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

Monday, July 30, 2007

OH...MY...GOODNESS...

Wow. So apparently this is what her high hairedness is giving away as a parting gift when you leave her presence nowadays. Thank you so much to Anne-Marie, Annick, Geert, and Jeff from Brussels for this precious bouquet of painted olive shell "roses" and capiz "leaves" glued atop a glass jar full of sand and clams crowned with a huge mother of pearl disc that has the image of our former first lady set in between the words, "Love and Best Wishes Imelda". It was given to them by the great shoed one herself after she interviewed "Madame" for a Belgian documentary being done on the world's most popular first ladies. Naturally, they didn't want to ruin this amazing historical artifact by stuffing it into the aeroplanes baggae hold. So instead, it was given to me for safekeeping in Manila when they left the country. I proudly display it now on the toilet watertank in the bathroom of The Living Room. It's gorgeous... Just... Just gorgeous...

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Friday, July 27, 2007

OMG.

Ms. Alyssa Alano, the dear lady who brought us the classic Youtube clip, "Keys Me" now brings you more precious moments in Philippine English with her appearance on "Kayang Kaya Mo" (You Can Do It!), the Philippine version of "The 20,000 dollar Pyramid". Be warned, for those of you NOT into really low Filipino humor, I suggest you close this window now.

But if you want more... Click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!

GALLEON TRADE EXHIBITION
a three part multi-venue exhibibition by artists
by Filipinos, Americans, and Mexicans.

Galleon Trade Exhibitions (Part 1)
Opening: Tuesday, 24 July 7pm
The Wall at Mag:net Café High Street
Work by artists Rick Godinez and Enrique Chagoya
(All visiting Galleon Trade participants will be in attendance except for Gina Osterloh.)
Opening to be followed by Performances byS.A.B.A.W.
(Curated by Tengal) Hilera, Severo,
The Brockas and Pinikpikan

Galleon Trade Exhibitions (Part 2)
Opening: Thursday, 26 July 7 pm
Green Papaya Art Projects
Work by artists Michael Arcega, Reanne Estrada, Stephanie Syjuco,
Megan Wilson, and Christine Wong Yap.
(All visiting Galleon Trade participants will be in attendance.)

Galleon Trade Exhibitions (Part 3)
Opening: Saturday, 28 July 7 pm
Mag:net Gallery Katipunan
Work by artists Jaime Cortez, Julio Morales, Gina Osterloh, Johanna
Poethig at Mag:net Gallery and Eliza Barrios at the CR Gallery
.(All visiting Galleon Trade participants
will be in attendance except for Jaime Cortez)
Artist Talk/Dialogue will precede opening at 4 pm at Mag:net Café. All
visiting Galleon Trade participants will be in attendance.

Galleon Trade Salon
6:00PM
The Living Room
1991 MH del Pilar, Malate Manila
RSVP Necessary. Jenifer Wofford 0915 6431076

www.galleontrade.org

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Friday, July 20, 2007

YO! YO! YO! CHECK IT OUT...

Wow. This one is cool. Log onto the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's amazing collection of Manila pictures from the 1960s. Part of their "Cities of the World" feature and captured by a man named Harrison Forman, these pictures are an amazing account of what Manila was like one generation after World War II. They also show some very interesting details. For starters, who knew that Plaza Moraga at the foot of Jones Bridge had such great looking streetlamps (top, center). I wonder if Manila City Hall can have them copied?

It also shows that the Santa Cruz Church had no street vendors hanging outside in the plaza in the mid-1960s. I wonder when they - and the beggars - moved in. Incidentally, that tin street light hanging from the wires in the top center of the photograph is still there. Just saw it last week.

This photograph shows people wearing long sleeved shirts and slacks when going to work on the Escolta. Perhaps Manila was colder then? It also shows our city streets still packed with American cars. Not a TOYOTA in sight. I especially love the Studebaker on the left.

This photograph shows a very affluent Manila population going about their everyday business on the corner of Pinpin Street and Escolta. The kind of people who would probably never be caught dead there today. And most of the shops also seem so...American. Not to mention the fashions. We seem to have consumed a very conspicuous amount of American products and cultural norms right after the war.

This shot shows the El Hogar Building and Citibank still in use, complete with neon light billboards for Shell gasoline, Royal Tru Orange, and FGU Insurance. The Pasig River waterline looks much lower - and the water itself seems cleaner too. It's apparent from this shot that major multinational corporations in the Philippines still based their offices downtown and not clustered around the cramped Makati Business District in the mid-1960s. I wonder when exactly did the transition of Manila's business district from Manila to Makati happen. When did they abandon the streets of Juan Luna, Muelle de la Industria and Muelle del Banco and leave it to rot with the wandering vagrant classes? When did big business abandon downtown for Ayala Avenue?

Which, in this photograph, does not look cramped at all. And whatever happened to those pine trees on either side? It totally completes the illusion that this is a scene somewhere in the United States of America instead of the Philippine archipelago. Only thing lacking in this photograph are real Americans.

And check out this picture of a fabulously flowing, traffic-free, four-laned Roxas Boulevard. No coconut trees had been planted along the shoreline yet and the road had not been widened to eight lanes punctuated by overpasses. Most interesting of all, what is that being constructed in the distance? Is that the Cultural Center of the Philippines being built?

Other amazing shots to check out: Manila street scenes with painted jeepneys, a newly restored Manila Cathedral, and a wide open Agrifina Circle. Log on here.

Thanks Apa for the link.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

HERE WE GO AGAIN...

AND THEY'RE BAAAACK...

And so without much fanfare and without much complaint from society in general, Rizal Avenue has returned to the jeepneys. Oh well, time to move on. Such a shame. Rizal Avenue, you really could have been something. Maybe someday, when north side of Manila is ready and once we've tamed the beast known as the jeepney, the pedestrianization can return once again. Very interesting photos and thread on Senor Enrique's blog: WISH YOU WERE HERE.
PARTING SHOTS...
The pedestrianized Avenida immortalized on the HUMAN clothing billboard (above) at the Magallanes Interchange. Ironically, Apl d. Ap of the Black Eyed Peas seems to be "plugged" into the jeepney right behind him. Nevertheless, Rizal Avenue's appearance in such a high profile advertisement is confirmation that Avenida was well on it's way back into becoming an iconic location/backdrop for the City of Manila. I wonder if it will still maintain the momentum now that the jeepneys are back or will Rizal Avenue just fade away into urban oblivion the way it did in the mid-1990's. Only time will tell I guess.
A shot of Rizal Avenue on Filipiniana.net. Just to illustrate the street's historical value. And proof that this stretch of Manila has risen and fallen more than once.

And on a brighter note though. The MMDA is allowed back in Manila. Maybe some Bayani Magic will keep the traffic under control.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!

ROGUE MAGAZINE...
I'm not plugging this magazine simply because I am an editor at large (I help them select topics for articles) nor for helping conceptualize their launch at the BMW tent last Thursday. I am plugging this magazine simply because I think it's the best magazine in Manila today. It's got interesting articles about interesting people and clear, crisp photos. The basics for any good read. Some of the features for this month: Land of the Rising Son, a profile on Bong Marcos by David Nugent (with great shots from the Malacanang archives (below) courtesy of Jeremy Barnes), an article on the strange and uncharmed life of Rene Knecht (Manila's fallen party pretty boy of the 1970's) by Jose Mari Ugarte, Solenne Heussaff's final photo pictorial before her departure for Paris (above) by Gino Caguicla, plus features on scuba diving at Raja Ampat, Radioactive Sago Project, vacationing in Nicaragua, Cigars, and what's best and what's next in the local scene. Certainly worth dropping Php180.00 for. Grab their maiden issue now on any local bookstore or magazine stand.

Strangest comment I heard about Rogue: "I love it! It doesn't seem like a local magazine." Thank you. I think.

And thank you to Lalon for the listing. Cheers!



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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

DREAM DREAM DREAM...

It all starts with a vision. Things can't happen until you see it first in your mind's eye. Or at least, that's what the artist Mariano believes in when he made these paintings of a "revitalized" downtown Manila. Great stuff, man. Check out Mariano's visions for a revitalized Gota de Leche in Quiapo (above).
A revitalized Jones Bridge (above).

And a revitalized Muella del Banco St., El Hogar Filipino Building and Citibank headquarters (above). Thanks for sending these pictures, Mariano. I have accompanied them with corresponding photographs from the early 20th century. Keep these dreams coming. Anyone else out there have any aspirations for our fair city that you would like to share?

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

THE THIRD STAGE...

According to the Kubler Ross model, there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I went through the denial part last month ("Oh no. It can't possibly happen. Mayor Lim will be able to see that increasing security and courting business investments would be a better option for Rizal Avenue and Plaza Goiti (above) than ripping the roads up and returning the jeepneys.") Then after his oath taking and symbolic bashing of the tiles (below) last July 1, I hit the anger stage ("What the hell? And my last post..) And after my farewell tour of Quiapo last Saturday (above), I believe I have now arrived at the third stage: Bargaining.
After all, it's rather obvious that I have very little support from "civil society" in saving this street. And since I believe in only choosing battles I know I can win, perhaps negotiating would be a better option than an all out word war against Manila City Hall. Really, I have to deal with this fricking man for the next six years and he has the power to make my life a living hell if I don't get along with him (Remember, I do this job with zero government support). Besides, I don't believe in wasting my time fighting either. Honey works way better than vinegar in getting flies that's for sure. So here goes.
Mayor Lim:
What is done is done. I can't change your plans to open up Rizal Avenue to cars. But allow me to beseech you to proceed with this decision with a bit more thought and planning than what is evident right now. The former walkway is being cleared at such a speedy pace that the needs of pedestrians are not being given credence at all. Please allow me to enumerate some issues that need to be addressed so that pedestrian and vehicular traffic may co-exist without incident. Here are a few of the issues which need to be addressed along with a few of my suggestions:
A) The corner of Plaza Goiti and Rizal Avenue has always been a bottleneck (above). Perhaps you could retain a large paved brick area/plaza for human traffic at the junction of Plaza Goiti and Rizal Avenue? I believe that the front of Isettan Department Store on the left would be ideal. After all, take a look at that photo of the vendors and shoppers above. They aren't going anywhere (and neither is the statue of Mayor Lacson by the way). Just imagine trying to squeeze jeepneys inbetween these folks. It isn't hard to see what a fresh hell it can be without giving room for pedestrians and vendors to congregate on either side of the road. I also recommend leaving a wide berth for pedestrians at the corner of Recto as well (below). But I believe that this won't difficult to do because the road widens at the that area.
B.) The area below the LRT is too small for two-way traffic (below). Perhaps the entrance way from Plaza Goiti into Rizal Avenue should be a one way street? Look at how narrow the space is below the LRT station (both pictures below). Perhaps all north bound vehicles should enter Rizal Avenue through Plaza Goiti and all south bound vehicles should exit Rizal Avenue via Plaza Santa Cruz. A proper crossroad area (with lights and zebra markings) is also recommended at the corner of Raon and Carriedo to access the east side of Avenida from the west side. An underpass would be an even better idea.

C.) Make the sidewalks just a little wider. By the looks of things at the construction site, it seems that the asphalt pavement will stop right at the edge of the the walkway columns (both pictures below). This is not advisable. The sidewalks of Avenida are already crowded enough as is (and this is already with full pedestrianization of the avenue). I recommend an easement of at least 1.2 meters onto the road so that there is space for pedestrians to navigate between Carriedo and Raon streets. This is also recommended for the area below the LRT stairs at the Carriedo Stop. It seems that the stairs right now will lead right onto the asphalt itself. Please read letter A once more.

My recommended easement size should be as wide as the sunlit area (above). I repeat, do not pave asphalt all the way to the edge of the columns...

Oh, and wrought iron barriers (pretty ones please) to prevent jaywalking and to assure that commuters load in the proper areas are also absolutely necessary.

D.) Reuse the former paving brick of Avenida (seen in piles on Plaza Lawton below) to improve the sidewalks of Ermita and Malate. Truth be told, I did find it rather ironic that the Atienza administration re-paved and fixed most sidewalks in Manila except for the two streets which are perhaps of the highest profile in the city, MH del Pilar and A. Mabini. These two streets are the main thoroughfares which people and vehicles use when going from Malate to Luneta and beyond and they have looked like hell for as long as I could remember. Take my advice, fix the sidewalks and traffic on these two streets (and Adriatico and UN too while you are at it) and just watch the investments, hotels, tourists, and families flock in...

E.) Oh, and please ditch the ideas of building a Jollibee and McDonald's at either side of Baywalk. The swimming pool idea on the baywalk is also a little crazy. Shelve that too please.

Thank you.
Carlos Celdran
A concerned Manila resident

Now if anyone out there knows the mayor, please forward these ideas to him. I already sent a copy to mayorlim.com.

I really hope that he follows these simple suggestions and perhaps I can be spared from going through stage four: DEPRESSION, and I can arrive immediately at stage five.

Next: More suggestions. And my attempt to try and meet the mayor.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

BOO! BOO! BOO!

I GIVE UP...

I didn't realize how much this would affect me. My heart is officially broken and I am a sniveling mess. I haven't slept well all week, I haven't left bed all day today, and this morning, I actually shed a tear in frustration (- and mind you, I never shed tears). All I kept thinking to myself was: Mayor Lim, why did you send The City of Manila back into the dark ages? The north side of the Pasig River is once again a crowded, traffic-choked mess since you started ripping out all the marble and pavement and returned asphalt and jeepneys to Rizal Avenue last Saturday. This is definitely not the best way to start your term. I am comletely unimpressed. As a matter of fact, I think I hate you.

I can't believe you changed this (above)...

To this (above)! And all for the motherfu*king jeepneys! I know you are on Erap (da jeepney drayber) Estrada's camp, but there must a better way to alleviate traffic than pandering to these undisciplined smoke belching death traps and wasting all the money we taxpayers spent on this urban renewal project. Please remember it was OUR money that was spent on the pedestrianization of Rizal Avenue - NOT ATIENZA'S! IF you had ever walked (or driven) in the area, you would have noticed that in the past year, the traffic flow had already settled into the new detour system. The newly widened Santa Cruz Plaza and accessway through F. Torres had really addressed the issue of congestion. There was no need to return Rizal Avenue to cars!! Your issues were outdated! That's how out of touch you are! How in heavens name could you possibly think opening up Rizal Avenue would be safer and more civilized for Manilenos!?? How will pedestrians cross the avenue to get from Santa Cruz Church to Quiapo Church now? How? HOW? In between the vehicles or through some overcrowded crossing?? Or should we all learn to fly? Gawd! I wonder how much worse things will be when you allow rallies to block traffic on Mendiola once again!

FYI, you all: My grief and anger for this regression has prompted me to cancel all my North Bank and ChinaTown tours until further notice. The dates you see posted on this blog will be the last that I ever do. I am just too pissed off and frustrated and it's just too painful to see the north side of the Pasig River go back to the medieval state that it was in back in the early nineties under your first term. For the last six years, I have been trying to convince people that Quiapo is a civilized spot for pedestrians/tourists/human beings only to have my efforts reversed by this one unenlightened act. I can't take it anymore.

Truth be told, I am this close to just throwing the towel in and fuc*king migrating to somewhere fricking else than here because of what Mayor Lim has done. See more heart wrenching pictures here on Senor Enrique's blog.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

RADIO GA-GA!

It's been a good year. I can't complain. Thank you Simon Montlake for the feature on my tours on a show called Pacific Time on KQED radio in San Francisco, United States of A. I toured Simon around two years ago and it finally got aired only this June. My voice hasn't changed much since then, and neither has my schtick apparently. Click here to get onto the KQED website and to listen to the entire broadcast. The feature on the tours is towards the end.

Happy Birthday USA, too.

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