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, April 25, 2006

THE MILLION MAN MUMU...

Now is it just me, or is every freaking white collared Filipino man in Manila retarded when it comes to gauging clothes sizes? I mean, just take a short walk around the business districts of Makati or Ortigas, and you will spot legion upon legion of the city's male salaried class swimming in yards of polyestered office wear. And apparently the retardation crosses all age and social brackets too. From the lowly clerk to middle management and above, it seems that the preferred choice is whatever fits their body's measurements PLUS enough room to fit a small mammal.

Now is this done by ordinance or is this a subconscious effort ruled by the cosmos? Either that, or it seems that our city's department stores only offer clothing in three sizes: blousy, blousy, and blousy. Whatever the case may be. Allow me to say this: "Dudes. It's just panget. panget. panget.*"

Wearing oversized barong tagalogs/shirts does nobody any favors aesthetically. Really. It kids no one. It doesn't hide the beer and sisig gut; it does not make one look younger; it does not elongate the silhouette; it's not "ghetto" or whatever; and believe you me - just because it's big enough to flap like a fan, it does not mean it can cool off like one either. And even though I only have limited fashion sense, one doesn't have to be blessed with a queer eye to realize that it's just flipping fugly**. The hip-hop baggy look in embroidered polyester or in cotton knit is not a good one for the office - or anywhere for that matter.

But how How HOW did these crimes of couture become so common in our fair society? Could there be a historical precedent to all this oversizedness? Is it a reaction to the climate? Or could this just be the result of a society whose mothers forced their male offspring to wear bigger clothes to save on money (No outgrowing of clothing if you know what I mean)? It truly boggles the mind.

But there is always hope. There are ways out there to make it look hip. Might I recommend accessorizing or using a healthy dose of irony when picking up the baggy look? It could soften the image and not make one look so DOWDY. The latter adjective being a description that should never ever be used on a male. It's emasculating and almost as bad as having man boobies. But remember, only follow the aforementioned suggestions if you MUST do the baggy look (ie. You have a gun to your head). Otherwise, if you are a size 42, then well, I recommend you wear a size 42. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Or just save yourself the effort and take a cue from the chicks. They know how to buy clothes of the proper size. Really. It isn't that hard to do.

*fugly, fugly, fugly.
**f--k--g ugly.

Monday, April 24, 2006

AHEM...

Just in case anyone is wondering. I am all for CHA CHA a.k.a.charter change. Why? If only to put those useless freaks in The Philippine Senate out of a job*. A.They are lazy as hell: Only two bills were passed this year and sent to the president (July 26, 2004 - April 5, 2006). B. They are relentlessly myopic: Their "investigations" are seriously delaying the completion of many important infrastructure projects. C. They quibble and quarrel like spoiled schoolchildren and display their political agenda in a way more juvenile than a cheerleaders meet: The Jamby-Enrile tiff certainly needs no introduction and their Happy Birthday Gloria statement was a stupid waste of our time. But most of all, D. They are spending our hard earned tax money: And shamelessly so to the tune of Php1,000,000.00 ++ a MONTH EACH: 'Nuff said.

All morons, please raise your hand...

Log onto: http://www.sigawngbayan.com/ and sign up with the People's coalition if you wanna throw these jerks out on their heels.

DISCLAIMER: *This comment does NOT in any way mean that I think Congress is doing a better job. I think they are morons too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

TSK...TSK...TSK...

It's been almost a week since it happened, but there still isn't much in the blogosphere regarding the brilliance of Dominik Diamond, the fellow above on the right with the drill. That being the case, I will naturally be more than happy to make a post about this pseudo martyr. Apparently, this British gameshow host (pictured with his wife, Phoebe) planned to film a documentary about himself joining the many other Filipino penitents who literally crucify themselves as part of a yearly Filipino Lenten tradition called "Kalbaryo". Unfortunately, much to the chagrin - but not the surprise - of many bystanders, he bailed out at the last minute.

According to the Sunday Times:
'God made me cancel my own crucifixion'
By Nico Hines
BRITISH broadcaster who travelled to the Philippines to be crucified on Good Friday for a television programme pulled out of the stunt in tears yesterday — and blamed God for his decision.

Dominik Diamond broke down and wept after watching nine Filipinos take their turn to be whipped and nailed on crosses and realising that his turn was next. “God wanted me only to pray at the foot of my cross,” he sobbed, sinking to his knees and praying as local people and tourists started to boo.

Read more here.

Now I still haven't made up my mind about this guy. Was he really a serious devotee who truly feels bad about losing his nerve at the last minute? or was this just an aborted attempt by a western journalist to portray our culture as bizaare and grotesque for the sake of selling a story?

Whatever the case may be, I can't help but say: "Dude. What the hell were you thinking?"

The blog, "Only in the Philippines" has a cartoon about it here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!


PHILIPPINES THEN AND NOW

A fantastic forum on Philippine Heritage and Heritage Architecture. A pretty heavy read but definitely worth leafing through all twenty six pages if only to check out the links and the amazing photo comparisons by a guy named Wonderboy. Click onto SkyscraperCity forum Philippine Then and Now Photos here.

DREAM! DREAM! DREAM!

I just received this letter from a young entrepreneur who is doing a feasiblity study on the revival of Manila's Matorco, the once ubiquitous open-air double decker buses that plied up and down Roxas Boulevard in the 1970's. I personally think it's a great idea - especially if they use LPG instead of gasoline to run the things. But perhaps some of you out there think otherwise about how realistic his proposal might be? Either way, it would be nice if some feedback was sent his way:

Dear Mr. Celdran:
I, along with a number of associates of mine, are looking into the possibility of reviving the Matorco bus tours along Roxas Boulevard. With the rising number of tourists in the country, and with the revival of the Baywalk as the new epicenter of the Manila tourist trade, we believe that it is high time to provide tourists with a means to travel along Manila's main tourist spots with greater ease. We are thinking of reviving the Matorco bus tour in the form of a Hop-On/Hop-Off tour, much like what is already available in great cities such as London, New York and Paris. We plan to ply a route that begins near Fort Santiago, ferrying passengers around the Walled City, up the area past Jones Bridge and the Post Office, then by the National Museum near Luneta. The bus would then go down Roxas Boulevard, into the CCP Complex, past Macapagal Boulevard and the Mall of Asia. From there the bus would head back down through the complex and back along Roxas Boulevard, to Intramuros and Fort Santiago.

We feel that this bus tour would link the best museums of the country: National Museum, Coconut Palace, Casa Manila, Fort Santiago, Met Museum, NHI, Bahay Chinoy; with the great eating areas all around the Bay + Malate; with the casinos of the Hyatt, Heritage; with the shopping megaplex that is the Mall of Asia; and the theaters of CCP, Film Center, GSIS, Fort Santiago. We are also hoping that this would interconnect with the planned Pasig River Ferry stop at Intramuros and the LRT stop near the Metropolitan Theater / Manila City Hall. This bus trip would also link the future developments of the Manila Oceanarium and the Nayong Pilipino/Pagcor Megaplex.

I was hoping to get your thoughts on this. In particular, do you think that there is a ready tourist market for this kind of service?

(YES DEFINITELY. DO IT.)

Feel free to post this on your blog, as we are interested in getting a general public reaction to this.
Regards,

Rog Dimaculangan

you can reach him at: rogeliodimaculangan@yahoo.com


Sunday, April 16, 2006

UM...

Manila City Hall's Department of Allegory Control seems to have missed a spot once again.

Yet another 100% irony-free moment in the city of my affections. As I was strolling through Plaza Lawton in front of the Manila Post Office, I stumbled into the tableau pictured above. Apparently, it's a new monument dedicated to Comfort Ladies; women who were forced to work as sex slaves in military brothels in Japanese-occupied countries during World War II.

And although Manila City Hall's intention to solemnly memorialize this tragedy through the use of a serene/servile Greek goddess holding fruit almost achieves it's purpose, the suspension of disbelief is shattered by the lady in the back whose smile and hand position indicates that she ain't having such a bad time.

I didn't know whether to laugh or, well, laugh.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

HAPPY! HAPPY! HAPPY!


It seems just like yesterday...


Happy 59th Birthday, Midgie.

Thank you PCIJ and limjoco.net for the photos of Da Glo.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

SURREAL IN THE CITY...

MANILA, the city where Franz Kafka wears a smile. Kindly allow me to share the day I had last Monday, March 26, 2006. Some names, numbers and currencies in this article have been altered to maintain confidentiality.


11:00AM
Location: Malate
It's been a couple of days since the artist-in-residence, Antoni returned to Barcelona and I needed to change the Euros he sold me into pesos so that I could pay overdue bills for The Living Room. So like any other tourist in the Malate area, I walked over to the corner of San Andres Street and A. Mabini where all the money changers are located. After comparing exchange rates, I finally settled upon this shop pictured above: JF Money Changer (in green lettering). Not only because they offered a great rate (Php65.00 to 1.00Euro as opposed to the others who only offered Php60.00), but also because the middle aged lady behind the counter had a really great smile. So after counting the money twice, I put the money in my pocket and headed out towards my bank in Makati.

But first. A little window shopping at the ukay-ukay across the street, Marcia's Thrift Clothing. They have great prices - Php200.00 was the most expensive tag I saw. But as expected, the selections here wasn't as plentiful as nor as varied as it's counterparts in Baguio or Evangelista. Nevertheless, I managed to find a brown leather jacket ala Shaft but where could I possibly wear it in this country? Manila is just way too hot. There was also this groovy silk shirt for Php100.00 but it had a stain that looked a little too much like blood for me to feel comfortable about...

But wait. Hold on. I digress. Soooo...

1:00PM
Location: Makati
I finally arrived at my bank and this was when things got really mental. After filling out a deposit slip and counting the money one last time before sticking it into the envelope, I realized Php1,000.00 was missing. "Wha? How could that be?" I thought. I counted the money again. This time - and to my horror - Php3,000.00 was missing. I counted once more. Php5,000.00 missing. It seemed like the money was evaporating right before my eyes. I began to panic. After counting one last time and finding Php7,000.00 gone, I gave up. I handed the envelope over to the bank teller and asked her to count it for me. What she told me afterwards drained me of all color. I was missing Php10,000.00. Good god. I was hypnotized.

Yup. You read right. I was hypnotized into forgetting how to count. How did I realize this? Despite the aid of a pen and paper in my hand, I could not - for the life of me - do basic addition. I wrote down the numbers 1000.00 plus 500.00 and would you believe, I couldn't figure it out? My brain had regressed. I had the mathematical capacity of a pre-schooler. After realizing what had happened, it took me a few minutes to pull my senses together. Snapping out of hypnosis really has a physical feeling, like a warm breeze or tepid liquid being washed over your whole body. Upon reflection, it was the way that the lady handled the bills (all Php500.00's with the last thousand being in Php100.00's), along with little subtle details like adding an extra Php500.00 bill into the pile for me to return, and having an accomplice to distract me by handing her something over my head while she counted, which resulted in my complete and utter arithmetical breakdown.

I had to text Tesa about what had happened to me. But F***! I left my phone at home in Pasig. Soooo...

2:00
Location: Pasig
I drove through traffic-choked C-5 back to Pasig where my cellphone was still attached to it's charger. And in a rare moment of clarity, I texted, "I got hypnotized and robbed at a money changer in San Andres and Mabini. Do you know where should I go to report it?" and sent it to my wife,Tesa, my friend Jason, who works in Mayor Atienza's Office in City Hall, and just out of the blue, to my former neighbor, Kim "Steve Irwin of da Philippines" Atienza, the former councilman son of dear leader himself. Note: Mind you, even if I have their numbers on my phone, I take great pride in the fact that I never use them to get myself out of a fix, even in situations like being stopped for traffic violations. The following answers I received were: from my wife, "Are you kidding me?", from Jason, "Call Col. Pedrozo of Manila Zoo Police Detachment", and since I totally forgot that Kim doesn't work in City Hall anymore but at ABS-CBN, his answer was, "Hold on. TV Patrol will call you." Um. Ok. Cool. Soooo....

3:00
Location: Malate
While waiting for TV Patrol to arrive, I decided to return to the scene of the crime. It was a move later berated by the cops but I couldn't help myself. "Don't rattle suspected criminals." Said Col. Sanchez of Manila City Hall SOG, "You need the element of surprise when you arrest them". I wanted my revenge instantly and I wanted it done personally though. But more than anything else, those money changer stalls all look the same and I needed to confirm the exact one and find the exact lady in order to make a proper report. So I returned to JF, and just as I suspected, the middle aged lady was gone and in her place was some aging sex bomb dancer wannabe texting on a cellphone. I asked her, "Is this the place where the exchange rate is Php65.00 to the Euro?" She looked up and replied rather cockily, "Maybe. Why are you asking?" "Guilty bitch!" I thought to myself. All the other money changers on the block said "NO" point-blank when I asked this question and yours is the only place where the answer was different. "Because I was shortchanged by the clerk in charge this morning.", I shot back. "I know nothing of that", she said curtly before returning to her cellphone duties. (Remember this conversation is all being done in Filipino and rather badly in my case). After about fifteen minutes of yours truly griping and whining (another act that Col. Sanchez would berate), Pokpok Princess Cellphone realizes that I am not going to go away until one of us snaps a blood vessel. Suddenly, her tune changes. "Actually, I heard that there was Php6,000.00 left here on the counter this morning." "And just WHO told you that? The invisible person in the room sitting between us? Or are you communicating to your boss through a magic telephone inside your head?" Oooh. You lying little trollop, not only did your operation swindle me, but you are now trying to negotiate your way out of this? Swindle me out Php4,000.00 instead of Php10,000.00? Are you haggling like this is a kilo of fish?" And in a final dramatic gesture and in my most ominous voice, I said, "I know you aren't the same girl who swindled me, but your guilt is more than apparent, and with God and all the saints in heaven as my witness, You are going to burn, gurl. Buuuuurrrnnnn..." But considering my poor command of the Filipino language, it probably came out as "I know not same girls, but eye in sky say you are a root crop, you are a root croooop!"

Whatever. Bleep. bleep. A text. Finally. ABS-CBN's here.

To Be Continued. Next chapter: The Raid and Resolution

Above: Col. Sanchez of Manila Police (in brown shirt) finalizing details regarding the raid. While a rather ornery Sheila Dionisio looks on (below).



SURREAL IN THE CITY...

Now where was I? Oh. Somewhere around here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2006
Location: Malate
4:00 PM
Goody goody. ABS-CBN arrived. Let the fun begin. I abruptly ditch the hysterics with Pokpok Cellphone Princess and catch up with the TV Patrol crew in front of Oarhouse (next to Hobbit House). A lightning quick interview with some ornery reporter named Sheila Dionisio ensued, then we regrouped beside the ChowKing next to Aristomart. At around four thirty-ish thereabouts, Col. Sanchez of Manila City Hall Security Group arrives with his men.

4:30PM
Immediately, a sting is planned. Col. Sanchez said that if the guilty money changer sees police vehicles approaching, they will surely close down, so taxis are hailed to act as "trojan" vehicles. He then divides us into two groups. The cops board two taxis while the camera men, the reporter, and I take the ABS-CBN pick-up truck (below).

We depart the parking lot of Malate Church in convoy. We drive down M.H. del Pilar. We turn left and take a shortcut through SOHOTEL. (Hey. No way, I didn't know you could do that. I just learned a new shortcut. Cool.) The ABS-CBN pick-up truck then parks in front of the a laundromat next to a mango tree. The cops swoop in on JF Money Changer. And the sting is in full swing.

Now not that I'm being baduy or anything by cutting the story short, but the photos I saved for the rest of the post somehow got deleted. Dang! Let me reload them again... Grr...

Next Chapter: My Four Minutes of Fame and Scenes from City Hall...

SURREAL IN THE CITY...

A thousand pardons for delaying the completion of this story. Anyhoo. As I said in the end of the earlier post, the sting went down smoothly. Soon enough, a crowd gathered around the money changer as a police van drove up to deposit even more cops (below). The heat had reached a boil.

Eagerly I awaited in the van for my cue.

But for those of you out there who are like me, undecided about the political colorings of this television station, perhaps this might mean something. Looky-looky what I found on the car seat next to me! (photo above) Oh my. Then again, I'll give this station the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps someone threw the pin into their TV van while they were covering a rally. Nevertheless, such an ugly pin. A badly printed Gloria/Marcos composite portrait. Tsk tsk.

But once again, I digress.

To cut a long story short, my cue is finally called and I enter stage left to give my courtesy on-camera "sabunutan/iskandalo royale" moment with Pokpok Celphone Princess. And as quickly as it was all planned, as quickly it all ended. The TV crew departed and I now I was left alone to deal with the reality of the cops, filing charges against PCP, and getting my money back. Ugh. Fine. Whatever. Bring it on.

So like a pack of happy campers, the cops, PCP, two of her cohorts and I pile into to the pulis-mobile and head out towards Manila City Hall SOG Office. Meanwhile, PCP was still feverishly texting on her celphone to places unknown. I decided to just take in the sunset (above). It was a lovely afternoon despite.

5:30PM
Location: Manila City Hall SOG
At this point, PCP was already repentant and weepy. She begged that I have pity on her because her son would simply die of shame if his classmates see his mama on TV Patrol News. I told her she should have thought of that before she made her career choice. Besides, I didn't work for ABS-CBN, how could I possibly stop her segment from airing? I did start feeling bad for her though. Not to mention, it was getting late and I really wanted to go home. I needed time to think.

Meanwhile, records were written up. Note: Ignore the crappy walls behind the records officer in the photo above. The office walls, air-conditioner, lavatory, and criminal holding cells are currently under renovation. A little bit more on this later...

Photos were also taken (above)...

And as tribal justice goes, negotiations were made for retribution. In the end, I decided to drop the charges. After all, PCP (real name: Mina Nunez) was not the lady who hypnotized me per se so she couldn't possibly be guilty of the crime itself. But due to her actions and admissions, she had proven without a doubt that she had knowledge of the modus operandi and was guilty of being an accessory to the crime. Justice was finally served to me in the form of a typewritten contract assuring that I would be paid back what was due and apologizing for the inconvenience caused. It also came with an oral promise from Mina that she would TRY to find another career. I also collected my balance with an exchange rate of Php60.00 as opposed to the Php65.00 as falsely promised earlier and I did this by choice. I could have asked for more, but the bad karma had to stop right here and right now. Enough negativity had been spread. I did not need to make a profit from this experience. As I was leaving, I finally recommended to Mina that she try out for the Sex Bomb Dancers. I heard they were auditioning. She looked at me as if I was crazy. Then she giggled.

As for the money changer, it was still closed when I passed by yesterday, shut down by the mayor himself apparently. Thank you Mayor Atienza, Jason, Col. Sanchez, and Col. Ibay of the Manila Security Operations Group for a job well done (I sent the SOG Office some Greenwich Pizzas as a token of my esteem). And thanks mucho also to Kim, for the TV Patrol moment. I've always wondered what it would be like to come out in the Metro Crime Blotter section of the news. Now I know.

But throughout the entire ordeal, my favorite moment bar none was when I had to use the SOG lavatory (above). Since the regular one beside the SOG office was still being renovated, I had to go use their old one in the back, deep within the bowels of Manila City Hall, near the old holding cell for petty criminals (below, playing cards). It was there that I found a wiry, effeminate Gollum-like creature cooking one of the finest Sinigangs I have ever had the pleasure to smell. While walking past him, he said to me, "Alam mo, sindikato ang babaeng 'yan. Sana siningil mo ng dose mil." (Ya know, that girl is part of a syndicate. You could have collected twelve thousand.") Surreal. So so surreal. Good God. I love this town.

7:00PM
I head home finally. Not any poorer that's for sure. But definitely much richer in many ways.

Postscript: I also wonder if this segment actually showed on TV Patrol. Anyone see it? I never caught it. Maybe Mina's son was mercifully saved from the shame of it all as well.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

SMOKE! SMOKE! SMOKE!

President Clinton's cigars - which were Philippine made apparently - probably have more pop culture recall when it comes to presidential tobacco. But for those of you out there, like me, have a fetish for all things Marcosiana, these cigars (pictured above and below) definitely possess some historical value. I just received a letter in my emailbox that read:

Dear Mr. Celdran,
I have some Marcos memorabilia that I would like to sell but I am having some problems finding a prospective buyer. I have tried to contact the Marcos museum, family members, and reporters to try either address or some kind of contact information on a prospective but I have turned up nothing. Would it be possible for you to help me get information to be able to contact someone on this matter?

The item is a box of cigars that were hand made for president Marcos. Each cigar is cedar wrapped with the presidential seal on each one. As you will see in the photos the box also has the national intelligence and security authority seal. I believe that these were presented to president Marcos in 1992. The photo shows damage to the box but the damage is flaw on the picture not the actual box itself. I would prefer to have this item go back to the Philippines were it rightly belongs.

Thank you,
Janet Post

Truth be told, I have no idea how much these things are worth and if it has any quantifiable historical value at all. The best I could do for Ms. Post is to let the word out so that if somebody out there does know anything about this, they could kindly contact Ms. Post at janetp9898@yahoo.com to help her out. I'm not sure about the date of 1992 either. Didn't Marcos leave the Philippines in 1986? But I do have to say though that the seal on the cigars are definitely hard to find, it's the short lived Marcos-era eagle and not the Chimera symbol of today..