September 29, 2008


Despite what its name suggests, Burgoo American Bar and Restaurant is completely Filipino created and owned. What is American about it is the type of food that it serves and the size of its servings. Maybe I can feature its food one of these days, but right now, this isn't about the food—which I think is great, just for the record. Their branch in The Podium in Mandaluyong City has a separate room for private parties of up to twenty people (we call them 'function rooms'). The ceiling lamps are very colorful and I think they're cute. But it's in the middle of the restaurant and has floor-to-ceiling glass walls! Honestly, I felt like a fish in a fishbowl.

function room of Burgoo American Bar and Restaurant, The Podium

September 28, 2008

Adorable trio

Looks like it's not just people who enjoy the sprawling grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (see yesterday's post). I saw these three cuties—with their humans, of course—in the lawn in front of the fountain. That's the busy Roxas Boulevard in the background. I wonder why one still has his leash on though. My guess is he's a bit more excitable than the other two and can't be trusted not to run to the street if he sees something interesting.

dogs in the lawn of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

September 27, 2008

Home of Philippine culture

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City, was inaugurated in 1969 with the purpose of preserving Filipino arts and culture. Its resident companies include the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, UST Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Philippines, Philippine Ballet Theater, Tanghalang Pilipino, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company and Philippine Madrigal Singers. Of course, with its five theaters and six exhibit halls, it also serves as the premier venue for international dance, music and theater groups that perform in the Philippines. The fountain and lawn in front of the CCP is also a popular picnic area for the residents of congested neighborhoods nearby. I've come to realize though that I might never be able to take a photo of the CCP with the fountain on. We only go there for performances and the fountain's only turned on about half an hour before they begin, and by that time we're already inside the building. Oh well. You can always do a Google image search if you want to see the CCP with its fountain.

Cultural Center of the Philippines

September 26, 2008

The numbers game

This is the Lotto outlet outside our neighborhood supermarket. The Philippine lottery games are run by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), a government institution, and right now there are five national games to choose from. There are also a few games available only to certain regions. Almost all of the funds raised by the PCSO are used for free medical and health services for the country's poor, whether for direct medical assistance for individuals—I have a friend whose wife's chemotherapy was paid for by the PCSO—or for buying or upgrading medical equipment in public and charity hospitals. And, yes, I do play the lottery sometimes—when I remember to bring my card when I go to this supermarket. Not getting a new card is my way of controlling myself—it is a form of gambling, after all. How about you? Does your country have a lottery and do you play?

Lotto outlet

September 25, 2008

We won!

The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles beat the De La Salle Green Archers 62–51 and are the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 71 men's basketball champions! Woohoo!!! This is the entrance to the Blue Eagle Gym of the Ateneo de Manila University where a projection screen was set up for those who couldn't watch the game at the Araneta Coliseum because they couldn't get tickets or had classes in the afternoon. A tarpaulin poster of the boys has been hanging there the entire season. From left to right: 17 Chris Tiu, 5 Jai Reyes, 12 Kirk Long, 13 Ryan Buenafe, 19 Rabeh Al-Hussaini, 7 Nonoy Baclao, 4 Yuri Escueta, 10 Jobe Nkemakolam, 20 Tonino Gonzaga, 11 Eric Salamat, 8 Raymond Austria, 14 Nico Salva, 16 Mike Baldos, 15 Vince Burke, 6 Christopher Sumalinog, 18 Justin Chua. Congratulations, boys! We are so proud of you!

Blue Eagles poster at the Blue Eagle Gym

September 24, 2008

Announcing hope

This bulletin board on the first landing of the middle stairway of Palma Hall in the University of the Philippines has been there forever. At least, it was already there when I was a freshman visiting friends who studied in U.P. What amuses me is that the announcements that the current students post are very similar to what was posted on it more than two decades ago. There are posters for performances, sales, contests and fund-raising activities for various organizations. And always, a huge sign declaring something against the government. In my time, it was all about Ferdinand Marcos and the continuing oppression despite the lifting of martial law. Now, it's about Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her perceived desire to stay in power by changing the constitution. One other thing besides the bulletin board has not changed: many of U.P.'s students continue their vigilant watch over our government and are not afraid to speak out. I'm glad.

bulletin board in Palma Hall, University of the Philippines-Diliman

September 21, 2008

The blue and the green

In less than half an hour, the hottest collegiate basketball rivalry in Metro Manila—maybe even the Philippines—will begin. Ateneo de Manila's Blue Eagles and De La Salle's Green Archers are vying for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men's basketball championship. And almost everyone has gone crazy. The Philippine Star, a national daily, has it on the front page, along with a small feature about which team U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney cheers for. The Philippine Daily Inquirer, another national daily, featured the rivalry in their free tabloid Libre. Trinoma mall, which is nowhere near the stadium, has just gone blue and green and so has McDonalds' advertising. In past years, Krispy Kreme created special blue and green doughnuts and even Pepsi came out with blue and green soda pop. All over Metro Manila, those who weren't able to buy tickets are gathering around TVs—in their homes, in cafés and bars, even in gyms set up with projection screens. Alumni of both schools who are based in other cities in the Philippines are now having reunions of a sort, just to watch the game together and cheer on their school team. Die-hard alumni basketball fans living in other countries are not neglected either. The Filipino Channel is offering the game in a live broadcast, internet video stream. It's crazy, I tell you. Oh, and the blue "FIGHT" poster—that's mine. Go Blue Eagles!!!

Blue Eagles vs. Green Archers in printed media

Ateneo won 69–61! Go Ateneo! One big fight! Next game's on Thursday.

September 20, 2008

State-ly university trees

The Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) is the second largest campus of this state university system and its administrative seat. It also has some of the most magnificent acacia trees in Metro Manila. This is Roxas Avenue, where the Vargas Museum, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, and the College of Education are located. U.P. Diliman has made all the roads around its Sunken Garden one-way and set aside one lane for bicycles and joggers. Sundays, they close off these roads from all motor vehicles so it becomes a haven for families and athletes. PHOTO BY DOGBERRY

Roxas Avenue, University of the Philippines - Diliman

September 18, 2008

Temptation in the dessert

If you didn't quite like the two cakes I presented to you yesterday, I invite you then to choose your favorite from Bizu Patisserie's wide selection of cakes, pastries and macarons. This is only half of the counter, unfortunately. Take a closer look by clicking on the image. Absolutely sinful.

Bizue Patisserie's cake counter

September 17, 2008


I have to confess that I'm not really crazy about chocolate cake. I mean, I like chocolate, but I'd rather just have the bars—plain and dark. When it comes to pastries, my choice is usually cheesecake. Except when we're at Bizu Patisserie (Promenade in Greenhills, Glorietta 4 and Greenbelt 2 in Makati City, Alabang Town Center). It's the only place in Metro Manila where I always go for the chocolate confections, and here are my two favorites. Nirvana is caramel chocolate mousse and pistachio cream on a crisp chocolate crust and a layer of chocolate cake covered with chocolate brilliant sauce.

Bizu Patisserie's Nirvana
Samba is a combination of milk and dark chocolate mousse between layers of chocolate cake and coated with chocolate brilliant sauce. Both are heavenly! And make me giddily light-headed with a sugar and chocolate high.

Bizu Patisserie's Samba

September 16, 2008

They have shelves!

Two months ago, I wrote about Bookay-ukay, the used-books store that opened near our house. We recently visited again and they now have shelves. Yay! No more squatting and aching knees! They also seem to have expanded their merchandise—there was a rack of scarves and T-shirts in one corner, and a sign announcing hand drums for sale. I wonder what they'll have next time we visit…


September 15, 2008


Meet my young friend Jason K. Dy. He is an artist with several exhibits and illustrated books in his name. He also happens to be a Jesuit and was ordained into the diaconate last Saturday. The Society of Jesus has one of the longest formation and education programs among Catholic priests. Depending on one's intellectual, psychological, emotional and spiritual maturity, a young man's formation can take from eight to thirteen years. And this is usually after getting their Bachelor's degrees. Which means that by the time they are ordained into the priesthood, Jesuits are usually in their 30s. I had to do a little research to find out the difference between a deacon and a priest. The word deacon comes from the Greek word diakonos which means messenger, servant, minister. They can preach, proclaim the gospel during masses, preside over funeral rites, and administer the sacraments of baptism and matrimony. But they cannot hear confession, anoint the sick or say mass. At the risk of getting a scolding from my Jesuit friends, I say that it sounds like being a part-time priest. Anyway, getting back to Jason… This ordination into the diaconate is the last step of his preparation. In half a year, hopefully, he will be ordained into the priesthood. Please join me in wishing him the best of luck and the blessings of God's grace, that whatever ministry he is assigned and wherever it may take him, he will always remain strong, good, and true to his vocation, his faith and the people that he will serve. Oh, and one last note: Being the youngest in his batch, Jason was assigned to give the thanksgiving speech at the end of the ceremony. That is so typically Filipino: pass the most hated task to the youngest in the family because he has no choice but to obey his elders. Poor kid.

ordination of Jason K. Dy, SJ into the diaconate on September 13, 2008

September 14, 2008

Manhattan in Manila

After more than 15 years, West Side Story is again being performed in Manila, staged by a theater group headed by two actors who starred in the 1982 production. The 2008 production stars popular Filipino balladeer Christian Bautista, who became popular in Indonesia and Singapore before he became known here, in the roll of Tony. Maria is being played alternately by pop singer Karylle and Joanna Ampil, a musical theater actress who has been acting in the UK and Australia since the early 1990s. Of course, we were hoping we'd get Joanna. And of course, we got Karylle. For a Philippine production, the stage was pretty elaborate. Here you see the set-up for the opening scene. Each of those structures is on wheels and have rooms on platforms behind them. Pardon the fuzzy picture. I had to take it on the sly, and only one shot because—you guessed it—taking photos was prohibited. Really, one of these days I'm going to get caught and kicked out of a theater. I can just see my husband's newspaper column: "She's not my wife! I don't even know her!"

stage of the 2008 production of West Side Story in Manila

September 13, 2008

Greens' gold

One of the restaurants that we frequent is Greens Vegetarian Restaurant and Café along Scout Castor Street near Tomas Morato. Goes to show how observant (not!) I can be sometimes—we'd been there several times before I noticed this pretty little fish pond (which actually reminds me a bit of old Roman wells, it's just missing the water spout coming from the wall). It's in a little outdoor nook accessible only from the main dining area, like a tiny atrium.

fish pond at Greens Vegetarian Restaurant and Café
And adding a spot of color to the gray and green are koi of all sizes and patterns.

fish pond at Greens Vegetarian Restaurant and Café

September 11, 2008

Dos mil

Early last month, I mentioned that my husband and I watched the Philippine Educational Theater Association's "Noli at Fili: Dekada 2000 (Dos Mil)" and I just realized that I completely forgot to post a photo about it. I guess I was too distracted by the police cars and the bomb squad. I wasn't able to take a good picture of the stage because it was too dark and I didn't want to use the flash and risk getting thrown out of the theater. But a scale model of the stage designed by Gino Gonzales was in the lobby, and that's what you're seeing now (you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it). The armchair is called a butaka, the design of which dates back from the Spanish colonial era. I doubt very much if this is an antique though. For one thing, no one will allow her butaka antique to be painted like this. For another, the old butaka chairs I've seen recline more and the arms are much longer. In fact, it won't be incorrect to call them legchairs—it's hard to resist putting yours legs up on the arms once you're sitting on it.

scale model of PETA's Noli at Fili stage design

September 10, 2008

Ender's game

Way back when I was in high school, military training for all fourth year high school students was mandatory through the Citizen's Military Training (CMT) program. For college-level students, it was mandatory only for males through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, though some young women joined the program too. I don't know if CMT is still required, but I do know that ROTC isn't anymore. In 2002, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act 9163 which established the National Service Training Program (NSTP). Nowadays, college students can choose how they can best serve Philippine society. Tutoring public school students, training out-of-school youth, helping build low-cost housing, sweeping and cleaning public areas, and serving in public day-care or medical centers are just some of the many projects that colleges and universities have set up for their students, always in partnership with various government agencies. Of course, they can still choose to join the ROTC and prepare themselves to defend their country. These young students did—I saw them training in a field during one Saturday afternoon. And yes, the kid in the middle saw me and smiled for the camera (you can enlarge the photo to see him by clicking on the image).

ROTC training in the Philippines

September 9, 2008

And not a drop to drink

The Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services say that the water they produce is potable. One of them even made a big media event recently of their officers and some government officials drinking water straight from the tap. I believe them, really. The problem is, we don't get our water from a tap in their water filtration plant, the location of that media event. Their clean water goes through kilometers of decades-old water pipes sharing the same ground space as decades-old sewer pipes. Ever heard of the word 'contamination?' Even if they change all their pipes, there's also the issue of the pipes in our 40-year-old house. So, like thousands of Metro Manila residents, we buy our drinking water from one of hundreds of water filtering stations found everywhere in the city.

Aquagel water filtering station

September 8, 2008

Overactive imagination

About 30 meters from the entrance of our little office building is a small stand of young bamboo growing right beside a stack of old, dead bamboo. Sometime in the past, the old stand just fell over—probably during a storm and probably because the soil here is shallow, barely covering the adobe foundation of the area. The maintenance crew cut the long stalks off and disposed of them but left the stubs, roots and soil just heaped on the ground. One of my colleagues is terrified by the thought that snakes will crawl out of those holes. Me, I'm waiting for the day when that heap will stand up and stalk off.

young bamboo grove growing on old bamboo pile

Find more Odd Shots—or post your own—at Katney's Kaboodle.
Odd Shots Monday

September 7, 2008

Doughnut wars

Early this decade, many Filipinos who visited the U.S. would come home with tales about the most fantastic doughnuts they have ever tasted: Krispy Kreme. At the time, the largest and most popular doughnut chain in the Philippines was Dunkin' Donuts, followed by Mister Donut. There were a few local doughnut stores, but none as popular as those two. My friends and I wondered whether Krispy Kreme would ever be franchised here, but when we converted their prices to pesos, it came out way too expensive for most Filipinos and we figured that it never will and we will never have a taste of its very soft, very light dough—its main difference with the other brands. Then an enterprising baker here decided to try and create a doughnut batter as light and fluffy as Krispy Kreme's. And so Go Nuts Donuts opened its doors to Filipino doughnut connoisseurs in 2003. Sales were brisk and they soon expanded their line to include cupcakes and rolls. However, several years later Krispy Kreme was franchised here too and I think that most Americans will find that they're actually cheaper here. Anyway, that evil gas station I wrote about yesterday also has a Go Nuts Donuts branch and after eating at Kamirori, my husband and I always go there to bring home a box of six. His favorite is the Cinnamon Glaze Zigzag (bottom tray, second to the right) and mine is the Choc-Coffee Caramel Zigzag (top tray, right-most—you can click on the image to enlarge it). I also have my favorite cupcakes but I haven't had any in months because they're always sold out by the time we get there in the evening.

Gonuts Donuts display case

September 6, 2008


To make up for my post two days ago when I put up a picture of the interior of Rai Rai Ken but not its food, here is a meal from another Japanese restaurant. This is from Kamirori in what I call the evil gas station: Petron Square Katipunan. I call it evil not because of fuel prices but because it actually has a strip mall full of temptations. And it is conveniently on our route home from work. For us, Kamirori is the biggest draw—we have dinner there at least twice a month, especially when we're both exhausted and need a little treat. Kamirori's food has been 'Filipinized': sweeter than what is 'authentic.' But being Filipinos, we don't mind mind it much, except for a few dishes which even I find way too sweet. My regular fare is a bowl of ramen (this particular one has tempura) and a pot of green tea. My husband loves their Crazy Maki (crabstick maki lightly coated in tempura batter then quickly deep-fried and heaped with shredded crabstick mixed with Japanese mayo), agedashi tofu and grape shake. Tomorrow, I'll show you what we get for dessert—not in Kamirori, but from another store that truly makes this gas station evil.

Japanese food from Kamirori

September 5, 2008

Manila Bay's famous sunset?

Not quite. In Metro Manila, the best place to see gorgeous sunsets is along Manila Bay. However, the Philippines is in the midst of its monsoon season so glorious, glowing, orange sunsets with a full view of the sun is still a couple of months away. But I love how the setting sun turned a gray, overcast sky into soothing pinks and lavenders.

rainy day sunset in Manila Bay

Visit the Sky Watch Friday home page and tour the skies of our beautiful world.
Sky Watch Friday

September 4, 2008

Music hath charms

I saw this man just sitting at the edge of the bay walk, listening to music, and staring at the water and the boats. Of course, I just had to take his picture too. Then he started to fuss with his music player and I saw that it wasn't an MP3 player, as I assumed it was, but a CD player. The songs had played to the end and he was changing the CD. So, can you correctly finish my post's title—a line from William Congreve's "The Mourning Bride?"

man at the Manila Bay

September 3, 2008

Japanese again

Yet another photo of a restaurant's interior without a photo of the food. Lyra's going to wring my neck one of these days. I can't help it—I like looking at how interiors are designed, whether they be restaurants, offices or homes. Food, I care about the taste, and if the presentation is good too then that's just a bonus. Anyone who knows Filipino cooking also knows that that's the reason why there aren't many Filipino restaurants in the world—our food tastes great but there's hardly any way to present it prettily or appetizingly. But that's finally changing with young chefs and their fusion Filipino cuisine. Anyway, I digress. This is the Rai Rai Ken Ramen House and Sushi Bar in Harbour Square, where we ate just before we watched a play at the Cultural Center of the Philippines—the reason why I managed to take some photos of Manila Bay, three of which you've already seen. Eki asked if this is the one that Imelda Marcos built and if I had photos. Yes, she had it built but no, unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos of it. We usually take the side entrance because it's nearer the parking lot and that looks like nothing. One of these days… Again, I digress. Rai Rai Ken is considered Japanese fastfood, and is not a fine dining, 'authentic' Japanese restaurant. I don't think fine dining restaurants are franchised, are they? You can tell just based on the loud photo mural, similar to the one in Kitaro which I posted in June. So, which of the two interiors do you like better?

Rai Rai Ken Ramen House and Sushi Bar in Harbour Square

September 2, 2008

Who's shooting whom?

I wasn't the only one taking pictures at the harbor last Saturday evening. I saw these three with their big cameras and fancy lenses and couldn't resist taking their photo with my itsy-bitsy camera. [No, I am not dissing it—I love my itsy-bitsy camera! I always bring it with me and it fits in the pocket of my tightest jeans and I can hide it in my palm.] We were all at the baywalk beside Harbour Square, a row of restaurants and cafés beside the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The boats behind them are the ferries which go to Corregidor Island, which was an important naval defense base during WWII and is now an historical and tourist site.

photographers along Manila Bay

September 1, 2008

City lights

The same view of the Manila Yacht Club, Roxas Boulevard and Malate, Manila as in yesterday's photo, but taken at seven o'clock in the evening. Everything just seems so much prettier at night, don't you think so?

Roxas Boulevard at night