Friday, October 26, 2007

strolling down busy manila

saturday morning found me waking up at 7am to be able to make it to my power, palace, and a shot of beer! walking tour with old manila walks. of all their tours, this was the one i was really looking forward to, because i haven't been to this part of manila.

meeting place was at the san sebastian church steps at del carmen plaza. ivan man dy was our guide for the day, and he was dressed in a katipunero outfit, with a hat made of upo.

he started us off with a little history of the basilica san sebastian. the church is known for its steel foundations, and is the first steel church in asia. ivan also revealed that it was alexander gustave eiffel who supervised the engineering of the church in belgium before the parts were shipped here and put together like lego. this steel foundation was the church's answer to the frequent earthquakes that happened back then, which destroyed the first three san sebastian churches.

it's quite sad that the church is now suffering from old age. while still majestic, rust marks are clearly seen on its facade. ivan shared that in order for us to keep the church in great shape, we will have to strip off the paint once every year. that's a lot of work! when you enter the church, you will first think that it's made of marble, but it's actually just an attempt to hide the rigid look of steel, because while steel is sturdy, it's not very pretty.

next up was mendiola. we walked along centro escolar university and crossed to san beda, where ivan ushered us into a benedictine abbey. ivan calls it the jewel box of the area, and it indeed was a treasure! while it didn't have many pews, the ceiling and other interior details were impressive and well-maintained. i actually wasn't able to listen in on ivan's lectures, as i couldn't stop taking photos of the place!

ivan then herded us over to the old millionaires row, where large houses line the road near malacanang palace. we tiptoed into the entryway of arlegui mansion, where former president corazon aquino resided during her reign as president. the mansion was modest for a head of state, but quite enough for us regular people. photo-taking wasn't allowed during this part of the tour, so i can't show you the mansion. i found it very elegant.

and then we were off to the palace. it's quite a shame that weekend walks don't include entrance to the malacanang museum, as i've always wanted to see the inside of the place. maybe i'll book a weekday tour next time. but the guards that day were pretty lenient and friendly, and allowed ivan to deliver his malacanang spiel just outside the gates.

we then walked a little bit to freedom park, which faces the palace, where we talked about the old san miguel brewery. this was where the country's favorite drink was originally brewed.

sensing our exhaustion, ivan led us to la cocina de tita moning, where a delightful pre-lunch "merienda" was waiting for us. we were served tanglad (lemongrass) iced tea, kangkong salad, fettucine with tomato sauce, baked chicken, and bread pudding. everything was delicious, and i thought we had come to the end of the tour. but ivan had something else in mind.

la cocina de tita moning now stands in the former legarda mansion. much of the mansion has been preserved, and now serves as a museum of sorts, for people to take a peek at how life used to be for affluent families along millionaires row. the ground level alone boasts of about four to five rooms.

the first room on the left houses train sets that the children used to play with, a testament that these children did not grow up in any ordinary filipino home. across that room is a library, still well-preserved with its large armchairs. and when you walk down a narrow hallway, you will be led to the doctor's old clinic. it was actually where he delivered his children (he was a gynecologist). across that is a room filled with photography equipment--lenses, cameras, film, magazines. it was clear that this doctor valued his hobbies.

the second floor has been converted to a dining area, for guests of la cocina de tita moning. but some of the rooms were kept the way they used to be--a room containing all radio memorabilia, and a fancy boudoir, where the matriarch prettifies herself before a fancy gathering. this home also houses a painting by felix resurreccion hidalgo and juan luna.

just like that, my trip to the past was over. i love being transported back in time by walking the same pathways that people used to tread on. and i believe we're pretty lucky to have guides such as ivan and carlos celdran who are doing their part in letting more people know about the history of the city of our affections.

view more photos of my old manila walk here.

tour details:
power palace and a shot of beer!
mobile: 0917-3291622 (ivan man dy)
price: P850 with merienda
advanced notice is required.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

plan your outfit for your flight

while most of the trouble we hear about airlines in the philippines involve delays, there's no telling if they suddenly make like southwest airlines and enforce a random dress code on passengers.

throughout the year, i've been hearing all sorts of news about members of flight crew asking passengers to leave the plane for the strangest reasons.

there was kate penland who flew aboard continental express with her son. as their plane started taxiing down the runway, penland's son said, "bye, bye plane," which apparently ticked off a flight attendant: "it's not funny anymore, you need to shut your baby up." as a consequence of penland's baby's babbling, they were asked to get off the plane in houston. full story here.

another child-related incident happened on a freedom airlines flight, when emily gillette was asked to "cover up" while breastfeeding her baby. apparently, you don't get much freedom on a freedom airlines flight. this caused a furor among mothers everywhere. full story here.

and then there are the clothing-related incidents. one of the more popular incidents is that of kyla ebbert's, who was escorted off a southwest airlines flight for wearing this:

i see nothing wrong with her outfit, and her case was actually televised on the today show. southwest apologized to ebbert publicly on the dr. phil show, and offered her free travel tickets, which she declined. southwest actually had the gall to turn the incident into a fare sale. and what's more, this case came from an airline which had their flight attendants wearing this in 1972:

jetblue airways joins the airline dress code hoopla with raed jarrar's case. jarrar was wearing a shirt that said, "we will not be silent," in english and arabic script. he was asked to change his shirt or turn it inside out, which he refused. he was then later given a shirt to put over his own, which jarrar then gave in to, lest he miss his flight. what's more, an airline official actually told him that, "going to an airport with a T-shirt in Arabic script is like going to a bank and wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘I’m a robber.” jaw-dropping, ain't it? full story here.

but southwest will not be outdone. they score another bad point in airline service with joe winiecki, who was wearing a t-shirt that said, "master baiter." he was approached by a flight attendant, asked to change his shirt, turn it inside out, or get out. not wanting to miss his flight, winiecki changed his shirt. and yet southwest still maintains they don't have a dress code. full story here.

i'm hoping these incidents won't make their way over here. imagine flying to caticlan in jeans and having to change into shorts before you get on the pumpboat. we can also consider taking masking tape to cover our and children's mouths to make sure nobody says the wrong thing while on board.

all of a sudden, my cebu trip comes to mind. i was in the pre-departure area of the cebu airport, waiting to board our plane. i notice that there's a tv in the lounge, but had to do a double take when i saw what was on. they were actually showing air crash investigations, followed by seconds to disaster. imagine how people who have a fear of flying would have felt. thankfully, no such people were on my flight, and no protests were made. still, such callousness should not be tolerated.

if we passengers can't say "bye bye plane," or "hi, jack!" or "you're da bomb!" then you airline and airport folk should not be allowed to scare us out of our wits before we fly.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

cebu pacific china seat sale

thinking of visiting china? i know i am. and cebu pacific is making it very difficult for me to stay away from the country where part of my heritage is from.

so if you want to avoid the china rush during the 2008 olympics, i suggest you take advantage of this seat sale!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

fares to guangzhou, macau, shanghai, and xiamen are priced at just P1!

i tested a flight booking, and chose a roundtrip manila-guangzhou-manila flight, and it came out at P4,518.00. that's just like flying to boracay!

sale runs from october 9 to 15, valid for travel dates between november 1, 2007 to january 31, 2008.

cebu pacific also offers 3-day, 2-night packages to macau or xiamen for P4,745, shanghai or guangzhou at P5,788. that already includes airfare (but not tax and surcharges).

Monday, October 1, 2007

heritage recycled: heritage conservation society 2008 calendar

in time for the coming holidays, the heritage conservation society (HCS) has compiled a calendar/postcard collection entitled heritage recycled. the compilation features heritage structures that function as "commercially-sustainable business projects." And according to HCS:

Adaptive re-use is a creative mode of conservation that gives heritage
structures new and alternative functions other than the original ones that
may no longer be required.

Adaptive re-use is applicable to most heritage structures. These need not
be as grandiose as the vintage Department of Finance, now the National
Museum. HCS did not include it to show that ancestral homes of modest
proportions, obscure town halls, colonial watchtowers and bridges,
warehouses and train stations can also be recycled into sustainable

by purchasing the calendar (P200 per copy), you will help HCS with their advocacy. I, for one, am planning to buy a few copies to give to friends whom I know will appreciate such a gift. :D

if you're interested in getting a copy of the calendar, shoot an email to

more details:
heritage conservation society
address: G/F Museo Pambata Building, Roxas Boulevard, Manila
contact no.: +632 521 2239

free films at cine europa 10

after pelikula pelicula in greenbelt 3, you film connoisseurs ought to troop over to shangri-la plaza for this year's cine europa, featuring films from 16 european nations. and what's more, screenings are free!

here's the lineup of films this year:
austria - summer with the ghosts
belgium - the kiss
belgium - dead man's hand
czech republic - kolya
denmark - the leap
finland - fc venus
france - la mome
germany - summer in berlin
hungary - just sex and nothing else
ireland - inside i'm dancing
italy - facing windows
lithuania - you am i
the netherlands - ellis in glamourland
slovakia - meeting the enemy
spain - carol's journey
sweden - jalla! jalla!
united kingdom - taming of the shrew

more information over at the delegation of the european commission to the philippines.

event details:
cine europa 10
oct. 5-8, 2007
onstage, ayala center cebu
cebu business park, cebu city

oct. 11-15, 2007
gaisano south city mall, davao city

oct. 18-31, 2007
shang cineplex, shangri-la plaza

admission: free

pelikula pelicula: spanish films at greenbelt 3

great news for film buffs! from october 2 to october 14, instituto cervantes will be holding its 6th spanish film festival at greenbelt 3, cinema 2. admission is P65 per film, so it's really a steal! :)

i thoroughly enjoyed two of last year's films, elsa y fred and seres queridos. i'm hoping this year's lineup will be as interesting.

screening schedules may be viewed here. links to the synopsis of each film are also provided in the said page.

see you there!

event details:
pelikula pelicula: 6th spanish film festival
oct. 2 to 14, 2007
greenbelt 3, cinema 2
admission: P65