Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This April, we commemorate the 203rd anniversary of the arrival in Manila of Francisco Javier de Balmis, personal physician to King Carlos IV of Spain. In 1803, after smallpox had affected his daughter, María Luísa, the king commissioned his doctor Señor de Balmis to bring the vaccine to the Spanish colonies on state expenses.

The countries visited were the Canary Islands, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, the Philippines, China and passed by St. Helena on his way back to Spain. The discoverer of the vaccine, Edward Jenner, himself wrote "I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this.”

To remember the generosity of His Majesty, a bronze statue was erected at the Plaza Mayor fronting the Manila Cathedral in 1824 where it still stands today. The plaza is now called Plaza de Roma to celebrate the elevation to the College of Cardinals of Rufino J. Santos, the first Filipino cardinal, in 1961.

The postcard above was issued in the 1920's with Plaza Mayor renamed as Plaza Mckinley in 1901 after the US President.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

B & W

In sepia, black or white
The images of your smile
Seem impossible
To keep from the mind

The shadow of its passage
Seem to pause in between
The dimly lit shades
Of my way home

In sepia, black or white
When all the colors are nil

In sepia, black, or white (by Karlo Mikhail Mongaya; in


You wouldn't miss it. It's just right across the street from Robinson's Place Ermita. We've been visiting this place for so many years now since our night-out nights (huh ?!) during Malate's hey days. These days, when late-night hunger pangs call for something quick and nifty and you've just finished a long movie at the mall, the place to be is Hap Chan along Pedro Gil. According to their
website, hap means "to put together or bundle in one group." Chan is Chinese for “place”. Hap Chan has come to be “the right place” for gathering the family, the clan.

What's a dimsum place without the usual complimentary hot tea?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


It's finally that time of the month. Harvest time has come and the first day produced 40 kaings (traditional fruits baskets) of green mangoes. This will then be treated so the sap is removed from the skin (para flawless!) and extend shelf life. The fruits will ripen six to seven days from now and will then be ready for the markets. Antipolo mangoes with Antipolo suman, yum!

The mangoes are sorted by size in separate baskets (i.e. small, medium, and large).
The leaves on top of the baskets are tags that mean that the mangoes inside are small. Each basket weighs 22 kilos.

Lunch - sinigang na isda - is cooking for the boys.

Summer greetings from the farm! My dog, Turnip, is in the background. :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008


April 18, 2008

Dear friends,

If you haven't been on a tour of the National Museum, well, here's your chance. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the museums are (the former Finance Building and the former Legislative Building) with its extensive renovation inside yet keeping with its neo-Federal Style architecture outside.

There's fifteen galleries in the Museum of the Filipino people (formerly Finance) to explore our archaeological past and our anthropological present. The highlight of is of course four galleries devoted to the 1994 recovery of the Spanish galleon San Diego. It's treasures give insights to the incredible 300 year trade that linked us to the Americas. We’ll also see the current temporary exhibits in the museum.

The former Legislative Building, now the National Gallery of Art, will be another formidable encounter as we journey through 200 years of Filipino arts and sculpture in seven galleries. The most spectacular sight is the gigantic and original rendering The Spoliarium by Juan Luna. We pause here to appreciate and learn how this masterpiece inspired our brave band of Filipino students in Madrid, including Jose Rizal, to alter their lives and helped in the formation of our nation.

John L. Silva has been Senior Consultant of the National Museum for close to ten years and has the most incredible stories and insights about the collection. He teaches arts education in an interesting and humorous manner and delights and inspires his audience to be proud of their culture and history.

Proceeds from the fees (700 pesos for adults, and 500 pesos for children up to 18 years) will go to John's I LOVE MUSEUM PROGRAM, which brings public school teachers to the National Museum and to their local museums, taught the importance of arts appreciation and transmit that information to their students. Studies show that an arts educated child raises their academic achievements, promotes love of reading, and makes them better citizens.

The tours are three hours in duration, and begins at 10:00 am sharp (ending at 1:00 pm) at the rear entrance of the Museum of the Filipino People, (former Finance Building) Agrifina Circle, Rizal Park. Attendees are requested to wear walking shoes and reservations are strongly encouraged by texting or calling John Silva at 0926 729 9029. The tours will be held April 5, 19th, 26th and May 2, 2008. (Note: Additional tour dates on May 10 & 17)

See you at the National Museum.

John L. Silva

Monday, April 14, 2008


Found myself quite unexpectedly in The Fort in Makati City and at the famed Bonifacio High Street at that on The Fort's 5th Avenue. It's a promenade of mind-boggling proportions. High-end boutiques and unique retail stores abound. It's open air and has several pieces of art spread all over the grounds punctuated at times with unusual water fountains. Almost a kilometer long, there are also several restaurants to tempt the most discriminating and adventurous of taste buds and we only have Ayala Land to thank for this newest development in the heart of Metro Manila. It's quite comparable to Clarke Quay sans the fiberglass roofing and the adjoining river, but it can be quite windy at times.

Design detail. A structure that acts both as an art piece and as a street lamp. Behind it is Bookwork Cafe.

Water fountains like this one (see also photos 11 & 12) break the monotony of lines and light.

Ah, the famous Cupcakes by Sonja. Too bad I'm not a cupcake fan.

Mezzaluna, methinks, is one of the most beautiful restaurants in these parts.

Good to see Portico come alive again. Have dined in its former place in Malate (on Adriatico) several times. The food's not particularly amazing, but the interiors make up for that.

Heaven on earth! Fully Booked stands high and proud at 5 floors. Was here to attend a book launching by Fox Publishing. I didn't have time to go around and I am proud to have resisted doing that or else...

Design detail. Buildings are marked by signs like this one.

Nothing in particular except that I like the chandelier. It's made of spoons, forks, and soup ladles.

Design detail. Street lamps.

I attempted to get a better shot of this at 1600 ISO, but my attempts were futile. I really need to learn how to use an SLR properly. My companion's Nikon, however, got a spectacular shot. I almost died of envy.

So this is how it feels like to be a prick.