Thursday, January 25, 2007


Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you Quiapo's famous tulay (bridge). No, it's no mere bridge because not only does it allow you to cross from Boredom City to Exciteville, the bridge also is home to Manila's handicraft center - from baskets to shell curtains to custom-made capiz delights. Name it, Quiapo has it. I was here just recently because I had to bring some Thai guests. This is a far cry from Chatuchak, of course. You wouldn't even want to make a comparison, but Quiapo has the thrills!

My first and only connection to Quiapo started with DVDs (mostly the hard to find ones) but that ended years ago. Once in a while, i'd find myself lost in its streets when on a lookout for something unusual (during days when there's nothing usual to do). I'd visit the Church of the Nazareno (which, by the way, is celebrating the quatercentenary of the image's arrival to Manila from Mexico), then end up buying medallions for a collection that I also stopped long ago because it was freaking my Mom (if miniature Sto. Niños with penises don't freak you out, I don't know what else will).

My next visits would then focus on the herb concoctions that abound near the church. Only in the Philippines would you be able to buy abortifacient oils next to a major church, a pilgrimage center at that. These oils - hidden behind leading tags like "Pamparegla" (to induce bleeding) can be had any time of the day, all days of the week.

These days, my interest in Quiapo is focused on less morbid stuffs. My new favorite is what many interior and event designers now fondly call as Ils-de-Tuls or "ilalim ng tulay" (under the bridge). Here you can get so many stuffs, be it for business purposes or gifts to foreigner friends.

Make it a business to visit this place at least once in your life.

Four kinds of shells make up this wonderful clock.

'Nay ko! Here's something you can use to scare burglars away. Thailand and Japan have their own versions too.

Coin purses. We've been doing this "footprint" design for decades!

These corner chandeliers would look great when lighted at night. Like the purses, these designs haven't been updated in decades.

When under the bridge, watch out for the occassional vehicle passing through.

Under the bridge. Ilalim ng tulay. Ils de tuls.

Detail. Art deco motifs

For picky buyers, you can always enjoy the airconditioned comforts of Balikbayan Handicrafts. Same products, only better and thrice as expensive.

If you go straight, you'd end up in Carriedo.

A rather ugly bunch of dolls. Sorry!

Hand-painted roosters. Lovely, lovely pieces.
Philippine handicrafts galore!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


The Penguin Classics edition of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere is now available in the Philippines. Published in a fresh, new translation , it is now available at Fully Booked and Power Books.


Thanks for your wonderful comments on my recent report on the Theater-in-the-Round Experience. I visited the runis of San Ignacio a few days after because I've never really been inside before the play. It was a gloomy day when I came back and it sort of gave the ruins a sadder feel to it. Try imagining how the Jesuits may have felt watching their gem of a church - their sueño dorado (golden dream) - burn for four days before finally crashing down, no thanks to bombs and mortars.

How come this was never reconstructed? (What a silly question.)

That's the clamshell pavilion of the Philippine Tourism Authority.

The cross you see on top is that of the Manila Cathedral, said to have been rebuilt seven times.


For travellers who have to no drivers but have to travel by air and leave their car, it would be a good idea to park it here at a fortuitously-named facility called Park N' Fly. I think this is an international brand and this is their Pasay branch. There appears to be another one in Clark. The rate, if I am not mistaken, is Php 90 / 24 hours (that cheap?! Somebody confirm this please). A shuttle will bring you to the airport and back upon your return. Convenient, eh?

Park N' Fly is located at Caltex Compound (PDSC/Park 'N Fly Bldg.), NAIA cor. Domestic Road 1300 Pasay City (Tel Nos. 851-7471 to 72). It's just walking distance from the old Domestic Terminal and 10 minutes drive to Terminals 1 and 2.

No. I don't know the owner.


Photos by Dylan Gozum

Here's something I discovered lately (no, tried is more like it. You all have seen the ad on TV!). This is Greenwich's Red Egg Pizza. I've always love red salted eggs. Goes well with crunchy tomatoes and spicy onions, sprinkled with basil and tossed in virgin olive oil. A perfect side dish for Cebu's danggit. But this is something novel - red salted eggs on pizza? I must try this one, and fast!

The overall taste is something i'd call pleasant - not salty, not oily, not overpowering. You can taste the eggs, but it doesn't take over the whole affair. After all, there's ham, sweet corn kernels and cheese to complement that. It is good but not that great. Perhaps another order more, then I can move on with my life.

At any rate, keep 'em new food ideas coming!


Photo by Dylan Gozum

Here's a childhood favorite of my mine. This is okoy or shrimp fritters. The base is shredded green papaya mixed in batter, then topped with several pieces of shrimps and deep fried. Other households also use potatoes, fresh banana blossoms, or bean sprouts but in Pampanga, green papaya is normally used.

Dipping sauce would be vinegar with crushed garlic and black peppercorns. Yum! Yum! Yum!

What's your favorite Pinoy merienda?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I was supposed to have come from the CCP before this show to watch the Ramon Obusan's annual Vamos a Belen, but I overslept. In fact, i woke up on the dot, 3.30pm: By this time the show has started and I was still in bed. Drat. The National Artist for Dance just died a day before this and here I was wasting a ticket to what could have been his farewell performance! :-(

At any rate, I caught this Theater-in-the-Round Experience in Intramuros (Sidney, you weren't in Manila when this was happening, I think). Videos of the Philippines were shown to the crowd while waiting for the 'procession' to arrive.

These people dressed in Spanish-period outfits are members of the Tanghalang Pilipino, resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

The location for tonight's performance is the ruins of the former Jesuit church in Intramuros, the San Ignacio.

"Taho! Taho kayo dyan!"
The 'procession', heralded by a band, nears San Ignacio. Theatre members posing as Chinese traders sells goods to audiences.
Crispin? Basilio? Must we ever miss out on the village idiot, a staple in many Filipino stories and films?

Huwag! Huwag po! San Miguel slaying the devil. These are real, live actors. I think they were at it for 20 minutes or so without moving!

Michael, the Archangel, figures many times in stories about Manila. During one of the many raids on the city by marauders, the angel was said to have been seen atop Intramuros raising his sword for battle. You can read more on that in Nick Jouaquin's book Manila, My Manila.
A prisoner is hoisted on poles for the community to see.
This boy was the narrator of events all throughout the performance.

Ha-la! The ruling class is framed in a retablo, symbolizing the power that they wielded during their time. On top of the pyramid of power is, of course, the fraile. Do you think things have changed through the years?
The galleons come home to Manila from Acapulco. Such safe returns are welcomed with much rejoicing in Manila, with Masses and Te Deums celebrated and sang for days on end.

Inspecting the goods that the galleons bring home.

The Chinese merchants have been part and parcel of Philippine history.

A theatre member, posing as a Chinese merchant, sells to the audience.
The burning of Parian.

Chinese merchants, in order to buck discrimantion, marry into the Filipino / Spanish ruling class and change their last names. With this, integration into society became complete.

The art of communicating using the fan.

Rebolusyon! I like the redness of this photo. Reminds one of blood. In Tales of Two Cities, Charles Dickens used a simliar allusion to revolution when a barrel fell from a cart and rivulets of red wine flowed through the streets of Paris.
Dancing as a form of celebration in the Philippines.
Inang Bayan (Mother Country) leads dancers in performing the Sinulog.
A member of the theatre group poses as a tourist and takes photos of the audience.
A choir serenades theatre goers (sorry for this really bad photo. I have problems with color adjustments).

I only saw Net25 here; no other major television networks. Sad. Culture obviously isn't part of their programming schedule.

San Ignacio comes alive again albeit only for a new nights.
All's well that ends well. Thanks to BC for bringing me here.