January 31, 2009

Standing watch

The small, pretty chapel used for wakes beside the main church of the Santuario de San Jose (Sanctuary of Saint Joseph) parish in East Greenhills, Mandaluyong City. I've been there several times but have not discovered if the chapel has its own name. It was only when I was editing the photo that I saw the tree-shaped air freshener hanging from the lamp.

wake chapel at the Santuario de San Jose in East Greenhills, Mandaluyong City

January 29, 2009

Going nowhere

I took this photo early last year but didn't want to post it then because I hadn't yet posted a photo of our ubiquitous jeepney, which plays a large part in the painting. Since I finally have, one in November and one in December, I can finally post it. Titled "Jack en Poy," this oil painting by Filipino artist Alfredo Esquillo Jr. was part of the 2008 "Tutok Kargado" exhibit of the Ateneo Art Gallery. The exhibit had a decidedly political flavor, and this piece exemplifies it. "Isang dyip tayo," the text on the ribbon, literally means "we are one jeepney." "Dito–doon" is "here–there." Cockfighting is a popular Filipino betting sport and roosters are a common jeepney hood ornament. "Jack en Poy" is what we call the paper-scissors-rock game—notice the balloons—because of the rhyme we recite when we play it. The rhyme ends with the line "he who loses is the monkey." I think this painting is a great commentary on Philippine society and politics. Guess who loses.

Jack en Poy, an oil painting by Alfredo Esquillo Jr.

January 28, 2009


A tiny lane between two commercial buildings too narrow for cars but too wide for 'just' pedestrians was converted into a semi-open—roofed but no doors—bargain center, a baratilyo. The stall on the right is selling clothes: three pairs of shorts for 100 pesos (a little more than US$2) and leggings for 150 or 200 pesos. The stall on the left sells bags (the messenger bags go for 50 pesos only), underwear, towels (100 pesos for a bath towel), tie-dyed sarongs and pillowcases. Other stalls farther down the lane sell more clothes and all sorts of fashion and home accessories. If I need a quick (it's only one tricycle ride away from our house) and cheap shopping hit, this is where I go.

shopping bargain center

January 27, 2009

Where's the beef?

Not on our plates, though there's plenty of it in Outback Steakhouse. Outback is an Australian steakhouse restaurant and its interiors are liberally decorated with koalas, kangaroos, alligators, boomerangs and aboriginal art. There's a bar on the other side of those lovely wood-paneled booths if all you care for is a drink. Outback is also an international franchise—based in Tampa, Florida! Ah, globalization.

Outback Steakhouse in Libis, Quezon City

January 26, 2009

Congratulations and be prosperous!

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Metro Manila has a very large Chinese population and though it's not a legal holiday, the Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated in many parts of the metro. The newspaper we subscribe to has a special section about it today and many of the ads—especially those for restaurants, malls, banks and airlines—follow the theme. This is also the time when we receive tikoy (nian gao) from our Chinese friends. Tikoy is a sweet, glutinous rice cake which is ready to eat out of the box but which we usually slice, dip in egg, and pan fry. It's usually white or brown depending on the kind of sugar used to make it, and in recent years, flavored varieties like ube (purple yam) and pandan have become popular. Tikoy is the most common Chinese New Year treat among Filipinos and it is considered good luck to eat it because nian gao is a homonym for "every year higher and higher."

tikoy and Chinese New Year-themed newspaper ads

Angela in Nice, who also keeps a Valbonne daily photo blog, tagged me yesterday to reveal five details about myself (as if I don't do that every time I write comments! heehee) so here goes:
  1. I've been a bookworm every since I can remember. My stack of books waiting to be read will keep me occupied for at least five years—and it keeps growing every time we visit bookstores.
  2. I usually get motion sickness in enclosed vehicles. I need to feel the wind on my face.
  3. I'm 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 meters) tall.
  4. If I have to choose between chocolate and potato chips, I'll choose potato chips.
  5. I'm an Aries and was born in the Chinese Year of the Fire Horse. (Do you know your astrological signs?)

Now I'm supposed to tag five other people. I hope they'll come out and play!
  1. Elaine in Willits, California, USA
  2. Saretta in Molfetta, Italy
  3. Marley in Cheltenham, UK
  4. Priyanka in Delhi, India
  5. Nobu in Tokyo and Funabashi, Japan

January 25, 2009

The golden apse

The elaborate gold ornamentation of the altar area of Malate Church belies its fortress-like exterior. Since the church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Remedies, it is her image that is prominently displayed behind the altar. But since the Roman Catholic faith is centered around Jesus Christ, He is also represented in the wooden crucifix attached to the stained glass window in the dome of the apse. Behind that golden (what do you call it?) display case is a narrow corridor with steps leading to a small access door where one can reach in through the curtains to touch the image of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. I remember doing so after attending Masses here with my aunt when I was a child, but I don't know if one can do that at any time or if the door is opened only on certain occasions. I took this photo late in December and the church still had its Christmas decorations. It was dark inside the church but the display case was brightly lit and the noon sun was coming in through the small windows high up the walls—if someone can coach me on how to take good photos in those conditions, I'd really appreciate it! To see the Malate Church's interior from farther up the nave (it has very pretty lamps), visit Anthony's "Inside Malate Church" post in Around Metro Manila. And while you're there, take a look at his other photos. Anthony has a wonderful touch with architectural details and his photos are always a treat to see.

altar area of the Malate Church

January 23, 2009

A sea of green

The three tallest structures in the Ateneo de Manila University right now are the Church of the Gesù and its bell tower, the two-tower student dormitory, and the Ricardo & Dr. Rosita Leong Hall—the home of the School of Social Sciences which you can't see here because I took this photo from its roof deck. The scale of the church and the dorm is deceiving because the terrain is hidden by the trees. The church stands on the highest point of the campus. Behind it, the land begins to slope downward until it ends on a cliff which overlooks Marikina valley. The dorm is at the very edge of the property and probably has a wonderful view of the City of Marikina and the Sierra Madre mountains.

Ateneo Church of the Gesù, its bell tower, and the dormitory of the Ateneo de Manila university

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January 22, 2009

Shopping in traffic

This was a lucky shot. I was actually trying to take a picture of Trinoma mall through the car windshield when this street vendor walked towards us. Anyone need a car seat back support? How about a hat? A bobblehead horse? I think the guy behind him is selling hand towels. Many vendors brave the cars of Metro Manila's streets to earn a living, and they sell all sorts of stuff. I get quilted rag rugs for the kitchen from them and my husband is a regular buyer of flannel cleaning cloths.

street vendor

January 21, 2009

Sunset view

Back in 2002, then-Mayor of the City of Manila Lito Atienza revitalized the area beside the seawall along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard between the U.S. Embassy and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He had the area tiled, placed funky lamp posts, allowed food stalls (visit I Heart Manila to see a photo) and called it the Manila Baywalk because it's right beside Manila Bay. In 2007, when Mayor Alfredo Lim won the election, he had the food stalls moved to an empty lot across the the road. I usually hate it when politicians overturn the decisions of their predecessors (which happens a lot here, whether the positions are elective or appointive), but I make an exception in this case. Without the food stalls, there's an unobstructed view of Manila Bay and it's glorious sunsets even from the road. Unfortunately, we passed the area just a little after noon so no beautiful colors here. But if you ever come to Manila and want to see its sunsets, then this is the place to be.

Roxas Boulevard beside the Manila Baywalk

January 20, 2009

Pinoy jazz

Jazz night at Ten 02 Bar in the Timog–Tomas Morato area of Quezon City. Many of our local musicians play for different bands, sometimes of different genres. Sometimes too, the members of a band may change depending on who's available for a particular gig. This band's name is Akasha. A few sets afterward, the same drummer, bassist and keyboardist came on with guitarist Riki Gonzales and it became Balooze.

Akasha at Ten02 Bar

Just a reminder to all you CDP bloggers out there: If you haven't voted for the March theme yet, please do so! The poll is in the March Theme Day Poll forum topic. Please help spread the word too!

January 18, 2009


I posted a photo of The Columns Ayala last month, taken from the sidewalk across the road. The best view I've seen of this three-tower condominium so far is from Gil Puyat Avenue going to Makati from Manila.

The Columns Ayala

I'm sorry for disappearing yet again. Several things have come up and I don't have much time for myself. I'm just posting this then going off again. Hopefully, things would have settled by the middle of this week so I can relax a bit again. I miss my favorite DPs and blogs!

January 14, 2009

Elevated circle

Aside from Claret School, the Claretian Missionaries also have one parish in Quezon City: the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. The school and the church are beside each other. In fact, before the church was built, Masses for the community were held in the school's small chapel. I can't find any information about the church, but I remember (somewhat vaguely because I was still a kid then) that when it was constructed in the 1970s, the elevated, circular design was considered unique and people who saw it invariably went ooh-ing and ahh-ing. The church is still a work-in-progress after all these years, probably because construction expenses are paid for only by donations. The ground floor has the parish office and several chapels for holding wakes.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Quezon City

January 13, 2009


Claret School of Quezon City is a private school founded in 1967 and managed by the Claretian Missionaries of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is named after its patron saint and the founder of the congregation, St. Anthony Mary Claret. It has a preschool, grade school and high school. Except for 3 to 4 year-old girls accepted in the preschool, Claret School is exclusively for boys. Actually, most private elementary and secondary schools in Metro Manila are either for girls only or for boys only. Most of them are run by religious congregations too.

Claret School of Quezon City

January 12, 2009


Back in November, I posted a photo of the interior of the Italian franchise restaurant Italianni's. As far as we can tell, the cooking is authentic Italian. However, we are in Asia after all and I don't think there's any chef worth his salt who can resist using local ingredients for long. So Italianni's offers special dishes that are not part of their regular menu and are available only for a few months. I liked the Grilled Squid Salad I had with my sister so much that when my husband and I ate there just before New Year, I ordered it again. Mixed greens with grilled squid, fruits and almond slices with a creamy citrus dressing. The fruits included Mandarin orange segments and whole longan.

Italianni's Grilled Squid Salad

January 10, 2009

Stop and shop

Wherever there is a busy transportation stop in Metro Manila, there are sure to be sidewalk vendors. The corner of Taft Avenue and Pedro Gil Street in the City of Manila has a light rail station, buses and jeepneys ply Taft, and Pedro Gil is a jeepney route. The vendors in this particular corner were selling peanuts and kikiam, slippers, sunglasses, and cellphone replacement covers, cases and chargers. And yes, Taft Avenue is named after William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, who was the first civil governor of the Philippines (1901–1903) after the Spanish American War.

sidewalk vendors

January 9, 2009

Blue glass

We pass by the UnionBank Plaza Building in the Ortigas Center of Pasig City once a month or so especially when we're on our way to one of the malls in the area. I never took notice of it because its street-level entrance and facade looks like any other building. It was only when we were at the Ortigas Home Depot several large blocks away that I saw what it really looked like. I love the sapphire blue glass but what is that thing on top?

UnionBank Plaza Building

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January 8, 2009

Our Lady of the Remedies

From the 1937 marker on the Malate Church in the City of Manila, imprinted with the seal of the Historical Research and Markers Committee:
    This section of the city dates back to 1588. The Titular Patroness of this church is Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, whose statue was brought from Spain in 1624 by Rev. Juan Guevara, O.S.A. The British landed their troops near these shores in 1762 and used the church of Malate for protection for their rear-guard in the capture of Manila. This church was greatly damaged by the earthquake of June 3, 1863 and was rebuilt by Rev. Francisco Cuadrado, O.S.A. The parish has been under the successive administration of the Augustinians, the secular clergy, the Redemptorists, and the Columbans.

facade of Malate Church

January 7, 2009

Including the kitchen sink

The all-in-one-roof builders center is a relatively new phenomenon in Metro Manila. These large, clean, well-lit, warehouse-type structures started appearing only within the past decade. In the past, lumber, pipes, paint, nails and other construction materials could only be bought from dark, dingy hardware stores which only accepted cash. Then you had to go to other—and separate—shops for tiles, bathroom fixtures, cabinetry, and lighting fixtures. Of course, these centers don't house all available choices nor cover all needs—the Ortigas Home Depot didn't have long-span aluminum roofing, gutters, downspouts or upholstery fabric—but they do make life so much easier for busy homeowners.

The Ortigas Home Depot

January 6, 2009

A ring and a ball

That's pretty much all you need to shoot hoops, which probably explains the popularity of basketball in the Philippines. It can't be the chance to make it big internationally, not yet anyway—most Filipinos just don't have the genes for it. Almost every neighborhood in the country has a basketball court, even if it's just poured concrete.

concrete basketball court in a middle-class neighborhood

January 5, 2009

They deliver

A house in our neighborhood. I have no idea why they're displaying banners of Shakey's Pizza and Jollibee on their fence. My guess is the family who lives there owns the franchise of the nearest branches.

house with banners of Shakey's Pizza and Jollibee on the fence

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

January 4, 2009

Oh, my poor heart

Most Filipino gatherings will not start out right without the yummy, heart attack-inducing chicharon (or tsitsaron, since the Filipino alphabet doesn't have the letter C): deep-fried, crunchy pork rind. It is usually served to guests while they're waiting for the food to be brought out to the buffet. Chicharon is available all over the Philippines, but in Metro Manila, the best is probably Lapid's Freshly Popped Chicharon. The skin is so evenly popped and airy, you won't encounter a single tough spot. I think they only have two stores in the entire metro, however, so it's not easy to get. Chicharon comes in two varieties: skin only (the kind in the photo) or may laman, with meat, though the 'meat' is really fat, which becomes crunchy-creamy in the process of deep-frying. Chicharon is best eaten quickly dipped in vinegar, with or without black pepper, chili peppers or garlic. The vinegar mix of Lapid's is so popular they've already packaged it. Chicharon is also very popular as pulutan. I can't think of an exact English translation except for 'bar chow'—you know, the food you munch on while drinking liquor.

Lapid's Freshly Popped Chicharon

January 3, 2009

If you don't know the words…

Karaoke is big business in the Philippines, especially the videoke or KTV (karaoke television) type. Upscale karaoke boxes with restaurants and bars will serve you in your private room. Even the lowliest bars have karaoke—and I've discovered that coin-operated machines still exist here. Gather a large Filipino family together and, aside from tons of food, chances are good that at least one will have brought a karaoke system. The most popular nowadays is the karaoke microphone, or Magic Sing, as we call it. The microphone has a chip which contains the songs and videos, and you just connect it to a TV. The controls are on the microphone too. The less expensive alternative, especially if you already have a video player, is to buy a regular microphone and VCDs or DVDs of karaoke songs. The problem with this is you can't change the pitch or tempo, so many prefer the Magic Sing even if they have to save up for it.

video karaoke on a home TV

January 2, 2009

When will they get banned?!

No, it's not fog or mist or some such romantic image. It's smoke from all the firecrackers and fireworks set off on New Year's Eve in our neighborhood. I took this from our gate looking down our street at 1:00 a.m. of January 1. According to this morning's papers, two died and 346 were injured because of firecrackers and stray bullets. I think that's in Metro Manila alone and of course it doesn't count the minor injuries that didn't have to be brought to hospital emergency rooms. The Department of Health says that's already a 'significant reduction' from years past. I guess I have to agree. The explosions lasted only ten minutes this year—I remember a time when they lasted for a full hour—and by the time I got up in the morning, the smoke had completely dissipated.

smoky street because of firecrackers

January 1, 2009

Dear to my heart

THEME DAY: BEST PHOTO OF THE YEAR 2008 • For many and varied reasons, the Ateneo Church of the Gesù is dear to my heart, so it's not surprising that my favorite photo of the year would be of that church. I can't say it was my best for the year, but the night shot of the church which I posted on June 16 is definitely my favorite, again for varied reasons. Instead of reposting it however, here is another night shot of the church, the trees in front of it decorated with hanging lights for Christmas and with cycling colored spotlights for the first Festival of Ateneo Music on December 7. I was trying to take a photo before the concert with my quite unstable arms when an alumnus of the school saw me. Being a serious amateur photographer, he came prepared with a tripod which he insisted I use. Thank you, Bryan, wherever you are. If it weren't for your kindness, I wouldn't have this beautiful photograph of my beloved church.

Ateneo Church of the Gesù with Christmas lights
Click on the thumbnail to view my original post and read the history of the church.
Click to go to A 50-year-old dream

The best of the best! This is going to be one great tour around the world! Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.