Tag Archive: Manila

Her first solo exhibition was in 2019. That early,her fascination with empowered women spoke through her symbolic “Maria Clarasexpressed as modern Filipinas. Through the years, this theme almost always found expression in many of her art works. Somehow evolving, but the message remains and its meaning more clearly professed and manifested. Added in are the iconic abanicos (fans) and the kalachuchi flowers.

A few taking residence in her temporary art studio.
In Her Studio

Mona Clara. I remember this as the title of her first painting of a Modern Filipina. Mysterious just like Mona Lisa. “Confused” just like Maria Clara. Maria Clara in today’s language has come to mean either the country’s costume, or describe the traditional, shy, demure, noble and virginal Filipina. It is also one of the main characters in the book “Noli Me Tangere” where she is said to symbolise the state and sad plight of the motherland, our Philippines.

In this artist’s mind, her character MONA CLARA combines the qualities of mystery, tradition, confusion and some traces of humor. Perhaps one can even detect a subversive element. Through the years, the series depicted the Modern Filipina in today’s culture in a very satirical way. The approach and treatment leave the viewer to draw his/her own interpretation. Without question, the artist wittingly invites the viewer to discern a serious message.

Work In Progress

This 6th solo exhibition is titled “Redefinition”, which explores, celebrates and challenges what it means to be a Modern Filipina. Using the Filipino terno as a visual device, it is a challenge to the standards set by Maria Clara — by Filipinas themselves, through the brushstrokes of Filipina artist Anna Bautista.

Emblematic of the history of Maria Clara, the Philippine terno has long stood for tradition. These were what a woman was to wear but more than that, what a Filipino woman had to be. It is a living time capsule of the culture,art, fashion, government systems, politics and societal norms that thrived in old Philippine society. Anna believes the Philippine Terno has evolved alongside Filipinas — partly in how it looks, but mainly in what it stands for.

The pandemic seriously restricted our social life and daily routines. Online shopping, dining in, Netflix-bingeing and virtual meet-ups have become the norm. But I’m happy to note that the art world is still very much vibrant and many artists — forced to stay home and finding more time to indulge in their art — have drawn inspiration from everyday life otherwise taken for granted.

While we stayed home much of the time, we haven’t given up on the stuff we enjoy doing. Thank God our neighbourhood is lined with deli shops, restos, bar joints, art galleries, furniture shops and not too far away, specialty home decor shops where one can spend entire afternoons. Our white walls are now adorned with newly-framed artworks which made trips to our favorite framer so very pleasurable. The art galleries are such a delight to visit and the adjacent coffee and snack bars provide interesting breaks. The alley we frequent even boast of resident cats who’ve since become attractions of the place. Now, here’s one area where feline and human creatures seem to live in true harmony amidst all the beautiful artworks. Swell.

Eating out is restricted to only a few establishments which we found to be safely observing health protocols. But eating in is no less satisfying. We even sourced some of our dinners from our favourite restos as food deliveries have become our new normal. One lovely discovery is the joy of enjoying good meals without worrying about finding a parking slot nor of having to drive home. The convenience beats worries of prepping for meals and washing the dishes. Over time, we’ve grown accustomed to serving the food in their delivered state” to do away with stuff filling our kitchen sink. No big deal, really.

While we have since started brewing our coffee and creating our cocktails at home, we didn’t miss out on sitting in outdoor cafes and bars if only to immerse ourselves in the ambiance of shooting the breeze, so to speak. Besides, it’s really nice to sit it out for some beverages after being on one’s feet in the many neighbouring art galleries. The pandemic may have reduced the visiting crowd but certainly not the interest and enthusiasm of the few who come. Online shopping for art may be the new norm but a serious collector would still want to view such creations up close and personal. There comes also this newfound respect for young artists as one observes how their art evolved through this rough period.

Hi everyone! On our latest Bangkok adventure, here’s a blog summary. For updates, follow lifeisacelebration on Facebook and/or subscribe to this blog site.

Our Bangkok Cribs

Floating Market

Elephant Ride

Bang Pa-In Palace

Ayutthaya UNESCO Heritage Site

A Thai Engagement Procession

A Thai-Buddhist Wedding Ceremony

Art In Paradise Trick-Eye Museum

Chocolate Ville

Terminal 21

Keep reading!

A week after I visited a monastery run by Benedictine Monks down South, I was reminded of my Visita Iglesia back in April earlier this year. Among the 7 churches and chapels I visited, the most striking in my book was the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, more popularly called San Beda Chapel. It is a gem waiting to be discovered and rediscovered…… in an area more remembered as the posh San Miguel district in Manila where the moneyed and high society used to lead elegant lifestyles by the banks of the then clean, oil spill-free Pasig River. Quite ironically, it is also known of late as the Mendiola site that bore witness to way too many rallies, even bloody protests, as rallyists marched towards Malacañang.




Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat



This neo-Gothic Chapel was designed by a Swedish architect by the name of George Asp. It would have looked even lovelier when it was consecrated in 1925, with those Sistine Chapel-like ceilings painted by artist-monk Fr. Lesmes Lopez, a Benedictine Monk. Awesome is an overused word, but yes, it is indeed awesome!




You would have thought you’re somewhere in Europe. But naah, this is the San Beda Chapel right in Mendiola!



The stars in the galaxy must have conspired to spare this magnificent church from the destruction of the Second World War. Just a block away from Malacañan Palace by the Pasig River, both structures survived the carpet bombing during the Battle of Manila. Many of its historic counterparts in Intramuros were not as lucky. It surprises me though that not too many are even aware of the striking beauty of this college chapel. One look at the painting of the Apotheosis of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, the retablo and many bronze angels holding lamps to illumine the chapel in a “Rennaissance” kind of way, and you’re transported out of the slums, dirt, grime, chaos of Manila. I can imagine the old rich and elite hearing Sunday masses in this lovely college chapel back then. Can you?





Photo Sourced from the Net

Originally intended as a public library but subsequently built to house the Legislature, this magnificent building designed by Juan Arellano was a casualty during the Battle of Manila in 1945. It was reconstructed in 1946 based on the original plans and remained the august halls of the Senate of the Philippines until it moved out in 1996. It took nearly a decade to transform this architectural treasure into what it is now: the official repository of national arts, treasures, archaeological finds and historical relics. The National Art Gallery of our very own National Museum.





The Old Senate of the Philippines. Fully restored!


Check out this hall where many statesmen of old (a rarity now) used to walk!



Whenever I visit the Museum, I always start with the Hall of Masters. It’s like paying your respects to geniuses the likes of Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. If that P150 (US$4) admission fee entitles one to a viewing of Luna’s Spoliarium and Hidalgo’s Assassination of Governor Bustamante ALONE, it would have been worth it. But there’s more. LOTS MORE. One visit won’t be enough.




The ornate ceiling in the Old Senate Hall within the National Art Gallery.


The Marker of the Old Senate Hall of the Philippines.



The Old Senate Hall has been completely restored. Here, where many revered statesmen walked the very floors and whose walls echoed many speeches from statesmen whose names now grace many street signs, shrines and monuments. Thank you, National Museum for allowing us to reconnect with our past. Thank you, Jeremy Barns, Museum Director, and everyone else who made this possible.




How many National Anthems were played in this Hall?


The Entrance to the National Art Gallery.


Lovely Building. Next up: Museum of Natural History. In the same area!

WHO IS JONES? Why was this oldest bridge in the Philippines named Jones Bridge?




Puente de Espana, then Jones Bridge, to honor the man behind the Jones Act granting independence to the Philippine Islands.



WILLIAM ATKINSON JONES. Member of US House of Representatives from 1891 to 1918. Right about the same period when the US bought the Philippines from Spain for $20 million. Imagine that. US$20Million for 7,107 islands.




The Post Office Building and the Jones Bridge. Two landmarks rich in history.



Back to the question — why was the bridge named after Rep. William Atkinson Jones? Used to be called Puente de España since it was built in 1701 spanning over Pasig River and connecting Binondo to the core of the capital city of Manila. Originally done by Juan Arellano in the Neo-Classical design but destroyed and renamed Jones Bridge by the US Colonial Government in 1916 to honor the man who sponsored the bill, later enacted into law, granting independence to the Philippines. Bombed out in World War II, this formerly ornate arch bridge was yet again rebuilt but in simpler design after 1945. The oldest bridge in the country.




Not my copy. Credits to Old Manila Nostalgia.



When Jones died in 1918, the Philippines paid for the marker on his grave in gratitude for the Jones Act which granted Philippine Independence. So much history behind this bridge across Pasig River with a bonus grand view of yet another landmark, the Postal Office of Manila. Next time you head for Binondo or Chinatown and cross this bridge from Plaza Lawton, think Philippine Independence. 😉

Many would remember it as that restaurant where Pinoy, Chinoy, and Tisoy cuisines merged, and which became a landmark off Echague Street. While it has since moved to 750 Florentino Torres near C.M.Recto and Soler Streets, the aura remains the same. It helps that the furniture exudes the same illustrado character, where an Amorsolo-ish painting hangs on one side of the wall  and where menu offerings are written in chalk on boards hanging on another side.




And there’s that lone boar tied to the door…………. Could that be “Liempo” or “Pork Chop”?


Ambos Mundos. Claims to be the oldest resto in the Philippines. 1888



The “best of both worlds”. East and West? Ambos Mundos. I can imagine men in tailored suits (yes, they really dressed up back when Recto Avenue was still called Azcarraga) dining here. Perhaps feasting on either Paella Ambos or Morisqueta Tostada. Or would it be Lengua or Buntot Estofada? Many Filipinos think of Callos and Morcon as “fiesta fare” — special dishes served whenever there is reason or an occasion to celebrate. In the same breadth, Filipinos likewise drool over their favorite local food, and by that, I mean favorite local Filipino and Chinese food. Crispy Pata, Bulalo, Lumpia Ubod, Pancit Bijon, Asado, etcetera!




That menu is a real fusion of Chinoy, Pinoy and Tisoy Cuisines.


Chinoy or Pinoy or Tisoy Cuisine in Ambos Mundos. 1888



Is it really the oldest restaurant in the country?  Both Ambos Mundos and Panciteria Toho Antigua claim to be the oldest, having operated since 1888. Who’s to tell? Both were my childhood favorites, by the way. But where Toho appears like many other old Chinese restaurants, Ambos Mundos has an altogether different charm. Very old world. Complete with pot-bellied black pigs tied to its front doors! (A recent addition, I suspect) Some keep pet dogs. Or pet kittens. But pet boars? We’re told they’re there for good luck. There must be a grain of truth in that. After all, they’ve been around since 1888!




My 2 amigas eagerly wait for our order of Morisqueta Tostada, Lengua Estofado and Patatas con Giniling.



See you again, “Liempo” and “Pork Chop”! We weren’t very happy with the Morisqueta Tostada, Lengua Estofado and Patatas con Giniling that we ordered — not as good as I remember 😉 — but we’re willing to try the other dishes next time we visit. 😉 OINK OINK




Another set of pet boars just across the street in Wah Sun, same owners. A Gaudinez married into the Leung Family who owns this Chinese resto since 1955.


They say you can order from either/both menus of Ambos Mundos and Wah Sun across the street. Same owners.



Addendum: This is even more interesting. Thanks to Teresa Gaudinez-Martinez, I now have a chance to straighten out some “kinks” and misinformation in this blog. Foremost is that THIS IS NOT THE AUTHENTIC AMBOS MUNDOS RESTAURANT. “Both Worlds” (Ambos Mundos) refer to Spanish and Filipino cuisines. NEVER INCLUDED CHINESE CUISINE. Huh? And there was NEVER A PET BOAR outside the restaurant. Huh again! Teresa, I have read all your blogs and sympathize with your legal woes. Obviously, there’s a long story fraught with family, legal, proprietary rights issues here. Thank you for taking the time to make the corrections. To our readers, here’s the link to Teresa’s Ambos Mundos blogs.

Thought I’d line up my blogs on “walks and drives” around Manila for those who are interested. In many of these walks and drives, a good 4 hours may be enough. Likely less if you just want to concentrate on a certain area. You can walk around, hop on and off your car or some public transport, combine 2 trips and plan a good lunch in-between, or simply visit a Museum to linger for the next couple of hours. If you’re with children, I’d most certainly advise planning a good meal after 2 hours or so. Attention span and all, you know. A good meal never fails, and I’d usually have the first leg as the “more serious walk through history” and make sure the 2nd post-meal leg involves some window shopping (a.k.a. “Street desserts” and other sweet munchies) or less serious history stuff or simply more open spaces.








Say Hello to “Mi Ultimo Adios”

San Agustin Church in Intramuros

Four Hours To Waste in Manila

Some Photographs From Manila

Universidad de Santo Tomas (UST)

Baluarte De San Diego in Intramuros

Paco Park



Dummy Goes To The National Museum

National Art Gallery: Searching For More Lunas

Up Close: Luna and Hidalgo

Hidalgo and Luna: Genius Has No Country



A Preview of the Cemetery Tour: Wait Till The Shoe Lady Dies

The Old (and Dead) Rich of La Loma

A Nearly-Forgotten Panchong in North Cemetery



Angono: Art Capital of thePhilippines

Silangan Gardens and Pinto Art Gallery

Antipolo’s Suman, Kasuy and Pan Lechon?



CHINATOWN & Other sites

A Walking Tour of Binondo

Binondo Walk With Kids

The Street Vendors Of Manila

Harbour Square in CCP Complex



Urban Escapades

Weekend At The Pen

HOTEL CELESTE: A Pleasant Staycation




Just How Do You Eat Alagao?

What To Feed Your Guests (Part 1)

What To Feed Your Guests (Part 2)

Vieux Chalet in Antipolo

Pinoy Ice Cream? Check This Out!


Another one of those afternoons. No cams. Not even a Point & Shoot. Just Siri and Me. Just another hour to “waste”. So here we are, revisiting Paco Park. That lovely, tiny, circular chapel. And the cemetery that could have, SHOULD HAVE earned more attention, respect and recognition other than as a popular wedding venue. 😦






I confess to my own ignorance too. Not that I lacked interest. More like I truly feel there is something grievously wrong about how our history has been written and our own education and school system. Whatever I know of Philippine history, I gained from the books I bought and read. What I learned from school hardly went beyond Rizal’s martyrdom. Let’s admit this. Many history lessons stopped with Magellan’s death courtesy of Lapu-Lapu (so, what happened to Lapu Lapu after? Any guess?), or with Rizal’s martyrdom in Bagumbayan (where was our national hero interred following the 1896 execution?). Or how many Philippine heroes can you name and how much do we know of each? If we hardly know Rizal our national hero, I do not expect we can say much of Bonifacio, Mabini, Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora.







For some, if not many, it would come as a surprise that the 3 martyred priests are actually buried here. It may even surprise some that their execution in 1872 inspired our national hero to write El Filibusterismo.. Today, this marker may not spark as much enthusiasm and evoke much significance among many locals. How sad.







Circling the same Paco Park, a patch of land bears another marker. This is the very spot where our national hero was SECRETLY buried soon after the December 30, 1896 execution in Bagumbayan. Zoom in on that marker to know more! 😉



We didn’t plan on being here. We met for early lunch hoping to simply chat the afternoon away. But why not chat while driving around Intramuros, much like those joy rides we used to enjoy when we were kids?






Then the calesa passed right in front of us. It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon and those riders didn’t seem to mind the heat nor the sun. Well, it wasn’t particularly hot this afternoon. Pleasant enough to get off the car and walk into Baluarte de San Diego here in Intramuros. It’s a better option than the more open spaces in Fort Santiago. More shady trees too.







For only 75 pesos (less than US$2), one can get in to enjoy the “park with some history”. There were kids running around with their dog in the shady part of the Baluarte. Not many tourists. Many of them must be in Fort Santiago or San Agustin Church and Monastery. Yet this is one of the oldest stone fortifications in the whole length of the Intramuros walls.







The old stone steps lead up to the walls from where one views this circular stone formation, the length of the walls, and the Manila Hotel and other modern skycrapers surrounding the walled city. I remember being here years back when I attended a wedding of a friend’s daughter where I stood as sponsor. I would have wanted to walk atop the walls, but my long gown got in the way 🙂 Today, there is no such restriction.







Will someone please tell me how these circular stone formations were used? Surely, the good Jesuit priest who designed it back in the 16th century had some purpose in mind. I mean, I do know they’re there to defend the walled city but my simple mind can’t understand the many circular formations. From what I gather, this part of the Walls went into disrepair and were in fact only rediscovered in the 70s. Forgive my ignorance, but I’m most certainly eager to know how that circular design work.








These days, the Baluarte (Baluarte means bastion or fortification) is more popular as a wedding reception venue. I wish it could be more than that. The place has so much history and is, in fact, a lovely “park” which children would enjoy. The only drawback is it could be really hot during summer here. I sure hope the Intramuros Administration consider late afternoon and dusk tours here and around Intramuros. It will require some investment in good lighting and better security, but I’m sure tourists and even locals would enjoy the place better as the day approaches sunset and at night. Play some good music too (like in Paco Chapel and Cemetery) and you’d turn the Baluarte more magical!