Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back from Metro Manila

or Metro Malignant or Metro Malevolent - according to two of my favorite people in Manila who are formerly US-based and now are deeply entrenched in the academic and art circles of the city. Neither would trade this place for anywhere else. "The city grows on you over time," one of them says, "and then you fall in love."

A few highlights from this trip --

Family reunion and healing retreat with my 3 sisters: Checked in at the Holiday Inn in Angeles for sister-bonding. Capped with the best dinner I had on this trip -- at "C" - on Fields Avenue (red light district of the former US military outpost, Clark Air Base). The Italian Chef, Chris Lockier, does the best panizza -- very thin crust of pizza cut in strips which you wrap around arugula -- delicious! Chris' restaurant is a deceptive "hole-in-the wall" front that opens up to a tropical garden in the back. Tables made of italian marble tiles, wrought iron chairs, and there is even an statue of David tucked in amongst the foliage of local shrubs and trees. Very nice ambience!

Piper's Bar in Makati -- watched the final Fulbright act of Theo Gonzalvez with front acts Allan Manalo and Tim Tayag. Theo, the academic/artist par excellance, had a multi-media set up so as he played his orig jazz compositions, he interspersed narrative about his stint as a Fulbright researcher at Ateneo via photographs he has taken around the country. (See Krip Yuson's column on Theo, July 17 and 25. Oh and he raffled off prizes through the evening. I won a dvd of Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress!

On the same night, my niece, Kathleen, played with her electronic punk band at Sa Guijo in Makati. Kath - with her spiked orange hair, tie-dyed shirt and cut off denims and skeds looked so cool with her guitar! Her parents have never seen her perform before and we were the only old folks in a bar full of young yuppies who dig the alternative music scene off the main drag in Greenbelt.

Visit to Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning, Silang, Cavite -- I could write a long essay on this but will save it for the academic write up that needs to be done for this trip. This is a 1.2 hectare piece of paradise run by Columban missionaries and a Filipino family who leased the land to the Center to be a model for zero-waste, biodiversity, permaculture, and sustainable farming. It is an educational center where they conduct lectures on "The New Creation Story" and "Creation Walks" through the five-zones of the center.

Visit to Wellness Farm of NURSIA run by Benedictine Sisters and Sister Mary John Mananzan of St. Scho. This is a conference and retreat center in Mendes. Cavite. It has a zendo for meditation (Sister Mary John also embraces Buddhism) and facilities for group events.

Dinner at Sonya's Garden -- everyone has heard of this lush and posh garden restaurant which now also includes a spa and bed and breakfast. It doesn't advertise but it's a well known 'get-away' place from the malevolent city.

Brunch at Gourmet Cafe in Cavite -- where they have musangs (wild cats) in captivity (saved from extinction from the north supposedly). The musang apparently eats coffee beans and as the beans pass through its digestive system and are given back to nature, the beans are collected and roasted and make the best coffee in the world. I would have loved to try this but it was $18 for a quarter pound!! They also do organic farming here.

BOOK LAUNCH OF A BOOK OF HER OWN at University of the Philippines, Balay Kalinaw, sponsored by ISACC/Cultureworks and the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature. More on this later.

At UP, I had a chance to visit with the Fil Am students in Prof. Joey Baquiran's Tagalog class. Sold many copies Coming Full Circle and A Book of Her Own. Joi Barrios, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, was gracious enough to read from my book during the launch.

Finally met Prof. Prospero Covar and Zeus Salazar of the famous triumvirate (Enriquez/Covar/Salazar) of Philippine Studies.

to be continued...

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