Thursday, March 29, 2007


Calesa or karitela is that horse-driven carriage which I enjoyed riding whenever I find myself in Binondo.

According to Wikipedia, the word calesa predates the Spanish rule of the Philippine archipelago; that it was derived from an Old Church Slavonic word meaning "wheels." However, the calesa itself was only introduced in the country during the 18th-Century.

Currently, there are two basic models that ply Manila's streets: a two-passenger seater and the other with two rows of seats that can accommodate four persons. In both models, the driver or kuchero sits in a wooden seat hosted over the tip of the cart near the horse.

I love riding a calesa. So much so that this must've have been the third or fourth entry I've posted about it. However, this particular entry takes an even more special meaning. You see the above photo, out of a thousand or so entries, was selected as one of the four winning photographs by the judges of Manila Bulletin's first Picture Perfect Photo Challenge 2007. This photo capped a consolation prize, which I'm afraid might consequently earn me the moniker Photography's King of Runner Up Prizes.

But all kidding aside, though merely a consolation spot, it's still a prestigious win, for thousands of entries are usually submitted for each of their quarterly photo contest. It was also amusing that right after the publication of the winning entries in last Tuesday's edition of Manila Bulletin, I've received invitations from a couple of local camera clubs to join their groups. However, I plan to remain with the club recently established by fellow batchmates from FPPF's Basic and Advance Photography workshops, Infinity Camera Club.

One of the prizes I will be receiving is a voucher for a free photo seminar at FPPF, which I plan to use when signing up for Allan Razzo's lighting seminar come May.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:10 PM | 27 comments


I haven't been so engrossed watching a live news feed since O.J. Simpson was being chased by the police in the Los Angeles freeway. At that moment, I suddenly lost interest in watching the rest of the national telecast of a Knick playoff game; all I wanted was to see how this chase was going to end. Yesterday was just the same. I was glued to the live TV news report from Manila's city hall area; neglecting the other significant errands I needed to accomplish that day.

Manila's hostage crisis yesterday in which 32 day care pupils and two teachers were held captive by two heavily-armed men inside a tourist bus not only captivated the city's attention, but the entire country's I'm sure.

Regardless of the intentions, politics, principles and philosophies of the hostage-takers, thank God, no child or adult suffered any physical harm.

However, contrary to common belief, according to a morning TV news report, the scene yesterday was not without a violent episode.

Apparently, two members of the media duked it out right in front of hundreds of reporters and policemen. The altercation was attributed to an ongoing feud between these two men -- one finally had enough of the other's relentless ridiculing of his press stature and credentials. An unsightly brawl soon followed.

Ang kukulit!


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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:50 AM | 24 comments

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


There's something fun going on in Manila from March 26th to April 1st -- The 18th Mitsubishi Lancer International Junior Tennis Championship.

It is being held at Rizal Memorial Tennis Center in Malate, Manila from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is free.

Competitors from all over the world has arrived in Manila to participate in this major tennis tournament sponsored by ITF (International Tennis Federation).

I stopped by earllier today to check it out. First of all, I was pleasantly surprised at how well-maintained this entire sports complex is. Last time I was here was when I was in high school to attend an NCAA basketball game.

At the Tennis Center where the event is being held, I felt like I was in Forest Hills Tennis Club back in New York. There were so many young people with their coaches from all over the globe; reminding me of the faces one would usually find in the Big Apple. It was a fun and festive scene.

Today was merely the second day of the week-long event and I plan to come back before the weekend to take more human interest shots. I will also try to request from the event media coordinators to allow me to interview and photograph a couple of participants -- to find out how they like Manila.

Below are pictures of some players from the women's group; the one on the last photo is a Filipina, Z. Quitara.

Incidentally, for those unable to come to the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center,
the final matches will be aired on NBN 4, on April 8th from 5:00-to-7:00pm. Replay of the game will be on April 14th at 10:00am-to-12:00pm.



posted by Señor Enrique at 8:11 PM | 20 comments

Monday, March 26, 2007


Every time I pass by this array of aesthetically-pleasing motorcycle helmets in Quiapo, I can’t help but ask myself if prospective buyers have any idea that these products may not provide sufficient head and facial protection in case of accidents. I ask this question because these helmets being sold by a street vendor along Quezon Boulevard and G. Puyat Street are most likely to be cheap knockoffs of the real thing; their overall construction unable to withstand even minor impacts.

With so many fake products from China flooding the local market, one must exercise greater caution, especially when buying from street vendors. But then again, much to my dismay, the hardware store in my neighborhood sold me a fake fluorescent bulb once, which lasted only a day or two. It was disappointing, indeed, that even this longtime neighborhood merchant would engage in such unscrupulous practice.

At any rate, it is infuriating to pay for something believed to be genuine but only to discover it to be bogus. On the other hand, it is just as equally exasperating to knowingly purchase something not authentic, but to be handed the real thing instead. And this is exactly what happened to some New Yorkers recently.

Crying widespread deception, horrified New Yorkers accused a number of Seventh Avenue fashion houses of selling authentic Asiatic raccoon furs under the guise of faux fur. For the most part, these were the same consumers whose pricey fur coats were once doused with red paint by PETA members. Now, more cognizant of the cruelties involved in the farming of these animals, as well as the process of extracting their fur — usually struck on the head with blunt instruments and skinned alive — New York fashionistas, nowadays, wittingly prefer buying fake furs over the genuine article.

Nevertheless, product development managers of some fashion houses such as Tommy Hilfiger, as well as merchandising managers of major department stores such as Nordstrom’s and J.C. Penney’s, most probably find Asiatic raccoon furs more cost efficient as opposed to faux fur. But for having discreetly used and sold real furs as trimmings for their fall and winter coats, these garment producers and retailers may now be facing serious legal charges for having broken the federal labeling law.

Ironically, these garments with Asiatic raccoon fur trimmings were all made in China, too.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 5:50 PM | 25 comments

Sunday, March 25, 2007


It was a celebration of Manila's famous district which consisted of three events -- the opening of Revitalizing Quiapo Photo Exhibit at Arsenio Lacson Underpas; the opening of Juan Nakpil: National Artist for Architecture Exhibit at Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Calle A. Bautista; and the launching of the book, Quiapo: Heart of Manila, edited by Fernando (Butch) Nakpil Zialcita, jointly published by The Cultural Heritage Studies Program, Department of Sociology And Anthropology at Ateneo de Manila University and Metropolitan Museum of Manila.

Gemma Cruz Araneta, President of Heritage Conservation Society of the Philippines hosted the opening of the Juan Nakpil exhibit. She is shown in the photograph on the left standing behind Fernando (Butch) Nakpil Zialcita.

The ubiquitous face of Manila, Congressman Miles Roces cut the ribbon to officially open the photo exhibit at the Arsenio Lacson Underpass, while mayor Lito Atienza was the guest of honor and speaker at the book launching party held over at Calle San Sebastian right behind the San Sebastian Basilica.

Many fellow bloggers attended these series of events such as Sidney Snoeck, Ivan Mandy, Tito Basa, Ivan Henares, and Carlos Celdran.

Ivan Mandy was most gracious for introducing Sidney and I to the many members of Heritage Conservation Society of the Philippines, especially Gemma Cruz Araneta and Fernando (Butch) Nakpil Zialcita.

A sumptuous dinner followed wherein I met an intensely passionate professor of architecture at UST, who shared with us his insight on the future development of Manila as he envisions it. I trust that I will meet him again in the near future so I could feature his views and portrait on this site.

Many thanks to Tito Basa for inviting us to this wonderful celebration of Quiapo!

Thank you as well to the shy and elusive Belgian Consul who arranged our invite for that tasty dinner.

Mabuhay Ang Quiapo!
sponsored by

The Office of the Mayor of Manila
The Metropolitan Museum of Manila
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila
The Architectural Archives
Ang Samahan ng Puso ng Maynila


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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:33 AM | 24 comments

Thursday, March 22, 2007


This has been an incredibly wondrous week for me so far.

Last Sunday, the accumulated scores garnered by my three submissions to my photography workshop, much to my astonishment, earned me the third place trophy!

I honestly didn’t expect it, because as I had mentioned in my previous entry, the class was full of very talented photographers. Hence, one can only imagine how ecstatic I was as Ed Santiago handed me this glass trophy.

And as if that weren't enough excitement, the other day, I received word that my blog site, was selected as among the five finalists for the Philippine Blog Awards’ Photo Blog category. I almost fell off my seat.

I first learned about my having been nominated for a PBA award about a week or so ago when in checking my Sitemeter traffic report, I noticed an unusual string of visitors coming from a particular site. When I clicked on this referring site, I was very much surprised to discover that I was nominated under the Photo Blog category.

I didn’t know who submitted the nomination; until yesterday, that is, when Corsarius admitted it was him. His friend Ia's technology site, Stellify, also made it to the finals. Both Corsarius and Ia graduated last year from the University of the Philippines. They are among a select group of brilliant young minds that I admire in the blogosphere. Jhay of de la Salle, Dave of Ateneo, and the budding photojournalist, Akira, are the other three.

At first I didn’t pay that much attention to this inclusion. It wasn’t due to any disrespect for the Philippine Blog Awards; rather, there were many talented photo bloggers nominated as well. I didn’t want to raise my hopes up only to be disappointed later on. So I downplayed the entire matter from the start.

However, being selected as a finalist totally altered my perspective. This community-wide recognition was a good enough reason for me to feel like a true winner!

Of course, winning the PBA plaque will heighten the euphoria, but being a finalist is great enough as it is. You see, this gives me added credibility and confidence to formally pursue the special project I had been discussing with the executives of Nikon Philippines.

The idea is for Nikon to provide a free camera to a couple of public high schools in Manila whose students will form a photography and blogging club. Nikon will also pay for the creation of a customized blog template emblazoned with a sponsored by Nikon logo. As for the computer unit and online access, a friend will help present it to the Ayala Foundation to apply for funding. There are other resources to consider and approach should the Ayala Foundation decline.

Some of my camera club co-members whom I had shared this vision with, expressed great interest to participate by conducting basic photography classes and photo shoots for these high school students. I'm actually hoping that my camera club, Infinity Camera Club, will officially adopt this endeavor as its main community outreach project.

We will also be needing mentors to conduct after school or weekend English writing clinics to help these students hone their writing skills. I’m confident I can approach Corsarius, Jhay and Dave in this regard. Be that as it may, this photo blogging club will remain under the fulltime guidance and supervision of the participating schools' English teachers.

The goal here is to provide these youths a window, so to speak, to share their world with other high school students in Asia, America, Europe and anywhere else in the world through photography and blogging. I had already asked Sidney's assistance in connecting the participating local high schools with those in Europe; as always, he was enthusiastic to help out. I'm certain our fellow bloggers in the States and Canada will lend a hand as well in this regard.

I will also approach the administrators of FPPF and Fuji/YKL for additional sponsorship.

As per my recent email with Nikon Philippines, they remain interested to fully explore this project. I plan to meet with them after the Holy Week. I am also hoping that those behind the Philippine Blog Awards might also hear of this program and provide their support as well. What a wonderful world it will be for these kids!

Finally, I am very much honored for the accolades and kind words that Rey, Ipanema and Major Tom had recently afforded me.

For my response for their having tagged me, if I may be allowed, I would like to invite everyone’s attention to our young and talented bloggers — Corsarius, Ia, Jhay, Dave and Akira. Gutfeel tells me these young people are destined to excel in their respective field of endeavor and will someday make remarkable contributions toward the advancement of our local culture for the better.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 5:22 AM | 66 comments

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


No lecherous intention here; merely borrowed the title from French artist Marcel Duchamp's painting, The Bride Sripped Bare By Her Bachelors.

Linked with the rhythms of the Dada and Surrealism movements, this French artist became a major influence in anything avant-garde across Europe and America. And he came to mind when preparing my third submission for my Advance Photography Workshop -- Portrait of the Bride.

With the entire class using the same model (Carla,) and same backdrop (Fort Santiago), hunch suggested our submissions were bound to look alike.
I, therefore, opted to present a more unusual image of the bride; avant-garde, if you will.

with seventeen very talented classmates (some already semi-pros and doing weddings), I knew it would be futile to even think of my capping the much coveted top spot for this assignment. Better just explore my inner vision and have fun with it, thought I.

So what I did was select from the many pictures I had taken of Carla; a particular image that best reflects a concept of a glamor shot. Once found, I converted it to a more simplistic duotone so as to evoke the image of the old Hollywood glamourous era.

The photo of Carla above was the one I submitted; much to my delight, it placed fifth among the total of eighteen pictures submitted for this category.

The judges -- mostly faculty members of the University of the Philippines' Fine Arts Department -- by having given my effort a high ranking, consequently assured me that I am on the right track with my intended purpose in portraiture.

As I had already confided with Rhoda and Amadeo, one of my goals with photography is to someday search for fellow Pinoys who had gone through the quintessential rags to riches story; those despite impoverished and seemingly hopeless conditions, tenaciously persevered to rise above such dismal circumstances. I would like to take their portraits and write a short story about them.

I'm sure their stories, if publicized and shared, will inspire many others to develop a more positive and constructive way of thinking; hence, overcome their enslaving beliefs or self-defeating group mindset. I am among those who believe that the power of photography coupled with convincing prose can be used to inspire and empower.

This should also explain why I plan to attend Dominique James' glamour portraiture workshop this summer. My intention with it is to turn my subjects into glamorous stars that they really are for not succumbing to poverty; that through sheer determination and faith in their inner power, are now leading bountiful lives.

Poverty is a mental disease that can be corrected through empowered way of thinking. And my humble contribution to its eradication is by constantly providing my fellow Pinoys with stunning portraits and short stories of those who fought the battle of poverty and won.

Afterthought: this goal of mine was inspired by my mother’s friend who was widowed with eight young children. However, through perseverance and a positive way of thinking, her vegetable stall in a palengke flourished; enabling her to raise and send all her children to college.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:43 AM | 20 comments

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


This picture was taken with a single light source — a flashlight.

What I did was prepare my digital camera beforehand by fixing its focus on the subject and its shutter speed to bulb setting. Once ready, I turned off all the lights in the room; clicked on and held the remote shutter, while I cast the light from a flashlight for about five seconds on the specific areas of my composition; and then finally, clicked off the shutter.

The picture above was the end result. It’s that easy and simple!

This was the picture I submitted for my Advance Photography Workshop’s Still Life assignment. Our instructor, Vic Sison, required us to use only red and green vegetables as our subject, because the pictures that we were to create could also be submitted to Manila Bulletin—Fuji Film Photo Challenge; the theme of the current competition is Red & Green.

The first prize is P15,000; second is P10,000; and two consolation prizes of P5,000 each. All winners will also receive Fuji digital cameras (a PIVI digital mobile printer for consolation winners), one-year YKL Privilege Card, SM gift certificates, Kingston photo accessories, and a free photo seminar at the FPPF.

Besides learning the basic elements of photography, FPPF workshop instructors also encourage their students to actively participate in as many photo contests that are available so as to hone their skills. A former student at FPPF has been noted to have collected P500,000 on photo contest winnings in one year alone. Not that far-fetched at all since major local photo contests nowadays award P100,000 for their first prize winners.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 9:12 AM | 34 comments

Monday, March 19, 2007


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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:09 AM | 37 comments

Friday, March 16, 2007


This is my Advance Photography Workshop inside Fort Santiago learning the mechanics of shooting a model with natural light and reflectors. The man in the blue shirt (facing the crowd) is Vic Sison, our instructor. Vic is a fine arts graduate who ventured into photography and later on pioneered "paintography." Just google the word and you'll surely be led to the sites that feature this artist's fascinating techniques. Besides that, Vic also has this incredible understanding of the human anatomy and thus, provide impressive posing directions to models. Not many of our professional photographers have this insight so, Vic also gets hired as posing coach in major fashion and commercial photo shoots.

Our model on that day was nineteen-year-old Carla who is supposedly a member of the Viva Hot Babe model group. I felt sort of bad for her because it was a hot day. She must have felt like being baked by the unforgiving sun and the giant reflector, constantly aimed at her. But she was a real trooper; never complained even once.

While reviewing this photograph, I was taken back to the days when I was working in New York's couture fashion industry. A fond memory that came immediately to mind was that of Filipina model, Anna Bayle; a bonafide supermodel in her own right and amongst the top ten most in demand New York print and runway couture fashion models during the nineties.

Many publications adored her. It was even rumored that designers who craved to have their creations featured on the cover of Womens Wear Daily would get Anna as their model during the photo shoot. Doing so, from what I heard, would increase their chances that this paper -- deemed as the fashion industry's bible -- would publish the photos on its cover. That was how much the WWD editors loved Anna.

Oscar de la Renta was one of Seventh Avenue's top couture designers who would always book Anna months in advance. Understandably so. She really had a captivating presence. Those couture gowns which cost thousands of dollars each seemed as if made especially just for her.

I loved Anna, and wherever she may be right now, I wish her all the best!

Ed Santiago, our photojournalism instructor, at the far left enjoying our photo shoot.


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posted by Señor Enrique at 12:34 PM | 26 comments

Thursday, March 15, 2007


For me that would be diced green mangoes, tomatoes and onions with bagoong alamang.

I would always have a small plate of this salad, especially when enjoying grilled bangus. However, I had the worst case of hives last summer, which I suspected to have been triggered by my eating this salad at least every other day; not to mention that it was a very uncomfortably hot and humid summer. Hence, that was the last time I enjoyed this favorite Pinoy salad of mine.

In hindsight, it might have been just the bagoong alamang that did me in, which was purchased at the Blumentritt public market. For those not aware of it, bagoong alamang is a popular Filipino condiment that most locals consider in jest as their caviar. After all, it's very salty and smells like caviar.

It is simply a shrimp paste, however, made from minute shrimp or fish. Depending from the region where they come from,
bagoong alamang may vary in color, flavor, and taste. The more popular is the pink and salty kind, but I prefer the brown kind, not as salty, but somewhat sweet, and sauteed with pork just the way my aunt from Subic used to make it.

But, alas! Since my bout with the hives, I've stopped eating this condiment altogether. Oh, okay, just a little bit every now and then -- when feasting on some kare-kare.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 8:08 AM | 38 comments

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


During most of last year, there were many similar scenes of construction or restoration works around Manila on account of the mayor's revitalization program. I am one to appreciate these beautification projects, and I'm certain many fellow Manilans do so as well.

Had a chance to talk to a couple of these construction crew members one afternoon. They proudly confided that although they sometimes get burnt by the sun, they still prefer doing this kind of work rather than as security guards at the malls. Furthermore, they claim that their accumulated skills might even lead them to higher paying jobs as master carpenters or general construction team members abroad. On the other hand, security guards merely stand on their feet the whole day while putting their lives on the line for meager salaries.

I'm truly happy for these young men, for they are creating a brighter future for themselves and their families. And as they hone their skills, there will be less grumpy security guards out there to accost avid photographers; stopping them from taking pictures.

Believe it or not, Metro Manila has indeed become unfriendly to anyone with a camera, especially those professional-looking digital SLRs. I was told that no one can take a picture of the sunset at Manila Bay nowadays without a permit. Same deal in Intramuros; you must have a permit. Makati City is even more notorious. A guard stopped me once for taking a picture of a very old balete tree near Ayala Avenue. Yet, the buildings along Ayala Avenue make a perfect subject for nighttime photography.

But what irks fellow photographers the most is that foreign tourists are allowed to take whatever pictures they desire in and around the city; whereas the locals are required to apply for permits to do the very same thing. This is supposedly more apparent over at SM's Mall of Asia.

Not sure where such prohibition is all leading to. I know Saudi Arabia has recently lifted its ban on taking pictures of its public places. Obviously, the government has finally realized that its "no picture policy" only adversely affected its tourism prospects.

What's it like where you are? Are you able to freely take pictures of city and park sceneries?


posted by Señor Enrique at 6:43 AM | 48 comments

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


More popularly known as gumamela, it is a shrub that grows from one meter up to 4 meters in height. It was supposedly brought to the Philippines by traders from China long before the Spaniards conquered the archipelago. It has since been cultivated as an ornamental plant in which the flower comes in many colors -- red, orange, white, yellow, pink, purple, and in some color combinations.

It has folkloric uses as well. The leaves, flowers, and roots are used to heal mumps, urinary tract infections, and boils. In Japan and in some other Asian countries, the gumamela leaves are blended with Rose Hip to create herbal tea which is believed to promote longevity.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:58 AM | 23 comments

Monday, March 12, 2007


A number of senators and opposition senatorial candidates point out the fire last weekend that gutted the old Commission on Elections (Comelec) building -- on Postigo St. beside the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros in Manila -- was either a ploy to destroy damning evidence against the administration or an early effort to cover up a conspiracy to commit fraud in the coming May 14 midterm elections.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos Sr. claims the fire has not caused any major setback; however, he did admit that the fire heavily damaged Comelec records of the May 10, 2004 elections as well as the 201 Files of poll personnel all over the country.

Also razed to the ground were the offices of many Comelec officials, including those of the Statistics Division, Internal Audit Division, and the office of the Commission on Audit (COA) resident auditor.

Early reports by arson investigators attribute the cause of the fire to faulty electrical wirings as the burnt building was very old.

Regardless of the true cause and eventual repercussion of this event, what I personally find appalling is the state of our firefighters' equipment and clothing. Their trucks appear decrepit and their clothing not as fire retardant as those newer, high tech synthetic fabrics issued to New York City firefighters.

Perhaps, as our elected and appointed officials further engage in speculations, denials, and accusations borne by this Comelec building fire, some would be sensitive enough to pay attention to the clothing and equipment of our nation's firefighters so as to enable them to perform their tasks as efficiently and safely as possible.

Incidentally, this month is Fire Prevention Month in the Philippines.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 7:03 AM | 21 comments

Saturday, March 10, 2007


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posted by Señor Enrique at 9:55 AM | 42 comments

Friday, March 09, 2007


This female form on kamagong is the second wooden sculpture I had acquired since moving back to Manila. It was created by Armando A. Ordonez, a local Filipino artist and member of the Contreras Sculptures group. The wood itself was a major factor in my being attracted to this piece of local artwork.

The kamagong is a fruit tree found only in the Philippines. The wood is extremely dense, hard, and dark in color. It belongs to the ebony family (genus Diospyros), and like many other very hard woods, it is sometimes called "iron wood".

The tree is grown for its rich-tasting fruit as well as its beautifully grained black timber, which is used in furniture making. It is an endangered tree species and protected by Philippine law. It is highly illegal to export kamagong timber from the country without special permission from the Bureau of Forestry, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Finished products from kamagong wood, such as fine furniture and decoratives can be exported provided that they are properly documented and approved by the Customs authorities. In essence, I have to secure proper documentations and approval if I ever want to bring this piece of artwork back to New York with me.

I love the kamagong wood. I was first made aware of its beauty when I was a kid. My parents’ visitor gave me and my sister, Inday, a small kamagong yoyo that was almost solid black in color. I would tirelessly polish it and gain much delight when it gleamed as I played with it. The day after I brought it to school, a classmate from Tondo brought his which was bigger (more of the standard size than mine). So, with money scrimped from my meager allowance, I asked him to buy me a similar one from his neighbor who made kamagong yoyos.

My collection of kamagong yoyos eventually boasted three — the small one (the very first one I had), a medium, and standard size (both created by this craftsman from Tondo). Even when Coca-Cola came out with their colorful plastic yoyos produced by Duncan, my kamagong yoyos remained a personal treasure. I loved them so much I wouldn’t let them touch the ground to avoid getting any scratches on them. But with a Duncan, I did everything I could with it short of hurling it at the direction of my father’s sleeping bitchy Texan cat; I wasn’t really into proving that a yoyo can be a lethal weapon.

Speaking of Duncan yoyos, the company, the Duncan Yoyo Company, was established in 1929 by H. B. Preston of Chicago, Illinois. Its purpose was to mass produce the yoyos; the rights to this toy he purchased from Pedro Flores, a Filipino working as a houseboy in California.

Sometime during the 1920s, to amuse the young son of his master, Flores made the young boy a yoyo from a soft wood and taught him some tricks. Soon the youngster was showing off his new toy to his classmates in school. Flores soon found himself churning out yoyos to satisfy a sudden demand. In 1928, Flores’ master recognized the potential of this toy and provided Flores with the necessary funds to apply for a patent and to start its initial production. But it took the Duncan Yoyo Company to really promote the yoyo on a mass scale; even developing more tricks — The Spinner, Around the World, Rock A-bye Baby, Walking the Dog, and etc.

It should be noted, however, that the yoyo was invented in the Philippines centuries before Pedro Flores acquired a patent for it in the United States.

Doomed To Be Like The Yoyo We Invented
Aguinaldo's Breakfast by Ambeth Ocampo
Anvil Publishing, 1993

Photo was taken using a mini flashlight;
bulb setting, aperture: f/7.1, shutter: 201/10 sec
focal length: 27mm, ISO: 100, WB: auto

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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:12 AM | 29 comments

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I took this picture in Intramuros a while back, but didn’t get the name of this church or any historical information associated with it. It must have been because I was engaged in some interesting conversation with a fellow photography enthusiast who was with me at that time.

Anyway, I was simply enchanted by this church. It reminds me of the one in our barrio in Subic, though not as grand and majestic. Perhaps, it is because of this structure’s austere façade, which is evocative of the ghost story I've associated with our barrio church while growing up.

Part of the allure of Subic back then was its lack of electricity. Six in the evening was usually the time in which everyone would have finished up with their business of the day. And from that moment on, at my aunt's house, the kitchen and dining table would be illuminated by a single light source — a portable stainless steel Coleman-like lantern powered by kerosene or something. And wherever that portable lantern would be placed after dinner, that would be where the adults would congregate as well until they retire for the night.

The kids, on the other hand, would huddle somewhere in the living room that would get a trickle of light from that same light source. Without any television or sufficient light to sustain any kind of table game, we would just amuse ourselves with storytelling. The older cousins who lived in the barrio would always fill us with ghost stories, though they tend to be mere repetitions. Nonetheless, there were some good ones that never ceased to scare us out of our wits even after hearing them a hundred times.

Foremost of which was the headless priest who would appear in front of the barrio church around midnight — pacing back and forth while holding an open book. Supposedly, many local folks claimed to have seen it and would readily attest to its occurrence.

I believed this story; that is, until I reached early adulthood in New York, when I started going on bike tours around Long Island. The youth hostels where we sometimes stayed overnight were at the youth centers of the local churches. It was common to socialize with these local youths at the center during the evenings. After tiring of ping pong and billiards, we’d usually end up sitting at the front steps to trade stories. And almost always, these talks would segue to ghost stories.

One night, this lanky kid began to tell us about the ghost of a headless priest that haunted the church grounds. I sat there agape; realizing that our barrio couldn’t claim exclusive copyright for such apparition, for this headless priest turned out to be a universal phenomenon after all.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 8:22 AM | 37 comments

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I've been intensely craving for vichyssoise (cold potato) soup since recovering from a flu that knocked me out for a few days last week. Rhoda suspected I might have suffered from gastrointestinal flu due to the other symptoms I experienced (she suffered from a bad case of the cold).

Anyway, unlike in New York -- where I could just call a French restaurant in the neighborhood and have a large bowl of it delivered to my apartment -- I might have to travel all the way to Makati just to grab a bowl of vichyssoise soup. And as most friends of mine know by now, I'm not too fond of driving in and around Makati City due to its horrendous traffic and ever-changing traffic schemes.

My other option to appease this craving is to read a recipe of it. No, I need not prepare it; merely reading its recipe will somehow fulfill my desire. Weird, huh? But that's me. You see, I usually lose my appetite for whatever it is I cook or plan to cook.

Incidentally, I took up several cooking classes over at Diliman in Quezon City, including baking. During those times I was practicing what I was learning from school, everything that I would whip up was savored by everyone, except me. I did, however, immensely enjoy preparing those meals, though I was never one to feast on them.

So, to satisfy my desire for vichyssoise soup, all I have to do is feast my eyes on a recipe published by Problem solved; for now, that is.


posted by Señor Enrique at 5:00 PM | 20 comments

Monday, March 05, 2007


I remember having gone with my Tiyang Inez to visit someone she knew who was at that time confined inside the mental hospital in Mandaluyong. I was a little boy then, no older than ten. There was another person with us who kept me company out in the grounds while Tiyang Inez was inside.

I thought about this incident upon coming across an essay by Ambeth Ocampo regarding madness during the nineteenth-century.

While poring over some bundles of documents at the National Archives pertaining to insanity as recorded by the Guardia Civil, Ambeth was surprised to discover that simply roaming the streets and acting weird was a good enough reason to be arrested and committed to the Real Hospicio de San Jose, an insane asylum in Manila.

Even more astounding was that not a single document indicated that these vagrants were committed by relatives or friends. In essence, it was the Guardia Civil who made all the arrests and eventual passing of judgment.

Through all these cases of innocuous Sisas, Ambeth highlighted a rather interesting case; that of Nicolas Umli Libanan. In April of 1895, the governor of Nueva Vizcaya received a letter of complaint about this man from the Capitan Municipal, the parish priest, and prominent citizens of the town of Dupax in Nueva Vizcaya. Supposedly, for two years, Nicolas Umli Libanan was observed to be suffering from dementia — speaking incoherently, or speaking in tongues, or resigned to long bouts of silence and then suddenly breaking into laughter or annoying guffaws. However, there were also times he would speak well and act timidly. Nonenetheless, he was restrained with an iron chain clamped to his leg.

A government doctor eventually declared him mentally ill with monomania religiosa, which meant he would mimic the actions of a priest. Thank God it wasn’t the actions of a nun that he was accused of mimicking; otherwise, Nicolas Umli Libanan might have been burnt at stake right there and then.

I’ve lived in New York for many years, and from my observations, folks of Manila, for the most part, are very normal and staid compared to certain characters of the Big Apple who would have absolutely worked the Guardia Civil in overtime.

Madness in the 19th Century
Bonifacio’s Bolo by Ambeth Ocampo
Anvil Publishing

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posted by Señor Enrique at 6:55 PM | 23 comments

Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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