Wednesday, November 29, 2006
SUPPORTING THE LOCAL TAILOR
While looking at my shirts drying in the sun one day, I thought it might be fun to experience what it’s like to have something custom-tailored these days.
Having lived in New York, I had grown accustomed to buying my clothes off the rack — be it at Macy’s, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, and Bergdorf Goodman’s Men store. Unlike as a kid when my father took me along to his neighborhood tailor; while ordering a shirt or a pair of pants for himself, a pair of shorts would sometimes also be requested for me. And during my early teens, I would go to Divisoria or Central Market with my brothers and cousins to shop for fabrics, and then take them to the tailor to be made as shirts or pants.
Ready-to-wear clothing then was unexplored territory; even our corduroy and denim jeans were custom-made. Nowadays, it’s the other way around, boosted by designer labels, retails sales of local and imported RTW garments (including its knock-offs) remain strong; consequently forcing most tailors to close shop.
As it was, when getting something custom-made, the first step is to shop for the fabric. Divisoria has always been “the place” to go to, but you really have to invest a lot of time and effort to search for the best merchants with the best selections; a couple of hours’ trip isn’t going to cut it. Thus, I was only able to find one piece of fabric with the color and pattern I like — P150 (three US dollars) for two yards of Korean cotton — for a short-sleeved shirt. For this job, the tailor in my neighborhood charges P400 for labor (eight US dollars). Had he supplied the fabric, it would have cost me P1000 (twenty US dollars) for both the fabric and labor. Incidentally, the tailor carries a nice collection of Swiss cotton fabrics for dress shirts.
As for the trousers, the cost for labor is P450 (nine US dollars). You can also select from the shop’s collection of fine fabrics — P1350 for both the fabric and labor (twenty-seven US dollars).
Barong Tagalog is this shop’s specialty as well for which the labor is P1500 (thirty US dollars) with lining which they would supply; however, if your fabric is of heavier quality, no lining would be necessary so the labor charge is lesser. If the shop supplied the fabric for the Barong Tagalog, the entire custom-made order would cost you P5000 (one hundred US dollars).
My initial custom-made order for a short-sleeved shirt cost me a total of P600 (twelve US dollars). The tailor didn’t have to take my measurements, because I brought one of my favorite Banana Republic short-sleeved shirts for him to measure and copy its cut.
The second order was for a pair of chinos in khaki. I couldn’t find a nice fabric in Divisoria so I chose from the tailor’s selection of U.S. twill cotton. For the fabric and labor, I was charged P1350. I brought along an old pair of trousers from the Gap which they measured and copied its styling.
The third was for a Barong Tagalog. I really cannot figure out how some locals can comfortably wear even a lightweight suit in this tropical weather. Last time I wore a suit I felt so uncomfortable I promised myself that I would get a Barong Tagalog soon. I already have the fabric, a Christmas gift from a cousin, so I was charged P1500 for labor; a lining they had to include because of the thin fabric. This time, unlike my order for the short-sleeved shirt and chino trousers, I had to be measured for a perfect fit.
It took about a week for my entire order to be finished. I was happy with each item and very much impressed by their workmanship. Actually, before I left the shop, I placed another order; this time for a pair of dress pants in black to go with my Barong Tagalog.
When I moved to Manila, I still continued shopping in New York through the Internet and had all the items shipped to my brother’s house. He would toss them into a balikbayan box and ship it door-to-door once filled. But the problem I had with this arrangement was that since I don’t need as much new clothing nowadays, it would take many months to fill one balikbayan box plus a couple of more for it to arrive in Manila. So I thought, for a change, why not support the local tailor instead. I’m glad I did.
Monday, November 27, 2006
LINES OF STARS
I spent most of Sunday with my sister and a cousin from San Francisco. I took them to Carlos Celdran’s tour of Fort Santiago and San Agustin Church in the morning (which they loved and raved afterwards) and then we headed to SM’s Mall of Asia (MOA); my sister who loves this mall just had to show my cousin something from a certain store.
But before going to that store, I told them that I’d just sit and wait for them at the ground floor open area. I’ve lost the fascination for malls; only time I would go to one is if I had to buy something, or park the car in their lot (which is safer) and then head over somewhere else. This was my very first time to go to MOA; one thing I noticed immediately is that it has upscale retailers that used to be only in Makati’s tony Glorietta and Greenbelt malls.
Anyway, since my camera bag was with me, I started looking around for something hip and interesting to photograph like a store signage or façade, but didn’t see any from where I was sitting. However, when I looked up in the sky, a big smile appeared on my face. I immediately whipped out the camera from the bag and started shooting. I love these bright yellow star lanterns with the blue sky and white clouds as backdrop. And thank God there wasn't any SM security guard to stop me from taking some photographs.
When my sister and cousin came back, they apologized for having kept me waiting, but I immediately hushed them. I then assured them that I had managed to enjoy myself somehow while I waited. We then headed to Binondo for some steamed dumplings.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
BOOK SALE AT GATEWAY MALL
Since I am one of those who read up to expand my understanding and enjoyment of things that I usually get into, I’ve recently asked fellow members of my camera club what books they own which they would recommend to nephytes on digital photography.
Besides The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby, which was previously mentioned to me by Senorito Ako, I now have two other titles that I'm excited to check out as suggested by fellow camera club members — Humble Masterpieces (Everyday Marvels in Design) by Paola Antonelli; and Digital Photography Handbook by Doug Harman. The former is not strictly a photography book, but its overall content should help photographers in terms of learning about composition and style.
Much to my delight, another fellow camera club member had just informed me that Gateway Mall in Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City will be holding a mall-wide sale event from November 30th to December 3rd. Fully-Booked, one of this mall's retailers and among Metro Manila's largest bookstores, will be participating in this event. Supposedly, all its imported books, coded as "D" will be reduced by 20% when paid in cash, or 15% off for credit card payment. Books, coded as "N" will be 10% off for cash 5% for card payment accordingly. Not bad at all.
What adds to this excitement is that instead of driving to Cubao, I will instead take the MRT railway system for the very first time; it shouldn't take me more than fifteen minutes from Recto to Cubao.
So if you have any particular book in mind you wish to purchase for yourself or as a gift to someone this coming Christmas, Fully Booked at Gateway Mall is the place to go to beginning later this week.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
INTRAMUROS IN THE EARLY MORNING
This is Intramuros about 6:30 in the morning. My workshop doesn’t start until 9:00 o’clock but I wanted to get here early this Saturday morning so I can take some pictures just before this part of the city begins its usual grind.
Next Sunday, the first Sunday of December, this place is going to be aglow with a procession of about a hundred carrozas. They are illuminated floats of Marian images from all over the country in celebration of the Immaculate Conception — Cofradia de Intramuros Grand Marian Festival. The floats will start gathering at around 3:00 pm at Plaza de Roma; hence, the entire Intramuros will be closed to vehicular traffic at 2:00 pm.
And later that evening at 7:00 o’clock, at the Manila Cathedral will be the gala performance by Belgian artist Luc Ponet on the newly restored organ. It is open to the public and free.
It should be a wonderful evening next Sunday in the walled city so join the festivities and bring your camera with you.
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Friday, November 24, 2006
So I spent the whole of yesterday, Thanksgiving Day in America, busily preparing to submit via email the assignments in my digital photography workshop. Days before, I was grappling how to perform certain configurations with my camera; seriously, they have got to write better manuals. Ever wonder why almost no one bothers reading them?
Anyway, instead of succumbing to frustrations, I put everything aside and decided to go to bed. The next day, after having my breakfast, I took out the camera from its bag — and lo and behold — with a calmer disposition, I was able to figure out how to go about what I needed to do. I also came up with an ingenious method to guide my manual settings.
This experience somehow reminds me of Carl Jung’s Theory of Synchronicity; that supposedly, what happens on the planetary plane also occurs simultaneously in the spiritual. And this may be why Albert Einstein, whenever stumped, would opt to take a nap. And upon waking, voila! He had the answer in mind. The same thing happened with Alan Turing whose work helped made personal computers a reality. While lying on the grass in a meadow and just about to be lulled to sleep, a certain algorithm came to his mind which soon led to his creation of the Turing machine — able to turn thought processes into binary numbers (ones and zeroes). It was a form of artificial intelligence aimed to solve a problem or task, which eventually became one of the key turning points in the history of electronic computing.
Carl Jung went on to argue that the mental state between waking and sleeping is most often the point in which humans are subconsciously able to draw from the spiritual plane. At other times, it would be what some would nowadays refer to as the zone.
Ever notice when you’re tinkering with your car or some mundane household chores when a brilliant solution to a nagging problem suddenly comes into mind? What about the time when you unexpectedly find yourself drawn into buying a certain newspaper or magazine which you never have purchased before only to discover in one of the articles or press release blurbs about a clue that would soon lead you to that elusive solution?
Or how about this: the Copyright Office of the American Library of Congress states that a copyright does not protect an idea; rather, it is the unique expression of that idea that can be protected with a copyright. In other words, if I were to apply for a copyright to protect my idea to turn white metal to gold, that application would be summarily rejected. However, if I were to include in my application how I intend to turn white metal into gold, I would then be issued copyright protection.
I mention this because for any particular idea, the Copyright Office would simultaneously receive an average of three thousand applications pertaining to that very same idea. Now here comes another question: ever notice that Hollywood sometimes churns out two or three films with basically the same theme? Or how about this: you hear a certain song on the radio for the very first time yet it seems so hauntingly familiar.
Actually, it is in the field of music in which Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity is always evident. When Elton John (after having been released from a drug rehab center) was asked by a reporter why a highly successful artist like him would resort to drugs, he merely retorted, “I was afraid it would stop coming.” This should explain how Mozart was able to write complete operas and symphonies without the aid of a piano or any musical instrument. And this should also explain — when watching those glitzy annual music awards — how many artists would spontaneously thank God when receiving their awards. Now compare this incidence with the other award shows that you watch.
I have met many music enthusiasts in my life — from students to some of the most influential and powerful icons of the American music industry — and what I notice is that the ones on top are often the nicest, while those at the bottom are the nastiest (and sometimes relegated to doing day jobs as music store clerks). Perhaps, the reason why those on top are so nice is because they know that their music that put them up there actually came from a higher source.
Finally, I am going to go on a limb here and claim that God doesn’t need any man-made music to glorify Him. I think what He wants is for us to hear more of the great music from the spiritual plane that some of our artists are able to pick up, record, and make a million bucks from. Because for the most part, what makes this music great is because of only one element — it heals our soul; hence, making our journey on this planetary plane a little lighter, so to speak.
Photo title: Duet
Camera: Nikon D80
Focal length: 62.0mm
Flash: not used
Exposure time: 0.100s (1/10)
Exposure bias: 1.330
Metering mode: matrix
Click photo for larger image
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
BREATHING LESSONS – Part 2
I was living in Yorkville at that time. Going home from work, I would take the Lexington Avenue subway line at Grand Central Station. To get there, I would usually cut through 42nd Street from Fifth Avenue.
However, on that particular evening, I decided to first head on over to West 45th Street to check out the holiday window display of Harvey’s Electronics. At that time, this was New York City’s premier store when it came to high end sound system components.
As was often the case, I would stand in front of the window and admire some of the latest esoteric home entertainment systems and equipment. Oh God! Give me one of these and I’d definitely share it with others. This was a phrase I would repeat to myself like a mantra whenever I ogled at the store's window display. I knew then that it would only be through the grace of God that I was to acquire such impeccably-engineered components.
Many years passed before the universe did provide a series of opportunities that subsequently allowed me to acquire the sound system of my dreams. I was already in my early thirties by then and living an upwardly mobile life, so to speak. I was home one night and had just installed the final component to complete the setup which was delivered earlier that afternoon by none other than Harvey’s Electronics. Afterwards, as I enjoyed a CD by Jade Warrior, trying to figure out what else I could possibly add to it, the memory of that evening when I stood in front of Harvey’s window suddenly came back to mind; most significant was the part in which I promised to share it with others.
But how was I to go about it?
As I pondered on this question, another memory consequently came back to mind — the time when the cancer that precipitated my father’s liver cirrhosis had metastasized to affect his mental faculty. He was released from UST Hospital after it was concluded that nothing else could be done for him. He was to spend the rest of his time at home; mostly in bed and no longer able to communicate, though he could still walk about for brief moments.
In the afternoons when there was no school, I would gladly look after him while my mother sought respite at Espiritu Santo Church. At fourteen, I had willingly become my father’s part time caregiver. Surprisingly, I was never repulsed by some of the tasks involved (such as cleaning him up after he had gone to the bathroom). I simply attended to each one as best I could, though sometimes I needed to be stern with him, especially during those times when he would become impatient and point to his bedroom; wanting to go back immediately without my having completely cleaned him up. As for his baths, it was my mother who would attend to it with the assistance of our household help.
But unbeknownst to my mother, as soon as she had left the house for church, I would open all the windows in my father’s bedroom and bring in my portable Sony stereo reel-to-reel tape machine and some pre-recorded tapes that one of my brothers had brought home from the States. I would play my father’s favorite music first and then mine. At times I would sing along with some of the tunes. I’d also light up a cigarette and have my father enjoy a couple of puffs while I held it to his lips. I knew that a cigarette or two couldn’t possibly inflict further damage to his already irreversible condition.
Besides the music and cigarettes, I would also read him the news from the newspaper and tell him stories about mundane events in school, as well as synopsis of the movies I had seen with school friends or cousins. And since I was designated to pick up his check at the office, I’d fill him in on whatever news I had picked up, including messages from everyone. Through it all, he would only stare at the ceiling mindlessly or stare at my face; unable to say anything. However, through his eyes, I knew he enjoyed those afternoons I spent with him.
And just before my mother returned from church, I would have already cleaned up and aired out all traces of our secret activities. By the time she walked in, the room was back to its pristine condition — perfectly suitable for a chronically ill patient. Naturally, the household help knew all along what was going on, but they knew better than to tell my mother on me. At home, with the rest of the family and everyone else, I started to become edgy; subject to intense mood swings; and had become too smart for my own good. It was a demeanor they had never seen in me before. A month or so afterwards, my father slipped into a coma and would spend the rest of his life in a hospital. It was a long arduous ordeal for everyone, indeed.
It was this memory of my father which consequently gave me the idea on how I could best share the blessings I had just received. I called my salesman at Harvey’s and ordered some additions. The next day, my setup now included two CD players, two turntables, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, two cassette recorder and player, and a mixer. And with my extensive collection of vinyl albums and CDs (received from major record labels as promo copies when I worked in the industry, including recently purchased CDs), I began putting together onto cassette tapes a series of soothing music. I would then donate them to people who were terminally ill or who were coping with life-threatening illnesses.
My friends helped me give them out. Eventually, through word of mouth, I started getting many requests; one of whom was from a staff member of a hospice in New Mexico, which I ended up donating tapes to its lending library on a regular basis. About three years later, that hospice received substantial endowments from private foundations that enabled them to build a building of their own. In its inauguration the ceremonial ribbon was cut by their senator who was also instrumental in their receiving some federal funding. I was invited but unable to attend.
By the late ‘80s, interest in alternative healing was at its peak — yoga, creative visualization, and various holistic disciplines. In lockstep, the power of music to heal generated much wider attention including constant media attention. Soon thereafter, many recordings from independent labels were released to meet a growing demand. Even hospitals began installing sound systems in their operating rooms for a growing number of surgeons who prefer to play soothing music while performing complex and lengthy procedures. By that period, I felt I had done my job and would just point to these commercially available recordings whenever I would receive further requests for copies of my tapes.
However, by the mid-‘90s, bored by the New Age music genre and the usual catalogue of classical music (re-released but now dubbed as soothing music), I started receiving inquiries once again. Some even offered substantial money just for me to provide them with tapes for their loved ones coping with cancer or AIDS. They knew it wasn't going to miraculously heal them, but they also knew about the power of music to assuage the debilitating pain associated in their illnesses. Finally, to address these growing requests, with a group of some friends, we devised a plan to broadcast this particular kind of music programming through the Internet, which would enable everyone to listen to its streaming broadcast 24 hours for free.
Unfortunately, what hindered us from launching this startup effort was the inability by the music industry and the federal government to develop the ideal business model that would establish fair licensing fees for us to broadcast music online. On top of this great delay, the Internet bubble finally burst; hence seed monies for our startup venture suddenly became scarce. We had to fold our project and move on our separate ways.
A couple of years later, a great interest for it reemerged. It was the time when America was struggling with the aftermath of 9/11. Alas! I was already intent on moving to Manila by then, while the other members of our group had gone on to sign lucrative deals with other Internet-based companies.
I believe there’s a certain cycle and rhythm in life. And the ideal time for us to get together once again to breathe life into this project, if ever, would be in a couple of more years; however, by then, it would entail exploiting a different technology.
Be that as it may, the many years I was involved in this personal effort with programming soothing music assures me that I had sincerely lived up to my end of the bargain, which I made many years ago; one evening a week before Christmas.
Breathing Lessons — Part 1
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
NOITE BRASILEIRA EM MANILHATranslated from Portuguese, it means Brazilian night in Manila, which aptly describes what happened at the Rajah Soliman Plaza Sunday night during the final series of the Philippine American Jazz Festival.
After Bob Aves and Grace Nono had finished their set, Escola de Samba de Manila took over the stage (see top three photos) and transformed this part of Roxas Boulevard into a sizzling Copacabana with their exhilarating rhythms of samba. Eileen Sison led her samba school students into wowing the audience with their colorful clothes, gigantic headdresses, blurring hip gyrations, and infectious high-energy carnival music.
Guarana then took the stage. Eileen was once again at the forefront; however, this time, it was to enchant the audience with the sensuous sounds of bossa nova. This music — evocative of discreet charms and impermanence of life in which elements of nature are sometimes used allegorically to mask the true intentions of smitten lovers — flowed seamlessly with the warm breeze coming from Manila Bay. Many in the audience were certainly captivated by the alluring bossa nova as evidenced by the spontaneous applause not only at the end of every song, but during its performance as well. Hence, proving once more that bossa nova, though a native of Brazil, has an endearing power to find a warm spot in any one’s heart and call it home.
It is for this reason why many American artists from jazz to rock (such as Sarah Vaughn, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Mann, Brian Ferry, George Michael, David Bowie, Michael Franks, and etc.) have intimate relationship with Jobim’s original compositions and/or with his bossa nova. And in the Philippine jazz scene, Eileen Sison, Richie Quirino and the rest of Guarana have become this music’s leading proponents.
As for Guarana’s finale last night, they were joined by Escola de Samba to prompt the audience to get up and dance, or as the Brasileiros would say, samba the night away.
Monday, November 20, 2006
A NIGHT AT THE CONCERTThe concert surprisingly started promptly at eight o’clock immediately after the arrival of the U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenny. Bob Aves with Grace Nono kicked off the evening’s performance; followed by Escola de Samba de Manila; and finally, Guarana with Eileen Sison.
I’m not articulate enough when it comes to handing critiques of music performances; however, based on my deep love for music — including the many years I’ve spent in the American music industry and having attended many jazz festivals in New York and Newport, Rhode Island — I am confident enough to conclude that our local artists in last night's roster were simply superb.
The original music by Bob Aves and as performed by his group was a unique admixture of world music and jazz. Peter Gabriel and David Byrne ought to take notice and include these artists of ours in their respective world music summit.
Eileen Sison’s Escola de Samba de Manila and Guarana are just as outstanding, and should be appointed as our country’s ambassadors to the annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, Guarana should do early evening as well as late night performances in Baywalk on a weekly basis. That’s how much I fell in love with this band last night. Incidentally, I think in Manila, by the bay is the ideal venue for this kind of music.
Anyway, for today’s feature, it will be the photos of Bob Aves and his group; next will be those of Guarana and Escola de Samba de Manila.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
My workshop in practical digital photography started today and I couldn’t have asked for a better place for it to be held — in Intramuros; a couple of blocks away from the gates of Fort Santiago. Last I went to school here was when I was in high school at Mapua Institute of Technology. This workshop is a whole day affair held in three-and-a-half Saturdays. It is being conducted by two renowned local photographers, Ador Paminyuan and Ed Yap.
I didn’t realize how little I know of photography until today. Although I’ve been involved in its creative aspect, I knew zilch about most of its scientific elements (i.e., exposure, aperture, shutter speed, lenses and etc.). You see, I’ve been spoiled rotten by the auto mode feature since its inception more than 25 years ago — starting with Minolta’s Maxxum and Canon’s T70 programmable 35mm film cameras.
And with today’s new generation of digital point & shoot and SLR cameras, it is even more enticing to just let the camera do the entire configuration when shooting photographs. However, with their innovative features, manual settings become a welcome challenge as well, especially for those who intend to explore and nurture their artistic spirit. And to become proficient with a digital camera, taking some classes is a good start. It’s like opening the window to allow a new breeze inside the room.
If I do well on this one, as a reward, I will treat myself to another series of seminars in February presented by Photoworld Manila; the biggest photography event in Southeast Asia. For 2007, its trade fair will be held in Glorietta, while the seminars will be at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM); both venues are in Makati City.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Photo of the Week: QUIAPO CHURCH
This picture of Quiapo Church, to me, conveys serenity; and quite an appropriate choice not only due to aesthetic reasons, but spiritual as well. You see, this past week has been quite a mental roller coaster due to a couple setbacks that I had to contend with. But I figured no matter how serious or important they may appear at the moment, a hundred years from now they won’t mean a thing. So instead of getting dragged down by these events, I instead chose to let go and let God.
And as if by some divine affirmation, I received an email from Cathy about her post for today, Six Worry Busters To Live By. Talk about perfect timing. Also, Larry King’s show this evening was aptly entitled, Your Thoughts Create Your Future, in which he had a panel of interesting people who are proponents and successful practitioners of a certain school of thought — creating first in your consciousness whatever condition you want to manifest in your life. So Cathy’s blog entry and Larry King’s show reminded me not to empower the problems by constantly thinking about them; rather, I should give power to the ideal condition I want to experience in my life by filling my mind with a vision of it.
So does that mean that I have now ignored my problems altogether? Not really. What I had done was release them to the universe; confident that the perfect solution will unfold effortlessly and in a timely manner. In so doing, I am now able to focus and become even more appreciative of the good things. In other words, although I may not have full control of things and events that occur in life, I do have, however, full control to pick and choose what I allow to occupy my mind. And supposedly, whatever it is I think about will happen in my life. Thus the adage, “thoughts manifest themselves”
Have a joyful and creative weekend everybody!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
JAZZ BY THE BAY
Presented by the Philippine American Jazz Festival
Friday, November 17th at 8pm:
RCBC Auditorium, Ayala corner Buendia, Makati
Featuring: The Executives Band, Ateneo chorale, UP Jazz Ensemble, Mon David
Saturday, November 18th at 8pm:
Greenbelt 3 Lagoon, Makati
Featuring: Sandra Lim-Viray with JFK band, Johnny Alegre Affinity, Brass Munkeys
Sunday, November 19th at 8pm:
Rajah Soliman Plaza
Featuring: Bob Aves/Bo Razon, Escola de Samba de Manila, Guarana
Click here for more about Guarana.
This is Rajah Soliman Plaza facing Manila Bay. I will most probably attend the jazz concert to be held here this Sunday evening because I love bossa nova and samba; so much so that I even took classes in capoeira in New York City which led to a freak accident causing me to pinch a nerve at the bottom of my spine. I was only in my early twenties then. Thank God for my doctor who gave me only two choices: either I face the possibility of enduring chronic back pains from that moment til the rest of my life, or learn to sleep on the floor without any cushion from that moment forward to allow my body to heal naturally. I opted for the latter and has gone on through the years without suffering from any nagging back pains; I also got to enjoy sleeping with just a mat on the floor.
Anyway, in my attempt to get into and enjoy the jazz scene here in Metro Manila, I had emailed this jazz group, Guarana, to inquire if they still perform at some public venue in Cubao. Eileen Sison responded to advise me that what I had come across was a year old schedule of their concert performances. The band, however, performs regularly in Café Havana in Greenbelt 3. Not much of a Makati enthusiast, I haven’t gone over there to see them, but now I will this Sunday at Baywalk.
Guarana is the leading proponent of both traditional and authentic Bossa Nova and Samba in the Philippines. Eileen is the lead vocalist and band leader. She is also the founder of the Bossa Nova Club of the Philippines and hosts a radio segment called “Understanding Bossa Nova” which airs 5 times a day, Monday thru Saturday on Crossover 105.1 FM. She is also the Founder and Dance Director of Escola de Samba de Manila, a samba school (composed of drummers and dancers) she founded in September 2005 headquartered at Steps Dance Studio in Makati every Saturday.
I am looking forward to meeting her, as well as photographing her entire band as they perform their repertoire of sensuous bossa nova and exhilarating samba. So if you guys aren’t doing anything this Sunday evening, come on over to Baywalk to enjoy the gorgeous sunset and then an evening of cool jazz.
I hope it doesn’t rain, though.
QUIAPO'S FAMOUS LUMPIA
As it turned out, it wasn’t hard to find at all. Heading towards Quiapo Church along Quezon Boulevard, I turned right on G. Puyat Street; and only a few meters from the corner on the left side of the street is where Globe Lumpia House is located.
What's surprising about this eatery is that it only offers lumpia and nothing else, except for the mineral water and soft drinks. It has been that way since its inception in 1957. The lumpia here — which is one of the best commercially available I have tasted in Metro Manila — costs only P16.00 each. And most customers order a double. The ingredients are all fresh while the caramel-peanut sauce has just enough touch of sweetness to it.
This restaurant started as a kiosk within the old Globe Theater where it also got its name. Its initial loyal customers were the moviegoers; followed by ardent shoppers of the various stores at Raon Street; and then the devotees of the Quiapo Church. When Globe Theater finally closed its doors for good many years ago, the customers kept coming back for the lumpia, which has since moved from a kiosk to a narrow section of the cinema's building right next to where its entrance used to be.
During the feast of the Black Nazarene, the restaurant would open at two o’clock in the morning to serve the beginning of a swelling number of pilgrims. Also of interest, according to Jenny, the owner's daughter, some of their loyal customers also include a number of film and TV personalites (from Dolphy to Cesar Montano); stopping by every now and then to delight on their fresh lumpia.
Nonetheless, with or without the presence of these celebrities, prepare yourself to wait for a few minutes before getting seated, because this restaurant is teeming with customers throughout the day.
Globe Lumpia House
740 G. Puyat Street (formerly Raon)
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
YACON: THE HEALING ROOTCROP
These are not yams or sweet potatoes (kamote). These are yacon. I first found out about this rootcrop from Watson. Neither did he know anything about it until he received an SMS from a friend asking him to get some for him while he was in Baguio. Yacon is claimed to contain medicinal attributes. I was intrigued enough to ask my sister to bring back some from Baguio. I finally got a taste of it the other day. Watson was right; it does taste good.
It can be eaten raw. Its crunchiness resembles that of sinkamas; however, Yacon is sweet with a slight tinge of a gingerly taste to it. And although sweet, it doesn’t affect one’s sugar level. No wonder it's popular among those with diabetes and those watching their weight. The reason for this is that supposedly, yacon store carbohydrates in the form of insulin and not starch. Its high fiber content makes it effective against constipation as well. And there are those who claim that yacon also purifies the blood.
It costs P30 per kilo at the Baguio market. From what I understand, about ten years ago, one could get them in Metro Manila at the weekend markets of Cubao in Quezon City and Magallanes in Makati only. The price then was about a hundred pesos per kilo. Nonetheless, many people purchased yacon for its healing properties.
And since my 88-year-old mother likes its taste and texture, my sister had arranged for a weekly supply to be delivered to our house for her to munch on while she watches her favorite Korean telenovelas.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
GARDEN & PET SHOW
Please do not ask me for the exact names of these exotic flowers and love birds; I do not know. I just happened to be driving along Quezon Memorial Circle when I took notice of the huge banner announcing the Garden & Pet Show at the Quezon City Orchidarium Park that is within the city hall complex. Wanting to take some pictures, I drove another full circle around the memorial and then headed towards the parking lot of the city hall.
I took all these shots with a Canon IXUS63, which is ideal for spontaneous photo opportunities such as this; unlike the D80 dSLR which is too bulky to lug around, except for planned photoshoot adventures. For all photography enthusiasts who want to include shots of exotic plants and flowers to their portfolio, I recommend heading over to this garden show immediately. This is also the place to go to for those planning to spruce up their home gardens anytime soon.
Monday, November 13, 2006
DUMPLINGS AND PORK CHOPSI’ve passed by this restaurant in Ongpin right across from Binondo Church so many times but never once felt compelled enough to go in and check out what they have to offer. It must have been its name, Tasty Dumplings, which turned me off about it; reminds me of some eateries I’ve been to back in New York and New Jersey named Good Food Diner, Delicious Bread Bakery, and Sumptuous Soup Kitchen. Oftentimes, eateries with such self-affirmation barely live up to their names.
However, after reading what Ladybug had to say about its pork chops, I finally went in one day to try it for myself; it was, in fact, really tasty. I had since then gone back a couple of times with friends in tow who appreciate this kind of meals. For eighty-five pesos, you get a piece of pork chop, rice, a small bowl of broth and some cabbage, which I usually mix with my rice. Everything is tasty, indeed. I also noticed that most people who come in usually order the pork chop.
I had also tried their steamed dumplings — kuchay (chives). They were tasty as well, but I find the wrapper too thick. I am one of those who prefer thin wrappers, especially with steamed dumplings. The pork chop is truly delectable; not to mention reasonably-priced. As for the dumplings, I know of another place around the corner from Tasty Dumplings that is far more superior. I will feature that Chinese eatery next time, but I’ve a feeling most of you already know about it.