29 August 2009

The Need to Illustrate

Some establishments feel the need to illustrate their signs, in order to transcend language/dialect/terminology knowledge barriers, or to reach out to those who cannot read. Most commonly:

A visual reminder of safety requirements on a construction site.

Auto and electrical shops usually have car parts painted on them, you take your car apart and just don't know what those things are called, I suppose.

Vaciador, sharpening things that need to be sharp.


Some tambol entertainment on the bus.

22 August 2009

Shrimp Balls

Tusok tusok the shrimp balls.

Something to add to the fried food parade of Manila: 1 peso shrimp balls. I am convinced, though it was not I who tried them, that they are almost entirely made of flour, although I was surprised to see bits of carrots and dahon ng sibuyas, as the common "streetballs" are devoid of vegetables.



And some kekiam and duck fetus, ready to fry to a crisp:

Bendy bodies.

14 August 2009

Bamboo Match Boxes

Unchanging match box graphics, and strips of sandpaper for striking.

Many match box exteriors are made from whole strips of bamboo folded and secured with adhesive. You learn something new all the time, picking things up from the ground.

Flip side.

The purple dye of the inner paper box has transferred itself onto our bamboo protagonist.

11 August 2009

Quite General Store

Pens, flashlights, refill inks, stamp pad inks, "Chinese writing fluid", shuttlecocks, writing pads.

Chinese ink, badminton shuttlecocks, suyod (lice combs)-- the assemblage of a pre-department store general store. The handwritten prices by the storekeeper and salesgirls (and they are all girls) come and gone from this Manila store.

Threads of many colors, pomade, nail brushes, flint, matchsticks, face cream, tape, combs, suyod, hairnet, rice paste, sequins, "hook bra", glue ("glou"), biodata sheets.

09 August 2009

The Skirpron

Women selling seafood, which can get your clothes smelling baaaad.

Women vendors in wet market settings often wear skirts to protect their clothing, acting as aprons would. These often have pockets for putting money or paper required for transactions. Having to be in a retail setting where I get sort of dirty, I have been pondering the merits of the "skirpron" as opposed to the aprons that I use.

Vendor takes a break and looks on.

A clear advantage is the "all-around protection" you get, and the ability to wipe your hands on your ass portion. There are also no strings to mess up. They are also pretty versatile, and I have more than a few times seen ladies pull them up above their chests to cover their shirts from dirt as well.

Furthermore, wearing it, no matter how modern your trousers are, gives you a silhouette that is a familiar sight when traveling to the provinces and a bit of Southeast Asia.

To end, that significant protective piece of fabric throughout history of our streetlife:

Lechera from Calamba. Taken from here.

"Working women" was the description. Taken from here.

06 August 2009


Anti-Gloria posters pepper the metro.

Demon Gloria, beating Gloria up. Calls for resignation.

05 August 2009

Suman sa Lihiya Cart

Suman sa lihiya come in twins, tied together before cooking.

I normally only have the chance to purchase suman sa lihiya from non-roving vendors, so though I was stuffed to my esophagus, I decided to stop these kids along their way home and get a couple of servings. For 14 pesos each pair, I must say, this suman-on-the-go was superb. The sauce was freshly made, not too sweet. The street was friendly and alive.

Protective plastic over the cart, which tells us who is lord.

Kids pick a banana-leaf-wrapped pair out for me.

Preparing the ridged serving paper thing.

Cutting the string. Sometimes they use banana leaf strips for tying.


Laying them out.

Cutting into bite-sized pieces.

Pouring the sauce, coconut milk cooked with raw sugar.

A barbecue stick for easy eating.

03 August 2009

Regional Tactics

New Boholano, a club of sorts along the pier.

Nearing the port of Manila, as well as in the nearby districts that hawk its goods and house the many urban migrants, are establishments proudly displaying the regional provenance of their owners.

Above this Quiapo restaurant, capiz windows and a girl chilling out.

What are the advantages of naming your establishment after your home region? Aside from just wearing your provenance on your sleeve (like some jeepneys do), giving an indication of the cuisine (which is not very probable, actually, given produce homogeneity in the metropolis), these may mark them as places for newcomers (or homesick old-timers) to come in for a Manila briefing, a chat in native dialect, updates, the possibility of finding someone to carry packages home, etc.

02 August 2009

Trowels and Sandwich Spread

Trowels are used to scoop out unsweetened peanut butter and ground cacao paste, both from Batangas, being sold by weight.

01 August 2009

Public Videoke

Young guy, covering his boobs with a towel, consults his girlfriend on song selection matters.

A pay videoke machine, stationed at the corner of a Manila street, becomes a place where members of a neighborhood converge. When someone puts a 5 peso coin in, and the strains of a synthesizer fill the air, and people begin to gather. There are also passers-by who become momentary audiences-- a "satellite group" of people forms outside the shed, watching on and singing along for a minute or two before picking up their sack of bulk goods or roving food carts and carrying on with work.

A passer-by (man standing on right, had a killer voice) is invited to sing a stanza or two.

Filipinos love to have an audience, even sleepless ones beyond a 50 foot radius. Most videoke, by the very nature of its aural intrusion, is public. I have grown used to the loud singing, and pick up the "musical pulse of the public" through my regular encounters with it, often hearing neighborhood renditions before the actual recordings.

A budding street videokeist has his turn.

I once overheard a conversation by some settled expatriates while chilling in some hot springs once. They were quite fearful in discussing the possibility of a videoke operation ruining the silence of their bucolic hillside homes. One of the foreigners said he proposed to fund a sound-proof videoke joint in his community before they could set up the characteristically loud, synth-y version. They refused and ridiculed him.

I later asked our companion, who was a local, if he would patronize a videoke place which did not leach its noise pollution onto the neighborhood. The answer was a quite vehement "no", and a smiling explanation along the lines of "Why should I pay if no one will hear me sing anyway?". How interesting.

The baby did sing. Really! Syllables.

A natural knack for singing, the feeling and glamor of clutching a microphone and being a star. Even the malls have more sophisticated "diva" versions of the machines, with video screens showing bystanders your performance, and open at the side, of course, if people want to take a peek at who is behind all the blaring. If that's not enough, you get a video copy and show everyone back home, or send it to a noontime show or recording company.

A student shows us her stuff.

An audience gathers around the "New Star".

Popular Posts