31 March 2009

Outdoor Mani-Pedi

The lady on the left is getting a manicure from the woman seated below.

The typical Filipina treks regularly to the corner parlors (salons) for haircuts, manicures, and pedicures on the cheap-- or the parlors trek to them.

Roving manicuristas are a common sight in markets and on streets where people hang out in front of their homes. Many Filipino women avail of training in their municipal centers for income-augmenting, low-investment service skills like hairstyling and doing nail treatments. The manicuristas I observe always seem to have pre-existing relations with their customers, though I could be wrong about this. Perhaps soon I will chat one or two of them up.

With them they bring a "kit" with different cuticle-cutting and dirt-scraping tools, as well as polish and that funky pink stuff.

30 March 2009

Alabang Public Market

Tofu squares, with pig intestines beside it. These bowls will be filled with arroz caldo.

Took a quick trip to the Alabang Public Market to buy some lumpia or spring roll wrappers and grated coconut to make some dessert. I got the wrappers but missed seeing them in actual creation, as the guy who made them went home for a bit! I will return soon with my burning questions early in the morning for a lesson in this amazing thin wonderproduct, which I eat like bread. I saw the equipment though-- it looks like a crepemaking surface.

Bottles of sauce, with bowls being wrapped in plastic. This makes it unnecessary to wash dishes.

While in the area, I got a taste of some jumbo deep-fried tofu with some soy sauce, fried garlic, and calamansi juice, for only 7 pesos. The same stall was selling pig intestines and arroz caldo as well.

The produce is enough of the standard stuff vegetables and seasonal or more unusual things (I spotted kamias, alocon, etc.). We got some smallish crabs too with blue shells.

Kamansi or breadfruit, laid out by a typical assortment of cabbage, Baguio beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and sayote.

It was getting late and I caught the market past its peak moments, but I'll be back soon. Lots of interesting nooks to poke your head into. On the way out, we spied a scooter outrageously detailed with the Louis Vuitton logo.

Logo hell

Alabang Public Market
Ride a jeep or bus to Alabang, and it will eventually drop you off very close to this market. Try to look for South Station Mall, and ask the folks where the palengke is. I apologize for the poor directions, here is a map that might help you figure it out.

Global Crisis

I'm not sure what this is, a gadget on someone's roof up north.

I've been reading about it. People say times are hard. People say it's the call centers keeping us afloat, but I believe it's the informal economy. It's the commonsense portion of reality.

I've always tried to keep myself distanced from "the system", "the man", whatever you call it. I support the man and woman on the streets, those doing things outside large credit and taxation. Screw Bayani Fernando for his vision of a sterile nation. In the Philippines, it is nature, the food, the towns and the streets that are truly alive. There you a smiling culture that is artful in its response to the fickle-weathered tropics. Even on an urban sidewalk, it is there.

Only these people and the environment can tell me that there is a true crisis-- and that crisis we can solve without an invisible hand. Mankind has been doing it for centuries without heavy centralization.

I want to live life living life. All else is, in a systems view, a waste of energy. That's why I feel like the current crisis is just dead flesh cycling back into healthy existence. Things are just getting very interesting. Right now they are rickety structures over structures over structures collapsing, and we are watching from a distance.

23 March 2009

On the Money

I've mentioned in passing people writing names and phone numbers on money. I wrote that off as I'd never see another one again, until I got this crumpled up and old (wet) twenty peso bill at the Sagada market. This woman was mysterious, writing only her name and city across Manuel Quezon's face.

I'm not sure how old the money was, but perhaps it has been in circulation in the informal economy for so long (Bangko Sentral mandates that vandalized bills get sequestered and replaced), that it continues to bear a pre-cellphone call for friendship. Or perhaps a bizarre declaration of ownership. Shrug shrug.

Bakotoy the Humble

Name and description, in the cut-out stickers typical of public transportation art.

Funny and public use of adjective to accompany this Sagada tricycle owner's name. Behind the driver seat, on the tarp to protect him from rain or mud, is the typical trike/jeep zodiac art. Below that is a little indication of risk-averse driving style: "I may be slow, but I'm ahead of you, friend."

This design was cut out of black waterproof material and sewn onto a white tarp.

Stickers again, with a missing F and D. And a messed up B.

18 March 2009

Baby Carrying

With a knotted up piece of cloth so snug it's almost like a membrane.

17 March 2009

Sagada Cemetery

Ferny tombstone.

Sagada is famous for its hanging coffins, but Christians are lain to rest in the Mission Compound cemetery, which is a curiosity in itself. It is a pleasant and chilly walk. There are many piles of charred black spots on the puntods. This is because, apparently, the winds make candles useless, and combustible pine wood the preferred means to light a short session of remembering.

I dunno, being named Killy is like being named Deady.

A short walk down is a path that leads to a good view of the mountain across, whose jagged rocks hold some of the non-Christians hanging coffins. I didn't get a decent photo of that, but just think about the juxtaposition.

Strong clear design that would look well on a shirt or an arm.

Cosme Madalang is buried here. Madalang means sporadic in Tagalog.

Veterans' area. They didn't bother finishing the lettering paint job.

Just another tombstone shot.

A simple and beautiful crucifix depiction.

A cross impression made by pressing bottle caps on wet cement.

Large and bold restful wishes.

The cemetery at dusk.

16 March 2009


Ship assembly.

Announcements such as calls for casual employment and cooperative meetings are posted in front of a general store in central Sagada town. The rest is left to word-of-mouth. Beats memos or emails!

Coop meeting.


House on a slope, no doubt housing voracious consumers of "edible oil".

My mini-absence was due to a road trip out to Sagada, Mountain Province (that Wiki link is a bit weird and wanting), the farthest north I've ever been in this beautiful archipelagic country.

We left at night and woke up to find ourselves far away and high above my usual lowland environment. I'm not exactly sure where, but when people start making walls out of old tins of cooking oil, you know you are far away.

Handle to lift edible oil containers.

Faded drops.

A carrot farm beside the house. Deep-fried carrots?

10 March 2009

Garden Denizens


Things found in Philippine gardens: grottos and dwarves/gnomes. I was always mystified by the little ones, and slightly scared of the Mama Ms. Go far enough outside of Manila and you'll see stretches of shops selling oversized flowers and dwarves.

While spotting the above assemblage along the road in Quezon, a friend told me of his aunt's creepy garden, a combination of both sorts: Mama Mary and the Seven Dwarves. Sounds like a perfect representation of our native belief system indeed, with our faith and fears built around statues and duendes-- and appeasing said statues and duendes with food, kind words, etc.

05 March 2009

Blind Band

I often hang around and listen to the blind musicians scattered around the city. They play mostly ballads from a time when bands were called "combos" and the electric guitar was new stuff. Sometimes they do those sad Filipino songs about migration and separation.

A favorite spot is by the stairs of Ayala rail, beside the bus "station", where there are many places to lean.

04 March 2009

More Crates

Here are some more crates, fashioned into a crib and part of a selling stand.

Crate crib and imported stroller.

01 March 2009

Puto Maya

Two kinds, with the (formerly) hot chocolate.

The Pianist got in one night from Dumaguete bringing some delicious lumps of puto maya. This came complete with some cacao in an emptied-out mineral water bottle.

Puto maya
is a popular Visayan kakanin made by cooking sticky rice with coconut milk, and scooping them into banana leaves. Some are made with purely white malagkit or glutinous rice, while others have tapol or black sticky rice mixed in. I previously thought they used red rice milled pretty inconsistently, but it appears that they throw the tapol in with white glutinous rice to get a purple-red look.

The tapol version.

Of course, it's commonly enjoyed with dark hot chocolate poured over it. Yum.

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