May 29, 2014

Postcards from Cambodia: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat silhouette One of the few things I was willing to wake up at an ungodly hour for was to watch the sun rise over Cambodia's greatest treasure: Angkor Wat, the City of Temples. 
 sunrise reflection of Angkor Wat First a Hindu then a Buddhist temple complex, Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II.  
 Angkor Wat It is the largest religious monument in the world and its perfect symmetry is a wonder to behold.
 one of the outer galleries of Angkor Wat The main temple of Angkor Wat is composed of three rectangular galleries, each higher than the next.
 relief on the wall of Angkor Wat's galleries Every inch of the walls of each gallery is covered in elaborate bas-relief scenes from Hindu mythology and literature.
 steps to the highest terrace of Angkor Wat Angkor Wat's Temple Mountain, its central and uppermost sanctuary, is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hindu mythology.
 view from the highest terrace of Angkor Wat From the uppermost terrace, one can see across the lower galleries to the bridge which crosses the moat around Angkor Wat, and all the way to the outer wall.
 Buddha sitting on a Naga at Angkor Wat The image of Buddha in the uppermost sanctuary depicts him seated on the coils of a Naga. Legend says that Buddha was so deep in meditation, he did not notice the storm that began raging around him. So the Naga coiled itself under Buddha to raise him from the muddy waters and bent its seven heads (one of which is broken here) over him to protect him from the rain. Of all the temples in the Angkor district of Siem Reap, only Angkor Wat was never abandoned and it is still an active Buddhist temple today.

May 28, 2014

Postcards from Cambodia: Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple The Buddhist Bayon Temple was built in the late 12th or early 13th century and stands in the middle of Angkor Thom, the capital of the empire of King Jayavarman VII.
 Bayon Temple Its most distinctive feature is its multitude of towers, each bearing a serenely smiling face on each of its four sides.
 Bayon Temple The gigantic faces bear a striking resemblance to the statues of King Jayavarman VII, which have led some scholars to believe that they are images of the king himself. Others believe that they are representations of the bodhisattva of compassion.
 royal palace at Angkor Thom Older temples in Angkor Thom survive. The three-tiered Baphuon Temple, built in the mid-11th century, was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
 Celestial Temple at Angkor Thom The 10th century Phimeanakas Temple is located within the walls of the royal palace. It is associated with a very interesting legend which involves the king and a Naga, a mythological creature in the form of a snake which, in Cambodia, has seven heads.
 Terrace of the Elephants at Angkor Thom Angkor Thom's kings had a long stone terrace which they used for public ceremonies and audiences. It is now known as the Terrace of the Elephants because of the parade of elephants decorating the surviving portions.

May 27, 2014

Postcards from Cambodia: Banteay Srei

Banteay SreiThe 10th century Banteay Srei, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, is distinctive among Angkor's many temples because of the miniature scale of its buildings.

Banteay Srei Banteay Srei Banteay Srei It was constructed using a hard red sandstone which can be carved like wood. Despite being more than a thousand years old, the temple retains much of its intricate decorative carvings.

May 26, 2014

Postcards from Cambodia: Ta Prohm

Back in November 2013, my husband and I spent five days in Siem Reap, Cambodia with a couple of friends. We got home to news of a large typhoon forming over the Pacific whose projected path would take it directly over the Philippines. I used my spare hours tracking it and didn't bother with my blog—only for a few days, I thought. It took me several months after Typhoon Haiyan to start blogging again. So, half a year late, I will be featuring photos of our "Temple Run" for the next few days.
 Ta Prohm Ta Prohm is one of the hundreds of temples found in the Angkor area of Siem Reap. It was built as a monastery and university in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and, unlike other Angkor temples, is kept in pretty much the same condition as it was found.
 Ta Prohm Except for one particular temple, Angkor was abandoned in the 15th century, and the temples neglected for centuries. The jungle reclaimed the land and, now, Ta Prohm is best known for the trees (mostly kapok and banyan) growing out of the ruins. (It is also known as the temple in the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie.) A few carvings in the temple stones survived centuries of exposure to the elements.

Ta Prohm Some of the trees growing out of Ta Prohm are huge. The exposed roots of this one need propping up so the ruins don't collapse further.
 Ta Prohm A look back as we were leaving revealed the entirety of the highest tree growing out of the temple.

May 25, 2014


bamboo hut on stilts "Study the teachings of the pine tree, the bamboo, and the plum blossom. The pine is evergreen, firmly rooted, and venerable. The bamboo is strong, resilient, unbreakable. The plum blossom is hardy, fragrant, and elegant."
~Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969), Japanese martial artist and founder of aikido

I saw this bamboo hut on stilts behind Earth Kitchen. I don't know if it's theirs or if it belongs to the plant nursery beside them, but it would be a nice place to have a meal on a cool day or evening. It'll be tough on the waiters, though.

May 24, 2014


Earth Kitchen "Set wide the window. Let me drink the day."
~Edith Wharton, Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verses

Other than the enormous floor lamp in the middle of the room (see yesterday's post), the interior of Earth Kitchen is simple and even quite spartan: raw cement floors and walls, and tables and chairs that are very utilitarian. The big window which looks out onto the street is beautifully screened by the bamboo and palm trees outside, however, making it look like a painting from inside. The real paintings which currently adorn the otherwise bare walls were created by students of Cabuynan Elementary School in Tanauan, Leyte who survived Typhoon Haiyan. They are for sale for PhP500 each and all of the proceeds will be used to rebuild their school.

May 23, 2014

Art light

screen at Earth Kitchen "There is one fundamental fact about lighting:
Where there is no light, there is no beauty."
~Ruby Ross Wood (1881–1950), New York interior decorator

The largest piece of decoration inside Earth Kitchen is a natural fiber screen designed with their logo, which can be seen on the sign outside the restaurant. It's a lovely piece of art and also happens to be an enormous floor lamp.

May 21, 2014

Shape deficient

Earth Kitchen's Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Paccheri "Everything's better with bacon and red wine!"
~Dianne Harman, American author

Though not the last about Earth Kitchen, this is the last of my food photos, I promise. This is their Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Paccheri, made with goat cheese, roasted pumpkin, pili nuts and bacon. If you're a vegetarian, you can ask them to skip the bacon. My only complaint about this dish is that paccheri are supposed to be large pasta tubes, but this is ravioli! But in the greater scheme of things—the flavor! the texture!—who cares?

May 19, 2014

Pasta pockets

Earth Kitchen's Mushroom Ravioli "Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
~Federico Fellini (1920–1993), Italian filmmaker

Being the ravioli fan girl that I am, I just had to try Earth Kitchen's Mushroom Ravioli, and I thought it was delicious! In keeping with their precept of using local ingredients, the pasta pockets were filled with kesong puti (literally, white cheese)—a soft, mild cheese usually made of the milk of the carabao, a water buffalo. Aside from mushrooms, the sauce also had some pili nuts, which, apparently, only the Philippines produces and processes commercially. Although similar in shape to almonds, pili nuts are more tender. Creamy but light, flavorful though mild, Earth Kitchen's Mushroom Ravioli gets an A+ in my book. Though it's probably the least pretty of all the dishes I took photos of.

May 18, 2014

Share the (bad) goodness

Earth Kitchen's braised pork belly soft tacos "Pork fat rules!"
~Emeril Lagasse, American celebrity chef

I did mention that Earth Kitchen is not a vegetarian restaurant, right? Truth be told, not all of its dishes are completely healthy either. Case in point: its Braised Pork Belly Soft Taco, with cucumber, peanuts, cilantro and lime hoisin sauce. Just for your information, more than 90% of pork belly's calories come from fat—but that's the reason why it's melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Thank goodness the tacos are small, and we only had one each.

May 17, 2014


Earth Kitchen's Tempura Salad "If I must choose between healthy and tasty, I go for the second; having only one life to waste,
it might as well be a pleasurable one."
~Yotam Ottolenghi, Israeli-born chef and restaurateur

Mr Ottolenghi will approve of Earth Kitchen's Tempura Salad—it is both tasty and healthy. Fish and prawn tempura on a bed of organic and naturally-grown tomatoes and greens, topped with nori, and served with a roasted sesame seed dressing.

I just learned today that tempura was introduced to Japan by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century! And all this time I thought it was a quintessential Japanese dish.

May 16, 2014

Refreshing start

Earth Kitchen's Prawn Spring Rolls "You have to taste a culture to understand it."
~Deborah Cater, British travel writer

At the risk of seeming like a food blog again, I'll be featuring some of Earth Kitchen's delicious food in the next few days.

For starters, we had their Prawn Spring Rolls, for which they use organic and naturally-produced herbs and greens. The dipping sauce is hoisin with lime.

May 15, 2014

Healthy. Local. Sustainable.

Earth Kitchen "Why does no one speak of the cultural advantages of the country? For example, is a well groomed, ecologically kept, sustainably fertile farm any less cultural, any less artful, than paintings of fat angels on church ceilings?"
~Gene Logsdon, Living at Nature's Pace: Farming and the American Dream

Less than a year old, Earth Kitchen is a small restaurant operated by Got Heart Foundation, which helps marginalized farmers and indigenous communities all over the Philippines with natural and sustainable farming. Earth Kitchen is a showcase of healthy and delicious dishes which use fresh, all-natural ingredients, but it is not a vegetarian restaurant. "Fresh" and "all-natural" are words not limited to fruits and vegetables, after all.

May 14, 2014

The air we breathe

air pollution over Metro Manila "In tough times, some of us see protecting the climate as a luxury, but that's an outdated 20th-century worldview from a time when we thought industrialization was the end goal, waste was growth, and wealth meant a thick haze of air pollution."
~Alex Steffen, American futurist and sustainability advocate

This is the same view of Metro Manila as my post from May 8 but taken early in the morning rather than in the middle of the day. Unless one lives in a building more than one kilometer high, there's no way to escape from that air pollution. The Philippines enacted a clean air law back in 1999 but, like many of our other laws, it isn't fully implemented or enforced.

May 13, 2014

Baby's breath

denim curtain with dried flowers "One person's weed is another person's wildflower."
~Susan Wittig Albert, An Unthymely Death and Other Garden Mysteries

This is another decorative detail at The Breakfast Table which I only noticed during our latest visit there: a denim curtain with embroidered pockets used as containers for dried flowers. The curtain screens a small wash basin for guests from the rest of the restaurant.

May 9, 2014


Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City "When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not Guilty'."
~Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

This is a view of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, looking north, from the rooftop of a medium-rise condominium. The white, spiky building in the center is one of the bigger churches of the Iglesia ni Cristo, the third largest religious denomination in the Philippines. The bulky yellow building to the right is the Sandiganbayan, a special judicial court which has jurisdiction over graft and corruption cases against government employees and officials. I hear their backlog of pending cases is tremendous, and that it takes five years or more for them to try and decide a case.

Sky Watch Friday

May 8, 2014

Toy town

Metro Manila "All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant.
All cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim."
~Christopher Morley (1890–1957), American writer

The skyscrapers of Metro Manila as seen from the Eugenio Lopez Center, which is situated in the hills of Antipolo City in the province of Rizal.

May 7, 2014

Tree of life

“Tree” "The two basic items necessary to sustain life
are sunshine and coconut milk."
~Dustin Hoffman, American actor

In the Philippines, the coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is considered the tree of life. Sustenance and shelter are just the most basic needs that coconut trees can provide. The list of useful products and by-products that come from every part of coconut trees, though not endless, is very long. In fact, we have a government agency under the Department of Agriculture that focuses solely on the coconut industry: the Philippine Coconut Authority.

This is artist Impy Pilapil's tribute to the Philippine "Tree of Life." It is made of metal and glass, and stands in the atrium of the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo City.

May 6, 2014

High street

Bonifacio High Street fountain "Unlike a fountain that circulates the same water in an enclosed, perpetually recycling system, a human being circulates thoughts in an unlimited reservoir of self. Don't limit yourself to being a mere fountain when you contain an ocean."
~Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

The stores of the shopping and dining arcade that is Bonifacio High Street all open up into a park that runs the entire length of this unique mall. The park has fountains, playgrounds and sculptures, and is also pet-friendly. The Old Navy store at the corner is the first in the Philippines and only opened in March.

May 5, 2014

Safety net

net under a building being constructed "Every act of construction is an act of destruction."
~Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), Spanish artist

Yet another building is being constructed in the Rockwell Business Center, and the paths around it are protected by nets on steel frames. They're downright ugly, but much better than having a hammer or something fall on one's head.

May 4, 2014

Fishy reflections

koi pond "I'd rather be a big fish in a specialized pond than a little, little fish in a more generalized big pond."
~Leonard Lauder, Chairman Emeritus of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc

Big, lovely koi in the pond at the center of the little park at Rockwell Business Center. Reflected in the water on the right side is the building which I posted for the May 1 City Daily Photo theme day.

Weekend Reflections

May 3, 2014

Hanging out with the boys

cat "Cats have it all—admiration, an endless sleep,
and company only when they want it."
~Rod McKuen, American poet, songwriter, composer, and singer

A street cat hanging out with three young men at the Starbucks in Rockwell Business Center (see previous post).

May 1, 2014

Bespoke building

“Rockwell” "If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings."
~Dave Barry, American humor columnist

CITY DAILY PHOTO THEME DAY: SQUARES • The windows of the Rockwell Business Center in Pasig City are made up of myriad panes of square glass. Even the pattern on its facade has squares.

The Rockwell Business Center was especially made for IT-based businesses. Which probably means that most of its tenants are call centers and business process outsourcing companies.