Sunday, February 25, 2007


Oh wow. It's the anniversary of the EDSA revolution, that week twenty one years ago when we sent Ferdie and Meldy packing for that fateful trip to Hawaii. And as a way to commemorate this occasion, I would like to post these fabulous youtube videos of Imelda's official visits to Red China, to Australia, and to Japan where she accepted the Kajima Award for Peace. I viewed these videos with a mix of kitschy glee and sadness. It seemed like the Philippines was a country poised for stardom back then, a nation that rose out of the ashes of World War II to become an international force to reckon with. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as well as we had hoped. And furthermore, we invested way too much into this lady. And since we allowed her and her butterfly sleeves to define our identity on the world stage, now that she has become a parody - in a weird way, so have we.

I wonder if we'll ever allow anybody/any icon to ever represent/define ourselves once again?

Watch the China trip here, the Australia trip here, and the Japan trip here. Thanks to Ria T. Trillo for sending the posts to me and thank you to irm888 for posting the videos on the web to begin with.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


While emptying out my camera yesterday, I stumbled upon some digital shots that I took on a sunny Sunday afternoon last October. Ah yes, I remember it as if it were only yesterday. It was such a lovely day indeed. "Lovely enough to go for a walk at Luneta Park," I thought to myself.
And lo, what do I find lining the perimeter fence of downtown Manila's largest green space? Why, it's an art exhibition. A series of paintings done in acrylic housepaint on 8'x10' plywood boards. "Well done." I thought to myself, "What a lovely complement to my afternoon constitutional. Art and green spaces. A smashing combination."

Approaching the aforementioned works of art, I soon realize that this cultural display was an art contest brought to me by the progressive minds of the pro-life, anti birth-control people of the City of Manila and the Catholic Church of the Philippines. Oh joy.

"Wonderful." I mentally squealed. "Of course! Public Art. The most effective means to bring about social change in the third world - especially acrylic paintings. How dynamic. How relevant. It's almost a metaphor for the gallery itself as an institution. Paintings + Wall = Art. Publicly displayed Paintings + Public Wall = Public Art. Brilliant!

With such a wealth of creative expression before me, it was almost a crime to choose a favorite. But after much mulling and much difficulty (I think they are all winners), I finally chose three paintings that stood out head and shoulders above the others:

The first is "Skulls in The Uterus" (2006) Artist: Unknown for now (above). Mmmm. A gorgeous composition done in dramatic black white, the stark colors symbolizing the pain of living in a lonely post modern world. The words,"Let them come...Do not stop them.", written in classic script and slathered across the bottom imbue a deeper meaning, it's cryptic message fraught with multiple interpretations. Give this artist a grant.

The next one, "Baby Down the Toilet" (2006) Artist: Unknown for now as well (above) - is a lovely quasi-abstract masterpiece that took my breath away. Once again, like in "skulls", color was used here in order to incite a strong reaction from the viewer. It was truly a "look at me" kind of painting, if you know what I mean. In here, the artist's implementation of heightened scale and allegory harks back to an age when the painted image was the only means to document history. But all the classical references here are are now given a contemporary twist through his/her powerful use of the image of a baby...and a toilet. I look at this painting and I think of artists like, Da Vinci, Velazquez, and of course, Bacon. Give this artist two grants.

And the last but definitely not the least, "My Chained Exploding Vajayjay with Vomiting Baby (The Sonata of the Smiling Devil Face)" (2006) Artist: Unkown (above). This is a picture so subtle in it's beauty that I almost shed a tear. Yes. A tear. That's how moved I was. Centrally composed (almost mandala-like, dare I say) and executed with expressionistic abandon, this work has commandingly created a dichotomy of ideas through the use of an exploding pregnant woman (a negative symbol) and the presence of a candle (a positive symbol). If the Dalai Lama and Jackson Pollock had a child that went to art school, this is what he/she would paint for his/her thesis, a work both ethereal yet political, contemporary yet ancient. A masterpiece destined to ring through the ages.

I'm so thrilled to see that the Pro-life movement is finally funding the arts. So... So glad.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The Living Room's first improvisational dance/interactive evening for the year happened last February 3, 2007 and I'm happy to report that all went well. The performance, called "Kamuros" (named after a fragrant rice from the Kalinga province), was conceptualized and performed by freestyle dancer "Jorge" (above), fresh from his studies in freestyle dance in Nice, France. Jorge getting into the spirit of things.
Jorge in full swing. Literally.
A view of the audience from onstage.

After the show, people hung out well past one in the morning. Guests munched on Jorge's signature recipes for coconut suman (sweet sticky rice) and fried mountain grains with shrimp and mango (Jorge and his partner Greg sell organic rice at the Salcedo Saturday Morning Market) while drinking the alcohol that they themselves towed to the space. If you haven't heard, the general rule now for all Living Room events is that it's BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle.) The best part of the evening of course was the post performance mingling. Here are a couple of shots. Nina Tesoro (above) of Kusina Salud makes a startling point while talking to Raymond Lee (producer of the award winning indie movie, "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" as Natasja chows down next to them.

Percussionist Toni Bernardo chats away with photographer Wawi Navarozza, while dancer/professor Nerissa Guevarra nurses her beer. Other guests of the evening were the uber stylish Tootie Crisologo of Casa Amarilla, Benjie Garcia of Friendly's Pensionne and his pack of residents from the American Peace Corps, Marty and Lesley Lahm of the Asian Development Bank, Margaret Hurcules of the World Health Organization, art couple At Maculangan and Katya Guerrero, conceptual artist Yason Banal, and a smattering of French, Filipino, Spanish and American art types who were curious to see what this was all about. Forty eight people in all attended the affair. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Parting shot: some of the evening's shoes (above). Hope to see you all at the next event.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Finally got the photos from last October's exhibition. Log on here to see shots from "All The Art I Can Fit In My Roller Skate Case", The Living Room's October 2006 curator-in-residence, Ms. Marlyne Sahakian

Monday, February 12, 2007


One day I would love to see the Santo Domingo Church rebuilt on it's former site inside Intramuros.

It was located where the Bank of the Philippine Islands Office now stands. It's right next to the Starbucks fronting the Department of Immigration next to the Pasig River.

Oh well. Perhaps one day.

Does anybody know a Zobel or a Xeres Burgos to whom we can flow this idea by?


Exactly sixty-two years ago this month, the capital of the Philippine Islands was brought to it's knees through fire and sword in a conflict known as the Battle of Manila 1945. Caught in an unfortunate encounter between the United States Armed Forces and the Japanese Imperial Army, Manila, a city once known as the "Pearl of the Orient" was beaten down to a disease ridden wasteland, it's citizens transformed into quivering madmen.

Sadly, every year this month goes by without much fanfare (most Manilenos care more about Valentine's Day and the EDSA Revolution), and every year I come up with assumptions about what the city would have been like should this tragic incident never have happened. For starters, I believe that the genteel residential districts of Ermita and Malate would still be intact and populated by it's original residents, the island of Corregidor would still be operating as a military base, the Tranvia trolley system would still be plying the streets, while the seven churches of Intramuros would still be standing. It would have been a completely different city from what it is today, and I perhaps would be a completely different person because of it.

And now thanks to my friend Butch who sent me this Google Video link called Old Manila, I now have a brief glimpse into what Manila was like before 1945. It's a home movie shot by a Manila visitor and it's a priceless account of what we lost and what we as citizens should aspire to recreate. Be sure to check out the Manila tram system in full operation, the clean canals of Binondo with it's sleepy residents walking along it's banks, and a brief shot of some suburban beach resort (which I might assume is Pasay?) with people actually swimming in the Manila Bay.

Manila is dead. Long Live Manila.

Also, thank you to life partners Te and Lisette for the wonderful post on your blog. So glad to have had you both on the tour.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Oye oye to all of you out there in the loyal city of our affections who still speak our colonial Castillian tongue. Now you can use your mouth to make a few bucks. PLDT is looking for call center agents who can speak Spanish. The pay is good (better than most jobs available in the country I'm sure), the hours are decent (you could work part-time, a 30 hour work load is available), and best of all, there is no age limit to the job so even your 78 year old Spanish speaking grandmother can apply. Please send your resume and letter of intent to:

Archie M. Yamane
Program Transition Manager
Business Development
5th Floor PLDT Building,
Garnet Road corner F. Ortigas Jr. Ave.,
Ortigas Center, Pasig City,
Philippines, 1600

Mobile No. +63.920.951.5062
Direct Line +632.884.6223
Fax No. +632.864.3115

Friday, February 02, 2007


As part of my mission to provide you wtih the best that downtown Manila has to offer, I have collaborated with the fabulous restaurant/Legarda Family heritage home/museum Cocina de Tita Moning (above and below) to come up with a specially priced (read: affordable) lunch and merienda menu that you and your loved ones can enjoy apres my walking tour.

Located in the Malacanang Palace district, Tita Moning's is only a ten minute drive from Intramuros and downtown Manila. It's a perfect way to complete your experience of Old Manila after listening to me ramble on about Philippine History. Log onto their website here to see more pictures of this fabulous place.

Post-Afternoon Tour Merienda Menu (may vary)

Queso de Bola Melt P 60.00
(Two Slices of Toast loaded with their Signature Homemade Queso de Bola spread,
served melted and piping hot)
Chicken Relleno Lollipops P 100.00
(Four Pieces Chicken Lollipops stuffed with their signature
Chicken Relleno Mix and Sauce)
Pancit Guisado P 150.00
(Glass Noodles Sauteed with Fresh Vegetables
topped with Chicken and Ham )
Homemade Onion Quiche with Three Cheeses P160.00
(Served with Kangkong Salad with Grilled Peppers,
Carmelized Walnuts and Our Homemade Walnut Vinaigrette)
Tita Moning’s Gambas Al Ajillo P 180.00
(Sauteed in Garlic and served with Garlic Pandesal Slices)
Paella Valenciana (please order in advance) P200.00
(Mini Paellera with Chicken , Chorizo, Pork, and Prawns,)
Tita Moning’s Famous Bread Pudding topped with Candied Pili Nuts P 160
(Their Bestseller)
Tita Moning’s Leche Flan P 60.00
(The Real Leche Flan, Just like your Lola used to make it)
- that is, if your lola was a Legarda
Fresh Mango Crumble P 180.00
(Fresh Philippine Mangoes topped with delicious crumble topping,
baked in the oven and served with Macapuno Ice cream and Mango Caramel)

Feb 18 and 23, 2007- Post-Morning Tour Lunch Menu

Sopa de Molo P 200.00
Traditional Hearty Soup of Pork Dumplings from Tita Moning's Visayan Hometown
Cold Cream of Celery P 180.00
Made with Fresh Apples, Bacon and PoppySeeds
Sopa de Ajo P 200.00
Traditional Garlic Soup topped with cheese,
finished in the oven with or without egg

Fresh Arugula Salad and Baby Greens P 290.00
Made with Sweet Pears,Walnuts and Gorgonzola Cheese
Papaya Salad with Jamon Serrano P 300.00
Served with Mozarella , Fresh Basil and a Honey Calamansi Dressing
Homemade Onion Quiche with Three Cheeses and a Green Salad P350
Topped with Caramelized Onions, Bacon, Parmesan, and a Basil Dijon Vinaigrette

(all Entrees served with Organic Brown Rice and Vegetables)
Solomillo a la Tita Moning with Potatoes in Their Jackets P 480.00
La Cocina Seafood Zarzuela.served with a Fresh Almond Parsley Picada P 520.00
Our Famous Lengua Cooked in White Wine P 480.00
Tongue of Beef simmered in White Wine done to "melt in your mouth"
perfection and topped with Green Olives
Our Famous Paella Valenciana
Side order (1-2 pax) P350 / small paellera (7-10pax) P 1,750
(please order in advance)
Osso Buco Gremolata with White Wine Risotto P 480.00
Beef Shank stewed in White Wine and Fresh Tomatoes
served with a garnish of Parsley, Garlic, and Fresh Lemon Zest)
Vegetarian Option : Homemade Pasta Primavera P 320.00

Fruit Plate P200.00 per person
Caramelized Bananas with Vermouth and a Platter
Selection of Fresh Fruits in Season
Tita Moning's Bread and Butter Pudding P 200.00 per order
Queso de Bola Cheesecake with a Fresh Mango Sauce P 180.00 per order
La Cocina Leche Flan (The Best Leche Flan in Manila) P 120.00 per order
Barako Coffee or Fresh Herb Tea from Our Garden P 150.00

Prix-fix Menu (may vary)

Sopa de Ajo
Lengua Cooked in White Wine, Organic Brown Rice, Vegetables of the Day
Tita Monings Bread Pudding
Barako Coffee or Herb Tea
P900++ per person

All prices Subject to 10% Service Charge and 12% VAT

Kindly advise ME or La Cocina de Tita Moning that your group is coming
315 San Rafael St. San Miguel, Manila
Tel. 7342141 or 7342146, 09175383490
(we shall provide you with a Map and Directions after the tour.)