The Blog and Tour Schedule of Carlos Celdran. A man who is trying to change the way you look at Manila - one step at a time. Telephone: (02)4844945 Text/Cell:(0920)9092021 or Email: celdrantours@hotmail.com

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I TOLD YOU SO...

THAT SINKING FEELING

Check out this article. More solid evidence confirming my theory that Robinson's Place Ermita is the gateway to hell. Good thing nobody was killed. But Gokongweis and all you folks at Robinson's Land Corporation High Rise Buildings Division, now would be a good time to address some niggling issues regarding the sustainability of this real estate development. I certainly hope that this isn't a reflection on the substandard quality of the materials or technology that you are using to make Adriatico Residences: One Adriatico Place and Two Adriatico Place and soon Three Adriatico Place. It isn't too late to revise the blue prints to include more trees, open space, roadways, parking and better sewage, you know. God help all who bought units in there.
Photo above shows the newly repaired section of road.
Photo below shows the section that caved in with it's new steel retainers
(upper right of photo to the left of yellow crane).


CARLOS RECOMMENDS...

Well whaddayaknow. Apparently one man's den of inequity is another man's idea of a great investment. After the righteous Kings shuttered down the Anito motel/hostel/short-time sex lodge across the street from The Living Room, the owners of Victoria Court wasted no time in picking up where they left off by buying up the place and opening the SOHOTEL. But although this may seem like the same horse only with a different color, SOHOTEL now aspires to be a little more sophisticated than it's predecessor. With it's extensive menu and renovated rooms done in a cream toned minimalist style, the appeal now addresses budget travellers and families as well as the crowd looking for a little clandestine "kootchie kootchie" if you know what I mean.
SOHOTEL
MH del Pilar corner San Andres St.
Next to Malate Church
Malate, Manila

Monday, February 27, 2006

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!

DINING IN THE AGE OF THE IRON FIST
Thanks to EO1017, everything has been feeling a little "New Society" around the metropolis lately. From the Marcosian feel of checkpoints in every corner to the vintage of the personalities we see littering the national airwaves (Imee Marcos and Tito Sotto among others), everything seems to be harking back to the days of disco and Martial rule in Manila. But nothing reminds me more of that era than the fad of eating with one's hands as a fashionable social activity. Kamayan Restaurant being the one and only place to see and be seen doing so. So just yesterday, while on my way to my favorite framer, The Corner Frames in Barangay Pio del Pilar to pick up the photo's for Lori's dessert show, I ducked into their Pasay Road branch. It was a heady swim. Not only did they still have their signature cardiac arrest inducing Paella-Stuffed-Lechon (What an INSANE - albeit delicious - IDEA), but the decor was still pretty much as I remember it from the days of Madame and Da Maharlika. Low ceilings, dark heavy wood, and their famous ceiling of fame (photo below) - a bittersweet reminder that once upon a time, Manila was a chic tourist destination where the likes of Sean Connery, Eartha Kitt, Sigourney Weaver, and even Peruvian Prime Minister Alberto Fujimori would be seen enjoying hand to mouth subsistence.

KAMAYAN RESTAURANT
47 Pasay Road (Arnaiz Road),
Makati City (next to WalterMart)
Tel: 843-3604
Fax: 844-4562/534-3038

OH MY....

GO GLOW GO.
Ok. This will be my only political post for the week.
To all of you "concerned" citizens bitching out there that the coup was pre-cooked by Gloria and that the "State of Emergency" was totally uncalled for, read this article in TIME Magazine. This confirms that La Glue should really start locking some of these jerks up or start shooting them at sunset on the Luneta. Mikee Cojuangco even makes a cameo. Sickening. Frankly, I still support the constitution and our current president. I, along with many many other silent ones voted for her (I can really count with my fingers people who voted otherwise - AND FROM ALL SOCIAL CLASSES TOO). Considering the total ineptitude of the final days of the FPJ campaign, it is not inconcievable to believe that she won fair and square. Doesn't ANYBODY remember out there how FPJ started falling in the polls in the weeks prior to the election due to his lack of a cohesive platform, lack of communication skills, and lack of unity in his team? Godspeed to her in fighting sycophantic twits like Boy Saycon, Tito Sotto, the Estradas, Cory Aquino, Imee Marcos and the irresponsible media that brought all of this insanity to a boil (I won't name names but you know who you are). She has really been too kind. Now excuse me, I'm going out to Harrison Plaza for groceries and to conduct my life as usual. Long live the midget.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

WELCOME! WELCOME!

OYE! OIGA!
Brava! It seems that the cultural scene of Ermita has just gotten more exciting (and a leetle more Espaneesh) with the arrival of the spanking new Instituto Cervantes on T.M. Kalaw. Although the location might be a little grittier than their old digs, the current combination of striking architecture, more techonologically advanced facilities, and better parking are a definite upgrade from the old headquarters on Leon Guinto near De La Salle University. Not to mention, the stunning Jose Ma. Zaragoza architecture and authentic Iberian cuisine of The Casino Espanol right next door (apparently their Fabada is still worthy of writing home about) marks the area as an authentic slice of Spain by the Luneta Park. Log onto their website here
for their cultural calendar. Look out for upcoming film showings and photo exhibitions.
INSTITUTO CERVANTES MANILA
855 TM Kalaw Street
1000 Ermita, Manila
Filipinas
Tel: 5261482
Fax: 526744
9

CARLOS RECOMMENDS...

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW...
When looking for authentic museum grade artifacts and quality handicrafts in Manila - either the real thing or the made-to-order kind - the malls are definitely not the place to be. Not only are prices immovable in most establishments there, but the sterile, prefabricated ambience compromises the mood to browse for anything at all. Back in the 80's all one had to do was walk down MH del Pilar or A. Mabini (near the Plaza Ferguson area) and it was all antiques, handicrafts, and bric-a-brac from Luneta Park until Pedro Gil. But since the demise of Pistang Pilipino (now the Hyatt Regency Casino) and the decline of A. Mabini Street in the late 90's thanks to the morally fibrous Mayor Lim, the hunt moved to Makati Cinema Square basement and Lao Center (both on Pasay Road). But don't be dismayed because if you still feel the need to find that something-something when in downtown Manila, the energy hasn't disappeared, it only transferred. So march on over to these places for some of the best we have to offer:

PHILTRADE (Hall 6 and 7), Pasay City
(photo above)
Buendia corner Roxas Boulevard (southwest side beside the World Trade Center).
Store upon store upon store of Chinese porcelain, 19th century dinnerware, art deco furniture, 50's and 60's collectibles, and everything else inbetween. Haggling acceptable.

SILAHIS HANDICRAFT,
Calle Luna Street cor. Victoria, Intramuros
One stop shop for all things Filipiniana. Common handicrafts/goods on ground floor, the more expensive stuff on the 2nd floor, and a gallery/bookstore on the third floor. A must for any Intramuros visitor. Have a snack behind it at Ilustrado when you are done browsing. Haggling recommended.

MH DEL PILAR and A.MABINI, Ermita
Both streets between the Ermita Church area and Padre Faura.
Both streets are still chock full of antique stores selling the REAL things. Only for serious collectors and for those not faint of heart when it comes to price. Haggling definitely required.

Not in downtown Manila:

TIENDESITAS
C-5 corner Ortigas Avenue, Pasig
Although new, the selections are impressive and tasteful. The attached food court, pet store central, and fresh produce market, also make a place a worthy visit for any local or foreign tourist. Haggling possible but not in all stalls.

SWAPMEET
24 Kamuning Rd., Quezon City
Tel. 413-3180
Hours open: Open from 11am to 8:30pm, Monday to Saturday
This place is more like Evangelista Street with it's second hand selections, but some gems definitely are hidden in the rough. Haggling acceptable.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

NOW LET'S PLAY A LITTLE GAME...

WHAT ON EARTH...?
To commemorate the non-event that was EDSA 1986 and the even more pathetic non-event that was this morning's pseudo coup d'etat, I shall proudly ignore them both. Instead, allow me to invite you all to play a little game once again. And the game is called: "What on earth is this?" Just last week, as I was walking on United Nations Avenue in Ermita, I happened to find this limestone and brick structure that looked like a postbox from the Flintstones cartoons at the corner of MH del Pilar. Now for the life of me, I can't figure out what it is. It's made of adobe and brick, so I guess it must date to the Spanish period and the days before cement construction technology. But what was it used for? Methinks it might be a marker for distance. Unfortunately, I don't know how far it is from Manila Cathedral (the Kilometer Zero of the Philippines before it was switched to the Rizal monument in Luneta during the Commonwealth era) so I can't be certain about it's purpose. Anyone out there have any ideas or thoughts on this?

SURREAL IN THE CITY...

Manang Elma, my dear helper from the idyllic island of Surigao, is one of the sweetest people I will ever know. So integral is this woman to the functions of my home that she will go through all lengths to make sure that my life runs properly and without interruption even if means having to improvise. So instead of verbally reminding me about the unnecessary frivolity of grocery shopping between my harried tour appointments, she instead tries sending me a subtle hint to get her message across. Believe me, nothing says "we are out of groceries" better than a meal of Royal spaghetti with a sauce made of sliced up street corner fishballs, banana ketchup, tabasco, and leftover crabmeat omelette. Mmmmm... Now, I must admit, I really didn't care much for it. But why do I have a ominous feeling that this recipe will become a hit soon at some Jollibee somewhere...

Monday, February 20, 2006

YOU ARE INVITED TO A TEA PARTY...

Once upon a time, there was once this fabulous blog belonging to a fabulous food writer and food stylist named Lori Baltazar. So delicious was this blog that we here at The Living Room had this crazy idea that she should hold an art exhibition featuring a some of Manila's finest desserts with her as the curator. So we called her out of the blue and asked her if she liked the idea. Strangely enough, she said, "Yes". So ladies and gentlemen, allow us to present:

The Living Room
presents
Dessertcomesfirst
An afternoon tea party featuring works by some of Manila's finest
confectionery artisans:
Imelda Go
Karen Young
Sharlene Tan of Qitchen
Dulcelin
Homemade by Roshan
Trina Imperial
Gerald Gan
Coffee by: Cordillera Coffee
Works curated by: Lori Baltazar
March 12.2006. Sunday. 3:00PM. Php500.00/person
Email lori_baltazar@yahoo.com for reservations or inquiries.
Directions to the Living Room here.

More details regarding this show are listed on the blog:
http://dessertcomesfirst.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 16, 2006

WELL, I'LL BE DURNED...

On February 15, 2006, at precisely 1845hrs,+8 GMT, my celphone rings. And lo and behold, who might it be? Why it's former Manila Councilor, Kim Atienza, dropping a line to clarify the issues surrounding last week's post, SURREAL IN THE CITY. My, my. Word really gets around quickly in the blogosphere. And my suspicions were confirmed. Apparently, the organizers of the MOSCHINO event at Plaza Sulayman put the image of his face on the poster without his knowledge, which is why they were removed just a few days later. Rats. I was hoping for something more salacious. Actually, the rest of the phone call went on rather uneventfully, it was only talk of TV stations and our recollections of the old Blue Cafe in Malate. But when the topic turned to the political implications of having ones face slathered on posters everywere, things got a little juicier. So, you heard it here and you heard it fresh. Kim said he is NOT running for public office. The actual quote: "I am not running for public office." Not in the next elections. Not ever. So he says. He said that he would rather continue his animal advocacy on television and get back to his artsy roots. Actual quote: "I want to continue my animal show on television and get back to my artist roots." Hmmm. To this I say "good for you, dude." and I intend to see him keep his word. Because in fairness, the man does talk intelligently about animals and this country could stand to have someone out there talk about wildlife and the humane treatment of domestic pets on a national level. And at the end of the day, when it comes to animals, I too would prefer the reticulated ones in the grass compared to the political ones in City Hall.
Animalandia, 6am, Magandang Umaga Bayan, ABS-CBN

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

SURREAL IN THE CITY...

ALL THIS CAN BE YOURS FOR A SONG...
Do you ever think that life can sometimes be like a musical? Well, now should that urge to break out into melody hit you while walking down Roxas Boulevard, just duck into any of the light blue Karaoke "huts" located between the oversized Coca-Cola bottle at Plaza Sulayman and the Manila Yacht Club. Conveniently located at intervals of about fifty coconut trees or so, you will never more than a few steps away from a potential rendition of "My Way", "Love is a Many Splendored Thing", or "La Vie en Rose".
Now one never need to run into a bar or to the mall in order to belt out that theme song deep within.

All songs Php5.00. Korean, Japanese, and Visayan love songs also available.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

IN MEMORIAM...

Princess Ingrid Bergman
June 2005 - February 2006

I'm a total wreck. That morbid ominous feeling I had all month finally made sense yesterday when our little Ingrid had to be put to sleep due to a viral infection and resurgence of distemper. And although her time with Tesa and I was short and sweet, her death also comes associated with a very disturbing trend happening among the Philippine upper classes right now: The giving away of puppies as souvenirs. It was just last August when my aunt called me up to asked me if I wanted to adopt a Jack Russel. Being the dog person that I am, I happily accepted the offer. But upon receiving Ingrid, I soon learned the darker story behind the request. Apparently, at some hoity toity soiree thrown by some fruitcake freakshow named Tynie Meneses, Ingrid and her siblings were passed out to my aunt and the guests as they were leaving. And it gets worse, not only were they given away like lollipops without a single thought regarding the pup's welfare, apparently this guy also kept the puppies and their mother on a fighting cock farm in Sto. Tomas - a totally inappropriate place for dog raising. That was where Ingrid's distemper developed. All her other brothers and sisters died of the disease soon after the party and Ingrid was the only survivor. And although I would like to throw all the blame squarely on Tynie's shoulders, sadly, he is not alone in this savage heartless trend. The precedent for this was set by that social climbing C grade actress Gretchen Bareto who gave away dalmatians at the 101 Dalmatian themed party she threw for her daughter's birthday last year. So to you Tynie and Gretchen, I say this: DOGS ARE NOT PARTY FAVORS. YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE RESPONSIBILITY AND CARE THAT GOES INTO RAISING A DOG. IT'S LIKE GIVING AWAY INFANTS FOR CHRISTMAS. IT'S A BARBARIC ACT THAT IS NEITHER CUTE NOR RESPONSIBLE. IT IS A REFLECTION OF YOUR LACK OF BREEDING, EDUCATION, AND HUMANITY. So for you, Tynie, I wish that you suffer in the same way that your diseased dogs did. And for you Gretchen, I guess it's already bad enough just to be known as a money grubbing, posturing, adulterer who will never fulfill her dream of being the other Gretchen Cowanko.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

SURREAL IN THE CITY...

SMELLS LIKE PHILIPPINE SPIRIT
So odd. Just last week, there were these posters that were plastered all over the lamp posts of Roxas Boulevard and they were the most semiotically discombobulating things I have seen in a very long while. Done in an elongated tri-colore design, the words - from top to bottom - read as follows:

MANILA - THE CITY OF FRIENDSHIP
(Photo of Kim Atienza)
"Nothing is more essential than the lasting ties that bind...
Celebrate life. Celebrate friendship." - Kim Atienza
Come celebrate the scent of friendship as MOSCHINO unveils
FRIENDS men.
8PM. February 3, 2006
The Baywalk, Roxas Boulevard
Featuring Barbi Almabis, Itchyworms, and Parokya ni Edgar.
Hosted by Nancy Castiglione and RJ Ledesma.
COME BOND WITH US!

Now, so confusing was the arrangement of ideas and images on this poster that my train of thought immediately afterwards was as follows: "Why is Kim Atienza on that poster?", "What does he want us to smell?" "Does he want us to smell like him?", "Does he want us to smell his friends?", "Does he want us to smell him like a friend?", "Why are the colors Italian?", "Is Kim Italian?", "Is it because Nancy Castiglione is Italian?", "I am so confused.."

And I guess Kim got confused too. Because only three days after the photo above was taken..


His image was immediately slashed off. Hmmm. I wonder what's the story behind this? Weird. Weird. Weird. But if you think that is weird - this is even weirder (see photo below). According to a billboard festooned above the Magallanes overpass in Makati, apparently Kris Aquino wants us to smell like her too. What an ultimately frightening situation. What on god's earth would you attract? Apparently only yuletide chihuahuas and other small dogs who can travel in cars. Because I had the privilege of smelling it last week while I was at the mall. Kris Aquino smells like a stale gingerbread cookie found underneath a car seat. Simply gross.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

OH MY. OH MY. OH MY.

As I said before: Philippines, beware the cusp of Capricorn into Aquarius. I don't know why - but for some odd cosmic reason, this country always seems stormy during the first quarter of every year. But yet, I never EVER would have expected this. And in any other situation, I would have let the rest of the blogosphere analyze this tragic situation ad nauseum on their own, but I really couldn't ignore it this time. The only reason being that I live literally five minutes away by foot from the area where the stampede occured. Luckily, since I saw the crowds already swell from a small group on Tuesday afternoon to ridiculous proportions by Thursday night; I decided to spend Friday night at the Living Room in Malate just so I could avoid the traffic out of the neighborhood. Then, by Saturday morning, I recieved that fateful text and once again, the Philippines had become the poster child for countries where the wretched poverty of both pocket and the soul can claim lives to the tune of a million pesos, a motorized pedicab, or chance to watch some half-naked brown skinned soft porn star sing. Shame. Shame. Shame.

One. Shame to ABS CBN for exploiting the public through a no brainer show that easily appeals to the lowest denominator of a desperate people. Why give away cash and cheap polluting motorcycle cabs instead of scholarships? And why the sexy dancers while doing it? And worst of all, after the tragedy, why in heavens name did you have advertisements air between segments of "Alay Sa Kapamilya"? If "Alay.." was supposed to be your apology and appeal to viewers for forgiveness, airing ads only revealed your true intent: To earn revenue and to increase ratings. Sickening. Just sickening. Two. Shame to Willie Revillame and all his showbiz ilk for not only their crass ways, but also from earning their living and increasing their public profile through the promotion of a mendicancy mentality and a beggar culture. Three. Shame to the Pasig Local Government for letting ABS CBN get away their half assed organization and non-existent security contingency. Five. Shame to all the members in the crowd who let their greed and lack of sensitivity allow elderly women and children to die, not just in the name of money - but for EASY money at that. I'm sure these are the same people who were INSISTING that the show go on despite the tragedy. Poverty is NO excuse for such shockingly inhuman behaviour. And lastly, shame to all of us who know better for letting this macabre situation fester within our society by not speaking up and by not doing anything to alleviate poverty on a personal level. Really, how much do the most offended of you out there REALLY pay your maid? And in advance, shame to all of us once again for forgetting that this thing ever happened within the next couple months. Can anyone here give me the exact date of the Payatas Landslide? I am truly ashamed of myself and the society I come from today. I really wish that ABS CBN would STOP saying on air that this event brought out the best in us because it really was the worst in us that let this happen in the first place.

Bottom line: Someone (or more) from the Pasig Local Government and from ABS CBN should go to jail for this crime of neglect and set an example for accountability. Unless of course, ABS CBN cuts some deal with the government in exchange for getting off easy and perhaps laying off the anti-administration rhetoric for a while. I know it's a cynical way of looking at things. But crazier deals have been struck before.

And for those of you out there who blame Gloria for all this, get f****** real. That's just stupid. Really.

Thank you
CBS NEWS for the link and the photo.

Friday, February 03, 2006

SAY A LITTLE PRAYER...

Not only because the utter destruction of our capital in the Liberation of Manila in 1945 started exactly 61 years ago today but also because we lost yet another architectural masterpiece in this groaning city of endangered beauty. The modernist 1950's masterpiece that was once the Philippine Veterans Bank's former headquarters in Arroceros, Manila is finally gone. Destroyed silenty and right under the steady gaze of the Manila City Hall clocktower, it's clean space age lines and glamorous curves are no more. It's no secret that the structure was already condemned due to major structural damage caused by the 1991 earthquake but still, it's sad that there wasn't any feasible way that we as Manilenos could have saved these physical manifestations of our history. As Nick Joaquin said about the postwar Manileno towards his history. It's sad "that not only have we forgotten, but we have forgotten that we have forgotten."

I wonder if anybody out there has a photo of the original structure.

BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!

OH MY! OH MY! OH MY!
Something is happening over at the South Super Highway Extension and it's warming the black corridors of my tiny heart. Just last week, on my way Quirino Boulevard from Buendia, I took a gander at the railroad to my right and noticed that something was off. Very off. And soon I realized that the reason why things seemed so unnerving was because I could actually SEE the railroads on my right. Something that I was never able to do before. The landscape, which once looked like this:

Now looked like this:
For as long as I can remember in the 33 years of my short life, railroad squatters have defined the landscape of my mental picture of Manila. Barefoot pregnant women and toothless shirtless men lounging by their festering makeshift residences had become a sight as normal to me in this city as coconut trees. To tell you the truth, I considered shanties such a definitive aspect of our civic identity that I never EVER thought that I would see these railside versions of Philippine vernacular architecture disappear within my lifetime. But lo and behold, Looky! They are gone.

Only the smashed bits and pieces remain as the skyline of Makati is now given permission to loom in the distance. And please, don't start thinking that I am some heartless twit who delights in seeing poor people dislocated from their homes. Not at all. I truly believe that it's even MORE heartless to let these people stay there and believe that their wretched way of life is permissible in ANY society. It may be harsh to see them suffer for now, but in the long run, I do hope that their sacrifice to create a national rail system will lead to a better way of life for themselves and the greater majority (I also hope that they are given alternative housing in exchange for their move). Nevertheless, It's good to see that steps to stop pandering to the poor are finally being taken and attempts to reclaim public domain are finally being made. And call me a pollyanna, but I do have a teeny weeny glimmer of hope in my heart that the sight of squatters MIGHT decline considerably one day in Manila. Because down the street from where all this destruction was located, the Metro Manila Development Authority was heroically trying to teach Manila's heaving classes the finer points of maintaining civilized surroundings by keeping the plants alive on center islands and giving their neighborhoods a fresh lick of paint and new paving - just like this:

Say whatever you want about the "questionable" mandate of Gloria Mac Arroyo or the pink urinals of Bayani Fernando, it cannot be denied that such a dramatic physical change in my urban sightscape is happening under their watch. I wonder if any alternative poser to the leadership of the country or the MMDA can offer anything better for now. And I also wonder how long this will last.

The top three shots above were taken in the East Side of South Super Hiway Ext. between Magallanes and Quirino Ave. The lower two shots were taken at the notoriously squatter infested "Nazareth" zone at the Northwest corner of San Andres street (so called because the area was the one of the first depressed areas to be walled off from the sight of tourists by Imelda back in the 1970's. Leaving only arched entrances reminiscent of the gates of Nazareth for access.) February 2006.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!

BEAT THE SWEET!
For all South Beach Diet freaks, unhappy fat people, sugar Nazis, and folks with diabetes in their family tree like myself, there is hope for us in this simple carb infested city known as Manila. Right on the southbound side of the aforementioned South Super Highway Extension, between Buendia and the Magallanes flyover, I found place we can all run to whenenever we feel the need for sugary speed, if you know what I mean. Former no-nos such as chocolate cake, jelly donuts, muffins, and cookies can all now be ours now the appearance of Sugar Not!on the scene. Owned and managed by the husband and wife team of Wolfgang Lambsdorff and Anne Beltran, this little deli-slash-coffeeshop-slash-bakery offers up ONLY fresh, low-fat, low-sugar, and sugar-free recipes for those seeking a healthier alternative to the fatty sweetness that most of the capital has to offer.
SUGAR NOT!
Labaire Bldg. 5462 South Super Highway corner Malvar, Bangkal, Makati Tel. 8893427
It's right around the corner from Fat Michael's.
I suggest visiting right before or after my Evangelista Que Linda! tour.