Tuesday, September 25, 2007



Sigh. Really. What are you thinking? Are you even thinking? Add more animals to Manila Zoo? Are you mad? Now now. Just because you think that PETA or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals can be a bunch of noisy do-gooders, doesn't mean that you should maliciously spite them just to prove a point. You are definitely more mature than that.

I mean really. Are you old? I don't think so. Age has nothing to do with this. Frankly, I think you are just being merely cruel by planning to add more animals to this facility. You say that you want to do the right thing and are open to taking advice? Well, take this then. Removing animals from a paradise like Calauit in Palawan and forcing them to live in an antiquated cramped filthy place like Manila Zoo is definitely not the right thing to do. Torturing animals purposefully for the sake of spite and/or political gain is definitely NOT going to win you any points on judgement day either I'm sure.

So please please please prove to me that you can be progressive. It's still early in the game and you can change your ways, I'm sure. Plus, you don't have to close the zoo down either. Just convert the zoo into a botanical garden instead. Just think about how much great press you will get for being so modern and humane? Think about how much money you can save as well. Feeding those animals are a drain on the city's budget. Here, I'll give you some advice on what to do and listen well. First, send the remaining animals to a wider, more open space (like Avilon Zoo in Rizal), then tear down the zoo's ugly walls and put "see through" fences instead so that pedestrians and outsiders can see those beautiful trees. After doing so, start using the facility as a greenhouse/plant center/ecological education tool to teach Filipinos how to care for the environment (just like the Manila Seedling Bank), and not to teach them how to CAGE poor animals. Finally, create a connecting promenade from the zoo to the Metropolitan Museum, Harrison Plaza and the Paraiso ng Kabataan Park on Quirino to fully integrate this new PARK into the urban fabric around it. It will make the area more pedestrian, baby stroller, and tourist friendly.


And just to keep things clear, I don't agree with PETA's idea to close EVERY zoo in the Philippines. I just agree with them in taking all the animals out of Manila zoo. Could somebody start a signature campaign?

God. If only the Mayor could read this article. I really feel he has no clue about what's going on around Manila.

Thanks Antonette for the photo.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Green Papaya's OPEN PLATFORM is an experimental laboratory for artists, researchers, enthusiasts and bystanders to wash their nasty works-in-progress for a one-night only critical play and exchange via screenings, conversations, performances and declarations of love. Whilst the sometimes foreboding creative process, w.i.l seeks to generate a space for those halfway-over experiences tucked in our sketchpads, notebooks, Myspace accounts and personal blogs. We welcome all in/decent propositions and different modes of presentation. So send in your videos, soundbytes, wearables, performances, installation, drawings, evil plans and marriage proposals for weekly one-night stand gatherings at Green Papaya. Proposals must be submitted a week in advance, send them thru info@greenpapaya.org or holler up +63926 6635606. 124A Maginhawa St. Teachers Village East, Diliman QC.

And check out coffeesparks.com, a site done by a friend of mine, Jobert. Great guy who once provided a sh*tload of booze and moisturizer for The Living Room. It's kind of like a wailing wall, or an advice free for all where one can post their issues and get feedback about what they are going through, whether it be as complex as the loss of a true love or as simple as what new appliances to buy. An interesting concept. Log on here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I was tagged months ago by the grumpyurbanslacker. My apologies to grumpy for not posting earlier but I really couldn't come up with anything interestingly "weird" enough about myself to write about. This is the best I could come up with.

Six "Weird" Things About Myself That You Didn't Know

My first job in New York was a cheese counter boy at Dean and Deluca. I was then transferred to the fish station after being caught eating the stock. I then started bringing my own soy sauce to work so that I could eat the fish raw as well. (Never hire an Asian to work at a fish store, what the hell were they thinking?)

In 1995, I worked with an artist named Joe Davis ,the only "artist-in-residence" and research affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and we put up an exhibition together at some recreation hall in Harvard named Ticknor or something. But one of the outcomes of collaborating with the man is that my DNA has been put (along with many others) into some rocketship that is flying through outer space as we speak. The objective here, if I remember correctly, was to communicate with space aliens regarding life on earth. And if by chance aliens don't understand written human language, then they sure must be able to recognize DNA codes. I can't seem to find the website that shows me on the list anymore though.
I started my career as a cartoonist and illustrator for Business Day newspaper at the age of fourteen drawing a comic strip known as "Bar Sins", a comic about alcoholics at a bar that discussed issues both local and esoteric (above, done later on during the Erap era when I returned to bworldonline.com). I then became the youngest member of the Samahang Kartunista ng Pilipinas in 1987 thanks to a recommendation by Nonoy Marcelo. After drawing comics, I then moved on to work as an illustrator for T-Shirts at a clothing store named "Island Spice Philippines" that my sister owned. I was one of the co-founders of the company and kinda loathe myself for being part of the proliferation of all those tie-dye T-shirts (We used to sell PapaDom T-Shirts - no offense Papa Dom!) and the grungy pseudo-"ethnic" hippie look that kinda took the Philippine youth scene of the early nineties by storm. Yes, it was a very sloppy looking moment in local fashion I know.

I was a dancer. I was the founding member of the Walang Pamagat Performance Art Company with my best friend Inigo Elizalde. Our dance theater group performed at the CCP, RISD, AS220 Providence, the Bronx Museum of Art, and in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. I am not in dancer's shape anymore but I am kinda immortalized "in action" in the book "Philippine Dance: Mainstream and Crosscurrents." by Reynaldo Alejandro

In the six degrees to celebrity department, Jean Paul Gaultier was my aunt Peanut's roommate in Manila in the 1970s (And yes, that is the real name of my mother's sister). When living in New York in the mid-90s, Inigo and I used to hang out a lot with still struggling performance artist Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner (which only puts me one more degree away from Michael Stipe). Haven't seen him in years and apparently neither has a lot of our old group since he made it big. Wonder if he'll remember me if I bump into him again someday. I also once served coffee to Rosie Perez when I was working as a busboy at E and O restaurant on Houston Street.

And that's it. I hope these are strange enough things about myself that you would never guess.

Now, if I had to tag anyone, my dream team would be to tag Chuva. Bryanboy. and MLQIII. But that is only if I had to. No pressure anyone. Only do this if you wish.

And speaking of better late than never, Mayor Lim has finally fixed the lights on Roxas Boulevard. Apparently, this is the reason why the lights were turned off. The mayor is also made a statement showing he is open to criticism and is apparently restoring The Manila Metropolitan Theatre as well. Now this is the kind of news I like to hear. And I'll take him up on giving him suggestions. I'll be more than happy to send him a list of stuff I want to see done.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Fun Fun. A lecture about my favorite period in Philippine architectural history is happening over at Silverlens Gallery in Makati at the end of the month.

Join us as Silverlens welcomes Edson Cabalfin for the second installment of his architecture talks as part of our weekly Saturday Gallery Activities. On September 29, Cabalfin will be giving a lecture on “The Modern Filipino House: Philippine Residential Architecture of the 1960s”, from 4:30-6:30pm.

What makes a house "modern" during the 1960s in the Philippines? How did Filipinos translate an idea of modernity in the design of residential architecture at that time? What were the origins of these conceptions of the modern? The lecture will try to answer these questions, as well as analyze floor plans, materials, decorations, exteriors and interiors of single-family houses built during the 1960s. The speaker will also be giving a presentation on houses published in architectural magazines of that era such as "Philippine Arts and Architecture" and "Philippine Building and Architecture Journal”.

Edson Cabalfin is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Architecture and Urbanism Program in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. He was formerly a Fulbright Fellow from 2001 to 2003 at the University of Cincinnati where he finished his Master of Science in Architecture degree. He received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture (cum laude) and Master of Architecture degrees from the University of the Philippines at Diliman in 1996 and 2001 respectively. His current dissertation research examines the discourse of nationalism in post-independence architectures in the Philippines. Edson is presently a visiting lecturer at the University of the Philippines and has previously taught at Cornell University, University of Santo Tomas, Far Eastern University and De La Salle University – College of St. Benilde.

Silverlens Gallery is located at 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Warehouse 2, Yupangco Building. Gallery hours are 10am to 7pm, Mondays to Fridays and 1pm to 6pm on Saturdays. For more information, call 8160044 / 09052650873 or email manage@silverlensphoto.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


In an attempt to show the realities of Manila tempered with a hopeful twist, I'm going to post this wonderful video. Shot by The Living Room resident Romeo Candido, it's a short documentary of a project currently being done at Smokey Mountain. Former Living Room resident Marlene Sahakian also appears.

I love this short feature because it shows that things are being done to solve our city's problems. And although slow and small, it's definitely a sure thing.
Click here.

And for those of you who are wondering. Yes, I am related to the Celdran in this video. She is my first cousin.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Oh wow. I found this is my email. Apparently, this email has making the rounds around town because of it's apparently shocking nature. Truth be told, I'm not sure if it was actually read in public (It's supposed to be done today judging by the date). I certainly hope the writer changed her mind and decided not to proceed with it. I'm erasing her name just in case it wasn't actually put out there.

Healing the Soul of the Nation
Publisher’s Speech
When I was growing up I was told in school that my country was colonized by Spain, for a period of over 330 years. We were then colonized by the U.S. for 46 years and occupied by Japan for 3 years. School also taught me that I should be grateful to Spain because the Spanish gave the Philippines European civilization and religion. Unfortunately most Filipinos still believe this. That is why the Philippines is still in the dark age. How did my people come to believe these lies? I do not see how any people could understand colonization in these terms. The Spaniards came to my country. They murdered our men, raped our women, stole our lands and enslaved those who survived. They damaged our cultures beyond repair. The Spaniards came to the Philippines, as they did in other countries, to rape, murder and plunder. And in school I was taught to be grateful because Spain had given me their religion and their so-called civilization. This is like asking the Jews to be grateful to Hitler.

Imagine a group of armed bandits storming into this room right now, raping you, slaughtering you, and stealing everything of value. When they are finished, they tell you, the surviving victims, “Here is our civilization and religion. Be grateful.”

I thought the Philippine education system had changed from the time I was a little girl. Recently I started to read the Philippine Constitution in a textbook by Hector S. De Leon, 2005 edition, that is given to today’s students at the Universities of the Philippines and Ateneo. On page 12 it says… and I quote:

“The demerits, however of the Spanish administration were more than offset by its merits.

(a) The Spanish rule, when viewed in the broader light of global colonization, was generally mild and humane. The Filipino people were not brutalized. Spaniards and Filipinos intermarried and mingled socially. Slavery and tribal wars were suppressed.

(b) It brought about the unification of the Filipino people. The diverse tribes were molded into one people, under one God, one King and one government, and out of their common grievances against Spain, blossomed the spirit of nationalism; and

(c) Spain uplifted the Filipinos from the depth of primitive culture and paganism and gave them the blessings of Christianity and European civilization.”

End of quote. “Spain uplifted the Filipinos from the depth of primitive culture and paganism.” How can Spain call the Filipinos primitive when they were the ones who came here to rape and murder? Who is primitive? My forefathers honored the moon, the stars, the earth, the mountains and the trees. What is wrong with that? Don’t you honor god when you honor nature?

If to become Christian means to slaughter my father, my mother, my brothers and my sisters, I would rather be pagan.

Spain did not give the blessing of Christianity to my forefathers! They were told to convert to Christianity or die! That is what Spain did to many countries all over the world.

I believe that our problem in the Philippines today is not lack of money nor too much greed and corruption. This is not the root of our problem. Rather it is first and foremost a lack of identity. An individual who cannot grow up with an identity can never be confident, and can never know success. The Philippines is full of individuals without identity, without confidence. The Philippines is suffering from an identity crisis. I believe this is what makes this country a poor nation.

Filipinos often complain about the problems of the Philippines comparing this nation to China, Japan, Singapore and the USA. We cannot make this comparison. There is no comparison. These nations have not been raped and plundered like the Philippines. None of these nations have suffered foreign domination for almost 400 years!

The Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated on July 4, 1946. We have only been an independent state for 60 years. We cannot expect this country to heal in such a short period of time.

Our soul has been damaged by continuous foreign control. But we can fix this. We can change the future. It is up to us. I believe our only chance for survival and progress is to raise a new generation of Filipinos aware of their rich culture and noble heritage. For the past ten years I have been publishing books to defend and promote Philippine art and culture. I believe that some day soon there will be a cultural revolution that will inspire the Philippine cultural renaissance. I believe there are many Filipinos like me who will make a difference, who will make this happen.

There is hope. As long as there are Filipinos like me, like my brother Freddie Aguilar, our national artist Napoleon Abueva, Alwin Sta. Rosa, Rafael Cusi and all the artists here tonight who love the Philippines and are willing to take a stand, there is hope.

I believe that the Filipino artists are the flame keepers of our rich culture and heritage. I believe that together the Filipino artists can heal the soul of this beautiful nation.

Mabuhay ang sining Pilipino!

Maraming salamat po!

Speech by M****** A******
Y** and Y*** Book Launch
C*** Publishing
Saturday, 15 September, 2007

Now, I don’t really want to get confrontational about things and I always dread making an attempt to put people in their place. Hence I will put my reaction as delicately as I can.

Really, Miz A******, what the f**k?

Don’t get me wrong here. But if you are going to start mouthing off about “healing” the soul of this nation, you should start by not giving such ignorant, incendiary and latently racist speeches. It’s precisely self righteous, falsely nationalistic "Filipinos like me", with such a covertly vindictive attitude about our colonial past which becomes the counterproductive force in the creation of a cohesive national identity. I'm terribly sorry but your writings came across as a speech filled with hate.

And if you really wish to give up “European civility” for the sake of your romanticized yet undefined glorious pre-Hispanic past, allow me to recommend first ditching your surname, which is obviously a Hispanic one. After that, you can start advocating the eradication of all concepts of time (i.e, Lunes, Martes, Miyerkoles. We all say alas sinko ng hapon. We don’t say alas lima ng hapon now do we?) and begin finding new names for fork, spoon, telephone, horse, and practically every other object in existence in the country. Finally, you can cap it all off by tearing down every 400 year old heritage church and finding a brand new name for our nation. Perhaps being named after King Philip II of Spain might be a little too “evil” and repressive for you.

And you are a publisher! Frankly, I find it alarming to realize that you need to read more as well. One only needs to pick up writings by Dr. Fernando Zialcita Phd or even the Noli Me Tangere to realize that Spain’s control of the Philippines was completely superceded by the control of the Catholic Church and friars and representatives from MEXICO. Jose Rizal’s antagonist was Padre Damaso, NOT the governor general remember? Please be careful when using incendiary, racist ramblings in the name of self realization and the creation of a “national identity”. The last time I remember when that tactic was used was under the Third Reich. Even President Marcos and his writings about the creation of a "New Society" and cohesive culture for the Philippines did not espouse such hateful words. And do you truly think that Rajah Sulayman’s stringent caste system of “datu and alipin” was any more enlightened than the theocracy and Spanish government misrule that replaced it? Were you there?

Not that I am dismissing/diminishing our country’s colonial pain and injustice. I can’t blame you for being upset. But try to base your judgements on Spanish colonial rule by more than just one book. I acknowledge that the writings which you refer can be construed as misleading and simplistic but then again, so is your argument. And you aren’t even backing up your comments with facts. I really feel that the logic/argument you present is taken from some old-school /divide and conquer method of seeking an enemy and dredging up past wrongdoings to justify any inadequacies happening today. Your argument reeks of victimization as the other reeks of denial. And both arguments, sadly, created by Filipinos.

Miz A...., we must remember that we are all immigrants here. Even the Aeta came over from someplace else. So please get off your high horse, remove that chocolate chip from your shoulder and start embracing the multifaceted identity that we have – INCLUDING THE SPANISH PART of it because all this misinformed navel gazing will only get you - and the rest of us - nowhere.

Oye chica, KINDLY MOVE ON!

Phew. I'm glad I got that out. Anybody else out there have anything to say about this?

UPDATE: This is a response from a member of faculty from the Philippine History Department of the Ateneo De Manila.

I suggest:

1) I suggest Miss A****** read the book: Authentic Though Not Exotic from University of Hawaii Press.

2) Asking the lady to do comparative historical reading. She mentions China and Japan. She obviously doesn't know about how the Chinese and the Japanese NOBILITY treated their own people DOWN THROUGH THE CENTURIES!!! This is a recurring problem among Filipinos. They don't really know the history of their Asian neighbors, even those never colonized by foreigners. So they tend to idealize them. Down to the 19th century, the penalty for a commoner not bowing to a samurai was death. The poor were so desitute that they sold their children into slavery. (Hence Japanese migration overseas late 19th-early 20th centuries).

3) Reading on Phil. prehistory and ontribal Filipinos. Nor do Filipinos know the indigenous cultures of their own country. They idealize the indigenous non-hispanic past and do not pay attention to the violence and bloodshed: village against village -- even on the same river. Competition to get slaves (more precious than land) or to get a head, or to capture women. Read the ethnographies of R. Barton on the Ifugao (early 20th cent.) or R. Rosaldo on the Ilongots (mid 20th century) or Scott's description of 16th cent. barangay society and you appreciate better what the missionaries achieved -- for all their obvious stupidities.

Sigh. Miz A******, I hope this has been an educational experience for you... Peace Out.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It's MadiLIM* under LIM.
Okay. It's confirmed. It's pretty much a state of calamity over in Malate. Not only did I drive by Roxas Boulevard last night and NOT SEE A SINGLE streetlamp working on the side closest to the sea (above photo taken in front of Aristocrat and Plaza Sulayman at 8:30pm), but the crosslight was also defunct causing pedestrians to wait at least twenty minutes for a free space to RUN across the street to the promenade. There isn't even a real sidewalk on the side closest to the buildings! Mayor Lim, How do you expect pedestrians to get around??? Fly? Not everyone owns a bloody car you know.

And you know what else happened? In the darkness of it all, the spare tire was stolen from the back of my sister's Honda CRV as it was parked on the street! It was screwed right off it's placement on the rear door. And it was parked on the side nearest the fountain on the corner of MH del Pilar! Under streetlamps!

This never happened to me in the freaking two years I've been living in Malate under Atienza.

MAYOR LIM!!! What the HELL!!!!???? You said crime was your priority. This totally proves otherwise. Lame f***ing duck. Retire already and find someone more energetic to get the job done. I am so not feeling you, you f***ing old goat. I'm serious. If I see you, I'll spit on you. Your hundred days are up. Get your act together NOW or go home.


OH. And furthermore, what the hell is the deal with your idea of reviving the plans of converting Bonifacio Drive into a business district? Why the hell are you trying to resurrect a plan that was shelved almost ten years ago? The needs, the profile, and population of downtown Manila has definitely changed since then and your crappy model (which I remember seeing during Atienza's time) is totally obsolete. AND WHY CREATE A NEW BUSINESS DISTRICT when downtown Manila already has one? That's what Binondo, Santa Cruz, Malate and Ermita were last I heard. Why don't you fix up those areas first? It's really easy. All you need to do is this: a) fix and create sidewalks all over the downtown areas and upgrade all infrastructure. b) Regulate jeepneys and remove smoke belching ones c) Control the proliferation of uncollected garbage, psychologically damaged street vagrants, and squatters. Just do these three things and business will return in no time at all. Trust me. The private sector provide the fancy stuff (i.e. better telecommunications systems, internet connectibility, the conversion of heritage office buildings to call centers) if you just keep the public domain in good shape. Call centers like investing in places where it's safe at night. Don't you get it?

Oh and advocating birth control accessibility to the poor won't hurt either.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


by Emmanuel Santos at Silverlens Gallery

As a part of the Saturday gallery events for the exhibit, Emmanuel Santos will be giving an Artist Talk on September 8, from 3:00 - 5:00pm.

The Artist's Lounge Afterparty will follow after the Artist Talk at 9:00pm at The Living Room, Unit 24, North Syquia Apartments, 1991 MH del Pilar, Malate.

Drawing inspiration from the Renaissance period, Melbourne-based photographer Emmanuel Santos presents and illuminating and theatrical series of angels and biblical visions in the exhibition The Passing of Light. It shows at the silverlens gallery from 6 September to 2 October. For over a decade, Santos has researched sacred texts to present a conceptual interpretation of legends and myths surrounding the ephemeral domains of the divine. The 38 photographs presented here draw on the holy scriptures of the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran. In all of the works, Santos presents a dramatic backdrop of recognizable places – from ancient, sacred sites to the bustling, modern metropolis of famous cities. In the foreground, Santos's angels fly, swoop, listen, crouch, comfort, or salvage lost faith, broken trust and innocence - according to their individual narratives.

Born in the Philippines in 1957, Emmanuel Santos migrated to Melbourne in 1982. A photo essayist specializing in areas of ethnology, spirituality and social documentary, Santos began his photographic career working for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. He has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Singapore, Japan, Belguim, France, the Ukraine, Israel and Brazil. His work is also widely collected and published. This is his first show in the Philippines.

silverlens gallery is located at 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Warehouse 2, Yupangco Building. Gallery hours are 10 to 7pm, Mondays to Fridays and 1 to 6pm on Saturdays. For more information, call 8160044 or email manage@silverlensphoto.com.


Admittedly, I am not easy to track down.
All this walking doesn't keep me in one place for very long.

Here are the best ways to try and reach me though.

The Living Room
Unit 24, North Syquia Apartments,
1991 MH del Pilar, Malate, Manila 1006

(63 - 2) 484 4945

Cell Phone/Text:
(63) 920 9092021



Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I just read the most interesting memo ever.

Just this morning, I finished giving a short talk and plug for my tours at the first Parent Teacher Association meeting at one of Manila's most exclusive private schools. And after receiving a sampaguita lei (lovely gesture), I was handed a little sinamay goodie bag. One of many that was handed out to all the members of this mostly foreign audience. And aside from an issue of Expat Magazine, an issue of What's On Philippines, brochures from a couple of spas, and a map of the AYALA Center, it was two little papers with the headings: "Cultural Adjustments", and "Being Safe in Manila" that really caught my eye (above and below).

Now, I'm not sure why, but I found this dossier to be both hilarious and disturbing at the same time. The whole thing opens with the "Five Stages" of shock (or grief) of moving to a new country, followed by tips for a successful adjustment to the Philippines, and ends with reminders on how to "Stay Safe" in Manila. I found it hilarious because some of the tips ranged from the obvious: "Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket" to the subtle: "Know your neighbor and nearest same nationality neighbor", to the really blatant: "Resist making comments such as "What else would you expect from these people?" and even the esoteric: "Be creative. Find a hobby. Volunteer. Smile."

Wild. Such an interesting insight to what the average working expat (and their spouse) MIGHT instinctively think of their host country. It's really just amazing that some of these people have to be reminded not to be racist and judgemental when moving here (or anywhere for that matter). And even though I know that it is important to caution ANYONE about the potential risks of living in ANY country, I have to confess that I found the tone a smidge disturbing. It tried to be diplomatic but was still rather fraught with condescion and with just a slight tinge of colonial conceit ("The Philippines is a relatively safe place provided that you are not lured into believing that it is a western culture").

Were the the negative reactions to moving here so rampant in the majority among these people that they had to start giving out memos and reminders regularly to stay sane? It also makes me wonder what it would be like if we put the shoe on the other foot. What would the dossier given to OFWs moving abroad read like? "Please try to avoid judging these people as spoiled and arrogant. Their culture is very different from ours.", "Don't use a fork and spoon. Use a fork and knife." or "Don't lose your temper when locals assume that their country is doing you a favor by employing your services or allowing you to move there."

If anything, this memo only proves the following. It shows that these poor guys live in an incredibly small world and need to get out more (education and exposure eradicates fear I always say) and that the Filipinos who mingle among them should stop feeding their paranoia and start setting an example on how to enjoy living in a excitingly multi faceted city like Manila by leaving that bubble themselves and advocating the social change that would someday render obsolete many parts of this document.