A return to Escolta

Almost two months ago I got an email from an old editor asking if I wanted to write about Escolta. And it took me all of two seconds to say yes.

I spent some parts of my childhood walking the stretch of Escolta street when my mom used to work in one of the banks there. Then when the bank transferred offices and eventually we moved out of Manila, we hardly had any more reason to go back. The occasional trips to Binondo or Divisoria later on for some food tripping or bargain shopping hardly warranted any quick side trip to this almost-forgotten street.

The street is one of the oldest in Manila–it’s been around since the Spanish times, a sort of riverside commercial district. But it reached its glory days during the American rule when it became the country’s trendiest street, when the most fashionable store and glitziest restaurants set up shop. By the 1960s, it had begun to lose its lustre, when other commercial districts like Makati charmed business their way.


It was in the 1980s when my siblings and I used to walk around the street dotted with old buildings, duck inside old bookstores, watch cartoons (no adult supervision!) in one of the crumbling movie theaters (can’t remember whether it was Lyric or Capitol), and look through the clearance sales of several stores that constantly looked on the brink of closing. Escolta then was no longer the high street that it was before and when more offices left (including the bank where my mom worked), a lot of those businesses did close shop.

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Helping the victims of Typhoon Yolanda: donate, eat, read

Reading or watching the news for the past few days has just been so heartbreaking. When super typhoon Haiyan (local name, Yolanda) slammed into central Philippines last Friday, I don’t think many of Filipinos ever imagined the scale of the devastation it would cause when it made landfall.

We Filipinos are used to typhoons. Almost every year, there’s a big one. But this one was the biggest so far (it made world record as the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land in world history) and while Metro Manila and many parts of the country were spared, the images coming out of the hard-hit areas like the provinces of Leyte and Samar are just harrowing to watch. You can’t not be moved.

There are now many relief efforts being conducted; there are many ways to help. Here’s a list from Yahoo Philippines and The Happy Lab.

Below is a list of how to help if you’re overseas. UNICEF even lists how the cash donation will be used, which certainly provides perspective on how much your donation can affect more than one person or child.


A few restaurants here in Metro Manila, like Yabu: House of Katsu, have also extended their help by pledging to give 100% of their profits for a day to the victims affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

reliefPH_yabuThe restaurants of Chef Ed Bugia will also be donating 100% of their profits today, November 13, Wednesday. This was posted in their Facebook account yesterday:

“Our restos Brgr Burger-Project, Pino Filipino Comfort Food, Pipino Vegetarian, Brgy Bagnet, and Pi Breakfast & Pies will be donating 100% of our profits tomorrow, Nov 13, Wednesday to the Red Cross for the relief operations.

“We promise you kickass food and awesome service in exchange for your generosity See you and God bless you always!”

BRGR The Burger Project
38 Jupiter, Bel-Air Makati 550-1781, 11am-12mn
The Grand Towers, Vito Cruz, Manila 654-2479, 11am-9pm
122 Maginhawa, Teachers Vill, QC 351-7474, 11am-12mn

Pino Resto Bar & Pipino Vegetarian
38 Jupiter, Bel-Air Makati 550-1781, 11am-2pm, 5pm-12mn
39 Malingap, Teachers Vill, QC 44-11-773, 11am-12mn

Pi: Breakfast & Pies
39 Malingap, Teachers Vill, QC 44-11-773, 7am-10pm

Brgy. Bagnet
SM Megamall Foodcourt, 11am-10pm

Ate in all of the above mentioned restos except for Pi: Breakfast & Pies and you can definitely get great food there. Or nourish your soul by getting hold of some new poetry books. My sister’s group is organizing a book sale to raise funds for Yolanda relief efforts this Nov. 15 and 16. All sales will be donated and donation details will be posted once finalized.


Heading to the market

As a kid, I used to tag along with my mom whenever she had to go to the market–whether it was the one near our old house in Tondo or all the way in Divisoria (ground zero for bargains in Manila).

During these trips to the market, when I wasn’t pestering my mom on when we would have lunch in Jollibee or when we could go home, I observed how she would expertly haggle with the vendors over prices. A back-and-forth with her suki would ensue, sometimes one would appear insulted at the proposed price, or the other would appear as if she got the short end of the stick, but often a compromise would be reached and my mom would walk away with the item having paid for a discounted price. She did it effortlessly and unfortunately, none of us, her kids, ever acquired the same skill.

To the market!

To the market!

This Sunday morning, my sister and I went with her to Sidcor Market in Centris along EDSA in Quezon City. Under the green and white tents, we watched while our mom haggled her way to some discounts. She wasn’t always successful but when she was, my sister and I couldn’t help but shake our heads and laugh.

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New home store: Urban Abode

What a happy looking store front!

Urban Abode: What a happy looking store front!

Last weekend, when the husband had to do some car-related errands, he passed by a new home and design store in Ortigas Home Depot (which, as the name suggests, is a complex with a sprawling home depot, but it also has a sprinkling of home stores on the side, numerous restaurants and one or two car shops).

It was still closed when he passed by but judging by the store front, he thought I would like it. He told me we should try and drop by the following weekend and since I was nursing a horrible flu at the time and was only half-conscious, I completely forgot about it until we were driving along Julio Vargas Avenue last Saturday afternoon and he turned to the home depot.

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It’s the great pumpkin! (Ayala Museum presents “I Love Kusama”)


It’s the great pumpkin! (The iconic Yellow Pumpking by Yayoi Kusama, photo from Japan-Guide.com)

Before I knew her name, I knew of her art. Well, one of her works at least, the Yellow Pumpkin.

I remember watching a travel documentary years back featuring an island in Japan with a wide collection of modern art–one of which was this striking polka-dot yellow pumpkin sitting by the beach. The island was Naoshima and the artist, I found out just a month ago was Yayoi Kusama.

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