Paco Park & Cemetery

Posted on April 20, 2008

Green parks are a rarity in the megasprawl of concrete, metal and asphalt that we love-hatingly call Manila. Paco Park is affirmatively an oasis in the metropolis. Built during the 1700s as the municipal cemetery for aristocratic families, you will see rows of empty niches along its concentric walls shaded by old acacia and frangipani trees where cooing pigeons perch and prosper. Later on, this small cemetery became a quarantine for victims of a cholera epidemic and a storage place forRead More

Pari-an of Cebu

Posted on April 15, 2008

When I was younger, I remember accompanying my mother to downtown Cebu to shop for cloth and other supplies for our small tailoring family business. At the heart of this locality is the pari-an, a term used to denote the old Chinese district in established Philippine cities. Pari-an and Colon Street–the oldest in the Philippines–used to be the center of cultural, business and social activity in the country’s first Spanish settlement. Named after Cristobal Colon or Christopher Columbus, Colon StreetRead More

Marinduque: Magic & Mayhem

Posted on April 6, 2008

Like a giant hand reaching out to sea, the port of Balanacan welcomed our boat cramped with weary passengers. The verdant land summoned us to a limestone cove, under tangerine skies and the prayerful arms of the magnificent statue of the Blessed Virgin of Biglang-Awa. After twelve hours of waiting at Lucena and nearly 24 hours after leaving Makati, we reached our destination. We stepped foot on Marinduque. At last. Initially, the plan seemed fairly simple: four lomoheads, four days,Read More

Neo Chinatown Mall

Posted on March 31, 2008

Something is dawning amidst the cogon grass and turbid canals of the Pasay-Parañaque reclamation area, south of Manila Baywalk. Something potentially more exciting than the concrete behemoth called Mall of Asia. Welcome to Neo Chinatown.  A complex of six clusters characterized by traditional Chinese architecture and adorned by red lanterns, this open-air mall promises to rival the shopping and leisure experience of Old Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. Of course, this synthetic landmark can never compare to lively Ongpin, with itsRead More

Sinulog Festival

Posted on March 27, 2008

Ever since I was a kid, an occasion I look forward to every year, even more than I do Christmas or New Year, is the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City. The nine-day celebration, in honor of the Holy Child Jesus, culminates every third Sunday of January with a Grand Parade that meanders through the festooned city streets, with elaborately dressed dancers, magnificent floats and colorful ‘higantes’ (papiér-mache giants), all moving to the infectious rhythms of tribal dance and heralding “VivaRead More

Manila Ocean Park (Oceanarium)

Posted on March 16, 2008

The buzz-worthy upgrade to Manila’s tourist belt is the new Manila Ocean Park, the country’s first world-class oceanarium and the first in the world to include a boutique hotel, mall and open water habitat (all still under construction). This is probably the best thing that has happened to the city since the Planetarium. The oceanarium, situated in stark contrast above the unappealing waters of Manila Bay, opened last March 1. With an area of 8,000 square meters, the spacious park boastsRead More