January 31, 2010

The King's good servant, but God's first

Early in his life, English lawyer, statesman, scholar, and writer Sir Thomas More (7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535) was torn between a monastic life and a life of civil service. He became a Carthusian monk but eventually, his desire to serve his country won out and he entered the field of politics after three years. His thirty-year political career was tumultuous and controversial, and when he refused to swear to the 1534 Act of Succession and Act of Supremacy, which declared King Henry VIII the supreme head of the Church of England, More was tried, found guilty of treason and beheaded. For the same reasons that he was beheaded, Thomas More was canonized as a Catholic saint in 1935 and he is considered the patron of lawyers and politicians. It is therefore not surprising that the chapel in the Ateneo Professional Schools (law, business, government, and medicine and public health) in Makati City is named the Chapel of Saint Thomas More.

Chapel of Saint Thomas More in the Ateneo Professional Schools

January 30, 2010

Floating fish

We saw a new restaurant in Harbour Square during our last visit, but afloat on Manila Bay rather than being a part of the complex. Does it look like it can actually sail? Even if it doesn't, if the dining area overlooks the bay, it might still be worth trying out. Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) is a large fish found in warm seas; its flesh is firm, white and very tasty.

Mahi-Mahi floating restaurant

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

January 29, 2010

A Spaniard in a Roman plaza in Manila

In front of the Manila Cathedral is a small park with a fountain and a bronze statue. During the Spanish colonial period, the open space was called the Plaza Mayor and was the site of bull fights and other public events. In 1797, the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines Rafael Maria de Aguilar y Ponce de Leon turned it into a garden. The bronze statue of Carlos IV, king of Spain from 1788 to 1808, was installed in 1824 as a tribute for his sending the first smallpox vaccine to the Philippines. During the American period, the park was named Plaza McKinley after William McKinley, who was then the president of the United States. Since 1960, it has been called Plaza Roma because of a reciprocal agreement between the Philippine government and the Vatican (there's supposed to be a Piazza Manila somewhere in Rome).

statue of King Carlos IV of Spain in Plaza Roma in Intramuros

The Intramuros Administration says that they refurbished the park in 1980. I think it's about time that they reconditioned the bronze statue again.

statue of King Carlos IV of Spain in Plaza Roma in Intramuros

January 28, 2010

Lanes? What lanes?

Light traffic on Quezon Avenue, one of Metro Manila's longest thoroughfares—the white Quezon Memorial in the distance marks one end of the road—on a Sunday. Most of our roads don't have bike lanes so bicycles share the road with all other vehicles, even though they're really not supposed to be allowed on the major roads anyway. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) closed off most intersections and instead created U-turn slots; to make sure that turning cars have a lane to drive onto, they set up concrete blocks to keep a lane free, but the blocks themselves eat up into the next lane, creating bottlenecks wherever there are U-turn slots. Major roads have bus and jeepney stops, but since this is a Sunday, there are no traffic enforcers so buses and jeepneys drop off and pick up passengers anywhere. Taxis can do that any time since, with the exception of Makati City, there are no designated stops for them in the metro. And also because of the absence of traffic enforcers, pedestrians are free to risk life and limb crossing at street level, which most would rather do than walking the additional hundred meters to the nearest blue and pink overpass, which is where I took this photo. Imagine what this street looks like during the weekdays. So if you ever hear that Filipinos are some of the world's best defensive drivers, now you know why.

Quezon Avenue on a Sunday afternoon

January 27, 2010


Manila has a local version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame: the Eastwood City Walk of Fame, located in the mixed use complex that is Eastwood City in Quezon City.

Eastwood City Walk of Fame

Calling all City Daily Photo bloggers yet again! Time flies by so fast and it's less than a week until our next theme day. The theme for February 1 is Wood. (I'm going to like this one again. I love the many textures of wood!) The poll for the March theme closes on January 31, so please vote and spread the word!

January 26, 2010

A statement

Yesterday was the birthday of former president Corazon Aquino, who died on August 1, 2009. She would have been 77. According to our newspapers, more than 400 Masses were offered for her, in the Philippines and in cities all over the world with large Filipino communities. I think that the overwhelming tribute for her these past few months since her death is not really a statement about her effectiveness as a president, which some people would question (but to be fair, her presidency was extremely tough, coming as it did after more than two decades of Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorial rule). Rather, it is a reflection of how we Filipinos are (finally) yearning for ethical leaders, especially after the countless corruption accusations that have rocked this current government.

yellow fan with ribbon
Yellow has always been Cory's color. Instead of wearing yellow shirts, most people nowadays sport a little yellow ribbon pin to show their support for the ideals that Cory embodied. One of Cory's former doctors gave away these yellow fans with ribbon-shaped handles made of handmade paper at the Mass and tribute that my husband and I attended yesterday.

January 25, 2010


ABS-CBN is one of the largest radio and television broadcast and entertainment networks in the Philippines. It owns The Filipino Channel, an international broadcasting service whose two million subscribers are mostly overseas Filipino workers and their families. Its head office is located in Quezon City and the ELJ Center, one of the buildings in its huge compound, houses the executive offices and a few cafés on the ground floor. It also has a very good restaurant on the 14th floor named 9501 and I took this picture from the roof deck just off the restaurant. And if you're wondering about my title, "Kapamilya" is the network's slogan and it means "a member of the family."


January 24, 2010

Yellow diamonds

Another photo from Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, this time of the lights under the canopy of the driveway. Just because I like the pattern that they make. It's amazing what one notices when one's a little tipsy.

driveway canopy lights of Hotel Sofitel Manila

January 23, 2010

We await you still

This statue of the young Jose Rizal, Philippine national hero, is in the Ateneo de Manila High School and a gift of Class 1997. The inscription at the base is a quotation from Rizal's second novel El Filibusterismo, published in 1891, and spoken by the priest Father Florentino in the concluding chapter:
    Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours, their dreams, and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native land? Where are the youth who will generously pour out their blood to wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and spotless must the victim be that the sacrifice may be acceptable! Where are you, youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life that has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has been contaminated in our brains, the fire of enthusiasm that has been quenched in our hearts? We await you, O Youth! Come, for we await you!

statue of the young Jose Rizal at the Ateneo de Manila High School

January 22, 2010

I feel like howling

A full moon over the Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. Sofitel is located in the same complex as the Cultural Center of the Philippines and overlooks Manila Bay and its beautiful sunsets. Its flagship restaurant is Spiral, famous in the metro for its huge buffet spread. Its bar, 7Pecados by the Bay, I've featured quite a few times already.

one wing of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel

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

January 21, 2010

Artistic temperament

We've all heard about how artists of all kinds can be very emotional and temperamental. It probably isn't true of many artists, but by all accounts, it was true of Juan Luna (October 23, 1857 – December 7, 1899), the painter of yesterday's Spoliarium. Born in the town of Badoc in the province of Ilocos Norte, Luna was discharged from one art school in Manila because he refused to follow what his teacher wanted, and he left another in Madrid because he didn't like their teaching style. He married Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera in 1886 and they settled in Paris. Only six years later, Luna, in a fit of jealousy, killed his wife and mother-in-law, and wounded his brother-in-law. This small sketch of Juan Luna hangs in the Luna and Hidalgo Gallery of the National Art Gallery, where the Spoliarium is also located. I now forget if this was a self-portrait or drawn by an artist friend. It was done in Rome in 1879, before the Spoliarium and before the marriage, and he does not yet have the handlebar mustache of his later portraits and photos.

Juan Luna

January 20, 2010

The painting that launched a revolution

The Spoliarium of Juan Luna (October 23, 1857 – December 7, 1899) is perhaps the most famous painting in the Philippine National Art Gallery. Measuring 4 meters high and 7 meters wide, Luna entered the painting in the 1884 Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid, where it won a gold medal. John Silva, writer, museum consultant, and advocate for the arts and heritage preservation, describes the Spoliarium thus:
    The painting’s brooding dark canvas exudes tragedy. The scene is the exit room of the Roman Colosseum called the Spoliarium, hence its name. The injured and dying gladiators are being dragged in. To the far right, a woman is half-sprawled on the floor, with her back turned to us. We do not see her face, but her crouch, her hands seemingly to her face, her head bowed and despondent, reveals only sorrow. To the far left we see Romans cheering on the next batch of gladiators in this blood-letting sport. It is barbarism captured on canvas…

Juan Luna's Spoliarium
In the same 1884 Madrid exhibition, another Filipino artist, Felix Resureccion Hidalgo, also won a second place silver medal for his painting Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populache (Christian Virgins Exposed to the Masses). Both paintings were seen as a critical allegory of Filipinos under the yoke of Spanish colonial rule. During the celebration of this double victory several weeks later, Jose Rizal, who was close to both artists, gave a toast congratulating them and proceeded to declare a manifesto of Filipino political equality with their colonial masters. It was because of this speech (collected in the book "20 Speeches that Shaped the Nation" selected and with introductions by Manuel L. Quezon III) that Rizal came to be branded a rebel by Spanish authorities, and it was also soon after this speech that he began writing "Noli Me Tangere." And thus was the road paved that would lead Jose Rizal to Bagumbayan for his execution and his proclamation as a national hero.

One final note about the Spoliarium: Since 1885, the painting was in Barcelona, having been bought by the provincial government for 20,000 pesetas. In 1937, it was sent to Madrid for restoration after it was damaged during the Spanish Civil War. In 1958, General Francisco Franco gifted the painting to the Philippines and it was shipped to Manila in three pieces. It was unveiled in the Department of Foreign Affairs in December 1962.

Obviously, my photo does not do the painting justice. Despite having darkened much since Juan Luna first painted it more than a century ago, standing in the same room as the gigantic (both in size and historical significance) Spoliarium is still an awesome experience.

January 19, 2010

Home supermarket

As I mentioned when I posted a picture of the Ortigas Home Depot, the concept of one-stop home improvement centers is relatively new in Metro Manila, though they are quite common now. Ace Builders Center, an international franchise, is a daughter company of SM, that proponent of gigantic malls, and their stores can be found in all of SM's largest malls. Unlike Home Depot, Ace doesn't carry the bigger construction pieces like lumber or doors, but you'll still be able to find most of what you need for home improvement projects. I can spend many happy hours in this store, including drooling over power tools that I have yet to gather enough courage to learn how to use.

Ace Builders Center

January 18, 2010

Formal Mini

It's not everyday that I see a Mini Cooper on the streets of Manila either. Don't you think that it complements last week's party pug so well? It's not surprising because they're owned by the same person. These two photos were from last year's Ateneo de Manila University's sesquicentennial launch in Intramuros and I had forgotten about them until I decided to organize my files two weekends ago. The Mini Cooper was part of the classic car motorcade but came late and wasn't parked in front of the Manila Cathedral. I remember that I didn't include it in my post about the classic cars because its orientation vis-à-vis the street was different. (Yes, I admit that I can be O-C about stuff like that.)

Mini Cooper

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

January 17, 2010


Only the facade and the Chinese-influenced octagonal bell tower of the 1852 Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, better known as the Binondo Church, survived the flattening of the City of Manila during WWII. It is easy to see which the oldest parts are, with their damaged reliefs and cracked pillars, but it is also quite easy to see where they are repaired and reinforced with new concrete.

Binondo Church

January 16, 2010

Patio on a ledge

When Shangri-La Plaza mall in Ortigas Center set up "The Ledge," a row of restaurants on its 6th level, they had to provide a place for people to smoke after their meal (with or without their Starbucks coffee). This outdoor ledge was bare concrete when it was first made available to customers, but it looks quite nice now with its painted floor and potted plants. Just don't go out there at noon in the middle of summer or in strong rains.

rooftop smoking area at Shangri-la Plaza mall

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

January 15, 2010

The Spirit like a dove

THEME DAY: BEST PHOTO OF 2009 • I originally posted this stained glass window on March 3, 2009. It depicts Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and the Holy Spirit descending upon him from the heavens like a dove. The window is one of many in the historic Malate Church, built anywhere between the late 16th century to the early 18th (I can't find exact information), which is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Our Lady of the Remedies). I don't really know if it is my best photo of the year, but it was the first time I tried taking a picture of a stained glass window and I was very happy with the result.

Malate Church stained glass window of Jesus' baptism

The best of the best! We're going to have a wonderful tour around the world today. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

January 14, 2010

Smooth Corinthian

The National Museum of the Philippines is currently housed in two neo-classical buildings in the City of Manila. The archeological artifacts comprise the Museum of the Filipino People collections, housed in the former Finance Building which I've featured several times in the past. The National Art Gallery is in the former Legislative Building right across the street. Both were designed principally by Filipino architect Antonio Toledo who was influenced by the city plan originally formulated by American architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham. The columns of the two buildings are almost exactly alike—they have the same capitals but unlike those of the Finance Building, which are fluted, the shafts of the Legislative Building's columns are smooth.

columns of the National Art Gallery

January 13, 2010

Japanese place

Every now and then, my husband and I would try out a restaurant that we've heard absolutely nothing about. Our latest 'experiment' was Ariake, a Japanese restaurant located in the restaurant and bar row that is Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City. According to Wikipedia, Ariake is the name of several places in Japan. Our verdict about the restaurant: too fusion for our taste. Many of the items in their menu either have cream cheese or are deep fried, even the maki. We prefer more traditional Japanese cooking with its subtler tastes. I do like their heavily textured wall paint though, and that single organic plant stem in a room full of geometric shapes.

Ariake Japanese restaurant

January 12, 2010


Serendra is a high-end, low-density condominium development of Ayala Land in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City. Even before the condominium towers were finished, Serendra's two-level dining and shopping esplanade—the only part open to the public—had already become popular among Metro Manila's privileged classes. Serendra is much more alive and exciting at night than during the day.


Yet another call to CDP bloggers! We have a special theme day on January 15: Best Photo of 2009. "Best" is how you define it, however. Also, our February 1 theme is Wood and the March theme poll is up so please vote! And please help spread the word—too few people are voting and we don't know if the themes actually reflect the community's preferences.

January 11, 2010

Formal wear

It's not everyday that I see a pug in a tuxedo in the streets of Metro Manila.

pug in a tuxedo

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

January 10, 2010


I know I've posted so many photos of the Manila Cathedral already, but it has such beautiful details I don't think I'll ever tire of it (and I hope you won't either). I especially like how the carvings are ornate but almost nothing is painted, so the interior looks deceptively simple from afar. The interior arches are just as lovely as those over its main doorway, though the designs are geometric rather than floral. I guess speakers are necessary in a church of this size else the congregation won't be able to hear the priest, but at least the church authorities had the wisdom to choose a color which blends with the stone.

interior arches of the Manila Cathedral

January 9, 2010


When I first visited the new Rizal Library at the Ateneo de Manila University, many of the small details were still unfinished. Take this raw concrete cylinder in one of the interior water features, for example. I'm wondering what it's supposed to be and hoping that it will be the base for another sculpture like Impy Pilapil's Wind and Soul. I also hope that they'll be done next time I visit and that I'll be allowed to take pictures again. And in case you haven't realized it yet, you're looking at this scene through a huge mirror hanging on the brick wall.

stairs, elevator and interior water feature at the new Rizal Library

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

January 8, 2010

Work companion

Does anyone know what kind of spider this is? I saw it lurking around our study while I was working last night. Just to give you an idea of its size, the planks of our floor are about 3 inches (8 centimeters) wide. I really just need to know whether we can safely ignore it or if we have to avoid it at all costs.

3 inch (8 centimeter) spider
P.S. Guys and gals, killing it is not an option. I like spiders because they keep the bug population down at home, especially during the hot, humid and rainy months (that's about 9 months of the year).

January 7, 2010

Shopping tour

I first posted a photo of this big, colorful, airconditioned jeepney in December 2008. I've seen it several times since then but only late at night, parked at the end of its tours in Harbour Square. I finally saw it in use at Bonifacio High Street. Apparently, the hop-on-hop-off route of Jeepney Tours includes many of the major shopping and dining centers of Metro Manila.

Jeepney Tours' colorful jeepney

January 6, 2010


One of the stone and metal sculptures of Filipino artist Impy Pilapil graces the main entrance of the new Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University. Titled "Wind and Soul," it stands in the middle of a small water feature, just one of many in this proudly green building. The aesthetically-pleasing water features, which use reclaimed rainwater, are part of a system which helps control the temperatures in the building, reducing the need for airconditioners. The library is the newest of the university's facilities (replacing a smaller library building which will be renovated for other uses) and was only inaugurated on December 8, 2009. This entrance faces east; the first photo was taken at 4:00pm and the second at 7:00pm after the sun had completely set.

Impy Pilapil's 'Wind and Soul' sculpture at the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University
Impy Pilapil's 'Wind and Soul' sculpture at the Rizal Library of the Ateneo de Manila University

Natural or man-made, take a refreshing dip in Watery Wednesday.
Watery Wednesday

January 5, 2010

Corridor café

Barbara's Café in the old walled city of Intramuros is located in one of the wide passageways that lead from the street to the inner courtyard of the Plaza San Luis complex. Called a zaguan, it was the corridor where carruajes (horse-drawn carriages) would pass through to drop their passengers off by the entrance. The floor is paved with granite, what was and still is called piedra china (Chinese stone) because they were originally used by Chinese traders as ballast in their junks. The chairs and tables at Barbara's Café are what we call batibot chairs and tables. Batibot means 'small but strong and sturdy.' The wooden seats and tabletop are wrapped in sheet iron, and the legs and seat backs are made of bent iron rods; even the studs and rivets are made of solid iron.

batibot chairs and table at Barbara's Cafe in Intramuros

January 4, 2010


Another rainbow sculpture of artist Joel Ferraris at SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden, titled "Pixel Planes." The other two which I have posted in the past are Rainbow Waterfalls and Prism 24.

Joel Ferraris' sculpture 'Pixel Planes' at SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden
Joel Ferraris' sculpture 'Pixel Planes' at SM City North EDSA's Sky Garden

January 3, 2010

Sour green

The fruit of the Averrhoa bilimbi, known as kamias in the Philippines, is very sour—as sour as its green color would suggest. Some like it precisely because of that and eat it raw as a snack, usually first dipping it in rock salt. We also use it as an alternative to sampalok (tamarind) in making sinigang, a soupy sour stew that most Filipinos love, whether it is made of fish, pork, beef or shrimp. A young Filipino chef named Margarita "Gaita" Fores, who owns several restaurants in Metro Manila, popularized it as a fruit shake which is surprisingly very good and not as sour as one familiar with the fruit would think.

kamias fruit on a tree

January 2, 2010

Headline news

Yesterday, Coca-Cola took out a special 6-page ad in one of our national dailies. Printed in full color on thick, bright white paper stock and laid out to look like the newspaper's main page—it even had the paper's masthead! It was folded as if it truly was the headline page since it was on top of the real newspaper. And it was the second day in a row that Coke had a similar special ad. They did the same on December 31 though that only had 4 pages. It's crazy. Do newspapers in your country lend their mastheads for ads like this? At the very least, I hope Coke's headline comes true.

Coke ad laid out to look like a newspaper

January 1, 2010

Goodbye, gentle soul

THEME DAY: CHANGES • Siopao was a mixed breed and a gift to my father the year after my mom died in 1993. Daddy named him after the Chinese steamed bun popular in the Philippines because when he was a puppy and could fit in one hand when curled up, he looked exactly like one, including the dot on his back. When dad died in 1996 and his housekeeper left, care for Siopao fell on me since I'm the only one among my siblings still in the country. Siopao was the gentlest of dogs. Days could go by without a single bark from him; about the only things he barked at were strange dogs out in the street and stray cats crossing our yard (which he loved to chase though he never really tried to catch). He was perfect with our nieces and nephews, quietly tolerating unsure hands from the most fearful of them and ungentle caresses from the most daring. During the colder months, we kept his hair naturally long.

Siopao with long hair

But when he starts shedding just before the summer months, we would get him shaved. And long into the rainy season, we kept him short-haired until the days started getting cool again.

Siopao with short hair

At 15 years old, Siopao had a lot of health problems (liver, gall bladder) and was easily prone to infections. His eyesight, hearing and sense of smell had all weakened—except when we had chicken, his favorite (that one he didn't have any difficulty smelling!). In the early morning of November 24, 2009 Siopao passed away while he was at the pet hospital. I still miss his greeting when I get home, and his constant, quiet presence by my side, but I am thankful for the many years that were given to us to be able to love him. And to Jilly and Rob, thank you for your sympathy and comforting words the week after he left us. (ALL PHOTOS BY DOGBERRY)

Siopao with my nephew

What are the changes that City Daily Photo bloggers around the world have seen or experienced? Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.