Tag Archive: Quiapo

Juan Luna’s obra maestra, the SPOLIARIUM , greets you as soon as you step into the Hall of Masters in the National Art Gallery. I have visited it quite a few times, appreciating how this painting brought and still bring so much pride to us Filipinos.

Browsing through my favorite Facebook pages, I was struck to find this photo of how the obra maestra looked in 1958. The National Museum offers this information and I do not wish to add nor subtract from it:


“Spoliarium (1958): Photo shows the Juan Luna masterpiece “Spoliarium” on display at the lobby of the Department of Foreign Affairs building on Padre Faura St. (now the Department of Justice building) where it was mounted on a wooden frame after it was shipped to the Philippines as a gift by the Franco Government in Spain that year. Unfortunately, because of its size, the painting was sliced into three pieces before it was crated and brought to the country. (The slices in the painting can be seen here) The Spoliarium was later restored by artist Antonio Dumlao before it was unveiled again in 1962. The painting remained at the DFA before it was transferred to the National Museum where it can be seen today.



The Spoliarium was entry by Luna to the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid, where it garnered the first gold medal (out of three). In 1886, it was sold to the Diputación Provincial de Barcelona for 20,000 pesetas. It measures 4.22 meters x 7.675 meters, and considered as the largest painting in the Philippines. (Thank you, Vic Torres, for the photo and the annotation.)”




Sourced from the Net

(Source: National Art Gallery)



It almost breaks your heart to see even just a photo of a visibly “split up” SPOLIARIUM. Thanks to Antonio Dumlao, we are now privileged to view this obra maestra in all its glory. But pray tell, who is ANTONIO DUMLAO?




Spoliarium at the Hall of Masters. National Art Gallery. Manila



More Internet surfing and more heartbreaks which can only be appeased by my sharing these with you.



First off, Antonio Dumlao was an accomplished artist. He was commissioned to give a “facelift” to the Juan Luna obra maestra in 1960 despite the fact that he was never trained in restoration work. In fact, he never had any formal education in the arts. He quit the same year he enrolled to study fine arts in the University of the Philippines. With or without formal education, Dumlao was a gifted artist. He was a muralist, a portrait canvas artist, a sculptor and a stained glass innovator. For many years, he served as Art Director of San Miguel Corporation and developed a friendship with his top art patron, Don Andres Soriano, through whom he met Don Manuel Elizalde, another art patron.




Antonio Dumlao. (Photo sourced from the Net)

(Photo sourced from the Net)



DUMLAO was friends with Fernando Amorsolo, a contemporary, who has great admiration and respect for his work. Ironically, not much is known about DUMLAO. Nor about his deep friendship with his childhood friend from Intramuros days, Vicente Manansala. When Dumlao had a stroke in 1979, his daughter recounted how “Mang Enteng” flew to his father’s bedside. Genuine friends, indeed. Two years after that visit, Manansala had a heart attack and died before Dumlao, who died in 1983.




Ina ng Lahi. Photo sourced from the Net.

(Sourced from the Net: “Ina Ng Lahi”. UP Vargas Museum. Filipiniana Collection.)




Not just a painter or muralist. He works on stained glass too!
Photo Sourced from the Net.

(Sourced from the Net: “Sarimanok” Stained Glass. Far eastern University)



Imagine how this gifted muralist restored Luna’s Spoliarium! Makes me wonder how much of the mural is Luna’s and how much was Dumlao’s. I know, that’s NOT fair to say. Forgive this non-artist, layman’s random thought. One thing’s for sure though. This Luna fan is now officially a Dumlao fan too. His other stained glass works are still in Malacañang and in the Mosque in Quiapo. Now, this requires a visit! Join me?


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.

We get this all the time.  Foreigners in the workplace telling us that Filipinos tend to eat every so often.  Lunch is no sandwich and a fruit.  Neither is it a half hour break.  Naaaah.  That one hour lunch break can easily stretch to a couple of hours, often blaming the traffic for not getting back soon enough. These days,  there are many joints a walking distance from the offices. But lunch is lunch, and every Filipino observes it not just as a break from work but also as a chance to chat away the blues and break the monotony of working behind a desk. As for snacks or mid-day “mini-meals”?   That’s when it is more likely to find Filipinos eating that sandwich or fruit.  But the hardcore ones would still crave for their carbo fix:  a noodle dish, rice porridge or rice cakes.  In between lunch and that midday mini-meal, don’t be surprised to find them munching peanuts, pork cracklings, chips, or splitting pumpkin seeds.


Taho. Best for breakfast!

Sago at Gulaman


Luckily for us,  there is no shortage of food to be found and bought.  Stuck in a traffic jam?  No worries.   The street vendors plying the main roads sell anything from peanuts to pork cracklings to boiled eggs to mint candies to fruits to bottled water to “fish balls, squid balls and shrimp balls”. Boiled bananas, boiled peanuts, even corn on the cob! Walking the streets of Manila is an adventure.  Every tourist should try this.  Buying street food is very much a part of every Filipino’s way of life.  And there’s more to be found in urban centers like Manila, where folks are supposed to be “busier” than their counterparts in the provinces who may have the time and energy to cook their own meals and snacks.

Halo Halo!


As it is summer, try going to San Andres Market, a stone’s throw from Malate Church.   You can get your freshest fruits here to eat, or to be made into a fruit shake.   You can’t go wrong with a 10 peso fruit shake (less than US $0.25) or the local “halo-halo” (literally means “mix-mix”) for 20 pesos (less than US$0.50). I strongly suggest you try the halo-halo which is a mixture of  sweetened fruits, ice shavings and milk, topped with a local sweetened ube yam. You can’t be more Filipino than that!



Or you may want to head all the way to Chinatown for your dimsum fix and other foodstuff.  The street vendors here range from those selling fruits, vegetables and cooked food to those selling almost anything you need to get from an honest-to-goodness hardware and supermarket.  Around Quiapo Church,  you can buy your religious icons,  candles,  fans (strongly suggested on hot, humid days) , flower garlands, brooms (yes, brooms),  fruits, vegetables , squash flowers, and fish (live, dead, smoked or dried!).  From Quiapo Church through Santa Cruz Church to Binondo Church,  you will find street stalls selling footwear, garments and again,  more foodstuff.  There is an alley near the Binondo Church called Carvajal where I wanted to buy almost everything I laid my eyes on!  Forget the diet.  There is so much to buy here to take home as TV dinners.  Sushi?  Taho? Meat loaf?  Rice cakes?  


Barbequed Pork and Innards. Guess what!

Puto Bumbong

You may also want to check out more photos from my TravelBlog site


La Gota de Leche


Skipping Manila? I know …. the sun and sand beckons in the beaches of Boracay. There’s serious diving in Palawan. You long to breathe the mountain air in Baguio and Benguet,  or simply go completely rustic in the northermost part of the country in Batanes. Or maybe you want to try your surfboards in Siargao or even check out the tarsiers and chocolate hills in Bohol.  For many, it’s the heritage sites in Vigan and Laoag in the Ilocos region, where one is transported in time to a colonial era.  The air is cleaner, less crowded, people likely less busy and thus friendlier, and board and lodging even cheaper in the islands south of Manila and the provinces north of Manila.


La Gota de Leche

And Then There’s Manila…..


I can’t blame you.  Manila is so congested, dirty in many parts of the city, and traffic is so bad.  I live in the better part of  Metro Manila not too far from the shopping malls and fancy restaurants  lining the streets of Makati.  I hardly venture out of Makati. In fact, it has been ages since I last got to the center of Manila where one finds Rizal  Park,  Intramuros with its city walls and Fort Santiago.  Whenever I have foreign visitors who have a day or a whole afternoon to spend in Manila, I would invariably bring them to Intramuros and Fort Santiago, and simply point out Rizal  Park as we pass this park along the way.  These 3 are the likely top tourist attractions in the city, but I’d say only because not too many write or talk about the other interesting historic sites in the metropolis.



No, it is not a secret.  We have heard of some of these places, even watched documentaries on television about them.  But perhaps not often  enough. Nor enough.  Many history books hardly talk about them too.  And as soon as we hear the heritage sites are in Quiapo,  many of us would either lose interest or feel not too brave to walk the streets there.   Sad but true.  And I am ashamed to admit it.


Quiapo Church




QUIAPO is best known for the Quiapo Church, the official “residence” of the Black Nazarene. Around the Church, one finds many hawkers selling religious articles side by side vendors selling “anting-anting” (charms, herbs, amulets, voodoo items) . Crossing the plaza towards the Church, one would likely meet “traders” who would not too subtly whisper the  dollar-peso exchange rate for those interested to change their precious dollars to Philippine pesos.  Mixing with the crowd are likely predators on the lookout for “innocent victims”.   You find them too in the streets of Madrid, Paris, Prague and Rome.  The bag snatchers and thieves.  Sadly, these characters kept many like me from visiting this place more often.


All That Chaos Towards A Center of Spirituality!

Garden View from Inside La Gota de Leche

La Gota de Leche


Amidst all the chaos, it is a pleasant surprise to find this corner of elegance.  A kind of class that soothes the nerves.   Like some oasis which quenches the thirst for some degree of tranquility.  


Literally means “drop of milk”.  This place was inaugurated in 1907 by then Governor-General, later US President William Howard Taft.  Designed by Arcadio and Juan Arellano, fathers of Philippine architecture, inspired by the Hospital of the Innocents, an orphanage in Florence designed by Brunelleschi, a renowned  Italian Renaissance architect.  As if to indicate what this structure stands for, there are decorative reliefs on pediments with images of infants.


Established as a clinic to address malnutrition concerns among the indigents, it was run  by the La Proteccion de la Infancia, Inc. This outreach organization was founded by philanthropist Teodoro R. Yangco in 1907. Records show the construction was completed in 1917 so that makes this building nearly a hundred years old.  You can say this organization was the country’s very first NGO or non-government organization.  A charity project dedicated to infants and young children, its operations involved the distribution of milk to indigent children. It further evolved to champion women’s rights as it also houses the “Kababaihan Laban sa Karahasan Foundation” (literally “Women Against Violence”). The charity organization exists to this day, and must take credits for the restoration of this building in 2002-2003, for which it was awarded the 2003 Heritage Award of the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.


Located in 859 Sergio Loyola Street (parallel to Morayta Street), La Gota de Leche is very near the University of the East.  It almost sticks out like a sore thumb in the University Belt, in Sampaloc to be precise, in an  area hemmed in by sidewalk vendors, dilapidated buildings and smelly trash bins. But La Gota stands proud like an old contessa, with its cross-vaulted arcaded loggias, front garden and a non-functional water fountain.

Bahay Nakpil

Bahay Nakpil


Bahay means house.  This is the house of the Nakpils and Bautistas, built in 1914 Truth is the house should be called Bahay Nakpil-Bautista. Besides being a century-old house , its distinction lies in its being home to some of our heroes of the 1896 revolution.  Located in A. Bautista Street, just off Ramon Hidalgo Street,  the 2 Philippine flags and a marker in front of the house are the only tell-tale signs that it is a house of distinction.  Right beside it is another house, even older, which seems ready to collapse anytime. Both are of the “bahay na bato” architecture which literally means “house made of stone”, though structure is really that of an upper storey made of wood built over a stone foundation.  Typical of the bahay na bato, architect Arcadio Arellano incorporated Viennese Secession motifs into the making of the house. Oddly, the style was adopted after the family received a gift of Secessionist furniture such that the design of the house worked around the furniture motifs.


Street Scene @Bahay Nakpil


The house is owned and built by Dr. Ariston Bautista, a noted propagandist during the Philippine Revolution .  His wife was Petrona Nakpil, whose brother, Julio Nakpil, composed the secret society Katipunan’s patriotic hymns.  Katipunan was founded by Andres Bonifacio, who is married to Gregoria de Jesus.  Inside, there is a marker citing that this has also been home to Gregoria de Jesus, widow of working class hero Andres Bonifacio, who then married Julio Nakpil.  Bahay Nakpil-Bautista was also the place where the family operated its Plateria Nakpil which crafted many jewelry pieces highly prized by Manila’s elite at the time. As distinguised Quiapo families,  the house witnessed many social gatherings and concerts aside from being home to national heroes and artists. Continue reading