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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8 Essential Tips When Visiting Manila

From time to time, the Urban Roamer has been asked about traveling in Manila. Stuff like what to do or some helpful tips. While there has been some information shared about those things from time to time, I realized I never really talked about that matter a bit in depth. With the help of some friends, I hope this article would be of help for all travelers who want to check out what this city has to offer.

After all, Manila is more than just the Philippines’s bustling capital. As we have seen here in the Urban Roamer for years now, there is a cultural and historical hub that locals and tourists alike should check out. From being the seat of the Spanish crown in the East for more than 300 years to being a key city in the liberation of the country in World War II, a lot of its history still lingers in the air. I have to say, one cannot simply arrive in Manila and think that it will be a breeze to visit all its must-see sites.

What I’m saying is that there are a lot of things to consider when you are visiting Manila. Besides your planned destinations, you have to be wary of the weather and your surroundings. If it is your first time visiting Manila, or it has been a while since your last visit, then let these 8 tips help you prepare for your trip. Continue reading


Streets Of Unsung Revolutionary Heroes

Today is National Heroes Day. Normally, we take this opportunity to remember the prominent figures in our history. We usually commemorate the heroism of Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, Jacinto, Tandang Sora, Plaridel, General Luna, among others and their contributions to our history.

Then there are the heroes who were not as fortunate to be as honored as the aforementioned figures. The closest to an honor they would get is a street named after name, as well as a monument if they are more fortunate. Even so, because no one has bothered to educate the people with regards to the identities of the people behind these street names and their contributions to the country, such honors would be in vain as people never get to know to appreciate their role in shaping our country’s history. Sadly, this is the case of many of the streets named after famous and less famous figures in our history.

This National Heroes Day, the Urban Roamer pays tribute to the unsung heroes immortalized in our streets with this humble tribute as we remember the heroism of some of these unsung heroes in the struggle for freedom during the Philippine Revolution. Continue reading


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


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