July 31, 2010

Just call him Fr. Jojo

July 31 is the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Last year, I introduced the order's Superior General, the Very Reverend Adolfo Nicolás, SJ. This year, let me introduce the head of the Society's Philippine Province, Rev. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, SJ. His official title is Provincial Superior though his continued humility belies the exalted position. Every now and then, I see him walking from the Province House in Loyola Heights to the Ateneo de Manila University—alone, in t-shirt and jeans.

Fr. Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, SJ, Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines

July 30, 2010

For us?

Quezon City Hall has a brand-new civic center building. I was on my way elsewhere and didn't have time to check it out though. I hope I can go back soon to find out what it's all about. I've heard of civic centers in American cities and towns, but it was the first time I saw one in my own city and I'm wondering if it will be offering similar services.

Quezon City Civic Center Building

July 29, 2010


The 73rd season of the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) games began last month. Since the Philippines is a basketball-crazy country, many of the basketball games are held in the Araneta Coliseum, to accommodate the large number of fans who watch. One of several restaurants on the periphery of the stadium is Café Bola, with its circular logo and light fixtures.

interior of Café Bola at the Araneta Coliseum

Talk about thematic: even Café Bola's food is spherical! This is their Seafood Bola with Parmesan Cream & Ham sauce.

Café Bola's Seafood Bola with Parmesan Cream & Ham sauce

July 28, 2010

A river runs through it

Another of TriNoma mall's numerous water features, which I've already featured several times, including a regular fountain, leaping jets and a pond which surrounds a Starbucks branch. This one mimics a river which ends in a cascade, with the added bonus of small leaping water jets. As the Ayala Malls' tag line says: "Lov'emall!"

river and cascade water feature at TriNoma mall

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

July 27, 2010

A sense of place

It is sometimes tough to get a sense of a place when all you see of it are specific buildings or interiors. So come and join me at Philcoa, a major transportation stop in my part of Quezon City, so called because the landmark government building at the corner of the Quezon Memorial Circle is the Philippine Coconut Authority. The south side of the road, one fork of which leads to the University of the Philippines, has two strip malls. Behind the nearer building is the baratilyo which I love walking through for its bargain clothes.

Citimall at Philcoa

This is the western end of the strip mall, closest to the Quezon Memorial Circle. Vendors are no longer allowed on the sidewalk, though one still managed to set up her potted plants against the wall. But she's not obstructing pedestrian traffic flow so it's okay. There is a gap between Citimall and another building at the corner, so a few fruit and vegetable vendors have their stalls there.

Citimall at Philcoa

The green overpass below is where I took the first two pictures from. All these jeepneys are going to northeast Quezon City. GT (Garage to Terminal) Express is another form of public transportation. Mostly Asian utility vehicles (AUVs), they travel fixed routes from one specified station to another specified station and cannot—or should not—load or unload passengers between their two stops. And yes, the guy in the blue shirt inside the jeepney was smiling for me; in fact, he was quite insistent that I include him in my photo.

jeepneys at Philcoa

The gap between Citimall and the corner building is caused by a small creek which runs at the edge of an extremely dense urban poor neighborhood. It used to be choked with garbage, but the community finally learned its lesson when it flooded badly during last year's typhoon Ketsana. It is now relatively clear of solid waste but, unfortunately, not of liquid waste. The stench is still quite bad and, as you can guess from the water's color, the creek is definitely dead.

dead creek at Philcoa

The street around the corner is lined almost entirely by small enterprises; some are franchises but most are single proprietorships where the seller, repairman, cook or seamstress is the owner. This is also where my tricycle terminal is, so this is where we'll end our walk for now.

Masaya Street near Philcoa

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

July 26, 2010


Catharanthus, popularly known as araw-araw (everyday) in Tagalog, abounds in contradictions. It is at once delicate and hardy. The gentlest tug will uproot the entire plant for its roots are very shallow, yet it can survive the strongest of typhoons for its stem is so flexible that it will bend to the ground in the face of gusty winds. Because of its light and shallow roots, it can grow anywhere, even between the cracks of pavements. This particular plant was growing between the gutter and the asphalt street.

Catharanthus flowers, also known as Madagascar Periwinkle or Araw-araw

Araw-araw is also very prolific. Plant one and in a couple of weeks your entire garden will be overrun, whether you like it or not. Even if you uproot all of them, they will be back, year after year after year. (PHOTOS BY DOGBERRY)

Catharanthus flowers, also known as Madagascar Periwinkle or Araw-araw

July 25, 2010

Rosy moment

The delicate pink stained glass windows of the Chapel of St. Thomas More in the Ateneo Professional Schools do not have obviously religious images unlike those in other Catholic churches and chapels I've seen.

stained glass windows in the Chapel of St. Thomas More in the Ateneo Professional Schools

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

July 24, 2010

Magandang umaga!

Good morning! Pinoy breakfast favorites: tapa (dried or cured beef), tocino (cured pork) and longganisa (sausage, chicken in this case). With garlic rice and eggs (I like mine scrambled). Everything fried. Not the healthiest breakfast, I know, but oh so yummy! Don't forget the vinegar, garlic and siling labuyo (bird's eye chili) dipping sauce.

Filipino breakfast consisting of fried garlic rice, eggs, tapa, tocino and longganisa

July 23, 2010

City of lights

I posted a similar view of Metro Manila from Timberland Sports and Nature Club in the past, albeit during the day. I've also revised my previous estimate—there's more than three cities that one can see from up there. It's amazing though how the metro looks so flat from the Sierra Madre's foothills. It was a cloudy evening but Venus still managed to shine through.

the lights of Metro Manila at night

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

July 22, 2010


Last year, it was an alien on a tumor. This year, the building of the Ateneo Art Gallery is crawling with Jan Leeroy New's "Balete."

Balete by Jan Leeroy New

The balete or banyan tree figures prominently in Philippine mythology as the favored home of spirits, especially the malevolent and evil kind. A portion of the exhibit notes reads:
    Who's afraid of the Balete? Also called the Banyan tree, the Balete's distinct aerial prop roots and capacity to grow to huge proportions have bestowed upon the tree a sacred identity. Most dare not trespass this mysterious entity. Nevertheless, Leeroy New goes ahead to recreate the awe and terror that it inspires, using bright orange flexible conduits for electric cables as probing roots that attach to and choke pristine white pillars.

Balete by Jan Leeroy New

All I can say is, I refuse to walk down my favorite brick road at night while the exhibit is ongoing (until October 2 or as long as the plastic tubes last, whichever comes first).

Balete by Jan Leeroy New

July 21, 2010

For Anne

Your heart and body were just too weak to sustain your love and joie de vivre. Our offices will miss your cheerful, efficient and caring presence. "Papa" Exie too.

June 26, 1982 – July 20, 2010
Beloved Friend and Colleague

sunflower stool and chair at Yo and Mo

Taken at Yo and Mo Farm Resort in the town of Tanay in Rizal province where we had our office outing back in 2008.

July 20, 2010

Healthy burgers

Up until a few months ago, the space beside National Book Store along Katipunan Avenue (see yesterday's post) was occupied by a branch of Jollibee, one of the biggest and most popular fast food chains in the Philippines. But Jollibee moved to a bigger space a few buildings down the street and its old space is now occupied by Mushroomburger. For the longest time, Mushroomburger's only branch was in Tagaytay City in the province of Cavite, where it has its mushroom farm (the restaurant was just a side business—its main business is supplying mushrooms to restaurants and hotels in Metro Manila). It was always a treat to be able to eat mushroom burgers during trips to Tagaytay and now it's available so near us. During the rare times when I get a craving for burgers, you know where to find me now. And the best part is, this branch also sells packs of raw mushrooms.

Mushroomburger along Katipunan Avenue

Reminding all CDP bloggers about our next theme day: the theme for August 1 is Bright Colors. That should prove to be another fun day to go visiting. The voting for the September theme is also ongoing. Aside from the poll in the authors-only forum, all CDP members—not just bloggers—can also vote in the poll on the portal's home page.

July 19, 2010

School books

One of the two stores at the foot of yesterday's pedestrian overpass from the Ateneo de Manila University is, appropriately enough, a branch of National Book Store (NBS), the Philippines' largest bookstore chain. When I was growing up, NBS sold almost nothing except textbooks and school supplies; anyone interested in other kinds of books had to look elsewhere. NBS has had to expand its literature selection during the past two decades because of intense competition, but whatever people think of the company, no one can deny that it provided Filipinos one great service. Over the decades, NBS has had contracts with American publishing houses to re-print their textbooks and reference books exclusively for the Philippine market. They are printed locally on inexpensive paper and sold for hundreds of pesos less than their higher-quality American counterparts which have to be shipped in. If it weren't for National Book Store's textbooks, the cost of private education in the Philippines (which is already prohibitively expensive for most Filipinos but much, much better than our public education system) would have been even higher.

National Book Store

July 18, 2010


There's no rhyme or reason in the design of Metro Manila's footbridges. Some are made of metal and some of concrete, some are pre-fabricated and others are built on the spot, some are roofed and some not, and most have the yickiest paint colors I have ever seen. This is a relatively decent-looking bridge and is one of two which crosses Katipunan Avenue from the Ateneo de Manila University. It is usually free of graffiti because university personnel immediately paint them over—the school doesn't bother waiting for the barangay, city or the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority because they'll take forever. An attempt to prettify the bridge with plant boxes is only partially successful. Several years ago, a big row between the university and one of those government units (I don't remember which) ensued over the government's plan to lease billboard space on the bridge. The university argued that a billboard would hide pedestrians (mostly students) from view and may compromise their safety. The university won and the billboard wasn't installed, but the frame, which was already built, was never dismantled. If you look closely, you can still see it on the left side. In the next two days, I'll show you the two stores at the end of the bridge.

footbridge in front of Ateneo de Manila University crossing Katipunan Avenue

Bridges around the world: Sunday Bridges
Sunday Bridges

July 17, 2010

Golden path

It wasn't until I tried taking pictures of a sunset from start to finish that I realized that the sun's reflection on the water lasts for only a few minutes. Taken at the Manila Bay looking towards the hills of the Bataan Peninsula.

sunset at Manila Bay

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

July 16, 2010

Half and half

The performance of Wadaiko Yamato that we watched last Saturday (see Tuesday's post) was held in the Sky Dome of SM City North EDSA mall. Half of the dome looks like it is swathed in nylon fabric and the other half stuffed with carpeting. I'm sure it has something to do with acoustics.

the ceiling of the Sky Dome

July 15, 2010

So it begins

The first typhoon of the season lashed the northern and eastern part of the Philippines Tuesday night. As I write this, 21 people are known to have been killed and sixty are missing. Basyang (international code name Conson) didn't bring much rain in our part of Quezon City, though I hear that it caused floods in other parts of Luzon. The worst of it in our area was at 4:00PM and it let up just in time to let office workers go home relatively dry. I really ought to have something done about the pathway to our office building—because of the slope of the terrain, it always gets inundated when rains are strong and becomes quite useless as a path.

the start of the rains from typhoon Basyang (Conson) causing puddles on a path

The winds of Basyang were another matter altogether, however: sustained winds of 120 kph (74 mph) and gusts of up to 150 kph (93 mph). We lost power at home at 11:00PM of Tuesday and I wasn't the only one who had a tough time sleeping that night, not only because of the noise of the howling wind, but because of the fear that I might hear a part of the roof being torn away or a tree falling on the house. This was the scene that greeted me when I got to the office yesterday morning, off to one side of the path above. Power at our house was restored yesterday at 3:00PM, and we are one of the lucky ones. Metro Manila's power distributor, Meralco, estimates that it needs two to three more days to restore power to its entire grid, which also covers much of the island of Luzon. As the colleague of a friend tweeted, "Blackouts, howling winds, heavy rains, falling trees and flying billboards. Welcome to typhoon country, Philippine-style!"

aftermath of typhoon Basyang (Conson)

July 14, 2010

The war of the malls

When I first wrote about SM City North EDSA mall's Sky Garden, I mentioned that it was a response to the challenge of the more beautiful TriNoma mall, with its lush plants and numerous water features, which opened right across the street. The Sky Garden has some ponds too, and Starbucks opened a branch right beside one, like it did in TriNoma.

pond at SM North EDSA mall's Sky Garden

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

July 13, 2010

Motion blur

Not by choice but because this was the best that my itsy-bitsy camera could do. But despite that, I think that the result captures well the rhythm, excitement and power of Wadaiko Yamato, the group of taiko drummers who came here for the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month of July. They are awesome! And we are extremely lucky because this is the second time we've watched them perform. If you've never seen a taiko performance before, watch the video on their website (I hope you have good speakers). But really, nothing beats a live performance so if they ever go to your city, do not miss them. We've watched several taiko groups over the years and they're the best so far.

Wadaiko Yamato

July 12, 2010


Back in January, I showed you Coca-Cola's fake headline news in the newspaper The Philippine Star. Last Friday, another company came out with a different kind of advertising gimmick. The newspaper was delivered to our house in an Acer envelope with a die-cut window for the masthead and headline. It constantly amazes me how much creativity—and money—companies spend just to try to make us buy their products.

PhilStar newspaper in a special Acer advertising envelope

On a side note, Acer's new local brand ambassador is Derek Ramsay, a half-Brit half-Filipino actor and model. Just between you and me, I think he's the hottest of all the hot local celebrities. This photo does not do him enough justice, or maybe I'm just not used to seeing him in a suit.

July 11, 2010

In defense of the faith

Fort Santiago, named after St. James the Greater, the Patron Saint of Spain, was built in 1571, soon after the arrival of Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi. Renovations were done on the fort in 1773, which included the construction of the Reducto de San Francisco Javier (Redoubt of St. Francis Xavier) and a tunnel leading to it from the main fort. The redoubt added to the defense of the seashore and the mouth of the Pasig River. In the 1980s, the redoubt was restored and converted into a shrine for Our Lady of Guadalupe. A replica of her image was brought to the islands by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta, one of the first five Augustinians in the Legazpi expedition.

shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fort Santiago

July 10, 2010

Flight of fancy - not

The Manila Domestic Terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is currently used for the domestic flights of Seair and ZestAir in and out of Metro Manila. It's quite small and, despite a relatively recent refurbishment, still rather plain and dingy-looking. But at least the new gray tiles are kept well-polished.

Manila Domestic Airport

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

July 9, 2010

City in a valley

A view of Marikina City and the mansion-like homes around the Capitol Hills Golf & Country Club under a bright blue noon sky filled with puffy little clouds. The city of Marikina is built in a valley between the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range and the ridge which marks the boundary of Quezon City. My father used to tell me how this fertile valley—a river runs its entire length—used to be nothing but rice fields. During the worst of our annual typhoons, the Marikina River always breaks its banks—good for paddy field agriculture but not for human settlements. In fact, Marikina City was one of the worst hit cities in Metro Manila during last year's devastating Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana).

Marikina Valley seen from the Capitol HIlls Golf & Country Club

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

July 8, 2010

A place to sleep

Part of the oldest building in Fort Santiago, the brick ruins which stand beside the Rizal Shrine were originally the barracks of Spanish soldiers built in 1593. During the American period, they were used as the homes of army officers and their families. The building was destroyed during WWII and only a few sections of the walls with arched windows and doorways remain standing. They look kind of lovely among the lush, green plants.

ruins of old Spanish barracks in Fort Santiago

July 7, 2010

Pool party

A new discovery that I have made about Metro Manila is the presence of small private party venues within residential subdivisions. Shanghai Garden Resort (named such because of the street it is in and not because of its design) in Better Living Subdivision in Parañaque City is really nothing more than a swimming pool surrounded by patios with pretty plants and a small koi pond. There are bathrooms, of course, a preparing room for the caterer, a concrete area for shooting hoops, a small private room, and that's it. It's actually a pretty good option for those who want to avoid the formal stiffness and possible boredom of having a party in a hotel or a restaurant, and for those who live in communities that don't have its own clubhouse. Swimming, eating, playing board games, chatting and napping made for one very relaxed and relaxing party. I hear there's a similar place for rent near our own house, but I have yet to find out where it is.

Shanghai Garden Resort in Parañaque City

July 6, 2010

Campus jungle

Yesterday's building might have been a disappointment, but its location is something that the Ateneo de Manila University can be proud of. Despite the growth of the student population and the increase in facilities, the school has still managed to keep several relatively large stands of woods in the campus. The Biological Research House is within one of them, which has been left alone to grow wild. This is what the mini-forest looks like from the street. The bridge is off the frame to the right.

stand of woods in Ateneo de Manila

Our little office building sits at one edge of the woods, and this is part of what I see from the fire exit just outside my room. The green is soothing to eyes tired of staring at a computer monitor, but there is one particular disadvantage: you won't believe the bugs and other creatures that sometimes get inside our building. The worst we've had so far is a baby python sleeping just outside 'my' fire exit (I'm proud to say that I didn't freak out when I saw it). Thank goodness it was still young—it was less than two feet long and a maintenance staff just picked it up with one hand. Seven-foot pythons have been caught in the campus several times. When they're that big, the school turns them over to the Ninoy Aquino Parks & Wildlife Center.

stand of woods in Ateneo de Manila

July 5, 2010

Over the bridge

So what's beyond yesterday's little blue and white bridge? The greenhouse that I remember from my youth is gone and has been replaced by this pretentiously named Biological Research House. (I warned you it was a disappointment.) Whatever the students have in there, it seems that they have to be protected from too much sun; those are black garbage bags tied over the windows. I couldn't take a peek inside because the structure is completely surrounded by a chain link fence with padlocked gates. I guess their projects have to be protected from vandals too.

Biological Research House in Ateneo de Manila

July 4, 2010


I first posted a photo of this tiny blue and white bridge in the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo de Manila University for my 100th post way back in 2008. After two years, I finally took the time to cross it and find out if the greenhouse from my college days is still there. Though I've always remembered this bridge as being blue and white, I seem to remember that it had wooden floorboards back then. The sheet of metal that serves as its current flooring is so rusty that I almost didn't want to walk over it, for fear that it wouldn't be able to bear my weight. Curiosity won over safety. You'll have to come back tomorrow to find out what's on the other side, but I guess that it's only right to warn you that I was mighty disappointed. Oh well. At least the itch has been scratched and I also finally have a bridge for Louis' Sunday Bridges. Yay!

small blue and white bridge in the Loyola Heights campus of Ateneo de Manila

Bridges around the world: Sunday Bridges
Sunday Bridges

I've blue and white, and Louis' Golden Gate Bridge is red—perfect for today. Happy 4th of July to all my American friends! Here, we celebrate it as Filipino-American Friendship Day.

July 3, 2010

Art and money

I've noticed that some of the most extensive art collections in the Philippines, both paintings and sculptures, are owned by banks. One of these days, I have to find out whether the bank buys them as investment pieces or if they're accepted in lieu of cash when an artist or collector defaults on a loan. I didn't get the name of this sculpture or its artist, but I saw it in the lounge of Banco de Oro's head office when our university hosted an event for alumni employed by the bank.

bronze sculpture at Banco de Oro

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