Roamer’s Roundup: Holy Week 2014 Edition

It is that time of the year once again as the Holy Week is being commemorated by Christians around the world, especially among the Christian faithful in the Philippines, to remember the events in the life of Jesus Christ from his triumphant entry to Jerusalem, celebrating the Last Supper, leading to his passion, death, and resurrection.

While the celebration of Holy Week came from the influence of Spanish Catholicism that was introduced in the country in the 16th century, it has certainly evolved over time as Filipinos, especially the Catholicized ones, not only embraced this celebration but also added their own flavor into it, so to speak. These traditions still remain strong today even in a place as urbanized as Manila, from the pabasas you hear being blared via loudspeakers to the men who cover themselves while beating or whipping themselves. Continue reading


Reminiscing Manila’s Magellan Monument

We all know of the (in)famous Lapu-Lapu monument found in the middle of Rizal Park’s Valencia Circle. Sure, there has been some controversy due to concerns of it overshadowing that other famous monument in the park we all know about, but there is no dispute that he deserves such an honor. After all, he is known as the first Filipino hero who managed to successfully thwart a foreign power’s first attempt to colonize us.

Lapu-Lapu monument in Rizal Park

On the other hand, and understandably, there is no monument in the city for Ferdinand Magellan, the antagonist in the story who tried to colonize us in the name of the Spanish crown but failed to do so and got killed in the process. While that historical tidbit should not be ignored, the aspect of Magellan the colonizer is the one Filipinos are more fixated upon while overlooking, if not ignoring, the aspect of Magellan as an explorer and navigator, the one who after all spearheaded the first successful trip around the world even if he did not live to complete it.

Ferdinand Magellan, or Fernando Magallanes as he is known in Spain

It is interesting to note though that a century ago, the situation was different in Manila. No Lapu-Lapu monument was seen (perhaps because the Spanish, then American colonial governments did not know about him yet) but instead the city boasted a grand monument dedicated to the Portuguese-born explorer. Its origins date back to 1848, when Spanish Governor General Narciso Claveria sought to have it built. It was originally to be erected in Cebu, but it was decided that such a prestigious monument should be erected in Manila instead.

the Magellan monument (courtesy of Nostalgia Filipinas)

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The Guide To Mass Rail Transit Names

Over the years of the Urban Roamer, I’ve come to realize that there are things pertaining to urban life, the ins and outs, the ways things go here n the Manila metropolitan landscape that many are unaware of. Thus, I have decided to set up another semi-regular feature on this site which I call “The Guide.” Think of it as a handy reference  of sorts of what you need to know about how the city works when it comes to some aspects of its urban landscape, all its quirks included. The first I am going to tackle here in “The Guide” is a subject close to and has long been a source of annoyance for me at least.

There seems to be so much confusion and wrong going on with how Metro Manila’s 3 mass rail transit lines are named. It is something that has been bugging me for a while. Granted some may see this as petty, allow me to elaborate on this post.

the current Metro Manila mass rail transit system (courtesy of Urbanrail)

First things first, we must learn the type of mass rail transit systems available in the metropolis today. The first is the “light rail system,” which is designed to handle a limited number of passengers. From the name given, we can assume that the trains operated by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) are light rail systems. Well, the answer is…not really.  Continue reading


A Requiem for Emilio Yap

Many were saddened to hear the news of the death of Manila taipan Emilio Yap.  His name may not ring a familiar bell as that of other taipans or businessmen, but he is influential nevertheless being the chair of historic Manila-based institutions such as the Manila Bulletin, (which also includes the historic Liwayway group of publications) Manila Hotel, and Centro Escolar University. Forbes Magazine as the 13th richest in the Philippines.

Emilio Yap, courtesy of Forbes Magazine

Like many Filipino-Chinese taipans, Emilio Yap was born in Fujian Province, China. Born on September 24, 1925,  young Emilio first came to Manila actually to study, living with his grandfather who was already based in the city as a a trader. Though he had to go back to Fujian when his grandfather’s shop closed down, he returned some time later to become a trader himself. Even though it was wartime, he was doing quite well in the trading business, from starting off with selling white t-shirts, then to threads, then on to ballpens and watches.

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