The World Is Ticking

Be Financially Independent In The Philippines

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Holy Week Movies/TV Series of My Youth

Tomorrow, 17 April 2011, is Palm Sunday, the start of the Holy Week in the Christian World. As you may very well know, I grew up in the Philippines observing the solemnity of the Holy Week, whether I be in Manila, my birthplace, or in San Fernando, Pampanga, where I would spend my summer vacations as a child.

Holy Week in the Philippines during the late 1970s was a lot more quiet than how it is now. For one, cable TV was not really a household staple, which means that in the olden days you will see near zero programmes on any TV channel on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. No such thing as HBO, AXN, CNN, and other round-the clock programmes. If you do have some luck in finding something to watch on television, it would either be a mass, a religious talk show, or TV series that either commemorate the life and times of Jesus Christ or are religious inspired.

As a child, I spend most of my summer vacations in the beach or in the highlands. However, in the Holy Week, we were either at home in my childhood apartment in Caloocan (one of the cities that make up Metro Manila) or at the ancestral home in Pampanga. Our family is not exactly very religious, but going out during the Holy Week for the sake of having a getaway holiday is quite unheard of in our household.

I definitely remember 3 outstanding Holy Week movies/TV series which I enjoyed watching as a child. In recent years I would flip channels and somehow pine for these kinds of old films that are classic. Personally these movies that I used to see every Holy Week of my childhood are ethereal, and while anyone can buy the DVDs or watch them on YouTube, I sure wish they could be shown on TV as well.

Imagine yourself to be in Manila, circa late 1970s, one Maundy Thursday. You sit in front of the television set and turn it on. Chances were that you will see any one of these films:

1. "EL CRISTO DEL OCEANO" ("The Christ Of The Ocean")

A very old film, shot sometime 1970 in Spain. It is about an orphan who was cared for by a fisherman who eventually was lost at sea during a gale. The story eventually revealed that the statue of the Christ, found floating in the beach (hence, the Christ of the ocean) and placed in the church, would be found lying on the platform, detached from its crucifix, in spite of the fact that the said crucifix was new and expensive-looking. Said orphan met a man named Emmanuel at the beach, who showed the boy the cross where the statue of the Christ should be. This cross turned out to be remnants of the boat of of the boy's adoptive father. After some disagreements, the priests were finally convinced that the wooden cross should be put in use when they noted that the statue no longer detached itself from the cross. Apparently, as will be revealed in the film, the man Emmanuel was The Christ. The orphan eventually discovers that he was not an orphan at all: his mother came to fetch him from the church at the end of the film.

It was kind of difficult to find a synopsis for this film online, so I constructed the gist out of memory. When I was a child, I would watch this film on TV from a distance, because I did not want my mother to see me cry (LOL). I simply love this beautiful film.


An even older film. The original Spanish version was shot sometime in the 1950s. What I remember was the Filipino version that starred a young Romnick Sarmienta. This film clip is from the original version, though.

The film is about an orphan boy who was adopted by the monks. This boy grew up to be quite mischievous, but things changed when he chanced upon the statue of Jesus Christ on the cross when he ventured in the attic of the monastery in secrecy. Marcelino started bring bread and wine to the statue: the statue would come to life and take the food brought to him. The monks soon noticed that bread and wine in the kitchen would decrease, and, having seen the boy yet sneak out another supply, they followed him to the attic. It was at this point that the boy, having been pensive the whole time, confessed to the animated statue of the Christ that he would like to see his mother, and the mother of the Christ. The Christ cradled the boy in his arms and told him to sleep. The monks, who were spying through the cracks on the wall, were stupefied by this sight, and by the time they had the guts to open the door, they found Marcelino dead, lying in the arms of the statue of the Christ.


I first saw this film (which was actually released as a mini-series) in the moviehouse, and even as a child, I thought that it was so grand. Later on this was shown on television in segments. Many years and many actors who played Jesus in various venues later, I still believe that Robert Powell is the best actor to have ever played Jesus. The story is actually a combination of the accounts on the life and times of Jesus (from Nativity to Resurrection and beyond) by the four authors of the Gospel: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The film was such a huge project made up of a powerhouse cast: Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Laurence Olivier (wow), and was shot in location in Tunisia and Morocco. You can read about the details here.

In the past, I watched all three films every Holy Week, until the networks pulled them out. I can no longer remember when this was. What can definitely say, though, is that these three films were an integral part of my Holy Week in Manila during my growing up years, and that their themes and cinematic aesthetics will always remain classic and will surely withstand the test of time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Present Guilty Pleasure: The Baker King

I swear, I have never been addicted to a telenovela, much less a Korean telenovela. For me, TV is just about news, documentaries, and (gasp) cooking and travel shows. (Anthony Bourdain and Ian Wright are my favorites.)

GMA-7, one of the biggest TV networks in Manila and all over the Philippines, have recently acquired the rights to show 제빵왕 김탁구, or Jeppangwang Kim Tak Goo, or Baker King, Kim Tak Goo. Here in Manila and in the rest of the country, the Korean telenovela is known simply as The Baker King. Premiered on June of 2010 in Korea, the drama series had a total of 30 episodes and enjoyed top rating for the most part of its showing. Read more here.

Apparently it has gained popularity here in Manila as well. It is currently running, and so far, I have found the story to be engaging. Plus, I like any show that has to do with baking and cooking. (Which is quite weird because I never got to follow Jewel In The Palace.) I do not claim to be a telenovela connoisseur, but I rarely follow one if the story is not good, Tagalog dubbing notwithstanding. Go check it out.

How To Be Prepared For An Earthquake In Manila

The earthquake/tsunami that shook Japan last March 11, 2011 has recently increased earthquake awareness among Filipinos. It is unfortunate that we as a nation has a habit of being "reactionists": that is, we only take action when something happens. Better late than never though. Ads have been replete regarding the appropriate conduct of people when an earthquake strikes Manila and other parts of the Philippines.

I quote the Bulatlat website, which in turn states this based on gathered reports from the Metropolitan Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS):
"...up to 35,000 residents of Metro Manila would die and up to three million others would need to be evacuated. In addition, some 175,000 buildings would be damaged. The pressure of collapsed buildings and the inability to rescue those who would be trapped inside would cause most of the deaths."
This is a grave warning that Manilans should never take lightly.

Protocols on what to do during earthquakes have been devised by some groups. The "Drop, Cover, Hold On" concept has been advocated by most, although has been countered at some points by the "Triangle of Life" concept specially at the issue of positioning oneself in relation to a table during an earthquake. The Drop, Cover, Hold On Protocol advocates going under the table, in contrast to the Triangle Of Life Protocol where the person is advised to sit beside (not under) the table.

Read on Drop, Cover, Hold On here.

Read on Triangle of Life here.

Phivolcs also has its own earthquake preparedness protocol in its site. Check it out here.

I personally would want you to take a look at all these protocols and be critical of their merits and demerits.

Keep in mind though that, unlike Japan, most of Manila's infrastructure are old and ill-maintained, that Manilans are not accustomed to earthquake drills...Manila and the rest of the Philippines are definitely not as well-prepared.

One thing is for sure, the word is preparedness. Remember that Japan and the Philippines are kindred countries that lie in the Pacific rim of such, earthquake awareness and preparedness should be almost automatic among Filipinos as well. Tall order, but it must be done.

Back Again!

It has been so many weeks since I last updated. Charge it to busy schedule, preoccupations over recent global issues (i.e. Japan disaster - which affects me so since I have a good number of Japanese friends, thankfully they are ok, Libyan uprising, etc etc), and recently, a suddenly move to a place with limited access to internet.

But here I am. Am back, not with one, but two posts on subjects that seem to be popular of late in Manila. So, hey, read on folks. ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jose Rizal Was The Quintessential Valentino :)

To those who may not know this, Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, had quite a reputation in history as a ladies' man. For so many years, historians and the ordinary local folks allude to this knowledge and many attempts to go deep into the matter have been made.

I thought it fitting to link to this article, in time for Valentines Day. This is paying homage to Valentines c
elebration and recognizing the capacity of the quintessential Filipino lover, Jose P. Rizal, to charm the ladies even if he was not really known to be drop-dead handsome. Filipino men, maybe you should learn from Rizal in this department as well. Go to this link.

A lot of lessons to be learned from this article written by Bryan Anthony Paraiso for the Inquirer. For one, Rizal was not kiss-and-tell (a big fault of many Filipino men - I know this for a fact because I work in a field that is filled with men, hahah), he recognized his limits, and he treated the women with a gentlemanly demeanor that is pretty much rare to find now.

Even in the subject of love, there are many things to learn from our national hero. :)

Happy Valentines Day y'all!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


A blessed year to you! :)

I am personally not fond of making resolutions, but for this year, I vow to update my blogs more. Hahah. What better time to start than now.

Expect me to post more about Manila within, and beyond, in the days to come.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Dark Moment In Recent History, New Poll, And Akira Kurosawa

The bus of death. Photo from this site.

Last August 23, 2010, the entire Philippine nation and the world watched in horror as a hostage-taking drama came to a bloody end. There were nine casualties, which included eight Hong Kong nationals on vacation in the country, and the hostage taker, an

ex-policeman who was relieved from his position more than a year ago secondary to charges of robbery and extortion.

Since this harrowing incident, much has

happened, many of which are newsworthy, but nothing of this magnitude. It will definitely take time before Manila, my poor city, and the Philippines, my poor country, can recover. So many have already been written (getting to be redundant, really); I need not join in the mad fray and display of lack of sobriety on both sides. Objectivity and level-headedness are needed to resolve this.

I can only hope for justice. For the rest of us, may we all learn something from this incident.

Nothing productive can be properly achieved from hate.

Ok ok. I sort of neglected this blog. I have been busy myself. My hands are full with exciting things to write and talk about. Too bad there are only 24 hours in a day, hahah.

One particular event that I am so excited about is the Akira Kurosawa film festival that is ongoing.

Oh God. Akira Kurosawa. I am one big fan. Need I enumerate his great works like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Ran, Red Beard, and Dreams? This filmfest, which serves to celebrate Kurosawa’s 100th birth anniversary, is like a dream come true. The Cultural Center of the Philippines Dream Theatre will show his works from September 15-18, after which the venue transfers to the UP Film Center. The filmfest will be until the end of this month.

What’s more, this affair is freaking FREE! *faint*

Read more here.

There is a new poll on the siderail that I would like you to check out. While you keep yourself busy with it, I will write my next post, and will be back sooner than you think. Take care and see you later.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Manila Streetfood 1: Taho [Silken Tofu Dessert With Caramel and Tapioca Pearls]

One of the most loved Filipino streetfood is TAHO. Taho is a soya-based dessert, made from soft tofu peddled straight out of the factories in aluminum buckets. It is classically served warm with caramel (called "arnibal") and tiny tapioca pearls ("sago"). A taho vendor, known in the vernacular as the magtataho, makes his rounds in the residential streets usually during the morning, as he signals his arrival by shouting "Tahoooo".

Taho vendor (photo from this site)

Every Filipino (or those who have lived in the Philippines for quite sometime) knows what that call means. People from all walks of life would hurry up to meet that magtataho, usually a middle-aged man who carries two aluminum buckets connected to one another by a series of strings attached to a bamboo slab, which then rests on the man's shoulders as he walks around the area. Nowadays one can also see a taho vendor (complete with aluminum buckets and the rest of the contraptions) in the food courts of some big malls, even the supposedly posh ones like Powerplant Mall.

Taho curd

In this age when people work regardless of time of the day and 24/7 convenience stores are making a killing, it is not surprising to see a magtataho even during late at night. Times may have changed, but the taho will always be the Filipino's favorite dessert. And why is that?

Taho caramel syrup, or arnibal

Taho is nutritious and tastes so much better than cereal drinks that come in packs. A 150-ml taho (sold for 5 pesos, which is worth even less than 5 cents) is enough to sate in-between meal cravings, and in greater servings can even take the place of breakfast. Taho is a dessert that one can eat without feeling guilty about deliberately putting on extra pounds.

Sago, or tapioca pearls

It is likewise easy to eat; in fact there are many ways to eat taho. It can be eaten from a bowl and scooped with a spoon. It can also be mixed into a loose flurry and sipped with a straw. For those who cannot be bothered by additional utensils, taho is drunk straight from the glass.

Taho is my personal favorite. While I am a big big fan of fruits, I never really enjoyed the more contemporary preparations of taho (those with added fruit toppings sold in the supermarkets and serve in some restaurants). I like taho just the way I have always had it ever since I was very young. Just the beautiful soya curd being caressed by the brown arnibal and playfully topped by soft tapioca. A mouthful of fun without a lot of frills.

Taho, ready to eat. Miam!

Some more renowned Filipino blog sites likewise pay homage to this classic dessert.

In Dessert Comes First, the author describes how taho is served, from the aluminum bucket to the cup to her eager hands, the entire experience to "a thousand happy memories".

Taho breaks economic status barriers, and Marketman of Market Manila relates that Mang Amado, a magtataho, somehow manages to peddle taho in a gated village.

Lastly, Doc Emer of Parallel Universes has his own way of exalting the humble dessert: he enumerates taho's nutritional worth.

As for me, an unabashed taho fan ... well, if you are paying Manila a visit and want to try this delectable stuff, just give me a call, or leave a message on the blog, ok? ;)

[Unless otherwise indicated, all photos are by moi.]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Snapshot: Jollibee Fastfood

Photo shows a Jollibee fastfood restaurant. Jollibee is probably the biggest fastfood chain in Manila and the entire Philippines. Initially a hamburger joint, Jollibee has, through the years, expanded its product range to include fried chicken, spaghetti (don't think Italian-type pasta recipe here, this is a modified recipe - sweet with hotdog bits incorporated in the sauce - to suite the taste of Filipino kids), sundaes, and rice meals which include burger steak, shanghai rolls, beef with mushroom, and crispy bangus (milkfish), to name a few.

More about Jollibee here, and here, and definitely in the posts to follow.