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

Saturday, May 26, 2007

WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

GIMME SOME SUGAR. FREE

Some of you were asking so I'll just come clean with it. Yes, that is yours truly slathered on the side of the Sugar Not! truck being rained upon by assorted sugar-free baked goods. It was a project I did for my friend, the photographer Andy Maluche. I still have yet to collect my payment in brownies. And yes, I have been known to work for food. But not always.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

FOOD FOR THOUGHT...

THE PROBLEM WITH GOODBYE IS HELLO...
And so it seems the the Age of Atienza is coming to an end. The fat man in the floral shirt who occupied Manila City Hall for the last ten years must now step down, his three term limit set by the Philippine Constitution of 1987 completed. Not only that, it seems that the mayor's son, Ali, will not be continuing the current agenda, as he is currently losing the race for the top spot to former Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Not that I'm shedding any major tears here. Even though I did work for Manila City Hall as an arts and culture consultant for many years, I do realize that Mayor Atienza had many shortcomings. And even though I liked many of his urban renewal projects (Baywalk, Pasig Riverside, San Andres Market renovation), it cannot be denied that he has been consistently remiss in protecting downtown Manila's precious heritage architecture and that his views on birth control are just short of retarded.

And although I am ready for a new regime and a new vision for the city, unfortunately I don't see Mayor Lim as a better alternative either. Considering the vindictive nature of Philippine politics, my prediction is that Lim will most likely spend his first year in office reversing or shutting down every completed Atienza project, whether that project be good or bad. Once such project that I shall miss will be Rizal Avenue (above). Once a blighted seedy area choked with traffic and vagrants, it was converted to a paved pedestrian promenade and organized vendor alley by Atienza four years ago. Mayor Lim promises to take that all away, remove the pavement and return the vehicles and street vendors in order to pander to jeepney drivers and commuters who are inconvenienced by Rizal Avenue's rerouting scheme. One small step forward for the jeepneys and vendors and one large leap backwards for pedestrians and urban renewal. Not only that, let's not forget Mayor Lim is a member of the opposition. Perhaps we can look forward to more street rallies around the Presidential Palace and all the instability/anarchy that it brings.

Then again, let's see. Ever the optimist, I'd like to believe that Lim may not be THAT unenlightened.

Thank you seafoodcup for the photo.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

SURREAL IN THE CITY...

In the words of my friend Chuva, "Eyeloveit!"

Once again the Philippines celebrates it's close proximity to fame. After our fabulous coronas figured quite prominently across international headlines years ago as a tool in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Victoria Court motels returns the favor by honoring frisky Bubba with a room of his own. I wonder if it comes with a complimentary black dress and congressional inquiry?

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

STILL CRAZY! CRAZY! CRAZY!

THE DIAMOND'S BEST FRIEND...
It's madness I tell you. It seems that Manila's hotels are trying to outdo one another in creating the city's most insanely expensive packages. No sooner had my mind been blown away by the Manila Peninsula's million peso plus Mother's day deal when I learned that The Diamond Hotel on Roxas Boulevard had come up with the most expensive Mother's Day Dinner in the city. Literally unveiled by by their executive chef, Jean Pierre at the press launch of their Wagyu Beef Fest in Le Bellevue restaurant, the dinner was kept behind glass and a security guard until being presented to an audience of over 70 members of print and television media. And for good reason. This "Fantasy Dinner" that you see above costs a whopping Php120,000.00 or the price of a reconditioned airconditioned 1971 vintage Volkswagen Beetle.

It includes an appetizer of Scottish smoked salmon topped with caviar, truffle soup, an entree of Matsuzaka Beef with morels stuffed with truffles, a bottle of Chateau Margaux, a bottle of Taittinger, and the use of the Diamond Presidential suite. And considering that a bottle of Chateau Margaux can go for almost Php30,000.00, some might consider this to be a steal. Call at least three days in advance. Apparently, it isn't easy to prepare.

Call 528-3000 for more details.

Thanks Annalyn for the photo.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

CRAZY! CRAZY! CRAZY!

MILLION DOLLAR MAMA

Well, actually, more like U$30,000.00 or one million five hundred thousand pesoses to regular brown mortals like you and me. Nevertheless, this is still the most expensive hotel package that I have ever heard of in this town. Only available in the month of May, The Peninsula Manila is offering a "Mothers Day" package called "Ultimate Fantasy" worth *gulp* Php1,500,000.00. Yes, you read right. It costs almost as much as a small house and lot in Cainta, Rizal.

Apparently, it includes a three day/two night stay at the Peninsula Suite, round-trip transfers in a brand-new Peninsula Mercedes Benz S-Class limousine, Peninsula champagne, fruit, cheese, Peninsula chocolates and flowers. Also included is a goodie bag from La Prairie Caviar Luxe Collection, salon work at EMPHASIS, an eight-course dinner with wine at Old Manila restaurant, plus champagne breakfast in bed the following day. Also thrown in is a private shopping spree at Jul B. Dizon Jewelery and Louis Vuitton - chauffer driven, of course and assisted by a private shopper while snacking on champagne and canapes. And finally, afternoon tea for two at The Lobby.

Crazy beans. All my mom is getting this year for mother's day is a text greeting.

For inquiries or reservations, please call The Peninsula Manila at 887-2888, extension 6630 or call direct at 581-2288 (Rooms Reservations)

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Monday, May 07, 2007

CARLOS RECOMMENDS...

I love the band Drip and most of the artists under Terno Recordings. I, however, am nonplussed by the decor of Fiamma. Boring "feeling" modern whatever. And really, why the hell does every bar in Manila have to have the same look and same name as that of some other bar abroad? Fiamma, Embassy, Warehouse, Bed, Absinthe. It's pablum. It's infuriating. But I guess I'll deal with it for the sake of good original music.

I hope they have slide projections on the walls.

And check out this awesome exhibition by Australia-based Filipino artist Alwin Reamillo at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Galeria Duemila in Pasay City. It's a must.

Mang Emo / Mag-himo
Grand Piano Project by Alwin Reamillo.

For more details, please call Galleria Duemila at 831-9990.
May 5, 2007 to May 31, 2007
Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP Complex)
For more details, please call CCP at 832-3702.
May 3, 2007 to May 31, 2007

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

LET'S PLAY A LITTLE GAME...


OF PERC AND PERCEPTIONS...
Ok. So The Philippines made it to the top of the list for Most Corrupt Country in Asia in a perception survey done by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risks Consultancy (PERC). Big deal.

And before anyone out there starts whinging about how rotten our government and society has become, all I have to say is: Don't get your nipples in a knot. Please read it again and realize that it says that we are merely being PERCEIVED as Asia's Most Corrupt Country. It's quite different from actually BEING PROVEN as Asia's Most Corrupt Country. OK?

As a matter of fact, the release of this article is a really good opportunity for me to highlight the importance of perception versus reality in this country. I am not surprised that we made it to the top of the list. And dare I say we got there through our own doing. And not because our society is truly corrupt, but because we WANT TO BELIEVE THAT OUR SOCIETY IS TRULY CORRUPT. Filipinos are always the last ones to give themselves credit and it's this vocal self-loathing that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for our society. We just love to denigrate own own government, culture, and people. And that, believe me, allows others in the world community to perceive that they can do so as well, therefore continuing the cycle.

Look at the what I found in the India Times regarding this corruption issue. Check out the second sentence:

"The Philippines has the distinction of being perceived in the worst light this year," PERC said after polling 1,476 expatriate business executives in 13 countries and territories across the region in January and February.

"PERC, which provides advice to private firms and governments, said it had not noted a worsening in the actual situation in the Philippines despite its deteriorating score. "

(Please also note that the number of interviewees was wrong in most published articles. The PERC has since corrected that number to only 700. Hmmm. I wonder if that has any effect on the outcome and why the corrections were not as widely published as the original article.)

Not I am letting our government and society off the hook here. Not at all. Corruption is undeniably present in our society. But to accept that we are Asia's MOST corrupt, I cannot.

And so this all boils down to perception. WE THINK WE ARE CORRUPT. HENCE WE WILL BECOME CORRUPT.

So, everyone, let's try a little positive visioning shall we? Let's start highlighting the good in our society. I think it's more productive for us to focus on the positive changes we can create in our country rather than to scream out to the world just how crappy we are. It just becomes defeatist at the end of the day.

Try this for a year, and let's see if we can knock ourselves off the list.

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WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

TIME AND AGAIN...

It was so nice they did it twice. Yours truly is once again mentioned in Time Asia Magazine. But don't be fooled by the cover. Just because it says, "The Best of Asia", doesn't mean that I am listed among them. Actually, it's only my quotes (among those of many others) that are featured in the City Guide section in the back. Ironically, nothing in the Philippines is listed in the Best of Asia guide this year. Not that our golf courses and bars are worse than those in Kabul and Singapore mind you. Perhaps it could be that we aren't Asian enough? Really, Time Magazine, are we that invisible? Are we that mediocre? Is everything in the Philippines really worth ignoring over a Chinese Ass sandwich? Moreover, you could have chosen a better picture too (below). Your photo editor could have been a little more creative for sure. An image of street kids and a dirty curb is almost too cliche. Really, the jarring implications of pollution and overpopulation in that shot defeats the purpose of your city guide. You could have saved those issues for another article.

But nevertheless, thank you to the fantastic Miss Lara Day for the lovely feature on Manila though. May others be able to see us the way you do.


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

BOO! BOO! BOO!


Great. the United States issues yet another travel warning on the Philippines. Whatever. Thanks for making my job of highlighting the country's charms a hell of a lot more difficult.

And as expected, the U.S. State Department once again shows their penchant for rash generalizations through phrases like: "U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security" (the ENTIRE country? ALL 7,107 islands? Including Greenbelt?) and "While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the Philippines..." (ANYWHERE? C'mon, give me a break!).

Moreover, they also fail to illustrate to the average geography-challenged American the archipelagic nature of the country and also which areas ARE safe to visit in the Philippines (or in any of the countries posted on their travel warnings page for that matter). And this I find completely unfair.

So in light of this, I too shall post my own travel warning for the United States. So there. Bite me, Uncle Sam. You ain't exactly Disneyland either.

April 27, 2007

This Travel Warning updates information on the security situation and reminds Filipinos of the risks of travel in the United States. This Travel Warning supersedes any previous Travel Warning issued for the United States.

Philippine citizens contemplating travel to the United States should carefully consider the risks to their safety and security while there, including those due to terrorism, racism, religious intolerance, and random acts of violence. While travelers may encounter such threats anywhere in the United States, cities within the states of New Jersey, Michigan, Georgia, and Missouri are of particular concern. Travelers should also exercise extreme caution in both northern New York City and eastern Los Angeles and avoid travel to these areas unless absolutely necessary.

Relaxed gun control laws and the easy acquisition of arms in practically every populated area within the United States add to the risks in traveling through the country. Schoolgrounds, universities, and malls are to be particulary avoided. Within days last April 2007, a shootout at a college campus in the state of Virginia resulted in the deaths of over 32 people, while another shootout inside a shopping center in the state of Kansas resulted in the deaths of another 3. While these attacks have not targeted Filipinos or Filipinos in recent years, such incidents could threaten Filipino citizens engaged in such activities as going to class or buying groceries. Travelers should therefore remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas.

Organized armed terrorist groups called "steet gangs" operate in many urbanized areas in the United States. Two of the most popular gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, have large memberships in the cities of Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. Aside from the Crips and the Bloods, other armed gangs like the Surenos XII, Bulldogs F14, Hip Sin, and On Leong have also been known to hold entire neighborhoods under their armed control. In total, the memberships of these groups number over half a million nationwide, with over 300,000 in the state of California alone. In the state of Arizona, there were 17 gang related deaths last year. In some areas of the United States, especially in urbanized areas where the aforementioned terrorist groups have been known to operate, visitors should avoid travel at night. Philippine government employees must also seek special permission for travelling to these areas. When traveling through these areas, Philippine official travelers should attempt to lower their profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.

Racially motivated violent incidents have also been known to occur in several parts of the United States, with particular concentration on the southern areas of the country where armed "rednecks" have been known to operate for generations. Many Filipinos who reside in or visit these aforementioned areas face serious threats. The Philippine government recommends that citizens visiting the south should travel with their own security force, avoid an obvious presence, or both. Once again, while Filipinos have not been targeted in several years, these elements could threaten Philippine citizens engaged in business or property management activities, and it is reported that they often demand “to see your purty little lips.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly encourages Filipinos in the United States to register with the Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. or through the Philippine government's foreign affairs website (http://www.dfa.gov.ph/). The Philippine Embassy is located at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20036

For information on general crime and security issues in the United States, Philippine citizens should consult Google.