08/15/16
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Dispatches From The Urban Jungle: 7 Stories From 7 Years of Urban Roaming

Seven years. Yup, it has been that long since I thought of setting up this site called The Urban Roamer. Back then, I never really thought this little “side project” would go on that long. Heck, if this was an actual job, this is now by far the longest employment record I would gladly put on my resumé.

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It is also amazing to see how much The Urban Roamer has grown. I still find myself surprised seeing how much some of my work has gone viral, or getting appreciation from people and institutions I look up to like the Wilson Lee Flores, Intramuros Administration, and the Ayala Museum, among others. But I have to say I feel proud too to see how much I have grown as a writer, a heritage advocate, and a storyteller who strives to tell the story of the metropolis throughout these years in a unique and interesting light.

So as the Urban Roamer celebrates today its 7th anniversary, for a change, allow me to share to you here 7 of my favorite “dispatches” or stories I’ve written here for the past 7 years. In addition, I will share the background as to why I decided to write them as well as other insights that I may not have touched upon in the original stories. Believe me, it is hard choosing which one of the 500+ dispatches I have written over the years would make this list, but as a personal journey throughout these 7 years, these stories would be the ones that still hold a special place in my heart for one reason or another.

These are ranked in chronological order, starting from the earliest that I have written. And I hope you enjoy rereading these stories as much as I have. Continue reading

08/9/16
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The Metro And Pokemon Go

After weeks of anticipation, it is now officially here. I am of course talking about Pokémon Go, which became officially available in the country on Saturday, August 6, stealing the thunder from the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that happened at the same day. (sorry, Rio Olympics)  And so far, the response to this game among Filipinos has been, just as it has been elsewhere in the world where Pokémon Go has been officially launched so far (not counting of course those who managed to bypass geographical restrictions so they can play it in their corner of the globe)

But what makes this particular game so popular? There have been many explanations behind this new phenomenon, which I’m sure sound a lot better than what I may offer. After all, the Urban Roamer is by no means a gamer, just an occasional casual one. But as someone who has found himself drawn to the interactive charms of this mobile game, I have found myself to be part of the bandwagon enjoying it for what it’s worth, though not as hardcore as others have been. Continue reading

08/1/16
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Makati’s Cultural Soul: A Visit To The Ayala Museum

Whenever we hear about Makati and the Makati Central Business District (CBD), we usually associate it with the tall buildings, the swanky hotels, and the classy shopping malls. But in the midst of this modern center of commerce lies a cultural soul of the business district that has managed to thrive to be a landmark in its own right and helped make this part of the metropolis more than just a business hub but a cultural hub as well. Of course, we are talking about the Ayala Museum, one the most well-known museums in the metropolis and the country as a whole.

And as Ayala Museum marks its 50th birthday in 2017, the Urban Roamer invites you to roam this museum as we learn the history and the heritage preserved in this storied structure. Continue reading

07/25/16
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Of Bygone Days and An Uncertain Future: The Saga Of Harrison Plaza

Before there was the mall, there was a park. Harrison Park as it was called and it was a pretty wide open green space. It served as breathing space in the midst of the growing congestion in southern part of the city. It also served as a natural extension to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex located right across it as kids played football and softball in the greens. There is also Manila Zoo nearby, which made the park a children’s zone for play and fun. You can imagine how big the old Harrison Park was.

Unfortunately, the bigwigs at Manila City Hall (the land where the park is located is city government property, by the way) decided that the park had to give way to a commercial complex, the Harrison Plaza we know today which opened in 1976, a short while after the opening of Ali Mall.

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07/11/16
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The Story Of Philippine Women’s University

Along the busy Taft Avenue in the City of Manila stands an impressive 3-storey structure housing one of the country’s prominent universities. While its prestige is not along the levels of that of the so-called “Big Four” of the Philippine universities, its contributions not only to education but to Philippine society as a whole is something that cannot be denied.

It also has quite a history as well, from its glory days in the past to the crisis it experienced in recent years which threatened the existence of the university itself. As it approaches its centennial in a few years’ time after surviving that close call, it is time for the Urban Roamer to take a look at this venerable institution: the Philippine Women’s University.

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