Sunday, March 20, 2005


I knew that at some point, I would piss off someone.

From. L.C.
I'm happy to receive tour announcements as well as restaurant information... but I do not wish to receive messages protesting against issues/controversies, esp. those that attack the catholic church. Seen from laymen's perspective, the intervention may seem quite unreasonable. Perhaps we need to go deeper than the surface level before going gungho over any such matters of a serious nature...

My reply:
I walk around a city where unwanted uneducated hungry children nip at the toes of tourists and myself. I dont tour Makati. Overpopulation and IGNORANCE is a serious issue and it is definitely tied to what I do.

Just take a walk around downtown Manila, count all the uneducated pregnant street dwellers living in the bushes, and that is how deep you need to go.

I am not being unreasonable. The Catholic Church is interfering with our governments plans to provide our less fortunate countrymen with the freedom to plan their families and future once again. I will not keep silent this time. They blocked this family planning bill too many times.

I'm sorry that you do not agree with my views but my walking tours are not only about showing the pretty side of the Philippines. Most Philippine travel agencies do a good job of providing that already.
PS I am Catholic too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


March 16, 2005
Roxas Boulevard - March 16, 2005,
originally uploaded by
After a 19-year long absence, it gives me great joy to welcome the bougainvilla flowers back to the center island of Roxas Boulevard. These vibrant blooms, first planted for the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant by former First Lady/Governor of Metro Manila/Minister of Human Settlements Imelda Romualdez Marcos, form a great part of my childhood memories. Images of crimson and violet flowers flitting outside the window of my grandfathers Renault on a sunny 1977 Manila afternoon are still fresh in my minds eye. Sadly, these lush colorful bushes were one of the first casualties of the 1986 revolution. Once Cory Aquino was swept into power, the Department of Tourism, then headed by Secretary Antonio Gonzalez, had all the bougainvillae uprooted as a knee jerk reaction to all things Imeldific. In its place, frangipani trees were planted until they too were moved to the side islands for reasons of bad feng shui, bad air, or bad aesthetics. I just hope the bougainvillae stay for good this time. There is a reason why Imelda chose them. They are perfect for the maintenance standards of the city. They thrive on neglect and bloom when urinated upon. And despite the backdrop of Marcos' human rights violations and the systematic rape of the Philippine economy, these flowers stand as a testament to an era when Manila was more orderly, more cultured, and, for the lack of a more specific term, more beautiful. Congratulations to the Department of Public Works for getting over the bitterness and bringing Madame's flowers back where they belong.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Intramuros - January 2005,
originally uploaded by
In asmuch as I hate to gloat. Goshdarnit! Im in Time Magazine.
Monday, Mar. 07, 2005 (March 14,2005 issue) Cover: How to End Poverty
Tourists typically give Manila a wide berth, or else use the smoggy, chaotic Philippine capital as a mere layover en route to one of the country's coastal resorts. More fool them. If you take time to explore it, Manila pays rich dividends. One of the best ways to get to know the city is through the half-day walking tours given by the garrulous Carlos Celdran, which are booked through the Peninsula Academy, a cultural program of the Peninsula hotel, tel: (63-2) 887 2888. Decked out in an appropriate costume—he'll wear Spanish-colonial garb for a walk around the old quarter of Intramuros, but don lurid bell bottoms for a tour of the 1970s Cultural Center of the Philippines—Celdran offers up rich narratives that are by turns gossipy (his account of Imelda Marcos' rise and fall is hilarious) and compelling (the description of a bombed-out Manila, at the end of World War II, is unforgettable). They're also filled with the kind of insight that only a native raconteur can provide—Celdran is Manila-born, and with his Spanish, Chinese and American ancestry, represents all the city's cultural components. "I can't change the way Manila looks," Celdran admits. "But I can change the way you look at Manila." Private tours begin from about $65.
Thanks Liam Fitzpatrick for the write-up and Cres Yulo for the photo.

Friday, March 11, 2005


rosys pancit
Philtrade Hall - March 11, 2005
originally uploaded by
Rosy's Pancit (Philtrade, Buendia corner Roxas Blvd. Southwest side) Tel. n/a
Hardcore Filipino food. Not for foreigners of the faint of heart. The place smells like it was dredged out of the armpit of Neptune himself - and that's how you know the food is good. The Pancit Malabon (it's signature dish) is as authentic as it gets. The savory annato sauce with rice noodles comes complete with oysters and boiled eggs. Suman (rice cakes) are also available with fresh bananas. Don't order the lumpia. Just don't. Make sure to check out the myriad of antique shops next door after you're done picking your teeth. Ridiculously cheap. Tons of Parking.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


the·oc·ra·cy (P)n. pl. the·oc·ra·cies A government ruled by or subject to religious authority. A state so governed.
As I watch the news and see our mostly male political leaders taking the stage with all-male heirarchy of the Philippine Catholic Church to vehemently oppose Congressman Edcel Lagman's House Bill 3773 family planning bill in congress - a chill heads up my spine. It shows that the Philippines is barelling backwards into the 19th century and the theocratic days of our Spanish colonization. It shows to the world that we have finally lost trust in the state and have allowed the all-too-human friars of the local Catholic Church to dictate government policies. It is undeniable that this sets a very disturbing precedent. That, at the end of the day, despite the fact that our president is female, and that the top three graduates of the Philippine Military Academy are female, the role of women in the Philippines has not progressed at all. By remaining silent, we are allowing them to be systematically oppressed with the full support of the government and permitting ourselves into becoming no different from other theocracies in the world like the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan. So speak up against this everyone! Start a signature drive and send it to your congressman. Hold a rally. Give condoms away for free. Lets not allow ourselves to be cowed into fear and ignorance by this cowardly minority. They should really find something better to do with their followers' hard earned money and time like protest against child abuse, child pornography, ecological degradation, or corruption. Their word is not law. Their claim to know the will of the divine is really just blasphemy by any other name. So pray for their progressive enlightenment and that they might one day see the truth. After all, this is the same organization that once thought the world was flat; that the sun revolved around the earth; and supported the execution of National Hero Jose Rizal. To learn more about the truth of overpopulation and family planning in the Philippines, click on the underlined words.

Oh and happy Women's Month everybody!!

To see for yourself how ignorance and lack of family planning can aggravate poverty, come to my ALL THE WAY DOWN TO CHINATOWN TOUR! Its free too. March 13, 2:30PM

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Photographs by Eddie Boy Escudero
Opening March 8 - April 12
Candid photographs of Manila's demimonde taken over the last eight years.
33C South Tower, Pacific Plaza, Fort Bonifacio
Tel. 8160044

Friday, March 04, 2005


Intramuros - February 1945
Intramuros - February 1945,
originally uploaded by
A moment of silence everyone.
Its been exactly sixty years since the city of Manila died. Back in February of 1945, General Douglas MacArthur and his forces blasted their way into our capital in order to liberate it from the occupying forces of the Japanese Imperial Army. This would be known as "The Battle of Manila" and would be the bloodiest battle ever fought on Philippine soil. By March of 1945, the once beautiful city of Manila earned the distinction of being WWII's most devastated city after Warsaw while 120,000 of its citizens lay dead on her streets. Learn more about this tragic event in history and see what life was like before it all was lost.
Then say a little prayer.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


(kvch) Slang intr.v. kvetched, kvetch·ing, kvetch·es: To complain persistently and whiningly.
Who said that you cant get things done by simply complaining? Remember that
rant I made about the mini-mall being built right on the Luneta Park by the Quirino grandstand? The one I sent out about a couple of months ago? Well. Apparently Da Mayor of Manille Joselito Atienza has taken all our whinings (via email and phone) to heart and put an order to stop all construction. Whee! I drove by the area yesterday and it seems all work has been stopped completely. There is even a sign in front from City Hall saying that they revoked the building license. Unfortunately, insiders at City Hall say that some of the powers that be behind this project are trying to overturn the decision and complete the mall and forever change the landscape of this already cluttered park. Media Folk? Can we follow up on what's going on here? Let's see who is to blame for letting this happen and what's going to happen to this half-done structure? Actually, much worse than a mall on a national park is a HALF-finished mall on a national park.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


originally uploaded by carlosceldran.
I drove by the Cultural Center of the Philippines today and let me say that I am just thrilled as a pig in a poke that its facade is being fixed - finally! The very sight of of scaffolding and construction workers around the structure just warmed the cockles of my jaded heart. Not only was its cheap marble trim (from a bad repair job done in the 90's) being replaced by new travertine from Italy; but workers in hard-hats and high pressure hoses were methodically stripping off years of layered grime from its concrete pylons and walls. Inside, all the bathrooms are also being refreshed and its public spaces cleaned and vacuumed. And in a country where the basic maintenance of a government structure means to annually slather a coat of mint green paint over anything that doesnt move, to see such painstaking effort to restore National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin's magnum opus is a very welcome development. It shows that things can finally be done right around here and that RESTORATION is ultimately better for our heritage structures than RENOVATION. So Bravo to the board of directors and management of the CCP for maintaining the architectural integrityof this strikingly beautiful but misunderstood national landmark. Same goes to the management of the PICC for their restoration efforts as well. To learn more about these sites, log onto the official CCP (There are great shows happening in March) and PICC websites or come to my Martial Arts! Tour.