03/19/17

The Rise and Decline of the Big Bookstores

From the mid-1990s until sometime in the mid-2000s, in the midst of the changing urban landscape that is sweeping across the metropolis, Manila went through what can be considered as a “golden age” as far as the bookstore industry is concerned with the rise of the so-called “big bookstores” in the metropolis.

At the forefront of this golden age were two giant bookstores: Powerbooks and Fully Booked. Competition aside, these two bookstore giants that have managed to transform not only the bookstore business, but also the landscape of the metropolis as well. After years of being used to the traditional “bookstore” that retailers like National Book Store has to offer, denizens began to discover what a true blue bookstore can be. Suffice to say, it was a fortunate era for the city’s bookworms, especially those belonging to my generation.

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03/12/17

The Church That Gave Birth to a City: The St. Peter and Paul Church in Makati

While the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church is considered as Makati’s oldest structure, it was actually not in that location where the Makati that we know today was born. In fact, during the time the aforementioned church was built, Makati as a settlement had not been established yet and was still considered part of the thriving Santa Ana settlement which used to be the site of the pre-Hispanic Kingdom of Namayan.

The beginnings of Makati can be traced in 1608 (or 1607 as said in the marker), when the Jesuits received a donation of land from Captain Pedro de Brito, a military officer of the Spanish Crown who originally bought what was then a vast hilly swampland along the Pasig River. The Jesuits would proceed to build a Catholic church in the estate, right near the highest point of the newly acquired estate, hoping not only to evangelize the people to the Catholic faith but also to entice people to settle in what was then a barren landscape.

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03/5/17

The Grace of Makati’s Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church

Hidden behind the dominating Guadalupe billboards and the emerging skyscrapers in nearby Rockwell, not to mention the urban congestion that has befallen the area, lies Makati’s centuries old gem. It is considered to be the oldest Catholic church located in the city and has become a cherished Makati landmark. You can even see it represented in the city seal.

The Makati city seal; note the image of the church in the foreground

This has long been an awaited feature on the Urban Roamer and finally, we are going to roam this landmark up close. Of course, I am referring to Makati’s graceful landmark that is the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church.

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02/26/17

A Madz Way of Learning Music: Checking Out the Madz Music Studio

Consider this Urban Roamer a fan of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Ever since having heard them perform on video, then eventually in person at Pasinaya years back made that appreciation grow over the years. And if you are not convinced that the Madz (as the Philippine Madrigal Singers are affectionately called) are one of the best and most prolific choral groups in the Philippines (if not the world), then do check one of their many performances uploaded in YouTube and see for yourself, like this one:

Thus, to be part of this illustrious crop of singers that has been an institution in Philippine music since its founding at the University of the Philippines in 1963 is an achievement in itself that not a few young singers want to be part of. While not everyone can be part of Madz, now anyone who wishes to hone their talent to be on the same caliber at least as them now have a chance to do so with the opening of their new music school.

That’s right, the Philippine Madrigal Singers now have their own music school/studio in Eastwood City. Continue reading

02/19/17

A Museum For Filipino Seafarers

The Philippines has been considered as the “manning capital of the world” for the maritime industry. That should not come as a surprise as Filipinos comprise the majority of the world’s 1.5 million strong maritime personnel at more than 25%, largest for any nationality. The hard work, the loneliness being at sea for months, and the other sacrifices our Filipino seafarers have made for their families and to the country cannot be stressed hard enough.

Sadly, their contributions seem to be overlooked as the general public do not seem to have an idea as to what the Filipino seafarers go through in their job at sea. Come to think of it, the maritime industry has not been given that much appreciation either. Which is why it is nice to hear that there are place the public can visit to appreciate the contributions of the Filipino seafarers in the maritime industry, which is the where the Urban Roamer is headed for in this entry. Continue reading