Thursday, June 24, 2010


Charice Pempengco: the Filipina International Singing Sensation

After speculations, statements and revocation, at last it's final. On June 21, yahoo news stated that it is confirmed that Charice will recur in Glee as a foreign exchange student. This is according to one of the show's rep. With her singing talent and star factor, we hope that her role will get to be permanent rather than just recurring.

Show them what you got Charice. Make us proud!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


It is a long weekend celebration of the 112th Anniversary of the Philippine Independence (no work on June 14 since the 12th fell on a Saturday). Philippines and the Filipino community all over the world made some sort of celebrations by their own way in this historic landmark of the brown race's winning against the foreign rule.

There is also a landmark in the Philippine entertainment industry's historical account when the kayumanggi (the shade of brown that is typically associated to the native Filipino's skin color). It is the rise of the Philippine's one and only super star Miss Nora Aunor, she's the one who remarkably defied the definition of an industry's star.

Before her, the typical goddesses that decorated the country's entertainment scene then was much more of having Western features, resembling themselves to Hollywood actors and performers. Statuesque "white" (referred as mestizas) beauties were the staples of the silver screen and the stage. Likes of Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes were on the spotlight of the movies while Pilita Corales reigned in music scene, all are quintessential mestiza entertainment performers. They were all blessed with European features, fair skin and colossal height, attributes that are not common to the majority of Filipinas then.

The conventional faces of Philippine entertainment industry before Nora, on top are Ms. Amalia Fuentes and Ms. Susan Roces. Above is Asia's Queen of Songs, Ms. Pilita Corrales.

Then here comes a frail girl possessing the kayumanggi complexion and a presidential height (in today's standard, President Arrroyo stands 4'11). A water vendor, this 12 year old girl tried her luck in an amateur singing contest in Naga. From then on she made several victory on various singing contest, most notable was in Tawag ng Tanghalan.

Early days of the Super Star, on top when she was very young and thin, above with her love team Tirso "Pip" Cruz III with their "baby" (a doll gift from Pip to her) named Maria Leonora Teresa.

The rest is history. She recorded and sold more than 500 songs. As per , Noras's cover "Pearly Shells", is one of the biggest selling singles in the Philippines.

Before Sarah and Charice, there was a Nora.

She starred in 160 films and won recognitions for her acting locally and in major International Film Festivals. Her classics like Himala and Bona are still being shown internationally through major cinema events until this day. The expressiveness of her eyes is her most notable attribute in acting as per her fans (well Tyra, before you, there was Nora). They also say that whenever Nora plays for a screen play, even if it's not that well written, her interpretation of the piece does the magic touch.

Nora's immortal portrayal of Elsa, a big factor why "Himala" was chosen CNN APSA Viewers Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of all Time.

Arguably, no mestiza in the Philippine entertainment industry came as far as Nora's achievements, as critics say.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Lanchas (boats) and the river in a pier, the way it was.

Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue, this is probably the most important road in Metro Manila. It is the major link that bridges the gap between the North and the South of the Metro, as well as its suburbs. But the way we were, before the first truck of asphalt was spread out in this famous avenue, we were utilizing this so called "pearl" to link the then imperial capital to its outskirts. Pasig River was the main thoroughfare of the predecessor of today's Metro Manila.

Pasig River connects the Laguna de Bay (Philippine's largest lake) and Manila Bay. Whenever that Laguna de Bay overflows with water already, especially in the wet season, it flashes the excess to Manila Bay via this river. Pasig isn't just a nature's way of making a balance but it also became a very important connection for culture and commerce in the capital.

It was said that even before the Spanish era, the river was already used in daily needs by early Islamic-Chino-Indo kingdoms that flourished on its banks.

By the coming of the Spaniards, the river was mainly used for trade and transportation. Intramuros, the imperial capital, was built in its southern portion. El Filibusterismo, one of Rizal's two famous novels, mentions that the Pasig River had ferries that were used for mass transport. Even the imperial high society people utilized this way of transportation as told in the first chapter of Fili.

A postcard scape of the way it looked like.

Nothing changed when the Americans came. More merchandise were transported in the river from the outskirts going to popular markets.

After the Second Wold War, the start of its decline began to be visible. Illegal settlers became rampant who build their shanties along the river's banks. Constructing buildings along the river won't be as bad as what it is now if proper urban planning was applied.

Shanties along the banks of Pasig River

Some illegal settlers make the polluted Pasig River not just a giant garbage can/ septic tank in one but also a bath.

Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura? (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage?)

Even poor sanitation of these houses became a problem since these residences do not have proper waste disposal system and they made the river practically a giant garbage can and septic tank all in one. Domestic wastes are just a part of the problem. Pollutants coming from the manufacturing and agriculture industries also killed the river.

Little by little, the death of the river became apparent. Ferries ceased to travel, fishing became impossible and the foul smell alongside its garbages became notorious.

Administrations come and go tried to make some effort to salvage the river.

Its nice to know that transporting through the river was revived by several companies since the 90's. Today its good to hear that its possible to transport via ferry bus that is fully air conditioned from Pinagbuhatan, Pasig to Intramuros. Its not just a way to escape the metro's land traffic but also for us who appreciate Metro Manila landmarks and want to preserve its old charms.

The Ferry Bus sailing its way to the scenic old Manila.

Having the right arm and strategy, we can turn back time and recover the lost mutya (pearl), the mutya ng Pasig (none other than the Pasig River).

Mutya ng Pasig penned by Dr. Nicanor Abelardo, interpreted by Ms. Sylvia La Torre.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The Jai Alai Building of the Past

Its a rainy afternoon now at this part of the eastern outskirts of Manila. I think its already a goodbye to the very hot Philippine summer (or dry season). June just approached and wet season is already here. We're just hoping that the farewell of the previous season is also a hello for plenty of water that we have waited for so long for our vegetation and dams. Hope this goodbye for the dry season, but not all goodbyes are the same...

The Jai Alai Building in Taft Avenue said its farewell almost 10 years ago. The city government of Manila then started the demolition to make a room for structures that would house justice facilities for the city.

A lot of people made nods on the project of destroying the building that was synonymous for gambling and illegal activities (it was said that Jai Alai betting then was cheated, winnings were set up already). An official also tried to justify the destruction to be a symbol to the respect of justice and non-promotion of the memories of the veneration of gambling.

But some people cried out in disagreeing because the building itself is not just mainly a gambling hall. Its famous sky room was a known venue for events of the people from the high strata of the society at those days.

And most importantly, the building itself is a part of the Art Deco Style of Architecture that became prevalent at the Commonwealth era. A very few number of buildings created with the same design have remained standing after the Second World War. It's not mainly a destruction of the memories of gambling, but also a destruction of the nostalgia of a once glorious past of Manila.

If you have attended your college in Manila in the 90's (in my case, the late part of it), you will remember the building that still reflected a shadow of its past beauty, through the manner it stood, but decayed by the hands of time.

How it looked like on its final years

The building is also a reminder of the bygone glorious past that as much as we wanted to live back, we just couldn't.