be able to say it's a good restaurant until we get to try their entrées. I have to say, though, that I wasn't impressed with the service—we saw the waiters hanging out at the empty tables reading the newspapers which had just been delivered! But the place—gorgeous! When you're inside the café, you can actually forget that you're in the middle of the very busy city center. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #7

Café by the Ruins in Baguio City

August 24, 2008

Commerce in Burnham

We're still at Burnham Park in Baguio City. I saw a thriving informal economy at the park and couldn't resist taking photos of the people selling goods and services. You're going to see a few weird angles here. I didn't want the people to notice that I was taking their picture because they might turn away. Hungry? Let's start with some warm taho, perfect in Baguio's cooler weather. It's made of fresh, soft tofu with tiny pearl sago and sweetened with brown sugar syrup.

taho vendor in Burnham Park in Baguio City
If your heart can take it, you might like what this guy's selling: chicharon (puffy fried pork skin), hard-boiled quail eggs, and inside the basket, balut (boiled fertilized duck or chicken egg). And just so you know, I have never eaten balut, and never will!

chicharon and balut vendor in Burnham Park in Baguio City
If you like sour foods, you're going to love this snack: burong mangga (fermented green mangoes). Click on the link to get a recipe from our Department of Science and Technology. Using rock salt is a must for this one.

burong mangga vendor in Burnham Park in Baguio City
I question the viability of selling ice cream in a cool city, but I guess some people have a higher tolerance for cold than I do. There are three flavors of homemade ice cream inside that cart and you can choose which cone to have it on. There's a bigger wafer cone and the tiny one that's more like a very thin sugar biscuit. I always choose the sweet cone.

ice cream vendor in Burnham Park in Baguio City
When you're done eating and beginning to feel sleepy, or are starting to ache from all the walking you've been doing, then it's time to get a massage. The sign says you can choose between Siatsu (sic) or Swedish.

massage at Burnham Park in Baguio City
I'm not one for getting pounded, pulled or kneaded, so I'd prefer this woman's services: a pedicure or manicure while watching the rowboats. This young lady was waiting very patiently while her friend got a pedicure, though they were chatting too so I don't think she minded much.

having a pedicure in Burnham Park in Baguio City
For those who don't have a camera (not in this group!) but would like a souvenir photo of themselves at Burnham Park, there are photographers who will take your photo with film cameras. They probably have small dark rooms set up very near the park. You meet up after an hour and they'll hand you your prints.

photographer in Burnham Park in Baguio City
Sunny day and you forgot your sunglasses? Not to worry, you can buy a pair from this young man. I saw a man buying a pair of knock-off Oakleys and the first price quoted by the vendor was 200 Philippine Pesos (less than US$5). Bartering is very much encouraged.

sunglass vendor at Burnham Park in Baguio City
Finally, time to buy some souvenirs. Baguio is well-known for its silver because of Benguet's silver mines and smiths. You don't have to go to the city market to buy some jewelry as I saw several men selling them in the park. As a rule of thumb when bartering, your first offer should be no more than half of the quoted price. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #6

silver jewelry vendor at Burnham Park in Baguio City

August 23, 2008

Burnham Park

The famous American architect and urban planner Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846–1912), who designed many of Chicago's older buildings, created the original plan for Baguio City. Unfortunately, his plans were not followed by the leaders of the city, judging by the city center's warren of narrow streets. Thankfully, his plan for a park in front of the City Hall was—providing residents and visitors a place to while away a lazy afternoon. Burnham Park is centered around a man-made lagoon with row boats for hire. I love the trees around the lagoon. I think they're weeping willows, but not having any like them in Metro Manila, I'm not quite sure.

man-made lagoon at Burnham Park in Baguio City
I remember going to Baguio with my family when I was a child and my parents renting bicycles for us at the park. I don't remember if any of the bikes then had sidecars like this one. It's great for families with very young children. (Don't ask me why this kid chose a bike with a sidecar—my guess is he just likes the idea of biking with the sidecar and the umbrella. I mean, wouldn't you, if you were his age?) Now that I'm an adult, I think that renting bicycles there is senseless—you can't take the bike out of that one strip of road so you'll just be biking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth… you get what I mean. You can't even take the bike around the park!

bicycles for rent at Burnham Park in Baguio City
Burnham Park is bisected by several small streets. At the very back of the park is a huge lawn. Sadly, it's not well-maintained and the grass is overgrown. That, and the mud, didn't stop these Sunday morning soccer players from having a game though. I couldn't tell who was playing for which side, but I'm sure they did.

soccer game at Burnham Park in Baguio City
Off to one side of the boating lagoon is a skating rink. Since it was a weekend, the place was full of young teens practicing their skateboarding skills. I don't remember ever seeing this area when I was a kid. I love the pattern of the roof and its supporting frame. PHOTO BY DOGBERRY

skating rink at Burnham Park in Baguio City
This relief sculpture depicts various scenes from the lives of the Igorot. Again, I've uploaded this image in a higher resolution than I normally do so you can click it to enlarge it. There are two men fighting, one tied up like a prisoner, someone playing a nose flute, a couple of people dancing, one carrying firewood to two people roasting a pig, and a few others I couldn't figure out. Sigh. Why did vandals have to choose this piece to put graffiti on?

relief sculpture of Igorot life in Burnham Park in Baguio City
And finally, here's Daniel Hudson Burnham himself, or rather, a bust of him. I'm so glad he spent some time here in the Philippines—Baguio City might not be as pretty if it weren't for him. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #5

bust of Daniel Hudson Burnham in Burnham Park in Baguio City

August 21, 2008

Mines View Park

I guess it really used to be a park, but when you go to Mines View Park in Baguio City now, all you'll see from the street are stalls selling souvenirs and food. If you brave the crowds and go to the viewing deck on the edge of a very steep hill, you will see the site of old copper and gold mines. The mines have long since closed in this particular area—long enough for grass and trees to cover the valley and hillsides again, though you can still see bald spots and trails here and there. Long enough, too, for houses to be built on the old mine site. On a clear day, you can also see the breadth of the Cordillera mountain range. Just our luck to get there on a cloudy day.

view from Mines View Park in Baguio City
The Cordillera region is the ancestral domain of the Igorot, which is made up of six ethnic groups. At the back of the viewing deck, I saw three little old women making a living out of renting Igorot costumes—vests, skirts, headresses, beads, spears and wooden shields—to tourists.

dressing up in Igorot costumes at the Mines View Park in Baguio City
And here is the tour group in all their glorious Igorot finery! BAGUIO CITY SERIES #4

tourists in Igorot costume

August 20, 2008

Camp John Hay

One of Baguio City's nicknames is "The City of Pines" because it's the only city in the Philippines where the weather is cool enough for pine trees to thrive. The trees grow everywhere in the city and on the surrounding hills, and one of the best places to walk among them if you're not an adventurer is Camp John Hay.

pine tree forest in Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay was established in 1903 as a rest and recreation facility for the U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines and was named after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's Secretary of State. The property was turned over to the Philippine government in 1991 after the expiration of the two countries' bases agreement. It is now run by a private corporation on a long-term lease and its facilities, which include picnic grounds and a butterfly farm, are open to the public.

butterfly farm in Camp John Hay
The beautiful wood and stone Manor Hotel is also located inside Camp John Hay. This is where my husband and I originally wanted to stay but when I called two weeks before our trip, they were already fully-booked.

The Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay
A small strip of shops and restaurants a few hundred meters away from the hotel called the Mile Hi Center always reminds me that Camp John Hay was a former U.S. base. There is one Baguio and Benguet souvenir shop and about four restaurants, then the rest are discount stores for U.S. clothing brands. There's even a Commissary (actually the name of the shop)—a grocery that sells only U.S. products. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #3

Mile Hi Center in Camp John Hay

August 19, 2008

Baguio cathedral

Saturday afternoon was the only time we experienced rainy weather while we were in Baguio City. After a late lunch, we decided to visit the Baguio cathedral, which I only vaguely remember from childhood because we didn't visit it the last time we were in Baguio several years ago. From the marker in front of the church:
    A Catholic mission was established by missionaries of CICM (Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae) from Belgium in 1907. A chapel, dedicated to St. Patrick, was built at the middle part of Session Road. In 1920, the construction of the cathedral by phases was begun on this hill, originally referred to as Kampo by the native Ibalois, who had a settlement here in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and later called Mount Mary by the Catholic mission. It was spearheaded by Fr. Florimond Carlu, CICM, then the parish priest. The cathedral was finally consecrated in 1936 and dedicated to Our Lady of the Atonement (Domina Nostra Adunationis). The cathedral became an evacuation center during World War II and withstood the carpet bombing of Baguio in 1945, thereby saving thousands of lives.

Baguio Cathedral facade
In front of the plaza just before the church was this tableau. On the marker was a verse from the 19th chapter of the Gospel of John:
    When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Though the figure on the left side of the cross is Mary, the mother of Jesus, I don't think that the one on the right is John—it looks more like a woman and I can only guess that it's supposed to be Mary Magdalene. PHOTO BY DOGBERRY

plaza of the Baguio Cathedral
We came just in time for the 5:00pm anticipated Mass, which was perfect because it was my husband's birthday. Just before the priest entered, I took a shot from the pew we were sitting on, down the nave looking towards the altar. You can see the choir lofts here, and that concession to modernity found in many of our churches nowadays: an LCD projector and white screen.

interior of the Baguio Cathedral
After the Mass and just before the next one started, I went to the front-most pew to take a closer picture of the altar and tabernacle. Because of the ornate details, I decided to upload a higher-resolution image than I usually do. You can actually click on this one to view a larger image. BAGUIO CITY SERIES #2

altar and tabernacle of the Baguio Cathedral

August 18, 2008

Happy birthday, love of my life!

Pardon me for disappearing suddenly again, but my husband and I went off for the weekend and Friday night's schedule was too tight to post anything. We got home from work at 8:30pm, packed, and went to the bus station at 11:30pm for the August 16, 12:15am trip to Baguio City. Baguio is about 1,500 meters above sea level and is the summer capital of the Philippines—on average, it is always 8 degrees cooler than Metro Manila. It was built by the Americans in 1900 with health and recreational facilities for its troops and citizens, to provide a respite from the heat of the lowlands. It is about 250 kilometers north of Metro Manila. We took an express bus (no stopovers) and by 5:30am were checking in at our hotel.

foggy morning in Baguio City
Right after checking in at the hotel, my husband and I went straight to the Baguio Country Club for breakfast, thanks to a friend who provided us with a letter of introduction. The club was first established in 1905, though its facilities have expanded greatly. We decided to have their buffet breakfast—a treat for my husband who celebrated his birthday on that day.

Baguio Country Club
From a small, one level cottage with a thatched roof, the Baguio Country Club now has a hotel, swimming pool, tennis court, bowling alleys, fitness center, billiards, table tennis and an 18-hole, par-61 golf course.

Baguio Country Club golf course

I know that Baguio City is definitely out of Metro Manila's scope, and each post will have more than one photo too—a double no-no in CDP. But I hope that no one minds my going against CDP's rules in the next few days. There is no Baguio City photo blog in CDP after all, and it's such a beautiful place! BAGUIO CITY SERIES #1

August 14, 2008

Let's play!

A feature of all Ayala Malls that I'm sure parents appreciate is a play area for kids. They started it with Glorietta in Makati City and this one is at Trinoma in Quezon City.

play area in Trinoma

May I please ask a favor from you? If you're good with plants and flowers, please visit my Magical blooms post in Happy at Home and help me identify the flowers in our garden. I only have names for two of the twelve flowers I posted. It's pretty sad.

August 13, 2008

Peace offering

We had a small emergency at home two weekends ago when an exposed portion of water pipe broke. My husband shut off the main valve and called me because I was still at work, and I managed to get hold of our plumbers who came home with me and they replaced the damaged section. Later that evening, our Korean neighbors called on us with a Mango Cream Cake from Red Ribbon. Turns out that the young children staying with them for several months were so intrigued by the coconuts on our tree (the adults said they don't have coconut trees in Korea), they started throwing stones to try to get one of the coconuts to fall. Of course, they missed and hit the pipe instead. The kids were too scared to tell me or my husband and waited for the adults to get home so they could talk to us. They also offered to pay for the repair. That was very nice of them and of the children. The kids could easily have said nothing and no one would have known. But they knew they were responsible and felt bad about what happened, and even though they were scared, they still admitted their mistake. I'm so proud of them.

Mango Cream Cake from Red Ribbon

August 12, 2008

New beginnings

I've been thinking the whole day of an appropriate image to begin my new century of photos, and I decided on a third—and the last—photo of the building we're renovating for our office to move into. You see, our office of 20–25 people have not been together in one room or even one building for four years. We're also divided into six groups, each of which has very specific tasks. Though it's good to have specializations, these groupings and this physical separation also has very undesirable effects. The worst for me is that very few people see the overall goals of the office, so they just do the same things they've been doing in the past without questioning whether these are even still relevant. Then the pettiest of all, yet the most detrimental to morale: because some people don't really know or understand what the others are doing and what their responsibilities are, they feel that they're doing more than their fair share of the work. Will being in one small building help people see their work and that of others in the proper perspective? Will it help build and re-build good relationships? I don't really know, but I can always hope. Anyway, the new room divisions are done, and the painting, tiles and blinds. The airconditioning and the structured cabling for telephone and internet lines will be done by the end of the week. Nine of us have been in the new building for more than a month. Next week, the rest of the office will move. Wish us good luck please. (And if you want to see the progress of this room's renovation, click on the label work.)

Alingal Hall construction, part 3

August 11, 2008

What lies beyond?

When I was a student at the Ateneo de Manila University, I would see a small white and blue bridge leading to a wooded area from the road every time my dad (who was a professor there) and I arrived in the morning and left in the afternoon. I finally gave in to curiosity and crossed it one day. In the middle of the woods was a greenhouse where Botany and Biology students kept their plant experiments. What a delight to see that the bridge is still there and still painted white and blue. One of these days, I'm going to cross it again and find out if the greenhouse is still there. If it's not, I'll just follow the path of mossy stones and see where they lead me.

white and blue bridge

This is my 100th post! Time goes by so fast…

August 10, 2008

Chicken feed

We live in a neighborhood which I would describe as middle to upper-middle class. Most of the residents are professionals—teachers, nurses, doctors, dentists—corporate employees or entrepreneurs. The average size of house lots is 300–400 sqm, and townhouses and duplexes are on 150–200 sqm lots. And there are hardly any vacant lots left. Yet the pet supply store three blocks away from our home has more chicken feed varieties than dog or cat food. And the young man who tends the store says that they sell more chicken feed than dog food. What I want to know is, where are all those chickens and who takes care of them?

chicken feed varieties

August 9, 2008

Divining the Philippines' future

People who watch the plays of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) will not get bored while waiting. This mural on the lobby wall has so much going on, our waiting time wasn't enough for me to read and understand everything. It didn't help that the kids were blocking most of the lower portion. Because we watched a morning performance, most of the audience were students required by their teachers to watch the play. The mural depicts the major arcana of Philippine politics and society (according to PETA). One of these days, I'd like to be able to get a clear shot of that mural, and close-ups of those tarot cards.

PETA theater lobby mural

August 8, 2008

Men in black

I just had to ask the bomb squad from yesterday's post if I could take their picture. Only these two men agreed. One completely turned his back on me and another ignored me, and they're the ones off to the side of the picture (I didn't want to crop them out). A fifth came up beside me and said that his 'sweetheart' might not like it. I only took one shot because I didn't want to impose too much. The older man asked me what newspaper I was working for. Ah! Now that explains why the others were camera shy. I told him that it was only for me, and he gave me a huge grin—of relief, I think. Among all the policemen and soldiers I've seen in Metro Manila, I like the bomb squad's uniform best.

bomb squad

August 7, 2008

Flash back, flash forward

My husband and I watched a play last Sunday morning, and I noticed several police cars in front of the theater. Cynical me said, "So, who's the big shot politician who's watching?" It turns out that someone actually threw a small bomb at the theater just before 5:00am, breaking several glass windows. The play, "Noli at Fili: Dekada 2000 (Dos Mil)," is Philippine national hero Jose Rizal's novels "Noli Me Tangere" (1887) and "El Filibusterismo" (1891) brought up to date for the new millennium. It's a political play and speaks against the current government, just like Rizal against the Spanish colonial government of his time. He was executed in 1896. I guess someone in power doesn't like what PETA is staging.

Quezon City police cars

August 6, 2008

Behind the box office

I took this photo inside the office at the back of the Ayala Cinemas ticket counter. There were several office desks, one of which was piled high with cash—it was behind a high partition but I saw it anyway. The chairs for visitors were theater seats, and in one corner was this: busted computer monitors, a box full of ticket stubs, and movie posters! And one box was for movies that are still to be shown a few months from now. I was so tempted to swipe some, I tell you. (And I have a little problem: I promised the lady I was talking to that I'd thank her in this blog. The problem is, I didn't write down her name and now I've forgotten it. Maybe it's just as well—her boss might not approve her letting me take the picture. You know who you are, girl—thank you!)

movie poster and ticket stubs

August 5, 2008


I posted a photo of the interior of Café Breton last month because I liked the mural on the wall, and Layrayski of Butuan City, Philippines and Boise Diva of Boise, Idaho, USA both asked where the galette and crêpe were. I didn't have any photos of the food then, so when we had another opportunity to eat at Café Breton, I made sure to take photos of our galettes (I am so glad I have an indulgent husband—thanks, sweetie! I know you were already starving waiting for me). The one at the back is the Galette Bretonne: spinach, shrimps sautéed with crab meat, fresh cream and Gruyère cheese. The one in the foreground is the Galette Paysanne: whole hungarian sausage, onions, egg, asparagus and cheese sauce. Both on buckwheat galettes, and both, yummmmmy! Special thanks to Melanie of Châteaubriant, France for reminding me about the buckwheat. It is also through her comments that I am learning what kind of accents to put on the vowels of French words.

galettes from Café Breton