Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I didn't realize that when trying out a new blog look, all links would be erased. Here we go again. Please note new details for Evangelista tour and the phasing out of the Cubao tour. Sorry, Cubao - and especially the Marikina Shoe Expo. Nothing personal. It's just that you are back on the radar and so popular nowadays I feel that a tour is really quite unecessary at this point in time. And that's a good thing.

Thanks cartoonstock and manila rat for links.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


Wild! I have finally become important enough for Soozy to write about me. Unfortunately though, it isn't the real Soozy. Drat. I was hoping that it would be. If it was, it would have confirmed that I have finally been given the doubious honor of being accepted as part of Manille's perfumed society, and instead, I get posted in some cheezy sex scandal expose site by some showbizzy self-loathing homophobe with terrible photoshopping skills. Tsk tsk. How disappointing. The original Soozy was funny and targetted high society. This one is curt and targets a mostly lower sector of society: politicians and showbiz and - Bwahaha - Me! I have a suspicion who the characters might be behind this new blog. It's more than likely that it's some of the folks who were plastered all over the original blog who got pikon* about my Soozy recommendation.

So to this new Soozzy and the people behind it, allow me to offer this advice: First, if you want do dedicate your blog to "Manila's open secrets", please make sure they are secrets to begin with. If not, it undermines the reliability of the rest of the information on your site. Furthermore, don't be such pansies when it comes to gossip. C'mon if you want to become the touchstone of society, then you gotta learn to take it as well as you can dish it. Because when it comes to dealing with chismis there are only two ways to go about it. If it's false. DENY IT. And if it's true: THEN OWN IT. If not, then just stay home and continue to be a loser. That's all there is to it really.

*(pik´on adj. easily angered by jokes or jests, touchy)

Unfortunately, this this a family site so I cannot link to anything that is remotely porn-like. So just google soozzyhopper (an extra z from the original) on blogspot and it's there. Be careful eh? It's really graphic.

Thank you to sallad.net for the great photo and for those who emailed/texted me about the blog.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Just when it seemed I lost all heart about losing acres of Philippine heritage districts to neglectful government/private sector attitudes, I was pleased as punch to bump into the area featured above. Located at the Maestranza in Intramuros, this former riverside squatter colony has been cleared of all it's unsightly elements and spruced up for public consumption. It's amazing how a little paving brick and flowering trees can alter a district's character. And the result is not only cosmetic. Positive effects can be felt in different parts of the walled city as well. All the unsavory characters, vagrants and beggar children who once lived in the colony and earned their keep by lurking in front of the Manila Cathedral are now gone and - from what I heard - given alternate housing in Bulacan. And although the walled city of Intramuros still lacks a cohesive vision for it's progressive development, this small but effective effort is definitely a step in the right direction.

The Maestranza Plaza is located beside the old Customs building next to Plaza Mexico, the Department of Tourism, and Starbucks.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Thank you JEFF YAP for the initial action. Now can anyone else call them nicely? Even if only to ask for permission to take detailed photos so that it's possible to reconstruct it some other day. It is after all, cement. I actually called already too but nobody in office yet. I will also be out all day touring.

From Jeff:
Okay. So I called Mr. Esteban Titong of E.V.J. Integrated Services – he’s the one in charge of the demolition of Avenue Theater and I was informed that the site would be turned into a parking lot in the meantime since the owner doesn’t have any plans of putting up another structure.
I was able to get the name as well as the contact number of the owner of the building:
Mr. Eduardo Linton Jua
(Ms. Alice – Secretary)
He’s the chairperson/ CEO of a Shipping Line. I called the number a few minutes ago and I think it was his wife who answered the phone (it was their residence phone - so folks, hinay hinay lang). I gave out info re: Avenue theater being a prewar structure and all. I was extremely courteous so as not to create too much tension. However, she informed me that they had already made a final decision, which was to demolish the building. She said they don’t have enough money to maintain it.
“I’m sorry hijo, there’s nothing you can do. Nakakkahiya na sa mga contractors if we stop the demolition,” she said.
So could somebody help me out on this? I believe we could still save this heritage structure. Perhaps if the owners will have an incentive or something to help them maintain the building, then it will not be demolished.
NCCA, NHI, HCS? What can we do about this?
By the way, below is the contact information of the demolition team for reference:
Mr. Esteban Titong
E.V.J. Integrated Services
I'm thinking instead of calling and bombarding them, perhaps we could send a letter or set up a meeting?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Well, it's not like I'm in this movie. I'm just shamelessly plugging this it because I'm practically pink with pride for my friends who were involved in getting this quality production realized: Caroline Mangosing (she plays the grandma), Romeo Candido (who directed it), and Ria Limjap (the scriptwriter). It's an absolute labor of love. Along with an extremely professional team, they worked tirelessly and sleeplessly for an entire month in Bulacan, filming sfx manananggals, old scary antique houses, and historical costumes in order to create a movie that boasts of excellent cinematography (by Odyssey Flores), a striking soundtrack by Gerard Salonga (yes, Lea's brother) and a well developed, unpredictable plot with English subtitles to boot. Even their website is fabulous - check out their 30 second teaser.

"Ang Pamana" is composed of a local and Fil-Canadian cast which includes Darrel Gamotin, Nadine Villasin, Nico Garcia, Victor Neri and Phoemela Baranda in her breakout role. This movie hopes to premier at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Their website and production blog are here.

And if you are wondering why the name Ria Limjap sounds so familiar, she is the nice lady who works part time with me as my bookie, answering the cell phone and setting my tour dates.

Monday, May 22, 2006


To whoever owns the Avenue Theatre on Rizal Avenue, I have this to say to you. You are a f**** moron! Why the hell are you tearing down this beautiful masterpiece done by National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil (the same guy who designed the Quiapo Church and the son of National Heroine Gregoria de Jesus?) As you can see from this file photo, it is the only structure on that side of the road which survived the bombs of World War II? Doesn't that mean anything to you?

Guess not.

Mayor Atienza, have you anything to say about this? Guess not either as my texts still have no reply. Such a shame. Such is the current state of our national historical amnesia I guess. Nevertheless, a black candle has been lit at the Quiapo Church as my personal wish/curse for the ultimate failure of whoever is doing this crime against Philippine culture.

But if any of you want to bitch about this like me, you can call or fax a complaint to Da Mayor's Office 5276063 or 5274991 or mayor_atienza@cityofmanila.com.ph so this matter will be taken more seriously.

Or better yet, let's find out who the owner is. I'll be more than happy to give him a call myself.

Thank you Anson for the flickr link and thanks spiritchild for the photo above.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


An update on the project to complete the list of Father Blanco's Garden. Meet Onie D., the resident botanist at Father Blanco's garden in San Agustin. If you want to help him out in the garden or donate more plants in order to complete their collection of indigenous Philippine plants and flowers, you may find him in the far corner of the garden everyday except Sundays. For more information, text 0926 2597506.

Here is a photo of the plants donated by our first sponsor, Ms. Bea Zobel. Thanks a bunch, gurl.

And. If you are into reggae music. Onie runs a garden reggae bar called Bamboo Giant (next to Bureau of Plant Industries on San Andres St.). It's next to the LRT Station. Rolly, the lead singer of the 90's reggae sensation, Cocojam, plays there on weekends.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


In memory of the late Soozy, let's get a little chatty about the alta sociedad of this city of our affections. But now a lot less about the ones that are a complete waste of our rice, and more about the ones who set a pretty good example of what it means to be privileged in this country. As an example, let's talk about someone like Bea Zobel Jr. (pictured below with anonymous companion)
Now I like this chick. I like her style and her heart is in the right place. She is totally under the radar in the dog eat dog world of the Makati poofy class and yet a perfect example of how the elites of the third world should act. I have never heard stories about her snorting coke in the bathrooms of Nuvo or getting caught with fake luxury goods at Charles de Gaulle. She is only really seen at events that have to do with the arts, culture, her family's interests, and her favorite project, The Metropolitan Museum of Manila. You never see her overdressed at the launch of the latest Hello Kitty alarm clock scarfing free vodka before sunset. And I'm not blowing smoke up her ass because I'm close friends with this woman. I have only met her four or five times, but each time was a civilized encounter. The last one being a week ago, when I toured her and a representative of a French arts foundation.

She also seems to have different standards from you and I. When I showed her the Gardens of Father Blanco behind the museum, she said, "That's it? That is all there is?" In all the times that I have shown people the garden (pictured above, thanks Ren), people have either paused in delightful surprise, or gasped in overplayed amazement, but never - never - has anyone ever said, "That's it?" So naturally I explained to her the current situation here at the San Agustin Church. I told her that the garden is being managed on a shoestring budget and that it's current resident botanist, Onie, needed more plants to complete the original digest listed in the book, Flora de Filipinas, written by the garden's namesake and founder. She looked at me, blinked a blink, and then handed me enough funds to buy additional birds of paradise, champaca, camia, banaba, rosal, pandan, taheebo, tuba, ginger bird of paradise, sampaguita, jasmin, ilang ilang, kamuning, dama de noche, millionaire's plant, quiapo, torch ginger, and Schiflora Mt. Pinatubo to the collection. Now that's class.
I'll post pictures of the plants once they are delivered to Onie. Next project, hopefully, would be the final completion of the list (anybody out there want to donate more Philippine flowers to the garden?) and to renovate the disgusting bathrooms of the museum.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Omigod. You must log onto SOOZY, my new favorite blog. It's a freaking lawsuit waiting to happen. No holds barred and shameless. Kawawa (How sad it is) for some of the people who were ripped to shreds on her blog, but I guess that's the price they pay for allowing their mug to be slathered all over the papers. Actually, I have met some of the people mentioned on her blog and those people really did deserve to be taken down a notch. I have to agree with her that some are so pathetic that they would be willing to attend the opening of a frigging can of tuna if only to mooch a free drink or to hang out with some badly dressed boring rich Makati people. I just hope I never get important enough for Soozy to write about me.

Friday, May 12, 2006


It just couldn't go on any longer I guess. The Malate of yore is gone. And I'm not talking about the Malate of the American Period, mind you. That Malate - the quiet residential enclave of Art Deco apartment buildings and low rise chalet style houses, has been dead since General Douglas MacArthur blasted away most of it in February 1945. I'm actually talking about the second more commercialized incarnate of Malate. The one that started out the 1980's and 1990's when some of the surviving old houses were converted into trendy shops and four star restaurants filled with an upscale, artsy crowd. It's that one that's gone. Just take a walk around the neighborhood and the de-gentrification will be more than apparent. The formerly chic yet bohemian ambiance pioneered by Penguin Cafe*, Cosa Nostra Restaurant*, Guernica's*, Cafe Adriatico*, The Library* and Blue Cafe has been overwhelmed by the overbearing aura of Karaoke Bars, dingy noodle joints, and low-end comedy clubs.

And although classy establishments like Matina, Fidel, Mama, Cafe Caribana, Acquario and Raj shuttered up more than a few years years ago - casualties of the Erap impeachment/Abu Sayyaf fueled economic/tourism downturn - there were still many survivors left. And despite the less prosperous atmosphere, upper middle class aspirations were still kept alive in the district. But now that People's Palace, Firma, Portico (above), and Bravo's (below) have also thrown in their hat, the era of genteel street level establishments is finally over - save for lone wolves Sala and Lolo Dads. Downward mobility is now on a roll, it's going full steam, and there ain't no turning back. But just how did Malate manage to find itself in this current state? And is it necessarily a bad thing?

Perhaps it just couldn't compete with Makati. Back in the mid 90's, Greenbelt was just a low rise shopping arcade and Rockwell an abandoned industrial zone. Malate was literally the only place to go and it monopolized the nightlife scene for all of that decade. But now, with the rise of Greenbelt, Metrowalk, Rockwell Power Plant, and Eastwood City, there are more choices when one wishes to combine street life, outdoor greenery, and a cafe style ambience in their evening's activities. And since the middle class (and upper middle class for that matter) hasn't increased in Manila, each of these places are really fighting for a smaller piece of the SAME proverbial pie.

Or maybe it could be something deeper like the lack of political will? If Manila City Hall looked at Malate holistically and concentrated on the pedestrian infrastructure of the MH del Pilar and A Mabini (the main arteries of the Malate tourist district), things might not have turned out this way. Perhaps better parking, cleaner sidewalks, heritage architecture preservation, and strict NOISE POLLUTION regulation could have kept the higher spending crowd coming. I guess that in their mad rush (and successful one if I might add) to add life to the neighborhood, little details regarding sustainabilty were overlooked. Sure the neighborhood may be more alive than it's ever been before, but noise pollution levels, air pollution levels, vagrancy and litter are at an all time high as well. Not only are higher end customers staying away, but long time renters/residents/tax payers and five-star hotel guests now shun the area to rent, sleep and dine in quieter, less congested Makati or Pasig. And at the rate the plant boxes/sidewalks are being ripped apart, and the noise levels rising due to the ever-increasing number of live bands/concerts on the Baywalk, it won't be long till even the low spending juvenile crowd stays away from this recipe for disastrous overdevelopment as well. And don't get me wrong either. It's not an elitist standpoint from whence I gaze. There is nothing at all wrong with having cheaper, less sophisticated establishments around. But if it reaches a point when that becomes the ONLY kind of establishment present, then the district becomes monotonous. It becomes stagnant. It becomes a form of ghetto if you will.

But ever the relentless optimist, I have faith that the City Hall of Manila MIGHT one day get their act together and repair the frayed urban fabric of this historic quarter. After all, if they can upgrade the sidewalk pavement in areas that are of low pedestrian density such as Quirino Avenue (above) - and finally refurbish the historically neglected Remedios Circle (below - hmmm) - then why can't they eventually solve the sidewalk, drainage, noise, litter, and congestion problems of Adriatico, Remedios, Nakpil, Orosa, MH del Pilar, San Andres, et al..? I just hope it doesn't take too long for them to realize what's going on though. Time is of the element when it comes to stopping the hemorrhaging of this once graceful district.

Grimy, smelly scenes like the one below (taken beside Malate Pensionne) do the district's tourist and nightlife industry no favors in any way. Furthermore, the unbearably loud bands currently on show outdoors at the Baywalk are repellant to all those who are not part of their audience. Imagine, it's the rights of thirty beer-drinking patrons given priority over the the hundreds who rent the apartments and pay for the hotel rooms around them. Misguided priorities and neglected issues like the aforementioned are simply inexcusable if the City Hall of Manila wants this district to compete with their uptown counterparts.

But then again, perhaps this is really the way things are meant to be around here. This current situation could be the natural order of things. Sometimes things go up, sometimes things go down, and this decline is an unavoidable part of this city's evolution. Perhaps Malate never really dies, perhaps it only changes. And if so, I wonder what the next chapter in Malate's history has in store - or if it even will a happy ending.

Closing Thought: I have this theory that through the centuries, we Filipinos have cultivated a slash-and-burn attitude towards our surroundings, specifically when it comes to real estate. We have no concept of history when it comes to our built/natural environment. The overexploitation of the Binondo area and Baguio being prime examples of how the Philippine government and society can take too much out of a good thing and bleed an asset out of all it's socio-cultural promise and potential. Could Malate be just another manifestation of this ideal? And could this be an attitude brought about by a society whose main architectural identity is rooted in the temporality and disposability of a bahay kubo? It makes one think. It really does.

*Highlighted restaurants mean that the places still exist.


Although the banner headline, "Philippine Population Growth down to 1.94%" was a good enough reason for me to pick up the Philippine Daily Inquirer once again, the elation didn't last very long. The sobering reality is that those useless twits in Congress and Senate haven't come around to passing House Bill 3773 yet. And until then, lower middle class Philippine women must remain at the mercy of Philippine Catholic Church when it comes to being educated about family planning. Sigh. Time to put the cork back on the champagne and keep passing out those Trust Condoms and Birth Control Pills once again.

Sidebar: If you are looking for work in the Family Planning industry. DKT Philippines is looking for help. Click here for more info. It's work. And a good cause at the same time.

Thank you www.disciplestoday.com for the photo. But I wouldn't raise the victory sign yet, kids. There is still a long way to go.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I'm so glad to see that things are moving along quite nicely with the restoration efforts of the National Museum. After months of construction, the museum's halls are finally being opened to the public in phases and the grand Hall of Masters (where our national collection of paintings by Luna and Hidalgo are displayed) will apparently be done before Christmas this year. BRAVO.

But even then. They still need more cash to finish off the job. So please contribute your time and money to go see this:

This will be the inaugural opera to be performed at the National Museum and it will pay tribute to the patriot and painter, Juan Luna, the first Filipino to receive international acclaim for art. It was his painting, The Spoliarium – a depiction of defeated Gladiators being dragged off the coliseum arena - which won the country a gold medal at the Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884. This painting, which measures 4.6 meters in height and 7.72 meters in length is currently housed in the National Museum. If you go, you will be treated to an intimate experience of Luna’s personal - and turbulent - life through an opera about this intriguing work.

Composed by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab of the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra with a libretto by Fides Cuyugan Asensio. Rising star, soprano Anna Feleo plays the tragic role of Luna’s murdered wife, Paz Pardo de Tavera. This opera in concert will be performed in English.

The whole shebang is brought to you courtesy of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, a volunteer organization which seeks to draw attention to the restoration work being done on the paintings of Juan Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo as well as the refurbishment of the FCCP-Ablaza Halls (below) and other galleries. It's a pretty noble effort which simultaneously preserves our architectural patrimony while providing Manila with another classy venue for the hosting of activities such as fashion shows, fund-raisers, receptions, and corporate events.

Where: The National Museum’s new FCCP-Ablaza Hall

When: Saturday, June 3, 2006.
Cocktails begin at
Performance starts promptly at
7:30 pm

Tickets to SPOLIARIVM: JUAN LVNA are at PhP5,000 and PhP2,500. For more information or ticket purchases, please call Andrie BaƱaga at 813-0771 or Elvie Magpayo/Dindin Araneta at 404-2685.

I know. It's pricey. But really - it's for a good cause. Besides, Glenda Baretto of Via Mare will be catering. So at least you won't go home hungry.

Attire: Casual Chic Filipiniana (whatever that means.) And not that it matters to anyone, but I'll also be hosting the durned thing that night too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006



Regarding my last post:

Ok. Fine. I concede. I have no right whatsoever to speak about fashion. After all, if I once wore oversized tourquoise CRISPA shirts with - gasp! oversized Giordano ACIDWASH jeans, bottomed out with - horrors! oversized ASICS TIGER rubbershoes, then I am truly a hypocrite to the first degree.

Photo above: Myself and my high school classmates from Colegio San Agustin on a picnic in a construction site next to the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio. Circa 1988. The area is now the grassy knoll beside Essensa in Global City.

The crimes against fashion above are way too many to mention. A freaking fashion massacre no less.