Mas masaya sa Pilipinas

by Be-Blogger Pilipinas on: Enero 12th, 2012


Nakagawa na ba kayo ng sarili niyong DOT meme? Di na mabilang ang nagsulputang mga larawang tinatakan ng “It’s More Fun in the Philippines”. At batay sa ilang paborito kong meme, masasabi ngang mas masaya nga sa Pilipinas.



Mula sa scuba diving hanggang sa pagbagtas ng hagdang-hagdang palayan.





Mula sa pagpasok sa mga kuweba hanggang sa pamamangka sa kamangha-manghang karagatang pumapalibot sa ating kapuluan.




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 Bargain digging at Divisoria

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Julio 2nd, 2010

Last time, I wrote about the Sunday Legaspi market, where you can find all sorts of things and even unexpected surprises. It is a very accessible place to find trinkets and sundries, since it’s near the mall, offices, and villages. But if you want to hunt for the best bargains and are not afraid of an adventure, you should get ready to push and jostle your way through the oftentimes messy and disorderly streets and stalls of Divisoria, Manila. (more…)


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 The world’s largest shoes

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Julio 2nd, 2010

The world’s largest shoes, recognized by the Guinness Book World of Records, are 5.29 meters long, 2.37 meters wide, and 1.83 meters high, and could hold 30 pairs of normal-sized feet.

The gigantic pair can be found in Marikina City, the shoe capital of the Philippines found northeast of the Manila metropolitan area. It took 77 days in 2002 to build them, using enough material to make 250 regular pairs.

The city also houses the Shoe Museum, which exhibits part of the infamous shoe collection of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, together with shoes of world leaders, past presidents, famous celebrities, and other notable personages. It is said to be the largest gathering of shoes from around the world.

One would expect, with all the attention paid to footwear, that the Philippines, or Marikina City for that matter, would be a formidable center for the shoe industry. Alas, the local industry has long been struggling and has been declared to be in its death throes.

So it is certainly good news to learn that there are still some local shoe houses that are alive and kicking. One such venture is Figura shoes, which has a factory of workers in Tanon, Marikina and uses good-quality local materials.

Ali Figueroa, Figura’s proprietor, has told me that it hasn’t been easy, but based on his stories about his trips to the south where he has gathered inspiration from fabrics and jewelry for footwear, it seems Figura is up to its task to start reconfiguring the local shoe industry.

El Bosquejo


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by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 25th, 2010

Something rustles surreptitiously outside the window. Sounds like dry leaves, or a cat, or maybe even something that hisses.

Immediately I think of my grandmother and what she would say. It could only be three things: a “kapre” (a giant elemental with blackened skin, which incidentally likes to smoke tobacco), a “manananggal” (a young or old woman who by night detaches her upper torso, which grows wings so that it can take flight in search of pregnant women), or a shape-shifting witch that has taken the form of a huge black bird. The scariest thing the “aswang” (“monster” in Filipino, which variably refers to one or all types) is that the nearer it is, the softer the sound it makes.

I think most families in the Philippines have their own share of aswang stories, especially those that frequent their hometowns in the provinces. In my case, whenever my aunts and grandmother begin to talk about eerie experiences (when I was a kid), my cousins and I would instantly congregate, in a tight circle, to scare ourselves late into the night and sometimes until the next few days.

The folklore is rich, fed not only by legends of monsters with endless variations from the rural regions, but also by popular culture. One movie, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”, which first showed while I was still in elementary, has become a film franchise (no different from the Freddy and Jason movies) that has already presented the tenth installment in its series.

Looking for picture references for this post, I stumbled upon equally cute and gory cartoons, illustrations, figurines, and even dolls of the popular “manananggal”. (Second on the list is the “tikbalang” or the half-man, half-horse elemental, which can lead travelers astray on their journeys.)

The “manananggal” (the root word being “tanggal” or “detach”) is a vampire-like creature that appears as a normal woman (in some versions, a man) during the day. It has a long tongue that is said to be able to go through roofs and thatched floors in search for pregnant women. Upon finding them, the manananggal feasts on unborn fetuses.

It is said to be afraid of garlic, like vampires, but salt can also repel it from houses. To defeat it, one need only locate the bottom part of its body while its torso leaves during the night. Salt or sand is enough to prevent it from fully reuniting itself. The rays of the sun can then finish the job.

Going over the images I found, I can’t help but observe how far removed they are from the dark and musty stories my grandmother told us. I guess that’s what you get living in the city your entire life with only Hollywood as your source of horror, and with the stories of our forebears slowly fading from our disturbed, sleepless memories.

El Bosquejo


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 When Art gets a Fashion translation

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 20th, 2010

An unlikely pair indeed: punk-inspired fashion designer Tina Daniac and national artist Ben Cabrera, known simply as Bencab.

For the recently concluded Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2010, Tina collaborated with the popular painter for the second half of her collection. She focused on Bencab’s most famous muse, “Sabel”, whom he has portrayed and reinterpreted in his works across the decades.

“Sabel” is a name the artist has a real-life scavenger he photographed and sketched way back in 1965. Her image has been a medium for the expression of various moods, always with the flow and volume of fabrics signaling different emotions.

So it may only seem natural that Tina Daniac picked Bencab for her latest artist collaboration. But this may be true for other designers, and not for Tina, whose edgy creations appear in sharp contrast to Bencab’s untamed representations. What she has done in adopting a different design language is pay homage to both the muse and the artist.

Whatever one may say of the effectivity or creativity of Tina’s translation, this collaboration appears as a welcome direction towards more partnerships between designers and artists.

Who knows what kind of clothes can be produced using the imagery of the works of fellow national artist Ang Kiukok?



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 Can’t take away my Karaoke

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 19th, 2010

There are nights I couldn’t sleep because of the neighbors. It’s not because they have a band playing or pots and pans are banging since people are fighting.
It’s because, until the wee hours of the morning, all members of the family are hooked on the karaoke machine and won’t let go — as if their life depended on it.
What’s funny is that it is equally likely that they are celebrating a birthday as they are entertaining guests at a home service wake, with songs far from sounding like dirges.

Singing is a national pastime in the Philippines. It is done at almost all types of events: from fiestas and weddings to band gigs and solitary beer nights. Seldom is the television free of singing contests. So it only makes sense that a Filipino, Roberto del Rosario, holds the patent for the invention of the karaoke device, even if it is mostly seen as a piece of Japanese culture and ingenuity.

It is said that in 1975, Del Rosario developed the sing along system, otherwise known as the minus one (music minus the lead voice). From then, Filipino entertainers brought the minus one through the 1960s and 1970 to places they performed in, including Japan.

As we all know, the rest is history. The karaoke spread to the rest of Asia, and further on to the US, where it has become a part of American culture, especially as depicted in films such as When Harry Met Sally and My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Filipinos are obsessed with singing. This of course can be a good thing as it keeps people happy and upbeat, but unfortunately the obsession has gone beyond that.

Violent killings have resulted from karaoke singing, perpetrated by people disturbed not just by the noise by singers, but also by the way they sing. In the Philippines (there are similar phenomena in other parts of Asia), these murders are known as the My Way Killings. You guessed it, they have all resulted from people singing the Frank Sinatra classic.

One bar security guard complained that a young man sang the piece off key. When the victim refused to stop, the guard pulled out a pistol and shot him. Another incident involved another police officer, who brought out his gun when other patrons reacted negatively about his singing. It is not certain how fights and deaths have resulted from just one song. Academics and experts opine that it is the strong, arrogant lyrics that bring out the macho side of people. Others add that the song is fatal when performed in a violent society such as the Philippines, where unlicensed guns are not properly regulated.

Whatever the reason, bar owners and even families have opted not to include My Way in their playlists for fear of further violence. It is a strange exception to an otherwise positive and constructive pastime.



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 Filipino Retro Pop

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 16th, 2010

It’s back to the 60s with Orange & Lemons’ video for its record Yakap sa Dilim (Embrace in the Dark), which is set at a traditional diner where high school students share stolen glances, sugary words, and milkshakes during dates.

There is intentionally no edge or anything sleek and sharp about these three songs, which slurpily relish in their saccharine sentimentality – an identifying feature of Filipino music in general, which is perfectly at home with the ultimate sentimental decade: the 80s.

From Orange & Lemons’ diner, Moonstar88 shifts to the lonelier venue of the store, where an “embrace in the dark” moves deeper into the fantasy of “Dream”. A mannequin takes the place of the object of affection, comes to life, and even becomes a companion to an amusement park.

From excursions into past decades, the Eraserheads’ “Huling El Bimbo” (“The Last El Bimbo”), launches into a young manís reverie of his childhood, when his sweetheart taught him how to dance to El Bimbo. The imagery is near-sepia, and captures innocent puppy love, but the darkly-lit scenes also foreshadow a future tragedy.

Though often fatalistic and mainly helplessly sappy, the bulk of Filipino pop retains hope and carefree cheer, and more importantly, doesnít lose the ability to laugh at itself.

El Bosquejo


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 Michael Cinco Phantasmagoria

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 12th, 2010

Philippine Fashion Week just concluded with its more than 100 shows. As with the last season, the Holiday 2010 collections saved Michael Cinco’s visual extravaganza for last.

Drawing inspiration from Japanese cherry blossoms, the flowers in Van Gogh’s paintings, origami, opera, and cinema, Cinco weaves dreams into dresses with intricate crystal embroidery and iridescent fabrics.

The collection’s theme is hooked on the story of Madame Butterfly, of metamorphosis in full opulent regalia.

The dresses are for princesses, women warriors, nymphs: for women that move like snowflakes and rain.

There are indeed no words for the collection. Some of the designers and editors seated beside me said they haven’t seen anything as beautiful.

I hope the images that I have taken from the front row speak for themselves.

El Bosquejo, Manila


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 Faith vs Reason

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 11th, 2010

Faith and reason are really sworn enemies in the modern world, where even with the separation of church and state, religion and common sense often times meet in opposition?

I have already written about how religious rituals permeate the day-to-day life of most Filipinos through the celebration of an entire calendar of fiestas. But that is just the outer core of how deeply-set beliefs influence our lifestyles, where many of our habits have been formed consciously and unconsciously through what priests and teachers have handed down.

If any of you have watched the fights of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, you would have noticed the rosaries that he wears or how he makes the sign of the cross before games, just for luck. Instinctively, we turn for guidance and deliverance even during less crucial moments-whereas many in the west only find themselves turning to their makers when they fear for their mortality.

A short trip to the Quiapo district of Manila, to the various stalls with tables laid in front of the church, reveals strings and strings of rosaries sold, together with icons in all sizes, talismans, oils with alleged healing powers, and mystic roots and crystals.

Some of the imagery from Quiapo is recognizable in several of the Southeast Asian works on exhibit at the Faith + Reason & Catching the Spirit of a Heritage show at the Manila Contemporary gallery, which I recently visited. They are most apparent in the colorfully decorated crosses by Valeria Cavestany and the hand-painted wooden panels by Guy Custodio, who has drawn from the heritage of local artists.

When modernity, disbelief, “reason”, and disillusion plays with and distorts these images, we get the sort of fashionable iconoclasm present in the works of Patricia Eustaquio, Gerardo Tan, Sri Astari, and Leeroy New (who has appended the heads of monsters on plastic icons).

(For those interested, the Manila Contemporary gallery is located at Whitespace, 2314 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. The exhibit is open until June 13, 2010.)

El Bosquejo


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 Riddle me this

by United Blogs of Benetton on: Junio 9th, 2010

The idea for this post came from the Batman marathon that HBO aired last Saturday. I must admit that it has been a while since I last saw Jim Carrey‘s incarnation as The Riddler, maybe during a time that I may have found his riddles a little interesting. Not so last weekend.

I have long been mulling about riddles, ever since my classes in ancient mythology and folk literature. I liked their form as simple mental games. But during school I found out that they were not just meant for costumed villains or for the amusement of adolescents and children.

Though now they form part of the leisurely activities of tribes in the Philippines, there was a time when riddles meant life or death.

Of course everyone knows about the famous Greek story of Oedipus and the Sphinx, a monster with a human head and the body of a beast, who asked this to the future king of Thebes: What animal is four-footed in the morning, two-footed at noon, and three-footed in the evening? The answer of course is man (woman also, for that matter).

Recently I found out that Homer the great poet was said to have died of vexation after not being able to solve this: What we caught we threw away; what we could not catch, we kept. You are right if you thought of the louse.

The list goes on, involving Odin, Samson, King Solomon, and the Queen of Sheeba. From a prehistoric age where failure to answer a riddle meant the loss of life or honor, to the ancient times where riddles were used as tests of intelligence and even used before marriage, riddles are now mostly used to impart knowledge and wisdom to the young, or as entertainment and pastime.

Below are eight riddles drawn from the many parts of the Philippines, invented across the tribes. I have supplied the pictures representing the answers, but of course they are jumbled up. See how many riddles out of the eight you can figure out:

Two siblings,
They have never met.

Tall when sitting,
Short when standing.

I bought a slave
Who is taller than I.

My pig in the field gets fat
Without being fed. (sweet potato)

The skin covers the bone;
The bone covers the flesh.

When it is young, its hair is white;
When it is old, its hair is black.

I have a beard, but no face;
I have teeth, but no mouth;
My body is dead but I still have life.

Leaves that bore fruit,
Fruit that bore leaves.



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