Sunday, July 31, 2005


"Why does the government insist on changing the names of our city's streets?" asks Ivan Man Dy. He is hopping mad and he deserves an answer. Attention Mayor Atienza and Councilor Miles Roces! But more importantly. Can someone find a way to get this message to the Yuchengco family?

Dear Sir,

A few days ago; this streetwalker and once-upon-time Binondo resident had a major jolt in his acute sense of direction: he couldnt find his street of childhood.

In the movie 'Face-Off' , good guy actor John Travolta wakes up to find himself - and his whole identity- turned upside down when bad guy Nicolas Cage goes on a rampage and forcefully acquires Travolta's face (literally through surgery). Suddenly, everything wasn't as what's supposed to be.

I can only imagine this is what the residents and businesses of Nueva Street in Binondo must have felt when they woke up about month ago and suddenly found themselves staring at 'nueva' street sign that read ET Yuchengco - a name so strange and unrelated to what generations, including this humble streetwalker, have known as Calle Nueva.

Log onto OldManilaWalks for the rest of the text...


Up until the early 1980's, traffic lights were a rarity in Manila. Traffic in the city flowed thanks to a series of graceful rotundas (pre WWII leftovers from Daniel Burnham's original plan) or managed by the famous "dancing cops" of Manila. Like an orchestra conductor's baton, these highly entertaining policemen-slash-performers would control vehicular flow by using motions which were inspired from the latest dance craze (I even remember seeing one use John Travolta's iconic Saturday Night Fever up and down finger pointing disco move to direct traffic). They became so ubiquitous to the city's landscape that visiting foreigners would photograph them. They were actually considered to be somewhat of a tourist attraction. But sadly, sometime after the departure of the Marcoses in 1986, the police forces of the Philippines were reconfigured, traffic lights were erected everywhere, and the dancing policeman unfortunately disappeared into oblivion.

Well, at least that's what I thought.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Traffic Enforcer Noel Quilatan, perhaps Manila's last dancing cop. If you ever find yourself in Fort Bonifacio near Pacific Place, make sure to look out for him. He isn't hard to miss. His five foot seven inch frame is tall for Philippine standards and his beaming smile can be seen at least one block away. But it's his hand signals - influenced by such moves as the monkey, the funky chicken, and breakdancing - which are sure to catch your attention - as well as put a smile on your face. Manila's traffic has never been this much fun.

Noel Quilatan can be seen strutting his stuff most weekdays at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and McKinley Road in Bonifacio Global City.

Friday, July 29, 2005


A few months ago I wrote an entry about
Philippine Airlines (BRAVO! BRAVO! April 2005) because I was glad to see that their cuisine was gaining rave reviews on the website It really did seem like things were looking up over at our national carrier. Unfortunately, I flew PAL a few days ago (Manila - Saigon) and I am unhappy to report that things are not all that well on the ground at Asia's most mediocre airline. Just arriving at the PAL Centennial terminal was already an indication on how unprofessionally things were being run. Not only did the terminal stink like an unwashed dishrag, but ground crew service was way below par. My check in girl was surly and the staff behind her seemed to enjoy talking to each other more than they did the passengers. I was also rather horrified to see porters - still in their uniforms - smoking cigarettes and making "tambay" (hanging out) inside the airport's concession, "The Tinder Box". All seven of them were boisterously chatting away, unmindful of the obviously irritated foreign passengers beside them. Oh and that was only half the staff, the rest were SLEEPING ON BENCHES right beside the boarding gates. Ridiculous. And the BAD service didn't stop there, the security personnel also just sat around - literally - (listening to loud radio music and once again chatting away) while the passengers disembarked from the aircraft. Moreover, the plants in the airport were dead, the paint was peeling off the walls, and the public areas were littered with beat up furniture that nobody seemed to be using. But worst of all (and this was what really got my goat), the signage at the airport was slap-dash. In public areas, the signs that say, "Staff only", "Do not enter","Keep door closed", or "These are the customs regulations.." were ALL WRITTEN BY HAND OR BY PC AND POSTED ON THE WALL WITH SCOTCH TAPE! Jeez, it looked both dirty AND amateurish. Why doesnt anyone buy a proper printer and a lamination machine? Believe me, this would do wonders in giving the Centennial Airport a more professional (and SAFER) image. C'mon Lucio Tan, it's already bad enough you usurped the terminal for PAL - it was supposed to be the domestic terminal for ALL airlines before PAL monopolized it - do you have to add insult to injury by running the place like a jeepney terminal? Apparently there's just no giving you nice things. A little public art, and an upgrade of service and CLEANLINESS can't be THAT hard to achieve, can it?

Oh and by the way. The food on my flight sucked too. The fish was dry.

Photo: Just a few of the signs posted up with scotch tape. Note lounging security on the left and crappy mismatched furniture. Shameful.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Just bumped into this great blog by a Washington DC-based Filipino who goes by the name of Urbano dela Cruz. He too is a fellow fetishist of the City of Manila and has dedicated his blog to issues surrounding our fair city's development. Since obtaining his Masters Degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he has been working with the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, a non-profit organization that focuses on urban sustainable development, for the last two years. His hope is to eventually put together a coalition of voices to shape a vision for the future of Metro Manila. Mr. Dela Cruz is currently finishing a concept paper which he wishes to send to the Ayala Foundation regarding the formation of a citizen's group committed to urban issues. If these issues interest you too, get in touch with him and let's see what happens. You'll also love his blog because of the great pictures (one lovely one of Luneta Park in the 1970's) and really interesting (read: technical) articles.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Hmmm. I don't know. I think I would have used the word "construction" instead. But that's just me.


Got three features this week:
Planet Philippines - An online magazine for the overseas Filipino.
Philippine Business Magazine - The online magazine of the Makati Business Club.
and an interview on
ExpectoRANTS - Harrumphing essays blog; an interview with it's host, freelance writer Resty Odon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Tina Decal
0927 5630989
02 7793595
I'm telling you now: Round up a group of friends as fast as you can and call Tina. This charming lady from Sariaya can arrange a day-long Philippine culinary adventure through Quezon and Laguna provinces like you've never done before. When I joined her tour, I watched locals make Lucban Longganiza (pork and oregano sausage) and Kiping (traditional rice buntings); feasted on Filipino food while floating on a fishpond; enjoyed a show of traditional dancing and singing and sipped coconut rice wine inside the gorgeous Juan Nakpil designed Rodriguez-Arguelles mansion in Sariaya (a site worthy of the journey itself). Make sure to try the pastillas (custard candies) at the Rodriguez Mansion, the pandan scented coffee at Kusina Salud, and stop by some of the churches and a house or two along the way. This woman knows every place, everyone and anything thats going on inbetween. Ask her for a list of places and things that can be done and pick and choose the activities and food which most interests you (some choose to forego the sausage making and instead do things like shop for pottery or plants). It's definitely a great activity for family reunions, office team-building and company outings. You could even stay at the Casa San Pablo (and relax amidst their fabulous collection of contemporary Philippine art) or at famed pottery designer Ugu Bigyan's Kay Inay Resort if you want to go slow. Bring an appetite and a sense of adventure and you'll discover why Quezon is the Philippines' best kept tourism secret.
Inset: Photo of pandanggo awit ritual singers who greet you at the door of the Rodriguez Mansion. More photos of my Quezon adventure here.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I'm delighted to see that the majestic El Hogar Filipino building (on the left) has pulled it's image out of the dumps and is finding a new life in the world of showbiz. This beautiful beaux-arts building, designed by architect Irrureta Goyena and set by the Pasig River on Muelle dela Industria in Binondo, was built as a wedding gift for the union of a Zobel daughter and a Peruvian count back in 1914. It housed the offices of the lending company El Hogar Filipino (hence its name) and the original headquarters of Ayala Life Insurance Company. After World War II, the building found itself in the hands of the Fernandez clan who still run the building till this day. Sadly, this strikingly elegant structure fell into disrepair in the 1980s when downtown Manila's street life was sucked out of Binondo and Ermita and spat out into the gated developments of Makati suburbia. And although somewhat faded from it's original glory, it was precisely the building's urban gothic aura which helped it start it's newfound career. In 2000, the family started renting it out as the backdrop of Richard Gomez's ill-fated TV series, "Your Honor" and let it be used for a car and credit card TV spot. But from these random stints, El Hogar has now become the darling of Manila's TV and film production design world. Aside from being used as the backdrop for Globe and McDonald's commercials, it's also used as the setting for the music videos of indie groups Bamboo ("Hallelujah"), Cueshe ("Stay"), and uber cheesy pop princess Sarah Geronimo's remake of Foreigner's "I Wanna Know What Love Is". It was even used in the opening scenes of Peque Gallaga's recently premiered "Pinoy Blonde". According to Chris Esguerra, of Video and Light Production house, "Directors love using El Hogar Filipino. At different angles, it can become Paris, Rome, New York...". Producers at their company apparently use the building so much, they even gave it the nickname, "Studio Three". Good Job, Fernandez family, I hope you finally made enough money from these gigs to gift the building with a well-deserved paint job.
PS. All you Philippine architecture buffs out there, if I spelled the architect's name wrong, please send me the right way to do it.


Bgy. Santa Cruz, Putol, Laguna, Tel. 049 2466878/2466879 Cel. 0920 9101665
If you find your stomach rumbling in the jungles of lush Laguna, aim your compass towards Kusina Salud (right). Set in the country home of Filipiniana fashion icon Patis Tesoro, Kusina is probably the classiest act this side of the South Super Highway. Operated by Nina Tesoro-Poblador (of Salud Bistro, Baguio) and husband Chef Paul Poblador, they serve fabulous Filipino food with a cosmopolitan twist. Some dishes I recommend are the Lechon Kawali with three kinds of sauces, the Karabaw beef Tapa, and their ultra-rich homemade avocado ice cream (which in itself is worth the hour and a half journey from Manila). Aside from the fantastic food, Kusina Salud pulls out all stops in the ambience department with it's eclectic architecture and accoutrements (The house was featured in Marie Claire Maison). Spa services are also available upon request (Try the foot massage while lounging on a chaise right beside their remarkably clean creek - it's decadent). Parking is plentiful. Call if you need directions.
From South Super Highway, turn right at the final exit. Head down Maharlika Highway towards Lucena City. Once past San Pablo, keep an eye out to the left for Sta. Cruz turnoff. Large Kusina Salud signs will guide you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I just took the LRT to Intramuros yesterday and as I got off at the Central Station, I was delighted to finally see work happening next door at the Mehan Gardens (see left). Only a month ago the place was still an overgrown mess that was lined with vagrants and smelled of urine, but today, the place is abuzz with landscapers planting plants and workers laying out paving brick. After calling the Flagship Projects Office of the City of Manila, I learned that the park has been redesigned by J. Antonio Mendoza once again (the same guy who designed the proposed Teachers Center in Arroceros Park). His plan was inspired by the original 19th century layout of Mehan Gardens to be in keeping with it's historical relevance. I also heard that the National Historical Institute finally approved the updated design of the City College of Manila to be constructed at the edge of the site (now with a floor plan that is open so as to make it possible to conduct archeological digs). I wonder if this means that the controversy is over? Or does this mean that it's begun once again? I certainly hope not. Whatever the end may be, I'm just glad that city hall is moving it one step closer to having the park used as a public space once again.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Salle a Manger
Salle a Manger - July 2005,
originally uploaded by carlosceldran.

Salle A Manger (The Dining Room)
Ground Floor, ACROCITY Building, 1116 Antipolo Street, Brgy. Valenzuela, Makati. Tel.7290433
If you happen to find yourself somewhere in the Poblacion area of Makati; whether shopping for Korean groceries, fitting a dress at House of Laurel, or attending a hearing at the Makati regional trial courts - make sure you drop by Salle A Manger. Imagine nibbling on a Panini, sipping an espresso, and browsing through fashion magazines while lounging on delightfully mismatched chairs as smokey tricycles blare outside. Salle A Manger is definitely an oasis from the hustle and bustle of this crazy area. Their soups change daily, their cookies are homemade, and their adobo flakes are the crispiest this side of the Pasig River. Parking is available at the front of the building and the staff is friendly. Cheap.
To get there, from Jupiter St. turn on Nincanor Garcia (formerly Reposo St.) and drive all the way past J.P. Rizal. N. Garcia turns into Antipolo Street. Salle A Manger would be to the right.

Friday, July 08, 2005


bakya - July 2005
originally uploaded by
One fond memory of growing up as a Martial Law baby in the 1970's was having pancakes every Sunday morning at the original Pancake House beside Rizal Theater (picture here) in Makati Commercial Center (Pre-Ayala Center days). And on every special occassion, like a birthday or Christmas, my parents would stroll my siblings and I two doors down to Happy Feet to buy a pair of rather chic custom made bakya (Philippine wooden clogs) with buckled straps to mark the ocassion. The tradition of buying these wooden slippers went on unabated until the arcade where these stalls were located was torn down to build the drab behemoth that is now Landmark Department Store. And although Happy Feet did remain in operation for some years after after that, the corporation soon succumbed to the changing tastes in footwear and closed their last branch in 1992. Then, just a few weeks ago, as I was driving around San Juan, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon HAPPY FEET once again. It seems that the descendants of Happy Feet's founder, Dr. Roberto Anonas Sr., have decided to revive the brand and they are banking on nostalgia and updated versions of this quintessentially Filipino shoe to keep the market demand going among baby boomers and students. And driven by my desire to revive the spirit of 1970's Philippines - an era that was much simpler but yet much more stylish - I stopped and bought myself a pair to show my support. And I think all of you should too. So run, don't walk to:
197 Wilson St. corner P.Guevara, Baranggay Sta. Lucia, San Juan, Metro Manila 1500

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Milou Nuyens
Milou Nuyens - July 2005,
originally uploaded by
Not that I'm a total sucker for celebrities, but it's always a thrill to have one on the tour. Just last Friday I toured the latest winner of the Eurovision Dance Contest, the lovely Milou Nuyens. She is 20 years old, hails from the Netherlands, and is in town with her German boyfriend to visit his mother who lives in Mindanao. She'll be in the Philippines for around four weeks and is looking to catch up on the latest in the Philippine Modern Dance scene. Anybody out there have any suggestions for me? Last I heard the entire company of Ballet Philippines was pirated by Disneyland HongKong so I'm at a loss as to where to send her.


Bellinis - June 2005
Bellinis - June 2005,
originally uploaded by
With Araneta Center all dolled up and fresh from its makeover by RKTL, there are more and more reasons to trek back to Cubao these days. But the best reason to take the trip would be the Marikina Shoe Expo. Since the 1970’s, it has been a strip of outlet stores for Marikina shoe brands, but today this quaint area (quaint in a 1970’s Cubao kinda way of course) is dotted with bookstores, eclectic shops, and quirky art galleries (with names such as Vintage Pop, Datelines, Blacksoup - see below - and The Chunky Far Flung Gallery). But undoubtedly, the expo’s main attraction would be Bellini’s, the genuine family-run Italian restaurant tucked away at the back (owned by former paparazzi photographer Roberto Bellini) - and the shoe stores, of course. There’s really something for everyone at Marikina Shoe Expo: from Japanese toys to Jannilyn shoes; funky faux Finnish furniture to kitschy pop pieces; everything from books, boots, and brick-a-brac. The best part? The orange cake at Bellini’s. Parking is a breeze. Cheap. Most shops close at 9:00pm so pre-dinner window shopping is definitely possible.
68-69 Gen. Romulo St. Marikina Shoe Expo, Cubao, Quezon City
How to get there (via MRT):
Take Cubao platform on the MRT2 EDSA Line. Walk out of the Farmer’s Plaza and past Araneta Coliseum and the former Rustan’s Superstore beside Ali Mall. The Marikina Shoe Expo is right beside the bus terminals.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


I recieved this in the mail... It looks awfully interesting. It's also a good indicator that the alternative arts renaissance of Manila is fast finding it's footing at Cubao. I truly hope this keeps u

Press Release: BLACKSOUP PROJECT ARTSPACE invites everyone to its rainy season offering of a lecture demo series at the Cubao X! A series of lectures and demos every Saturday from July to September at the Blacksoup Project Artspace + Wine Shop at the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao.
1.Animation by Nelson Caliguia of ArtFarm & Living Room Productions
July 9, 1:30-3:30 pm
A lecture on the basics of animation coupled with screenings of latest local animation works. The second half will be a lecture discussion on how to market yourself and your works as animators.
2. Storytelling by Bodjie Pascua
July 16, 1:30-4:30 pm
A lecture-demo on the principles and techniques of storytelling and is highly recommended to teachers, parents, and librarians. Input will include performance skills, improvisation and interactive skills, verbal and non-verbal communication, analyzing stories to maximize impact on the listeners.
3. Music Video by Robert Quebral
July 24, 1:30 – 4:00 pm
A short lecture demo on how to make music videos ranging from the concepts of the music video artform to the essential requirements of shooting it. Screenings of music videos by leading foreign and local directors will be part of the session.
4.Home Music Recording by Robert Quebral & Isha
July 31, 1:30 – 4:00 pm
A practical hands on session of setting up a home music recording for composers, singers and musicians.

For more information interested parties may contact BLACKSOUP at

What is Cubao X?
Artists have banded together and occupied stalls at the Marikina Shoe Expo, a row of wooden ramshackle buildings located at the periphery of the main shopping areas of Cubao. The artists have transformed some spaces into curio shops, art galleries, post production facilities, workshop space, alternative bookstore, specialty furniture shop, collectors’ shops creating pockets of “indie spaces” between the shoe displays.