Friday, June 30, 2006


Thanks a million Gabe Arcenas of Moonwerks for the great new look for my header. Click here to see more stuff from

Sunday, June 25, 2006



Great blog. MNLSTYL is a new blog by my friend, Cecile of Chuvaness.

And although I might be an entry here, let me say quite frankly that I am the farthest thing from a fashionista. I make no claims whatsoever to know anything about style and clothing and you can write that down on stone. In fact, the photo of my paunch and crappy polyester sidebag makes me come across more as a fashion-don't than as a fashion-do. Actually, I like this site merely because it is in keeping with my ambition to change the way Manila looks through the way one looks at Manila. And with Cecile, it seems she believes that what Manilenos wear on the outside can be a reflection of what they are on the inside and that style does not have to suffer simply because one lives in the third world.

Click here.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Better late than never, I always say. I know it's been over two months since I hosted an artist talk with The Living Room's artist-in-residence, Antoni Abad. Needless to say, all went the well. The sunset was beautiful - as usual. The beers were Dutch - though not as in it was imported from Amsterdam, but as in people brought their own. And the artist, like most Catalans, was polite, open and amiable (photo above of the artist, in pink shirt, shaking hands with guest).
So after guests snacked on peanuts and cheese, guests were given collaterals about Antoni's oeuvre to read, stickers to play with (above), and the website to surf through (below), before Antoni and I sat down to have an hour long conversation about his creative processes and his experiences in Manila.

The topics we discussed ranged from international geopolitics, the emerging call center industry in the Philippines, GSM cell phone technology, the secret lives of call center agents, and naturally, the contemporary art scene in Manila.
Throughout the evening, nobody drank too much and puked, asked inappropriate questions about politics and/or religion, or stole anything from the bathrooms of the gallery. All in all, the event could be considered a successful, if not peaceful, event. The crowd broke up at around eight thirty in the evening to dine at separate locations. Some went to the Jumbo by Manila Bay, others retired to ever consistent artsy bar, Cafe 604 (Penguin) for beers and panini sandwiches.

I hope tomorrow's art talk with the current artist in residence, Jennifer Wofford, would go just as smoothly. Thanks a million, At Maculangan (above with camera) and Katya for all the help and the photos of the talk.

PS. Tomorrow is Manila Day. Please note that Roxas Boulevard will be closed from three in the afternoon until midnight. If driving, use Taft Avenue and Quirino or use public transportation if possible.


Although "Keys Me" was way more complex in it's relentless misuse of the English language, this "Flash Report" also has the makings of another classic.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Run, don't walk, to a bookstore and buy the latest copy of Lonely Planet Philippines, the bible for the international traveller looking for great deals around our fair archipelago. This issue, only launched last week at Powerbooks, is their best compendium in my opinion (and I don't only say this because I am listed on page 88 as "Perhaps the most entertaining ticket in town...Flamboyant to the extreme"). I say this because this one seems to be more in the know when it comes to alternative accomodations and the nightlife scene of Manila than it's all of it's predecessors. The mom and pop backpacker inn, Friendly's Guesthouse, the rocking Saguijo, Cafe 604 (formerly Penguin), and even Blacksoup Project Artspace in Marikina Shoe Expo were all given a good review. And that is a great thing because the aforementioned places were considered to be rather "underground" even for most Manilenos. Nevertheless, I must lament that even though it was just released, it is already in need of some revision. Listed establishments like Bravo's, Castro at Firma, and Sidebar have all ceased to exist while their glaring omissions of tourist sites in the Laguna area (specifically places on the Viaje del Sol, Kusina Salud, and Villa Escudero) are things that should be addressed as soon as possible. For anyone out there connected to LP, perhaps you could list these corrections (and whatever other updates are needed) on your website? Even for a fee? That way, people who have these books only need to log on in order to update the version that they have already purchased. Nevertheless, I still maintain that this is the most edgy, concise version that I have read of the Lonely Planet Philippines so far.

Thanks anton for the viaje link. And THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Lonely Planet for the listing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I am actually very pleased with the way United Nations Avenue has been turning out lately. Aside from the horrific renovations done at the formerly sleek World Health Organization offices (below: the place now looks like the headquarters for space aliens - what the..?), the rest of the road seems to be sprucing itself up and reinventing itself as the new international cuisine restaurant row of Ermita.

The Manila Pavilion (formerly the Manila Hilton) has been bought by Waterfront Hotels and recently refurbished to the higher standards it was known for. I also hear that their 3 decade old fine dining establishment, Rotisserie, still serves a mean Prime Rib and has maintained it's original ambiance (complete with Federico Alcuaz paintings and velvet seating. The old Swiss Inn on the corner of Roxas Boulevard has also renewed itself and is now a three level mixed use establishment with balcony seating with Yellow Cab Pizza and Superbowl of China as the anchor dining establishments. But among all the worldly culinary establishments available on the road: Jade Vine for Chinese, Assad's Indian Mini Mart and Uncle Ed's Indian Grocery for Indian), it's the Italian CAFE MILANO that has become my default as of late. The place is cozy, the aircon works properly, and the food is as authentic as it gets. Their chef, Tiziano Cavalli, is more Italian than the sight of Luciano Pavarotti squeezed into a Ferrari car. Which, incidentally, both hail from his hometown, Modena. The soccer posters and alternative Italian pop music also add to ambience and their to-die-for Porcini and truffle Pasta and Gelato make it definitely worth the trek out from Makati or wherever. Definitely the perfect place for World Cup watching if only for it's incredibly reasonable Php300.00 buffet.

2nd Floor
555 UN Avenue corner Churraga St.
Ermita, Manila
Tel. 400-9991

Monday, June 19, 2006



It's National Hero, Jose Rizal's 145th Birthday today,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Meet the lovely Ms. Jennifer Wofford, The Living Room's artist-in-residence for the month of June 2006. Ms. Wofford, a Filipino-American artist based in Oakland, California. She is a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and is currently finishing her Masters in Fine Arts at the University of California, Berkeley. She primarily works in video and performance media and explores issues concerning globalization, perception, and identity. Her works can be seen as humorous, irreverent but always provocative. She has also been know to create lovely line drawings every now and then, drawings just like the one pictured below. It's Part of her "Nurse" series which will open at the Future Prospects art space in Marikina Shoe Expo. She is also part of the radical San Francisco based performance art trio, Mail Order Brides (MOB). This is her Nth time to the Philippines and looks forward to creating stronger ties between artists in the West Coast of the United States and Manila. Mabuhay ka, Miz Jenniper.


Join Ms. Jennifer Wofford and I for a salon style night of artspeak and sunset boulevard views. Ms. Wofford will screen her video work, "Motel Cucaracha" and and show some collaborative works done with Mail Order Brides before beginning the artist's talk. So come on over again to the Living Room next Saturday. The conversations will be artsy, the nuts will be salty, and the shots of Finlandia vodka will be free while supply lasts. There might even be some beer.

June 24, 2006
The Living Room
Unit 24,
1991 MH del Pilar,
Directions here.

Shop 62-63, Marikina Shoe Expo
Cubao, Quezon City,
Tel. 4397838

Monday, June 12, 2006


108 Years of Believing in the Concept of Freedom.
And here's to another 108 or more.


For those who texted to ask, yes - that's me in the glasses in the new Unilever Close-Up to Fame 2 TV commercial. I was actually going to make a post about it last week when taping wrapped up, but due to secrecy clauses in the advertising world, I refrained until it actually aired. And what an advertising world it is. I have newfound respect for all those who work in this dog-eat-dog-eat-dog-drinkredbull-eat-dog-eat-dog field. It ain't easy and it ain't glamorous, let me tell you. Despite all the shiny lights and pretty colors, working conditions are ridiculously demanding. The locations can be hell and the hours are inhumane to say the least (this coming from a man who walks through rainy season Quiapo sludge for a living mind you). The floor behind me is light brown because there was a sheer film of the finest grade-A Paranaque dust coating everything. There was also pretty much no airconditioning on the set (We were sweating like pigs and I am wearing flip-flops under the table). But worst of all was the waiting that comes with the production of a TV commercial. Sometimes people could be called to come to a set twelve hours before their scenes could possibly be shot. I arrived on the set at twelve noon to film the scene pictured above. The actual shot was taken at 3:30am the next day. Mind blowing.

Photo: (l to r: Moi, Denise Laurel - the leading lady and neice to designer Rajo, Irene Celebre - intrepid insurance agent and mother to the actor Gabby Eigenmann, Sam Milby - leading man and Pinoy Big Brother Season I housemate, and Bart Guingona, Artistic Director of Actors Actor's Inc. and the guy in the latest Sky Cable TV spot.)

But crappy conditions and potential death from asthma aside, word on the set was that this particular shoot was a walk in the park. Some said that at least the food caterer of UNITEL did a kick-ass job, and the director, Martin Arnaldo, was a really nice guy. Some other shoots aren't as lucky they said. And I really must agree with them. The Lugaw in the catering tent was particularly memorable and no screaming nor catfights occured under Martin's watch within the 48 hours we were all together. The only thing that kinda-somewhat-maybe bothered me was that I couldn't help but make references between our roles as judges and the cast of critics on American Idol (above). And if this reference was deliberate, does that mean I am Randy Jackson? Just as well. Television wouldn't be ready for the vision of my body poured into a skintight black T-shirt anyway.

Thanks Market Manila for the lugaw link.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


On the occasion of the official inauguration of their new building next to Casino Espanol on TM Kalaw, Instituto Cervantes invites all Spanish speakers, students, and those who love them to participate in the 1st Non-Stop, Around-the-clock Reading of NOLI ME TANGERE in the Philippines. 580 pages, 21 continuous hours of non-stop reading... 250 readers needed. Join the event and read two pages of this immortal novel in its original Spanish version! Sign-up by calling 526-1482 to 85 loc. 115, texting 0906-8173781 or e-mailing with the subject LEE EL NOLI. All volunteers will get a free T-shirt. In addition, there will be a midnight concert, a midnight paella served, and chocolate con churros for breakfast the next morning.

JULY 16 to 17, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


First settled by Agustinian friars in 1630, this quaint little suburb located around 21 kilometers northeast of Manila has been the center of Philippine footwear for the last century and a fetish of mine as of late. Once an veritable environmental catastrophe teeming with crime and garbage dumps, Marikina has seen itself rise up into a towering testament that paradigm shifts can happen in the third world underneath enlightened leadership. In this case, the dynasty of former mayor Bayani Fernando and his wife, current Mayor Marides Fernando (center photo below).
In the past few weeks, I have visited the area over three times and each time has been a wonderful experience. And I find the place enthralling NOT because of the city's splashy tourist sites (lord knows there are bigger brassier tourist sites elsewhere in the country), but because of it's sheer functionality and civility. It's amazing how something as simple as a well swept street, healthy looking citizens, and a clean river can be such a draw for tourism. It's proof that God is in the details and that our government should really first work on the basics (i.e. proper waste disposal, crime prevention, proper family planning and family health care, traffic management, etc.) before even beginning to think about tourism development.

Upon arrival at the Marikina church plaza (top photo), the differences between Marikina and her uphill Metro Manila counterparts are more than apparent. The plaza is clean, the jeepneys are organized, and there are no vagrants anywhere (not that I don't like vagrants, I just don't like them in tourist spots). The children do not run around without pants and there are no men poking their pork bloated bellies in your face in street corners either (apparently, it's against the law for men to go shirtless). The place doesn't feel dense and decrepit and most plantings by the roadside are alive (Gotta give it to Bayani, he does keep a mean garden). And although pink isn't exactly my favorite color, the ubiquitous rose colored traffic signage is effective in keeping law and order on the streets of the city.
Now, granted that the place is still wanting in terms of tourist attractions per se; Marikina only boasts of two museums: the fabulous Imelda Marcos shoe museum (above) and a doll collection done by my mother's sister, Patis (really, they are lovely dolls but I've seen them more times than I would have cared to when they were in her house). But nevertheless, the city is not without it's charms and they are trying to create an environment conducive to tourism. And I have to say, the town does not have to try to hard at all. Marikina still boasts of well-preserved traditional Filipino bahay-na-bato architecture (second and third photo from the top), a lovely riverside promenade/park (perfect for strolling), and a newly inaugurated covered Market center. It truly bodes well for any tourist looking for an alternative activity to do on a weekend afternoon.

I mean really, I love the place. Where else can you buy shoes, walk by a river, visit Cinderella's castle, and photograph Snow white in a cage all in one afternoon?

I plan to do an experimental tour of Marikina in early July. I plan to use the MRT and jeepney to get around. Anybody out there have any ideas where else I could visit aside from the usual listed on their website?

Monday, June 05, 2006


Yes, I know it isn't halloween yet but I just had to post this picture of Midgie (above) that a photojournalist friend of mine from OarHouse sent over. Precious.

A few months after D' Glo first assumed power back in 2001, a Japanese woman commented to me that our "new president was oh so very very pretty". "Pretty" mind you, not "beautiful". Nevertheless, I still considered "pretty" an interesting observation because GMA isn't really someone that most Filipinos would judge as "pretty" by any standard. I mean, she isn't unpleasant to look at, but compared to others out there, Midgie really wouldn't be singled out by her fellow countrymen for her memorable looks. Perhaps the Japanese lady only said this because the president's mein overtly refers to something more appealing to Japanese sensibilities; something akin the Japanese bonsai to be precise. I say this because the president, like those miniature Japanese plants, are both diminutive in size and manicured to the extreme in order to cultivate the aesthetic we see at the end. Just look at the contrast between these images of GMA pre-presidency (above) and in more recent times (below). The results of a lot of hard work are more than apparent. Because although the picture above may be the perfect image of studied schoolmarm severity, it is also a confirmation that deep within, she truly has the fashion sense of a transvestite member of the Russian Politburo (should there be such a thing). It begs one to wonder how much work has been done to create the image of the woman we see today. I mean, really, voice lessons from Zenaida Amador, fashion styling from Joanne Zapanta, outfits by JC Buendia, haircuts by Fanny Serrano, eyebrow plucking, and upper lip hair waxing can only do so much. Or can it?


Paco Park Presents
Chorus Philippines

Philippine Portraits

this Friday, 9 June, 6 PM, Paco Park, Manila
in celebration of the 108th anniversary of Philippine Independence.
An evening of Filipino choral music. A great way to begin the long weekend.

Admission is free.
Learn more about one of Manila's longest running
outdoor musical traditions here