November 25, 2010

Smoggy afternoon in the city

From another balcony on the other side of the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, a view of the City of Manila with the small white yachts docked at the Manila Yacht Club. The concrete bunker in the foreground is the Folk Arts Theater. Its formal name is Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas, after one of the Philippines' greatest poets, though no one I know has ever called it that. Imelda Marcos had this covered amphitheater built in 1974 especially for that year's Miss Universe Pageant, and since then has been used mostly for concerts and religious gatherings. In more recent years, however, it has been quite neglected and ignored as a concert venue.

view of Manila from Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza

November 24, 2010

Unknown jungle

A view of Pasay City from a balcony of Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. Except for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I rarely have reason to go to Pasay and know next to nothing about it.

view of Pasay City from Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza

November 23, 2010

Easy to miss

From the road, the ancestral house of the Legarda family looks like any of the few 1930s houses in Manila that survived World War II—though better maintained than most—and belies the wealth of history that lies within. The garden in front is planted with many herbs which are used to season the dishes served in the restaurant.

view of the ancestral home of the Legarda clan from San Rafael Street

Only this small wooden sign on the privacy wall announces that the house is the proud location of La Cocina de Tita Moning. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #9

sign of La Cocina de Tita Moning

November 22, 2010

Old world elegance

As I mentioned at the start of this series about the ancestral home of the Legarda family, the house is now also a fine dining restaurant called La Cocina de Tita Moning. Appetizers are served in the sala (living room) while you wait for your table in the dining room to be prepared. All the china, glassware and silverware on each table were actually used by the family and their guests across three generations, and the beautiful table settings are complemented by elegant Italian glass birds of different shapes and sizes. The menu of the restaurant are from recipes which date back to the time of Alejandro and Ramona—European and Filipino family favorites and special occasion dishes served to their distinguished guests. La Cocina de Tita Moning is operated by the long-time servants of the Legarda family, and the small scroll on the table introduces each of them and tells their stories. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #8

pumpkin soup at La Cocina de Tita Moning in the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 21, 2010


An all-white bedroom in the ancestral home of the Legarda family displays the wedding gown of one of Alejandro and Ramona's daughters. Isn't that train just magnificent? • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #7

wedding gown on display in one of the bedrooms of the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 20, 2010

Ornate whimsy

With my fascination for lamps and lighting fixtures, a lamp was bound to catch my eye in the 1937 home of Alejandro and Ramona Legarda. I just love the young person with a monkey cavorting all over this particular metal chandelier. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #6

metal chandelier at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 19, 2010

Another hobby

Aside from being an avid photographer, Dr. Alejandro Legarda was also an amateur radio operator and a member of the Philippine Amateur Radio Association. He had a room specially built for his radio equipment on the third level of their house and when he got too old to walk up the stairs, everything was moved to a room on the ground floor, where they remain on display. However, the equipment that you see here are actually his newer ones, the older equipment having been donated to a museum. Because of his hobby, Alejandro once saved a boat from a storm at sea and received an award for it. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #5

antique radio equipment on display at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 18, 2010


Dr. Alejandro Legarda was an avid amateur photographer. He kept his own dark room in their home and was one of the first members of the Camera Club of the Philippines; he remained a member until his death in 1993. His now-antique cameras and other accouterments of early to middle 20th century photography are on display in their own room at the Legarda ancestral house. According to the guide, most of the photos in the house were taken and developed by Alejandro. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #4

antique cameras on display at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 17, 2010

Victorian nightmare

Alejandro Legarda was an Obstetrician & Gynecologist and had a clinic in his house. In fact, one of his sons was born in this very clinic. Yes, the skeleton is real; Alejandro used it when he was in medical school. Pardon the title, but I couldn't help it; this clinic just reminds me of Victorian sanatoriums and asylums I see in movies • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #3

clinic of Dr. Alejandro Legarda at La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 16, 2010

Pride of place

The interiors of the Legarda ancestral house is a perfect example of American colonial era home design in Manila. I will not be the only Manileño to say that it reminds me of my own grandmother's house. What I find absolutely amazing is how everything—from the furniture to the bric-a-brac—is wonderfully preserved. It is to the Legarda family's credit that the younger generations resisted the urge to modernize the home (well, except for the air-conditioner, that is).

living room of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

The living room has two sets of seating. The one above flanked by family photographs, and another directly across, above which hangs the centerpiece of the room: a painting by Filipino artist Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo (21 February 1855–13 March 1913), a contemporary and close friend of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal. Titled "La Inocencia," it is still in its original Art Noveau frame and is believed to be a painting of Hidalgo's mistress in France. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #2

living room of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 14, 2010

Ancestral home

Welcome to the home of Alejandro Legarda and his wife Ramona Hernandez, now a museum and fine dining restaurant called La Cocina de Tita Moning (The Kitchen of Aunt Ramona). Built in 1937, it was one of Manila's first art deco houses. It is located along San Rafael Street in the San Miguel district of Manila which, before the war, used to be one of the city's most elegant neighborhoods and home to many of Manila's most elite families. Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines, is also in the San Miguel district. In the next few days, we will be touring this elegant house where Alejandro and Ramona raised four children and which was used by three generations of the Legarda clan. • LEGARDA ANCESTRAL HOUSE #1

foyer of La Cocina de Tita Moning, the ancestral home of the Legarda clan

November 13, 2010

Chinese pastry

Probably the best Chinese bakery in the metro is Ho-land in Binondo, Manila's Chinatown. Their specialty is hopia, flaky puff pastry filled with a sweet mung bean paste—delicious, especially when freshly-baked. They also have mooncakes, tikoy (a glutinous rice cake), peanut cakes, and other Chinese delicacies. They've also expanded the hopia line by introducing new fillings. I think their original hopia is still the best, however.

tikoy and different kinds of hopia at Ho-land

November 12, 2010

Two towers

Looking out the roof deck of Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street, which has a skylight at the lower level, towards a pair of condominium towers, one done and one still being constructed, in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City.

pair of condominium towers in Bonifacio Global City

November 11, 2010

D.I.Y. burgers

Another new little eatery in our neighborhood is The Burger Project. Choose your bun (whole wheat, potato, sesame seed), patty (tofu, chicken, beef), cheese, toppings and sauces. Quite innovative since most burger places here, franchise or independent, let you choose only the toppings and sauces at the most. The tofu burger was a disappointment, however; I'll try the chicken burger next time.

The Burger Project

November 10, 2010

Legacy of resistance

Lapu-Lapu, a Datu of the island of Mactan in the Visayas, is considered the first Philippine national hero for having resisted Spanish colonization back in the 16th century. This statue of him in the Rizal Park, sculpted by Juan Sajid Imao who also created the Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument, stands between the Museum of the Filipino People and the Department of Tourism. He is looking directly towards the monument of that other premier Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, after whom the park is named.

statue of Lapu-Lapu at the Rizal Park

Reminding all CDP bloggers: our theme for December 1 is Time, and going back to community tradition, that of January 1 is Best Photo of 2010. The February theme poll is up too and will remain active until the end of December. Don't forget to vote!

November 9, 2010

My world, literally

The Western end of the Rizal Park is marked by a relief map of the Philippines in a pool of water. We're at the Southern end of the country—geographically, we'd be standing in the Celebes Sea, with Malaysia on the left and Indonesia to the right and back—and the islands nearest us are those of Sulu and Basilan, which are both part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. I wish I could have taken a photo from a higher vantage point, but unless I stood on the Light Rail Transit's track, this was as high as I could get. I was completely fascinated with the map as a child and I still am.

relief map of the Philippines at the Rizal Park

And That's My World!
That's My World Tuesday

November 8, 2010

The art of eating

During the past three years, our neighborhood has become quite a popular location for small, independent restaurants and bars. Aside from Trellis, which has been around since the 80s, there's Pino, Tomato Kick, Friuli and Kiss the Cook, and many others that I have not yet featured here—all within walking distance or a tricycle ride away from our house. Makes for very happy taste buds but I'm beginning to despair of my waistline. Leona Art Restaurant used to be located in a different part of Quezon City but recently moved in too. Both their grilled and fried pizzas are good and we're looking forward to trying other items on their menu. I should ask the owners why they call it an "art restaurant" but I won't be surprised if it has to do with all the eclectic, quirky and lovely decorations they have in the place.

Leona Art Restaurant

November 7, 2010

Golden dragon

The ornate ceiling of the pavilion in the Chinese Garden of the Rizal Park. I apologize for the upside down dragon, but I couldn't cross over to the other side because there was some kind of student workshop going on at the time.

ceiling of the Chinese pavilion at the Rizal Park

November 6, 2010


A statue of Confucius (551–479 BC) in the Chinese Garden of the Rizal Park.

statue of Confucius at the Rizal Park
"When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them;
when we see men of a contrary character,
we should turn inwards and examine ourselves."

November 5, 2010

Of glass and light

Inside the Quezon City branch of Alba Restaurante Español. I just love the wine bottle holder that they built into the wall separating the foyer from the main dining room.

wine bottle holder in the wall of Alba Restaurante Español

November 4, 2010


Alba Restaurante Español probably has the best-value weekend lunch and dinner buffets in Metro Manila. The buffet always has paella and includes their most popular meat dishes—Cochinillo Asado (oven-roasted suckling pig), Lengua Sevillana (stewed ox tongue with mushrooms and olives in sherry gravy sauce) and Callos a la Madrileña (stewed ox tripe in tomato sauce), among others. They also offer several desserts, including their yummy Canonigo (soft meringue cake with vanilla custard sauce). All for only a third of what hotel restaurant buffets cost nowadays.

Alba Restaurante Español

November 3, 2010

Rat Pack

As Francisca pointed out in my DQ ice cream cake post, Halloween is gaining a foothold in Metro Manila. Especially in the South, villages decorate for the holiday and kids go trick-or-treating. And what's driving it? Commercialism, of course. Hotels have parties for both children and adults to increase room and banquet sales, and malls are decorated to the rafters, have special shows and even allow children to go trick-or-treating among their stores. This trio—born of a marriage between a ghost and a pumpkin, apparently—was greeting shoppers at SM City North EDSA mall's Sky Garden. Somehow, they reminded me of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.

a trio of orange ghosts at SM City North EDSA mall

November 2, 2010

A perfect day for a picnic

In the Roman Catholic calendar, November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. The difference is a matter of faith and theological doctrine, and too long to discuss here, so just follow the links to Wikipedia if you would like to know more. Whether Catholic or not, however, most Filipinos spend November 1, a holiday in the Philippines, at the graves of their loved ones. And except for some prayers, there's usually nothing solemn about it either. The day becomes a reunion of sorts for family and friends, with food and drinks, and lots of talk and laughter. No, it's not disrespect. Rather, think of it as thanksgiving and a celebration of life—both of those who have died and those who are still here. One thing I'm glad about though is that Loyola Memorial Park has finally banned blaring music—hearing more than a dozen songs playing loudly at the same time can drive one crazy. Families who expect to spend the entire day at the cemetery rent tents to provide shelter from either the sun or rains, either of which we can get at this time of the year. Because I don't like crowds, I went to visit my parents' graves on October 31, which was hot and sunny. I'm glad I did because it was drizzly the whole day yesterday.

Loyola Memorial Park, the day before All Saints Day

November 1, 2010

Spanish carriage for a Spanish city

THEME DAY: PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION • The kalesa is a horse-drawn carriage introduced to the Philippines by the Spaniards in the 18th century. It is still used as public transportation in certain parts of Manila, especially in the district of Binondo, but fancier ones like this—more properly called a carruaje—are used mostly for sightseeing in the old walled city of Intramuros. This man was waiting for tourists at the nearby Rizal Park.

elegant kalesa or carruaje in Rizal Park

See what people all over the world use as public transportation. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

October 31, 2010

Deliciously creepy

Even though we do not celebrate Halloween in the Philippines, it gives a perfect excuse for getting a yummy ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. This particular design is great for creeping out other people too—it turns your teeth and tongue black. 

Dairy Queen Halloween ice cream cake
Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2010


Kilometer Zero—that point from where all distances in a country are measured—in the Philippines is right across the Rizal Monument. Does your country have one and do you know where it is?

Kilometer Zero in the Philippines

See what's reflecting what at James' Weekend Reflections.
Weekend Reflections

October 29, 2010

Pun-ny no. 3

Miss Fit. A dress and alteration shop. The business had closed but the sign was still there.

Miss Fit
"I love to hate puns," says Hilda in Manila.

October 28, 2010

Open wide!

Another childhood favorite in the playground at the Rizal Park is this hippo. My sister, cousins and I felt like we were on top of the world when we were sitting in his open mouth. Now, I don't think I'd even fit in the tunnel in his chest. I think he needs a (paint) bath too—he looks like he's been wallowing in the mud for too long.

hippo playhouse in the Rizal Park's children's playground

October 27, 2010

Childhood memories

I was so surprised to see that the playground in the Rizal Park that we used to frequent on weekends when we were kids is still there, and with the same structures too. This playhouse was one of my favorites.

shoe playhouse in the Rizal Park's children's playground
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

October 26, 2010

About a Filipino and two colonial governments

The remains of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal are now interred at the site where he was executed by the Spanish colonial government on December 30, 1896. The area was called Bagumbayan (New Town) then and was located just outside the old walled city of Intramuros. It is now called Rizal Park in honor of the man whose great sin was to ask—he was a writer and didn't even take up arms—that the rights of Filipinos be recognized in their own country. The bronze and granite Rizal Monument was planned and constructed during the American colonial era and designed by the Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling. It is guarded continuously by ceremonial guards called the Kabalyeros de Rizal (Knights of Rizal).

Rizal Monument

October 25, 2010


Swatch installed a gigantic watch in Rizal Park commemorating the accession of Benigno Aquino III to the presidency of the Philippines in June of this year. Since his nickname is Noynoy, his presidential nickname has become P-Noy, which is a play on Pinoy, the colloquial term which we use for ourselves as Filipinos. The text written on top of the watch is "Oras P-Noy, Oras ng Pagbabago"—Time for P-Noy, Time for Change.

large P-Noy Swatch watch in Rizal Park

October 24, 2010

My favorite model

The geometric lines and shapes of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù make for some interesting and fun photos. This is the exterior corridor with skylights running the entire length of its facade.

outdoor corridor of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù

October 23, 2010

Brothers in arms

Installed on the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the Philippines on September 6 of this year, the Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument at the Rizal Park was created by Filipino sculptor Juan Sajid Imao. The text on the plaque in front of the fenced area where it stands reads:
    A fitting tribute to the Filipino soldiers who fought side by side with the Korean soldiers during the Korean War (1950–1953). About 7,500 combat troops known as the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea or PEFTOK, the 4th largest force under the United Nations Command, were sent to defend South Korea from a communist invasion by North Korea. The monument shows two Filipino soldiers helping a wounded Korean comrade to symbolize the greatness of the Filipino spirit despite the war and the special camaraderie shared by the two nations.

Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument

See what's reflecting what at James' Weekend Reflections.
Weekend Reflections

October 22, 2010

Didn't stop them

I had to wait a bit before getting the photo of the Museum of the Filipino People which I posted the other day because of this group of young people who were having their own photo shoot. The entrance to the museum is at the back of the building because it is nearer the National Art Gallery, and these stairs are cordoned off by a rope with signs that say "No Entry."

teenagers posing at the Museum of the Filipino People

October 20, 2010

Grand pastel

Last year, I was able to post some detail shots of the old Finance Building, which is now the Museum of the Filipino People. Here is the facade in its entirety. The building has since gotten a fresh coat of creamy yellow paint which, according to arts advocate and heritage conservationist John Silva, was its original color. They discovered it by carefully peeling away all the layers of paint that its walls and columns had accumulated over the decades. And no, it's not curved and I don't know why my photos of wide buildings usually end up like this.

face of the old Finance Building, now the Museum of the Filipino People

October 19, 2010


The Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park is traditionally where the presidents of the Philippines take their oath of office and deliver their first address to the nation. It is named after our 6th president, Elpidio Quirino, who served from 1948 to 1953. With a 10-hectare grassy field in front of it, the Quirino Grandstand has been the venue of many important cultural, religious and political events.

Quirino Grandstand

And That's My World!
That's My World Tuesday

October 18, 2010

If walls could talk

Built in 1908–1912, the Manila Hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines. It was part of American architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham's plan for the City of Manila which included neo-classical government buildings (like the old Finance, Legislative and Post Office buildings) and a large park, and was designed by American architect William Edward Parsons. Located along Roxas Boulevard, the hotel has commanding views of Manila Bay, the old walled city of Intramuros and Rizal Park. From 1935 to 1941, Manila Hotel was the residence of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and the MacArthur Suite, which displays some mementos of his and of the war, is one of the most lavish in the hotel.

Manila Hotel

Reminding all City Daily Photo bloggers again: our theme for November 1 is Public Transportation, and don't forget to vote for the December theme!

October 17, 2010

Rising from the ashes

For my last post about the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) Program, I am featuring a product that is very different from everything else that I've posted this past week. Envirobloxx are concrete masonry units (better known as cinder blocks in the U.S. and hollow blocks here in the Philippines) made of cement, lahar (volcanic ash flow—we still have lots from the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption) and rice hull ash. The result is a cheaper, lighter block that does not compromise on strength. I also like Envirobloxx's interlocking design, which should make wall construction easier. This is a product which I hope construction companies, architects, civil engineers and hardware stores will pick up fast. My husband and I have no need for hollow blocks right now, but you can be sure that I'm keeping their brochure and business card for the day when we do need them.


Envirobuilders Construction Supplies Inc. developed and markets Envirobloxx. They can be emailed at

The AY 2010–2011 SOMBA Program has more groups than the seven that I was able to feature. The complete list of companies established this academic year can be found at And to all the students in the program: you have such fantastic ideas and products, and I love that you all care about the environment and the less privileged of our countrymen so much. I wish your companies much success and I hope that all your products fly off the shelves!

October 16, 2010

Starchy food

Before I continue with my series on the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) Program fair, I think I need to clarify one point. These students are Management majors; they are not food technologists or materials scientists. Therefore, the products that they develop are not necessarily new; in fact, they have to use existing technologies if they wish to finish their project within the stipulated year. Their mandate is to develop commercially-viable products for a specified target market. The environmental and social enterprise focus are additional, in the hope that these young men and women will mature into socially-responsible adults and entrepreneurs. That said, let's go on to the next company (just two more since I wasn't able to take photos of all the products at the fair). We all know how disposable, plastic tableware is bad for the environment; but no one can deny that they are very convenient—for parties, take-out (take-away, to-go or however you call it in your country) food, picnics, and such. A solution: disposable, starch-based eating utensils. They're not just biodegradable; they can actually be added to compost heaps. The stuff in the bowl are the starch pellets which the spoons and forks are made of. This particular product is made by a Gawad Kalinga community; this and its environmental focus defines Bioware as a social enterprise. I forgot to ask the kids though: won't the spoon melt if it's used for stirring hot drinks or eating hot soup?

Bioware starch-based disposable, biodegradable tableware

Me bad. I wasn't able to get their business card so I don't have Bioware's contact information, but the SOMBA Program office should have it. Their number is (63-2) 426-6001 extension 5532.

3:20PM UPDATE: Thanks to Joey Oliver, I can now direct you to Bioware's Facebook page. Bioware is the brand and the company is called Greenature Cycle Incorporated.

October 15, 2010

Urban ethnicity

Of all the projects at the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) Program fair last week, Ethnu was the one that made me weak in the knees, with their neo-ethnic jewelry. The materials—stone and shell beads, brass bells—are sourced from the tribes that inspired the jewelry, but the designs, created by fashion designer Louis Claparols, are very modern. They currently have three beautifully-named collections which showcase the intricate work of three Philippine ethnic tribes. On the left is Brass Dreamweavers, from the T'boli of Southern Mindanao. On the higher table at the right is People of the Earth, from the Ifugao. On the lower table is Peacock Warriors, from the Kalinga. The Ifugao and the Kalinga are two of several ethnic groups in the mountainous Cordillera region of Luzon which are known collectively as Igorot. If only for purely selfish reasons (I want those necklaces!), I want this company to succeed, but of course, it's much more than that. Any company that can bring Philippine ethnic accessories and fabrics to the world stage has my support, especially if that company applies fair trade principles in their dealings with these usually marginalized and exploited ethnic groups.

Ethnu, neo-ethnic jewelry

Ethnu is the brand of Ethnocentricity Incorporated. They are on Facebook and can also be emailed at

October 14, 2010

High fashion

Most Manileños know pandan only as a food flavoring and these young students of the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) Program are on a mission to re-educate us. P. Nouvelle, with the help of Filipino fashion designer Arnold Galang and two partners from the Department of Trade and Industry, produces gorgeous bags made out of pandan leaves. Sustainable, ethical, green fashion—any takers, ladies?

P. Nouvelle's bags made of pandan leaves

P. Nouvelle Developers Inc. can be found in Facebook and their email address is

October 13, 2010

Paper bags

Many of the student groups in the Ateneo School of Management Business Accelerator (SOMBA) Program are concerned with the environment, sustainability and social enterprise. Like yesterday's shoes, the bags of Papelle use recycled materials. In this case, what looks like traditional basketry is actually made of handwoven paper from old newspapers and telephone directories. Don't they look fantastic? The paper bags are laminated so they're water resistant. The design on the left, which is reinforced around the body, is strong enough to carry five kilos of weight. What's more, Papelle (a French-ified play on the Tagalog word "papel" which means paper) bags now provide a livelihood to previously jobless residents of the barangay of Natipuan in Nasugbu, Batangas.


Papelle is manufactured by The Twillery, Inc. They have a website and can be emailed at or

October 12, 2010

If they can stop a plane…

Continuing with the entrepreneurial fair of the Ateneo John Gokongwei School of Management: This product was a big hit among the students: casual shoes made of recycled materials. Named "Soule," the uppers are chosen from used clothing or excess fabrics, and the soles are made out of used airplane tires. It would have been interesting to find out where the kids got the tires, but they were busy with their stock when I passed their stall. According to their brochure, the soles are lightweight and durable, and I was thinking: the tires may be worn out, but only for the standard of airplanes. For people, the traction must still be quite awesome.


Soule is made by Cultura Verde Footwear, Inc. They have a website and their email address is