I know there’s this idea that ‘the more you write, the better you get’, but it just seems that lately the more I write, the less inspired I am lol. Not just on the articles that I’m writing for work, but also this space, which is supposedly where I can write without inhibition.
Maybe I’m burnt out. I come home from a full 9 – 6 shift writing stories all day, take a quick shower and dinner, then write some more for my part time gig until 10PM. By then I’m too mentally exhausted to even play games or read – two activities I used to enjoy in my spare time. I’m in bed by 11, up by 7, and the whole drudgery repeats itself.
I need more vacations!
In the mean time, enjoy some photos from my recent visit to Bonifacio Global City, an ultra-modern central business district in Metro Manila.
View from Crossroads, where we had excellent Buffalo Wings at Frankie’s.
Squeaky clean with well paved roads, BGC’s wide pavements, towering skyscrapers and malls made me feel like I could have been in any metropolitan city in the world – LA, Singapore, Sydney – if not for the occasional Filipino flag fluttering happily from a lamp post. The area’s orderliness is such a stark contrast from the rest of Metro Manila, it’s almost as if one is transported to another country altogether.
One thing I liked about BGC was the presence of dozens of murals both large and small, peppered throughout the city. Some of these draw themes from local culture and history, such as one featuring local revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio. Visitors will also find numerous sculptures and installations while walking around the streets.
A large piece called Dating Tagpuan by artist John Paul Antido.
Shiny modern buildings
Taking a brief respite from the heat as we cut through a well maintained park.
An interesting sign at the crossroads leading to the Mind Museum.
Shangri-la at the Fort Manila
A park-cum-roundabout lined with trees and an installation made to look like trees. In the evening you’ll see joggers and people walking their doggos.
Another art piece called Manpower by Kris Abrigo, spanning several stories high.
For the full list of murals and their locations, go to bgc.com.ph.
More to come!
PS: Feeling a little more inspired after this short post. Hope I can get back in the groove soon!
The gods of fried chicken wings hath spoken, and they have declared Frankie’s the best in town.
… okay, maybe not.
But they’ve certainly earned a spot in my book, ever since I had a taste of their excellent buffalo wings at SM Aura Premier on my last visit to Manila.
This time around, I pestered the Boy until he relented and brought me to a Frankie’s branch at Crossroads BGC in Bonifacio Global City. The setting is much posher than SM Aura’s foodhall kiosk, and it seems like a popular spot for the office crowd as there was a waiting list when we arrived for lunch.
The interior is distinctively New York, with unfinished brick walls, exposed ceilings and purposefully bare concrete walls made to emulate the city’s ‘loft-style’ industrial spaces that were popularised in the 1960s and 70s. Ambient yellow lighting creates a cosy atmosphere, while tall windows allow for plenty of sunlight to filter in on the other side of the restaurant.
Apparently Frankie’s Restaurants (BGC, UP Town Center, City Golf plaza, SM North Edsa) have more items on their menu compared to their food hall outlets. We went for the signature Buffalo Wings, with another half dozen order of Honey Garlic.
The Classic Buffalo (We got the Spicy, but you can choose from mild, spicy or super spicy) was as good as I remembered them. At least the quality between outlets is consistent! Deep fried to juicy perfection, this is one that you need to use your hands to truly savour. I just love that crunch and the tangy, sweet and sour sauce each piece is smothered in. They ran out of ranch, but I found the Aioli dip a delightful substitute.
The Honey Garlic was tasty but not mind blowing. The flavours were similar to soy garlic Korean fried chicken, but fell short, somehow. The Blue Cheese dip that came with it, though, was excellent. Cheesy, creamy and oh so sinful.
There were plenty of other flavours that I wanted to try, like Cheesy Bacon (hm!), Salted Egg and Wicked Wasabi, but a girl can only have that many chicken wings.
Can’t wait for my next trip to Manila so I can go to Frankie’s again!
FRANKIE’S (CROSSROADS BGC)
2nd Floor, Crossroads, 32nd St. cor 8th Ave, BGC, Taguig City
As someone who loves history and culture, there’s one thing I really like about Manila – the museums! Not only are they full of interesting exhibits, they’re also pretty well maintained (well, at least the ones I’ve been to). On my most recent visit, N and I visited Ayala Museum, located close to the Greenbelt shopping area in Makati.
Established in 1967, the museum is privately run by the Ayala Foundation, under the Ayala Group which is the oldest conglomerate in the Philippines. The museum was moved from a heritage building to its current location in the early 2000s. The impressive six-storey structure is made from glass, granite and steel and boasts a modern look.
There are four floors of galleries to explore. Photos are only allowed on the 2nd floor (dioramas), so please excuse the lack of pix.
Image:KINNARI. Surigao. Ca. 10th-13th century. 7.4 x 4.6 x 12.1 cm. 179 grams. Cat. No. 81.5189. Ayala Museum Collection, Photo by Neal Oshima, for Ayala Museum.
We began our visit on the fourth floor, as advised. This level houses a permanent exhibition called Gold of Ancestors, which has over 1,000 gold objects from the pre-colonial Spanish era, on display.
Spanish influence plays a big part in Filipino history – and we can see that in the form of churches, religious artefacts and artworks – but I think that many people, Filipinos included, have not really delved into the rich indigenous culture that existed before the Spaniards came.
The GoA is a good place to start, as it not only highlights the advanced technology local cultures used in gold smithing, but also the sophisticated social systems they adopted. The exhibition features precious objects recovered from the 10th to 13th centuries, from sashes and necklaces to bracelets and earrings. These were worn by the elite, and the more complicated the pieces, the more elite the person wearing it was in social standing. There is also a collection of funerary gold masks.
Also on the same floor is A Millennium Of Contact, home to an extensive collection of 500+ Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics found in the Philippines – proving that trade and social ties existed in the past between these nations.
Image details: BLUE AND WHITE TWIN BIRD WATER DROPPER. Ca. 14th to 15th century. Ming Dynasty. Roberto T. Villanueva Collection.
Moving on, we made our way to the Fernando Zobel gallery, where a collection of his artwork in the 1960s are on display. A member of the prominent Zobel de Ayala family (of which the museum is named after), the works were done in his mid-thirties after Zobel decided to retire from the family business. Visitors can observe the change in his artistic style through the years, most of which were done in abstract form.
Aside from the Gold of Ancestors exhibit, my favourite part of the museum was the Dioramas section, which chronicled important events throughout Philippine history, from the stone age right up til modern times. Photos are allowed here, so enjoy!
(Above) A group of stone age men hunting a predecessor of the modern elephant.
Building rice terraces on the hill slopes.
I was really impressed by the effort put into constructing the dioramas. Even though the exhibits were static, it was fun picking out small details. Each set was arranged in chronological order around the hall (60 in total).
Arrival of Arab traders, which propagated the spread of Islam in the Philippines.
Construction of the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in the Philippines / Asia.
The Spanish invasion of the Muslim-dominated southern region.
Town scenes of early Manila
Malacanang Palace, which was built by the Spanish to house the Governor General of the Philippines as a summer home. Lavish balls ala Europe would be held here.
The Katipunan (also known as the KKK) was a group of revolutionaries opposed against Spanish rule. They have little in common with the American racist organisation KKK, although in this diorama the face masks look eerily similar.
The revolution spread through towns, hamlets and small villages.
The execution of Jose Rizal.
I’ve always felt that Rizal was a man beyond his time; a gifted polyglot who could speak 22 (!) languages and who excelled both in arts, math and the sciences. His death was a dark moment in history, but his is a story that proves that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Although he was never part of the violent revolution, his ideas and work ignited a fire in the hearts of the Filipino people that could not be subdued.
There were loads of other sets depicting the American occupation, Philippine independence, Japanese invasion and more. You can view the full set of dioramas here.
Ayala Museum is a definite must visit for fans of arts, culture and history. Entry is PHP425 (USD8 / RM32) for adults. PS: Teachers enter for free!
Avenue corner De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
So it’s my fourth time visiting Manila – you’d think I’d be bored and running out of things to do by now – but this city has a way of surprising me.
Morning was overcast, but the Boy and I decided there was enough sun to go visit Salcedo Market – an open-air artisan/organic/food market located in the heart of Makati.
Held every Saturday at Salcedo Village, which is a nice green plot surrounded by condominiums, the market hosts dozens of stalls peddling everything from fresh seafood and handicrafts to flowers and organic local produce. It isn’t very large, but there’s plenty to see and experience (and eat!).
Different kinds of fresh seafood: shrimp, catfish, milkfish, squid, crab, eel, even tuna eggs.
You can also find ‘exotic’ dishes like fried pigeon!
Tropical fruits – pomelo, jackfruit, rambutan, lychee and longan, mangoes – and not so tropical fruits, like strawberries and cherries.
Stall selling honey and honey-related products. They even had a honeycomb panel with live bees in it.
Traditional ice cream cart, complete with brightly painted exterior and carriage-style wheels.
You’ll also find fancy stuff at the market, like Lobster Rolls. At PHP500++ per roll, this is for those who want to splurge but still get that ‘street’ food vibe.
Cheeses, spreads, dips and pate. Interesting flavours!
My mom had this running joke about how I’m actually European in my past life because I like bread > rice
All that walking around and smelling the food got me hungry, so we stopped at this stall selling lechon wrap with plum sauce. The wrap was ala Chinese – thin and filled with spring onions and vegetables – and then there was the tender, moist juiciness of the meat and the crisp of the skin. Explosion of flavours and textures in the mouth.
Only qualm was it cost PHP85 which is quite expensive, and the wrap was gone in a bite 😀
You’ll find different kinds of cuisine here! We saw a lot of Spanish-influenced dishes, traditional Filipino items, even a Malaysian (!) stall selling curry – alongside Japanese takoyaki, pizza, grilled sausages, etc.
I had chicken isaw (intestines), cooked on the grill to order. Unfortunately no picture
Stuffed fish. These are also cooked to order on the grill.
Boy and I got a taho (silky tofu dessert) to share. This is very similar to the Malaysian-Chinese tau foo far, although the Filipino version is much sweeter and adds sago pearls. Vendors usually scoop the soft tofu out of a large metal bucket, and ladles the syrup from another.
I really enjoyed my time at Salcedo Market ! It’s reminiscent of the farmers markets/organic markets in Western countries, but with a local touch. We don’t have too many markets of this kind in Malaysia: there’s usually pasar pagi (morning wet markets) and pasar malam (night markets selling food or cheap clothing). There were many expats doing the rounds during our visit. I can see myself coming here every weekend if I stayed in the area.
Jaime C. Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati, Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines
Manila is touted for its sunsets, and one of the best places to catch it is at the Bay Area Amusement Park, just across the road from SM Mall of Asia. Reminiscent of Santa Monica Beach in LA, the area has a carnival-esque atmosphere, with a giant ferris wheel overlooking the bay, rides and game stalls.
N and I arrived just in time for sunset, when the sky was a fluffy cotton-candy pink and blue. Crowds were gathered all along the stretch, which is lined with quaint cafes, bars, pubs and eateries.
Found a good spot to watch the fiery orb sinking into the horizon. Waters around the bay are a polluted, inky black, but it creates a vivid, starking contrast with the sky and clouds.
Instead of American-style corndogs, you can get corn in cups instead.
I’m a kid at heart, so while I enjoy a fancy dinner once in awhile, I’m not averse to a fun, casual date just strolling along the pier, playing carnival/arcade games and eating cotton candy.
Fountain and Christmas decorations across one of the entrances to Mall of Asia.
Walking over to the mall via the pedestrian bridge. The roads here are much better planned and less congested than downtown Manila.
MOA deserves its title as one of the largest malls in Asia. Spanning across several interconnected buildings and smaller outdoor strips, it would take hours to explore the whole place on foot. You can find everything under one roof here, from food to clothing and furniture, entertainment and more. The shops are a good mix of affordable and mid-end with a selection of luxury stores.
When it comes to Japanese noodles, ramen tends to get more attention – so it’s nice to see a place dedicated to two lesser known (but no less delicious!) counterparts – udon and soba.
Like it’s name, Nadai Fujisoba specialises in soba, or buckwheat, noodles. The chain is popular in Japan, but has also made its way to Bonifacio Global City in Metro Manila. Located along High Street, the small but cosy establishment teems with decor inspired by the land of the Rising Sun, with kanji, art and murals adorning its walls.
The Ebiten Soba (PHP 280) came with two gigantic battered prawns, seaweed and spring onions in a bonito-based broth. The noodles were slightly al-dente, giving it a good bite, and the savoury soup warmed up the belly. Flavours were just right without being overwhelming. Ebi was done well too – not too oily, and juicy on the inside.
Also tried the Buta Bara Kimuchi Don (small – PHP100). Despite its ‘small’ serving, the portion was quite enough for me! There were thin slices of marinated pork belly, which had a good balance of lean meat and fat. Rice was fluffy and warm. To top it off, sour and spicy kimchi. The pork had too much sauce though which made the rice underneath soggy after some time. But the flavours were right.
Every noodle dish here offers either soba/udon. There’s no ramen ! xD They also have Donburi rice bowls, like the one above.
G/F Building 7, Bonifacio High Street Bonifacio Global City, Taguig PhilippinesPhone: +632 830 3333Opening hours: 10 am to 11pm daily
Bonifacio Global City, also known as The Fort or BGC for short, is a central business district sandwiched between Makati and Taguig. After the hustle and bustle of downtown Manila, stepping into its commercial area, High Street, felt a little surreal. Clean and well-paved streets free from belching jeepneys, people walking their dogs or jogging, skyscrapers and high-end retail/restaurants reminded me more of Singapore than the Philippines.
High Street was lined with Christmas decorations – trees adorned with Christmas lights, grass blocks trimmed into reindeer shapes, bubbling water features and landscaped gardens.
The pedestrian-friendly retail center features shops, offices and residential blocks on both sides.
During my visit, the Philippine Armed Forces was running an exhibition, with displays of tanks, boats, guns and machinery. Visitors also got to take pictures with army personnel, listen to talks, performances and handle the artillery (not loaded of course!)
Members of the public trying on safety vests and helmets.
Different rifles, submachine guns and guns used by the PAF. Not a big fan of guns, but I know some guys who would probably go ga-ga over these.
I held the small one. It was surprisingly heavy. I guess that would be my weapon of choice in a zombie apocalypse – I’d much rather use a melee weapon anyway xD
A giant Christmas tree and more light decorations around the district. There are also lots of nice murals around the city, but since it was night I didn’t get to capture any.
BGC is a nice neighbourhood and I’m glad I got to visit, but it also highlights the extreme disparity between rich and poor in Manila. Hopefully, with development, there will be more of such places to offer income and opportunities to the less fortunate.