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, April 28, 2008

WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

UPDATE! UPDATE! AGAIN AND AGAIN!
Micketymoc has posted up his take on Corregidor on About.com. Log on here.

UPDATE! UPDATE! AGAIN!
Mrs. Jen Wallace just posted up her thoughts about Corregidor too. Read about it here. Nice to see a great time was had by all. She has great dogs. I wish Corregidor would allow dogs on the island.

UPDATE! UPDATE!

Corregidor raffle winner Candice Tiu of CanDissh Tales posted her thoughts about last weekend's Corregidor trip here too. She and her fiance, Edmund (who she fondly calls Panget on her blog - so I put his real name) had a great time apparently. So glad I had the raffle. It really was given an opportunity to meet interesting people who probably wouldn't think of going to Corregidor otherwise. I think I'll hold it every year. I hope the next winners who come on the next trips will be just as cool too.

UPDATE!
More of Anton's awesome photos on his flickr site here. And blogger micketymoc has some shots here too. Very cool. Thanks guys.

AWESOME!
Thanks Anton Diaz of uber-famous blog, Our Awesome Planet. He was with me on last weekend's Corregidor Overnight Trip/Booze Cruise/Cultural Outing/Tour. It's been only a day since Anton arrived back in Manila and he already has his pictures up and review written. Totally professional. No wonder his site is one of the most recommended when it comes to family travel and looking for fun/yummy/good things to do/see/eat around the Philippines.

Log on to his review here.

And guys, the next trip is in a couple of weeks already. Sign up NOW.

Picture above: The Hospital Ruins at Middleside on Corregidor.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ROGIN-E UPDATE...

WHEE-HA!
Yes.  It's contractual obligation to my sponsors time again.  Broke the psychological barrier.  I'm 165 pounds.  And no shirtlessness today.  Im just going for a black T-shirt look now and leaving the rest up to the imagination.  My competitive spirit is kicking in.  I'm gonna win this thing.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!


My article in Travelife magazine finally came out. And just to be fair to the magazine and it's editor, Liza Ilarde, the layout looks way better now.
MY LIST OF MANILA'S MUST SEES
Aka. If you are in Manila for a few days, Check these things out:

1. Intramuros
Intramuros is MANILA. No trip to the Philippine capital is complete without visiting the site where the city all began. Formerly a 15th century bamboo fortress belonging to a certain Sultan Sulayman, Intramuros grew into an ecclesiastical enclave of seven Roman Catholic Cathedrals before being pummeled to the ground by the US Army at the end of World War II. In 1979, the walls were restored thanks to the efforts of Intramuros Administration and oldest part of our megalopolis has regained much of it’s medieval European flavor with the added benefits of fine dining and better shopping. Places to visit: Fort Santiago and the Jose Rizal Shrine, Casa Manila, Bahay Tsinoy (Museum of the Chinese), The ruins of St. Ignatius, and The San Agustin Church and Museum. Places to eat: Ilustrado Restaurant, and shop: Silahis Handicrafts, Trade Winds Bookstore, and Galeria delas Islas Art Gallery. Google them. Log onto Intramuros Administration website HERE.
2. The Cultural Center of the Philippines
Built in 1969, only three years after New York’s Metropolitan Opera House and five years before the completion of the Sydney Opera House, the CCP’s floating travertine marble volume is perhaps the most iconic representation of our city’s rich trove of 1960’s brutalist architecture. Although monumental may be from the outside, the CCP’s curvaceous interiors possess a grace and elegance rare to structures built during an era more known for it’s forbidding concrete chunkiness. And if visiting it’s many exhibitions and ogling at their elegant lobby may be enough for some, I recommend catching an opera, a dance performance, or a philharmonic concert if you want to truly complete the experience. Most coveted spot: Partierre Room 25, Former private box of First Lady Imelda Marcos. Companies to watch: Ballet Philippines, Philippine Philharmonic, Tanghalang Pilipino, Philippine Madrigal Singers, and The Bayanihan Dance Company. Log onto CCP site HERE
3. The National Museum, Luneta Park, and Paco Park
Although many folks forget that there is anything behind the Jose Rizal monument, the Luneta Park is still a cornucopia of cultural sites and local flavor. Nearest to the water, You could hit the Museum of Manila and the Manila Hotel for a glimpse (albeit a shabby one) of our pre-WWII grandeur before trotting past the Rizal Monument itself and into pocket gardens dedicated to China, Japan, Jose Rizal’s execution, and the Philippine Arts which flank the monument. Further up towards Taft Avenue, visit the stunning, newly restored, professionally run, and immaculately clean National Museum of the Filipino People where you can see the treasures of the San Diego Galleon and gaze up at the awe-inspiring Spolarium by National Artist for Painting Juan Luna. Once you are all done, have a halo-halo at Barbara’s at the Orchidarium by Agrifina Circle. Sundays are especially interesting as the place is packed with locals watching movie stuntmen rehearse or listening to a free concert by the bandstand. If you are still up to it, walk up towards the Instituto Cervantes Spanish Cultural Center next to the Casino Espanol, before hanging a left to the 400 year old former cemetery, Paco Park. Wear practical shoes and dress light of course. Log onto National Museum site HERE.
4. American Memorial Cemetery
The American Memorial Cemetery is nestled smack in the middle of burgeoning Fort Bonifacio Global City. This serene setting is the largest memorial to American war dead in the world and the greenest and most breathtaking of settings in Manila’s Central Business District. The cemetery memorializes members of the US Military who gave their lives in battles fought in New Guinea and the Philippines at the close of World War II in the Pacific. Over 17,202 carved marble headstones sit amid 615,000 square meters of obsessively manicured gardens full of tropical plants and trees. It is both haunting and majestic. And although jogging and picnicking is obviously forbidden, just wandering under the trees and along it’s hemispherical walls of Trani Limestone carved with the names of 36,282 individuals who rest in unmarked graves is an experience not be missed. It’s a perfect place for reflecting upon the majesty of the human spirit and the senselessness of war. It’s open every day from 9:00am till 5:00pm except on Christmas Day and New Years
5. Corregidor Island
This 9 square kilometer tadpole shaped island by the mouth of Manila Bay and inbetween the provinces of Bataan and Cavite is the closest respite from the craziness that is Metro Manila. Less than an hour away by air conditioned ferry from Manila, the island is a historical monument, adventure playground and nature reserve rolled into one. Once a Spanish customs inspection area where all the ships that passed would have their papers corrected, hence the name Corregidor for “corrector”. It was renamed Fort Mills by the Americans and became a US military installation before being blitzed into oblivion at the close of World War II. Since 1994, the Corregidor Foundation has cleaned up the island and turned it into a national shrine and protected nature reserve. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country. You could check into the charming Spanish style Corregidor Inn for an overnight stay, or take a day trip to hike through their secondary growth jungles and wander about the ruins. The juxtaposition of ruins and overgrown jungle foliage are reminiscent of Angkor Wat or Delphi except that you aren’t looking at the remains of the Khmer or Greek empire, but that of the American one. Call suncruises or log onto their website HERE for more details.
6. Cubao
Located smack center of Metro Manila, Cubao is accesible from all points of the city by all forms of transportation. Built in the late 1950’s in the literal backyard of magnate Amado Araneta’s home. All cab drivers know where it is, every EDSA bus passes there, but it’s the MRT or LRT2 lines that you must use if you want to get there fast and in airconditioned denial of the road below. Once there, visit Farmer’s Market, the city’s largest and cleanest open air “palengke” and wander through aisles upon aisles of local produce, food and flowers. For shopping options, uber-luxe Gateway caters to higher end while Farmer’s Plaza caters to those looking for more affordable options. And after dining in one of the restaurants ringing the Araneta Coliseum (Manila’s answer to Madison Square Garden), be sure to visit Cubao Expo, a small 70’s strip mall that boasts a funky mix of wholesale retail shoe stores, vintage shops, bookstores, art galleries, and a really cool indie movie house. Be sure to pass by expo at around sunset time. The fun begins when the sun goes down.
4. Binondo Church and Chinatown
One of the city’s oldest districts and a chockful of Chinese flavor. It’s dirty, cramped, and enthralling all at once. Start off at the 200 year old Binondo Church, with it’s antique fountains fronting it and their converted pagoda belfry. From there, visit the Po Heng Lumpia Shop in the lobby of the art deco Uy Bin Tin visit Carvajal street, the market street of Chinatown.
5. Chinese Cemetery
Built on land formerly owned by the Dominican order of the Catholic Church, The Manila Chinese Cemetery finds it’s beginnings in the 19th century as a resting place for Chinese who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries or could not afford to send their remains back to China. But with the onset of communist rule and the closing of China, the Chinese Cemetery has become host to not only those of simple means but also the cognoscenti and elites of the Philippine Chinese community. Apparently, the cemetery itself is the only one of it’s kind in the world. Since it’s tradition to hold vigil by the grave of a relative, elaborate mausoleums (complete with bathrooms and kitchens) were built to ward off the harsh Philippine sun. And not only is the place relevant for it’s socio-political history but for it’s architecture as well. From its plain niches, elaborate art deco and art nouveau structures, to minimalist mid-20th century modernism, the cemetery in itself is a lesson in Philippine architectural history. And aside from the mausoleums, other sites of interest include the Chong Hock Tong Temple – the city’s oldest, Liat See Tong (Martyrs Hall) which honor of the Chinese community leaders who were executed by the Japanese during World War II, and the Carlos Palanca (Tan Quien Sien) Memorial. The Chinese Cemetery is accessible by LRT (get off at the Doroteo Jose stop and walk twenty minutes to the entrance at Felix Huertas) or by cab. For a few hundred pesos, you could hire a guide at their management office to take you around the mausoleums or log onto www.oldmanilawalks.com a couple of weeks ahead to reserve a spot on Ivan Man Dy’s famous monthly tours.
9. Quiapo Church
Truly the heart and soul of the city. Makati and Ortigas Center will show you what the Philippines wants to be but Quiapo will always show you what Manila is all about. It’s a daily fiesta at the Quiapo Church and Plaza Miranda fronting it. Crazy, noisy, colorful, and full of hawkers, fortune tellers, and devout believers of the Catholic faith, it’s a circus from the 14th century with cellphones. Once there, you can visit the Candle vendors and snake oil salesmen at the Herbalist Market on Evangelista Street, check out the shopping options on Carriedo, or root though all the traditional handicrafts on sale underneath the Quezon Bridge (Ilalim ng Tulay). If you are up to it, you could also drop by the Bahay Nakpil Bautista on Barbosa (A. Bautista) Street on the other side of Quezon Boulevard. It’s a beautiful century old bahay na bato done in the Viennese Jugendstijl Art Deco style and a museum to the history of Quiapo and the Katipunan. Come by cab, by the LRT train line (stop at Carriedo), or by Ferry (Pasig River Ferry stop: Quiapo). And onc you are done, be sure to climb up the back of the Quiapo Church (Halik sa Itaas) and touch the foot of the black Nazarene, an ebony image of Jesus on his way to Calvary. It will give you luck and assure that you will find your way back to Quiapo again.
10. Club Mwah and Hobbit House
Drag Queens and Dwarves, a strange but interesting mix and a perfect recipe for a good night out in Manila. Hobbit House, located on Arquiza Street corner MH del Pilar in Ermita, is an institution in Manila’s music scene. Opened in 1977 by an Irishman/JRR Tolkien aficionado named Jim Turner, it was originally located at at the corner of Remedios Street and A. Mabini before moving to their current digs further north. And true to it’s namesake, the place has always been run and managed by little people. But beyond the novelty of being served beer knee-side by the charming liliputian waitstaff, Hobbit House is also home to the city’s best musicians and amazing food. Philippine Folk legend Freddie Aguilar plays there on Mondays. Be sure not to miss that. Meanwhile, halfway across town on Boni Avenue in Mandaluyong, lies the best little drag extravaganza you could find this side of the South China Sea. Part Las Vegas Sideshow, part Broadway musical, and part jeepney, Club Mwah has raised the bar in Manila when it comes to strombotic displays of well, gayness. And despite it’s offbeat location, the place is a rather classy number. With animal prints everywhere, chandeliers, gilded mirrors, and a”psychedelic” dance floor, this diva number definitely not a dive. The show: a mix of showstoppers, power ballads, and torch songs. The crowd: a mix of Manila’s perfumed set, movie stars, expats, tourists, transvestites, and those who love them. Only open from Wednesdays to Saturdays. Log onto Club Mwah site HERE.

Thanks a million Janie for the feature in Inq.net HERE.

And a big shout out to Janine for featuring me in 24/7 (above)

And to Michael Shapiro (above, with us in Intramuros) of Hanahou Magazine for the mention in his article on Hawaiian Airlines inflight magazine (Yes, Hawaiian Airlines now flies to Manila). Read the article HERE. Truth be told, the original pre-edited article Mike sent me was darker, nuanced and well, more interesting. But it's an inflight magazine. What can you do?

And finally, thank you thank you to Miss Sandra Scott of TravelLady magazine for her lovely words about Manila (below) and for sending the nice story (below).


Monday, April 21, 2008

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...





WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

W.C., rest rooms, bathrooms, comfort rooms, latrines, public toilets. Whatever you call it, allow me to introduce you to the spanking new ones over at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.

Thanks to the tickets you have all paid for my tours, plus the help and assistance of Mrs. Caress Banson, the SALEX Foundation, and Arch. RG Roa, we took away the pink and baby blue nastiness that was the old one (below) and created ones befitting of a UNESCO World Heritage Site (above). Architecture/layout was by J. Anton Mendoza (same guy who did People's Palace and Sala) and interior design detailing was by yours truly. The tiles are classic Machuca, the fixtures are from American Standard, the Venetian mirrors are from Balikbayan Handicraft, and the chandelier is well, plastic. This was my first real attempt into architecture/interior and I'm quite proud of it if I may say so myself.





We still need a couple of side tables next to the sinks for the soap, and some nice classy trash bins. Would be great if someone out there could donate them? Hint hint. Hint hint.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

TO ALL YOU MEANIES OUT THERE...


I'm so over you and your commentaries.  I am now enabling comment moderation. 


And to all the haters of shirtless fat people.  Bite this.

Have a nice day.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

ROGIN-E UPDATE...

YES. I KNOW. Thank God he left his shirt on. This is my Rogin-E and Gold's Gym update for the week. And I seem to be leading on the new Rogin-E Unbreakable Challenge Website. Either that or they just listed us alphabetically and that's why I'm on top. But truth be told, for the past week, I haven't found enough time to make it out to Gold's and I'm actually at that state that if I don't get to exercise, I get kinda depressed and sluggish. So to remedy this situation, I got one of those plastic exercise ball thingamajiggies and a twenty pound dumbell so that I could enhance Jopet's regimen. I now do around a hundred sit-ups a day and arm-curls while watching the news on ANC. Yes, I know. Despite the crap I say about that station, I still watch them as default. Don't ask me why I do. But I do. In fairness, they seemed to have annoyingness under control.

And I seemed to have plateaued though. I haven't lost weight in the last week. I'm kinda stuck in the late 160's. Haven't broken my psychological barrier of 165.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!



OYE. OYE. OYE.
If you haven't caught the annual "Dia Del Libro" yet at the Instituto Cervantes Manila in Ermita. this weekend would be the best opportunity for you to do so. April 19, Saturday, promises to bring yet another day of Spanish culture galore at the Instituto. From 10:00 am until midnight, you could browse through their amazing booksale of new and vintage titles (and receive a rose upon every purchase), have your books signed by their authors, tour the institute, listen to some jazz, watch Spanish films, practice your Spanish, join a poetry slam, all as you enjoy pica-picas and Spanish wine all day. Que bien no? Click on image below for the list of events.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

CARLOS RECOMMENDS!

GET INTO THE GROOVE.
Now this is really the guide to Manila that I would have written myself should I have had the time and well, the idea to do so. Produced by Aaron Frankel, a retired cartoonist, longtime resident of Bangkok, and certified groovy traveller, The Groovy Map N' Guide has been around since 1996 and has grown from a 3 man operation into Asia's Best Selling Orientation Map. Since then, Groovy guides to Chang Mai, Singapore, Sydney, Beijing, Hong Kong, Samui, Shanghai, and Tapei have already been written and Manila is the latest addition to Aaron's groove collection. Designed for the short time traveller to Manila, it's a collection of ONLY the greatest and grooviest that you can see during your stay in the City of Man. I assure you that it has NONE of the useless crap, advertising and flagrant product placements that the other city maps have. Filled to the brim with useful information about dining, sightseeing, gay and straight bar hopping, and shopping, the map gives you the insider's view of what to expect as seen through the eyes of someone who you assume is as groovy as you might be. The choices are also rather progressive, the map features underground insider secrets like Fat Michaels, Filling Station, the Evangelista flea markets, and the fantastic Cubao X art scene among many others (like yours truly). Best of all, the map is printed on super thick lamination paper so that it wouldn't rip or get soggy on the streets steamy ol' Manila. Be sure to pick one up before you arrive in the city. Or if you are a resident Manileno, just buy a whole bunch to give to visiting friends who wish to independently explore Manila in a fast and funky way. No surprise, that the Groovy Guide was the 2006 Winner 'Best Tourist/Free Map' Award from the International Map Trade Association (IMTA) and a recipient of a 5 star rating from Amazon.com. Read the reviews here. Read about it's founder, Aaron here, and log onto their site here.

The map sells for about U$8.95. and is distributed by EZ Maps.
Tel: (+63)(02) 551-0196
Tel: (+63)(02) 551-0927

Stay posted for the Groovy Map Launch of the Party. It will be a hoot and a holler.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

ONE. TWO. THREE...ENDORSEMENTS!



DJ Montano likes my blog. He said so himself.

Wala lang. Just putting that out there.

Watch the rest of DJ Montano's rebuttal to Brian Gorrell's allegations on Korina Sanchez' show on ANC, Korina Today on the links HERE and HERE. Fellow guest is Mo Twister.

Note: I am soooo not going to get involved in the conversation about this interview. But feel free to talk about it amongst yourselves. But keep it clean though. This isn't our issue, guys. It's theirs. Leave the mudslinging only between Brian and DJ.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ADDENDUM AGAIN...

I'm even sadder today to lose the house on Madrid Street. It's more historically significant than I first thought. Just today, I received this letter...

Hi Carlos,
Sorry off topic from tours, but just about Casa Vizantina (Byzantine House) or the House on Madrid corner Penarubia. I have not attended your Binondo tour but actually did a partial study of this house (under cultural heritage management at UST Cultural Heritage Studies). Here's a part of my report with some pictures.

Statement of Significance:
The Casa Vizantina, made primarily of local hardwood, is aesthetically significant for being representative of the prevailing late 19th century Floral style bahay na bato in Binondo. The characteristics are evident in the delicate embellishments on the facade, including neo-Byzantine elements like slender colonettes and round wooden arches. The facade is significant for its use of quality Philippine hardwood and the workmanship involved in its creation. The facade and the house, forms part of an aesthetically and architecturally important street scape in San Nicolas, Binondo.

The house is important for its historic association with the development of Binondo as the prosperous center of commerce in 19th century Philippines. Moreover, it is associated with the rise of the principalia as the country opened up extensively to world trade. The house is one of the surviving three-storey structures from the 19th century that was once common in areas like Binondo that still retains most of its original fabric.

Partial History:
The house, along with the facade, built in 1890, was created by Don Lorenzo del Rosario. Don Lorenzo was a native principalia and one of the numerous building contractors in Binondo (De Viana, 2001). In 1886, he won the contract to renovate the Tribunal de Sangleyes. From 1914 to 1919, the house was leased out to Instituto de Manila to hold elementary and high school classes. It was a school until 1919 when the Instituto moved to its own building at Sampaloc and expand to become The University of Manila. Around after the second World War, the house was leased to various tenants.

The facade and the house forms part of the distinctive street scape of San Nicolas during its heyday, that has escaped the ravages of wars. The collective scale of the surviving structures are significant and reveal much about the history of San Nicolas and Binondo as the commercial capital of the country in the 19th century. On a broader scale, the structure reveals the context of the development of the Philippine economy during the later 19th century when the country opened itself to extensive world trade since the galleon trade ended. The cash crop economy presented more opportunities for entrepreneurial inhabitants from various parts of the country to economically prosper. This gave rise to the class of "Principalia", which included the educated Illustrados, who had more opportunities to study and travel. The period also saw the increased influx of foreign people, influences, and objects in the country that are revealed in the architecture of the later 19th century.

The attached pictures are from Instituto de Manila Annual The Golden Leaf.
Manila: Graduating Class, 1918 and 1920.

Sincerely,
Eliza Agabin

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ONE. TWO. THREE... ENDORSEMENTS!

WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!
Ok. I swear. This will be the second to the last shirtless picture of myself. My apologies, but there will be one more to be posted in a month - the final "after" shots to the "before" shots done by Juan Caguicla. And bear with me because I just have to prove just how much weight I lost.

From this photo of chunky me (above) to the slightly less chunky version of me below...

And furthermore, I have to thank the folks over at Rogin-E and Gold's Gym (yes, I was humbled, gave up on doing my own thing and went back to Gold's Gym to follow my instructor Jopet's insanely hard core regimen.) It really was the only smart thing to do. Doing the workout on my own gave me too many opportunities to slack and I think I almost injured myself using free weights (I pulled a muscle on my side). And since I started working out and dieting in January, I have lost eighteen pounds and counting. I'm now 167 pounds from a high of 185. And once I hit my supposed ideal weight of 155 , I think I'll finally call it a day and eat an entire can of Spam to celebrate.

And also, thanks Sony Ericsson for the fantastic K850i cellphone/camera and the great features in Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Manila Standard. I have always been a Sony Cybershot kinda guy and have been using this camera for years. This new phone model felt really familiar to me and it was a breeze figuring out how it works. I highly recommend this phone. It's easy to use, the touchscreen functions are an especially cool feature, and most importantly, it's black. After dropping for almost a dozen times, it still looks good. Be sure to check out the results of their TOP SHOT photo contest here:

AND finally, make sure to watch "Urban Zone" this Sunday night near midnight on ABS CBN (it's the last show before signing off). In celebration of ICOMOS INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR MONUMENTS AND SITES this April 18th (Sunday), I visit the gorgeously restored Gota de Leche ("Drop of Milk"), one of downtown Manila's most stunning examples of early 20th Philippine architecture and a 2003 recipient of a UNESCO award for architectural restoration (below). I interview Ms. Lourdes Sarabia and we talk about how heritage architecture can still be relevant in MegaManila and chat about La Proteccion de la Infancia, the oldest secular infant care charity in the country that has provided free milk and medical care to Manila's indigent mothers for the past ONE HUNDRED YEARS. Thanks Byahilo.com for the shot.


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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

ADDENDUM...


And if things aren't changing fast enough in Chinatown, look what just happened to the Carriedo Fountain at the end of Ongpin Street. From that (above) to that (below).

Holy Hideous Hell, Batman.

Well, I don't know. Some may bit** that the fountain now looks like a painted whore and I might agree. But then again, considering the way that other heritage structures are going nowadays, I'm just glad that they didn't demolish it. At least paint can be removed. A demolition would have been irreversible.

But more than anything else, considering that Mayor Lim has touted himself to be the heritage friendly mayor and that he has some of the finest conservationists and historians aboard his bandwagon, how the hell did this travesty happen under their watch? Ahem. Paging Heritage Conservation Society et al...What the hell?

Thanks pakshet 101 and Eazytraveler for the photos.

Monday, April 07, 2008

AU REVOIR!

First I lost the Coconut Palace, now this. Sigh.

But I knew this day had to happen. After having the rough but hauntingly beautiful "House on Madrid Street" as the second stop of my Chinatown tour for the last five years, I am finally losing it on April 30. During my Chinatown tour last Sunday, the residents of this Dickensian abode informed me that by the next time I do the tour, their house will be leveled to an empty lot by the owners of the property due to it's being structurally unsound.

Such a shame. The house has stood there for more almost a hundred years. The mansion survived earthquakes, typhoons, the Philippine Revolution and World War II, only to tragically meet it's fate as scrap wood on Laon Laan Street.

But what can you do? It's a property rights kind of town. If the government and owners of these properties don't see the value of this authentic structure, then nobody will.

And just like the residents of the house who are fatalistically nonchalant about having nowhere to move to, I too am not going to cry for the house. There are bigger problems I have to think of now. Like where can I find an authentic 19th century structure to visit as the second stop of my Chinatown tour? And where can I find other resident families to adopt and provide birth control for? Ugh.


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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS!

Well, I'll be durned. Times they are a changing over at the Intramuros Administration. After sitting at the top of the heap since Erap times, the controversial Dominador Ferrer has finally stepped aside and lo and behold, let's all give a warm welcome to Ms. Ana Maria "Bambi" Harper. Former director of the Heritage Conservation Society and a long time critic of the departing IA director, Ms. Harper definitely has her work cut out for her. Plagued by low tourism investments, a high nocturnal crime rate, squatters, drug dealing, and neglect, Intramuros is in desperate need of a clearcut vision that will turn it into as culturally vibrant as Vigan and as tourism friendly as Boracay. And after chatting with her yesterday at the courtyard of Casa Manila, I am quite secure for now that IA is in good hands. Among the things we talked about were: cleaning up Intramuros (crime-wise; litter-wise; and drug-wise), the repair of some areas in Casa Manila, the creation of a gift shop, and the relocation of squatters).

And in light of all this, I promised Bambi that I would go on my blog and ask folks out there for ideas and opinions about Intramuros just to see if we can find any good ideas out there.

So folks, tell me: What does Intramuros need for it to elevate itself into a world class tourist destination and heritage site? Give me a your suggestions or opinions. Whatever it is, fill the comments box with your thoughts because I'm going send it to her office once it's full.

Oh, And I've gone kinda showbiz. Watch me today on the morning show, Boy and Kris (ABS CBN). I take Boy and Matt and Mikey from BB Teen Edition around Casa Manila. Tune in if only to watch me mangle the Filipino language.

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