February 28, 2009

Climbing the wall

Last week, the Loyola Mountaineers, a student organization of mountain-climbing enthusiasts, had a rock-climbing wall set up in a lawn near the building where I work. With summer break only a few weeks away, I think they were promoting their summer climbs. The wall was courtesy of Tribu Outdoors, a company which specializes in outdoor and adventure gear. And before you ask, no, I did not try the wall. I couldn't risk torn slacks and I doubt I would have managed it in high-heeled pumps anyway.

Tribu Outdoors rock-climbing wall

February 27, 2009

Evening sunlight

Walking east out of the campus yesterday at 6:10 in the evening, I noticed that the sun was still high in the sky. Less than two weeks ago it would have been quite dark at this time and night-blind-me would have been having a hard time on the gravel paths. Summer has arrived.

Xanland Place against a summer evening sky

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February 26, 2009

Alive and well

February 18, 2009 marks a very important event in the history of Philippine performing arts. On that day, the winners of the first Philstage Awards for the Performing Arts were announced. Named Gawad Buhay! (awkward, literal translation: Alive! Award), it is the first award which is strictly for the ephemeral performing arts. For now, only theater—plays and musicals—and ballet are included, and Philstage itself has less than a dozen member companies. But hopefully, more groups will join and experts in the other performing arts can be found willing to serve as jurors so that Philstage's Gawad Buhay! can truly fulfill its objective: "to further professionalize the performing arts industry in the Philippines by engaging our audiences—critics, artists and the viewing public—in a creative dialogue." I am honored to have been there that night, and happier still that I was able to take a photo of the winners (even though they were posing for the official photographer and not me).

2008 Gawad Buhay! awardees
For those who want to know who the awardees are, read my husband Exie's article,"The start of something big." He writes an occasional column for The Philippine Star, one of the top three national newspapers in the Philippines, and that article appeared in its February 23 edition. And so did my photos. Ain't it cool? :)

Dogberry: Exie Abola's column in the February 23, 2009 issue of The Philippine Star

February 25, 2009

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent for many Christians all over the world. Here in Metro Manila, and in most of the Philippines, Catholics went to Mass for the imposition of ashes. The black ashes are placed on the forehead in the shape of a cross and they come from the palms used during last year's Palm Sunday, which have been burned and blessed. I don't have any photo of this ritual unfortunately, and this is the only image I have which has any relation to this day. This is a small portion of the crypt of the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, used only for those who were cremated. The most popular of the biblical verses used during the imposition of ashes is from Genesis 3:19, "Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."

crypt of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

February 24, 2009

Mary, for you

A daytime view of the statue at the Promenade of Our Lady and the St. Stanislaus Kostka Chapel of the Ateneo de Manila High School without the pretty white and blue hanging lights. I don't know who the artist is, but the sculpture features a young student (note the books in his hand) on one knee looking up towards the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is symbolic of how Ateneans of many generations view Mary: they venerate her, look to her for guidance and offer their studies and work to her. The title I chose for this post is actually a line from Ateneo de Manila's graduation hymn which is titled, not surprisingly, "A Song for Mary."

sculpture at the Ateneo de Manila High School's Promenade of Our Lady

February 23, 2009

Drinks are on the house

Back in June 2008, I wrote about Pino, a tiny restaurant and bar near our house with a very innovative menu. I'm happy to say that it's still open and has actually been featured in a local TV show, which I hope means that they'll get even more customers so they'll continue operating. After watching another play last week, my husband and I decided to stop by for a beer and some bar chow (their Tempura Oyster Pearls are yummy!). We sat outside since it wasn't too hot and humid. Looks like humans aren't the only creatures who use Pino as their watering hole.

cat drinking out of Pino Restaurant and Bar's fountain

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February 22, 2009

So tropical

Whether they're in upscale, gated communities or in open, middle-class neighborhoods, most homes in Metro Manila are completely surrounded by walls. They delineate the property, provide privacy and make it a bit more difficult for robbers to get in. This house is in Blue Ridge Subdivision in Quezon City, a gated community on the low end of the upscale spectrum (the streets are narrow—really upscale subdivisions have wide streets). The house seems to be single-level and you can't even see it because of the wall, which the owner roofed over for the three-car garage. I like those gates with the wooden planks, not a common sight here because our half-year rainy season can easily rot exposed wood. Beyond the pedestrian gate, the wall ends and they only have an iron fence, but the lush plants on both sides of it provide an effective and lovely screen.

house with white walls and wooden gates

February 21, 2009

Bug off!

This will be my last post about Entablado's production of "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit" (The First Pig in Heaven), I promise. The coolest costumes in the musical belonged to the villains, but of course. What creatures thrive in dirt and dust? According to the playwright, it's mosquitoes, cockroaches and spiders. I agree that mosquitoes and cockroaches are almost villainous, but I don't agree that spiders are in the same category. Some of my best friends are spiders because they feed on pesky bugs. I can live with the webs.

the insect villains in Entablado's production of Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit

February 19, 2009

A very hygienic pig

Butsiki was a most unusual pig. She was born with shining nails and a star on her forehead. Unlike the other pigs of Babuyan Island who liked wallowing in mud, she liked bathing in clear, clean water and liked her surroundings free of dirt and cobwebs. With a greedy mining company and a corrupt head pig, I think you can guess where the story goes. Staged as a whimsical, funny musical, "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit" (The First Pig in Heaven) is a cautionary tale about what happens when we don't take care of the environment. This is Patricia Ruth Peña, one of two students who alternately played Butsiki in Entablado's production. If all goes well this month, she will be graduating from the Ateneo de Manila University in March with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Patricia Ruth Peña as Butsiki

February 17, 2009

Nativity scene with pigs

The story of "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit" (The First Pig in Heaven) is a derivation of the messiah story. Ponyang, a pregnant pig and resident of Babuyan Island, is told by an angel in the form of a rabbit that she would give birth to only one piglet, the pig of prophecy who will save the other pigs of the island from certain destruction. The corrupt head pig, who wants everyone to sell their farmlands to a mining concern because he's getting a large cut, is threatened when he hears rumors of Ponyang's unusual pregnancy. Pig and wife run away from their town. They arrive at another town just as Ponyang is about to give birth and they have to ask several households before a kind family gives them shelter. Ponyang gives birth to Butsiki, who is soon visited by three friends who had been looking for her: a dog, a cat and a mouse.

the birth of Butsiki, the first pig in heaven, in Entablado's play

February 16, 2009

Pig heaven

Entablado (stage) is a student theater group of the Ateneo de Manila University organized just before the EDSA People Power Revolution. It focuses primarily on experimental and street theater and chooses plays which have strong socio-political content. The last play they staged certainly had a heavy dose of it, but it was also whimsical and hilarious. Titled "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit" (The First Pig in Heaven), it was a musical adaptation of the children's story written by Rene O. Villanueva, a playwright and author of children's books in Tagalog. The story won first prize in the 1990 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, which is probably the Philippines' most prestigious literary award. The script was written by Christine S. Bellen, who also wrote the script for "Batang Rizal" (The Boy Rizal). The story takes place on Babuyan Island (roughly, Island of Pigs—baboy is the Tagalog word for pig) and the simple yet creative and very effective stage was designed by Gino G. Gonzales, a protégé of Philippine National Artist for Theater Design Salvador F. Bernal. The tree trunk platforms' bark is little pieces of bamboo glued to the sides of the painted wood.

Gino Gonzales' stage design for Entablado's 'Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit'

February 15, 2009


We're still at The Podium ogling the fancy vehicles on display for the mall's Italian Valentine promo. According to Ducati's website, the Desmosedici RR is a road replica of their MotoGP racing bike Desmosedici GP6. Only 1,500 bikes were manufactured. With such exclusivity, it's little wonder that this baby's lover just had to give her a name.

Ducati Desmosedici RR

Attention all CDP bloggers! Demosthenes over at the forum says "Get voting!" Don't forget: we get two votes for the April theme this time, thanks to Elaine. "Yes, sir, Mister D! We're on our way!" :)

February 14, 2009


The Podium mall in Ortigas Center has an Italian-themed promotion going on for the Valentine weekend titled "Amore." The atrium on the second floor is set up like an outdoor café with a stage where shoppers will be serenaded by sopranos and tenors with Italian love songs and entertained by street performers—ventriloquist, magician, poet, mime, violinists and dancers—at a carnevale. Throughout the mall, Italian motorcycles and scooters are on display, most of which can be bought from dealers whose addresses and phone numbers are also on display beside the bikes. The pièce de résistance is at the mall's main entrance: a Ferrari F355 F1 Berlinetta. This is as close as I will ever get to a Ferrari.

Ferrari F355 F1 Berlinetta
Happy Hearts Day!

February 12, 2009


Standing on the ground beside the side entrance of the Malate Church was this old bell. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Remedies and was made by the foundry of Hilario Sunico in January 30 (or 10—I'm not quite sure), 1879. I can't find anything about Fundicion de Hilario Sunico except that they made bells for other churches and cathedrals in the Philippines around this time. I hope this bell gets restored to its tower soon or, at the very least, stored or displayed properly. With so much of the City of Manila's heritage destroyed during WWII, this is no way to treat a historical treasure.

1879 bell dedicated to Our Lady of the Remedies at the Malate Church

February 11, 2009

Slow day

This sidewalk vendor had positioned his stall in front of Claret School and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Church. He was selling mostly small, inexpensive plastic toys. He must earn a lot during school days and Sundays, but since it was a weekday holiday when I took this, he must have spent the entire day just 'texting.'

sidewalk vendor selling toys

February 10, 2009

Another president from Washington, DC

Last January 22 to 24, the Ateneo de Manila University hosted a forum involving the presidents of its partner universities. Titled "Universities at the frontiers of change," the keynote address was given by Professor John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University in Washington, DC and plenary topics tackled a few of the many challenges faced by universities all over the world: excellence in education, social relevance and the alleviation of poverty, collaboration with other universities and with businesses, internationalization, working in a multi-cultural and multi-faith environment, and helping find solutions to the current financial crisis. For the presidents who attended—from Japan, Korea, China, France, Spain, U.S.A. and other countries—the lectures are just the beginning of the discussions and difficult work that they will have to face when they get back to their home universities.

Professor John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

February 9, 2009

Test tubes

The unusual but colorful ceiling decoration in the medical laboratory of the University of the Philippines Health Service. I was so tickled, I just had to ask the laboratory technicians—all women, which is also pretty odd for a Manila hospital—if I could take a picture of it and they kindly let me in.

ceiling decoration made of test tubes filled with colored water

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Odd Shots Monday

February 8, 2009

Ortigas Center skyline

I've finally decided to join Scenic Sunday, a photo meme of scenery, and this is my first entry for it. Of course, this being Metro Manila, I'm going to end up posting mostly urbanscapes. Like this one of the Ortigas Center skyline. Like the mall scene I posted last November, I took this from the 7th level of Shangri-La Plaza mall's carpark building. The low, wide building is SM Megamall and to its right is the capsule-shaped Edsa Shangri-La hotel with its roofdeck tennis courts.

Ortigas Center skyline with SM Megamall and Edsa Shangri-la hotel in the foreground

Urban or rural, natural or man-made, take a sightseeing tour of our world's diverse scenery!
Scenic Sunday

February 7, 2009

Friend of the masses

The statue of Manuel L. Quezon in front of the Quezon City Hall. The plaque reads:
    In grateful homage to Manuel L. Quezon
    First President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines
    Friend of the masses
    Freedom fighter
    Leader of his people
    Founder of Quezon City
    Dedicated on the nineteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and seventy-seven in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

statue of Manuel L. Quezon in front of the Quezon City Hall

February 6, 2009

In Manuel's memory

Manuel L. Quezon was the first Filipino president (1935–1944) of the Commonwealth of the Philippines under the U.S. This is the Quezon Memorial, designed by Filipino architect Federico Ilustre. It is made of Carrara marble and is 66 meters high, the age of President Quezon when he died. The three pylons represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the three main geographical divisions of the country. On top are sculptures of mourning angels holding sampaguita—our national flower—wreaths, designed by the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti. The structure isn't just a memorial—it is a mausoleum holding the remains of President Quezon and his wife, Aurora. The little door at the base leads to a small museum containing Quezon's presidential memorabilia.

Quezon Memorial

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February 5, 2009

Begging for a new coat of paint

On December 30, 1954, the priests of the Order of Discalced Carmelites in the Philippines laid the cornerstone for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New Manila, Quezon City. Almost a decade later, the shrine was inaugurated on July 15, 1964. Mount Carmel is a mountain range in Israel closely associated with the prophet Elijah. The Roman Catholic Carmelite order was founded on that mountain range by Saint Berthold in the 12th century, hence its name.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Quezon City

February 4, 2009

King of the birds

Indulge me a little bit please. I really was so taken by the kids' costumes in "Adarna at ang Alaala ng Kristal" (see yesterday's Ibong Adarna) that I just had to post another photo. The bird costumes absolutely fascinated me. In the play, among all the creatures who were asked about the Crystal Kingdom, it was only the King of the Birds, the Eagle, who had heard of it and knew where it was. Of course, the eagle had to be blue—the mascot of the Ateneo de Manila is the blue eagle.

the king eagle and other birds in the Ateneo Children's Theater's 'Adarna at ang Alaala ng Kristal'

February 3, 2009

Ibong Adarna

"Ang Ibong Adarna" (The Adarna Bird) is a Filipino epic poem with 1,722 stanzas (8 syllables per line, 4 lines per stanza) which many Filipinos have never read but is a well-known tale nevertheless. The first part of the story is about three princes' quest for this colorful, legendary bird whose songs have the power to heal and lull people to sleep and whose droppings can turn one into stone. The second part is less well-known and is about the youngest prince's search for his true love. It is this second part that Khavn de la Cruz turned into a play, "Adarna at ang Alaala ng Kristal," (Adarna and the Memory of Crystal) for the Ateneo Children's Theater (ACT), the theater group of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School. It was my first time to watch the ACT and I was delighted by the fabulous sets and costumes. There were many flaws of course—they're very young children after all—but the fact that they could memorize and recite or sing their archaic Tagalog lines was truly amazing.

Ibong Adarna in the Ateneo Children's Theater's production of 'Adarna at ang Alaala ng Kristal'

February 2, 2009

Quiet, orderly, efficient

For almost a decade now, I've been the one in our family going to the Quezon City Hall to pay for the annual property taxes which each city and municipality in Metro Manila collects from property owners. When I started going, the records were still actual paper documents filed in huge binders which had to be manually searched and photocopied, and forms had to be filled out by hand or typewriter. It was slow, cumbersome, errors were easy to make and I had to be there early just to make sure I finished everything within one day. After a few years of that, I experienced the year that city hall went through its massive computerization program—and it really must have been massive since Quezon City is the largest city in Metro Manila. That year, I had to go through a few extra steps, but knowing that it would ease the entire process in the future, I did everything patiently and willingly. For the past several years, paying property taxes in Quezon City Hall has been easy as pie. I go to the Tax Assessment Lounge where I'm issued a number. When my number comes up on the board, I go to one of 27 counters, hand the clerk my copies of the previous year's receipts, and I'm given my bills. Then I go to the Taxpayer's Lounge where I'm given another number and I just wait my turn to pay. This second lounge has TV screens and taxpayers can get free coffee or hot chocolate from the dispensers at the back (off the photo). I've learned not to get any because with 24 counters here, I never finish the cup before my number comes up. From start to finish, this task now only takes up about 40 minutes of my time. So to Mayor Sonny Belmonte, City Treasurer Victor Endriga, ate (ah-teh, big sister—also used as a term of respect) Nieves who gave me permission to take this photo, and to the many men and women of Quezon City Hall who still believe in the term "public servants": a heartfelt "Thank you."

taxpayers' lounge at the Quezon City Hall

February 1, 2009


THEME DAY: PATHS & PASSAGES • Metro Manila, for all the diversity of its population of twelve million, is not very friendly to disabled people or to those who are old and infirm. Many of its roads don't have sidewalks. Pedestrian crossings in its major thoroughfares are footbridges with only stairways as the means of access. None of our public transportation vehicles, except maybe for the light rail system, can accommodate wheelchairs. Newer buildings are finally being constructed with wheelchair access in mind, and some older buildings have been renovated to add ramps, but there are far more places that remain completely inaccessible. The chrome or aluminum railing common to access ramps may not be very pretty to look at, but I would like to see more of them around Metro Manila.

access ramp at the Leong Hall, Ateneo de Manila University

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