Tag Archives: Manila

Casa Manila: A Guide to Gracious Living

At the Balcony Gates of Casa Manila

Our guided calesa  tour took us through the well-planned streets and stops in Intramuros. There were many interesting stops but none had more appeal to me than the Casa Manila Museum of the Plaza San Luis Complex, close to the San Agustin church. Casa Manila  is a reconstructed house now showcasing the lifestyle of upper-class members of society during the Spanish Era.

For the affluent few in colonial Philippines, gracious living featured a lot of perks. It was only too bad I couldn’t take shots of the interesting pieces inside Casa Manila Museum but I was very happy to note some quirky facts:

  • In place of the modern day’s electric fan, punkah, which was a large, manual, overhead fan made of textile, had to be imported from India and installed in dining areas. Since electricity was yet to be harnessed for public consumption at the time,  one could make it swing overhead by pulling a cord–serving to cool guests in the hot weather and to shoo flies away.
  • Ice-cold beverages served to guests marked a well-to-do household since in those times since ice cubes actually had to be shipped from the USA. Only rich families could afford to buy them or keep them in an ice chest that had to regularly be fed with salt to keep the ice from melting rapidly.
  • An old school kasilyas or toilet, would be separate from the banyo or the shower room. In the Spanish era, these rooms came with wooden chairs that seated 2 people while doing number 2. The kasilyas not only served as a place to relieve oneself: chit-chats accompanied the time spent inside. As a matter of fact, board games (such as dama) were also brought along for recreation.
  • A bachelor uncle had their very own sleeping quarters at their disposal whenever they came to visit. This room is not a “guest room” as we would presently consider it to be. They were specifically for the use of the “bachelor uncle”.

There were many other interesting facts recounted by the keepers of the museum, but the rest of them escape me now. I can only imagine how ladies in Maria Claras elegantly walked through the halls and how the dashing gentlemen rode their horses through the grounds of the Casa to call on the Master of the house.

This journey back in time will only cost you Php75.00 which you’ll have to pay upon entrance.

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Intramuros: Behind the Walls of Old Manila

Clockwise from top right: our calesa driver taking us along one of the calles, The Manila Cathedral, One of the weapons used during the Japanese occupation, Baluarte de San Diego Gardens, our tourguide’s calesa

The historic “walled city” (direct latin translation of Intramuros) is not only an interesting but also, a meaningful way to spend one’s day in Manila. Afterall, Intramuros was Manila in the days of old, founded in 1571–the stronghold of the Spanish Colonial government. As soon as you step into one of Intramuros’ puertas, you could almost hear it’s walls and cobbled streets echo the stories of the Spanish Era and the American Occupation. The structures and old institutions inside Intramuros, also tell of the ravage and destruction that World War II brought about when the Japanese used the fortress as their garrison.

Plaza San Luis Complex right next to the San Agustin Church.

Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica

Also known as Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was closed for renovation as of press time.

Although the walls have mostly been restored from the damage done during WWII, Intramuros still holds that certain wordless charm–the feeling of being transported back in time. Churches such as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral), San Agustín Church and schools such as the University of Santo Tomas and Colegio de San Juan de Letrán are part and parcel of the most significant heritage that the Spaniards have left us with: Catholicism.

San Agustin Church. Originally known as “inglesia de San Pablo”, founded in 1571 is the oldest stone church (built in 1589) in the Philippines.

Recently this landmark has been getting negative press, quoting from Wikipedia:

“In an October 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, the Global Heritage Fund identified Intramuros along with Fort Santiago, as one of 12 worldwide sites “On the Verge” of irreparable loss and destruction, citing insufficient management and development pressures.

I only hope that the Philippine government will act swiftly to save this treasure and preserve pieces of the Filipino identity.


A Mideast Tastebud Experience

     It seems like I will be deviating from the to-do list I had come up with in my previous post. It has been a hectic first week in the metropolis of Makati.

My daytime view from the 26th floor

 Night view

    Yesterday though, I managed to have a couple of hours to chill and just check out the scene close to the hotel.  A  friend took me on a brief tastebud-expedition of the Mideast and the Mediterranean via Zigurrat Cuisine and was delighted with this gastronomic oasis. I googled “ziggurat” and found that they are, architecturally, the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Egyptian pyramids: large artificial square mountains of stone.

    Discreetly located within the labyrinths of the city, Ziggurat was a feast for my senses. I’m a big fan of Arabic and Mediterranean food and was pleasantly surprised by what I was offered. It has been more than ten years since I last had a satisfying fill of authentic MidEast food which I personally consider my soulfood. Before I even looked at their extensive menu, I started randomly naming my favorites off the top of my head and asked the waitress if they had it. And they did! Well, except for laban (a sort of Mideast yogurt though with a less thicker consistency). So for starters just like the way they do it in the Emirates, I ordered pita bread (I’m used to calling them “chapatti“) and a serving of hummus (ground chickpeas with olive oil) and Pappadums  while waiting for the rest of our orders below:

Flavorful Pappadums and dip.

 Lamb Biryani: It had very tender lamb meat and after the first spoonful, I just felt like I was coming home.

Just a whiff of the spices on this and it’ll have your tummy rumbling.

Dessert 1:  Gulab Jamuns are one of my favorite Indian sweets. They are basically milkballs soaked in honey. I’ll never forget the first time I tasted these at a restaurant called Caravan in Dubai.

Desert 2: Baklavas. Everytime my Dad comes home for vacations, I would always ask him to bring a stash of these Lebanese Sweets home. They’re made of many kinds of nuts: wallnuts, pistachios, peanuts, almonds, etc… enveloped in crunchy and thin pastry films drizzled with syrup.

    I’m so happy to have been taken to Zigurrat and to top that, It’s just about a 2-minute stroll from where I’m currently staying. With it’s diverse selection of restaurants, especially in this district, I’m looking forward to more discoveries in this part of the city.


Horse Rides, Volcano Craters and some Pine Breeze

Location: Makati City, Tagaytay City, Batangas, Baguio City

March 2 – 6, 2011

HIGHLIGHTS:

Day 1:
– Getting picked up at the airport in a red topdown BMW. lol! (thanks Kuya Mark!)
– Wee Nam Kee @Ayala Triangle
– Greenhills
– CPK @ Greenbelt

Day 2: Tagaytay City/ Batangas
– People’s Park/Palace in the Sky
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
– Lunch @ Buon Giorno, Cliffhouse
Taal Volcano

Day 3:
– Star City
– I am Number 4 on IMAX, MOA

Day 4: Baguio City
(official anthem for the trip: We Like to Party by the Vengaboys. Courtesy of Mitch. LMAO!)
-Camp John Hay
– The Commissary (and spotting President Noynoy shopping in the area…)

– The PerfectEST Starbucks Experience
– Dinner (bagnets!) and beautiful music @ Forest House
– Midnight cruise around Teacher’s Camp, cemeteries
– RedLion and their peanut butter ribs

Day 5:
– Breakfast and loungin’ @ The Manor
– Giddy shopping @ Comissary
– Cafe by the Ruins
– Folk Dancing, bonding with animals and dinner @ Mother’s Garden

*Most pics taken with Bart’s G12

P.S.
Countless thanks to Kuya Mark, Ate Jammy, Mitchie and my very own Brat. Great to have met Zanya, JR and Kikoy. To say that I had a FABULOUS time would be such a disgraceful understatement.

Yours Truly,
The Willing Kidnap Victim 🙂