08/31/17

Up and About at Uptown Bonifacio

With the core of the commercial district of Fort Bonifacio (AKA the Bonifacio Global City) now almost fully developed, development activities have started to go beyond the core and pretty much develop every corner of the vast former military complex. For developer Megaworld, it concentrated on developing the northern part of Fort Bonifacio into one of their townships called Uptown Bonifacio.

At this time of writing, development is in full swing as residential and commercial buildings are being built in the area. But if there is one thing going for it, it’s that it will directly benefit with the planned bridge that will connect Fort Bonifacio to Ortigas Center, which is expected to be completed by 2020.

For the meantime, the key components of Uptown Bonifacio have been completed in 2016: Uptown Parade and its bigger twin Uptown Mall. Continue reading

08/24/17

The Messy Saga of the Mile Long-Sunvar Complex

If there is one piece of real estate in the metropolis that can be considered the most controversial of all, at least controversial enough to merit national attention, it would be that stretch of land from Dela Rosa Street up to Arnaiz Avenue (the former Pasay Road) in Makati, known as the Mile Long-Sunvar complex.

It is a controversy that had all the elements of a thrilling drama: a lengthy litigation, a struggle between government and a prominent business clan who also happens to own the country’s leading newspaper, and a dogged determination of a president who just hates this family’s guts. But for us to understand the controversy, it is important to learn how the properties and the controversy that came with them, began in the first place. Continue reading

08/16/17

A reflection on my 8th year

Eight years ago today, I started this humble venture out of a great deal of interest and passion to write about the metropolis I was born and raised in. Normally I would reminisce at this time as to how far this venture has come, with so much happening in the blogging realm and in my personal life, let me also take this opportunity to be in a more reflective mood, to the say the least.

image by ryomaandres | CC-BY-SA 3.0

Thus, I can’t help but look back to where I was 8 years ago. At that time, I was wandering aimlessly in the blogosphere, having started and eventually abandoned 2 blogs as the passion to continue them died out. At the same time, I was starting to feel dissatisfied with my career in that crazy BPO environment where I was at the time. I needed a diversion from it all, where I can be more loose and free to talk about the things I’ve long been interested in that few, if at all, seem to share in one way or another.

Given the state of affairs I was in at the time, I found it an opportune time to revive an old idea that I had, though it was originally intended to be some sort of a TV show that I actually went as far as pitching it to Probe Productions. Yeah, I was young and foolish, more so back then. But I learned my lesson at that point: if you want to do things right as they should, you have to do it yourself, somehow in some way.

After much thought and deliberation, I finally got around into working on the site, albeit with that lingering feeling of uncertainty if my passion for this project will be enough for me to stick around longer as a blogger. And the rest, they say, is history.

Continue reading

08/10/17

Makati’s Little Tokyo

If there is one facet of Makati that not many people are aware about, it is that it has a vibrant Japanese neighborhood located at the fringe of the main business district.

In particular, this Japanese neighborhood can be found along the stretch of Chino Roces Avenue and neighboring streets in the area approximately between Rufino Street and Arnaiz Avenue. Then again, one cannot miss it with the presence of establishments catering to Japanese clientele, as well as to Nipponophiles.

Herald Suites in Chino Roces Avenue may not sound like a Japanese hotel, but it is located in Makati’s Japanese neighborhood and it has a Japanese bar and restaurant as well.

But if you want to have a taste, literally and figuratively, of Japan but cannot yet afford the airfare, Little Tokyo is the place to go.

The moment you pass through the arch, makes you feel you are no longer in the urban jungle of Metro Manila. Indeed, it feels as if you are being transported into the heart of Japan. But don’t expect that Little Tokyo will virtually take you to the modern, bustling Tokyo of today. Instead, it invites you to appreciate the old, laidback vibe of Japanese capital.

Surrounded by bonsais and colorful paper lanterns, Little Tokyo provides visitors the experience of what traditional Japan is like while enjoying some sumptuous Japanese cuisine and drinks, courtesy of the restaurants located there. It also helps that the area is laid out in such a way that you are being insulated from the noise and chaos of the outside, making it an ideal place to relax and enjoy what traditional Japan has to offer.

So if you’re craving Japanese, why not go all out and experience not only the taste but the feel of Japan as well. It’s a must visit not only for any Nipponophile but for anyone for seeks a place for respite in a frenetic city.

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07/30/17

The Gem Of Pedro Gil: St. Paul University Manila

As far as women’s education is concerned, St. Paul University Manila is considered one of the pioneers. Despite the many changes over the years, including it being converted into a co-ed school in 2005, it is still known as a respected institution for young Catholic women.

The History of St. Paul Manila

First established in 1911 as a novitiate where women would be trained to become nuns under the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, what would become St. Paul University Manila officially was born in 1912 as the St. Paul Institution, when a kindergarten department was opened. The following year, the school opened an elementary department and in 1924, the school offered secondary education as well. Eventually the novitiate moved out to its new home in Quezon City, where another St. Paul school would rise shortly, but that’s another story. Meanwhile, St. Paul Institution opened its college department in 1936; 4 years later the school would be renamed as St. Paul College Manila.

The period of St. Paul Manila’s formative years coincided with the growth of what was the old educational hub in prewar south Manila. Along what was once Herran Street, St. Paul counted as its neighbors the University of the Philippines (which still has its Manila campus to this day), Ateneo de Manila, and Assumption College.

However, World War II happened. The St. Paul Manila campus was occupied by Japanese troops in 1942 during the Japanese occupation. Three years later, the Battle of Manila happened, and the school would bear witness to one of the most horrifying atrocities committed during the Battle of Manila.

History and Tragedy in the Chapel

The story goes that the Japanese soldiers rounded up more than 120 prisoners and imprisoned them inside the school chapel, the Chapel of the Crucified Christ originally built in 1927 and designed by Juan Luna’s architect son, Andres Luna de San Pedro. Once the prisoners were locked inside, the Japanese proceeded to bomb and burn the chapel. The chapel was burned down and none of the chapel prisoners managed to survive. The only one that survived by the end of the war was the chapel facade, one of the few structures that were left standing in Herran.

The Sisters of St. Paul proceeded to rebuild St. Paul Manila after the war and quickly resumed operations. The chapel was eventually rebuilt in 1948 and, owing to its history and architectural significance, has become the school’s most cherished and most significant landmark.

The “Broadway of Herran”

As was mentioned earlier, St. Paul Manila decided to continue its operations in its original location, defying a postwar trend among former Manila-based institutions that decided to relocate outside the city proper. In fact, it managed to thrive on after the war, retaining its spot as a premier academic institution for women.

Nothing symbolized this optimism and vigor felt in the campus better than its other beloved landmark that was built in 1957, the Fleur de Lis Theater. Behind this contemporary architectural structure are 2 men from Angono, Rizal: Jose Reynoso who was the architect of the building and future National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco, who made a painting found in the theater’s lobby titled “The Evolution of Philippine Culture.”

Botong Francisco’s “Evolution of Philippine Culture” (image courtesy of Mary Ann Venturina-Bulanadi via Facebook)

The Fleur de Lis Theater would become known to be the place to be for musical theater presentations, where future artists and entertainers like Cecille Guidote, Charo Santos, Celeste Legaspi, June Keithley, and the Revilla sisters would get to hone their craft. The theater would eventually earn the monicker “the Broadway of Herran.”

Inside the Fleur de Lis Theater (photo courtesy of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines)

Recent Developments

St. Paul Manila would later be elevated as a university in its own right in 2004 as part of the St. Paul University System, the first university system recognized by the Commission on Higher Education.

Despite the growing commercialization of the area in recent decades (not to mention a street name change to what is now Pedro Gil), St. Paul University Manila has remains not only as a landmark but as a remnant of Manila of old.

 

Acknowledgements as well to St. Paul University Manila