2010 Election: Bilog na Hugis Itlog

Copy of sample ballot, downloaded from COMELEC website.

The most anticipated  automated election is coming two months from now, for the very first time Philippines  will say goodbye to mano-mano system of electing local and national leaders.  May the COMELEC successfully implement the full automated election nationwide? Let’s hope against hope that fair, clean, and honest election will be achieved; It’s high time and we Filipinos deserve it.  I am really struggling to set aside my cynicism against COMELEC this time.

As we embrace this modern electoral process, we, the voters should take time to be educated and acquainted with the new system of voting.

I am sure that everybody is familiar with the infomercial “Bilog na Hugis Itlog” by Sexbomb.  If one would internalize the lyrics, the instructions on how to vote  this coming 2010 will help us to prepare ourselves to this new process.

Instructional video: 2010 Automated Election

Aside from the infomercial, it is noteworthy that voter should refrain from making unnecessary markings so as not to render the ballot spoiled.  No folding and refolding because optical scanner may avoid the ballot. Avoid bringing foods and beverages inside the voting precinct, just to ensure that while marking the ballot, ambiguous marks will be prevented. Definitely no smudging and as much as possible take reasonable time to shade, to avoid erasures.

A voter is entitled to one ballot only; COMELEC will not grant a replacement ballot when one makes a mistake in shading his/her ballot.  Take a reasonable time to vote, be wary of mistakes, smudges, folds, erasures, and ambiguous marks. Let us take our  part to attain genuine and trustworthy election.

Bahay Tsinoy Museum- Intramuros

Kaisa Angelo King Heritage Center Building in the historical Intramuros  hosts three storey museum: A Museum of Chinese in Phlippine Life. The brainchild of late anthropologist Prof. Chinben See, and made possible by Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran  Inc. It is conveniently located at Anda cor. Cabildo St.,  just  a block away from Manila Cathedral. Open  from Tuesdays to Sundays 1-5 PM. The entrance fee is P 100.

These dioramas are based on actual prints and photographs.

The museum is a repository of everything Chinese in the aspect of Philippine life. Life-sized dioramas are used in order to depict the life of Chinese in the Philippines. These dioramas underscore the  intimate relationship between Filipinos and Chinese as partners in trade and commerce, even before Magellan discovered the Philippines. Further, the museum also houses overwhelming  century old ceramics dating back in the 10th century,ancient Chinese documents and fine art galleries.

Before 7-11 stores, the Chinese merchants were already selling their goods 24-7  in the olden times.

When you  plan to explore the cobblestone streets of Intramuros, stop by at Chinese museum. Take a guided tour of the Chinese culture and heritage. The tour lasts about 30 minutes. Those who want to go on their own pace can get a brochure and have your own “self- guiding”. With or without Chinese ancestry, it is educating to know the roots of Filipino-Chinese friendship, and it’s amazing how it flourished through time.

A visit to the Golden Mosque- Quiapo

The dome of the Golden Mosque stands conspicuously coming from Quiapo bridge; A physical manifestation of the public presence of Muslims and serves as a point of convergence for Islamic activity. I have never been into that side of Quiapo, what I am only aware of is that significant Muslim population abound the area.

My interest to know about Muslim culture prodded my recent visit to  the mosque  at Globo de Oro St.,  I  asked my friend AC to accompany and  guide me to their community, to which he gladly acceded.

It was on Saturday morning, we met up at Arlegui St. in front of Quiapo Church, from there we started to walk going to the mosque. We passed by in a crowded  sidewalks that seemed to be a pulsating center of everything-  dvd’s,cellphone accessories, toys, hair accessories, clothing and fruit stands among other things. A formidable percentage of vendors are Muslims and most of the buyers are Christians.

Most of the foods sold along the sidewalks are halal foods, and some fruits coming all the way from Mindanao.

After five minutes of walking , we finally arrived at Golden Mosque. A benevolent greeting was uttered by AC to an elder, who was  standing outside the mosque. They both communicated in their native dialect. From what I can infer, my friend was asking the elder if I could be allowed to enter the mosque. The elder said I have to cover my hair, before entering the mosque.  He went inside the reception room,  and returned with a veil and handed it to my friend. As an act of graciousness, I accepted and used the veil. Wearing a headscarf is a symbol of pious and pure faith in Islam.

I removed my slippers before I  went inside. A shoe shelf is placed near the entrance to neatly organize the shoes/ slippers. I then started to observe the place, look into details, silently went near the center to see the dome’s interior.

The defining feature of the Golden Mosque is its dome, an onion like shape, painted with shining gold, with vibrant geometric designs. Presently it is being renovated. History has it that the mosque was created in 1976, under the supervision of Imelda Marcos, for the visit of  Libya president, although the visit was canceled. In Metro Manila, it is presently the largest mosque.

The mosque has numerous pointed arch windows flanked with colonnades; the windows are  alternated on the outside walls, providing for well lighted space. It is divided into sections for men and women.

Inside  is very spacious and the entire area  is bare. There are  no furniture because worshipers kneel and bow directly on the floor. In Islam prayers must be performed in clean areas. Carpets and rugs ensure the  cleanliness on the place of prayers.

According to my friend, they pray five times a day. Entire population of Muslim in Quiapo is diverse coming from the tribes of:  Tausugs,  Badjaos, Samals, Maguindanaons and growing number of converts.

We cut short our presence inside the mosque because  a man inside was about to start his prayer.

I  thanked my friend for introducing and giving me an opportunity to observe and know further about their culture through their religion. It was not a casual tourism; it is more of  my special way in getting to know my Muslim  friends and their community, I have learned that  irrespective of God we glorify, Christians and Muslims live peacefully side by side.  Indeed a short but meaningful visit.

When visiting a mosque:

Dress appropriately and modestly.

Remove shoes before entering the prayer area.

Be silent and respectful.

Do not afraid to mingle, know them intimately and be yourself.

The Manila Bay Sunset

Nothing could be more romantic than being with the love of yor life, holding hands while the sun slowly sets down. Romance exists in the heart of Manila,  be captivated by the spectacular view of Manila Bay sunset.

Featuring : Ang Mangingisda sa Manila Bay

Oops! No, I am not promoting a movie that’s entirely shot in Manila Bay.  My point is, with or without someone,  do visit the famous Manila Bay sunset.  It’s beautiful beyond description.

Kalesa at Ang Kutsero

Rarely these days that we see Kalesa on the road, be that, it remains to be our national vehicle.  It was introduced to us by Spaniards in the 18th century, used by high ranking officials and illustrados.  Today, jeepneys outnumbered the Kalesa,  the latter could be seen inside the walls of intramuros with its kutsero acting as tour guide.  In Binondo, Kalesa still operates, and being use as a mode of trasportation.

In our recent visit to Intramuros, we spared our feet from a long and tiring walk.  To cover the entire Intramuros, we opted for a kalesa ride.  The Kutsero acted as our tour guide, and  lectured us about  Philippine History.  He gave us time to wonder and wander the interesting points in the area. I do recommend to take a kalesa ride when you visit Intramuros.

Some say that “kwentong Kutchero”  (story by a coachman) shoud not be believed because  his version of the story is related with trivial lies and exaggeration. I extend benefit of the doubt to our Kutsero. I commend him for his great contribution to promote Philippine tourism.  Afterall, kwentong kutsero is just a coined idiomatic expression for exaggerated accounts.

The kutsero holds a map of intramuros, enumerating the significant areas to visit  such as museums, plazas, forts , schools, gardens, churches, and monuments. Kalesa tour package is priced at 250 pesos. It is important to ask first about the price and duration before agreeing to take the tour. The kutchero should be able to finish the 27 spots provided in the map, and should allow passengers a reasonable time to examine and feel the area.

Soothsayers in Quiapo

What does your card say?

Stay busy during slow workweek. A VIP will notice your diligence. Single? Quit dwelling on a past relationship or you’ll miss connection with an amazing man. Attached?  Talk about your relationship problems when uptight Uranus creates tention around 22nd. A sensual make-out fortifies your bond. Tip:  Ceative neptune wants you to start a blog or twitter account on the 12th.

Quiapo is one of the busiest districts in downtown Manila. People flock the area to pay visit to Quiapo church that houses the image of Black Nazarene. Devotees believe that miraculous thing will happen to one who touches the image. Friday novenas fill the vicinity with ardent devotees, saying their fervent pleases. Peddlers of religious items such as novena cards, rosaries, and candles are all over the place.

The Quiapo church is a paradox. Ubiquitous soothsayers who claim to have a psychic power to unfold the future surround the place.  Patrons come by to Quiapo to consult about: love relationships, marriage, jobs, health and possibility of going aborad.

Catholic priests and ministers discourage fortune-telling; it is in  fact violative to catholic teachings. Given that,  many are still  willing to pay 1oo pesos  for a fleeting thirty minutes of tarot and palm reading. To some desperates, they take the word of the soothsayer as a gospel truth. Perhaps they are too vulnerable, that is emotionally incapable to deal with their real issues.  They need an easy way to find answers to their trials and tribulations.

Reading people’s lives has already become an industry outside the church;  The proliferation of these soothsayers are unstoppable, they will continue to exist as long as there is someone whose willing to be fooled.  Truth is, there is really no way to peek ahead of the future. Precogs, psychics, palm reader, soothsayers,  however they are called  – fact is they really don’t know how things will turn out ahead of time . Simply unreliable.

Chinatown in Manila

The fun-filled day started at Binondo Church, apparently there was a parade of Santo Nino images, to honor the feast of Santo Nino.  It was a version of the Sinulog festival, locals carried their Santo Nino images from their home, some people danced to the drum rhythm while they revel on the street.

Santo Nino Images placed on top of a pedicab

After the procession, we decided to have a walking tour around Binondo to have a feel of Manila Chinatown. You would know you are in Binondo when you see Chinese signages, vibrant oriental decorations, red lanterns, food halls , and amulet stores.

Binondo also known as the Chinatown in the Philippines is one of the oldest Chinatown in the world  founded in 1596. A compact community with great walkability. The epicenter of Binondo is the popular street of Ongpin, named after Roman Ongpin. Ongpin is a Chinese businessman who secretly supported the Philippine revolution by providing foods, money, and provisions to the revolutionists. In recognition to his support to the Filipinos, his monument stands beside Binondo Church.

Roman Ongpin Monument

The whole stretch of  Ongpin is  like a theme park of foods. There are  massive food stalls in almost every establishments –  traditional chinese delicacies.  Crowd flocks the area because of the dining options with low prices. However the most popular food stop would be President  Grand Palace Restaurant, a favorite to both  Filipino and Chinese families. 

For dumpling lovers here’s Tasty Dumplings. 

Hopia anyone?  Eng Bee Tin makes the best Hopia in town, and Tikoy too.

Siopao made in Ongpin will surely satisfy our ravenous stomach.

Food odyssey it is!

We stopped by at President’s Restaurant, it is again open after almost a year and a half renovation. They offer various dishes of chicken, duck, pigeon, frog, crab, prawn, shark fins, and vegetables.

We had Fish lip soup, Yang-chow, Braised duck with Mixed vegetables, and Hakaw. Their servings  are good to feed four people, but we were only two.  lol

  Hakaw

Chinatown remained to be one of the most important trading communities in Manila. When visiting this place, do not miss the shopping opportunities. Chinese traders offer  home appliances, clothing apparels, chinese trinkets, household wares, charms, amulets, and pieces of gold jewelry.

There are Chinese beliefs  that oriental decorations along with charms bracelets and amulets could affect one’s happiness, wealth, good health and relationship.

Chinatown has busy atmosphere, it has its  own charm probably because of the authentic feel chinese neighborhood; they too have already adapted to the ways of our country but managed to remain true to their Chinese roots.