October 2008

Guess who WOK-ed by?

Yes, it can now be said, celebrity chef and no-holds-barred culinary traveler Anthony Bourdain was in Manila and I had opportunity of giving him a ‘taste’ of my city. Literally that is.

And the menu I prepared?

Well, that will have to wait till 2009 when No Reservations sees airtime.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak from passer-by Christian Anonuevo (never met before). Lucky fellow, he happened to be a the right place at the right time and took this little memento of me and Anthony doing tusok-tusok of one Manila’s most popular hawker fares.

In the spirit of hygienic sensitivity, I told AB no double dipping. He dutifully obliged.

Oh and I think he liked the palamig.

A smiling Christian.

Who would have known, Bourdain in Binondo?  And I know of people who had driven all the way from Manila  to Pampanga just have a glimpse of Tony!

For Christian, serendipity indeed.

Thank you Christian Anonuevo for sharing these photos and capturing this moment with your cell cam.


The first time I visited over five years ago and did what every every diligent traveler would do, cramming in and walking through all the major sites: the Washington Mall, the Smithsonian museums, the different memorials, the Library of Congress (superb!). I found out that even as I allotted four days in the city, I still did not have enough time to visit every major site hence I missed out on some sites my list: U.S. Capitol (inside), Jewish Museum (after all the museum bureaucracies, quite forgettable), the American History Museum and the Washington Monument (same bureaucratic stories).

For this second visit, I vowed not missed out on the U.S. Capitol and so from Manila,  I made long distance call to the information office trying to get tour schedules only to be greeted by a repetitive and annoying answering machine. Talk about bureaucracy.

Tip: The Capitol guided tour tickets are given free service kiosk in front of the building (right side), they give out tickets until the run out.  Tours run every half and hour so you have to be there on the designated time otherwise its back to the queue for a new ticket. Tickets are given on a per-person basis, meaning you cannot have someone get it for you.

The U.S. Capitol viewed from the front-right side.  Very imposing indeed! There’s a long list of banned items (firearms are obviously on the top of the list) as well as food and drinks.

Upon entry, one is immediately to the center of the building…

A worm’s eye view of the dome. This huge, soaring expanse is easily one of the hallmarks the Capitol building. It is impressive for its cathedral-like proportions.

The Statuary Hall. This was the part when member’s of the group start getting giddy and start the endless camera clicks often  veering away from the designated spots.  NOT a good idea as you might find your way escorted outside the building.

The Dome and Statuary are the only two areas included in the tour, if you are, like me, a serious historical groupie, then spend a few more time exploring the inner sanctum. The Senate hall is open to the public and you can catch the US Senate in session and perhaps ponder a thing or two on how certain US policies affect world politics.

Just listen, no cameras please.

The historic center of Silay is a compact as it can get. I only had about 2.5 hours and I was able to visit all the open-to-public sites chiefly the San Diego Church, Balay Negrense Museum and the Bernardo Jalandoni House Museum.

But what to do when  you have taken it all in? Time to pound the pavement!

Silay’s streets is a joy to walk around, the surroundings are relatively quiet, it’s stillness occasionally punctuated by tricycle screeches and infectious student laughter.

Most of Silay’s period homes are lined along Cinco de Noviembre and it’s adjoining streets,  to admire them simply poke around , loose yourself and aimlessly discover its little delights on foot.

Let’s start of with this one.  Classic 20’s style bungalow. Love the the big windows and green shade.

Can’t say the same for the gates though.

Strutting it out.  Very regal in her front projection, almost feels like a mini-chateaux in the tropics.

This one’s time-worn but still solid looking and graceful with kapis windows. Probably one of the older homes (late 1800’s) in Silay’s collection.

This one’s better looking for its age.  The protruding air con unit and electric wires doesn’t in any way enhance its graceful period facade.

Not sure what’s the inspiration for this one, I can describe it as very Bahay-Na-Bato meets plantation style. Negros, after all, is one big sugarcane plantation island. I wonder if the builder was making a statement with the stairway.

Looking strong…. and staid.  This is the current Vice-Mayor’s office.

From towers and verandas…

to streamlined, rounded edges this forward looking, 30’s era Art-Deco lady.

On the main highway, a trio of faded beauties.

Pretty in pink. The Bernardo-Jalandoni house is another of Silay’s house museums (entrance P40.00). In terms of size,  this mansion doesn’t match the grand proportions of the Balay Negrense but still manages to hold on to its own.

Viewed from the road, the facade has a quite a majestic strut, it’s sheen certainly highlighted by the current restoration of  house.

What wonders really, a little TLC (and some $$$)  can do for your home.

Tip: While most mansions are clustered along Cinco de Noviembre street, within in a short distance (like the Bernardo Jalandoni Museum), if youre feeling lazy and hot, just book a tricyle. Fares start at P8.00, perhaps you can spare him a hundred pesos or so to ferry you for an extended period of time.