Keep moving forward

What an interesting week so far, and it’s only Tuesday. I suppose tomorrow it’ll be another adventure, but for now I’m sitting back and relaxing.

Sunday my sister and I travelled back to Metro Manila. I had to be in the city by Monday to work on some things for my future work, while she had to do some things for upcoming board exams (on that note, I ask you all to please pray for her. She’s worked hard for this). The trip itself was uneventful, and I mostly just slept through it like I normally do.

Monday, I had to deal with the hell called Metro Manila rush hour. I had an appointment in Makati, several miles away from my house. The trip from there to the nearest LRT station was fast, but I had to line up just to get into the station and to buy a ticket. MRT was a whole different story. There was a line to buy tickets, and I had to wait some 20 minutes or so because the admin halted ticket selling. There was also a line to get in to the platform.

The rest of the day was halved between talking with HR and then getting my pre-employment check-up done. Only I was told that I had to come back the next day at 9 AM, which meant I had to do the commute thing all over again.

Today started out well. There didn’t seem to be that many people on the LRT, which made me happy. When I got to the MRT, I was surprised to see that there was literally no lines to get a ticket. However, I had to line up for about 15 minutes to get inside, then line up for about 30 minutes just to get on a train as every one that passed was filled. I love that we have trains that cut down travel time, but getting on them is a nightmare.

My commute took far longer than the rest of my medical exam. I was there and done in less than 30 minutes. I had time to zip by the bank, then passed by Robinson’s East to check out the NBI clearance process. While I still made it to the 500 limit the mall imposed, I had no intention of waiting. I decided to come back tomorrow, bright and early (yeah, and bring snacks and entertainment).

Now for the fun part. I was having budget concerns, because some of the requirements for my employment needed printing and photocopying. I figured I had to do some clever juggling, so while I was figuring out how to do that, I decided to sift through the remainder of my personal stuff here.

Lo and behold, I found copies of ID pictures — the exact number and size of what I needed — and some documents that I thought I had left behind. So the few bucks I would’ve shelled out for printing and copying went to buying a snack for my sister and I.

Tomorrow is another day. Today, I am thankful for:

  • Getting to my appointment on time despite the commute challenges
  • Being able to get my requirements completed with minimal cost
  • Getting back online after a week of no connection
  • Starting up on my freelance projects again
  • Conversations with good friends
  • I hope your week is going pretty fabulous as well.

Going back to Binondo

No matter how many times you come back to Binondo, there is always something different. Everyone can go on a food tour, but with the sheer number of places to eat along Ongpin and its side streets, each visit is always new.

Last Sunday, I joined my new friends Nalani, Jonats and Marjorie for a food exploration in Binondo. Costs were divided among the four of us and we added P5 each for tips.

Stop 1: Dong Bei
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Dong Bei’s one of my favorite places to go to when I’m in Binondo. It’s a small dumpling place off Ongpin. Here you can see the attendants make the dumplings and cook them in a pot of boiling water. You can be sure that what you are eating is freshly made. We shared a plate of the mixed dumplings, popped open a can of Wai Long Kat and got to know each other better.

Cost: PHP 65

Side trip: A bakery along Carvajal
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We were going to Quick Snack along Carvajal but it was closed (along with most of the establishment along the esquinita). We passed by this bakery where I bought some tikoy bread from during the Chinese New Year. I didn’t buy anything, but everyone else did. Everything was freshly baked, which added to its appeal.

Continue reading Going back to Binondo

Philippine Postal Heritage Tour

Pictures to follow. Sorry! Photos added. Still a work in progress. 🙂

About two years ago, I went with Lornadahl for a Postal Heritage Tour around Manila. While it’s not an official tour of the Philippine Post Office, it was nevertheless an educational tour on the postal service and philately, as well as some places around Manila that isn’t covered by the usual Celdran tour. This tour is hosted by the Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club and guided by Lawrence Chan.

What makes this tour interesting is that you get a look into the very fascinating field of philately, as well as a glimpse inside the majestic yet sadly dilapidated Metropolitan Theater in Manila. The tour also stretches to include Intramuros but as the tour is flexible, it sometimes doesn’t even get that far. Still, it’s a trip that is worth the time and effort.

I joined Anne and her cousin for this tour. Rence said that it usually lasts until early evening, mostly because the participants are fascinated by exploring that it’s hard to stick to the time table. We met at Liwasang Bonifacio, the park in front of the Post Office that is more known as Plaza Lawton. The older generation would probably recognize it as Arroceros Park.

The fountain was being used for the Bourne Legacy shoot, and the crew had set up camp at the park itself. I tried to catch a glimpse of Edward Norton but I doubt that he was still around.

The Historical Post Office
We went inside the Post Office first. The Post Office is a small, self-sustaining compound. Because of the large fleet of vehicles it needed, they had their own gas station. There are also smaller buildings within the compound, but sad to say, more than half of them are in a bad state. One is the Post Office museum, but it’s currently closed. I had the chance to attend a philately lecture there during the last tour, but the building is off limits now because it’s structurally unsound.

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The Post Office building is an impressive structure. It is often used in many local productions as a setting for school graduations or law offices. Sad to say, there is news that the building will be sold in the near future as the postal company is losing more money than what they are earning. Fullerton Hotel is said to be interested in it.

Continue reading Philippine Postal Heritage Tour

More Weekend Adventures

I realized that I’ve been around Metro Manila around enough to not get lost. At least, I know how the streets and places look like. I’m not so sure if I know the names of those places.

When Plurk buddies Ryan, Yue and Drew decided to go check out the Gashapon selection in Robinson’s Ermita, my first question was “Is that the same as Robinson’s Place Manila?” My best friend confirmed it, so I was confident we’d get there without mishap.

Except the cab driver asked, “Sa Pedro Gil o sa Padre Faura ba kayo?” (Are you going to Pedro Gil or Padre Faura?) Hala. I wasn’t sure so I went with the first that popped to mind. “Padre Faura!” I figured once inside the mall I could just ask where the store was. Then I remembered the last time I was there, I got lost looking for Bistro Ravioli. Oh joy. I prayed hard that we wouldn’t get lost on the way or be stuck too long in traffic.

We did arrive in good time and the fare was just below a hundred bucks. Not bad, considering we came all the way from Makati.

Gashapon Galore
Ryan told us that the gashapon place was near Toys ‘R Us. We went inside the department store and was disappointed to find not a single one. We ended up inside an amusement arcade with rather disturbing rides, but was a source of hilarity for all of us.

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Finally, we decided to ask one of the attendants at the toy section if she knew where the “toy vending machines” (I didn’t know how else to describe them) were. She pointed us to the direction of another amusement arcade… which was right next to the actual Toys ‘R Us of the mall. And there they were, the gashapon.

Yue and her sister were ecstatic. I wasn’t looking for any particular gashapon, since I already have a Kurama from Shabby. I did, however, had a few moments of uncertainty when Drew said, “Ayaw mo ng Youko?” (You don’t want the Youko?) but I somehow managed to pass it up. Besides, I had already spent half of my budget on the magazine… *ninja*

Some of the gashapon Yue was looking for wasn’t available. Thankfully, the Toys ‘R Us staff were accommodating and allowed her to buy the remaining Pentax gashapon that was on display. I think the staff was amused at us and mistook all of us for tourists.
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Continue reading More Weekend Adventures

Family Food Trip: Marikina

Marikina is a great city. I’ve long admired the progress its gone through since it had a reputation for being a “salvage dump”, probably back in the 1980s or earlier. Now it’s one of the cleanest and most orderly cities in Metro Manila. Tito Del and my brother Nunik have long been gunning for a Marikina food trip so we settled on February 12 as our day. Nunik said he knew a lot of great places to go to, but unfortunately, he was absent from this trip.

We started off with a late lunch at Luyong, a Chinese restaurant along J.P. Rizal Avenue. We had pancit lechon, pata tim, green peas with shrimp and fish fillet with tofu and yang chow rice. I personally found the pata tim the best dish we ordered. The meat is tender and easily breaks apart with just a fork. The sauce is flavorful but not overpowering, making it just right for me.
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We passed by Kapitan Moy’s residence. Kapitan Moy is Don Laureano Guevarra, who is considered the country’s footwear industry founder. His house is 200 years old, and is considered a historical landmark by the National Historical Commission. It currently houses Café Kapitan Restaurant, and the second floor serves as a function room. When we were there, they were preparing for a wedding reception.
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I wasn’t able to check the menu but I want to go back and try their food. It’s a lovely place, very homey and old fashioned. It’s the type of houses that I like, as it has so much history.

Right across the street is Simbahan ng Nuestra de Señora de los Desemparados. A wedding was going to take place, so we presumed it was the wedding whose reception will be held at Kapitan Moy’s (plus, the color motif matched).
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We headed to the shoe museum but passed by a shoe store to browse their stock. They have a great selection of shoes at affordable prices. I’m sure it’s much sturdier than SM’s Parisian.

The Museo ng Sapatos is a short walk away from Kapitan Moy’s. For P50, you can see the famous Imelda Marcos shoe collection, as well as see some shoes worn by other Filipino statesmen. A history of shoemaking in the country is also available for viewing, as well as the second biggest shoe in the country. There’s a diorama of sorts at the museum’s mezzanine, some shoes from various countries all over the world and the “anything shoe related” collection of Marikina mayors.
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There used to be a doll museum in Marikina as well but I’m not sure if it’s still around after Ondoy.
Continue reading Family Food Trip: Marikina

Manila, Manila.

I have an odd relationship with the City of Manila. As a child, I viewed it as a big, scary yet fascinating world, so different from my quiet space of Quezon City.

My earliest memory of Manila was that of me, my mother, my grandparents and probably some titas taking a trip via the LRT. I recall screaming bloody murder when we were getting on the train. For some reason, it scared me. Yet once the train started to move, I was fascinated and I was excited to take my next trip.

Over the years, I’d see Manila through the window of the car whenever we visit my grandparents at their home in San Andres.

I lived in Manila for nearly five years, in that same house. In that time, I’ve learned how to commute around Manila. I still felt scared of it sometimes, but I felt more fascinated with it. Manila was a friend that I unwittingly grew fond of, and despite our many disagreements, had many a good time together.

About a week ago, my cousin Miel sent a message on Facebook saying “Let’s organize a Binondo trip!” We had always planned to do this, more so when Miel’s mom, Tita Ruth, went on the Binondo walk with Ivan Dy. Finally, with no concrete plan other than to go to Binondo, my family (composed of my brother Nunik, my cousin Miel and her brother Lee, my titos Rodel and Ruben, and my tita Rose) went.

History Lesson
Our first stop was the Museum of the Filipino People, formerly the Finance building at the Agrifina Circle of Rizal Park. As it was a Sunday, we didn’t expect much people. While we were ready to shell out the entrance fee (P70 for the MFP, P100 for the National Museum and P150 for the pass to both), we were informed that it was free on Sundays. That was good news, which meant more for our budget towards lunch.

We went around the first and second floors. Though there was a guide at the entrance, we just sort of walked around. There were plenty of hallways and stairways you can get lost in. Taking photographs is not allowed, although there were some people who just can’t seem to follow instructions.

The first floor had an exhibit of pre-colonial artifacts, as well as an exhibit by artist Rachy Cuna titled “Dream Cuna” (on show til March 28). A storeroom filled with various pieces is not open to public, but you can view it through the glass doors and windows.

The second floor had several galleries of the treasures of the San Diego Galleon. Here you will find exhibits of porcelain plates, jars, jewelry, cutlery, even remains of their food (hazelnuts anyone?). Many of these artifacts are in excellent condition.

Hunger pangs overtook us (none had breakfast), so we skipped the rest of the floors to eat. I was looking forward to seeing the Telling Modern Time: The Life and Art of Botong Francisco Coching, but I’m not really sure if it’s still there or it was just a poster they haven’t removed.

We high-tailed it to Binondo, and to President’s Tea House.

The oldest Chinatown in the world
Established sometime during the 15th century, Manila’s Chinatown is said to be the oldest in the world, already thriving long before the Spanish arrived at the Philippine shores. During the American occupation, Binondo became the center of commerce, with Escolta being the main starting ground of many banks, department stores and restaurants.

The President Restaurant is a popular eating place in Binondo. Located along Ongpin St., it’s hard not to miss this building with an imposing gold and red design (recently renovated). Often, it’ll be crowded and much luck to you if you arrive around lunch. It is named as such because past presidents of the Philippines have dined there.

The President’s Tea House is a smaller and cheaper (they say) alternative. It’s located just a few steps from President Restaurant, across a pay parking lot. our table was on the second floor, as there were seven of us and it was the only place that was big enough to accomodate us.

We ordered yang chow fried rice, soy chicken and mixed vegetables. The large order is good for six to eight people, but that would depend on your appetites. As we were planning to go around and taste other food, it was enough for us.

We walked around Ongpin. Tito Del immediately took us to Dong Bei. It’s a small restaurant just a little off Ongpin. It’s famous for it’s freshly made dumplings and handmade noodles (known as “handiwork noodles”). We had two orders of the mixed dumplings, one of the shrimp, and two orders of shao long pao. The last one is really interesting to eat, as it’s a dumpling with soup inside. You bite a piece of the wrapper off, then sip the soup. Careful, it’s really hot.


After Dong Bei, we walked further along Ongpin. Somehow, our plans didn’t push through as we didn’t really get to eat any other food. We passed by Eng Bee Tin to buy some goodies (I got mochi and fortune cookies). A little bit ahead we came across Salazar Bakery, where my titos and tita went on a shopping spree. On our way out, Miel’s mom asked us to buy some dumplings for her, so we went back to Dong Bei.

Our next stop was Quiapo. This was familiar ground for me, as I used to work nearby and often went around just to look. It was also where I got my camera and got lost in several times. Thankfully, I always ended up back in Plaza Miranda.

Quiapo was crowded, it being a Sunday and all. We pushed our way through the crowd, stopping at one of the few open camera shops. Miel bought some film and we ogled at the vintage film cameras that were on sale.

Quiapo, of course, is not just known for the church where St. Nazarene is located, but also for the great bargains you can find around it. It’s definitely not for the weak-hearted, but if you want a great adventure in the middle of the city, Quiapo is where you’ll find it. I don’t know if I should recommend you visit there, but if you do make it out in one piece, then congratulations.

It’s the perfect blend of old and new, of traditions, religion and the occult. It baffles and amuses me all at once.

As I mentioned, it’s home to great bargains. Around the church are various stalls selling all sorts of things you can imagine. That Sunday, there were several vendors selling fresh produce, almost as cheap as it was in Baguio. But that wasn’t what we were after.

Crossing the underpass, we went to the DVD haven. I won’t go into detail, nor will I go into the piracy thing, but let’s just say that it tot
ally amazes me, both in a good and not so good way.

It also makes me laugh.

After getting what we wanted, we decided to go around Intramuros. Earlier on it was agreed that we won’t go around much today, to save up for the next trip. My uncle and my aunt were frequent visitors of Manila during their childhood, as my grandfather had an office in Escolta. Back in the day, it was the place to be, before Makati.

We saw an area inside Intramuros that had several graffiti works.

I love the old atmosphere of Intramuros. Definitely worth a trip back just to explore it.

It started to rain while we were there, but it wasn’t that strong so we managed to get some pictures. We found an empty stretch of road with sculptures of the Philippine presidents. Guess which one was damaged?

I understand how people feel, but I feel bad for the artist. I hate to see my work destroyed, even if the subject isn’t someone/something everyone likes.


Our last stop of the day was the area near the PICC. The sky was dim, and while we were standing by the (wharf? Dock? Quay?) it started to drizzle. We ended up having snacks at Icebergs, and trying to do a silly thing that Nunik wanted us to try.

We didn’t have dinner, but decided to head on home. Plans for another trip back is underway, this time with better planning as to where to go and what to eat. 🙂

My awesome grandpa

I accompanied my grandfather to his check-up last night. We had a bit of a wait before our turn, and when he started feeling impatient, he chatted with the other people who were also in line to see the doctor. Most of them were in their senior years, and funny enough, their stories started out with tales of their health woes. I mean, why were they there in the first place?

The conversation turned to more interesting topics. It stemmed from how long have they been this doctor’s patients, til it moved on to their occupations, to their ages and their families. One of the men said he was 62, and he asked Lolo his age. My grandfather said, “Guess.” The man didn’t hesitate to say “I’m guessing you’re around 72 or so.”

I’m sure I heard a slightly smug tone in Lolo’s voice when he said, “I’m 84.”

Everyone joined in the conversation then, and found some common things to talk about, mainly, school and work. The man who guessed Lolo’s age was a retired teacher, and Lolo was a retired district superintendent. The man’s son is a UP graduate (Business Admin, I think) and working at HSBC. The couple across us was also from UP, the woman working in the College of Education, handling the scholarships and exchange programs. She offered this information when my Lolo mentioned that he took his MA in Education at UP, and was sent to the States in 1964. The lady asked my Lolo who was the president of UP at that time and kudos to his sharp memory, he remembered. Which is something because I’m not even sure who was the president of UP when I was still in school.

She asked him who the dean of the College of Education was, and he couldn’t remember, but he offered two names of his teachers, and the woman knew them. She said her son (I think it was her son) is a doctor and graduated from UP Med in 2002. Lolo told them I went to UP too, and they all chatted like old friends. I don’t think the woman believed I graduated in 2002.

Sunday night, Lolo was talking about his teaching experience. I immediately took out my camera and recorded his voice. I want to write it down one of these days. Years ago he rarely talked about his past, but now, he opens up. It’s quite nice. I hope I have a video camera too, so the recording would be better.

Heading out for his eye exam today, which would be the last of his check-ups for this year. He’s pretty healthy, which is really good. Thank God!

Blackout

By now I’m sure you all heard of the massive power outage that hit the areas of Pasig, Cainta, San Mateo and Marikina last night.

I haven’t had internet for more than a week now, so as I was relaxing, reading a book, my brothers were playing “Plants vs. Zombies” in my laptop. I noticed that the lights were flickering several times that night, but I didn’t mind it. Sometime before nine, the power went out.

Normally, there would still be some light outside from the other places that had electricity. But when I looked out, I saw that even the far off buildings (near Cainta, I guess) were dark. I immediately sent an SMS to my uncle in Pasig proper, Den (who was from Cainta) and friends who lived in QC. Janice, who lives in QC, said they had power. My uncle and Den said they didn’t.

It was still a bit early to sleep, so we went down to the lobby to get some news (and mooch off a bit of the generator’s power, as the boys needed to charge their phones). We hung around a bit with their friend Kevin, chatted with Nanay and Ate Carol, then bought some snacks. It was nearly 10 when Miks and I went up, with Dion staying behind to finish his phone’s charge.

I went to bed, keeping the balcony door and my room’s window open to let the cool air in. I was drifting off to sleep when the electricity came back around 10:27. Miks was still playing “Plants vs. Zombies”.

This morning, the electricity went out again and is still out, as far as I know. I found a news item that said the electricity would be rotated among the affected areas until they can get it fixed.

Whew

Today was pretty busy. It wasn’t a bad day, but it was just… busy. 🙂 And since I no longer update my Project 365, this is sort of a make-up post.

It’s my grandfather’s birthday. Yesterday Mama said he wasn’t feeling well, so I made it a point to call him as soon as I woke up. He sounded really happy, especially when I said that my brother Miks and I were going home this weekend. Later, I found out that my uncle & his family will be there tomorrow so that should make Lolo doubly happy.

I went to the bookstore today to get a present for him (hurrah for subsidy!). I found this U.S. Presidents Factbook by Elizabeth Jewell, which I know he’ll like, being the history buff that he is. I gave him a book last week, and Papa said he was devouring it. Awesome. I love you, Lolo. 🙂

I also got to spend some time with my friend & former co-worker Winston, who was going to watch Transformers 2.

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This is where I get yappy.

It’s been educational

Late yesterday afternoon, I met up with Drew at Makati to attend a lecture on teaching Katakana his friend Richard invited him to go to. Despite the fact that I can’t speak Japanese and the only sentence I can speak decently is the basic greeting, there were a few things I learned. I even managed to understand what one teacher was talking about. I’m not sure how but I think it was due to his hand gestures and facial expressions.

Food trip
Finally got to eat at Sizzling Pepper Steak. It wasn’t as good as I expected, but it was good enough, and one order fills you up well.

Today, Gerone and I seemed to do nothing but eat. We had lunch at Jumbo Japs, nibbled on Reese’s Pieces while waiting for 1 pm, then bought 3 pieces of day old and two pieces of penoy. Did I mention there’s sans rival in the fridge?

Check-up
We finally were able to bring Dion to the doctor. He has asthma, and the family was worried that since he was studying in the middle of the city, he might be prone to getting attacks and wanted to see a specialist.

We went to Medical City in Ortigas to Dr. Michelle de Vera. She said that what we’re doing now for Dion was good, considering that he doesn’t get attacks very often (but when he does, it’s really tough). She recommended that he carry an inhaler around all the time, use it as often as needed and call her if he uses it more often than normal.

Going around
There’s an exhibit of sorts at the LRT Cubao station, and I got some pictures of it. Really interesting stuff.

Later on, Dion and I went around Recto to look for the books he needs for school. I was able to go inside FEU as well. It’s my first time to do so and I was pleasantly surprised. From the outside, you’d think that it would be crowded with a cluster of buildings. Definitely not like UP Diliman or Ateneo.

However, the campus has this huge space in the middle, and the surrounding areas are nicely landscaped with big trees providing cool shade. Not something you’d expect smack dab in the middle of the city.

Everyone who comes in gets their temperature checked and if found negative, stamped on with a “pass”. I wasn’t exempted haha.