Tuesday, March 03, 2015

By the Lakeside, We Remember and Celebrate: Angono Gives Tribute to National Artist Lucio San Pedro on his 102nd Birth Anniversary

A Lucio San Pedro tribute show was mounted at the Angono Lakeside Park.

Perhaps the most beautiful sunset in Angono, a town in the province of Rizal, immediately east of Manila, is at the shore of Laguna Lake (actually Bay Lake), where the sun gilds the thriving water hyacinths and the slender boats gliding on the water. 
            Danilo Diaz told in a poem how the late Lucio San Pedro, National Artist for music and one of the towns most illustrious sons, would regularly visit the Angono shore, popular called Wawa in the barangay of San Vicente, even in his wheelchair. The poet imagined what the esteemed composer was thinking seeing the changes in the once bucolic lakeside area of his childhood.
            Angono mayor Gerardo Calderon recalled how Wawa has become a dumping site with numerous informal settlers. In recent years, he spearheaded rehabilitating the area and naming it Angono Lakeside Park with a number of amenities in the planning for people to visit and enjoy the ambiance. The holding of cultural events here is also hoped for, and this aspiration was ushered by the program Sa Gunita ng Musika at Awit: Pang-alaalang Palatuntunang Parangal sa Ika-102 Taong Kaarawan ni Maestro Lucio D. San Pedro (By the Memory of Music and Song: Memorial Tribute Program on the 102nd Birth Anniversary of Maestro Lucio D. San Pedro) on February 11, 2015.
The tribute show was also meant to showcase the park and contribute to the celebration of the February National Arts Month, with partial funding from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
With this project, we hope to cherish the life and contribution of professor San Pedro and inspire others to contribute in art and culture making in Angono, the Art Capital of the Philippines and haven of artists, said Patnubay Tiamson, the towns tourism officer.
Angono has been famous for having numerous artists. Their galleries and ateliers are often visited by tourists. Its most known visual artist is the late National Artist for visual arts Carlos Botong Francisco.  A number of writers and musicians call Angono home as well.
Preceded by a modest visual arts exhibit at the SM Center Angono, Sa Gunita ng Musika at Awit attempted to represent the different forms of art as well as showcase Angono culture. Several higantes decorated the venue, which had a makeshift stage between the shore and rows of street food stalls. The scent of isaw and pork barbecue would often waft through the performance. Neighborhood kids wove in and out of the audience. At one point, the higantes would dance.
Diaz and other members of the Angono Tres-Siete Poetry SocietyRichard Gapi, Noel Vocalan and Glen Salesopened the program reading poems on San Pedro (Umuugoy Pa Ang Duyan and Ang Himno ni Lucio at Ako) and about art (Pananalig, about keeping faith and making art despite many odds). The program was interspersed with dances from the three major regions of the country such as binuyugan of Pangasinan and pandango sa ilaw of Lubang Island, Mindoro, from Luzon; lapay bantigue of Masbate and tinikling of Leyte, from the Visayas; and a malong dance from Mindanao. They were performed by the Ang Nuno Dance Troupe, made up of selected students in dance of the Regional Lead School for the Arts in Angono (RLSAA), accompanied by live music from the Las Cuerdas de Angono, the student rondalla group also of RLSAA. Most of the performers were students.
Several music and songs of San Pedro remained to be the meat of the show such as Sa Mahal Kong Bayan (1950) and Kayumangging Malaya (1983), performed by Ars Noveau Chorale. The popular lullaby Sa Ugoy ng Duyan (1947) was performed by a student of RLSAA Jasmin Ericka Dolores with music from the RLSAA Chamber Orchestra and a dramatic interpretation by Teatro Kalayaan.
The finale numbers, Suite Pastorale (1956), a sweeping composition evoking the rusticity of Angono, and Jubilate were performed by the Angono National Symphonic Orchestra, one the countrys very few community-based orchestras, founded by San Pedro himself.  A San Pedro relative, Alberto delos Santos, recalled that there were eight bands existing in the town, including the Angono National Symphonic Orchestra, which until now keeps alive the music and artistic excellence embodied by the National Artist.
San Pedro was a master composer, conductor and teacher who produced a wide range of musical works and hailed for incorporating folk elements in his music.  
The Ars Noveau Chorale

The Ang Nuno Dance Troupe

The Angono Symphony Orchestra

The Angono Tres-Siete Poetry Society
The small exhibit at the SM Center Angono

Artworks on San Pedro by local artists

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Binondo Bound: A Quick Trip to Manila’s Chinatown not Short on Flavors

A street in Binondo is colorful and vibrant with paper lanterns in the shape of a pineapple, which is believed to brings luck, and vending carts filled with fruits needed for the coming celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year
After the din and squalor of Quiapo, Binondo presents a respite. Although as densely urbanized, the Manila district, home of the countrys Chinatown, is more orderly but can get vibrant especially around the time of the Chinese Lunar New Years eve. The streets are festooned with red lanterns, gently bobbing over traffic and rows of vendors selling the plumpest and shiniest fruits and beribboned plant roots and stalks. An alleyway is brimming with exotic items and fresh produce such as cherries and sea cucumber. Venturing into Binondo is like stepping into another world, which reminds many of busy Hong Kong, full of things both familiar and novel.
            Many consider Binondo as the worlds oldest Chinatown. Before the coming of the Spaniards, the Chinese had made the place a bustling center of trade with the locals. In 1594, the governor general of the Spanish colonial government, Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, gave a piece of land for the settlement of the Catholic Chinese, across the river from the walled city of Intramuros, which is now Binondo. For numerous years, the Chinese immigrants, mostly Hokkien and Cantonese peoples from southern China, has developed Binondo to what it is today, bringing with them their age-old culture and traditions. Binondo is an important part of the heritage of Manila.
            And an important part of the heritage is the food. Tourists as well as Metro Manilans have recently discovered the wealth of the Binondo gastronomic landscape. This place perhaps gave rise to the Philippines first dining places. Here, one finds the oldest restaurants and eateries, and traces the origins of some of the countrys popular dishes. Aside from the visual feast, Binondo offers a explosion of smells and flavors. There are about a hundred dining places here, offering Chinese cuisines, local fares and localized versions of Chinese foods or Chinese-Tagalog-Hispanic fusions.
            The recent interest in the Binondo food scene is arguably spurred by the Binondo Food Wok tours conducted by Binondo resident Ivan Man Dy, who operates the Old Manila Walks tours. The three-and-a-half walking and tasting tour provides an introduction to the interesting culinary finds of Chinatown, which tickles the mind as well as tantalizes the taste buds.

As most communities in the Philippines, the church is the center. The Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish or the Binondo Church is perhaps the most prominent structure of Chinatown. Domincan priests first established a mission in Binondo in 1587 to minister to the Chinese. A church was built in 1598. It was damaged by British troops when they attacked Manila in 1762, and it was bombed in 1944 during World War II. From 1946 to 1971, it was rebuilt. The first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, served the church as a boy. 

Beribboned taro roots, believed to bring make luck “stick,” ready for the Chinese New Year

The fresh lumpia or roll is the most popular item at the New Po Heng Lumpia House, which is tucked inside the courtyard of an apartment building, the pink Art Deco Uy Su Bin building along Quintin Paredes Street. The roll is filled with shreds of cabbage, carrot, tofu and pork, and is eaten garnished with crushed peanuts and brown sugar, and fried noodles and dried seaweed. A sweet brown sauce and hot sauce are the preferred condiments.
In the alley of Carvajal, Quik Snack is a modest but popular restaurant established in 1967 by Pilar Ferrero Lim Giok Ki, fondly called Amah Pilar, after her bakery in Cebu failed. The restaurant offers Southeast Asian dishes including Filipino as well as Chinese.

The kuchay ah empanada and stir-fried noodles of Quik Snack
The signature tofu dish of Quik Snack
Dong Bei Dumplings, along Yuchengco Street (formerly Nueva), occupies a narrow unit of an apartment row. The space is cramped that the kitchen spills over to the dining area, but diners don’t mind as they get to see cooks preparing its famous dumplings. The owners are new immigrants from northeaster China and thus their dumplings are slightly different from what Filipinos are used to. Instead of being steamed, the dumplings are boiled. 
The pork and chives dumplings of Dong Bei Dumplings
The meat-filled fried pancakes of Dong Bei Dumplings

The steamed custard buns of President Tea House, on Salazar Street, is a delicious treat of pillow-soft buns and a filling made with the yolks of itlog maalat or salty duck eggs. 

All photos by Roel Hoang Manipon

The Sights and the Selfies
 Microsoft Lumia 535 is equipped for the Binondo tour

            Exploring Binondo, a camera has become a travel essential to capture the intriguing colors and shapes of Chinatown. For many, the smartphone replaces the camera. With the camera function getting more and more sophisticated, the phone has become a convenient all-in-one gadget. Aside from call, messaging and music functions, the camera has become the most used feature, especially for taking selfies and sharing them in social networking sites.
The new Microsoft Lumia 535 is equipped for taking pictures, especially selfies, with five-inch screen, wide-angle lens and a five-megapixel front-facing camera, aside from the five-megapixel main camera. The Lumia camera enables users to manually adjust the ISO, exposure, white balance and shutter speed. Additionally, there is the Lumia Creative Studio app for one to create desired visual effects. But perhaps, the most interesting app of the first Microsoft-branded Lumia is the Lumia Selfie.
            Made for taking self portrait, the app, already installed in the phone for easy access to the front-facing camera, automatically enhances selfies with filters and makes them easily shareable to OneDrive, Instagram and Twitter, etc. One can also use a Treasure Tag accessory as a remote shutter in Lumia Selfie as well as fine-tune selfie appearance with effects.
            Another important feature for travelers is the Here Maps, which helps users find streets and locate destinations even offline.
            The Lumia 535 has the latest version of the Windows Phone and other specifications such as a quad-core processor; a built-in, eight-gigabyte internal storage; and 15 gigabytes of free OneDrive storage with an additional 128 gigabytes by adding a microSD card.
Also, Microsoft Lumia 535 comes in the eye-catching  colors of green, orange, white, cyan and black, and sells for the suggested retail price of P5,990.