Old Sta Mesa

     Designed by the architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham,  (Yes, he's the Burnham behind Baguio's Burnham Park) Manila should have been a beautiful city! Just like Baguio something went wrong somewhere and now it is a mess.

     I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Sta. Mesa, Manila. I have to say I owe a lot to my parents for I had the best childhood, enjoying the best of both worlds; a right mix of a sheltered upbringing in the most Filipino setting you can imagine at that time. 

     I grew up as a neighborhood celebrity I must say as my mom was the community doctor. People almost curtsied when they would see my siblings and me. They loved my mom who was not just a doctor but a gifted one. She took care of everyone and took care of them well.

     Our neighborhood was not spared though from the messing up of Burnham's master plan. Sadly now it is chaos!

     There are emission testing facilities, herds of tricycles,  (before people walked) an even bigger herd of people (ugh) an ice delivery facility, mid-rise and ugly apartment buildings. When did it all start? When people stopped looking and caring which includes the city government down to our barangay.

     My parents will have to leave our family home soon and though in my mind I want to cuff, put them in straight jackets and transport them to a better home and neighborhood myself tomorrow.  I am sure to them the old Sta Mesa neighborhood is what they remember more. So it made me think of the little things I had growing up that made our neighborhood a good place then.

1. The Sky


     I used to love looking up to the big, clear sky. My mom's clinic was a good 20 meters from our house and I would walk there oh, may be at least five times a day and 'pester' her. You know how kids are. During summer time there would be kites flying those skies. NO tall apartment buildings yet or peeping skyscrapers or flyovers just a big, clear blue sky!

2. Pebbled Sidewalks

      If you look down on the other hand, is a sidewalk maybe 2 meters of pebbles and dirt. During rainy days, my challenge was not to get mud on my legs but I always did.

     Actually we had no sidewalk and to this day we still don't. Now though it is just dirt, no more pebbles and it has narrowed down to barely a meter or none at all as cars and delivery trucks are parked every where now.

3. Aling Nene's Stall

     Just a house away from our house is a stall made of wood and roofed with galvanized steel, Aling Nene's. In the mornings she sells cooked food and you'd see people sitting on benches eating around her small  L-shaped stall. I remember her miswa with pork blood. Yeah, I know sounds gross but the blood was cubed like gelatin. But it was not just her miswa that I remember. You know it's summer when she starts selling halo-halo in the afternoons. I found it so cute how her ingredients were placed in enamel plates and kept in a homemade glass cabinet with wooden framing. I had the pleasure of leaning to eat my halo-halo slowly at my own pace. Each summer I would add an ingredient but my first favorites where the red sago and pinipig. =-)


     Come Christmas time, she has puto bumbong. I think her puto bumbong is still the best next to Ampy's'


4. Si Ong

      Before I get to my mom's clinic is where I usually, not usually ALWAYS bump into Mr. Ong. He is usually sitting there squat position. He would usually grab my hand and since I don't think he knows my name and he only knows me as his doctor's daughter, he calls me. "Baby." He engages me in a little small talk then I have to wriggle myself out of it because it is gonna take forever. So, "Bye, Mr. Ong!" RUN!!!!

5. Aling Minda' s Drugstore

      Across the clinic is a drugstore owned by a childless couple. I only remember the wife's name, Minda.I knew they were desperate for a child and sometimes I would see Aling Minda wearing a maternity dress and I felt sad for her. But that was not my only issue with Aling Minda. As a kid, I loved Aspilets. Whenever I had spare change I would cross the street and buy Aspilets to nibble on. Aling Minda had no clue no one was sick. hehe!

6. Aling Payang and Her Slippers

      I felt like a princess every time Lola Payang would measure my feet and make me choose from the leather swatches she had to make slippers. I remember them to fit so well.

     Last I heard Lola Payang's and her family moved to Forbes Park and shifted their business to beauty products. No more slippers. =-P
7. Mang Totoy and His Paper Parols

     Each year before before the Christmas season, We would take last year's parol or paper lantern and have Mang Totoy replace the Japanese paper and trimmings around it. Each year's parol was unique from the last. Thanks to Mang Totoy. 


8. Aling Dolor's Bananaque and Camoteque

     I can still smell it the mix of burning sugar and kerosene... This is what will slowly engulf you as you near the stall of Aling Dolor. She cooks bananaque and camoteque everyday. Aling Dolor is chubby, curly haired and had bad teeth. I was shocked to find out that she used to be a salesgirl in a department store, pretty in heels and all. She married Mang Carding our neighborhood carpenter who was a drunk which in my young mind explained why Aling Dolor lost her beauty and youth early. 

9. Our Neighborhood Bakery

     Perhaps my favorite and most frequented place in the whole neighborhood was the bakery. I grew up loving and eating monay, alembong, kababayan, putok, ensaymada etc. Come to think of it, my love for bread (and carbs) started on bakery bread. 

     I still remember the brown paper bag that the storekeepers twisted to close, the sound of it crumpling and the smell of freshly baked bread. Life was too sweet!

     Wanna know more about these breads? Click here.

10. Fiestas

     As a child, I dreaded fiestas in our neighborhood. Fiestas then meant blocked streets, lots of drunks and noise that lasted until wee hours of the morning. But I do like the Fiesta because of the way strangers were welcome to eat in our home. My parents usually hosted a party then and whoever comes even the old man selling brooms (who used to scare me) partakes of what we have prepared. 


     As I try to end this entry, in my heart I find not just the ten memorable people and things from my childhood that I just wrote about but also the rest of the people I met. We lived in a different world then, a totally different neighborhood. People were good, more honest, kinder. I close my eyes and pray they all have or had good lives. It was a time when people actually connected in the truest meaning of community. I can name so much more; Aling Susan the meat vendor in the wet market who used to give me tocino, Mang Nestor, our mailman, Kima, the Chinese grandmother who lived across us, our playmates Tin-tin, Ton-ton, Lala, Vangie and Rommel, my sister's playmates, Minye, Russel and Not-not. The list goes on and on.....




     Though summer for most grade school and high school kids in the Philippines has ended but I just want to share one place where kids can go, a break from malls. Have you heard of QCX? It is an interactive and socio-culural museum at the heart of my city which is Quezon City! Thanks to blogger Amber of A Momma Abroad I found out about this. Shame on me! She is an American and has an adorable family living here in the Philippines. I have been here forever and pass by the museum almost every day of my life and never knew it was there. Also had it not been for Billie's host sister, Sora who was visiting from Japan whom we were touring around, I would no have been inclined to go in. 

     Anyway, it opened two years ago at the Quezon Memorial Circle. While we were touring. by the way we heard that this project was actually by the vice-mayor,  Joy Belmonte! Wonderful endeavor! Bravo!

     Okay, okay, you wanna hear about the museum.... Here goes, guys...

Lobby was sparse and modern. Liking it already. 

     We came on a weekday and early. I guess that is one tip for you.  The staff was just beginning to get ready. Downside though, the air-conditioning had also just been turned on.  You get a discount on the entrance ticket if one you are a Quezon City resident or if you are a student so bring your ID's.

     One of the first exhibits was about of the beginnings of Quezon City. This area represents the hill on which President Manuel L. Quezon dreamed of the city that would be. Our guide said, he sat on the rock like the middle. I made H sit there too... Haha! He is dreaming of what to have for lunch of course. 

     I won't give everything away but will gladly share my favorite parts of the museum and cute photos of Sora and Blue as they enjoyed the museum. 

There is a pod on transportation where they showcased the various forms of commute; the jeepney, bus, tricycle  etc.


So much selfie opportunities which the kids and adults will love....

A replica of Malacanan

Loved the scale models of the famous buildings in the city. One of which is the Araneta Coliseum now Smart Araneta. I can still remember very vividly how my grandmother, my brother and I would buy corn dogs from one of the food stands around the coliseum after a visit to the dentist. 

The best times!
UP Diliman

     Can you guess what these are?

     There was also a section of business; big and small.

        Blue got try what it was like being our favorite magtataho from our village. TAHOOOOOO!

     A cinema section. After all Sampaguita and LVN, pioneer production companies in the Philippines also were born in Quezon City. How cute if you can actually watch old black and white movies here. Hint! Hint!

      The exhibit on barangays and their origins were pretty informative too.

     The education pod is set up like a classroom with an interactive screen quiz. Fun!

        My most favorite part is the life size set up of an old mid-Century home, typical of the projects home in Quezon City. This is what some of the homes I grew up seeing look like.

     Overall a wonderful museum. There is more to see! Just come! For more info on QCX please look here!

     My only wish for this establishment is that the QC government maintains it. I mean clean and all. Sad to say, we Pinoys are bad at maintaining our establishments even homes for that matter. (Eye roll) I was not able to see their washrooms so I can't say anything about it though.

One of the touch screen displays of various landmarks in QC





Tagaytay Tripping

     Actually my mom does not even have to ask twice whenever she asks me to tag along with her to anything. I don't mind being her designated alalay. Besides, it's always a welcome break anyway from my cranky teenagers and H.

     Recently I went with Mom on a Tagaytay day trip with her friends?  I am talking about my mom's farmer friends who also love to eat. Remember them? Click here! Food tnor plants though were no first on the agenda that day.  We were going tripping.  (Secret as for whom.) Anyway, traffic was tolerable escaping Manila so we got to Tagaytay early enough to see the first development we were gonna do an ocular on.  The first one was Kasa Luntian by Alveo Properties. It is a condo type development. The developer itself speaks well of the project off-hand BUT the toilet in the showroom was yuck. So.. anyhoo....Back to...It is a beautiful condominium type development. It is good for families who want a weekend getaway without the hassle of hiring a caretaker or to worry about security. It is huge and I can imagine it to be a party type of place during Holy Week and Christmas.

      I loved the kiddie room of one of the model units. It was nautical-themed and oh so cute. Next development please. 

      We drove some 20 minutes more towards Nasugbu and nestled in a quiet, gated community is Tagô by Mañosa Properties. The visitor's lounge was already impressive but then again I am a fan of Arch't Bobby Mañosa. My own parents live in a Mañosa home. (So don't listen to me. ) Their guest washroom was clean too so 2 points extra for Tagô.

     We were able to tour the model unit which is amazing  It is well=planned, cozy, yet airy. Look, guys! 

Living and Dining Areas
Family Room

Second Bedroom
Master Bedroom
Love the seating area by the landing. I can sit here and read a book or watch my dramas. Haha!

                 Look how beautiful! This is modern Filipino architecture at its best!. Coco, if someone buys from this blog you owe me dinner! Hehe!

     Security is not a problem of course and if you need to have your house cleaned before you arrive, they can do it for you. And if you need a helper during your stay they have butlers on standby. Wow! Shut up already and take my money! (Duh? What money?)

     Anyhoo, all these salivating over something I can't have made me hungry for food and so were the golden girls so off we go to Balay Dako Yippee!!!! 

     I need not say more! We had a good, yummy lunch! Not bad for alalay's pay for the day. When is our next outing, Ma? 

Smile, all you diabetic ladies! 

    Which reminds me I haven't called my mom today......