Wednesday, June 29, 2005


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Taking a break. I'm very tired. Quack.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


(photo courtesy of

I always make it a point to visit the Gallery Walk of SM Megamall. As a frustrated painter, I always stand in awe of works that have come forth from many a brilliant Filipino mind.

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Galleria Duemila: Home to the Philippines' best

I am somehow attracted to those by Augusto 'Gus' Albor (brooding but holds a typhoon deep within).

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Upward Duality (Gus Albor)

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Division (Gus Albor)

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Back in my college years in the Ateneo (Xavier University), I did all things possible to be able to escape one subject: P.E. Games. I was already on my 3rd Year and looking forward to the next year during which I will assume the Presidency of the University Student Council, attend the Xth World Youth Day in Manila and do the dreaded pre-graduation thesis among other things, so I decided to advance subjects during the Summer to de-clog my 4th Year.

P.E., unfortunately,is still part of the curriculum. For the life of me, I don't know why we have to learn how to swim (trunks required) and play ball (I only know baseball and it's not part of the list). Somehow, Mr.-Curious-Me found a loophole somewhere that allows me to skip P.E.. The catch is: join the Xavier University Dance Society. Not that I was crazy over dancing but doing folkloric sounds better than wearing trunks. So, there.

In one year, I learned to do Pandanggo sa Ilaw, Pasigin, Binaylan, the various Jotas and Paseos but on my valedictory performance as dancer (ugh! *shivers*), I was chosen to perform the role of Prince in the dance-of-all-Philippine dances: the Singkil.

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The Maranao legend of a princess skipping over falling trees during an earthquake imbues Singkil with a mantle of magic that this rousing dance scarcely needs. For with crossed bamboo poles whose claps rhythmically clash against the swirling of fans and swords and spears, Singkil weaves a spell all its own. Different interpretations of Singkil invariably present the regal boldness of a Muslim prince in counterpoint to the stoic bearing of a princess: agility, grace,ardor, a resounding climax...magic! ( by Rene Ner) Singkil is the Queen of all Philippine Folk dances!

The training was laborious, to say the least. I had to lose weight to be able to move faster (getting ipit by four bamboo poles wasn't exactly fun) and the trainor was losing his cool all the time ("Mabigat masyado mga paa mo, puñeta!!!").

I performed Singkil for the first time during the grand re-launching of the XU Dance Society to the city of Cagayan de Oro, and performed it once more (and for the last time) during the First XU Arts Festival (my brainchild as President, in lieu of the utterly brainless Miss Xavier).

Sigh. My first real contribution to the arts, circa 1996. Watching the Bayanihan perform it always brings a smile to my face.

Friday, June 24, 2005


I admit. I am a young old man, and I am not ashamed to be found in the presence of those who have lived in the glorious days of this still-floundering Republic, nor am I ashamed to admit that I actually desire to live in Sta Cruz once I have the chance.

But for now, while I neither have both chance and opportunity except to hear Mass in Sta Cruz or chat with my favorite Capampangan old-money seller near the foot of the bridge, I hark back to days gone by by visiting this lovely site: PUPU PLATTER: {a delectable selection of oriental appetizers}

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From Filipinas: 1847 by Jose Honorato Lozano (Manila: Ars Mundi, Philippinae, 2002.Hardcover, 285 pagesPhp 4,300.00, US $86.00ISBN 9719258101)

Proves that not only is the past exciting and fun, it still does matter in this age of ignorance and disgrace.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Serj is a former textmate but we've never meet. I have always known him to be an artist and, like me, has this thing for films especially Indie ones.

Here are some samples of Serj's work, and if you find them interesting, please do visit his site at

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I have always been fascinated with photography. I've taken lots of photos using my friend's Canon's SLR back in Ateneo, and although we have had no uses for them since the University publication can only take so much, the excitement of coming up with a magical outcome always takes away the anxiety and stresses of the day.

This may explain why my blog is peppered with photos. I have many friends who are complaining about it, which is a good thing because this means that they are not 'visual' people and prefer to read, but hey! Photos are exciting ways to portray life and events.

Through Shmardog, whose blog is linked to mine, I am introduced to the work of one of Manila's hottest photographers around, Jake Versoza. Do visit his wonderful blog at


Wednesday, June 15, 2005


By Dylan Yap Gozum, Seeing Things Differently

Nowhere has the pursuit of beauty been as obsessive as it is here in the Philippines. Short of being branded as compulsive behavior, the presence of over 20 local magazines covering its many aspects – art, architechture, cosmetics, fashion – plus the ubiquitous annual exercise of the progenitor of all beauty parades, the originally-religious Santacruzan, and the dozens of pageants for both male and female across these islands do not help ease perceptions that indeed, Filipinos adore beauty or are simply crazy about it.

The social aspect of this pursuit cannot be discounted due to the fact that the former First Lady Imelda Marcos (yes, her again) used it as one of the three pillars of her social transformation programs, the other two being the Good (kabutihan) and the Truth (katotohanan). The Cultural Center of the Philippines, as the stage upon which this social movement was to be launched, sports a logo using the ancient script alibata where one of the Ks represented Kagandahan – beauty.

The Madame who started it all

But have we really imbibed this culture of beauty?

Without missing a beat, we may have overlooked the fact that the theme of the 2005’s National Arts Month was Singing Gising: Crafting Identities for Social Transformation, wherein once again, art was presented as a tool for social change. How times change – or not. This seems to reflect the Renaissance period which, without doubt, helped change much of a Europe reeling from the dead air of the Middle Ages.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines: Has it helped in the Filipino's search for its national soul?
However, a Philippine renaissance definitely isn’t in sight yet because apparently, beauty does not inspire in us a pride of place or else we wouldn’t have allowed the destruction of our churches by ignorant priests, the defacing-in-the-name-of-improvement projects like that of the Insular Life Building along Paseo de Roxas (where did they put that lovely tableau?!), or smothered the world-famous EDSA in concrete, railroad tracks and pink fences.

Clean Roxas Boulevard but until when?

Two years after the Liwasang Bonfacio was renovated, vagrants and peddlers are back to reclaim the area. The days of lamps that light Manila’s bridges are numbered, with several already broken. If the 112th IPU wasn’t held in the capital, will PICC and the CCP ever get their much-needed repairs? Is the Filipinos’ concept of beauty twisted? Is our outlook on beauty short term? That we rather prefer to be well dressed, made up, and toting the latest of gears and yet allow squalor, pollution, and destruction to mar our landscape is a head-scratcher situation indeed.

The new Liwasang Bonifacio (Thanks to

The pursuit of beauty should inspire, fire up emotions, and set people into action. It should urge us to make a difference in our world. Could this possibly be the same driving force behind the reinvigoration of the formerly hostile streets of Manila into well-lighted spaces? Or the current move to resurrect the Metropolitan Theatre so it can be a venue for the arts-in-service-of-the-masa, for the common man? The art of creative writing, thank goodness, is being promoted once again, as are theatre and dance.

On the other hand, could this same pursuit also be the same raison d’être behind the fanatical habit of city fathers to cover up shanties with painted billboards, and sprucing streets overnight with palm trees and shrubs whenever foreign delegates are coming?

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Covering the shanties will not make them go away

Our sense of beauty, in this sense, is in a state of perpetual contradiction. Where do we draw the line between beautiful and plain? What is beauty exactly? Spanish houses are “old and scary” to the young, but “magnificent and historical” to their elders. There was even a time when we considered anybody in a Barong Tagalog to be getting ready for a funeral – his own, at that. Who has the definitive authority to judge which is beautiful?

Does beauty inspire a sense of pride in being a Filipino? It used to, yes, or else we wouldn’t have continued to ignore the amazing designs of our tribal fabrics while we drool over generic designer brand patterns. This tragic paradigm shift can best be exemplified by the dumping of the national costume by the national flag carrier in favor of the boring, corporate uniform for its stewardesses. PAL’s best marketing campaign, the SHINING THROUGH series, made truly evident the beauty and detail placed on that uniform which, like what the rest of the Southeast Asian airlines continue to do today, allows passengers the chance to “experience” the Philippines even before they get off the aircraft. What happened to that marketing plan, we will never know.

Major yawn.

As Imelda said, the attainment of beauty need not be expensive. I must agree, to a certain extent. Living in a country obsessed - and gifted - with so much beauty does make the enjoyment of it very easy to do. Although how we were able to surmise that Manila Bay’s sunset (or sunrise, for that matter) is the best in the world remains to be a mystery, maybe we can try watching the sunset in, say Samal Island in the Davao Gulf, and see if it does make a difference. Maybe it’s just a bias, or a perception. At any rate, I have had the chance to watch it from Pangasinan, with the South China Sea lapping at my feet. It was just as serene as it was grand. The best sunrise for me is still the one I saw onboard an early morning flight. Nothing like watching the clouds burst into flames in the morning.

The concept of beauty can indeed cover both ends of the spectrum. What may be beautiful for one may be hideous for the other.

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Pasig River: Manila has a long way to go before achieving the beauty that it once was

This proves that now, more than ever, the pursuit and concept of beauty goes beyond makeup, clothes and what-not. It goes beyond skin deep. Better yet, the pursuit of beauty should be a way of life and a celebration of life itself.
Only then can we be truly transformed.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I miss my 'Secret Manila' buddy Eliza. They'd been looking for her here sa cafeteria the other day, wondering aloud if she was my girl. If they only know Eliza, they'd go nuts.

Here are 3 previously unpublished photos of our escape to Manila. The black outfits were there for a reason, one of which was very obvious in this fountain photo I took of Eliza.
Now who would even think this was taken in Carriedo?!

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In Rome, not! This is the Carriedo Waterworks in Sta Cruz, Manila. The catch would be the coconut trees in the upper corner of the photo and the, well, haphazard way the electrical wires were done. Sigh.

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The original building of the Philippines' oldest savings bank, Monte de Piedad, opened by the Catholic Church in 1880 as a pawnbroking establishent. Bought by Singapore's Keppel in 1997.

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In my black chinoise(?) shirt looking terribly sleepy, with a train of the new LRT 2 line coming in behind me at the spanking-new Legarda Station. Everyone should try riding on this new line before it self destructs. Ooops.

Friday, June 03, 2005


What is it with Japanese novelist Banana Yoshimito that attracts the young readers of Asia?

With her first work, "Kitchen" she won the 6th Kaien Newcomer Writers Prize in November, 1987 and then the 16th Izumi Kyoka Literary Prize in January, 1988. Kitchen, my first Yoshimoto book, has two stories concerning a transsexual father and a boy who dresses up in his dead girlfriend's school uniform. Suicide is even discussed in her next book, N.P.

While suicide and extreme behavior are realities that Japanese society faces, I suppose it is the angst of the youth that she has captured well in her work. This rings true in all of Asia - making it Banana Yoshimoto's instant captured market.


Sunset at the Manila Bay

Elle es retrouvée! Quoi? L’Eternité. C’est la mer melee au soleil!”
(It is found again! What? Eternity. It is the sea mingled with the sun.)

from Alchemy of the Word, Une Saison en Enfer (Seasons in Hell)

Thursday, June 02, 2005



By Dylan Yap Gozum for Yehey! entertainment/books
In a chic restaurant in Geneva, the walls of which are adorned by paintings of Joan Miró and while seated on the very table film director Federico Fellini had dined, Maria stopped being a child and started becoming a woman – more aware of the ways of the world and more willing to face her fears.
In what may be Paolo Coelho’s first book on sex and about prostitution in particular – inspired by Irving Wallace’s 1970’s book Seven Minutes – lead character Maria embarks on a journey from the desolation of Brazil to the world stage that is Geneva, Switzerland with three things in mind: adventure, money, and finding a husband. Bored by routine in a small town in Brazil, Maria is offered a job in Geneva by a French impressario who, as it turned out, comes to Brazil often to recruit pretty women to work for his Cabaret Cologny in Geneva.
Upon her arrival, she discovered that she was to get only a tenth of the salary promised her, and she was bound to work for the cabaret for a year. Stucked, lost, without a future in sight, Maria went on to spend her one year watching television, thinking of Brazil, confiding in a Filipina, and falling in love with an Arab man.
Unfortunately, Love – the word that either brings the world to its knees, or exalts it – is currently not in Maria’s vocabulary. Knowing that she can pleasure herself without a man (she learned masturbation as a kid), she only lived to experience pleasure and adventure, not to love. But when she met a man on the pilgrimage route called the Santiago Road, she discovered the power that true love can bring.
Eleven Minutes opens us to a world many of us may never know or personally experience but despite this, Coelho is not judgmental. Rather, he provides the female character a chance to redeem herself.Once again, master storyteller Paolo Coelho spins a web of unparalleled literary gem only Brazilians could possibly create.
Fresh from the success of Cry of the Valkryies and By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, Coelho – known in all corners of the globe for his seminal work The Alchemist –finally returns with a story that tugs at the heart but is food for the mind as well. Direct to the point but with the occasional segue ways that make this work completely amusing, Coelho provides us readers a new way to have fun, relax, and get away from our own miseries.
Like the works of Latin American writers before him and even those by his contemporaries, his new work allows us readers to conjure in our minds endless adventures, sometimes even make little decisions for the girl Maria as if her life was our own, and we want to urge her to go on and reach for her dreams. This is a book of endless possibilities, following a manner of exciting story-telling style – definitely not a book you can put down. Add to the fact that Maria is a true living person, now living with two kids.
If you are sick of conspiracy theories and church-bashing literature that are so the rage these days, this is for you: a return to basic good storytelling, with humanity captured in a new light - not in an intellectual or snobbish way - but in a manner that appeals to your sense of personal conviction. It is not preachy – Coelho is, in fact, never preachy – but draws from your own life experiences.
Eleven Minutes challenges your beliefs, and questions the morals and values that you hold dear, and finds in you the necessary affirmation that yes, life is good, and that life indeed is how we make it.


"L'exactitude est la politesse des rois" (Louis XVIII) "Punctuality is the courtesy of kings."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


A female colleague came up to me today asking when I was to return to Cebu. Having just arrived from a quick trip there last February, I am still regretting that the humidity kept me from strictly adhering to my planned itinerary.

She also mentioned that she was brought to Aranos, my ‘secret’ restaurant, by a friend of hers. How shocking, really, to know that what used to be known only to a handful is now accessible to Manila people as well! Not being snobbish about it (yeah, nice try Dylan!) but it’s only one of the very rare places where you can have a quiet decent meal served to you by the owner’s lovely kids, and chat with the chef using your nivel cuatro español and not feel too embarrassed by the attempt (He speaks a better version of Cebuano than what Manila visitors call their attempt at inculturation).

The welcome rotunda when one reaches Carcar, south of Cebu City

A Spanish-period house in Carcar's town proper: creative reuse is possible

Cebu's churches remain unscathed from artistic adventurism by ignorant churchmen

But what struck me was the comment that Cebuanos have this penchant in transforming old houses into restaurants or something useful. A-ha! Finally, a good reason to get back at Manileños for taking over our ‘secret’ lair, tee hee.

Images from the destruction of Manila's SKY ROOM; with protesters

If the destruction of the Jai Alai building and the continued abandonment of Spanish and Americal colonial homes in Manila are any indication, one can simply deduce that Manileños have no amor at all for cultural heritage. The same can be said of Capampangans when, to our great horror, we saw this vacant lot in San Fernando on which the grand mansion of Jose Abad Santos used to stand. But we used to walk pass that house everyday when we were kids and marveled at how terribly huge the house was! The marker of the National Historical Institute didn’t even save it from commercial encroachment.

The San Agustin, the Philippines' oldest church, sports its original color. It is lucky to be still standing.

Yesterday, on my way back to Manila on an FX, I saw a sign posted to a pillar of the Doroteo Jose LRT station saying, “Old houses for destruction, call us.” I will not be surprised to find this sign posted on those wonderful Art Deco buildings in Sta. Cruz one day. That’d be the saddest day of my stay here, if ever.

A signboard like that in D. Jose would have caused a furor in Cebu but here? Ambot na lang dyud. How can the Cebuanos do it and not the Manileños?

Cebu's Lapu Lapu makes an appearance in Luneta: a reminder to Manileños?

You have to give it to the lilliputian groups like the Heritage Conservation Society to voice out their concern for the continued mismanagement of our cultural treasures in the capital but what is there that can actually be done? Nothing much, if at all. It’s always the same reason: not enough or no funds.

Thanks to the Intramuros Administration, a large part of the Walled City has been preserved. But wait until you see the squatter areas...

The Walled City surviving side by side with development

My verdict is: not enough imagination. Manila Mayor Atienza thinks lighting up his dying city with those horribly-expensive sparkler lamps is enough while along Taft Avenue, another colonial home gives way to a mall to house fast food joints for La Sallistas. And while father cleans Roxas Boulevard and Avenida Rizal, Councilor-son Kim Atienza, self-proclaimed art connoisseur, vandalizes the walls of Intramuros with his name in mnemonic fashion (like father, like son: Buhayin ang MayniLA, in their mad desire to inscribe their names on the city’s consciousness in perpetua).

Luneta Hotel along T.M. Kalaw: is it next?

Pray, what will happen to the Mayflower Building after Instituto Cervantes moves to its new home on T.M. Kalaw? And what to do with that beautiful bulding along Roxas Boulevard that used to house the Chinese Embassy? Will they be tearing down Hotel Luneta soon? (I have yet to take detailed photos of it).

Entrance to Arroceros Park, soon to be overtaken by a Teachers' Village

Farewell quiet days, cool shades, and fresh Pasig River breeze (yeah, right!)

Will the Manila Hotel ever to regain its former glory? Will Arrocerros Park eventually fall prey to the Mayor’s whims? When will the work on the future National Archives, the erstwhile Ayuntamiento, ever be finished? The same question goes for the Metropolitan Theatre. Will the City Hall return the four Amorsolo murals that used to adorn its walls?

Manila's destruction is our collective loss.

There are too many questions asked in the City of Man but the answers are not forthcoming. I can only echo architect Augusto Villalon’s call to please, please, have mercy on our heritage.

Manila Bay as seen from Roxas Boulevard: May bukas pa...



DARNA flies again on Philippine TV with the launching of GMA Network's new DARNA series. Beautiful Angel Locsin finally landed the role, besting other choices such as Karylle, Diana Zubiri, Jennylyn Mercado, Nadine Samonte, Iza Calzado, Rica Peralejo and Ara Mina. She is currently wrapping up production of GMA's ratings buster MULAWIN, a story of "lawins" (hawks) battling it out in a make-believe world of good and evil. Yeah, yeah. Same old story but the effects are amazing.

The late Mars Ravelo created the superheroine in the 1950s. "Darna" was first serialized in Pilipino comics. In May 1951, the character was brought to the big screen for the first time, with Rosa del Rosario in the lead.

Other actresses who have portrayed the role are Liza Moreno, Eva Montes, Gina Pare¤o, Vilma Santos, Rio Locsin, Sharon Cuneta (in Captain Barbell opposite Edu Manzano, Anjanette Abayari and Regine Velasquez.

Last year, GMA Network Inc. bought the rights to produce "Darna: The TV Series." The pilot episode will air next month. Another "Darna" film is reportedly in the making.
The more famous Darna - Eskinol girl Vilma Santos

Pilita Coralles as Valentina - a role to be played by Alessandra de Rossi
Darna and the Giants
Narda now... Darna! Whew! (But why does she look so sad?!)
Regine Velasquez dons the costume
And the Megastar does, too.
80's siren Rio Locsin
A page from history
Rosa del Rosario, the first Darna, flies high. The original copy of this film was discovered last month in Thailand
The man himself, Mars Ravelo

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