Monday, May 25, 2015


Manila is a city that never sleeps and won't make you sleep. Every nook and cranny has something interesting for a passerby- a structure from the art deco era, assorted pieces of garbage, a dog with a waggly tail, or a cat with an arched back eagerly waiting for a stranger's caress. The whole place speaks of life. It may be a city of grime but it is a city bursting with life where every resident whether human, dog, or cat gets to have a chance to have his own space no matter how little it is. Manila breathes its colorful existence and candidness right on your face. The combination of high rise infrastructures, city garbage, vagrants, ordinary folks, and tourists give it a certain charm that is just unique and quite endearing.

As my brother and I traveled on foot, we got to witness the start of a wedding ceremony in Malate Church, visit the historical Luneta Hotel, enjoy the breeze, sound, and varied smell of Roxas Boulevard, delight ourselves with mango lassie and shawarma at Kashmir Restaurant, and reminisce my heydays at the Hobbit House.

After watching a bride walk down the aisle inside Malate Church, we strolled along Roxas Boulevard under the scorching heat of the sun. The breeze was warm on the skin. People lived along Roxas Boulevard in carts together with their family members, dogs, cats, and whatever little belongings they had. As we paused for a while to enjoy the sight of the sea and everything else around us, our attention was caught by a naked woman holding an empty plastic bottle using it to titillate her thing down under. Poor girl, she was obviously mentally ill. Since she was starting to curse and follow everyone in sight, we had to hurry and walk as briskly as we could but carefully as the pavement had several holes big enough for our two legs.

So we continued with our journey, stopped at the Manila Yacht Club and had our pictures taken in front of it. Being naturally curious and makikay, I wanted to see its mini lobby and have my photos taken only to be prevented by a snooty male receptionist manning the counter who seemed not pleased having strangers in his territory. He curtly told us without even glancing that the place was exclusively for members only. We decided not to be angry thinking that perhaps the guy was having his andropause or just having a bad hair day.

Kashmir Restaurant has been in existence since 1979. It boasts of Indian, Malaysian, and Arab cuisine with customers mostly Arabs, Indonesians, and Europeans. The menu consists of dishes that are a bit too pricey for ordinary diners like us so we opted to order instead two glasses of mango lassie and chicken shawarma which my brother and I shared. Mango lassie  is a delicious concoction of yoghurt, milk, and mango juice while chicken shawarma is made up of minced chicken wrapped in tortilla. The waiter who seemed to have been "time warped" with his well polished hair reminded me of 1960's actors. He came back three times and cajoled us to order more exotic dishes and pointed to the really expensive ones. We were nearly persuaded had we not been strong-willed enough to resist the tempting photos of the dishes spread before us. We primly declined lest we end up walking back home to Quezon City. So we took the bill, paid a total of five hundred plus pesos, said thank you to the half-smiling waiter who at this time had dropped all pretensions of liking us, and continued on our way.

It was a surprise to see that Hobbit House was still operational, only this time it was in M.H. del Pilar and not in Malate anymore. I remember having been always there during my college days after 6 pm. It was a favorite hangout for me and my three friends where we used to dream becoming famous writers, singers, and painters someday, drink, and smoke marlboro red like there was no tomorrow, and listen to folk songs until the wee hours of the morning.  Memories of my carefree days simply inundated my thoughts as I gulped my San Mig lights and listened to a frail looking girl sing an upbeat song.

We took a cab whose driver outsmarted us by taking a longer route in bringing us home for a bigger fare. He was a cab driver who ripped off these two unsuspecting local tourists from Quezon City old enough to be his tito and tita. What a shame! Yet we decided not to be angry again. After all, our trip to Manila was worth it despite the little hassles that we encountered. In fact, the sight, sound, and smell of Manila continued to mesmerize me and were still on my mind as I closed my eyes to sleep.

Adecsky Explorer in Manila

The Malate Church 

Friendly cats eager for a caress

The Manila Yacht Club

Roxas Boulevard

Young men fishing

At the Luneta Hotel

At the Kashmir Restaurant enjoying our mango lassie and chicken shawarma

Kashmir boasts of Indian, Malaysian and Arab cuisine

A visit to the Hobbit House 

One for the road at the Hobbit House

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

KATHA- The Flower Bloom: on birth and rebirth

We paint flowers to express the feelings that we wish to communicate visually. For flowers are indeed wondrous tools of nature that speak of our joy, hope, sadness, and the continuation of life; flowers don't just convey varied emotions but also give us a sense of eternity- that everything that dies will be reborn.

The National Parks Development Committee through its project, Katha, proudly presents the works of four Filipino independent artists, Arvin Bryan Narvaez, Arlene de Castro-Anonuevo, Jose Erwin Mallare, and Marcos Arsenio Royales Xl. In the exhibit, "The Flower Bloom: on birth and rebirth", we present flowers from different perspectives, interpretations, and styles. This art exhibit is truly a celebration of blooms and human emotions for this month of flowers.

In art, katha means the creation of the artist. Katha is the title for this monthly series of exhibit at the Rizal Park Visitor's Center in Rizal Park, Manila that serves as a free platform for young, independent Filipino artists to showcase their art works. A brainchild of John David Salenda, the Marketing, Events, and Project Officer of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), Katha is now on its second successful month. This month's art exhibit opened on May 10 and runs until June 10, 2015.

The Rizal Visitor's Center is open to the public for free everyday of the week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. For inquiries, please contact Mr. John David Salenda at 3027079, 09394280771 or at

The participating artists, Jose Erwin Mallare, Arvin Bryan Narvaez, and Arlene de Castro-Anonuevo

With two of my paintings that are currently on exhibit, "When Doves Cry" and "Flower Offering"

Ms. Maria Santos Viola, descendant of Philippine heroine Gregoria de Jesus, delivering an inspirational speech for us

With Mr.John David Salenda and some guests from London during the exhibit

Arvin Bryan Narvaez with his painting

Jose Erwin Mallare with his paintings

With Ms. Gilda Pasion Balang of Philippine News

With the Marketing, Events, and Project Officer of the NPDC, Mr. John David Salenda