Showing posts with label Metro Manila. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Metro Manila. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chio Sai Siong Hong Kong Temple 石狮城皇公廟 in Manila Chinatown

Chinese New Year celebrations in Manila Chinatown have become extremely crowded, commercial, and in a way, adulterated – with the unwelcome aswangs, drag queens and ati-atihan groups going around and asking for money (they are obviously out of place); sometimes, I lose motivation to experience the festivities. But I was pleasantly surprised that outside Chinese New Year, there are other colorful celebrations in Binondo, Manila, such as temple feasts, if you know when and where to look for them (dates change with the lunar calendar too).

One of them is at the Chio Sai Siong Hong Kong Temple 石狮城皇公廟 where they celebrate annually the "birthday" of the Taoist deity Siong Hong Kong 城皇公, whose devotion originates from Chio Sai or Shishi City in Fujian, China. I realized San Fernando, Pampanga also has its own Jeosay Shinhongkong Temple meaning the forebearers who brought the images to the Philippines may have come from the same hometown.

So on Araw ng Maynila (good thing it was a holiday, no traffic), we were in Binondo first thing in the morning to watch a colorful procession leave the temple, go through the streets of Binondo and Santa Cruz, and return to the temple on Tomas Pinpin Street. It had all the makings of a community celebration without any trace of commercial advertising. Rather than brave the crowds on Chinese New Year, fight for space to watch the lion and dragon dances, or jostle for limited seats in our favorite restaurants, this was perfect! No tourists taking selfies here!

Fireworks announced the start of the procession. It was led by the temple banners, followed by the first carroza (yes, a Catholic carroza borrowed from the Binondo Church) with several Taoist deities with sampaguita leis. The drum and lyre band of Philippine Sun Yat Sen High School came after. It was quite amusing hearing the band play "Happy Birthday" every now and then for Siong Hong Kong.

Performing in the middle of the procession were lion and dragon dances.

Devotees bearing on their shoulders the century-old image of Santo Siong Hong Kong 城皇公 on a small wooden platform then followed. Everyone was in red!

At the end of the procession was yet another Catholic carroza with two Taoist deities, one of them Hu Din Ma. You could definitely see the fusion between different cultures here in the Philippines.

Back at the temple, the images were brought inside one by one beginning with Siong Hong Kong. They seemed to follow a particular order of entrance into the temple. Candies and coins were thrown for good luck. And the community partook of cha mi sua or misua guisado once the ceremonies were over.

Thank you to Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks for letting me know about this! Since the celebration follows the lunar calendar, dates vary every year.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Isaw at Mang Larry's in UP Diliman

Isaw at Mang Larry's in UP Diliman
As a student in UP Diliman, I grew up enjoying isaw at Mang Larry's. His stand used to be right in front of our freshman dorm. He's moved now to the empty lot between the swimming pool and UP Law. And his booth has noticeably leveled up. But he still serves the same favorites we enjoyed back then.

From left to right, there's atay ng baboy (pork liver), isaw baboy (small pig intestines), isaw manok (chicken intestines), pork barbecue, tenga (pig ears), special isaw baboy, balun-balunan (chicken gizzard), botsi (chicken esophagus) and goto (large pig intestines). He has two sauces, sweet brown sauce and spicy vinegar. They also serve siomai too! Lines can be long, but it's worth the wait. Enjoy!

Here's a list of where to eat in UP Diliman!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Binondo Chinatown late night food trip at a discount!

Late night food tripping in Binondo Chinatown can be really fun! Not many people know that a number of restaurants drop prices for selected dishes usually after 9 p.m. Just ask the restaurant if they have a late night promo.

The other month, we made a dim sum stop at Wan Chai Tea House. All dim sum (except the Hakaw) sells for Php47 per serving after 9 p.m. We had Pork Spareribs, Siomai, Goto Curry and Pipa Tofu.

Several years ago, we tried the late night shabu-shabu at Golden Fortune Seafood Restaurant offered with a hefty discount depending on the ingredient. Also check out the dim sum at King Chef at Lucky Chinatown Mall. Yes, it's happy hour for Chinatown treats! I'm getting hungry! Time to head out to Binondo!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tandang Sora Shrine & Emilio Jacinto Memorial at Himlayang Pilipino, Quezon City

Tandang Sora in Quezon City is named Tandang Sora because the area was where Melchora Aquino de Ramos (known as Tandang Sora) actually lived. Tandang Sora aided the Philippine Revolution by caring for sick and wounded revolutionaries, and opening her home to secret meetings of the Katipunan. She was already 84 when the Philippine Revolution broke out and lived until the grand old age of 107!

Her house was located in Banlat, where the Resting Place of the Remains of Melchora "Tandang Sora" Aquino or the Tandang Sora National Shrine, was built in time for her birth bicentennial in 2012. Her remains were transferred from Himlayang Pilipino just a few kilometers away to the current location in Banlat. The actual location of the house, two alleys from the shrine, is marked by a bust and marker in what used to be a wide open space, but unfortunately has been chocked by informal settlers.

Since Himlayang Pilipino was just nearby, I decided to visit as well. The former tomb of Tandang Sora is still there. We really don't make shrines like they used to. There's no doubt, the tomb in Himlayang Pilipino is more elegant and more stately than the current Tandang Sora Shrine they built in Banlat. I don't know who approved the design of the current shrine. But I hope the Quezon City Government, which now manages it, raises the bar by upgrading and improving the shrine to make it more stately.

The tomb in Himlayang Pilipino is a scultural mural made by renowned sculptor Florante "Boy" Caedo. Made of concrete with marble dust and chips, the tomb captures the compassion of Tandang Sora for her countrymen. Even the wrinkles on her face convey such a strong message. I wish the current shrine could express as much emotion as the one in Himlayang Pilipino.

On the opposite end of the memorial park is the General Emilio Jacinto Memorial where the remains of the young general are still resting. Also made by Caedo, the sculptures on the tomb were cold cast in bronze. The setting is fantastic, located on top of a small hill with a large open space around it.

I really hope they make memorials and shrines like they used to. Who approves the new ones anyway? To them, it's pwede na, I guess. You have to visit Himlayang Pilipino to understand how powerful a message our monuments used to convey.

Recess by Chef Chris serves the original panizza!

Recess by Chef Chris
The original panizza is now in Makati! Long before commercial pizza outlets served rolled pizza with arugula and alfalfa, we were already enjoying them in Clark, Pampanga! Chef Chris Locher now brings his panizzas to Makati with Recess by Chef Chris.

Recess by Chef Chris
There are two sets of panizzas in the menu, the Original and Pinoy Originals, panizzas with Pinoy toppings. I got one pick from the Original, Tin Sn 50 with chorizo, bacon, ham, salami, assorted peppers and mushrooms for toppings. Others interesting choices are Platinum Pt 78 with Angus beef, Gold Au 79 with barbecued chicken, and Magnesium Mg 12 with barbecued pork.

From the Pinoy Originals, I got BeTa which is beef tapa, onions and pickled sayote atchara. There's PoTo with pork tocino, red onions, and salted eggs, TiTo with smoked bangus, red egg and onions, and CoBe with corned beef, egg, caramelized onions and potatoes.

There's much more on the menu. But if only for the panizza, you've got to visit Recess by Chef Chris!

Recess by Chef Chris
50 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati
Telephone No. (02) 8991818

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quezon City: Ma Mon Luk's Original Mami

Ma Mon Luk Mami
For the longest time, I've always seen Ma Mon Luk Restaurant every time I drive along Quezon Avenue. I've always known it as an old restaurant founded in Manila in 1920, definitely part of our culinary heritage. Parking is usually full so I just drive along. 

Ma Mon Luk Mami
A few days ago, I was craving for mami as we neared Ma Mon Luk. So I told myself, if parking was available, I'd stop. And it was!

Ma Mon Luk Siopao
Ma Mon Luk Siopao
Of course I had the Original Mami (Large) for Php105 which was quite heavy. There was just a Php10 difference between the small and large order, so might as well get the large one. I also tried the Siopao Special (Asado, Chicken and Salted Eggs) for Php60. Next time, I should try the Taw Sa Pao (Mongo) which they recommend.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quezon City: Steak at Snackaroo Kamuning & Matalino

Snackaroo Porterhouse Steak Kamuning
Snackaroo has been around for ages! I can't believe I only discovered this recently after all those years studying in U.P. For just Php140, you can have a T-bone Steak or Porterhouse Steak served with their signature gravy. The meat is tender (best cooked medium or medium rare) and the fat melts in your mouth! It was so good, I ate there for five consecutive days!

Snackaroo T-bone Steak Kamuning
They have other dishes too but it's the steaks that really standout. I frequent the branch along Judge Jimenez cor. K-2nd Streets in Kamuning, QC. There's another branch at Maginoo cor. Matalino Streets in UP Village. Service can be improved though but what the heck, it's a hole in the wall. The steaks are definitely heaven!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Parañaque: Crispy Chili Garlic Bacon at The Burgery, BF Homes

Crispy Chili Garlic Bacon at The Burgery, BF Parañaque
BF Homes Parañaque is definitely a foodie haven. I was looking for something to eat late last night and went for a drive along Aguirre Avenue. That's one long stretch of restaurants, many of which you'll only find in BF.

We saw this new restaurant called The Burgery. Of course, the main attraction of their menu are the burgers and burger rice meals. But they have other dishes. A large poster actually caught my attention: Crispy Chili Garlic Bacon that was topped on herbed rice. I'll let the photo do the talking. I should explore more of BF during weekends!

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Manila: Chinatown food trip & staycation in Binondo

Who would have thought a staycation in Manila was a viable option? We got to experience one during Chinese New Year at Ramada Manila Central in Binondo where we spent the night before the Lunar New Year. It was a very convenient way of enjoying Manila Chinatown cuisine and the festivities the next day within walking distance from where we were staying.

In fact, as soon as we were done checking-in at the hotel, we went straight for dim sum at President Tea House. Restaurants were full that night since it was the bisperas and we had to queue. But it was well worth the wait as we enjoyed some really good Tsinoy food.

To get rid of the obvious weight gain from the sumptuous food, we walked around Binondo's interesting streets (which are very quiet on a normal night) and visited some of its hidden temples. I say hidden because most of them are located on the roof tops of buildings, such as the Te Ah Kong (Teyakong) Temple, a Taoist temple located near the corner of Ongpin and Kipuja Streets. Another interesting temple nearby is the Shi Ong Hu Temple along T. Alonzo Street, a Buddhist temple which occupies at least two floors of the building where it is located.

We were back at Ramada Manila Central before midnight and watched the fireworks from our hotel room window. The next day, we visited the roof deck bar of the hotel to see the view of Binondo from above. Ongpin was alive and crowded with so many visitors enjoying the festivities. Later in the morning, we got to watch the lion dance hired by the hotel before moving around.

Lunch was at Xiao Chun Yuan Restaurant near the corner of Ongpin and S. Padilla (Gandara) Streets. We tried out their Oyster Cake, Mapo Tofu, Polonchay and Pork Mushroom, another hearty Chinatown meal! For the afternoon, since it was a bit hot, we went back to the hotel to take a nap. Anyway, most of the dance troupes were resting as well.

By late afternoon, all the troupes were out again. Aside from the lion dances, we also got to see colorful dragon dance troupes. Unfortunately, the out of place freak shows were making their appearances as well, trying to compete for attention with the genuine lion and dragon dance troupes that are an inherent part of the celebration. These outsiders should be reminded that it isn't Ati-Atihan, nor was it a Pride March, or even Halloween (poor business owners were trying to shoo away people dressed as aswangs dancing in front of their establishments since to them, they are malas or symbols of bad luck). These outsider groups, mostly drag queens, fire eaters and fiesta drummers, were obviously there for the money. So at the very least, they should have matched their acts with the occasion which was Chinese New Year. And visitors should stop giving them money so as not to encourage them to come back again next year. But at least I noticed more lion dance troupes this year which was a good sign.

The main reason we went out was to get some Fried Siopao from Ching Hong Foods along Benavidez Street.  We got there just in time since a new batch was about ready for serving and this sumptuous snack is sold out before you know it.

We actually so enjoyed our stay at the hotel so much because of the convenience that we decided to extend for another night to experience more of Chinatown. Dinner was at the Royale Sharksfin Seafood Restaurant (no we did not have sharks fin and I hope they don't serve it), which according to my tokayo, Mr. Old Manila Walks, is one of the best restaurants in Binondo. We were not disappointed.

Before calling it a night, the two Ivans got a foot massage at the spa located at the first floor of the hotel, a perfect way to end the night, especially for Ivan Man Dy, who had been touring people around Manila Chinatown the whole day. It may not be as festive on other days, but Binondo is worth a staycation any day of the year if only for the food!

Where to stay in Binondo, Manila
Ramada Manila Central, a Wyndham hotel, is conveniently located at the corner of Ongpin and Quintin Paredes Streets, beside Binondo Church. Rooms are cozy and comfortable. And its location makes exploring Binondo even easier.

Telephone: +63 (2) 5886688 / 3544151
Fax: +63 (2) 3544152

Friday, May 18, 2012

Save Metro Manila's open spaces! We need more green zones and public parks!

We were meeting high up a building in Mandaluyong City this afternoon. It's a view I'm quite familiar with. And I've always thought of the "what ifs" every time we meet there since one gets a different perspective of Metro Manila, the full picture if I may say, with views from high above. In front of us was the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club. Behind us was the National Center for Mental Health. What do they have in common? They are among the last remaining lungs of Metro Manila.

Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club
I just realized that many of the few remaining open spaces in Metro Manila are private golf courses and old government facilities. But one thing is certain, we definitely need a public central park!

Quezon City Central Park (Satellite image from Google Maps)
Maybe it's possible in Quezon City where Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC), Veterans Memorial Center (VMC), Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC), parts of UP Diliman and LWUA Balara Complex can be connected to form a superpark or greenbelt of sorts. We need more superparks and not supermalls don't you think?

When we were being consulted by the office of QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte for the Quezon City Tourism Plan just last year, I proposed this idea of a Quezon City Central Park and Green Belt which I was told QC Mayor Herbert Bautista liked. I wonder if there are any updates.

Veterans Memorial Center, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center and Quezon Memorial Circle (Satellite image from Google Maps)
As part of the proposal, NAPWC could be professionally landscaped and transformed into a botanical garden that can earn more income from tourists. Note that we don't have a botanical garden in Metro Manila. NAPWC could be connected to QMC and Veterans via an underground pedestrian tunnel. No stairs, just an incline so people can bike or jog under towards the other side. I raised the point of removing all the unnecessary structures at the QMC (such as the unsightly amusement park) and having it landscaped professionally.

Parts of the Quezon City Hall property could also be integrated in the Quezon City Central Park since there are areas that still have a lot of large trees.

Quezon Memorial Circle, Agricultural Training Institute, National Hydraulic Research Center and UP Arboretum Forest (Satellite image from Google Maps)
QMC could then be connected by another tunnel and landscaped bike and jogging lanes to UP Diliman Campus. Another set of tunnels and bike and jogging lanes connect QMC to the UP Arboretum Forest through the Agricultural Training Institute and National Hydraulic Research Center. Note again that the lanes have to be landscaped properly! University Avenue used to have beautifully landscaped surroundings designed by National Artist Ildefonso P. Santos, Jr.

Local Water Utilities Administration and Balara Filtration Facility (Satellite image from Google Maps)
UP Diliman in turn could have landscaped bike and jogging lanes to Balara which is also another green zone as you can see from the map. And the Balara facility can be improved in such a way that it becomes a public park as well.

National Center for Mental Health with a cover of green behind and informal settlers in front
Back to Mandaluyong, seeing the large colony of informal settlers in front of the mental health center was depressing. When politicians nurture informal settler communities for their votes, we lose these few remaining open spaces.

I was told the property in front, that is said to be owned by DWSD, is about 60 hectares. And it's all informal settlers now. Too bad. If only most of our local officials had vision and were long-term thinkers, that wouldn't have happened. Such a pity also that most efforts are geared towards the next campaign. Who knows, that large patch of green on the property of the National Center for Mental Health might be the next victim of our politicians' bright ideas. Several people informed me that someone did have that "bright" idea of trying to sell the property. But it fizzled out due to strong opposition. Imagine, if the mental facility is moved elsewhere, Mandaluyong can have its own central park!

Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area
We don't have much green spaces in Metro Manila left. Aside from those mentioned, in Quezon City there is the La Mesa Watershed (parts of which are becoming residential areas and government officials seem to be doing nothing); Manila has the Arroceros Forest Park; and the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area along the coast of Manila Bay (which some idiots in government are proposing for reclamation) are just some of the few green areas we have left.

Congress should enact a law prohibiting the sale and conversion of government properties in Metro Manila with significant patches of trees and open spaces. These are all potential public parks. The funds they can earn from selling these land to condominium or mall developers is short-term and pales in comparison to the priceless treasures these open spaces are for raising the quality of life in our cities. We definitely need parks and open spaces now more than we need any additional malls. Our government should give its citizens nothing less.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Manila: Rowing the Pasig River with Manila Boat Club (Sta. Ana)

Have you ever considered rowing? Now that the Pasig River is getting cleaner, you might want to try rowing there one of these days. The historic Manila Boat Club in Sta. Ana, Manila encourages interested individuals and groups to try rowing as a sport. I've actually visited the club twice already. And I definitely enjoyed the rowing experience.

Founded in 1895, the Manila is said to be the oldest existing club in Manila. The building at its current site was opened in 1932. But some of its boats date back to its early days (when the club was located on Manila Bay and later Nagtahan and Isla Provisor) and are thus over a hundred years old. Indeed, the club has a rich heritage.

Inside the Manila Boat Club are squash courts, which in 1970, were the very first to be opened outside military bases.

The new officers of the Manila Boat Club are slowly reviving interest in rowing and are encouraging interested individuals and groups to try it out by visiting the club. Of course, you might want to consider becoming a member of the club if you're interested in the sport. It's best to arrive before sunrise or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the sun, especially this summer. They have instructors who can teach you the basics of rowing.

Rivers provide a different view of the city. In fact, most cities around the world consider their rivers as showcases of fine architecture. Manila used to have its most beautiful buildings by the Pasig River. And rowing is one way to see the city in a different light.

If you're interested to try out rowing at the Manila Boat Club, please contact the club president Quintin Pastrana at Row, row, row your boat!

Manila Boat Club
2442 Havana Street
cor. Del Pan Street, Sta. Ana
Manila, Philippines
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