November 30, 2012

A symphony in blue

the Blue Symphony performing at the Sacred Heart Plaza of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù The Ateneo de Manila University officially opened its celebrations and events for the Advent and Christmas season last night, and we were treated to a lovely performance by the Blue Symphony at the Sacred Heart Plaza of the Church of the Gesù.

The student symphony orchestra is the youngest performing arts organization in the university, and they still need a lot of support from the community. None of the students are music majors (since the Ateneo does not have a music program) and there are too many instruments that are not represented; the organization does not have production or marketing teams yet; they are trained by a conductor gratis; and the kids need a formation program set up to help them deal with the challenges of combining their love of music with the demands of their academics, not to mention the emotional drama that is inevitable in any group of artists. Despite all these, however, the young and youthful orchestra has garnered much praise from those who have heard them perform, and I really hope that the university and its benefactors can give Blue Symphony the assistance that it needs to become a full orchestra that everyone can be proud of.

November 29, 2012

School artifact

1932 Philippine Jesuit bell The 1932 "Jesuit Bell," from the time when the Ateneo de Manila University was still located along Padre Faura Street in Manila. It is inscribed with the monogram IHS (iota-eta-sigma) from the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, which also appears in the seal of the Society of Jesus.

November 28, 2012

Go to Joseph!

stained glass windows at the Manila Cathedral dedicated to Saint Joseph The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica, whose formal name is the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, but is more popularly known simply as the Manila Cathedral, has a set of stained glass windows dedicated to Joseph, husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus. The Latin "Ite ad Joseph" in the small, circular window means "Go to Joseph" and is an admonition to Catholics to seek the intercession of Saint Joseph.

November 27, 2012

Into the bowels

spiral staircase within the wall of Fort Santiago The walls of the 16th century Spanish citadel Fort Santiago are so thick, it actually has rooms, tunnels and staircases. Too bad most are too dangerous to explore nowadays.

November 26, 2012

November 25, 2012

Guiding light

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as the Burgos Lighthouse after the town in the province of Ilocos Norte where it is located, is the highest elevated original Spanish colonial era working lighthouse in the Philippines. It also marks the northwestern-most point in the island of Luzon. Construction on the lighthouse began in 1887 and it was first lit on March 30, 1892 to guide Spanish ships away from the rocky coast of the area. The octagonal stone and brick tower is topped with a bronze cupola, and used to be equipped with a kerosene lamp and Fresnel lens, though the light nowadays is provided by an electric lamp powered by solar panels.

November 24, 2012

Lazy day game

sungka table Sungka is a Philippine mancala game. The sungkaan (the game board) is usually made of wood, shaped like a canoe, and is portable. However, as in chess and backgammon, there are also dedicated sungka tables. Ordinarily, our game pieces are small cowrie shells, which should not be surprising for a country with the fourth longest coastline in the world despite its relatively tiny land area. This beautiful set is made for children—only one hip of mine would have fit in the tiny chair.

November 23, 2012


halo-halo Halo-halo (literally, mix-mix) is a popular Filipino dessert. It is made of various sweetened, preserved fruits and beans—which usually includes nata de coco (jellied coconut water), kaong (sugar palm fruit), saba (plantain), langka (jackfruit), kidney beans and garbanzos (chickpea)—topped with shaved ice, sugar and milk. Really special ones include all or a combination of ube (purple yam preserve), leche flan (a very sweet egg and milk flan) and ice cream. You first have to mix everything well before eating it. It doesn't look quite as pretty afterward, but it sure tastes great!

November 22, 2012

Stand out

The Residences at Greenbelt One of the towers of The Residences at Greenbelt, highrise residential condominiums integrated with Ayala Land's shopping and dining center, taken from under the canopy of the much smaller building across the street.

November 21, 2012

में आपका स्वागत है

foyer of the house of an Indian family in Manila In my limited sphere in a tiny corner of the world, I do not often get to visit the homes of other nationals living in Manila. This is the foyer of the home of an Indian family that has been based here for a couple of decades.

I sure hope I copied the correct Hindu welcome greeting from Google Translate.

November 20, 2012

Neural connection

skylight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport centennial terminal I'm not quite sure what this thing is at the Centennial Terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). I think it's just a quirky skylight with shutters. What caught my eye was the thing in the middle, which reminds me so much of a nervous system synapse.

November 19, 2012

Old favorites with a twist

Probably one reason why Cafe Juanita's crazy decor wasn't overwhelming is the fact that we spent more time focusing on the food rather than our surroundings. Two of our choices were traditional Filipino favorites, but served a little differently than the usual.
  Cafe Juanita's Two-way Pork Adobo Ribs Adobo is a style of cooking that simply requires vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and bay leaves, but a chef once told us that there are as many ways of cooking adobo as there are Filipinos. Cafe Juanita uses pork ribs and serves it two-way: the traditional way, stewed in the sauce (but their sauce is thicker than most), and as crispy flakes.
 Cafe Juanita's Fish Fillet with Kare-Kare Sauce Kare-kare is based on a peanut sauce and is eaten with bagoong (shrimp or fish paste). Traditionally, it uses ox or beef tail and tripe, but there is a healthier option using seafood. Cafe Juanita's version uses pan-fried white fish fillet. I really like how they knotted the string beans and wrapped the pechay stalks in their leaves—so much easier to eat!

November 18, 2012


Pamulinawen Fountain at the Aurora Park in Laoag, Ilocos Norte The Pamulinawen Fountain at the Aurora Park in Laoag, Ilocos Norte is named after a maiden in a traditional Ilocano folk song.
Pamulinawen Fountain at the Aurora Park in Laoag, Ilocos Norte The fountain is a celebration of the farmers of Ilocos—both male and female—and of the two products that they are most famous for: garlic and tobacco.
  Pamulinawen Fountain at the Aurora Park in Laoag, Ilocos Norte The obelisk-like monument at the back is called the Tobacco Monopoly Monument and commemorates the lifting of the monopoly on tobacco imposed by the Spanish colonial government on the country. The monopoly was established in 1780 and abolished in 1881.

November 17, 2012

Meditating in the garden

patio plants at Cafe Juanita Cafe Juanita (see the previous two posts) is located in a converted house in Barangay Kapitolyo in Pasig City. To maximize the space for customers, the small garden was roofed over and enclosed. To retain the feeling of a garden, however, the space was filled with hanging and potted plants, and what looks like old window grills were attached to the bare concrete wall. Buddha also meditates in the room—on a drum this time—watched over by six colorful macaws.

November 16, 2012

A ride in the park

horse and carriage porcelain lamp at Cafe Juanita Of the gazillion items to see at Cafe Juanita (see yesterday's post), this was the one item that truly caught my eye. I haven't seen a porcelain figurine like this in years, and it's the first time I've seen a large piece used as a lamp base—with a bead-tasseled lampshade, to boot. The overall effect is so gaudily out there, I love it.

November 15, 2012

A visual feast

Cafe Juanita in Pasig City has to have the most eclectic decorations I have seen in any restaurant.
 decorations at Cafe Juanita Buddha in many poses, an infant Jesus, various kinds of pottery, and an intricately carved wooden lamp on a mother-of-pearl-inlay sideboard greet guests at the entrance.

decorations at Cafe JuanitaEurope and Asia are well-represented, as are all materials one can think of for knickknacks: wood, glass, crystal, clay, porcelain, cloth, metal, plastic. Every inch of wall, floor and ceiling space not used for dining or walking is covered by a bewildering array of objects both precious and chintzy.

For some reason, though, Cafe Juanita's decorations aren't overwhelming or dizzying. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

November 14, 2012

The sacred and the profane

blue helicopter in front of the Ateneo Church of the Gesù A sight that we see at the Ateneo de Manila University at least four times a year. One of our trustees comes to attend the quarterly board meetings in his blue helicopter, landing it in the field in front of the Church of the Gesù.

November 13, 2012

Daytime reality

UP-Ayala TechnoHub office buildings The business side of the University of the Philippines-AyalaLand TechnoHub during daytime. The public center with the restaurants and shops are mainly a service to the many Business Process Outsourcing and technology companies which have their offices in the compound.

November 12, 2012

We don't have green money

Philcoa branch of the Development Bank of the Philippines The Development Bank of the Philippines, which is a government financial institution, primarily finances the medium- and long-term needs of the agricultural and industrial sectors of the country, with a special emphasis on small- and medium-scale enterprises. Its headquarters is in Makati City and this is its branch along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Like most other banks, it is closed on weekends.

November 11, 2012

Northern beauties

Aurora Park fountain and capitol building of Ilocos Norte in Laoag City Aurora Park fountain and capitol building of Ilocos Norte in Laoag City The Ilocos Norte Capitol, located in Laoag City, which is the province's capital, as seen from Aurora Park with its Pamulinawen Fountain and the Ilocos Norte Oblation. Laoag is about 480 km north of Manila.

November 10, 2012

November 9, 2012


Maxims Manila It looks like a golden fortress to me from outside, but apparently, Maxims Hotel at Resorts World Manila is the most luxurious hotel in the metro to date. It only has suites and each is assigned a butler who is on call 24-hours a day to take care of guests' every need. Wow.

November 8, 2012

Waiting redux

inside the Centennial Terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport I've posted a photo of its exterior in the past, now here's an inside view of the departure hall of the Centennial Terminal (Terminal 2) of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). It is the smallest of the NAIA's three international terminals and is used exclusively by Philippine Airlines.

November 7, 2012

Row houses

Marriott Hotel Manila The Marriott Hotel Manila, which is in Pasay City, looks like a row of tall, narrow buildings standing shoulder to shoulder. I think it's charming.

November 6, 2012


Frutti Froyo closed Less than three years after I posted a photo of Frutti Froyo in Petron Square along Katipunan Avenue, it has closed. They have other branches and kiosks in Metro Manila, however, and the restaurant Wicked Kitchen seems to be owned by the same company, so their frozen yogurt is not completely gone, thank goodness.

November 5, 2012


V-Mall V-Mall is one of several buildings at the Greenhills Shopping Center. When I was much younger, it was called Virra Mall and was a concrete block with a warren of tiny shops selling pirated software and videos, PC clones and other questionable electronic gadgets. With the new name came a brighter and airier space, and—hopefully—more legitimate merchandise.

My Manila will be on autopilot from November 1 to 5. Be well, be good.

November 4, 2012

Full support

Last Sunday, I featured a photo of the Church of San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, which is one of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The reason why its architecture is called "Earthquake Baroque" are these enormous buttresses at both sides of the church. buttresses at one side of the Paoay Church
How enormous? Each buttress is as wide as this side door, which six people standing shoulder to shoulder can walk through simultaneously. The height of an average Filipino barely reaches the middle of the door. side door between two buttresses of the Paoay Church

My Manila will be on autopilot from November 1 to 5. Be well, be good.

November 3, 2012


owner-type jeep The Philippine jeepney that is known abroad is a public transportation vehicle in most of the country. Meet its more private sibling, called the "owner" or "owner-type jeep" to distinguish it from the "passenger jeep." It is closer in design to the original American military surplus jeeps that the jeepney originated from, with vinyl or rubber stretched over the frame for protection from the sun and rain.

My Manila will be on autopilot from November 1 to 5. Be well, be good.

November 2, 2012


wrought iron bench at the Rizal Park The wrought iron benches at the Rizal Park are made for two people, but not for lovers.

My Manila will be on autopilot from November 1 to 5. Be well, be good.

November 1, 2012


toddler getting up from pool CITY DAILY PHOTO THEME DAY: THE WATER'S EDGE A toddler trying to get out of the kiddie pool of the Makati Shangri-la Hotel without using the steps. It will be some time yet before he will be able to do it with grace.

My Manila will be on autopilot from November 1 to 5.  Be well, be good.