Monday, January 25, 2016

Manila Nostalgia

I've been friends with Jonathan Lim for a little more than 37 years now, he was my classmate in high school. Jonathan was the kind of student who wasn't bookish but extraordinarily smart. He lost his father sometime before we graduated, and he started working right after high school at the Pines Hotel Casino in Baguio to support his family. After his stint at the casino, he qualified to enter the US Navy, and there he saw much of the world, giving security to his family at the same time. Now retired and taking his masters, he visits every year or so, and every time, we set aside time to catch up and reminisce. For his visit this year, I planned a nostalgic tour of Manila. I wanted to show him how beautifully curated our National Museum is today. 
Joining our tour is a good friend of mine from a much younger generation, Kimi Lu. Kimi is a life coach and a plus size model, a bundle of protons.

A visit to the National Museum is free of charge on Sundays and you'll see an appreciative crowd of young people going. It's a good vibe you get, knowing more and more people are learning to love their heritage, and taxpayers' money is put to good use.
I especially love the galleries of the old masters. Mostly portraits of the elite and the intelligentsia, it gives you a glimpse how life was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their dress styles, manners, and nuances. An afternoon is not enough to absorb all the visual stories of heroes, and great beauties.

From the National Museum, we headed to Malate Church to hear the 5pm Mass. Located in Manila's former fashion district, I often visited this church in my younger years to hear Mass or pray the Rosary. After Mass, we crossed the street to another old haunt, the Aristocrat restaurant where the boneless chicken barbecue is a must. Not ready to call it a day, we went to Diamond Hotel for dessert. Kimi and Jonathan ordered the baked cheesecake ice cream and I had the ube-filled ensaymada with coffee.
Cultural, spiritual, gastronomical, our kind of Sunday.

Guillermo E. Tolentino: Untitled (Diwata)reinforced concrete, ca. 1950s, 2.9 x 1.2m
Gift from the heirs of Hermogenes S. Reyes and Teodora Tantoco-Reyes

The National Museum's piece de resistance, Juan Luna's Spoliarium

Fermin Gomez: A Plea For Freedom From Fear, Plaster of Paris, 1949, National Fine Art Collection

Carlos V. Francisco, National Artist for Painting (1912-1969): The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines

Fernando Amorsolo Y Cueto (1892-1972) National Artist for Painting (1972)
Portrait of Jose B. Laurel as Speaker, Gift from the Family of Jose B. Laurel, 1954, Oil on canvas
Portrait of Manuel Roxas as President, commissioned from the artist by President Elpidio Quirino, 1950, Oil on canvas

A simulation of Fernando Amorsolo's work space

Fernando Amorsolo Y Cueto (1892-1972); National Artist for Painting (1972)
Portrait of Mrs. Banks 1956, Oil on Canvas

Fernando Amorsolo Y Cueto (1892-1972) National Artist for Painting (1972)
Portrait of Julieta Abad-Rufino (1916-2001) 1951, Oil on Canvas, Gift of the Family of Rafael R. Rufino, Jr.
Portrait of Felicidad Cruz-Castro, 1963, Oil on Canvas, On Loan from the Family of Felicidad Cruz-Castro

Cesar Amorsolo (1903-1998): Painted Window of Christ the King
ca. 1946 (signed Caesar Amorsolo), Oil on glass, Gift of the Heirs of Petronilo L. del Rosario, Sr.

Guillermo E. Tolentino: Bust of Luisa Marasigan, Polychromed resin, Undated, Collection of Frederick Y. Dy

 Guillermo E. Tolentino: Model of the Commonwealth Triumphal Arc, Bonded marble and polychrome resin
Undated, Frederick Y. Dy Collection

The Luis I. Ablaza Hall

Gallery of the Via Crucis of an Unknown Bohol Artist

An Unknown Artist: Portrait of Three Ladies, 1894, Oil on tin sheet

An Unknown Artist: Portrait of Two Students of the Ateneo Municipal de Manila from Pasig
Late 19th century, Oil on Canvas

Felix Gonzales: Portrait of Dr. José Rizal, Oil on canvas, 1962

Juan Luna Y Novicio
center: Una Bulaqueña, 1895, Oil on canvas
right: Portrait of a Lady, Undated, Oil on wood

Isabelo Tampinco Y Lacandola (1859-1933): Bust of a Mestiza Filipina in Maria Clara
ca. 1880, Polychromed plaster of Paris

The Old Session Hall of the Senate of the Philippines

Juan Luna Y Novicio (1857-1899): Interior d'un Café (Parisian Life) 1892, Oil on canvas

The galleries on the upper level houses Modernist Art

Edgar Talusan Fernandez: Arko ng Pagkakaisa para sa Kalayaan, 1984, Oil on canvas

Emilio Aguilar Cruz: Paris, 1980, Pen and ink on paper

Jose P. Alcantara (1911-2005): Ina ng Lahi (Mother of Filipinos), 1952, Narra wood

Kimi, Jonathan, and I didn't realise there was a sleeping lady at the other end of the bench when he had our group shot. I pixelated her face to protect her privacy.
The newly restored Malate Church

An all time favourite, Aristocrat

Aristocrat's famous Boneless Barbecue Chicken and Java Rice

Diamond Hotel's Baked Cheesecake Ice Cream

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Name It, They Have It

Name it, they have it. The fanciest chandeliers, the most exotic food, fresh fruits, haw flakes, herbal medicines, fine jewellery, and lucky charms, you can all find them in Binondo, Manila's Chinatown. In the heart of Binondo is Ongpin Street, stretching from the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz to Carriedo Street in Quiapo, where they have some of the best Chinese restaurants in the city.
I occasionally go when I'm craving for Chinese food but this time, I went because I wanted to see the Chinese doctor recommended by Lulu Tan-Gan. The doctor would hold your pulse and from there he'll identify your illnesses. My dear friend from college, Gwen Tangcueco accompanied me, she's always happy to volunteer as my tourist guide and interpreter. We got a queue number from the doctor and calculated it will be an hour wait more or less, so we decided to take a little tour of Ongpin.
I hoarded ube hopia from Eng Bee Tin and tried their ube pao and some siomai. We window shopped for jade and lucky charms, and got some Feng Shui 101 from the friendly shop owners. Back at the clinic, the doctor felt my pulse and with an impish smile, exclaimed "may factoly ka ng sugar!". Why wasn't I surprised? He prescribed me herbs to boil and drink for my high sugar count and I bought it at the drugstore down at the street corner. I felt cured already, from the good laugh with the doctor, and from my happy tour with Gwen.

The Ongpin North Bridge

Ongpin Street

Ready to eat sugarcane

Watermelons, squash, onions, and garlic sold on carts.
Herbal medicines my Chinese doctor prescribed.

Eng Bee Tin, famous for their ube hopia.

My tourist guide, my good friend Gwen Tangcueco.

Ube pao from Eng Bee Tin

Looking at jade pendants