Sunday, December 30, 2007


The Republic is commemorating the 111th death anniversary of Jose Rizal today. I have had the chance to pass through the Luneta from DOT and took some shots of the places I passed by. The extensive coverage will come soon, but for now these will do.

The monument - also a tomb - is being cleaned for the annual commemoration. The President is expected to offer a wreath here on the 30th on behalf of a grateful nation.

The Philippine map relief which was recently cleaned and repainted by artists belonging to the advocacy movement RockEd. It still needs extensive renovation and cleaning.

A marker across the Luneta on the grounds of the Quirino Granstand marking Kilometer Zero. All distance measurements for the entire archipelago begins here.

A clean and wide Roxas Boulevard separates Luneta from the Quirino Grandstand. You can a see a little bit of the Manila Hotel in the background.

Luneta is the country's premier national park. As such, droves of people spend their weekends here to unwind and spend time with their families.

The park is a favorite of couples and lovers who shun the expense of staying in malls. Here, there is piped-in music, fresh air, and the wonderful view. The gate in the background leads to the Chinese Garden, a gift to commemorate Sino-Philippine friendship.

A wide expanse of green surrounds the Rizal monument. The Luneta looks so impressive from here, but years of neglect has actually taken its toll on its many attractions. You can feel the age taking over and the sorry state of its many mini-parks can hurt one's sensibilities.

To begin with, somebody should shoot the garden stylist for this kitschy work. I mean, huge concrete swans as planters?! I wonder if the the fountains are still working. It would be so lovely if they still are. The Rizal Monument is far down the reflecting pool (which does not reflect anything). Have you seen the gardens lately? You would die of a heart attack at the sight. Concrete monkeys (of the see-hear-say-no-evil variety) are scattered everywhere!!!

The Philippine Deep portion of the relief map.

There's a section of pigeon houses at the park. There are about 5 of these houses.

Colorful flags and busts of Philippine heroes line the major avenues of the park.

And the greatest travesty of them all, the Lapu Lapu statue which was donated by the Koreans during the term of DOT Secretary Richard Gordon. It was dismantled a few months after it was put up to prevent it from being toppled over by a passing typhoon. It used to sport a gold finish, but is now looking gray and dull. It replaced a sad-looking Castrillo monument which shows a mother holding a dead son (yet again). I wonder where they moved that to. That monument also replaced an art deco globe which was probably the most magnificent fountain in all of Manila during its hey day. No idea where it was kept as well. Anyway, Happy Rizal Day everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Was leaving the Super Terminal when I saw this sign. It reads, "THROUGH THIS DOOR PASS THE MOST COURTEOUS EMPLOYEES OF MANILA."

Before you become too cynical for your own good, you may want to guess where is this located.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Philippine parols at the Museum of the Filipino People (former Finance Building), Agrifina Circle, Manila

Sa lahat po ng tumangkilik sa SUPERPASYAL, maraming salamat po! Nawa'y hindi kayo magsawa sa pagbisita dito.

Warm greetings for the holiday season from Manila to all our readers from around the world. Maligayang pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!

Friday, December 21, 2007


These are located in Ortigas Center, City of Mandaluyong. A very spectacular sight!

Coming up next: The giant Christmas tree of Araneta Center!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The earliest record of egg tarts in the East is in a royal banquet for the Kangxi Emperor as part of the Manchu Han Imperial Feast. Egg tarts were then introduced in Hong Kong in the 1940's, probably as an adaptation of the English custard tarts.

In 1989, the Lord Stow's Bakery was opened in Macau and has continued to expand throughout Asia including the Philippines, where these eggs tarts are a hit and would be a much bigger hit if only they were not so expensive. Anyway, I got myself a 6-piece box from this outlet along Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila.

Using the puff pastry method, the crust is very crisp even when placed in the fridge, but these are best eaten warm. You can pop them in a toaster first. Heavenly!

The Lord Stow's version is based on the original Portuguese tarts called pasteis de nata. Portuguese-style egg tarts were evolved from "pastel de nata", a traditional Portuguese custard pastry that consists of custard in a crème brûlée-like consistency caramelized fashion in a puff pastry case.

It was created more than 200 years ago by Catholic nuns at the Jerónimos Monastery at Belém in Lisbon. Casa Pastéis de Belém was the first pastry shop outside of the convent to sell this pastry in 1837, and it is now a popular pastry in every pastry shop around the world owned by Portuguese descendants.

The Portuguese-style egg tarts known in Macau (Chinese: 葡式蛋撻, more commonly simply as 葡撻) originated from Lord Stow's Café in Coloane, owned by a Briton named Andrew Stow. Stow modified the recipe of pastel de nata using techniques of making English custard tarts. (Source: Wickipedia)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


SM Clark and its very unusual shape. Who says SM malls come in boxes?

Was in Clark, Pampanga lately and after some shopping at Oriental and Parkson, we dropped by newest SM Mall here in Clark and had merienda (snack) at Cabalen. I am not a major fan of this restaurant because I'm on a diet, and second, theirs is not exactly the best Capampangan food there is, but what the heck. The afternoon snack buffet is just Pho 125.00 (USD 1 = PHP 41.50) and consisted of 1 iced tea drink, and several options (including a weird macaroni salad). Here's what I got instead:

Dinuguan (pork blood) with white puto. It's good, although I never really liked dinuguan which employs innards. I love the plates though! They're inscribed with lines from the famous Capampangan song, Atin Cu Pung Singsing (I Have A Ring). This one reads, "I earned (?) it from my Mother, from whom I came".
Pansit palabok (pansit luglug). Puede na. Hardly life changing. I miss the real thing which you can get either from food stalls in public markets in San Fernando or from this one restaurant, the name of which escapes me at the moment. It was my Mom's favorite food place. I'd get back to you on that one.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Retro stool, Coca-cola IMAX Cinema lobby, SM Mall of Asia

“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” - Albert Einstein


The ceiling's the limit! Obviously, the only thing that stopped SM Mall of Asia from making a much taller tree was the ceiling. Otherwise, given the propensity of this mall to make everything in larger-than-usual sizes, God knows how tall that tree could have been. Anyway, this tree is here for a purpose - a fund-raising for children.

Coming up next: Ortigas Center's twin peaks!


Was crossing the overpass on Baclaran when I noticed that there were no vendors! This is impossible! A miracle! (okay, stop it already!) Anyway, this emboldened me to whip out my small camera instead take a photo of a quiet Baclaran highway at midnight. The first photo leads towards South of Manila - Las Piñas, Cavite, Tagaytay, Sucat, Muntinlupa. There used to be a community of DVD vendors on the sidewalk (yellow light side) but when MMDA decided to remove the Muslim community squatting on the empty land beside the highway, the vendors disappeared as well. Instead, they moved to the church side hence the busy look of the opposite side of the road.

This one leads to the north - Pasay, Manila and beyond.

Be it day or night, vendors and shops continue to make a killing in Baclaran. A 24-hour market, so to speak. Restaurants abound on this side and those fronting the Baclaran Church, the national shrine for Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Had the chance to visit Ilustrado again, but this time for lunch. This is one of the popular venues for laid-back lunches or dinners in the Walled City as well as a nice venue for gatherings like weddings. The main dining area is spacious and comfortable. The service is prompt (it may take some time for orders to arrive though) and friendly. It looks like the place needs a little update on the service side. I can't seem to put my finger on what's lacking. Definitely, the piped-in music needs to be changed (American Christmas songs in an old world Filipino setting? It could be quite unsettling). Otherwise, everything was a-ok. The food was great, too.
This print depicting Manila can be seen on the foot of the grand staircase which leads to the ballroom upstairs.
This is the coffee shop and pasteleria. Cafe Ilustrado owns Pasteleria Ilustrado which you see in SM Mall of Asia. I miss their really, really yummy puto bumbong. They used to cook it right here. They don't have it this year though. Tsk. This place is very nice. They have a good selection of cakes (though not as extensive as the others) and the old Manila posters on the walls add charm.
The door that leads to the main dining room.
Panna cotta duet. Strawberry and mango. Not particularly amazing.

Crepe de Intramuros. A mixture of fruits of the season plus vanilla ice cream on some kind of liquer sauce.

Dining Excellence in the Walled City

744 Calle Real del Palacio (now General Luna St.)
Intramuros, 1002 Manila
The Philippines

Tel. Nos. (02)527.3674 to 75.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


It's just a matter of time before bus terminals like this will be swelling with people again jostling for seats as the entire Filipino nation rushes home to family and relatives to celebrate this year's holiday season.

Monday, November 19, 2007


...Badjao children start attacking jeeps with their drums, dances, and crumpled dirty envelopes with "MAAWAPOKAYO sa mga Badjaos" scrawled in front.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Aircraft models. Photo by Dylan Gozum, 2007

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Was waiting for a bus home when I noticed the warm lights coming from the Manila Central Post Office's fountain. It changes from green to yellow to hot pink adding life to the stoic facade of the building. This place is always full of people because FX and bus rides to Las Piñas, Sucat, Alabang and other places south of Manila all come from this area.

It is sad, however, to see the squalor that has slowly returned to Liwasang Bonifacio, the park fronting the Post Office. Several of the swings and huts already have entire families living in them. Several parts of the park have lost its grass cover and floods during light rains. Some of the statues of Ifugaos have lost legs and arms. Some are already totally broken. I hope that authorities take a second look at this place because good money was spent in sprucing it up during Atienza's time.

By the way, anybody out there who knows what happened to the original four (4) globes that acted as this place's fountains before?


Finally had the chance to visit this place which my friends have been raving about. SOMS Noodle House is all about Thai food - delicious, fresh, and just like in many places in the kingdom, eaten on the street. The owners have been renting this series of apartments on Alger St. in Makati City and have made the street right in front of it - the sidewalk to be exact - the restaurant. How this was made possible by the city government is beyond me, but that's not what we are here for now, are we?

SOMS' kitchen is a one apartment affair and it looked really crampy and magulo (see photo below), but it seems to work for them. It's a family affair with Ilonggo women acting as manager and servers. SOMS also used to have a branch on N. Garcia, but this has been closed already. They are due to open a new branch somewhere in Katipunan, hopefully a full-service resto already. SOMS is owned by Parinya Pauamadiolok. former chef of Sukothai. His parents used to serve the Royal Family.

Al fresco dining is the order of the day. Some tables have umbrellas and lighted by bulbs like that above. Some are on the street itself.

Thai milk tea. So far so good. They come in these refillable plastic water bottles.

Pad thai! But I think I will just eat this once a year. Too heavy on the tummy but a meal in itself. Anyhow, I really don't know anymore what is a good pad thai. I have tasted many versions already. Sorry, but I have no good photos of the soup, Tom Yam Goong.
I loved this salad. It has huge shrimps in crunchy greens with a delightfully light lemon sauce.

And finally, the traditional Thai dessert: mango and sticky rice. The tartness of the mango (yep, it isn't sweet) goes very well with the sweet sauce of the sticky rice.

HOT TIP: SOMS does not accept reservation so you have to come early, usually before the usual meal times of 12NN or 7PM so you do not have to wait for a seat. Anyway, if you need to wait to be seated, order ahead. Be firm with the server girls. They are too busy to even notice you, but good things come to those who wait. See you there!

5921 A. Alger Street
Poblacion, Makati City

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Was in Tagaytay City many many weekends ago to attend a house blessing. During a lull, I decided to explore the vacant lots around the village and found these pretty little things. It's lovely how even the tiniest of wild flowers can be so beautiful when seen up close. Please forgive my sorry attempts at macro. I'm just starting.