Archive for metro manila

(lg2a) enclaves of the rich and famous

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, history, interior design, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2011 by mijodo

Oh to be famous and rich. Well I can comfortably settle for just being rich – in fact, filthy rich.

Cousin Barbara and I, together with some Los Angeles tourists,  hopped on to this white, open top, vehicle that should bring us to the hills of Hollywoodland and its environs. Again, just like what we had done at the Oscar grounds (https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/oh-oscar/), we became gawkers and probably even snoops of such exulted showbiz personalities and their real estate acqusitions.

Again, my cousin and I, make ourselves small, just by listening to such trivial celebrity information amusingly dished out to us by our driver/travel guide as we meandered in the uber exclusive roads within the Beverly Hills and Bel-Air Villages. But our first stop was where the famous Hollywood sign was perched on the top of the hill. Our driver mentioned that  in the 1930s one young aspiring actress who had been frustrated with her unsatisfying career, climbed up on one of the letters of the Hollywood sign, and leapt to her death. The following day, a letter arrived to inform her supposedly of a starring role on a film.

On a more fun note, the tour went through the houses and mansions of Hollywood and American society A-listers and some B celebrities, including Dr. Phil, Bob Barker of Price is Right,  Laurence Fishburne of CSI, Richard Gere, the late red head comedienne, Lucille Ball, and the prepubescent’s idols, the Jonas Brothers.  Each home is palatial, grand, and speaks much of the owner’s taste and requirements. At the outside, Nicolas Cage’s residence is romantic yet dark in tone, with patches of garden moss attached on its brick red facade. Celebrity heiress, Paris Hilton’s family residence has its name – West Haven, emblazoned on the perimeter wall.  Such shows the Hilton family’s self importance.  Even the guide, acerbicly asked us, “Does your house have a name?”

But whose ego is said to be as big as his Beverly Hills estate? According to our scornfully loquacious driver – it is no other than  Tom Cruise.  While tangentially passing by Tom Cruise’s place (we never actually saw his home at the top of hill, blocked by other houses), our driver mentioned that if Tom Cruise’s presence is inside the mansion, a white flag is propped up in his property.  Well during our trip, there is no flag to signal his actual stay in the mansion.

The story may just be one of the legends concocted by these enterprising travel guides to make the trip fun and interesting. Afterall, such big showbiz royalties don’t announce their presence just like that –  for obvious security reasons.  I am even wondering, how is it possible that such enclaves are open for curious tourists and outsiders to see, and possibly furthermore to inspect their actual garbage bins outside their homes (saw several at Richard Gere’s charming home.)

Certainly, homeowners of our own exclusive villages in Makati, Ortigas and Alabang will never allow such oglers in their territories. It is just too risky in terms of security, and too outlandish in terms of privacy. But yes in the Philippines, posh enclaves for the rich and probably infamous have burgeoned for several decades. The old rich , and even the ambassadors to the Philippines, may have settled in ritzy Forbes Park and Dasmarinas Village in Makati. The noveau rich may have opted to dwell in Ayala, Alabang or in the tall glass buidings of Fort Bonifacio.  But of course, there are still members of the family manning the genteel homes of Malate where the wealthy families took residence during the pre-war era.

While it is sure that these great big homes, whether in the Philippines or in Los Angeles, have happy families and individuals occupying them, there are still houses and haunts that have saddening and even paranormal experiences.  Our driver at the roadtrip had a serious tone when we passedby the last residence of Michael Jackson where he had been last taken out to the hospital for drug overdose. He also made mention of Marilyn Monroe’s apparition, visiting a favorite hotel – the Roosevelt Hotel at Hollywood Boulevard.  And just before his death, John Belushi’had gone to one favorite nightclub, the Guitar Center, and even ate his last meal – consisting of lentil soup.

And of course the tour would never be complete without the driver pinpointing where Hugh Grant made his scandalous mistake with a local prostitute – at the alleyways, near the KFC store. Oh, to be rich and horny, this time.

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(lg2a) give me the dirty, the dingy, the dazzling new york city

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, news, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by mijodo

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“This reminds me of Cubao, Quiapo and Makati altogether,” one sister declared.
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Yes it can be true. Just go to the heart of New York City – Manhattan that is, and you get a melange of all our iconic busy places in Metro Manila. The monumental glass buildings and skyscrapers, and fancy boutique glasswindows remind you of Ayala Avenue. The corner delicatessens, the quaint coffeshops and small emporiums, and the ubiquitous hotdog stands are reminiscent of the old Cubao, just before the posh Gateway Mall was built. Oh yes, the seedy, dirty streets, the incessant scaffoldings blocking pedestrians, and  the chaotic volume of people, crisscrossing the grid streets (which then Manila Metropolitan Commission Governor Imelda Marcos wanted to impossibly copy for the layout of Metro Manila )of Manhattan implore a Quiapo feel overall.
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“I will never come back here,” another sister threatened. She is happy to stay in a quiet suburb somewhere in the midwest.
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It is not only her who seems to be disillusioned by New York City. Aside from the disarray of Manhattan, some have outrightly warned of the bedlam that happens in the Big Apple such as frequent muggings and  the saucy attitude by the New Yorkers. There was even a time when all patrons were forcibly asked  to leave a store just because it was already closing. My sister pointed out such crudeness to a store manager. The store got some rude awakening from a Detroit diva there!
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But it is the diamond in the rough that makes New York special and iconic to many of us non-New York dwellers. The Statue of Liberty at the harbor, United Nations Headquaters and the Financial District appeal to those who have romanticized the ideals of freedom, harmony and capitalism. The beaches at Hamptons, the artifacts of the numerous galleries and museums, the runway fashion shows of designers, and the explosion of architecture connect highly to the desires and senses of the erudite, the avantgarde, the sophisticated, and the moneyed from all over the globe.
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But for many of us, hoi-polloi, including me, it is the razzle-dazzle of pop culture that makes us warm with delight in the City that Never Sleeps. Aside from the music and stories that are churned out from musicals and plays of Broadway and the numerous movies which featured the city, it is the weekly and probably daily television shows, old and new, that familiarize us with a piece of New York life. Shows such as Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City give the couch potatoes a weekly dose of insights regarding independence, fraternization and even perhaps fabulous urban living, aside from the quality comedic scripts that comeout from these shows. It is the involved appreciation of such shows that make travelling to this megapolis quite surreal and a definite treat for pop culture afficionados. 
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It is quite a testament to New York City, a city that has experienced trouble in the last few years, in terms of finance and security, of how it has remained on the top, for visitors and travellers passing by America.  No matter how shoddy and dirty New York is, the spotlight stays on that Big Apple.

mystic quiapo

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, history, locales, people, religion, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by mijodo

Metro Manila is supposedly enjoying the cool crisp morning weather of the earliest month of the year. Yet the swarm of men’s bodies is heating up the very environs of Quiapo, apparently the religious and cultural epicenter of Manila every 9th of January. During the Feast of the Black Nazarene, tens of thousands make their way to Quiapo Church and pay tribute to the image and what it represents for the miraculous wonders and bountiful blessings the Almighty has provided them through the years.

Quiapo Church, also known as the Parish of St. John the Baptist, is home to the most revered Jesus Christ incarnation here in Metro Manila. As the Philippines is a devout Catholic country, the intense and passionate adoration for the Black Nazarene, particularly during its feast is much palpable. The main roads and streets going to the church are closed to traffic by the Manila administration for the impending seeming madness of the devotees right at the thoroughfare. Ladies who garb themselves in crimson robes similar to that of the iconic image bearing the cross, wait patiently for the novena high mass, amidst the chaos. Men inch their way to the truck that brings the life size statue in a procession even through the narrow streets of Quiapo District. In the frenzied mob, each man tries hard to reach for the long and substantial rope hemp attached to the main truck, and participate as one among the many voyadores (men carrying the image). Every so often, as the truck transports the revered figure, hankies and towels are thrown to the main truck by the people, for the truck leader to pick up, wipe on the face or body of the Nazarene, and throw the cloth back to the crowd.

Although the feast day of the Nazarene is in early January, it is every Friday, whole year round, when devotees come to the church and mass in honor of the Black Nazarene. And it still becomes more crowded during Fridays. Yet almost everyday there are other happenings and things related to the spiritual and even supernatural within and outside the church of Quiapo.

Within the confines of the church, near the main entrance door, there are several women, usually seated in children’s plastic stools, deep in prayer many times. But many of these prayers are not for exactly for their own needs, but actually for those who have sought them for some spiritual intercession for specific intentions.

One such lady is Beth de la Cruz who does padasal (praying for an intention as a paid job service). It is an occupation passed down to her by her mother and grandmother many years back. She explains that there are some people who feel that their prayers are not enough for God to bestow positive responses. Some even seek her because people literally do not know how to pray and it would be a big relief for them if she can help out in asking the Father to grant them their wishes and requests. She says that the Quiapo church administrators and priests are aware of their existence, and it is only in Quiapo Church that such group is known to exist – asking prayerful intentions in behalf of others as a job.

Upon knowing one’s problems and concerns of the client, Beth writes down in a small notebook all the information needed such as the name of the person needing prayers and his circumstances lest she forgets what she will be imploring even days after. But then upon consultation, she gives a fast delivery albeit hushed, of a prayer in Tagalog. Then she opens her prayer book which focuses on the guidance of Padre Pio, the Capuchin Monk, popular for his stigmata (having the same wounds of Christ during his crucifixion) and miraculous healings. Then she prays again, intensely this time using the text from the prayerbook. At the end, she accepts some token money for the service rendered. The whole padasal event is quiet and should not even draw attention to those there, primarily for the masses. Thus it is wise to be discreet.

Outside the Church premises, there is a more conspicuous set of ladies and a few gentlemen who are offering help of a different kind. These are the famous and sometimes infamous manghuhulas (fortunetellers). They do all kinds of different ways of pointing out someone’s past and present, and offer to give out pieces of advice for the future. They huddle together in their makeshift consulting spaces consisting of a table and tiny chairs for themselves and their patrons. The clients listen intently as the seers whisper to them on what fortune can befall them.

In this area, Filipinos have sought counsel from the oracles on issues encompassing all facets of life -mundane or not. Middle aged ladies troop to the place to confirm about the suspected philandering husbands. Even business people seek opinion from fortunetellers on what enterprising endeavor is most profitable for them. And of course, the out of luck and out of job would ask if they could be more fortunate outside the Philippines. Or some rich lady would just like to know who the culprit is that stashed away her set of jewelry.

In such sessions, there are times that the socalled psychics are on point dishing out specific moments of past experiences, but largely the readings are too general to make a real impression. Therapeutic in a way, whether one gets to have a perceptive clairvoyant or not, let the client enjoy the ride, and take in the more positive comments to create a better person in him and probably, a better future ahead of him.

Many times, such seers will ask their clients to buy whatever concoction and medicinal remedies to ease out the problems, or to bring goodluck to their homes. But actually many of these preparations are also sold by the vendors surrounding the church premises. Herbal blends and brews are sold very cheaply. Some are offered as panacea to all physical ailments, but some have supposedly specific results to uncommon conditions, even of the bizarre kind such as house poltergeists, and possibly exorcism. In such places, one can even order a personal talisman that should protect a person from accidents and aggression.

Quiapo Church may be a famous landmark for first time foreign tourist, and even for nostalgic balikbayan (visiting or returning Filipinos from abroad). Probably, a novena mass on a Friday would be the highpoint of the visit. But it would be also interesting to explore the more mystifying attributes of the area, and perhaps enhance his fascination of this most valued place in the minds and the hearts of the Filipinos.

4 Things to Do in 4 Hours in Quiapo.

Quiapo has been synonymous to many spiritual exercises and religious rites. But one has to remember that this is a busy place too for business and commerce. And definitely one just has to scour some areas for cheap finds and discounted items. There is just a treasure trove of items to be had in this vicinity.

1. Commission a sastre (tailor) to produce a maong (denim) pants for you. Just go to the Quiapo Underpass near Isetann Mall at Recto Avenue. There is a variety of shades and textures of denim textiles to choose from. Quite inexpensive for a whole pants starting at P400 a pair. Can be chic too.

2. Get a new digital camera. Go to photographers’ haven at Hidalgo Street, near the Quiapo Church, and canvass the newest photo equipment, usually below the mall price cost. Cameras are brand new and original, but at grey market price thus they may not have explicit warranties.

3. Haggle with the vendors for intricately weaved baskets and embroidered tablecloths. Passby Ilalim ng Tulay (Under the Bridge) where all Filipino handicrafts are proudly displayed. A favorite haunt of Balikbayan tourists for souvenir items.

4. Sample the time honored Excellente Hams, near Quinta Market. Even if it is not Christmas time or New Year’s eve, why not bring some for pasalubong (homecoming treat) from Quiapo.

buried in secret

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, history, locales with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2009 by mijodo

the charming chapel of paco park

It could be a romantic place. In fact it has been a venue for weddings. And I have been into one. Afterall, there is this old chapel, just big enough to accommodate the groom’s and the bride’s families. There is manicured lawn, and if it is not syrupy enough, one can even have a fountain gushing for the matrimony. Seriously, it is a beautiful and elegant place, this Paco Park.

But if you look closely at the place, actually it is a cemetery, full of catacombs and niches. Paco Park in Manila during the Spanish era was a burial place for well heeled aristocrats. It is interesting to see the names and dates of those interred at this place. You just wonder what life had been during those times, eons ago.

There are several pocket sections inside this intimate park. In fact there is a corner for the unborn children. Then as I walk around, there was a marker which  information I was blown away. Apparently, where the marker was, that was the exact place where Jose Rizal, our National Hero was buried, unbeknownst to the Spanish authorities after his execution in Bagumbayan, the nearby Luneta Park. Somehow for a history buff like me, it was my first time to know such curious fact.

Then I get to imagine what could have happened right after Rizal’s death. The family just trying to haul the lifeless body of the hero, and giving him a decent burial at least. But then everything has to be hushed-hushed lest the authorities find out, and worsen the situation even more for Rizal’s family. Thus in the interim, secrets had to be made, right after Rizal’s demise. 

Sometimes secrets like rizal’s entombment and like the  mysteries of the disappearing articles in this blog, just have to be made – or things may go awry. In time, everything will be unfolded.

the antipolo ambient

Posted in architecture, interior design, lifestyle, locales, people, religion, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by mijodo

 

 
 

suman and casuy vendor at the church area

Next to Tagaytay perhaps, it is Antipolo which is the most popular destination for a quick and cool getaway from the metropolis.  Aside from the crisp coolness that envelops the area, it is Metro Manila’s panoramic vista that becomes a significant reason for  people to come and enjoy the Antipolo hills. Numerous quaint inns and botique hotels line along  Sumulong Hiway and take advantage of the romantic visual delight, particularly during night time period

 

Thus it is no surprise that restaurants and bars sit as well along the ridges as many customers revel on the views of Western and Southern portions of Metro Manila. Among these food places is the legendary Eagle’s Nest which started decades ago in nipa huts in stilts. Eagle’s Nest is where young people from the universities and offices  flock for cheap bottles of beer and tasty pulutan (food accompanying liquor or beer). Today the drinking area has changed a little bit.  Now huts have karaoke machines.

 

Still along Sumulong Hiway, a relatively new addition to the area of Antipolo is the Meralco Management & Leadership Development Center Foundation (MMLDC).  This is a learning and training institution which caters essentially to corporate and organizational clients.  There are several seminar rooms and auditorium type set ups that can accommodate to as many as 200 individuals. Although the whole place initially was reserved to those dorming in and taking seminars in the facility, MMLDC has opened its doors to those wanting to have dinner or lunch on impulse in its open area and nicely appointed restaurant.  For a fee, one can take a tour of the several hectare compound where one can find the swimming pool, an aviary, and a rainforest where teambuilding exercises are held. MMLDC can even hold wedding receptions.  Just imagine the nuptial photographs taken in a romantic garden setting of manicured lawns and dreamy backdrops.

 

One of the old important haunts in Antipolo is Hinulugang Taktak. It is a well-known respite site, most specially during the 50s and 60s where people could swim in its waters . It was so popular that a ditty was composed, asking the people to trek the mountainous Antipolo to enjoy the cooling waters of the falls. Today, although not a popular destination to dip your toes in, it is still a refreshing sight for those visiting.

 

If one has a friend or relative who is a member of the exclusive Valley Golf and Country Club, then ask the person to invite you to come in and enjoy a brisk walk inside the golfing premises, particularly to Hole No. 15 of the Executive Course to take in the stunning view of the entire course together with the man-made terraces. Of course, some drinks, courtesy of that member-friend at its clubhouse will be surely appreciated.

 

The basketball afficionado knows where the Ynares Coliseum is. This is where the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) stars make their impressive moves. But right beside it, one can be equally impressed as well with the neo-classical architecture of the newly built Provincial Capitol of Rizal.

 

Perhaps, the most famous Antipolo stop is the Church where the devotees go just before a long and important travel. People ask the church’s patroness, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for blessings for a safe passage or journey. And in the end, after the prayers and mass, one can go to the tiendesitas beside the church to bargain for Antipolo’s food products of suman (rice cake) and casuy (cashew nuts).

 

Addording to Ms. Peng Young, marketing officer of MMLDC, during summer it is the breeze that circulates that makes the temperature in Antipolo still bearable.  A decrease of one or two degrees from what Metro Manila is experiencing is just a welcome treat for those people experiencing the highlands of Antipolo. Tayo na!

 

the repository

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, locales, people with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by mijodo

an example of cubism from national artist ang kiukok

As there was a chance to roam around the CCP Theater Building during the start of the year long celebration of its 40th anniversary during the “Pasinaya,” ( https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/fostering-a-renaissance/), it was time to take some pictures of the treasured visual contemporary arts hanging in different parts of the edifice. This might just not happen next time around as security during ordinary days could be a lot stricter.

Some  pieces were from obscure artists; some murals were from more known and established people.  Manyof the paintings seem to be from students who participated in contests sponsored by CCP.  But it is a wonder as to where one could find the painting gems of the old masters such as Amorsolo and Manansala insice CCP.

It should also be said that CCP has a library that contains books and research materials for those wanting to study and soak into the realm of  arts and culture. Aside from the paintings scattered in different parts of the building, CCP maintains its own gallery.  In fact, CCP has two exhibit halls – Bulwagang Amorsolo (Small Gallery) and Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery).  It is has to be commended that visual arts – whether as a sculpture, drawing, painting, or photograph –  is considered as important as the other arts by CCP which objective could have focused solely on performance arts. Well done, CCP.

storming the heavens

Posted in culture, locales, people, religion, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2009 by mijodo

pp-quiapo-015

(After reporting on a group which is into fortunetelling (https://letsgopinas.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/the-plaza-of-the-oracles/) outside Quiapo Church, there may be another group that can create mystifying interest inside the same church)

In a little corner just right beside the main door of the Quiapo Church, there are a few middle aged ladies who are sometimes in deep prayer and sometimes seriously talking in whispers to some people.  Apparently, these are the ladies who accommodate people asking them to pray and ask the heavens above for answers to specific intentions.

One such lady is Beth de la Cruz who does padasal. It is an occupation passed down to her by  her mother and grandmother many years back. She explains that there are some people who feel that their prayers are not enough for God to bestow positive responses. Some even seek her because people literally do not know how to pray and it would be a big relief for them if she can help out in asking the Father to grant them their wishes and requests.  She says that the Quiapo church administrators and priests are aware of their existence, and it is only in Quiapo Church that such group is known and exists for asking prayerful intentions in behalf of others as a job.

Upon knowing one’s problems and concerns of the client, Beth writes down in a small notebook all the information needed such as the name of the person  needing prayers and his circumstances lest she forgets what she will be imploring about even days after. But then upon consultation, she gives a fast delivery albeit hushed of a prayer in Tagalog. Then she opens her prayer book which focused on the guidance of Padre Pio, the Capuchin Monk, popular for his stigmata (having the same wounds of Christ during his crucifixion)  and miraculous healings. Then she prays again, intensely this time using the text from the prayerbook. At the end, she accepts some token money for the service rendered.