Category: Pinoy Culture atbp.

Sorry, blog

I’m currently a neglectful blogger.  My blogging time has been eaten up by other things – such as new online drug Twitter and a steadily growing pile of unread books – not counting Tin’s library, which I will soon raid.  Add to that the undue stress at work.  Let’s just say that someone forgot the “design” half of the job title. And it’s the more crucial half!  I hope to get my blogging rhythm back soon.  I really need that, the way things are going.  I’m just glad that other areas of offline life are going well.


In other news…I’m getting the new iPod Nano as a just-because present from my cousin!  Her parents are coming over from New York in October, and they’re bringing it with them.  The video cam, voice recorder and FM radio totally sold me on it.  It’s now a perfect travel must-have.


The cousin mentioned above also told me an endearing story about our nephew.  Jollibee New York opened several months ago, and is still getting long lines until now.  Our nephew was born here, but moved to the States when he was about 10 years old.  He now goes to Cornell University.  On his Winter break, he, along with his Pinoy Cornell friends and his brother, stood in line for 2 1/2 hours in freezing temperature just to get their Jollibee fix! This is an endearing story for me because my nephew is such a, in colloquial terms, “conyo” kid.  I never imagined that he would fall in line that long for a Jollibee meal.  It’s really nice to know that he still has that kind of Filipino-ness.

My cousin, on the other hand, still couldn’t find the patience for the long lines in spite of her endless craving for sweet spaghetti.  This is the cousin who asked for sugar and added it to her spaghetti while dining in a five-star hotel. How the waiters were horrified, haha!  However, she wrote something in her email that really made me laugh:  “Pero pag may Max’s Fried Chicken na dito, makiki-pila na din ako!!!”  I could sooo imagine her making a beeline for it first thing in the morning. 😀


Well, that takes care of this week’s blogging.  Hope to be back sooner than I’ve been doing so these past few months.

Scenes from everyday MRT commute:

(Chubby lady #1 squeezes herself in the last remaining space the size of a postage stamp.  She barely fits, yet still pulls her companion inside the train with her.)

Chubby lady #1:  Dali, pasok, kasya ka pa! (Chubby lady #2 tries to enter, but only her right leg and shoulder gets in)

Chubby lady #2:  Sure ka?  Hindi na, o!

Chubby lady #1:  Oo naman, bilis! (Tries to move further inside train, but hits  a wall of unmoving bodies – bodies that can no longer move however badly they want to! Whistle sounds.)

Guard:  Miss, hindi na kayo kasya kahit ano gawin nyo!

(Chubby Lady #1 finally gives up and both ladies step back onto the platform. Yours truly quickly hops into the space vacated by the ladies.  My much thinner frame fits, but barely.)


Another MRT evening:

Platform filled almost to capacity.  Train pulls in, stops, and a horde of ladies converge through a 2 1/2 foot-wide opening.  I give up and stand still on the platform, seeing that there’s no more space inside.  The next thing I know, I am inside – and quite a way inside, not merely by the door!  Someone from the back gave a mighty push that allowed around 5 people to get in before the doors closed.  Said one lady:  “Sino yun?  Ang lakas, ah!” Laughter all around.


And yet another evening:

Guadalupe station – Crowd of ladies rush in.  One tried to squeeze herself between another lady and the door.  Lady #2 wasn’t happy about it since there wasn’t much room so she pushed out Lady #1 – and quite hard!  Lady #1 tried to squeeze in again, but was pushed out once more.  Once she got her bearing on the platform, a screaming match ensued, consisting of these statements:  “Mag-taxi ka kung ayaw mong masiksik!”  “Ikaw ang mag-taxi!” “Mag-taksi ka!”  “Ikaw ang mag-taxi!” Over and over, until mercifully, the doors closed.


Lastly…I got my second “MRT injury” last night.  I have a 3-inch scratch on the inside of my right arm.  Someone again tried to do the impossible and scraped my arm with something she was carrying.  My previous injury was a very painful bruise.  Someone in stillettos stepped on my flipflop-shod foot.   Ouch!

If only the MRT would be like the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia or the Ministry of Magic’s cars.



I’ve finally found my version of Luke’s Diner – minus Luke.  For those not familiar with it, Luke’s is the iconic diner in the TV series, Gilmore Girls.  It’s one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and I always wished that I had a Luke’s.

Mama Chit’s Coffee House is our neighborhood’s Luke’s Diner, though “Coffee House” is such a misnomer.  They don’t serve the usual coffee variants, and they don’t even have pastries.  It really is a diner.  The specialties are the grilled burgers and sandwiches.

Aside from the really yummy and tummy-filling cheeseburger, it is the decor that gives character to Mama Chit’s.  The interior is decorated in 60s vintage pop.  Music from the 60s (Beatles, yay!) also plays in just the right volume – not too loud to get in the way of conversations, but loud enough to really complement the ambiance.  




One wall is decorated with large portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley surrounded by black and white photos of Old Manila.  The opposite wall and the rest of the diner contain posters and other 60s-70s pop culture relics.





The counter:







I miss the old black phone!  It was where I first learned numbers, but no one told me if I ever counted “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-0”.  😀

The food scene in our neighboorhood is booming, with establishments that combine good food and perfect ambiance.  We have the Italian Bellini’s, Filipiniana Cafe Kapitan, and now the vintage 60s Mama Chit’s – all in the same street, within 3 blocks of one another.

@Alchemy, April 25, 2-6pm

This edition’s theme was Why Not Be True? Tribute to Pinoy Subculture Tribes.  It focused on why it’s good to stay in the country and how we could make something out of our passion and use it to contribute towards making ourselves, other people, and our country better.  Speakers included Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet, Bong Rojales of LomoManila, Gabby Dizon of Flipside Games, Phil Cahiwat of Level-Up Games, Rej Layug of New Worlds Alliance, and director Floy Quintos.  “Tribes” were also present, with representatives speaking about their advocacies and/or showcasing their works.  There was the performance by Tribo Manila, live doodling by WeeWillDoodle, and live painting by Pilipinas StreetPlan.  Other tribes present were YTrip, (some members came in full costume of course!), JZone, YVote, One Tama, EntrepBuff, and comic book creators.   

Tribo Manila performance:





Lego Man (who refuses to utter even a single word while wearing his mask because after all, Legos don’t talk):




The wall art behind me and Florence was the result of the live doodling.

Each of the speakers and the tribes posed a “Why Not?” question, and some of the more interesting ones were Phil Cahiwat’s “Why not play with yourself?” (this one drew a lot of guffaws from the audience), Bong Rojales’ “Why not shoot without thinking?”, and Floy Quintos’ “Why not learn the rules so you can break them?”.

Floy Quintos’ talk was my favorite, and probably the most relevant to me.  He identified 10 items that define pop culture, and explained why they can equally be a positive thing and a trap.  He also had some words on the eternal struggle of creatives – that of reconciling the need to create “high art” and the struggle to pay the bills (or, as he says in the vernacular, “ang mag-benta ng sabon“).  He only had a simple advice:  “Get in, do the work, and get out.”  He also warned against being consumed by either extreme.  The key is to find a way to balance both worlds.  He also shared about “Aling Tasing” – representative of the common mass audience – (pretty much like “Juan de la Cruz”) a fictional character that the creatives in the entertainment industry refer to whenever they brainstorm for TV shows, etc.  When coming up with a concept, they would always ask themselves, “Maiintindihan ba yan ni Aling Tasing?” (Would Aling Tasing get it?)  Again, there are merits as well as disadvantages to that.  Someone from the audience raised the question of how Aling Tasing’s taste has changed over the years, or if it even has changed.  Floy Quintos said that yes, it has changed, but only up to a certain degree.  There is still that elevation threshold that hasn’t been breached.  He cited an example, but he wanted it off-the-record.  Let’s just say that what everyone thought was infallible was actually not.  The follow-up question was whether that taste elevation barrier would eventually be broken, and he was confident that it would – but not now.  “It will happen when you’re in your 40s,” he said.  Most of the people the room were in their twenties, so do the math.

It was a good forum, with a mix of idealism and a healthy dose of reality.  It’s not about finding answers, but rather about finding options and ideas that we may not have thought of before.  Learn more about it here.  I think the videos of the talks will eventually be posted.

Fridays and Munggo

Wala lang…I just still find it amusing, even after many years of working, that the Friday menu of every cafeteria, “Jolli-jeep” and “Manang”  always includes munggo.  I understand that it has its roots in Lenten Season abstinence, but really, why does it always have to be munggo and not any other vegetable?  Maybe it has become some sort of comfort food for those who love munggo.  I still see office workers who get genuinely excited at seeing it on the menu.  And the “Munggo Friday” phenomenon lives on…

Our parish’s Good Friday procession was controversial again.  I’ve already written about the roots of this controversy, and everyone thought it was somewhat resolved – but not quite.  All was well in the Holy Wednesday procession.  Then came Good Friday and the tale of the two processions.

There was already an inkling of trouble when, several weeks before, the parish had to ask City Hall to mediate resulting in a memorandum of agreement between the parish and the saint owners.  The renegade saint owners were still invited to join the procession, provided that they abide by the regulations.  If they refuse to do so, they could still proceed with the procession, but they have to be BEHIND the Church’s official one.  Copies of the memorandum of agreement were posted on each “official” caroza to make it easier to identify them.

On Good Friday, a procession passed our street, but we knew it wasn’t the official one.  For one thing, there were no Knights of the Altar to lead it off.  We also knew that it was a late break-away, since the carozas had the memorandum of agreement posted on them.  There were also less than 10 carozas only.  Then I overheard one of the marshals saying that another procession is/would be passing by the main road, which is parallel to our street.  Right after the last caroza passed by our house, we went to the other street, and sure enough, the official Church procession has just started to pass.  Now, the incident…

Our street ends by curving to the main road.  Shortly after we started watching the Church’s procession, it suddenly stalled – for more than 10 minutes.


The neighborhood was buzzing.  It appeared to be that the two processions met at the corner and there must have been an impasse.  Speculation was that the breakaway group tried to put one over the parish by going ahead of them, instead of going behind them as previously agreed upon.  Things got sorted out eventually, and the procession finally moved.

Then, following closely behind was another procession.  Nothing controversial though; it was just the Aglipay one.  Haay, only in Marikina…

P.S.  One of the reasons of the break-away group: Their request that the procession pass through our street instead of the main road was not granted. Again, sigh…

We got our first carolers this evening.  Shortly before that, there was also a TV Patrol story on stores selling Christmas decors.  We really don’t need to look far for evidence that Christmas season in the Philippines indeed begins in September.  We Filipinos really love extended celebrations.  Just look at our version of Oktoberfest this year – it began this month and will last for 120 days!  But what I’m really looking forward to is the super long Christmas break.  Because of GMA’s holiday economics (that’s the one thing I really do appreciate about her), workers who are following a Philippine holiday schedule will have an almost full 2-week break for the Christmas holidays.  Merry Christmas everybody! 😀

Last night, while waiting for the episode of Chef to Go (where not only the food is yummy 😉 , I was able to see the tail-end of the QTV show, Pinaka.   They featured the  most memorable Pinoy sitcoms, but I was only able to catch the number one show, which was John en Marsha.  I suddenly remembered another beloved sitcom from my childhood – Ang Manok ni San Pedro.  I wondered if it was on the list.

I was filled with visions of Ugis, the white-feathered rooster that Teban (played by Lito Pimentel) got from San Pedro, while a line from the show’s theme song kept playing inside my head:  “Ang manok ni San Pedro, na ugis ang balahibo…”  If I remember my Ilonggo correctly, ‘ugis’ means ‘white’.  Geez, what I’d give to have a DVD set of this sitcom, haha!  Hmm…I think somebody’s gonna be emailing the Nostalgia Manila blogger to feature this sitcom  😀

If there’s one place here in Metro Manila where nothing really changes, it would be the Quiapo area, including Chinatown.  After more than a decade, I was back in the innards of Quiapo and Sta. Cruz.  For the first time ever, I went with my dad to buy Chinese ham at Excelente.  He used to do it by himself since I was little.  Oh, I have been to Excelente with my parents at other times, but never during the Christmas season.  It’s a family tradition dating back to the time of my grandfather.  We were supposed to buy the ham last Christmas Eve (the only time we both had), but didn’t want to brave the mass of people that would surely be there.

Since we were going to Quiapo anyway, I asked my dad if we could also pass by Ongpin in Chinatown to get my favorite pork mahu and Eng Bee Tin hopia.  The first thing I noticed was that nothing much has changed in Ongpin since the last time I was there, which was 3 years ago.  We then went inside Sta. Cruz church for a while, then it was on to Carlos Palanca street for the Excelente ham.

It was a nostalgia trip for us.  I can’t count the number of times I came to this area with my parents when I was a kid.  My parents loved going to Chinatown and visiting their wedding godfather, the owner of Besa Shoes at Escolta.  Then we would usually end up at Carlos Palanca, which was then called Echague, to buy ham and bread.  Ah…those pre-mall years. 😀  My dad knows the area like the back of his hand since this was where he stayed when he first came to Manila as a college freshman up to the time he married my mom.  Even he attested that very little has changed.  Sure, some things looked newer, but that was it.  While walking along Carlos Palanca, I saw a sign that said ‘Vienna Bakery’.  That looked oddly familiar.  And when we finally passed it, I saw that it was indeed our favorite bakery.  One peek and I saw that nothing inside had changed!  It looked exactly as I remembered it from more than ten years ago.  It even smelled the same!  It was the same thing when we reached Excelente.  It was like the only change was that we’re older now…and I’m the one paying for the ham, haha!  When I told my dad about Vienna Bakery later on, he confirmed that it was indeed where we liked to buy bread before…and that it was also my grandfather who introduced that tradition.

Yesterday was a good day – a blast from the past to mark the days leading to a new year.  Sorry there are no pictures.  I was scared to whip out my cell phone, much more a digicam, hehe.  But it’s good to experience the best and worst of exotic Manila.  I swear I felt like a tourist. 😀

I rarely ever forward a chain email, much less post it here, but I just couldn’t resist this one.  (Guffaw, guffaw!)

Here goes:

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE  1950s, 60s and 70s !!

First, some of us survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. (Sioktong ang inumin)  They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, fish from a can (brand: ligo), and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints, pati na yung laruang kabayu-kabayuhan.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, no kneepads, sometimes wala ngang preno yung bisikleta.

As children, we would ride in car with no seat belts or air bags – hanggang ngayon naman, di ba? (jeep)  Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle (minsan straight from the faucet).  We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this. Or contacted hepatitis.

We ate rice with tinunaw na purico (dahil ubos na ang star margarine), nutribuns na galing kay Macoy and drank sopdrinks with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight kasi nga……WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. Sarap mag patintero, tumbang preso, habulan taguan….No one was able to reach us all day (di uso ang cell phone, walang beepers). And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our trolleys or slides out of scraps and then ride down the street, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms……..WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. The only rubbing we get is from our friends with the words…..masakit ba? Pero pag galit yung kalaro mo, ang sasabihin sa iyo…..beh buti nga!

We play in the dirt, wash our hands a little and ate with our barehands…we were not afraid of getting worms in our stomachs.

We have to live with homemade guns – gawa sa kahoy, tinali ng rubberband, sumpit, tirador at kung anu-ano pa na pwedeng makasakit…..pero walang nagrereklamo.

Made up games with sticks (syatong)and cans (tumbang preso)and although we were told it would happen, wala naman tayong binulag o napatay….paminsan-minsan may nabubukulan.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

Mini basketball teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Walang sumasama ang loob.

Ang magulang ay nandoon lang para tignan kung ayos lang ang bata….hindi para makialam.

This generation of ours has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and managers ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned  HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the government regulated our lives for our own good.  And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!

Laughs aside, it’s all true isn’t it?  Especially the last few paragraphs.  😉