Saturday, October 29, 2005


Manila's nocturnal scene has only become lovelier with the opening of the new "I Love You Store" on Makati Avenue. Managed by wundergirls Corrine Ching, Sharon Atillo and Mimi Sanson, I Love You now finds it's fashionable self in the basement of Pilar Place Building on Makati Avenue, far - but not too far - from their original digs at Cafe Saguijo in San Antonio Village. The ambience is fresh, the furniture is funky, and the conversations are artful. And aside from the post-modern designs of their in-house label Amazingrace, the I Love you Girls also carry vintage accessories, indie label music CDs, and currently have artscene badboy Kiko Escora on exhibition. Open from 2pm till 12 midnight, make sure to pass by and a have a chat with the girls after work, apres dinner, or right before clubbing at the gay playground that is Government next door.

7840 Pilar Place, Makati Avenue, Makati City, next to Aberdeen Court, Parking available along sidestreets.
Cell: 0915 9089797

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I have seen the seventh sign of the apocalypse and it's located at the corner of Quirino Avenue and South Super Highway Extension. Ok. Maybe I'm exaggerating but the semiotic buffet of billboards you see above are definitely an omen augering the demise of something. On the bottom right hand side, we find Miss Kris Aquino - daughter of the late Marcos rival/senator/national martyr Benigno Aquino and GMA uber-critic/moralist/hypocrite/crappy president Corazon Aquino - hawking Bench underwear by wrapping herself in the oiled embrace of a Greek model. Meanwhile, one Pancake House advertisement to the left, we find the sexually ambiguous porcelain skinned Borgie Manotoc - love child of senator Imee Marcos and grandson of the late dictator/kleptocrat/killer Ferdinand Marcos and culture vulture/singer/shoe afficionado/former first lady Imelda Marcos - pushing his pants down to sell BLUE SODA jeans. Now, what does it say about a society when their political dynasties resort to doing overtly sexual ads for commercial products in order to maintain themselves in the public eye? Something pretty scary I'm sure. Really. What's next? Luli Arroyo pushing pantyliners?
Photo: Billboards on Quirino Avenue, October 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005


A few weeks ago,as I was browsing through the thrift shops of Bangkal, I was rather surprised to bump into the structure you see in the photo above. It was a four foot, two-tiered, blue and white house with a green roof, jalousied windows, and a small staircase leading to a back door. It was located on the patio area of a shophouse jumbled up among old vanity tables and faded wicker furniture. Barely noticable if not for the fact that it was built in concrete and for the oddity of it's size and scale; far too big to be made for dolls but yet too small to be to be a child's playhouse. When I asked the neighbors about the structure, they pointed out to me that the house was actually not for sale. It seems that the owner of the house (who has since moved away) had a major case of the dwendes: tiny Filipino earth spirits that can either bring blessings or wreak absolute havoc to one's home with their mischievous ways. Apparently, this one was of the latter variety because the owner built them their own place so that they could stay out his. Unfortunately, not only did I forget to say "tabi-tabi po" (or "excuse me") as I was examining the house but I also let out a rather audible chuckle when I heard the neighbor's answer. And because of my insolence, the dwendes gave me strep throat and 39 degree fever for the next four days. Sheesh!

Photo above: The dwende house.
Note: I am totally third eye challenged. Does anyone out there have the "gift" to see if there are dwendes in the photo above?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005



Before all this blogging business began, there was Jessica Zafra. Through her award-winning, Time Magazine featured newspaper column, "Twisted", she ranted, she raved, and she defined what it really meant to "bitch" - both as a noun and as a verb. Her column was really the Philippines' first blog - except done on paper. And after a year long break from her last reincarnations as an editor-slash-radio-slash-tv show host-slash-rock and roll manager, Miz Zafra is back and twisting away just like she did last summer. Log on to her now.

Monday, October 17, 2005


They came, they saw, they wrote. The first Writing Salon creative writing workshop was held in Manila, last Oct. 7 to 9 at the groovy art-deco inspired Miramar Hotel in Ermita and hosted by yours truly. All was good and grand despite the crap weather. Read more about it from Anton Diaz, a blogger who attended the workshops. Check out his writing samples, testimonies, and photos as well. The Writing Salon is scheduled to return to Manila in late 2006.
Above: Bowl of fruit at the workshop.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Playing for only one weekend, Ballet Philippines is bringing back "Playing Maestro Ryan" at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Main Theater) today, Friday, October 14 till Sunday, October 16. Accompanied by the San Miguel Orchestra, the show is a collaboration between reknowned Filipino Composer Ryan Cayabyab and choreographers Tony Fabella, Alden Lugnasin, Bam Damian, Irish Abejero, Novy Bereber, and Christine Crame. I actually watched the show during it's first run last March and I have to say I was rather pleased to see the contemporary direction our national ballet company is taking. And as a man without any patience for dragging theatrical events - especially in dance - I have to admit that there was not a single boring moment in the entire production. The choreography was creative, the concepts were fresh, and there were many soaring philharmonic moments throughout. It's a definite must see if only to renew your faith in the Philippine dance scene.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Yes, I know. It's been a while since my last post. It's just that last week somebody told me that my blog wasn't a serious one because it was just a listing of advertisements and nothing more; it just wasn't personal enough to really be a "blog". Not that I was offended, but the comment actually stopped me in my tracks and made me take some time off to think about where I was going with this thing. And after a little - not a lot, take note - of reflection, I decided that I really don't care if anyone thinks that these are all shameless plugs. At the end of the day, I don't get paid for any of these recommendations and I only endorse things that I would use myself. Because just like mega-sized celebrity Sharon Cuneta, when I say "I love eating XYZ brand of fried chicken", I really loove-to-eat XYZ brand of fried chicken, if you know what I mean. And unlike the payola free listings magazine "Time Out", most activities and products we read about in Manila's weekend newspapers are in there because some lifestyle editor got a freebie or because the event itself is covered in McCorporate slime. Besides, I really do like maintaining a bit of mystique. After all, I'm trying to change the way people look at Manila - and not the way people look at me. Why should you care about what kind of bran cereal I prefer or what cute little thing my dog did yesterday when I certainly don't care about your fiber choices or pets either.
Above: My pet dog Princess Ingrid Bergman.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Haynako. (Translation: Sigh.)
As I was flipping through the channels today, October 4, 2005, I stumbled upon ANC once again. Sadly, I felt like I was bumping into an old friend who was slowly losing his mind. The latest move in their agenda to bring down the Gloria administration is so blatantly transparent, heavy handed, and insulting to one's intelligence that I couldn't help but think "Good gosh, they've gone nuts." Tsk tsk. It's really sad to see that the station has become so desperate that it had to take a turn for the worse through their new feature, VOICELINE - a fifteen second-ish spot aired during commercial breaks where viewers can air their opinions on current events, an idea undoubtedly ripped off from CNN. But more than being unoriginal, it's also a not-so-subtle way for the station to continue fanning out incendiary pseudo-moralistic propaganda without taking any responsibility for it. For the past few days, the only recordings I have been hearing have been that of burgeois English speaking voices ranting and raving about "Gloriagate" or making cryptic/ominous statements about the eventual "comeuppance" that will be served to the incumbent. Then after fifteen seconds of sedition, the station unabashedly washes their hands off these comments by posting the words: "The opinions expressed by our viewers do not reflect the position of this station". Whatever man! If it ain't your opinion, then why did you air it in the first place? And why aren't you airing reactions to any other issues other than Gloriagate? Jeez. Not only are you insidious, but you're not even good at it. Two bit hacks. I'm onto you. No wonder I removed you from my channel listing once before. Hmph. I think I'll remove you again. There.

Oh. And don't even get me started with Cito Beltran's subliminal crusade. Cito, if you want your show to be a mouthpiece for your religion, go ahead and do it. It would be much more appreciable if you were up front about it. Really.

GMA! Please open your own news channel.

I mean the TV station, not the president.


Apparently, It's a media blitz for Manila in Germany
After NDRTV, another television program, VOXTOURS,Germany's highest rating travel show, featured our fair city - and yours truly - last October 2, 2005. Click onto the underlined words above for their webpage. Here is a translation (Thank you once again, Babelfish, for the surreal translation).

Moloch voller Überraschungen
Manila – die pulsierende asiatische Metropole ist eine Herausforderung für die Sinne. Sie ist keine Schönheit, aber voller Überraschungen - man muss sie nur zu nehmen wissen. Die Stadt wächst rasant, mit allen bekannten Problemen. Eleganz und Verfall, Pracht und Armut liegen dicht beieinander. Doch gerade das macht Manila so interessant - das meint zumindest Carlos Celdran, der als Stadtführer arbeitet und so Manila den Touristen näher bringt. Mit Witz und Charme begleitet Carlos seine Kunden unter anderem auf den chinesischen Friedhof von Manila oder führt sie in die Geheimnisse philippinischer Liebestränke ein. Manila ist bunter Mix aus vielen verschiedenen Kulturen - und auch deutsche Aussteiger hat es hierher verschlagen: Zum Beispiel den Friseur Stefan Wilczynski aus Berlin. Vor allem ist es die Herzlichkeit der Filipinos und ihre Toleranz, die Stefan fasziniert. An Mentalitätsunterschiede hat er sich gewöhnt. Entdecken Sie Manila! Am Besten mit jemanden, der sich hier auskennt:

Moloch of full surprises Manila
The pulsating asiatic metropolis is a challenge for the senses. It is not beauty, but full surprises - one must only know it to take. The city grows rapidly, with all well-known problems. Elegance and purge, splendour and poverty lie together closely. But straight makes Manila so interesting - means at least Carlo Celdran, which works as a city leader and so the tourist to Manila more near brings. With joke and charm Carlo's its customer accompanies among other things on the Chinese cemetery of Manila or introduces her into the secrets of Philippine dear watering places. Manila is more multicolored mixes from many different cultures - and also German Aussteiger has it here strikes: For example the hairdresser Stefan Wilczynski from Berlin. Above all it is the cordialness of the Filipinos and their tolerance, which fascinate Stefan. To mentality differences he got accustomed. Discover Manila! At the best one with someone, which is been versed here:

Oct.4, 2005 - Ms. Paula Guevara of the Goethe Institute comes to the rescue. Danke Schein. Danke Schein. Click onto the comments below for the proper translation...

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Good news for all vacationing students, tourists on a shoestring, and plain old cheapskates! A new publication called "Tara Cebu!" has just been published and it promises to be the new bible for those looking for a great vacation without breaking the bank. Written and edited by fresh college graduates Gabi Espaldon and Janine Yu, this guide is remarkable for it's enthusiasm and good writing - more than readable by any standards. And at a rather slim 56 pages, it still manages to be a chockful of information. It features such things as: where to rent the cheapest car and driver (for leisurely drives through the provinces); how to buy a guitar, and the best places to eat and stay in the isles of Bantayan, and Moalboal, refreshing Kawasan Falls, historic Carcar town, and the Queen City of Cebu itself.
And the pedigree of the writers are also an assurance of the choices. Because if the places mentioned are safe and reasonable enough for two pretty, twenty-something, college-educated, upper-middle class southern belles, then, hey - It's safe and reasonable enough for me. Tara Cebu is also printed in full color, very up-to-date (only printed last August 2005), and all instructions are clear and detailed. It's a definite bargain and a must for the upcoming holidays.

You can contact either Gabi or Janine at:, or call
63 917 8569795 to inquire about sending you a copy.


Historical Tour of La Loma, the North Cemetery and Chinese Cemeteries
Fee: Php750.00 including bus ride and snacks.
An event to simply die for, come join my annual Halloween walking tour of the cemeteries. We'll visit the La Loma Church - perhaps Manila's most haunted - before paying homage to several of Manila’s prominent historical figures right where they lay. We'll drop by the final resting places of President Magsaysay, President Roxas, and President Sergio Osmena as well as other personalities like World Flyweight Champion Pancho Villa, Pancit King Ma Mon Luk, and Architects Arcadio Arellano and Juan Nakpil among many many others. So come along with us and spook yourself silly as we roam through the opulent mausoleums and tombs of La Loma, North and Chinese Cemeteries, proving once and for all that you can take it with you. A side trip to the Dimasalang Flower Markets will follow the tour. Book early. Its a small bus.

Reservations are very limited this year.
Meeting point is the Figaro Coffee shop beside the CCP.
Oct.22 - Saturday - 1:00pm - Meet at Figaro Coffee Shop at the CCP Complex.
Oct.23 - Sunday - 1:00pm - Meet at Figaro Coffee Shop at the CCP Complex.

Above: The ultra creepy La Loma Church. Photo taken October 2004.