Words by: Rosario “Chats” A. Santiago
Taking a break from the daily grind of work need not require a well-planned trip out of town or abroad. If the budget can’t get you and your loved ones to some exotic spot in one of our 7,107 islands or across the Pacific, don’t sweat. There are still lots of places within the metro, where you can shrug off your worries even for a few hours.
Every large city in Metro Manila has at least one major city park. These recreational areas are perfect for kicking back, rolling up your sleeve, and just chilling for a bit. In the heart of the nation’s business district lie the Ayala Triangle Gardens. With its wide expanse of open ground and a diverse array of restaurants, these gardens make for a picturesque and relaxing refuge for everyone, including the suits that call Makati’s numerous skyscrapers home five days a week. On weekends, families also flock to this place, enjoying quality time with each other over a picnic, or dining at any one of the popular establishments located there.
In Manila, nothing is more prominent or historic than Luneta or Rizal Park. Once the only one of its kind, where our parents and grandparents could go and hang out, this remains a popular destination for those who may not have the resources to go to higher-end parks such as the Ayala Triangle Gardens. Families, friends, children, and lovebirds all troop to this iconic place for the scenery, sense of nostalgia, and its array of offerings ranging from a planetarium, an amphitheatre, the Chinese and Japanese gardens, an orchidarium, a chess plaza, a skating rink, a children’s playground, the National Library, and the National Museum. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Manila Bay is also nearby, for those who want to witness its famed sunset.
If you’re an enthusiast for marine life but can’t find enough time, or don’t have the budget for diving, you could check out the Manila Ocean Park also in Luneta. With its impressive variety of fresh and saltwater species, you could easily lose yourself in the calming and relaxing splendor of the deep and its creatures for a good two to three hours.
In Quezon City, the La Mesa Dam and Eco Park is just a few minutes away from the Quezon City Hall and Quezon Memorial Circle. Its large picnic area, complete with small nipa huts available for rent, has made this recreational spot increasingly popular for family trips and get-togethers. Apart from the expansive picnic grounds, the park is also surrounded by a lush forest ideal for hiking, trekking, and simply revitalizing yourself with pristine air and breathtaking scenery. Apart from this, La Mesa Eco Park also boasts a lagoon for fishing and boating, a one-of-a-kind saltwater pool for swimming, and facilities for other outdoor activities such as rapelling, zip-lining, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The park also includes an amphitheatre, a butterfly hatchery, and flower terraces. Because of its many scenic spots and attractions, La Mesa has also become a favorite setting for couples to have their prenuptial photos taken.
Another destination sure to help relieve you of stress is the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife practically a stone’s throw away from the Quezon Memorial Circle. This 80-hectare botanical and zoological garden is home to various species of animals and trees, and also has a rock garden, a large playground, picnic groves, a man-made lagoon for fishing and boating, cottages, and the Our Lady of Peace grotto.
Words by: Kristine Clariz B. Dauigoy
Cubao Ex, formerly known as Marikina Shoe Expo, is located in General Romulo Avenue. Walking from the MRT 3 Araneta Center – Cubao station, it’s approximately just a 15 minute walk from the rustle and bustle of EDSA.
The place is known for vintage thrift shops that sell vinyl records and players, books, magazines and almost anything that has aged from the 1950’s to early 1990’s. Aside from that, occasional music festivities and jamming sessions are held in the place. Some of the renowned artists who already played in Cubao Ex are Sandwich, Chicosci, Imago and Dong Abay.
Through the years, Cubao Ex has managed to incorporate trendy shops that still jive in the vintage atmosphere of its environment. Check out these must see stores and restaurants that will make you come back for more.
If you want to destress through shopping, here are the highly recommended places for you in Cubao Ex:
• UVLA Store: UVLA stands for Unique Vintage, Lost Art. The store has a very warm ambiance that will definitely entice customers to go inside and get lost with the amazing vintage finds they have. As per the store owner, their family is really into travelling and most of the pieces are from their personal excursions locally and overseas. Prices of the items depend on their antiquity and usage.
• Heima: Searching for the best pieces for your room or your house? Add that girly vibe with stylish yet usable items from Heima. The shop isn’t just about Western design, Heima offers customized pieces that are 100% made locally. Quick fact about the store, Heima stands for home in Iceland.
• THE Clothing: This is definitely one great shop for the boys who are into skating and biking. THE Clothing provides minimalistic yet trendy finds for you to suit up while skating or biking.
If in case you get hungry after walking around finding the best bargains in Cubao Ex, you don’t need to worry, the hub gives you all the more reason to stay longer with restaurants and shops that will satisfy your cravings.
• Bellinis – If you are a fan of John Lloyd’s epic movie “One More Chance” then you’ll instantly recognize this restaurant as it has been featured in the movie. Bellinis is by far the classiest restaurant in Cubao Expo. From its Italian roots, they serve the finest Red and White wine at P170. Better yet try their homemade (table) sweet wine which is only for P80! Food in Bellinis might be a bit pricey but it will definitely satisfy your pasta cravings. Check out their menu.
• Sweet Ecstasy – Who says that cookies and milk are only for kids? Release the kid in you with the freshest cookies and milkshakes in Sweet Ecstasy! Aside from the pleasure for your sweet tooth, Sweet Ecstasy has been exhibiting artworks from different FA students and artists in town. If you happen to drop by, I suggest you try Cerveza Milkshake (P140) with Malteser’s cookie (P40). No need to worry, if you’re in a tight budget, P300 will be more than enough for your sweet cravings here!
• Penpen’s Filipino Kitchen – Penpen’s Filipino Kitchen is a dining haven for those who like local cuisines with a twist. Penpen’s dashes diners with its “international-meets-local” cooking featuring dishes that will surprise your palate. If you want to unwind with some alcohol after your meal, you might wanna try their humorously named drinks which are P99 per liter!
Cubao Ex managed to rise to the occasion that it’s a place where art, music and food are very crucial parts of this generation. And if you want to spill your creative juices, this place is highly recommended. Good food, good music, good finds? Cubao Ex will definitely give you good vibes!
Words by: Chris Sanchez
Valentine’s Day is of course a very special day for lovebirds – and it’s been so for years and years. It’s a time-honored tradition for couples, whether hitched or not, to celebrate the occasion by sharing a romantic meal and so on.
Who says, however, that any Valentine’s meal has to be celebrated at a pricey restaurant with champagne and all that?One of the best things about this day and age is the wide range of options available to one and all – and this is as true for lovers and would-be Valentine’s Day celebrants as it is for society as a whole.
Without further ado, then, here are six off-the-beaten path restaurants or food destinations to help inspire those open to celebrating Valentine’s Day differently.
Take a culinary tour of Binondo – or go on your own.
Recognized by many as the oldest Chinese enclave in the world, modern-day Binondo, where time-honored Chinese and Filipino-Chinese culinary traditions meet and meld with today’s techniques and ingredients, is no less than a foodie’s delight. Sign up for a food tour, such as those organized by culinary expert Ivan Man Dy, or just go around by yourselves! Binondo is great for double or even triple dates if you’re up for the company – many of these restaurants boast large servings, so sharing is often the only practical way to go if you want to take full advantage of the variety on offer.
Gotta try: Chinese-style fried chicken at Sincerity Café, handmade shrimp and vegetable dumplings at Dong Bei (both on Yuchengco St.), dimsum “ala cart” – pick and choose from selections in a wheeled cart – at Royal Garden (Ongpin cor. Padilla Sts.), passionfruit pie at Shin Tai Shang (Salazar St.), cold sweet drinks and pastries at Diao Eng Chay (Salazar cor. Masangkay Sts.)
Eat at Barbara’s at the Manila Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion.
The Manila Orchidarium has long been famous for being an oasis of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Manila. It serves as a theme park and an ecological preserve that boasts lush greenery, such as its miniature rainforest, as well as trails, lagoons, waterfalls and watercourses, and even a pathway of healing stones called Reflexology Walk. Additionally, of course, the Orchidarium’s impressive collection of orchids takes pride of place. So beautiful is the Orchidarium that it is a much sought-after venue for weddings – thus making it a memorable off-the-beaten-path destination for Valentine’s Day dates. And Barbara’s Restaurant, which has been serving excellent food for years, continues to satisfy palates at its newest branch at the Orchidarium.
Where: Orosa St cor. Finance Drive, Rizal Park (Luneta)
Gotta try: Seafood Amelie with Lemon Cream Sauce, Beef Medallions with Wild Mushroom Sauce, Baked Salmon with Dill Sauce, Veal Scalloppini, Decadent Chocolate Cake with Caramel Sauce
Trek to Ristorante delle Mitre.
A little bit of a solemn place for a Valentine’s Day date, but worthy of consideration all the same. Fronting the historic San Agustin Church, and located below the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) office, this cozy restaurant was established to serve the bishops in the vicinity, but also serves simple, affordable meals for those working in Intramuros, as well as more sophisticated meals for tourists and other visitors to the area. Ristorante delle Mitre prides itself on offering nothing but dishes made from scratch right in the restaurant’s own premises. Décor-wise, the restaurant stands out, too; the miters of the three bishops being considered for possible beatification take pride of place – hence the name – as do other historical and religious paraphernalia. A nice, quiet historical spot in the center of Intramuros to sit with your loved one and watch the world go by.
Where: Gen. Luna cor. Real Sts., Intramuros, Manila
Gotta try: Kare-kare, roasted chicken, apple cinnamon cheesecake, crepes, ice cream (different varieties).
Head to Latasia Fusion.
Vegetarian food is far from hard to find in Manila – even humble food courts such as those in SM serve vegetarian cuisine, and pretty decent food to boot – but the consensus is that one has to head to a place like Latasia Fusion to experience vegetarian food at its best. This humble little restaurant has been satisfying many, and has changed the minds of even some avowed meat-lovers concerning vegetarian food, thanks to its down-to-earth cuisine that not only tastes good for vegetarian food but is just plain tasty, and is excellent value for money too. Good simple no-frills food that’s just plain excellent will doubtlessly go a very long way towards making one’s Valentine celebration one for the books.
Where: Katipunan Ave. cor. Ramon Magsaysay Blvd, Quezon City (close to the UP Diliman Katipunan Gate guardpost)
Gotta try: Vegetarian shawarma, Thai green curry made with gluten, turmeric rice, fresh fruit shakes
Visit a night or weekend food market.
The Manila food-market phenomenon is one that shows little sign of losing its popularity anytime soon. This should come as no surprise – these venues are one-stop shops where those who visit can avail of a really wide selection of food that can’t always be found elsewhere. Depending on the market, lovebirds can indulge in Filipino food, as well as food from other culinary hotspots like France, Spain, the Middle East, Indonesia, Vietnam and so on. Additionally, eating at many of these food markets doesn’t necessarily mean having to rough it; some boast airconditioned dining tents where diners can eat in comfort, while others also offer amenities such as Wi-Fi. Despite their enduring appeal, the good people behind these markets aren’t resting on their laurels; the newest wrinkle in food markets is the introduction of food trucks, and now there’s even a food market “specializing” in food trucks: Cucina Andare in the Glorietta 3 Park.
Where: Select locations throughout the metropolis
Gotta try: The new specialties at Cucina Andare: roasted Peking duck and fried pigeon at Cheryl’s Cuisine, chicken and waffles at Chicken and Waffle Haus, black mamba chicken wings at B.Wings, and so on
Go on a jaunt through Little Tokyo.
Manila residents are of course not ignorant about Japanese food – quite the contrary, given the large number of Japanese restaurants in the metro that serve food at many price points. But a trip to Little Tokyo is special – it’s not like going to your run-of-the-mill Japanese restaurant at the mall; these are thronged by Japanese expats, which means they must be good – and isn’t Valentine’s Day tailor-made for special trips? Little Tokyo really isn’t very large, but its Zen-style gardens, red Japanese lanterns and signboards will make you and your loved one feel as if you’ve been transported to Tokyo. And the excellent food Little Tokyo’s restaurants serve will lock in those impressions. It’ll be almost as if you’ve been magically whisked off to Japan for just one night.
Where: Between Pasong Tamo and Amorsolo Sts. in Makati (right beside Makati Cinema Square)
Gotta try: Okonomiyaki at Kagura, pork and beef yakiniku at Urameshi-ya, ramen at Shinjuku Ramen House, kaisen gozen (fresh raw fish on rice and in a bento set) at Seryna, Takoyaki at Hana.
Words by Nicole Raymundo
Regular Christmas shoppers have learned that in order to save time and money, they should scout for the best deals in town. Going to malls and commercial centers that have clearance sales is the common thing to do, while some bargain hunters go the extra mile to go to Divisoria to buy in bulk. But there is still another way to go if you want to buy unique gifts without hurting your budget – bazaar hopping. There are bazaars that are comparable to Divisoria in price but with the accessibility and convenience of the malls. Shoppers can also haggle with the sellers in bazaars in order to get the best price of the goods they intend to buy. Thus, bazaars have been a favorite venue to spot nice gifts this Christmas. Here are some of the bazaars in the metro that you can consider as you finish your holiday shopping:
12th World Bazaar Festival: World Trade Center, December 7-23, 2012
Contact: Normal Timbol @ 5316350 / 5316374 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The 12th World Bazaar Festival is organized by the Worldbex Services International, in cooperation with ABS-CBN. It is a charity bazaar that will be held at the World Trade Center from December 7 to 23. Proceeds of the event will go to the beneficiaries of the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. Aside from shopping, you can also relax and dine as you watch different shows and performances of Kapamilya talents on stage. This bazaar will showcase more than 800 booths from Filipino retail brands from toys to gadgets to kitchenware and houseware. The bazaar has over 618 participating companies and a 25,000 square meter shopping area for 230,000 shoppers. As you scout for great deals in this bazaar, check out the Woobie’s Goodies stall where you can buy homemade goodies, organic products and snacks that you can give as Christmas presents. The 12th World Bazaar Festival will also showcase top brands in Designers Avenue like Rustan’s, Rayban, Rudy Project, Converse, Celine, CMG group, Play and Display, Goody, Hang Ten, Enfant, Adidas, Puma, FILA, Converse, Triumph and unique, hard to find Christmas decorations and ornaments from the Christmas Decors Producers and Exporters Association of the Philippines.
Vintage Market 2: Green Meadows Subdivision, Quezon City, December 8-9, 2012
Contact: Txyla Puyat @ 09175455105
Now on its second year, the Vintage Market Bazaar has designated sections for brand new and second hand products. It offers a wide variety of goods which include clothing, accessories, bags, toys, home decor, collector’s items, antiques, gift items and many more. Food products will also be made available to buyers such as pastries, ready-to-eat snacks and drinks. To be held on December 8 and 9 at Green Meadows, Quezon City, the Vintage Market 2 Bazaar will open over 100 stalls to the public. Most of the sellers will offer free gift wrapping and goodies for kids who will come with their parents. Exciting raffle prizes also await lucky shoppers.
A portion of the proceeds of the Vintage Market 2 bazaar will be donated to chosen beneficiaries.
Emporia Christmas Bazaar: Glorietta 3 Park, Makati City, December 8-9, 2012
Contact: Ateneo Management Economics Organization – Daryl Ibasco @ 09178095391
With the objective of promoting financial literacy among high school students, the Ateneo Management Economics Organization organized the Emporia Christmas Bazaar 2012 to be held on December 8-9 2012 in Glorietta Park 3 tent. Students and non-students are invited to showcase their products ranging from food to crafts and houseware. Students are given discounts in the occupancy of the booths.
Grand Christmas Night Bazaar: Riverbanks Mall Marikina,
October – January 16, 2013
Contact: Evento Consumers and Trade Events @ 09284352281 / 09322946583
The Grand Christmas Night Bazaar in Marikina which started last October will run until January 16, 2013. Supported by the Local Government Unit of Marikina, the bazaar is a venue for retailers to market their very own products for Christmas. Even budding entrepreneurs and new business entrants take part in this bazaar, thus customers can see fresh business concepts and buy unique gifts for Christmas. What’s good also about this bazaar is the nightly entertainment and carnival rides.
Shop @ The Fort Bazaar:
NBC Tent, Taguig,
December 1-2, 8-9, 15-23, 29-30
Contact: 3743726 / email@example.com
The Bonifacio Global City’s bazaar has
attracted more shoppers every year because of its wide array of items to choose from. Clothes and fashion accessories are some of the best-sellers that can be bought as Christmas presents. The good thing about shopping in this bazaar is you are close to restaurants and coffee shops where you can hang out and dine after splurging all day long in your Christmas shopping.
Holiday Bazaar @ Manila Ocean Park:
Manila Ocean Park, October 19 – January 18, 2013
Contact: 6685061 / 8244644 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Going to bazaars need not be stressful if you have kids coming with you. Here at the Holiday Bazaar in Manila Ocean Park which started last October, you can bring along children as you shop for nice finds for Christmas. After doing your bargain hunt, you can rest and chill at the restaurants in the area and watch some attractions with the entire family.
Kiddopreneur Christmas Bazaar
Alphaland, EDSA corner Pasong Tamo, Makati City, December 9, 2012
The Kiddopreneur Christmas Bazaar is a venue where children aged 4-17 can showcase their entrepreneurial skills. This one-day bazaar on December 9 will be held at Alphaland Southgate Mall. Here you will see kids as the sellers of various products which could be given as Christmas gifts. This bazaar is also a good venue for families to bond and for kids to build new friendships.
What are you waiting for? Go to any of these Christmas bazaars and get the best deals in town! Bazaar hopping will certainly help you save money as you will be able to canvas for different products in one go. After your shopping spree you can start wrapping your gifts and just wait for Christmas day. You are sure to have a merry celebration as you give your loved ones your thoughtful presents.
Words by: Nicole Raymundo
Let’s get spooky!
Why don’t you try to visit some of the rumoured haunted spots in the city? Tag along with your friends and scare yourselves to death by hanging out in these horror spots will give you goose bumps. These places have a lot of stories to tell – some say they are urban legends, myths, and folklore. But nonetheless they are indeed frightening and mystifying tales especially for those whose imaginations run wild. Here is a quick run-down of these alleged haunted sites:
Ozone Disco – Quezon City
It was in March 1996 when about 160 people, mostly students celebrating their graduation, burned to death in this club. Approved for occupancy of only 35 people, Ozone Disco was packed with 400 people that fateful night. According to then Quezon City Mayor Ismael Mathay, Ozone Disco was “undoubtedly a death trap” because its emergency exit was blocked by a new building nearby. The Philippine Center on Transnational Crime actually called the Ozone Disco fire the worst fire in the Philippines
Ozone Disco now stands in the middle of a restaurant and a moneychanger near the bustling Memorial Rotonda in Quezon City. Old, dirty and quiet, most people don’t know it’s the site of a tragedy that happened 13 years ago. Once in a while, residents near the site would say that they hear sounds of teenagers partying at the now idle building. Passers by would get that eerie feeling as some said they see glimpses of people moving inside when the building is isolated.
Balete Drive – Quezon City
Of course, almost every Filipino must have heard about the famous Balete Drive. It even inspired a 1988 movie, Peque Gallaga’s Hiwaga sa Balete Drive that the street became one of the most popular haunted places in Manila. The Balete Drve is named after the balete trees, which are known to be homes of paranormal beings, along its road.
A white lady, bloody or faceless, is said to haunt the road at night, appearing in the backseats of taxis, seen in rearview mirrors. Some say she was raped and killed by a taxi driver, others say Japanese soldiers raped her during World War II. Motorists are advised to take alternate routes at night. If passing the road is unavoidable, there are several precautions: make sure the backseat is fully occupied, don’t look back and don’t look in the mirrors.
Manila Film Center – Pasay City
Some say that the ghosts in the Manila Film Center are real ghosts while some say they are just an urban legend. Stories passed on from one generation to the next that hundreds of labourers were buried alive in the Parthenon-like building after the upper floor collapsed in 1981. It was said that the Former First Lady Imelda Marcos ordered the rushing of the completion of the structure in time for the 1982 Manila International Film Festival that the remaining workers were forced to pour cement over the buried bodies to meet the deadline. Only a few construction workers were saved from the rubble and some said that the spirit of the dead people there haunted the building because they were seeking justice. Up to now, there’s really no proof that will either affirm or negate the story but one thing’s for sure – it’s one of the most mysterious scary tales of all time in Philippine history.
University of Sto. Tomas – Manila
One of the most famous horror stories of the almost 400-year-old University of Sto. Tomas is the one where students feel a tapping on their foreheads when using the ladies’ restroom in the Main Building. When they look up, they see the gently swinging feet of a female student who committed suicide in one of the cubicles, as the story goes. Also, a headless nun is said to roam the St. Martin de Porres building, formerly known as the Medicine Building. A UST student was once told by a professor to leave the building by 6 p.m. There are also sightings of friars roaming the grounds, wailing voices can also be heard.
It was alleged that thousands of people died in the university because the campus was an internment camp in the 1940s where some prisoners died of hunger, some committed suicide while others were murdered.
University of the Philippines Manila
Established in 1908 and damaged by World War II, the University of the Philippines Manila had its own share of ghostly sightings. In the College of Arts and Sciences, also called Rizal Hall, spirits are said to make their presence felt in the bathrooms and chemistry laboratory. A few meters away is the Gusaling Andres Bonifacio which houses what is believed to be the ghost of a janitor who committed suicide. On the first floor, there is said to be a 10-12 year-old child running. Meanwhile, the ghosts of nurses and interns are said to make their rounds in the Philippine General Hospital, which is an attached institution of UP Manila.
Manila City Hall
According to Manila City hall employees, there are strange noises heard in their offices when the clock strikes 6 p.m. There are whispers, footsteps, and screams when night falls. It was said that since Manila was one of the most affected cities during the World War II, naturally the Manila City Hall has been perceived to be housing paranormals and spirits of dead people during the attacks. If you want to be scared even more, observe the architectural structure of Manila City Hall and you’ll find out that it is shaped like a coffin with a cross on it when viewed from the top.
Fort Santiago – Intramuros, Manila
During World War II, hundreds of civilians and soldiers were tortured or killed in Fort Santiago, Intramuros. Thousands more died and the city turned to ashes when the Americans fought the Japanese in 1945. Soldiers’ ghosts are said to patrol at night–apart from the actual guards dressed in old-fashioned soldier uniforms. Screams of the tortured and persecuted are said to echo throughout the walled city, as well, as soon as night time strikes.
Words by Rosario Santiago
Until the 75th season of the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines or UAAP opened last month, the historic Araneta Coliseum had been the undisputed home of the most popular cage wars in the country. The Big Dome, as it is fondly called, has, after all, been the premier venue for the nation’s professional league Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), as well as varsity tournaments, the UAAP and the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA. With the completion and inauguration of the all-new SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena this year, it has become the primary home (at least for this season) of the UAAP. More than half of its elimination round games schedule to be played there, with the remainder slated to take place at the Big Dome, or at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) – ULTRA. More than likely, this season will also mark the first time in years, that the Araneta Coliseum will not bear witness to the hostilities of the UAAP finals.
So what exactly does the rise of the MOA Arena mean for Philippine basketball? Is it the new guard pushing the old, out of the way and into oblivion? For many, the Araneta Coliseum may look like an aging complex whose weathered fixtures now look dull and worn against the new arena’s bright, shiny facilities. Yet for others, the old battleground remains irreplaceable in its history and the memories made beneath its storied big top. And then of course, there is the matter of which is even more accessible. Let’s break down the tangibles and intangibles of the Araneta Coliseum, the SM MOA Arena, and the big daddy of them all, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum (RMC), which was the scene of many a hardcourt tussle long before either of the two were even on the drawing board.
Rizal Memorial Coliseum
The last time I was at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum was sometime in the late `80s or early `90s. I remember it was a wet, rainy night, as my college friends and I hastily made our way through mud puddles to watch a concert, which memory tells me was Swing Out Sisters. Prior to that, I recall trooping to the venue occasionally to watch a few games of the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL), successor to the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association or MICAA, and early incarnation of the Philippine Basketball League or PBL. For the uninitiated, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum was built four decades before our professional basketball league even came into existence. It opened its doors in 1934, as part of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) which in turn, was constructed for the Far Eastern Championship Games (precursor to the Asian Games) that same year. Both the RMC and RMSC are located on Pablo Ocampo St., formerly Vito Cruz, in the heart of Malate in Manila, and both are named after our national hero, Jose Rizal.
The coliseum is currently one of two indoor arenas at the RMSC, alongside the newer Ninoy Aquino Stadium (NAS), which was originally an open air venue, before being converted into an indoor site and opened as such in January of 1989. With its completion in 1936, the 8,000-capacity RMC, became home to the basketball games of the NCAA, which had previously been played first at the UP campus in Ermita, then in Nozaleda field (now Agripina Circle), and eventually at the 31st Infantry Quonset Gym in Intramuros, where the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila or PLM now stands. After the reconstruction of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in 1953 following its destruction during the Second World War, the Rizal Memorial Coliseum became one of the primary settings for basketball and other indoor sports from the `50s to the `70s. When the Philippine Basketball Association was born in 1975, some of its early `80s games were held at the RMC, and in 1981, the venue hosted the basketball competitions of the Southeast Asian Games, including the fight-marred gold medal contest between Malaysia and host Philippines.
Sadly, it has since taken not only a back seat to, but has practically been relegated to mere memory, by the continued rise in popularity of the much larger Araneta Coliseum from the time it formally opened in 1960. Aside from its size, which allows it to hold twice as many patrons, the Big Dome in the heart of bustling Cubao was also a much more comfortable venue compared to the dimly lit and non-air-conditioned Rizal Memorial Coliseum. The latter’s most recent claim to fame was as home to the Southeast Asian Games in 2005. Two years later, with all NCAA meetings held either at the Araneta Coliseum or the smaller Arena in San Juan, 2007 marked the first time the Rizal Memorial did not host an NCAA outing.
This brings us to the site that would eventually take the place of the old battlefield. We come to the Big Dome, scene of many a historic PBA championship, and legendary to the international community as the setting for “Thrilla in Manila,” which we will come to a bit later on. For members of my generation, the Big Dome was, is, and will always be synonymous to basketball and the best entertainment shows of our youth. It is my personal choice of arena, so you must forgive me if my bias eventually starts to show. My partiality is not without sound basis however, as you will come to realize once we run through the list of things that make this structure one of a kind and remarkable.
The Araneta Coliseum came into existence as part of a dream that Don Jose Amado Araneta had of bringing the best of what he’d seen in his many travels abroad, back home. He envisioned a stage, where his countrymen could experience the spectacle of world-class entertainment at the most affordable prices. The realization of his ambition began in 1952 with his purchase of a 35-hectare property in Cubao from Radio Communication of America or RCA, reportedly at a cost of Php 4.00 per square meter. This piece of land is what we now know as the Araneta Center, bounded by EDSA, Aurora Boulevard, P. Tuazon, and 15th Avenue. Five years later, work on the coliseum began, guided by Don Amado’s desire to construct the world’s largest dome. It is said he even sent Dominador Lugtu, his engineer, to ascertain that their structure would be 10 feet larger than the Saint Sophia Dome in Istanbul. Don Amado purportedly went on to offer a reward of Php 10,000.00 to anyone who could name an arena bigger than the Araneta Coliseum at its inauguration. No one could, or would be able to, as his pet project would become the world’s largest dome structure for the next forty years. At 108 meters in diameter, it became an international wonder from the time it opened in March of 1960, gaining global recognition as the “biggest covered coliseum in the world.” Not until 2001 did it lose this title, when Japan’s Oita Stadium or “Big Eye” finally overtook it via its 274-meter retractable roof. The Araneta Coliseum however, still stands as the largest indoor center in Southeast Asia, and one of the biggest clear span domes in the world.
Built at a cost of Php 6 million, the Big Dome is an architectural wonder, standing to this day, without a center post or any kind of obstruction at any viewing angle of the audience area. Held up only by 48 concrete columns and 48 metal ribs, it sits on 40,000 square meters of land, and has a floor area of 2,300 square meters. As testament to the impressive design of the Araneta Coliseum, the Philippine hardwood like narra, tanguile, and apitong, which had been steam-treated at the time of construction specifically for lifetime use, remained irreplaceable as of its first major restoration in July of 1999, to the tune of Php 200 million. Aside from the replacement of seats in the patron and lower box sections, the 1999 renovation also included installation of a four-sided, center-hung scoreboard, to which, an LED display was added four years later. This entire setup was then eventually replaced in December of 2010 by a giant LED screen fondly called the “Big Cube,” which, at 22.22 square meters, dwarfed the old scoreboard system.
Apart from being a design marvel, the Araneta Coliseum is rich in history, ranging from the countless celebrated sporting events it has hosted, to the international and local acts that have performed beneath its landmark dome. For its inaugural event, no less than 33,000 people witnessed our very own Gabriel “Flash” Elorde take the World Junior Lightweight title from American Harold Gomes on March 16, 1960.
It was however, another boxing event that would put the Big Dome on the world map anew. On October 1st 1975, it provided the backdrop for “Thrilla in Manila,” the rubber match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The 15-round fight, still considered one of the greatest of the 20th century, was also the bout that catapulted Ali to legendary status as one of the greatest boxers ever. To this day, even international artists who stage shows at the Big Dome take and post photographs of the event banner and mementos found at the coliseum. Speaking of international acts, the Araneta Coliseum has been host to far too many to enumerate. Among the big names that have regaled Filipinos and foreigners at the Big Dome are Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Pat Boone, Nat King Cole, The Jackson Five, the Backstreet Boys, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, and as I’ve said, just way too many to mention.
All told however, the Big Dome is probably still best known among us Filipinos, as THE place for enjoying our favorite sport of basketball. For nearly two decades, it was the undisputed home of the PBA from its maiden game on the 9th of April 1975, all the way to 1984. Although the league moved to the PSC-ULTRA in Pasig from 1985 to 1992, then to the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay from 1993 to 1998, the Araneta Coliseum once again partnered with the PBA as host of its Friday games in 1995. When its five-year contract with the Pasay City government ended, the league finally returned to its original home.
When the Big Dome was formally opened via Flash Elorde’s triumphant outing 52 years ago, general admission cost 80 centavos, while the reserve section set viewers back Php 5.00. Over five decades later, this iconic venue remains true to Don Jose Amado Araneta’s original vision of providing an arena where Filipinos could be entertained at the lowest admission cost possible. This commitment, along with its strategic location at the heart of the metropolis, has kept it highly popular and desirable to event organizers and audiences. It is easily accessible via private and public transport from both the north and south.
In July of 2011, the Big Dome was rechristened the Smart Araneta Coliseum, formally signaling the start of a five-year partnership with the telecommunications giant. This alliance is slated to bring a host of improvements and enhancements to the historic arena.
SM Mall of Asia Arena
The newest kid on the block, the SM MOA Arena, is the newest, most modern indoor facility to rise in the urban jungles of Metro Manila. Standing on a vast 64,085 square meters of land, this new stadium boasts of world-class facilities and state-of-the-art equipment such as NBA standard retractable Spalding basketball goals, Robbins flooring, eight-sided center-hung scoreboards, and even an LED ribbon. It also employs the leading edge plug-and-play set-up, which allows for live beaming through SM Cinema theatres anywhere in the Philippines. With its five levels, the MOA Arena can hold 15,000 seated guests, or up to 20,000 at full capacity. Groundbreaking took place in 2010, with completion of the structure barely making the deadline for its June 16 opening this year. It is the latest, largest, and possibly most eye-catching addition to the already massive Mall of Asia complex. In fact, the MOA Arena can accurately be described as one giant eye staring at the now-famous globe at the entrance to the grounds of the SM Mall of Asia. Its unique eye-shaped exterior is by no means random. It was a conscious decision on the part of owner Henry Sy and SM Investment Corporation, as a symbol of their commitment to bringing nothing but first-rate acts and events sure to be a feast for the eye of the beholders. The official website calls it a literal and figurative architectural “eyecon,” featuring amenities not yet found anywhere else in the region.
What sets SM’s MOA Arena apart is its introduction of corporate suites, similar to the executive or luxury boxes of facilities in the U.S. Complete with its own restroom, mini bar, comfortable furnishings, and a glass-paneled viewing deck with plush theater seats, these private deluxe rooms are the first not only in the Philippines, but in all of Southeast Asia. There are 41 of these at MOA Arena, situated under the upper box, and just above the lower box sections. Of these, 31 Premium Suites are being leased on a long-term basis, while the other 10 Events Suites are available on a per-event basis. The Premium Suites come with a price tag of anywhere between Php 9 million to Php 12 million, with holders getting season passes to all of the entertainment and sporting events at the venue.
The MOA Arena is also a model of comfort and convenience with 34 escalators, 10 elevators, 16 smoking lounges, and dedicated access lanes for persons with disabilities or PWDs. It offers 2,000 parking slots on the south side of the mall, as well as 1,400 more at the neighboring Mall of Asia Arena Annex or MAAX building.
Currently serving as an alternate venue for the PBA when the Smart Araneta Coliseum is unavailable, the MOA Arena is also the new home of the UAAP, at least for this season. It is meant to complete what the SM Group of Companies hopes will become the total shopping and leisure experience at the Mall of Asia complex. It is one more piece on their drawing board, in pursuit of their goal of “changing the game and elevating entertainment.” If its first few event offerings are to be the basis however, it seems the cost of such change and elevation may be a bit steep, judging from the considerable ticket prices of recent shows like Lady Gaga’s and NKOTBSB’s. In this regard, the legacy of Don Amado Araneta continues to be felt over at the Araneta Coliseum, as entrance to even the most popular acts there are significantly more affordable. And of course, depending on where you live, the question remains as to which venue is really more accessible.
Sadly, the arena war appears to only be between the fabled Araneta Coliseum and newcomer SM MOA Arena. The Rizal Memorial Coliseum no longer appears to have what it takes to compete with the other two, as it has long been left without refurbishing or enhancements. Between the remaining combatants, one is steeped in history, legendary across the globe, and revered as hallowed ground by those who had fought and played there, and those who came to witness such contests and performances. The other is a modern-day gladiator, decked with all the accoutrements of technological advancements. One is a sentimental favorite, while the other is replete with trappings of modernization. Which is better? I think this comes down to a personal and individual choice. And I know mine was made clear at the onset of this article.
Greens Café and Restaurant
92 Sct. Castor, South Triangle, Quezon City
Established in 2001, Greens has been serving meatless fare for over a decade. Located in the gastronomically rich Tomas Morato area in the heart of Quezon City, Greens is actually a house turned into a restaurant. Befitting its name, lush greens surround the establishment, giving it a refreshing and relaxed atmosphere that allows diners to truly savor the simple, flavorful, and healthy dishes. Among their specialties are the Roasted Veggies Wrap, Greens Vegetarian Barbeque, Shepherd’s Pie, Cheesy Soy Sticks, Vegetarian Sisig, and a variety of eggless desserts for indulging one’s sweet tooth.
Corner Tree Café
150 Jupiter St., Bel-Air, Makati City
Heading over to Makati, the Corner Tree Café has been a haven of quality vegan and vegetarian choices since 2009. The brainchild of Chiqui Mabanta, a veteran seller of vegetables at Sunday markets, this small neighborhood resto seats only about 25 people so reservations are the way to go. Since opening its doors to the public three years ago, it has been the toast of food critics, even landing back-to-back inclusions to the Miele Guide for the Best Restaurants in Asia in 2009/10 and 2010/11. It was also among Philippine Tatler’s Best Restaurants in the Philippines for 2011, as well as PETA’s Top 10 Vegetarian Establishments.
Daily Veggie N’ Café
540 Banawe cor. Calamba Sts., Quezon City
Also tracing its roots to 2001, Daily Veggie is a restaurant-cum-grocery, where one can find items such as vegetarian soy sauce, oyster sauce, and barbecue sauce, along with veggie siopao and dumplings. It offers predominantly Chinese-style cuisine without the meat, as well as Filipino favorites like vegetarian tapa and tocino with a veggie twist.
SM Cubao, SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM South Mall,
SM City Manila, SM Makati
What list of vegetarian eateries would be complete without Bodhi. Easily accessible with outlets in most of the popular malls in Metro Manila, it was voted Best Affordable Vegetarian Food by PETA Asia Pacific in 2007. It is famous for creating delicious meat-free versions of popular Filipino dishes such as menudo, bopis, kare-kare, and afritada.
By: Rosario Santiago
With the advent of cosplay, the rise in extreme sports and adventures, a world made smaller by the far reaches of the internet, and the development of countless parks, resorts, and beaches, getting hitched can now be done in practically any style, manner, theme, or fashion.
Most wedding coordinators suggest that couples consider their hobbies and interests to help them decide on the spirit and style of their wedding. They could pick a favorite book, film, character, or activity as their inspiration, or select an advocacy or cause to be their theme such as an eco-friendly ceremony to promote caring for the environment. They can even use popular rivalries as a theme, such as a blue and green for an Atenean marrying a La Sallian. Couples can also canvass local attractions not normally used as wedding venues, but which could be special and meaningful to them for one reason or another. The Manila Ocean Park for instance, can provide the perfect backdrop to marine-themed nuptials. Zoos and eco-parks are perfect for animal and nature lovers, while the more Bohemian set might prefer art galleries or places of culture and creativity. Still others might long for the romance of a beach ceremony and the Philippines has more than enough dream destinations ideal for this. Boracay is an obvious choice, as is Batangas, with Punta Fuego in Nasugbu famous for its “sunset beach” weddings.
C & C Creative concepts, which has specialized in long-distance wedding planning since 1999, offers an extensive array of themes from just about any era, civilization, season, and inclination. Their website lists Victorian, Country Style, Garden, Princess, Hollywood Glamour, Celestial, and Black and White Damask as themes most preferred by clients. They also have Period Themes, which can be anything from the flappers, gangsters, and molls of the roaring `20s, the Beatles invasion of the 1960s, bell bottoms and platforms from the swinging `70s, and so on. Their Seasonal Themes include Winter Wonderland in December, New Year’s in January, and velvet red Valentines in February. For globe trekkers, C & C also has an impressive catalog of Regional Themes like Grecian, Hawaiian, A Trip to Paris, Ancient Rome, Arabian Nights, Moroccan, African Safari, Caribbean, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Mardi Gras, Australian, Zen-inspired and Japanese Cherry Blossoms, A Taste of China, and of course, Filipiniana. They even have Around the World for those who are unable to make up their mind. For film buffs, Movie Themes like Cinderella, Shakespeare in Love, Moulin Rouge, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are just a few of the motifs to choose from.
Another veteran with 20 years of catering experience, Josiahs, which has earned the reputation of being THE wedding and banquet specialist in the Philippines, also has its own lineup of design concepts. Among them are Picnic, Royal Wedding, Aqua and Red, French Shabby Chic, Orange and Lemons, Chocolates and Lilac, Get Poshed, Lush Garden, Black and White, Apples and Damask, All About Candies, Black Meets Yellow, Crafty Auburn, Cherry Blossoms, and A Love Story Buffet: The Road to Ever After.
The choices are infinite. An African Safari theme might also be inspired by the film adaptation of Out of Africa. The Grecian motif could be expanded into a scene from Clash of the Titans. The Cherry Blossom concept might incorporate elements from Memoirs of a Geisha. Whether it’s simply a design concept for a reception, a full production complete with costumes and theme-related activities, or a totally extreme ceremony atop a mountain, couples now have the freedom to choose wherever and however they wish to exchange “I dos.”
Honeymooners, where to go to in the Philippines? Engaged? You and your fiancé should be talking about where you will spend your honeymoon. Married? You and your spouse should consider having a second honeymoon!
You don’t need to go far to have a relaxing time with your partner. There are a lot of wonderful places in the Philippines that you can ever imagine. Remember that a honeymoon is a very special moment in your life, so you better make it memorable and romantic. Discuss with your fiancée or spouse and decide on the activities that you want to have depending on your budget, interest, and time.
Here are six of the sweetest honeymoon spots in the country today:
Panglao, Bohol: Sweet Escape
Couples will never run out of attractions to see in Bohol- Chocolate Hills, Loboc River, Tarsier sanctuaries, and many more. An added bonus to this is Bohol’s Panglao Island, which has captured the hearts of honeymooners looking for something refreshing aside from the usual beach getaway. Enjoy Panglao’s white and refined sand, quiet shorelines, and clean waters as you feast on native delicacies in the province.
Bellaroca, Marinduque: Secluded Jewel
Bellaroca in Marinduque is fit for couples with a taste for glamour and elegance. This resort’s Santorini-inspired architecture on rolling terrain contrasted with the azure blue of the sky above and the clear water below has made it a popular honeymoon destination. An integrated resort, spa and lifestyle island destination, Bellaroca opened its doors to the public in 2009, and since then has offered a one of a kind experience unlike any other place in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia.
Misibis Bay: Romantic Playground
Misibis Bay offers infinite possibilities for honeymooners. This luxury island playground is a private hideaway built on a white sand beach along the southern tip of Cagraray island in Bacacay, Albay. Misibis Bay has a breathtaking landscape that is hard to resist. Experience the diversity of Misibis Bay, where there are countless ways to enjoy with your loved one.
Caramoan, Camarines Sur: Redefining Island Hopping
Isolated from the rest of Camarines Sur, Caramoan islands has remained unexploited from commercial tourism. This makes it a popular honeymoon destination among couples who wish to explore the beauty of nature. Some of the activities that can be done in this beautiful island are the following: scuba diving, trekking, rock climbing cave exploration, and star gazing.
Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte: Exotic TranquilityPagudpud Beach is a secluded wonder in the north. Enclosed within the mountain ranges of Ilocos, Pagudpud gives honeymooners the quality time that they are looking for. The place boasts of its clean waters and chilly climate. It can be said that Pagudpud is a virgin beach, as compared to other beaches which have been commercialized already. Pagudpud is also close to famous tourist attractions in the north so couple will not have a hard time thinking of activities to do together.
Coron, Palawan: Captivating Serenity
Coron, Palawan is best for honeymooners who wish to discover the hidden wonders in remote islands and the underwater. Coron is a very quiet place, with friendly people which makes it a relaxing honeymoon spot. One of the good things about this place also is that after exploring Coron, couples can hop on a small ship and go straight to El Nido, Palawan, another famous honeymoon destination.
Words by: Joan Lopez-Flores
Food: Asian, European, Mediterranean cuisine
Location: 76 Sct. Limbaga, Tomas Morato, Quezon City
Rating: 4 stars
Food: Gourmet Spanish cuisine
Location: 40 E. Lopez cor. Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City
Rating: 4 stars
Food: Filipino cuisine
Location: 122 Sct. Lazcano Dr., Sacred Heart, Quezon City
Rating: 5 stars
Under the category “Puro Kababuyan” or pork dishes, we picked out Inihaw na Lechon Kawali (P240); and under “Kakaiba Ka Ba”, we chose Ginataang Hubad na Kuhol at Malunggay (P215). Really, I have no words for this place but amazement with the taste while I am amicably humored by their menu! I am sure to keep coming back to this place for years.
Location: Tomas Morato Cor. E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City
Rating: 4 stars