January 31, 2011


Hidden among the tall office and condominium buildings of Ortigas Center is the tiny Ortigas Park, which has several cafés nearby. We were there on New Year's Eve—the first time I've been there—and most of the benches were occupied, I assume by residents of the many condominiums in the area. Metro Manila needs more havens like it.

Ortigas Park at night

January 30, 2011

Not for the faint of heart

Another Castillan gastronomic legacy beloved of Manileños: cochinillo asado. Also known as lechon de leche or, in English, roast suckling pig, it is so succulent and tender, it can be cut with a plate. Casa Armas Tapas Bar y Restaurante, which has four restaurants in the metro, has a specially-made box for it so people can bring it home.

cochinillo from Casa Armas Tapas Bar y Restaurante

January 29, 2011

For a rainy day

BPI Family Savings Bank is a subsidiary of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the oldest bank still operating in the country. It is owned by the Ayala Corporation, whose extensive real estate developments I have featured many times in this blog.

BPI Family Savings Bank

January 28, 2011

Child King

The Feast of the Child Jesus occurs on the third Sunday of January but so many Filipinos have a devotion to the Santo Niño that January effectively has become his month. Three of the four biggest and most well-known festivals in the Philippines during January are dedicated to the Sto. Niño. He also has his own chapel in the Manila Cathedral.

image of the Santo Niño in the Manila Cathedral

January 27, 2011

Crossing over

Known as the Manunggul Jar after the name of the cave in the province of Palawan where it was found, this burial jar was dated to 890–710 BC. Aside from the fact that it was found intact, it is remarkable for the incised decoration on its body and lid, colored with hematite, and the two figures on a boat on the lid. This is believed to represent souls sailing to the afterworld, a particular crossing over belief that is common—with slight variations—in many cultures all over the world. The Manunggul Jar is considered a national treasure and is housed in the Museum of the Filipino People. It also appears on the back of our one thousand peso bill.

Manunggul Jar

January 26, 2011

A brotherhood of heroes

Many of the leaders of the Philippine Revolution of 1896 were members of one of the oldest fraternities in the world: Freemasonry. This Centennial Memorial Clock was a project of various lodges and individual members of the Philippine masons during the hundredth anniversary of the country's independence from Spain and stands across the shrine of the most renowned Filipino mason and our National Hero, Jose Rizal.

Centennial Memorial Clock in Rizal Park

January 25, 2011

A play within a play

The last play that we watched in 2010 was a musical called Dragon Tales, the first production of Asia on Stage, which was set up in 2009 to develop and stage Asian productions for Asia. Dragon Tales is based on a story and characters by the company's chair, Hong Kong Chinese Michael Chow, with music and lyrics by Filipino director, actor, writer and composer Vincent A. de Jesus, and directed by Singaporean Jeremiah Choy, here receiving a bouquet from the cast. I laud the mission of Asia on Stage and hope that it will be able to harness the talents of more Asian artists for other collaborative productions.

the cast of Dragon Tales and its director, Jeremiah Choy

January 24, 2011

This is where it all began

Back in November of 2009, I wrote about our office's annual Christmas outreach program called Lights for Hope. The 2010 event did not have as many children; we were a few tens shy of a thousand. Mr. Octopus the inflatable bouncer wasn't inflated on time—which is why he's still lopsided here—and soon after I took this picture, it started raining, which forced everyone to move to the alternate venue. But I have to hand it to the college kids who spent time with the public school children and the local child actors who came to spread some Christmas joy: they adjusted to their sheltered but cramped space, everyone gamely continued with the program, and I saw nothing but smiles on the young children's faces.

Ateneo de Manila University 2010 Lights for Hope Christmas outreach

I would like to apologize for disappearing without a word for two whole months. Even early in November, my schedule and work load were getting progressively worse and it was soon after this event that I had to decide to let go of something, and it just had to be my blog. I don't want to bother anyone with the details since it isn't what My Manila is for; suffice it to say that it was the first time in a decade that I had to go to work during the Christmas break and that I hardly felt the past two months go by. To everyone who worried, visited, and left messages and sent me email: thank you from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could give each one of you a real hug.

Let me say one final thing: I'm baaaaack! :)