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Philippines / Metro Manila / The Metropolis

Metro Manila is more than just Manila: the metropolis of today not only encompasses the City of Manila but also includes three other cities and thirteen municipalities. The reason for the creation in 1975 of this large adminis-trative unit by Marcos' decree was, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer of October 10, 1989, "to give Mrs. Imelda Marcos something to do." Vested with dictatorial powers, the President's wife was declared Governor of Metro Manila, which sprawled over 635.98 square kilometers (248 square miles) with a population of then some 7 million people.

While the land area covered by the metropolis remained the same, the population has swollen like a pregnant woman. Just how many people are squeezed into this space, is a matter of debate. Figures vary from 7.5 to 12 million. A generally respected source, the German Fischer Weltalmanach, edition of 1989, cites both figures but in different con-texts. Prof. Dr. Bronger of the Geographic In-stitute of the Ruhr University in Bochum dif-ferentiates between metropolitan agglomera-tion (the urban core area) and metropolitan region (the functional entity of a mega city). In the Philippine case, Metro Manila is consid-ered the agglomeration, with an estimated population of 7.725 million inhabitants in 1986.

The metropolitan region includes much of the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite and Bulacan; the major towns of these provinces all border Metro Manila, and there is no visi-ble boundary between many of them and the administrative entity that is the actual metropolis. Including these adjacent towns which administratively are not part of the metropolis, the metropolitan region of the Philippine capital had in 1986 a population of about 11.920 million.

Comparison of the mega cities of the world is different because often, it's just an arbi-trary administrative decision that defines a city. But even if the highest mentioned figure is taken, Metro Manila is still far below the size of the four largest metropolitan areas in the world. These are: Mexico City, which has approximately 18.5 million inhabitants, Tokyo-Yokohama with 17.5 million people, Sao Paulo with 16 million and New York (with north-eastern New Jersey) 15.5 million.

Even in the East, Metro Manila does not have a leading position. Shanghai, Peking, Canton and Tonking in China, Calcutta and Bombay in India, Seoul in South Korea, and Jakarta in In-donesia are all larger.

The four cities and thirteen towns of Metro Manila are (with the official numbers of in-habitants and, in parenthesis, their areas in square kilometers): 1. City of Manila 1,875,000 (38.3); 2. Quezon City 1,241,000 (166.2); 3. Kalookan City 538,000 (55.8); 4. Makati 429,000 (29.9); 5. Pasay City 331,000 (13.9); 6. Pasig 309,000 (13.0); 7. Valenzuela 244,000 (47.0); 8. Marikina 243,000 (38.9); 9. Paranaque 240,000 (38.3); 10. Mandaluyong 236,000 (26.0); 11. Malabon 220,000 (23.4); 12. Muntinlupa 158,000 (46.7); 13. Las Pinas 154,000 (41.5); 14. Taguig 152,000 (33.7); 15. San Juan 150,000 (10.4); 16. Navotas 145,000 (2.6); 17. Pateros 46,000 (10.4)

For those who want to understand the po-litical structure of Metro Manila, it may be confusing that the locals generally do not make any distinction among the four cities and the thirteen municipalities forming Metro Manila on the one hand, and the districts within these four cities and thirteen munici-palities on the other. Particularly, the names of the districts of the City of Manila (which is only one of the four cities and thirteen municipalities) are commonly used and treated as if they were names of separate en-tities.

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Philippines / Metro Manila / Bad Image

Manila is a city with an internationally tarnished reputation. The Deutsche Presseagentur DPA (German Press Agency), in a report reprinted in the Manila Standard of July 11, 1989, pictured an-archistic Metro Manila under the headline "After beautiful sunsets, a dark, dangerous city". DPA depicted that at night the Philip-pine capital turns into a "gloomy metropolis", with constant trouble, shootings, murders, rob-beries, break-ins, drug buys and cars stolen at gunpoint at traffic lights. DPA quoted an unidentified policeman warning: "Anyone who ventures onto the streets of Manila at night must be ready for any-thing." The report con-tinued describing that beneath the palm trees still decorating the "once luxurious" Roxas Boulevard along Manila Bay stand the jerry-built shacks of squatters and piles of garbage rot along the seawall.

While DPA called Manila at night danger-ous, it has been portrayed as beautiful by the local media. Nevertheless, on salient points the above cited foreign and the below cited local media essentially agree: "Manila is beau-tiful only at night because then you do not see the scars. You do not see the scarred buildings. You do not see the scarred streets. You do not see the wounded looks in its in-habitants' eyes, or the poisoned air. If wounds and scars are symptoms of death, then the city of Manila could be dying."(Sunday Inquirer Magazine, November 19,1989) According to a sociologist quoted in an ar-ticle of the agency Associated Editors and printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer of Oc-tober 10, 1989, all problems of the metropolis, the stink of garbage blended with factory smoke, the continual flooding in low areas, the violence in the streets and the "assorted crimes" are all just a matter of size or over-size: "There are just too many people in Metro Manila, particularly in the core city, for comfort."

The Manila Standard of October 28, 1989, argued that the international image of Metro Manila is a deterrent to tourism. Filthy streets, uncollected rubbish, rampant crime, the paper reasoned, dampen the possibility to earn more from foreign visitors. Allegedly, a foreign tourist sight-seeing had taken shots of the ill-kept streets in Ermita and sent them to the Department of Tourism.

Expecting the worst after reading such re-ports, the visitor will be surprised that the daily worries of the ordinary people in Metro Manila are not much different from the daily worries of the ordinary people in any other Third World country. Even more surprising must be the impression (judged by the fre-quency of laughter and smiling faces) that the common people in Metro Manila seem happier than the common people in Munich, Manch-ester or Moscow.

Certainly, the common people of Manila are poorer than those of Munich. But poverty, shared by many, is not necessarily a deterrent to happiness. Poverty, or common shared ne-cessities, also can foster solidarity and friend-ship. For exactly that reason, the poorest city of the world, Calcutta, was named 'City of Joy' in the title of a famous book. Mother Theresa, too, has talked about the happiness of sharing life in Calcutta.

During Marcos' times, when Imelda Marcos was her governor, one of the many names tagged onto Metro Manila read city of man. It was supposed to mean humane city but moral critics also ap-plied it in the literal sense, as city for males; they understood it as a syn-onym for sin city.

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  • Tourist Belt
  • The tourist belt includes Intramuros, Ermita and Malate (districts of Manila proper) as well as parts of Pasay City and Paranaque, which lie along or just east of Roxas Blvd, the most representative thoroughfare of the metropolis.

    Within the tourist belt, at or near Roxas Blvd, most of the five-star hotels are located. The center of the tourist belt is Er-mita. The main red light district is the so-called Mabini strip situated actually more along Del Pilar St than along Mabini St. In April 1988, Manila police chief General Alfredo Lim had initiated a drive to phase out bars and nightclubs from the tourist belt. For a few months, raids were nightly events. However, the fervor of the police died down by the end of 1988, and as of this writing (mid-1990) al-most all bars and nightclubs were still operating.

    Ermita and Malate, the quasi extension of the former, used to be prime residential areas before WW II. Walking through Malate, one can still see many large colonial-style houses.

  • Intramuros
  • Intramuros is the old walled city of the Spanish colonialists (see sightseeing). It is a very small district, where many remains of Spanish times still exist or have been recon-structed. Since the Christian faith was brought to the Philippines, and up to this day, the central institutions of the Catholic Church, including the Manila Cathedral are located here. Intramuros was the site of a bloody bat-tle against the Japanese during the last world war, when much of it was destroyed. Its re-construction started in 1966. Just outside the walls is Club Intramuros, a golf course.

  • Downtown
  • The actual downtown of Manila lies north of the Pasig river and consists of the three districts of Santa Cruz, Quiapo and Binondo. There is no visible boundary between Santa Cruz and the other two neighboring parts. The area of Santa Cruz, therefore, may be roughly defined as located along Rizal Ave starting at the Pasig river and stretch-ing north a few kilometers. Rizal Ave is commonly called Avenida. Along Rizal Ave, there are several big department stores, scores of shops and some main outlets of chain-stores.

    Escolta is a short but famous street in Sta Cruz and lies parallel to the Pasig river. Be-fore Makati became the financial center of the metropolis, Escolta was the prime location for banks. Just as Santa Cruz lies along Rizal Ave, so too, Quiapo is situated along Quezon Blvd. Quezon Blvd carries much of the heavy traf-fic between Manila proper and Quezon City.

    Quiapo has its famous Plaza Miranda, in front of Quiapo Church. Once this was the site for most political rallies in the city. They stopped abruptly after the so-called Miranda bombing on August 21, 1972, when 10 politi-cians died and 60 people were in-jured. It is widely believed that this bombing was staged by the Marcos machine to give the President an excuse for declaring martial law which followed within a month, on Sep-tember 21, 1972.

    Between Sta Cruz and North harbor lies Binondo, which is also called Manila's China-town. However, the Chinese populace is a very integrated part of the Philippines, and the Chinatown of Manila is not much different from other downtown areas.

    The traffic in downtown Manila is north-south oriented with one important exception, Claro M Recto Ave, which runs from Divisoria market, just north of Sta Cruz to near Malakanyang Palace in San Miguel. When traversing Claro M Recto Ave through Sta Cruz and Quiapo, this avenue is interesting because there are so many movie theaters in a row. It could be called the cinema belt, but it is not. On the contrary, the area is called the univer-sity belt. Indeed, except for movie theaters, colleges and universities abound there. This might possibly explain why there are so many movie houses.

  • Tondo
  • Tondo is an old residential area, poor and quite crowded but not all of it is a slum as foreign publications sometimes give the im-pression. However, there are large slums north of North Harbor and especially along the garbage dumping sites which the locals com-monly call Smoky Mountains.

    Around Smoky Mountains there are thou-sands of people who make a living from re-cycling what is thrown away by others. The garbage is combed through again and again. And along Honorio Lopez Blvd there are hun-dreds of shops whose line of business is re-cy-cled junk, ranging from bottles to paper and from hardware to scrap metal.

    In a cynical article in the January 8, 1990, edition of the tabloid Extra, it was pointed out that among the garbage recylers there also are the privileged: "At a time when din-ing out has become an unaffordable luxury, urban poor residents of the former Depart-ment of Services area in Vito Cruz, Manila, can claim to be eating nothing but the best. The most expensive food is daily fare for DPS residents, most of whom work as garbage collectors. The food, actually hotel and restaurant leftovers popularly known as 'pagpag' (shake off), is saved from these es-tablishments' garbage cans. DPS, adjacent to Ninoy Aquino Memorial Stadium, near Sheraton Hotel in Vito Cruz, Manila, has a population of about 200 families. Almost all say they are 'pagpag'-eating families. (The DPS cluster is just one among many of Metro Manila's 'pagpag'-eating urban poor community whose population numbers in the millions... Adelina Carballo, 55, who tends a small store, admit-ted that she has been eating 'pagpag' for 12 years now. At first she could not touch the food her husband collected from restaurants and hotels because she thought of it as garbage, or pig feed, but when she tasted the left-overs, she said, she began to like them and has eaten them since. Now all of the family members including her five children are 'pagpag' lovers. The term 'pagpag' came into use when left-overs... were brought home, shaken a bit to remove the dirt... and directly eaten or sometimes boiled for an hour or so or reconstituted into some other 'dish'. Garbage collectors who have 'ideal routes' consider themselves lucky to get an everyday supply of left-overs, although not all restau-rants give away their left-overs.

    The hotels and restaurants garbage men have identified as 'generous' are Aristocrat Restaurant, the Sheraton Hotel, Mandarin Hotel, Philippine Plaza, and some restaurants in Ermita." There is nothing traditionally considered worth seeing in Tondo. But an increasing num-ber of visitors seem to be more attracted by today's squalor than yesterday's culture, and therefore one travel agency in the tourist belt has started sightseeing trips to Smokey Mountains. The biggest market of the metropolis, Divisoria is part of Tondo. Shopping there can be an experience because of the crowd. The crowd is there because Divisoria is sup-posed to be the cheapest market for many goods.

  • Makati
  • It is an interesting fact that the Philip-pine government considers Makati a municipality (or town) and not a city. Not only does Makati have more than 400,000 in-habitants, but also in sheer appearance, it is that par-ticular part of the Philippines which has the flair of a big city and which reminds one of Manhattan or downtown Hong Kong. Makati, the only place in The Country with clusters of skyscrapers, is not a city. But in the Philippines, the designation "city" does not tell much about the degree of urbaniza-tion. For example, a place called Tagaytay City (City!) is just a small rural community with less than 20,000 inhabitants. The people of Makati, however, did not want their munici-pality elevated to city status because they believed it would cause some disadvantages for busi-ness.

    Makati is the brain and the purse of the Philippine economy. In its central district are located most of the head offices of the coun-try's banks and biggest corporations, as well as most embassies. But actually, the business district of Makati occupies only about 10 percent of its munici-pal area. Therefore, it is hard to believe that lack of space was the reason for building towers, as was the case in Man-hattan and Hong Kong. But high-rise buildings serve as a status symbol. The most Manhattan-like areas are along Ayala Ave, Paseo de Roxas and Sen. Gil Puyat Ave (formerly Buendia Ave).

    Ayala Ave is named after one of the most famous families of entrepreneurs of the archipelago, the Ayalas. In the 19th century much of Makati was purchased by them and they did a lot to advance the transformation of the former village known for good clay and ceramics, into the financial center it is today.

    But Makati has more to offer than merely a prime location for business offices. For recreation and entertainment, it has many es-tablishments along Makati Ave, Pasong Tamo Extension and Pasay Rd. For high class shop-ping, there is Cinema Square, Greenbelt Square, and the Makati Commercial Center where big department stores and supermarkets are located, offering the best quality of local and imported goods.

    Again another side of Makati are the resi-dential vil-lages. Across from EDSA (Epiphanio de los Santos Ave) is Forbes Park, the giant residential area of the upper-upper class, sur-rounded by high walls and guarded by its own police. There are also Dasmarinas Vil-lage, Bel-Air I, II and III, San Lorenzo and other vil-lages. Legazpi Village is no longer a residen-tial village but is the site of many commer-cial buildings. Makati was a busy but peaceful place until the assassination of the late Senator Aquino in l983. Then, it developed into the site of nu-merous rallies and demonstrations. Yellow con-fetti falling from tall commercial buildings displayed dis-sent to the Marcos Administration and became an ordinary feature every Friday afternoon. Ac-cordingly, Makati gave a hearty welcome to Cory Aquino's rise to power.

    Again in the center of political turmoil, Makati was the main venue of the failed coup attempt of December 1989. Rebel soldiers had seized many skyscrapers and the five-star ho-tels of the financial district and waged guerilla war in the concrete jungle, with snipers on the roof tops and buildings booby-trapped with mines. Hundreds of hotel guests were held hostages for days, until their re-lease was negotiated. By disabling Makati, business and banking in the whole country was paralyzed. For further details, please refer to our 'Chronicle'.

  • Quezon City
  • From 1948 to 1975, Quezon City was the capital of the Philippines. The city is named after its founder Manuel Quezon who was the first president of the Philippines when the archipelago was granted partial indepen-dence from the US in 1935. Even today, Quezon City has many government departments and offices. Most are located in the vicinity of the Quezon Memorial Circle which is commonly referred to as government circle.

    The busiest district in Quezon City is the Cubao shopping area. It is very similar to the Makati Commercial Center but bigger and with fewer extravagant stores. Another gigan-tic shopping center in Quezon City is the new Shoemart City which is also called Shoemart West because it is located at the entrance of West Ave into EDSA.

    Quezon City also is the site of some of The Country 's premier educational institutions in-cluding the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, a Jesuit school. The most modern specialized hospitals of The Country are also in Quezon City. The Heart Center for Asia was inaugurated February 15, l975 and has all the latest sophisti-cated facilities to offer patients suffering from heart ailments. The Lung Center of the Philippines, in operation since 1980, provides modern facilities, methods and services in the treatment of diseases of the lungs and bronchi. The Kidney Foundation of the Philip-pines was the latest addition to these hospitals. All of them are situated in the vicinity of East Ave and Don Mariano Mar-cos Ave.

    In recent years Quezon City made it to the headlines of the international media for its strict city ordinances which observers felt are so untypical for the Metro Manila lifestyle. Among other things, these ordinances prohibit smoking in public (to avoid misunderstanding: smoking cigarettes, not illegal substances such as marihuana).

    Enforcement of the smoking ban and similar rules, however, is rather sporadic. But every now and then, people do get jailed for viola-tion of the anti-smoking and other ordinances. The Philippine Daily Inquirer of November 11, 1989, reported that more than 500 jaywalkers, smokers and illegal sidewalk vendors were rounded up the previous day when Mayor Brigido Simon Jr. launched a campaign to re-store what he considers order and discipline in the city.

    The Inquirer revealed that before he started this campaign Simon had diagnosed "an almost total breakdown in the moral values and civic responsibilities of the residents." To bring his constituents back on the moral path he based his campaign on 'hiya and takot' (shame and fear) "The mayor said three detention cells will be installed where arrested violators will be detained in full view of the public... Cov-ered by the 'Balik disiplina' campaign aside from jaywalking, smoking, and illegal vending are littering, loading and unloading on prohib-ited zones, illegal parking, illegal squatting, lewd shows, sale of pornographic comics, mag-azines and tabloids, liquor drinking in public places, urinating in public, spitting in public, smoke-belching and illegal structures." (Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 11, 1989) Paranaque & Las Pinas

    Both municipalities are known for their nu-merous housing subdivisions, such as the giant BF Homes named after the developer, Banco Filipino. Until a few years ago, both towns were noted for beach resorts, which due to their accessibility and proximity to Manila, were frequented by city people without cars. The resorts are still there but access to the beach is gone since the coastal road was con-structed on reclaimed land along the seaside of Paranaque and Las Pinas. However, thanks to the coastal road, travel south beyond Paranaque and Las Pinas is shortened by 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Kalookan City
  • Kalookan City is the center of commerce and industry for the adjacent Metro Manila towns of Navotas and Malabon as well as Bulacan province which lies north of Manila.

    The main landmark of Kalookan City is Monumento, the Bonifacio Monument at the intersection of Rizal Ave and Epiphanio de los Santos Ave (EDSA). It suits the industrial character of Kalookan City that its main monument commemorates the most proletarian of all Filipino heroes, Andres Bonifacio.

    The monument marks the first encounter between Andres Bonifacio and his revolution-ary group called the Katipunan with the Spanish soldiers August 3, 1896.

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    Philippines / Metro Manila / Parts of Town

    Traffic is one of the major problems of the metropolis. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, of October 10, 1989, "the trouble with traffic is that you have 40 percent of all vehicles in this country in Metro Manila with a terrific concentration in the business-commercial district." And the paper notes in its issue of January 5, 1990, that "for about 5.5 million daily commuters in Metro Manila and an additional two million migrant workers from nearby provinces, getting rides on scarce buses and jeepneys is a daily ordeal. Eight years ago, it took an average of only 30 minutes for a commuter to get a ride during the rush hours. According to a survey of the Department of Tansportation and Communication, it now takes one hour to two hours for a commuter to get a ride." Senator Victor Ziga once observed that "helpless thousand of commuters from all sectors were stranded for hours, unable to get rides, spilling into the already narrow thoroughfares jostling each other to cling to already full buses and jeepneys as if clinging to life itself."

    The source of the problem is possibly a sharp decline in the number of public utility vehicles and at the same time an increased population and a higher flexibility of the inhabitants of Metro Manila. According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer of January 5, 1990, "the past year saw three big bus companies, in a span of three months, close shop because of rising operational costs and labor problems. Transport officials have cited low returns as the principal cause of the decline in bus units from 5,000 in 1981 to the present 2,000 units."

    One particular traffic problem in Metro Manila is air pollution from vehicles. It seems that it's not mainly the number of vehicles aggravating this problem but the condition of the vehicles; many are not only old but also do not have their engines adjusted properly which makes them terrible smoke belchers (and increases their operation costs). The authorities have started several times a drive against smoke belchers but a result can hardly be noticed.

    Anyway, at least the campaign seems to help fill up the city coffers: "Despite the reported irregularities that plagued the government's anti-smoke-belching campaign in Metro Manila, the authorities managed to apprehend 5,492 smoke-belching vehicles and collected P950,000 in fines for the month of August alone, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said... Since the campaign was intensified in June, Dayrit said, 13,568 smoke-belching vehicles have been apprehended compared to 3,914 from January to May 1989. Total for 1989 stands at 17,482 while collection in fines now total P3.5 million" (Daily Globe, September 9, 1989)

    More info on transport:

  • Orientation
  • Even though Metro Manila is a metropolis of anywhere around 10 million, orientation is much easier than, for example, in Rome, Berlin, or other European cities. The reason is that Metro Manila has big arterial roads, but it lacks the many traffic capillaries. For a basic orientation one first must remember the main arterial roads. These are:

    Roxas Boulevard (the "x" in Roxas is pronounced "h") leads along the seaside from Rizal Park all the way to Paranaque, where it is extended as the new Coastal Road which was built on reclaimed land and by-passes the whole southern end of Metro Manila. The dis-tance from Rizal Park to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is 9.5 km (5.9 mi). Taft Avenue starts in Baclaran, a big market area in Pasay City and conducts the traf-fic to the Pasig river where it splits into Rizal Ave and Quezon Blvd. The southern part of the Light Rail Transit system fol-lows Taft Ave. The distance from Lawton (now Liwasang Bonifacio) to Baclaran is 6.5 km (3.9 mi).

    Rizal Avenue, commonly called Avenida, begins north of the Pasig river, and goes all the way north to Monumento, the Bonifacio Monument located at the central plaza of Caloocan City. The northern part of the Light Rail Transit system follows Rizal Ave. The distance from City Hall to Monumento is 7.8 km (4.8 miles).

    Quezon Boulevard also starts north of the Pasig river, but leads northeast to the El-liptical Rd of Quezon City, the so-called government circle where many government departments and offices are located. The distance from Manila City Hall to Ellipti-cal Rd is 10 km (6.2 miles). Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, commonly shortened to EDSA, is the longest avenue of all. It makes a half circle from Pasay City in the far south, to Caloocan City in the far north, via Makati and Quezon City.

    The distance from Monumento to Baclaran is 22 km (13.6 miles). South Superhighway begins at Quirino Ave and intersects Gil Puyat Ave (formerly Buendia Ave) and EDSA, bringing the traf-fic from central Manila to the south. It leads directly into the highway which goes to southern Luzon. Some southern residen-tial areas of the metropolis, such as Alabang, are along South Superhighway. The distance from Quirino Ave to EDSA is 4.6 km (2.8 mi).

    Aurora Boulevard, the direct connection be-tween downtown Manila and the Cubao district of Quezon City, is known for heavy rush hour traffic. The distance from Manila City Hall to Cubao is 8.4 km (5.2 mi).

  • Taxis
  • The use of meters makes the taxi system in Metro Manila one of the most efficient and best value taxi system in the world. Nevertheless, the system has its loopholes. Not all meters are well calibrated, some allow manipulations by the driver and some drivers refuse to put the flag down and later charge exorbitant prices. Those vic-timized by abusive drivers are generally people who are new in Manila, either newly come from the provinces or foreigners.

    Those who prefer a hassle free trip in Metro Manila are advised to take an EMP taxi (white with yellow stripes, or R&E taxis (yellow with green stripes); both have good reputations. Taxis standing by at the airports, at north harbor, and at middle and luxury hotels as well as at mansions often refuse to put down the meter flag or claim the meter doesn't work and then try to overcharge.

    Generally, it is cheaper to take passing taxis. It is a common habit in Metro Manila to wait for Golden, EMP or R&E cabs if one has to go to a new place, and to take any other taxi if one knows what the correct price is. A taxi driver who tries to cheat will generally ac-cept the correct fare if the passenger tells him that he makes this trip every day and always. If such a statement is correct, it is advisable to drop a hint before reaching a destination.

    Electronic, digital taxi meters are more tamper proof than the mechanical. Actually, there is a standing government order that all taxis have to be equipped with electronic meters before they can get their license renewed. But these digital meters are more expensive. So, the requirement is not en-forced.

    It is a common practice to negotiate fares for longer distances when using yellow cabs.

    It is advisable to have exact amounts for paying cabs because taxi drivers often have no change or pretend to have no change. This is their way of creating a "keep the change" situation.

    In Metro Manila, taxi cabs can also be hired for provincial trips. Bigger companies have standard rates for cer-tain destinations. Such fixed rates, however, are not paid to the driver directly but at the office of the taxi company where the passenger buys the so-called trip-ticket.

  • Buses
  • Only in Metro Manila are buses used for transport within the city, and they only ply the main routes of the metropolis. There is no unified network of buses in Metro Manila. Instead, there are many private bus com-panies plying routes they deem profitable.

    The buses of each company operating in Metro Manila can be recognized by their color. The DMTC buses are yellow with a blue stripe, the MMTC buses are blue with a white stripe, the JD buses are bright red, and so on. This is convenient because one can identify the buses from afar by their color whereas the signboard giving the des-tination is sometimes hardly readable.

    Ordinary Metro Manila buses are not as comfortable as the buses in European or US cities. They have little leg-space, are fur-nished with small benches, and often are crowded. But for the same reason they are exceptionally cheap.

    On selected routes within Metro Manila one can travel in style on the blue love buses which have aircon and soft and more spacious seats and often are half empty. Smoking is not allowed on Love buses.

  • Light Rail Transit
  • The Light Rail Transit, LRT, a railway on an elevated track, is the most modern and the fastest means of transportation in Metro Manila. It was completed and started operation in May, 1985.

    The LRT, also called the Metrorail, runs from Baclaran (Pasay) to Monumento (Caloocan), along Taft Ave in the south, and Rizal Ave in the north. It operates from 4:30 to 22.45. For the total journey, it is the cheapest and quickest (25 min) north-south link in the metropolis.

    There are 16 on-line stations placed in high-traffic areas. There is a reduced fare when boarding Baclaran-bound trains at Quirino station or later, or Monumento-bound trains at Tayuman station or later.

  • Ferry Boats
  • Ferries on Pasig River began operation January 13, 1990 transporting commuters from Guadalupe, Makati to Lawton. The ferry service cuts through the city's east-to-west corridor, Metro Manila's so called central business district, and passes under seven bridges: Guadalupe, Lambingan, Punta, Nagtahan, Ayala, Quezon and Sta. Cruz. The boats have a sitting capacity of 50/60 passengers each. The ferry boat can negotiate the 10-km route in about 30 minutes.

  • Harbor Connections
  • To reach North Harbor from the tourist belt one can go either by taxi or by jeep-ney. Those who want to go by jeepney, first take one along Mabini St or Taft Ave, signboard 'Divisoria'; at Divisoria they have to take another jeepney, signboard 'North Harbor', going along Recto Ave.

    When arriving on a ship at North Harbor, one may take a taxi or a jeepney to the tourist belt. Most taxis standing by at the pier are syndicated. They pay a bribe and "parking fee" for the privilege and do not use meters but charge fixed rates. Jeepneys standing by operate in the same manner and mainly serve locals arriving with a lot of luggage.

    However, sometimes taxis which have brought departing passengers and which are hindered from waiting to pick up pas-sengers by the syndicates can be intercepted along the street.

  • Airport Connections
  • International Airport Terminal
    To get a taxi to the International Airport is generally not much of a problem. Most cab drivers like to drive to that destinations as they expect to make a good deal coming back into town. Taking passengers from the airpost, they will usually try to heftily overcharge their passengers.

    When arriving at the International Airport, one has the choice of taking am overcharging ordinary cab from the departure area, or to travel in style with one of the exclusive Avis / G & S coupon taxis.

    Trying to grab a cab was one of the worst annoyances for the arriving visitor, and once he finally got one, he still had to go through a hassle with the generally abusive cabbie over the fare. Since the transport situation in Manila has become worse in 1989, G & S taxis are a red carpet treatment for the newly arrived visitor.

    At the NAIA, the G & S taxi counters are located by the escalator at the arrival area and near the taxi stand right outside Gate 1; they are open between 5:00 and midnight or even later in case of late flights. The fixed point-to-point rates, good for up to four pas-sengers, can be paid in pesos or US$; all major credit cards or Avis cards are accepted. The brand new luxury cars are all equipped with air-conditioning, two-way radios and roof racks for additional baggage. The G & S taxis may be a little more expensive than the regular taxis (provided you can get one for the regular fare), but are good value, consider-ing the safety and comfort they offer.

    Those who are familiar with Manila and its taxis have the option after arrival to walk up to the de-parture area and grab a cab dropping off passengers but this is advisable only for those who really know their way around and don't have much baggage.

    For the budget minded Manila visitor, there are also several bus lines connecting the airport to other parts of the city. DMTC buses park to the right of the airport at the foot of the driveway and run down Taft Ave. MMTC buses go to Cubao without touching the tourist belt. The air-conditioned Love Buses pass the tourist belt on their way to Quiapo, but it's a circuitous route which goes through Makati.

  • Car Rentals
  • There are many car rental agencies in Manila, with fleets of cars, trucks, buses and even motorbikes of a variety of makes and models. Among the international agencies Avis is well established in the Philippines. Avis has branches not only in Manila, but also in other big cities as well as on the two principal US bases, Clark and Subic. The majority of fleets consist of Japanese makes, though some do maintain Mercedes limos as well. Practically all vehicles are fully air-conditioned, and some have automatic transmissions. Models are not always the lat-est, except maybe those of international agen-cies such as Avis, whose policy it is to dis-pose of cars every two years or so.

    Their fleets are also the best maintained.

    Rates vary only slightly from agency to agency. With most agencies, one has the choice between a flat rate which includes un-limited mileage, and a standard rate to which mileage charges are added. A few agencies apply only standard rates, or may use flat rates only for special promotions. The gaso-line, of course, is paid for by the customer.

    Most, particularly international agencies such as Avis, accept all major credit cards in addition to their own cards. Cash rentals re-quire a deposit of about 1 1/2 times the es-timated charges. The international agencies such as Avis require the lessee to be at least 25 years of age, though many local companies are not particular about this point. Any valid driver's license or interna-tional driver's per-mit, the lessee's passport, and at some agen-cies, a plane ticket and an ID picture are re-quired to rent a self-driven.

    When renting a car one should make sure the safety features work properly and tools are in the trunk. If the body has damage this should be entered on the contract. The agency should give a Xerox copy of the car registra-tion papers and the tax receipts, since Philip-pine police are not always satisfied with the rental contract alone.

    Most agencies offer chauffeur-driven limousines as well as self-driven. The word limousine is sometimes not to be taken liter-ally here; it can refer to almost any model. If one can afford the extra cost (which is low in the Philippines), chauffeurs are preferable for getting around in the metropolis, where orien-tation can be very tricky, even for those fa-miliar with the city.

    AVIS
    Headquarters
    311 P.Casal St, San Miguel
    Tel 742-28-71 to 73; Mon-Fri 8:30-17:30

    Peninsula Hotel
    Tel 87-84-97; 85-48-84; 86-43-69
    Mon-Sat 8:00-19:00 Sun 8:00-17:00

    Manila Hotel
    Tel 47-00-11, call concierge

    International Airport
    Arrival Area
    Tel 832-20-88; 831-26-81; 834-17-39 Mon-Sun 7:00-20:00

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Restaurants

    In both, the tourist belt of Manila and in Makati, there is a wide variety of different cuisines of the world. There is a selection of food from neighboring countries such as China, Japan and Korea; there is Middle Eastern food; and there is regional European cuisine including Italian, German and French. Our Dining Guide describes some characteris-tics of all these different cuisines as they are found in the Philippine capital. Some comments on Philippine beverages and Philippine fruits follow this general introduction.

    The cosmopolitan variety of restaurants in Metro Manila is a result of the attractive-ness of the Philippine capital to people from all different corners of the earth; many of the cuisines originally alien to the Philippines have been brought to Metro Manila by for-eigners who have settled here. And the flair of Metro Manila as a world city has been aided very strongly by these foreign res-taurateurs.

    To have attracted foreigners and to have taken steps to turn Metro Manila into a true world city certainly was a merit of the former government. On the contrary, the current government does not see it as one of its major concerns to make Manila a really cosmopolitan city; it's not even con-cerned with maintaining the level Manila reached in the 70's and the beginning of the 80's. It's not the point that the current government has other priorities for spending.

    Whether a city is cosmopolitan or not doesn't depend so much on government spending. It just simply depends on how wel-come foreigners are in a city, and whether they are allowed to become active in fields like the restaurant business. But regulations have been implemented to restrict the num-ber of foreigners employed in or managing restaurants.

    The classiest restaurants of Metro Manila are found in five star hotels (Peninsula, Silahis, Holiday Inn) and in Makati at the edge of Greenbelt Park which has been very nicely remodeled during the past few years. The "Greenbelt row of restaurants" houses such excellent places as the German Schwarzwaelder, the Italian La Primavera, the Spanish Gasparelli, the international La Tasca, the Nandau seafood restaurant, and a few more. Most of these leading restaurants of the metropolis are comparatively large.

    Pasay Road, also in Makati, has a strip containing large first class restaurants as well. Along Amorsolo St in Makati, in four large buildings, the Sunvar Plaza, the Gallery Bldg, the Creekside Bldg, and the Mile Long Bldg (which is much shorter than a mile), in the midst of many small boutiques and speciality stores, are a number of small res-taurants with a distinctive cuisine: Thai, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Vegetarian, etc.

    While they abound in the capital, luxurious restaurants are not common in the provinces. Simple Western food, however, is not only available in the cities but in small towns as well. The upper strata of places for dining out in provincial cities is generally provided by Chinese restaurateurs.

    Where to go:

  • Pastry & Bake Shops
  • From the tiny neighborhood bakeries to the large bakery chains with better quality baked goods, to the specialty, up-market pastry shops with freshly baked breads or an array of mouthwatering cakes and pastries, one can find in the metropolis what it takes to satisfy one's sweet craving.

    Spanish influence is evident in many of the names of local Filipino baked goods, though the actual product differs from the Spanish original. For example, the ensaimada here, with its small size and topping of butter, sugar and grated cheese, differs from the original ensaimada from Mallorca and Menorca, Spain, which is lighter in texture, coil-shaped also, but flatter, and sometimes up to about 2 feet in diameter. In fact, Dulcinea, the only Spanish pasteleria in the metropolis, attempted to popularize the authentic ensaimada, but the Filipinos preferred the local version. Other Spanish-inspired Filipino sweets include lengua de gato, polvoron, leche flan, and brazo de mercedes.

    But those who come across a pastel, will not find a cake as in Spain, but a rectangle of glutinous rice with a savory filling, wrapped in a banana leaf and steam cooked. Dulcinea, however, does produce the authentic Spanish tuna or chorizo pasteles, which are savory-filled pastries.

    One of the most startling items the Westerner will ever see in any bakery display case is the ube cake, whose screaming purple color is only slightly offset by touches of white cream frosting, or by macapuno, a kind of young coconut preserve. The ube is a root crop whose natural purple color intensifies upon cook-ing. Since it cannot be directly incorporated into cake recipes, ube ice cream is used.

    Not until 1986 when the government relinquished its monopoly on the sale of flour did many local quality pastry shops and bakeries spring up to meet the demand of the increasing number of West European visitors, expatriates, and well-traveled af-fluent Filipinos.

    Before then, the major outlets were La Suiza, founded by a Spanish couple, and Swibak, after "zwieback" or melba toast, founded by a Swiss. Both produced a variety of European-style pastries and baked goods.

    The best pastry shops and bakeries are found in the major shopping districts of Makati. Most of the 5-star hotels have an elegant coffee shop serving a selection of fine pastries and other desserts, from an in-house bakery which also sells for take-out. The Manila Midtown Hotel offers a limited selection of excellent and very competitively priced danish and doughnuts in Maxim's for take-out, but dining in requires a beverage purchase, in large hotels often priced three times as much as the pastry.

    Among the 5-star hotel bakeshops, those in the Mandarin Oriental, the Century Park Sheraton and the Holiday Inn offer an exquisite variety of home-made designer chocolates, using imported Swiss chocolate, various local and exotic nuts, assorted liqueurs and other fillings. They are available by weight or in attractive gift packages. The bakeshops in the above named hotels also offer the best whole grain breads.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Drinks

    Tap water is generally safe for drinking, in most parts of Manila until recently. In an article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24, 1990) the Metropolitan Water-works and Sewage System (MMWSS) administrator Luis Sison advised consumers to boil water in the wake of an outbreak of typhoid fever in Quezon City. He said the water pipes had sunk 12 feet since some of the pipes were installed in 1882 with the beginning of a water system and are below sewer lines which clod and allow seepage into leaky water lines. Manila has the oldest water system is Asia. Water is still considered safe in provincial cities and even in The Country side if it is sufficiently chlorinated. In very rural areas and at native beach resorts, however, the water may come from a well, and then it should be boiled or chlorinated with products such as Puritabs, which are readily available in Philippine drug stores.

    Uncarbonated bottled water, available in Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong, has been uncommon in the Philippines until recently. However, since 1988 locally produced bottled water of the brand Hidden Spring is increasingly distributed. It comes in disposable plas-tic bottles and is sold in most supermarkets in Metro Manila and in leading supermarkets in other big cities. It tastes fine but is expensive with a price surpassing the price of soft drinks. Imported French bottled water is only little more expensive than the locally produced Hidden Spring brand.

    There is also bottled soda water but even locally produced brands have a higher price than soft drinks. Rustan's and a number of wine stores sell imported carbonated Vichy Water. Mineral water in Philippine terms, is not the same as soda water. It is water en-riched with healthy, but not always delicious minerals. It is also quite expensive.

    There is no real national drink in the Philippines as tea in India, Mekong whiskey in Thailand, or Sake in Japan. Several decades ago, one might have considered tuba the national drink. Nowadays however, it is seldom found in Manila and has been mostly replaced by beer. Among the poor in The Country side however, it is still widely consumed.

    Tuba, a fermented drink, comes from the coconut tree, not from the nuts. It is ob-tained by cutting the end from a frond and daily collecting the sap that runs out.

    In rural areas, tuba is available everywhere at less than 10 pesos a gallon (about 4 liters). It is about as alcoholic as wine, and has its own incomparable taste. The effect on the consumer, almost ex-clusively male, is definitely bad. Instead of lulling one to sleep as beer does, it makes the imbiber aggressive. Often, tuba drinking men can be recognized by their red-colored faces. The foreigner is advised not to accept any invitations to participate in tuba rounds. Too often they end in a quarrel.

    The habit of drinking beer should be regarded as progress over tuba drinking. The local brand, San Miguel Beer, is compara-tively cheap and available almost everywhere. The locally produced Carlsberg is available in Metro Manila and big provincial cities. Both, San Miguel and Carlsberg beer, are slightly sweeter and less bitter than European and American beers. Several German beers (Jever, Astra, Becks) are available in many better restaurants, mainly in the tourist belt of Manila. NAB or non-alcoholic beer has been recently introduced for those that like the flavor of beer without the kick.

    Soft drinks are sold virtually everywhere in this country, even deep in the jungle. The price is very low, if bought from a store, even cooled.

    All international brands of soft drinks are available. They share the market with a few local creations as Sarsi (which tastes like root beer), Pop Cola, Royal, Tru Orange, Cheers.

    Locally produced spirits are ridiculously cheap, too. Of the spirits the locally distilled rum is of the best quality, and gin the worst. In Philippine classification spirits are commonly referred to as "wine". A native palm wine is Lambanog; it has the strength and kick of moonshine whiskey.

    A most peculiar thing is the fact that the Philippines is probably the only Asian country where tea is not popular. As there is little demand for tea, tea bags, rather than loose tea leaves, are used in hotels and res-taurants, and supermarkets often only sell tea in bags.

    Tea is widely consumed, however, by the Chinese populace. The Chinese also don't use tea bags. In real Chinese restaurants, tea comes with the meal without asking and without charge.

    Coffee is available everywhere, but mainly instant brands are served. Brewed coffee is found only in better restaurants.

    The Philippines also produces milk, marketed by Magnolia, now a division of Nestle. But the quantity produced does not fill the need, so the market includes imported powdered, condensed, or evaporated milk.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Fruits

    The Philippines does not only have a Na-tional Anthem and a National Museum as other countries may have, but also a na-tional tree, narra, and a national flower, sampaguita. And if one asks a Filipino what the national fruit of his country is, he will immediately say mango.

    But as a matter of fact, even though mangoes are delicious, they are neither the widest available fruit, nor the most affor-dable. On the other hand, who could ever proudly consider the banana a national fruit? There is an abundance of bananas in the Philippines, more than 50 different kinds. In the provinces, bananas are even cheaper than rice. Yet, or because of that, bananas are sometimes looked down on. Aside from bananas another kind of tropical fruit found everywhere is pineapple.

    Imported fruits became widely available in the Philippines since 1987 as an effect of the import liberalization policy of the Aquino government. Imported oranges are also common - like apples at a lower price per kilo than what is paid for mangoes.

    Many tropical fruits growing in the Philip-pines are less known to people of the West because they cannot be exported over long distances. Among them are papaya, jackfruit, mangostines, rambutans, star apple, custard apple, rose apple, lanzones and pomello.

    A unique tropical fruit also found in the Philippines is the durian. In the Philippines it grows best in the area surrounding Davao City on Mindanao. The most photographed monument of Davao City is a sculpture of a durian. Fruits in detail:

    Avocado
    Season May to July
    Taste fleshy, only slightly sweet
    Size irregular, basically oval
    Color green or red
    Grows on trees

    Custard apple (Atis)
    Season September to November
    Taste soft and fleshy
    Color green
    Grows on trees

    Many seeds, similar to those of melons.

    Duhat
    Season March
    Taste like black cherries
    Size like cherries
    Color dark, almost black
    Grows on trees

    Durian
    Season September, October
    Taste like cheese, very creamy
    Size like pineapple
    Color light brown
    Grows on giant trees
    Thick hard skin with thorns like nails. The edible part is only found in five sections, where it surrounds very big seed stones.

    Guava (Bayabas)
    Season July to October
    Taste quite sour, hard texture
    Size round, from the size of apricots to the size of grapefruits
    Color green or yellow
    Grows on trees
    Many seeds

    Guyabano
    Season August to October
    Taste sweet, the juice is milky
    Size around 300 grams, irregular shape
    Color green outside, white inside
    Grows on trees

    Jackfruit (Langka)
    Season April to June
    Taste sweet, chewy
    Size oval, 2 to 5 kg
    Color yellow when ripe
    Grows on trees


    Mostly sold portioned in small plastic bags. The sticky fruit has to completely ripen on the tree and will not sweeten after chopping.

    Kalamansi
    Season all year
    Taste sour, more like orange than lemon
    Size like grapes
    Color green
    Grows on small trees

    Lanzones
    Season August to November
    Taste sweet, underlying pinch of sour
    Size as grapes
    Color beige
    Grows on trees
    Sticky skin; overripe fruit turns dark brown and sour like vinegar.

    Mango (Mangga)
    Season March to May
    Taste green: like sour apples, yellow (ripe): similar to peaches
    Size oval, 200 to 400 g
    Color green (unripe), yellow (ripe)
    Grows on giant trees
    Filipinos have the practice of eating green mangoes with bagoong (shrimp paste) or salt. Overripe fruit is easily recognized by black spots.

    Mangostines
    Season September, October
    Taste sweet and sour combination
    Size as apricot
    Color dark violet
    Grows on trees
    A thick violet skin makes up about two thirds of the weight and is not edible. It is broken open to get to the white flesh in the center. Mangostines are easily af-fected by fruit mold. It is best to buy them dark and small.

    Papaya
    Season all year
    Taste fresh, sweet, texture like a squash
    Size oval, 1/2 to 3 kg
    Color yellow, orange or green
    Grows on shrubs
    Aid against constipation. When green, the juice is also used as a meat tenderizer.

    Pomello (suha)
    Season December, January
    Taste similar to grapefruit, less juicy
    Size as grapefruits
    Color yellow or green
    Grows on trees
    Best quality comes from Davao; these can cost double the price of those from other places.

    Rambutans
    Season September, October
    Taste sweet, underlying pinch of sour
    Size as plums
    Color red
    Grows on trees

    Rose apple (Macopa)
    Season May
    Taste slightly sour, flowery
    Color bright red
    Grows on trees
    Can be eaten whole, has virtually no skin.

    Santol
    Season April to August
    Taste sweet and milky
    Size round, like apples
    Color yellow
    Grows on trees

    Star apple (Caymito)
    Season October to December
    Taste sweet and milky
    Size round, like apples
    Color green and violet
    Grows on trees

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Restaurant Manners

    Waiters in leading restaurants and at big hotels in Manila have received formal train-ing. The service in these restaurants does not vary much from that in first class res-taurants anywhere in the world. But in na-tive restaurants waiters are untrained and the server may be a family member. Then, service is not exactly proper but rather with little formality.

    To call the waiter in a simple restaurant, it is usual to hiss in typical Filipino style. Asking for the bill can be done by drawing a square in the air with thumb and index finger, or by calling Check please!

    Because of the local custom of social sharing, separate bills are an incomprehen-sible attitude for the locals, and Filipinos never ask for it. In a purely local res-taurant, a pair or group of foreigners will get just one bill even if separate bills have been requested. The easiest way for those who want to pay separately, is to divide the costs later.

    Waiters' salaries are low, in small places and about 7 in big hotels. A larger source of income is often the tips. There is a silent agreement when a waiter gets hired that the salary is only part of his income, the other being the tips.

    Tips are generally expected and a matter of good manners even if there is already a 10% service charge on the bill which is the case in all luxury and five star hotels. Suf-ficient tips are around 5% of the bill. To give a tip, one just leaves the change on the table. The Western habit of saying "keep the change" when paying in restaurants is not common here and will just create confu-sion. Generally, tips are pooled and shared by all employees.

    Table setting in first class restaurants are the same as in Europe or North America. The most native way of eating on the con-trary is with the hands. A step toward a more formal manner is eating with a spoon and fork. In that case, the actual eating is done with the spoon, and the fork serves as a pusher. In small restaurants those requiring a knife will have to ask for one as they are not normally provided. Knives are not needed in native places as meats are usually chopped into bite size.

    In native places or homes one may notice diners polishing their table service with tissue. It is a custom in the Philippines and sometimes needed - but of course not only unnecessary but explicitly impolite in first class restaurants.

    In first class restaurants, common condi-ments on the table are salt and pepper. In native places, however, it's instead soy sauce and patis (a fermented fish oil, lighter in color than soy sauce). Water is always served; in native places the tendency is to bring it at the end of the meal. Except in first class restaurants, bread and butter does not come with the meal and is generally not available. Breads are often too sweet for Western taste. Tomato ketchup or mustard are not common in native places.

    First class restaurants observe the interna-tional sequence in serving dishes, or the sequence typical for the particular cuisine of a country. In native places, however, Those who prefer food served in a certain sequence (e.g. first soup, then salad, then meat, then coffee) should order step by step, because sequence is generally not observed but all kinds of food are brought at the same time. Except in better restaurants, foods are of-ten precooked and served at room tempera-ture.

    First class establishments require guests to wear shoes (not neckties) and ban persons wearing shorts and/or sleeveless T-shirts.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Filipino Cuisine

    Although Philippine cuisine at first sight, does not seem as exotic as other East Asian cuisines, there is no basis for the complaint that there are not enough truly native dishes.

    However, there is a tendency that the foreigner who stays only in a tourist environment in Manila or the provinces, will not encounter Philippine cuisine because cooking is more Westernized in public places than in Filipino homes, especially if the public places are regularly frequented by foreigners from the West.

    In Manila, the Western impact is noticeable even in small restaurants. These often do not serve dishes that Filipinos would regularly eat at home (rice, vegetables and fish), but rather hamburgers and fast foods. Recently a columnist in Manila wrote: "When Chinese go out in style they eat Chinese food, when Indonesians go out in style they eat Indonesian, but when Filipinos go out in style they eat Western."

    Native food includes a salty tasting fish or shrimp paste (bagoong in Tagalog) which is also found in Thailand and Indonesia, and dried fish (tuyo) which is fried and malodorous. Philippine noodle dishes resemble Chinese noodle dishes. There are also unique dishes like boiled duck embryos, named balut. For details see the food dictionary below. Three meats are commonly available: beef (baka), pork (baboy), and chicken (manok). Many recipes use the intestines or other internal organs.

    There are a number of words which describe the manner of cooking: pasingaw (steaming), adobo (stewed in vinegar and garlic), sinigang (sour soup using sour vegetables or fruits), nilaga (boiled), paksiw (stewed in sour fruit or ginger), estofado (with burnt sugar sauce), ginataan or gata (cooked in coconut milk), pesa (sauted and boiled), pangat (simmered with tomatoes), bulanglang (vegetables boiled together), dinuguan (cooked in blood), kilawin (raw).

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Chinese Cuisine

    Of all non-Philippine cuisines Chinese is the most prevalent in the Philippine capital - so much so that it has been partially in-tegrated into Philippine cuisine; for a number of Philippine dishes it is meanwhile hard to say whether they are originally Filipino or whether they were adopted from Chinese cuisine. One example is the very common Mami soups, served in Filipino and Chinese restaurants alike. Mami is not a common Chinese word used to describe that particular kind of soup and it is unknown in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok. But it also is not a Tagalog word.

    The word Mami was introduced in the Philippines by a popular Chinese restaurant and noodle factory, Ma Mon Lok. Incidentally the owners of the restaurant and noodle factory hail from the Chinese province of Fookien. So they used their own word for what they sold. And the success of the company Ma Mon Lok has paved the way for the entry of the Fookien word Mami into the Philippine language.

    In the Philippines today Mami soups are differentiated according to the ingredient aside from soup and noodles. The most common are chicken mami and beef mami; pork is added either as pre-fried spare ribs or in wantons. Wantons are dough pockets that are filled with a mixture of pork and shrimp; pork and shrimp is a combination that may sound awkward to Westerners but it is fairly common in Chinese cooking. Siomai, small steamed dumplings, also are mostly based on a pork and shrimp mixture.

    Siomai belongs to and is the most common of a unique Chinese food, the dimsum. Actually dimsum is more than just a category of dishes; it's an eating habit. Dim-sums are small dishes taken for snacks or tea time (in Chinese: yam cha); they are served in restaurants on a trolley. Most of the dimsum dishes are steamed but they may also be fried or braised. Com-mon to all dimsums is that they are small portions, in bite size, and normally strongly flavored. Dimsum is of Cantonese origin and very popular not only in the Philippines but also in Hong Kong. But in contrast to Hong Kong, one of the most popular dimsum dishes in the Philippines is chicken feet served fried and in a heavy sauce with black beans.

    Noodles occupy an important position in Chinese cuisine. Actually, the Chinese were the inventors of noodles, and they were brought to the European noodle country, Italy, by Marco Polo only in the 13th century.

    Unlike the Italians who can't explain why their spaghetti are impractically long the Chinese do have a seemingly very logical reason why the longer the noodles are the better; to the ever superstitious Chinese long noodles mean long life. Making noodles the traditional Chinese way is an acrobatic art. The dough is pulled and whirled through the air in order to stretch it through centrifugal force; but today machines use other techniques.

    There are two kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, egg noodles or Mien, and rice noodles or Bijon (in English sometimes referred to as glass noodles because they just look like they were made of glass). Whereas egg noodles are mostly in the shape of thin spaghetti, rice noodles are also commonly served as ho fan (wide noodles like the Italian fettucine and tagliatelle).

    Noodles can be served three ways: in a clear soup with meat and some vegetables, or mixed with meat and with a thickened sauce poured over (in the Philippines commonly called Pancit, or without sauce; whereas for Pancit, egg noodles (Mien) are commonly used, it's Bijon noodles if served without sauce.

    Pancit style dishes appear on Chinese menus with English translations often specified as fried. This is grossly misleading as they are mostly just barely sauted. There is nothing crisp in such a "fried" dish, and the rather tasteless cornstarch sauce gives the dish a porridge texture.

    Those who want to eat dishes that are fried by Western standards must order deep-fried dishes in Chinese English terminology. Deep-fried dishes include spring rolls, shrimp, and prawns.

    Except for the already mentioned clear soups with noodles (mami soups), there also are many thickened soups in Chinese cuisine. As in the case of the pancit sauce, the thickening is produced normally from corn starch. Like clear soups the thickened soups may contain meats, fish, seafood and vegetables. In contrast to Western cuisine, Chinese cooking commonly uses lettuce in soups but not in salads.

    The two most famous Chinese soups, shark fin soup and bird's nest soup appear to be thickened but the glutinous texture does in neither case result from the addition of corn starch but from the two main ingredients, shark fin and bird's nests which are simmered for many hours.

    As the Chinese are the only people who can make a sensible use of shark fins they are imported by Chinese traders from all over the world - to Hong Kong and also to Manila.

    The nests in making bird's nest soups are exclusively those of swallows. They are built by the birds mainly of sea weed that is cemented together by their own saliva. Swallow nests are mainly found in high cliffs as for ex-ample on the Southern Chinese coast. The Chinese term for swal-low nests is ni do. The richest area for bird's nests in the Philippines is Northern Palawan. There a town meanwhile famous for its cliffs has been baptized in honor of the bird's nests: El Nido.

    As rice is processed into noodles, another common Chinese agricultural product, soy beans, is processed into bean curd. Bean curd didn't make it as far as Italy. It was, however, also in-tegrated into Philippine cuisine. Bean curd (in Chinese: to kua) is used in China herself almost as a second kind of starch; by itself, it's not really a main course but it accompanies original Chinese meals as normally as potatoes accompany German dishes (where they are not taken as vegetables). However, bean curd is used in Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila less as an independent side dish but rather as an ingredient in many dishes.

    As bean curd is not commonly known in the Western world, it may be described shortly. Bean curd has the appearance and texture of soft cheese and is produced by milling soy beans and forming large cakes of it that are fairly stable. It can be cut into slices, and as it is fairly tasteless by itself (just as noodles), it easily adopts the taste of sauces and the other ingredients of a dish.

    A by-product of bean curd which has a less stable texture (like thickened milk) is commonly sold in the Philippines by ambulant vendors. They walk through the streets, equipped with two large aluminum baskets, the one contain-ing the bean curd by-product, and the other some sauces, syrups, and other toppings. They advertise their merchandise by shouting out its Philippine name: Daho, Daaaaahooooo.

    Prominent as noodles may be in Chinese cuisine, the most basic staple food is rice. The Chinese word for rice is fan (remember the Ho Fan - wide rice noodles).

    Chinese restaurants in the Philippines offer a wide variety of fan loi dishes. Fan loi has been literally translated as "rice with toppings", and this basically means that it is a bowl of rice with some bits of meat and/or vegetables on top.

    However, to serve food in portions for a single person is very untypical of Chinese dining habits. Usually, the side dishes to rice are not served individually but family style with large plates placed in the center of a table. This eating order is still strongly reflected in the way Chinese restaurants are furnished. Often there is inadequate space for people who come alone or in pairs. Mostly large round tables can be seen, with a round board in the middle that can be turned so everyone, using the chopsticks, can help himself to a few bites from every plate.

    It's commonly known that the Chinese invented chopsticks as a set of instruments to be used when eating but the reason behind that is not commonly known. Actually, the Chinese where taught to use chopsticks long before spoons and forks were invented in Europe (the knife is older, not as an instru-ment for dining but as weapon). Chopsticks were strongly advocated by the great Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC). He reasoned that, as a matter of ad-vancement in civilization, instru-ments used for killing must be banned from the dining table. Therefore, knives cannot be per-mitted, and that is why Chinese food is always chopped into bite size before it reaches the table.

    Chinese cooking is not complicated in the manner that French cuisine is complicated. Much less depends on temperatures of ingredients and exact timing for frying, baking, or cooking. Most Chinese dishes are just cooked in water or oil. Of course, there are many delicacies but most of them do not require such an elaborate processing in the kitchen as does one of China's most famous dishes, Peking duck (thin slices of barbecued duck, wrapped in thin pan-cakes together with onion, radish, etc and eaten with a sweet plum sauce).

    But while Chinese cuisine may not beat French cuisine in the degree it is complicated to prepare dishes, Chinese cuisine certainly wins the prize for stranger ingredients.

    Now, while the French have their strange and hard to find ingredients like truffles, they cannot come up with an ingredient like the previously mentioned bird's nests.

    The Chinese have a refreshingly unemotional approach to edibles. One may think that as long as eating something doesn't cause a disease there must be a way it can be prepared deliciously.

    Therefore, birds nests are not the only strange food stuff used in Chinese cuisine. Others include turtles, sea weeds, shark fins, etc. There are no forbidden foods like pork in islamic countries and beef for Hindus. On the contrary, many foods are recommended in the Chinese cuisine for a variety of medical purposes, several of them to restore sexual power. This goal, for example, allegedly is achieved by consuming Soup No 5 which contains the testicles of various animals and which is served in many Chinese restaurants in Metro Manila.

    Many animals with a phallic look are also supposed to help men's sexual power, as for example eel and snake. Snake meat is highly valued in Chinese cuisine rather for a number of alleged phar-maceutical effects than the taste (it tastes like chicken). Snake is supposed to be particularly good in winter because it is regarded as heart warming. Eating the snake's gall bladder is supposed to bring sure relief from rheumatism. A dish named Dragon, Phoenix, Tiger is prepared of snake, chicken and cat and is supposed to be an especially powerful agent to restore youth and vigor.

    Of course there is nothing wrong with eating cats, snakes, and bird's nests; most probably these foods are even nutritious; it's just the idea of it that cannot convince Westerners to enrich their diet with these delicacies.

    But what criteria makes some kinds of animals a clean food and others unacceptable are just per-ceptions based on ignorance. Shrimp live in mud and preferably near sites where waste is drained into the sea, and those who believe chickens only eat clean food may observe them pecking on dung-hills. Who after these elaborations doubts that the Chinese have a more enlightened approach to food than Westerners, and a much more enlightened ap-proach than Moslems and Hindus.

    China is a vast country and it is therefore no surprise that there are many regional variations in Chinese cuisine. In general one can say that the Southern Chinese, Cantonese, cuisine puts more emphasis on fish and seafood and the Northern Chinese, Peking, cuisine includes more meat. Of all meats pork is most common in all Chinese cuisines. Actually the pig is so respected by the Chinese that the Chinese character for "home" is a combination of the characters for "roof" and "pig".

    The central Chinese regions of Szechuan and Hunan have the spiciest food in all of China. Garlic as well as chili are exten-sively used. Helmsman Mao Zedong who was Hunanese once claimed that the more chilies one eats the more revolutionary one becomes. It was meant as a joke (most probably) but the statement is in accordance to the Chinese belief that diet makes a great difference in the well-being of a person.

    In the case of exclusive dining, Chinese have a different orienta-tion than Westerners. First, the ambience of a restaurant is much less important; even first class Chinese restaurants tend to be simply and inexpensively fur-nished. Second, unlike European custom a dish doesn't become much more expensive when prepared by a much better cook; in Europe a cer-tain meal (for example baked duck) can cost many times as much in an exclusive restaurant than it does in an ordinary restaurant; in the case of Chinese restaurants it's less the particular preparations that make a restaurant first class but more the use of fancy and more expensive foods.

    An exclusive Chinese restaurant for example will serve foods like turtle and abalone (a large marine snail; only the foot, about fist size, is served) which cost many hundreds of pesos per dish. But it's not the preparation that makes these foods so expensive, it's just the price of the raw material. Many more ordinary Chinese dishes do not cost much more in first class Chinese res-taurants than they do in plainer kinds.

    Tea is preferred by the Chinese as a drink during all meals less for it's own taste but to clear the palate of a former dish before proceeding to the next. And as proclaimed by the Honk Kong Tourist Association in their official guide, "the Chinese don't ruin the tea with such alien substances as milk, sugar or lemon."

    Two typical additions to the names of Chinese restaurants are Tea House and Garden. Tea houses generally are simple restaurants while Gardens are better class.

    Most authentic, of course, are the Chinese restaurants in the Chinatown of Manila, Binondo. However, communication is a problem in most of the places as menus generally are only in Chinese and waitresses have a hard time translating to the guest entry after entry from the menu.

    Where to eat:

  • Chinese Cuisine / Restaurants
  • Pink Patio at 531 Paredes Street right in the heart of Chinatown is an exception in many ways. First of all the restaurant is much cleaner than most places in Chinatown; second, unlike most Chinese restaurants, it's furnished with taste and great love for decorative detail; third, unlike other Chinese restaurants, it is prepared to serve single diners or couples and not only big families and groups; fourth it's menu is probably the most appealing to Western taste among the Chinese restaurants in Binondo, without bird's nest soup and shark fin but with many delicious Chinese pork, beef and chicken dishes as they are cooked in bourgeois Chinese homes; and fifth, in spite of it's beauty it's still an economical place to eat.

    TOURIST BELT

    Hiong Mun Lau (88)
    2nd fl Ambassador Hotel, Mabini St
    Tel 50-81-57; 7:00-15:30, 17:00-23:00
    connected to "Imperial Garden Seafood Market"; therefore it not only has a wide variety of Chinese dishes but also an excellent choice of seafood

    Sea Palace (66)
    1766 Mabini St, Malate, Manila
    Tel 521-64-26 to 28
    11:00-14:30, 17:30-22:30, Chinese cuisine of live seafood; one of the longest operating Chinese seafood restaurants in the tourist belt; large selection of rare fish, among them panther, parrot fish and snapper; one specialty of the house is lobster sashimi, originally a Japanese seafood dish; also popular coconut crab

    Kim Wan Garden (58)
    571-573 General Malvar St, Malate
    Tel 58-72-54, 26-44-55
    24 hrs; American and Filipino breakfast available; also serves vegetarian food and actually the oldest restaurant in Manila with a vegetarian philosophy; special "Kim Wan" recipes; upstairs Traveler's Inn

    Szechuan House (87)
    Aloha Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-90-61
    11:00-14:00, 18:00-22:30

    Eva's Garden (40)
    1347 Adriatico St, Ermita, Tel 50-53-18
    11:00-14:00, 17:00-23:00; Sun no lunch

    Lotus Garden (50)
    Gr fl Midtown Hotel, Ermita, Tel 57-39-11
    11:30-23:30

    Eastern Restaurant (30)
    Mabini St cor Padre Faura St, Er-mita
    2nd fl, Royal Palm Hotel, Tel 58-53-95
    9:30-21:00

    Wok Inn
    (80) - 471 Remedios St, Tel 50-84-98; 11:00-23:00; Sun 11:00-14:00,
    17:00-23:00
    (83) - 2033 Del Pilar St, Tel 521-82-24; 11:00-14:00, 17:00-23:00; closed on Sun

    Maxim's
    (2) - Roxas Blvd cor Kalaw St, Er-mita
    Tel 59-59-72; 24 hrs; good value
    (82) - 1965 Mabini St, Malate
    Tel 522-04-15; 11:00-21:00, closed on Sun

    Hong Kong Tea House (3)
    1015 Del Pilar St, Ermita, Tel 50-03-48
    10:00-3:30

    Shin Shin Garden (90)
    2126 Mabini St, Malate, Tel 521-90-66
    11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00

    Fong Ling (14)
    Plaza Ferguzon, Ermita, Tel 521-89-13
    6:30-22:30

    Red Lantern (32)
    472 Padre Faura St, Ermita, Tel 57-20-61
    7:00-24:00; in nightlife area

    Mrs. Wong (31)
    472 Padre Faura St, Ermita, Tel 59-93-95
    11:00-6:00; in nightlife area

    Kowloon House (48)
    1533 Mabini St, Ermita, Tel 59-51-89
    9:00-21:30

    MAKATI

    South Villa (153)
    Greenbelt, Esperanza St cor Makati Ave
    Tel 87-74-26; 10:00-14:00, 18:00-22:00 Aberdeen Court (104)
    7842 Makati Ave, Tel 817-21-35; 11:00-14:00, 18:00-22:00; ball rooms with capacity up to 1000 persons, 24 hr coffee shop

    China Pearl (110)
    Makati Ave, Tel 87-46-91; 10:00-22:00

    China City (131)
    Creekside Bldg, Amorsolo cor Javier Sts
    Tel 817-80-31; 11:00-15:00, 18:00-22:00
    Gr floor 15:00-18:00

    Jade Garden (155)
    Makati Commercial Center
    Tel 86-23-19, 85-04-09, 87-38-97, 87-71-13
    11:30-14:00, 18:00-22:00

    First class Chinese restaurant; while the cuisine in general is Cantonese (Hong Kong style), the real specialty of the house is Peking Duck. This dish, Peking Duck, is understood by many West-erners as the essence of classic Chinese cuisine - a matter of general education not just of dining experience. As Jade Garden is famous in the Philippines for the way it serves it's Peking Duck, it's probably the best place in the city to add the pleasure of eating Peking Duck to one's general education; the restaurant is also well suited for festive occasions, having 5 VIP rooms (three in Chinese design, one in Spanish and one in French design) and 6 function rooms. The total seating capacity is 520. The res-taurant is open every day of the year except Good Friday and Christmas Day.

    Luk Yuen Noodle House (145)
    Greenbelt Mall, Tel 87-69-82, 8:00-22:00
    In spite of its location in one of the most exclusive shopping malls of Makati a good value Chinese restaurant specializing in noodle dishes.

    Singya (154)
    Anson Arcade, Paseo de Roxas
    cor Pasay Rd, Tel 88-61-11
    10:30-14:00, 18:00-22:00

    Foo Yiu (167)
    924-B Pasay Rd, Tel 85-61-85; 11:00-22:00

    Chi Fong Lou (167)
    926 Pasay Rd, 11:00-14:00, 18:00-22:00

    Kowloon House (158)
    Makati Commercial Center, Pasay Rd
    Tel 86-10-03; 8:00-22:00

    BINONDO
    Pink Patio (200)

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Japanese Cuisine

    Japanese cuisine is to Asia what French cuisine is to Europe: the ultimate in elegance of food preparation. Traditionally French and Japanese cuisine otherwise do not have much in common. However, the French nouvelle cuisine had, knowingly or unknowingly, adopted quite a bit of the Japanese philosophy of food preparation, as for example the great importance put on the freshness of in-gredients and exercising restraint in cooking, or over cooking.

    Unique to Japanese cuisine is the large number of raw foods, chiefly raw fish (sashimi). Tuna (akami) is the main fish used for sashimi. The raw fish is eaten with soy sauce and a green horse-radish mustard (wasabe).

    Whereas the most peculiar way of serving fish is raw, the most peculiar preparation of shrimp and squid is to dip it in flour and then deep fry it. This way of preparation is called tempura. Vegetables are also commonly cooked tempura style.

    Meat plays less of a role in traditional Japanese cuisine than in any other cuisine of the world. Actually in classical Japan it was barely considered fit for human consumption and rarely eaten. But as Japan has hesitatingly let in outside influence, meat is more common now than in the past.

    The most famous Japanese meat is Kobe beef. Kobe is a city near Tokyo, but the term "Kobe beef" describes a manner of raising rather than the origin of the cattle. To raise beef in Kobe tradition means to pamper it, to administer massages to the living beef, and to feed it on an special diet including beer to keep the animal constantly relaxed and lazy. It thus is no surprise that Kobe beef is really expensive. A Kobe steak can easily cost a thousand pesos in not even a very exclusive restaurant. But not many restaurants have it on their menu.

    Steak anyway is not the most common Japanese cut of beef. More often it is thinly sliced in bite size and then lightly boiled and served with glass noodles, bean curd (tofu), and a lot of vegetables. The Japanese name of this dish is sukiyaki. Cooking sukiyaki requires so little effort that it is often done at the table and while eating. Pork and chicken on the contrary are often fried and spiced with ginger and sesame. Another common meat seasoning is teriyaki, a sweetened soy sauce.

    In Japanese dining order soups are not eaten before the main course but at the same time. Japanese cuisine has a number of fish soups; the most peculiar, however, is miso soup, made of dissolved soy bean paste. It is a side dish to many meals.

    In modern times, noodle soups have been popularized in Japan mainly because they are so readily available in instant packages. In the Philippines, too, groceries and supermarkets meanwhile sell many brands of instant noodle soup. Nissin Ramen is a brand originally from Japan (ramen being the Japanese word for noodles).

    As throughout East Asia, the staple food in Japan is rice (golan). However, there are some typical Japanese methods of preparation.

    Every Westerner thinks of rolls baked from wheat flour. But the Japanese make rolls from rice; not from rice flour but from cooked glutinous rice. This rice is wrapped in leaves and served cold, and just like a sandwich it has cold cuts and a spread with it. However, the cold cuts are not sausage or meat but seafood or fish, and the spread is not mayon-naise but Japanese horse-radish mustard, wasabe. This kind of rice sandwiches are called sushi, and they are mostly eaten as a kind of hors d'oeuvre.

    There are a number of preparations resembling those of neigh-boring countries. The Japanese also pickle vegetables like the Koreans but pickled vegetables (oshinko) are not as important to the Japanese table as are the kim-chi to the Koreans.

    The most typical Japanese dessert is chawan mushi, an egg custard cream.

    Japanese cuisine is cheap nowhere in the world. For fish to be eaten raw it must be very fresh. Transportation and storage therefore is much more an effort which increases the cost. By no means is eating Japanese in Japan cheap; Manila is probably the cheapest place for eating Japanese foods throughout the world.

    Unlike Japanese style entertainment spots, Japanese restaurants in Manila do not mainly cater to a Japanese clientele. Many Filipinos are fond of eating Japanese style, and a majority of the Japanese restaurants in Manila are not run by Japanese expatriates but by Filipinos.

    A good deal for eating Japanese are the lunch and dinner buffets of five star hotels. Commonly the buffets of five star hotels are dedicated to the cuisine of a dif-ferent nation every month, and usually once a year they are Japanese. Raw fish is not a very filling dish; therefore the por-tions that can be eaten of sashimi are much larger than those of a stew or of steaks.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Korean Cuisine

    In many aspects Korean cuisine is a combination of Japanese and Chinese techniques in preparing food. If compared to Japanese cuisine, it relies less on fish and seafood; if compared to Chinese, it relies less on oil.

    The staple food of course is rice (in Korean: bap). Rice noodles (in Korean: chapche) and bean curd (in Korean: duboo) are common starch substitutes or additions.

    Korean foods tend to be spicier than either Japanese or Chinese dishes. The hotness comes chiefly from chili. Other common spices are sesame and ginger.

    Most peculiar about Korean cuisine, however, is its way of pickling instead of cooking vegetables. Pickled vegetables in Korean is kimchi, a term anyone visiting Korean restaurants will learn fast. Literally kimchi is just the word for vegetables; but pickling is so predominant that even for the Koreans, kimchi also means pickled vegetables and they only specify the preparation if it is other than pickled.

    Koreans are likely to eat pickled vegetables every day of the year, commonly for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the cold Korean winter kimchi can last for many months. However, in the tropical Philippine climate kimchi should be and is prepared at the most two days before consumption. The pickling process takes about 12 to 14 hours. Almost all available vegetables can be pickled but the most common in Korea are cabbage, turnip, and cucumber. The seasoning is chili, garlic, onion, ginger, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and salt.

    During the fermenting process the vegetables loose much of their natural flavor and instead adopt the flavor of the seasoning. The difference in texture, however, is enhanced.

    Even as kimchi is most peculiar to Korean cuisine, it's rather the Korean habit of preparing meat as barbecue (in Korean: bulgogi) that makes Korean cuisine particularly appealing to Filipinos.

    As the Koreans use chopsticks meats are chopped into bite size before being cooked. And like in Chinese dining, dishes (except rice) are served family style with food placed in the middle of the table where every diner picks a piece of this or that.

    The Koreans pay particular attention to the arrangement of the food on the plates and the dishes on the table. Foods are supposed to be placed neatly in concentric circles or parallel linear columns and never in a disorderly fashion. But that's not enough. Also the colors of the foods should alter-nate in a regular manner.

    Where to eat:

  • Korean Cuisine / Restaurants
  • TOURIST BELT

    Seoul Garden (87)
    Aloha Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-90-61
    10:00-14:00, 17:30-22:00

    Korean Village (75)
    1783 Adriatico St, Malate, Tel 50-49-58
    11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00, no lunch on Sun

    Korean Palace (74)
    1790 Adriatico St cor Remedios St, Malate
    Tel 521-66-95; 11:00-14:00, 17:00-2:00

    Seoul Plaza (63)
    1717 Adriatico St, Malate, Tel 521-58-55
    9:00-24:00

    New Korean Restaurant (78)
    2000 Mabini St, Malate, Tel 50-71-21
    11:30-14:30, 17:30-22:30

    MAKATI

    Bulgogi House (176)
    808 Pasay Rd, Tel 87-77-68
    11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00

    Korean Garden (114)
    5050 Burgos St, Tel 87-54-43
    11:30-14:30, 17:30-22:30

    Galilee (135)
    2280 Pasong Tamo; 17:30-22:30
    also Japanese dishes

    Mongolian & Korean Barbecue (131)
    Creekside Bldg, Amorsolo St
    Tel 817-26-77; 11:00-14:30, 18:00-22:00

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Thai cuisine

    Thai cuisine reflects the geographic location of Thailand. Having China on the north, In-donesia and Malaysia on the South, and India on the West, it contains elements of all these regional cuisines. Reminiscent of the Chinese cuisine is the impor-tance of soups and noodles in Thai cooking; Indian and Indonesian influence is felt in the curry dishes; with Indonesia, Thailand shares peanut sauce.

    When describing Thai cuisine in English, one first encounters a technical problem. Like China and Japan, Thailand has its own script. But as Thailand is of less importance internationally, there is no standard transliteration into Roman letters. As a result there appears to be a lot of divergence in the menus of Thai restaurants even if they serve the same dishes. To give just one example: wide flat rice noodles (practically the same as the Chinese Ho Fan) are listed in Thai restaurants in Metro Manila as Gwaytio and also as Kui Tiao; spring rolls appear on Thai menus as Porpia or Popiah.

    But not only the transliteration causes a problem when classifying Thai dishes; the system of how dishes are named in Thailand doesn't make the job an easy one. While in Western cuisine many dishes have proper names such as "Wiener Schnitzel" or "Lobster a la Thermidor", dishes are named in Thai rather in a generic manner - as a sequence of the words for the ingredients used. And that leaves some leeway for individual name creations. Sauted broccoli with beef and oyster sauce, for ex-ample, is listed on Thai menus in Manila as Pad Kanar Nua Nam Man Hoi or as Neau Naman Hoi.

    The dishes in Thai restaurants are more similar to each other than the transliteration of Thai into Roman letters used in the restaurants. And Thai dishes are so unique in the world that it is always easy to classify them correctly even in blind tests. The uniqueness of Thai cuisine comes primarily from the predominant spice combination which is sour and hot - a combination hardly found in any other cuisine of the world.

    The sour and hot combination results from two ingredients frequently used in the preparation of Thai food: lemon grass for the mild sour taste, and curry paste or chili for the hotness. The most famous hot and sour Thai dish is Tom Yum Goong, a shrimp soup with a resemblance to the Philippine Sinigang (which, however, gets its sourness not from lemon grass but from tamarind). In Thailand herself Tom Yam soup accompanies most meals.

    Soups anyway occupy an important position in Thai cuisine - a fea-ture it shares with Chinese cuisine. Actually, cheap Thai meals often consist mostly of a soup, prepared in Bangkok and other Thai cities in countless street kitchens. Taken as a meal in itself, however, one doesn't choose a Tom Yam soup but rather a noodle soup.

    Similar to Chinese cuisine, the soups are classified according to the different kinds of noodles they contain. Rice noodles are more common in Thai cuisine than wheat and egg noodles. Rice noodles are Guitiau (for other spellings, see above), wheat/egg noodles are Bamee.

    Noodle soups, however, are not as predominant on the menus of Thai restaurants in the Philip-pines as they are in Thailand herself. The reason: Thai cuisine is something fairly exclusive in the Philippines and the Thai restaurants here therefore rather concentrate on the more elaborate Thai dishes. The market for cheap noodle soup meals in the Philippines is firmly in the hands of Chinese restaurateurs with their Mami and Ho Fan soups.

    Accordingly, while ordinary Thai cuisine uses a strong fish sauce, Nam Pla, in almost all meals, the Thai restaurants in Metro Manila use the finer oyster sauce instead.

    Resembling Indonesian and Indian cuisine are the curry dishes. Rather than curry powder, Thai cuisine uses a curry paste. As there is a great difference in taste between freshly mixed curry mixtures and pre-prepared ones, the Thai restaurants in the Philippines commonly prepare their curry mixtures themselves. The basic spice, of course, is coriander.

    Thai cuisine considers the eye appeal of dishes as much more im-portant than do most cuisines of the world. Parts of dishes are of-ten nicely arranged, and attention is but to the colors of the foods as well. It's therefore no surprise that Thai cuisine class-ifies its curries (Kaeng) according to the color: yellow curry, green curry, red curry. In very fine Thai cuisine cucumbers or carrots are sculptured before being served.

    A common use of meats in Thai cuisine is in salads. The best known is the beef salad. Meat salads are also often spiced in a hot/sour combination with chili and lemon grass.

    Where to eat:

  • Thai cuisine / Restaurants
  • Reun Thai
    188 Rodriguez Jr Ave, Libis, Quezon City
    Tel 721-39-55; 11:30-23:30
    The most exclusive Thai restaurant in the metropolis, away from the hustle and bustle of Makati and Greenhills; it boasts of a very extensive menu, and the cuisine is authentic. The gourmet finds delight in the subtle blend of fresh herbs and Thai spices. Easy to reach from the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Ave; the drive is worth its while; reservations sug-gested (for location please see ad)

    The Thai Room (131)
    Creekside Bldg, Mezzanine floor
    Amorsolo St, Makati, Tel 818-61-33
    11:00-15:00, 18:00-22:00, closed on Sun probably the best established Thai restaurant in Metro Manila; they expressively state on their menu that they do not use monosodium glutamate (in Filipino: bitsin) which traditionally is used in large amounts in Thai cuisine; it has been suspected of adversely affecting health

    Sukhothai (105)
    J&M Bldg, 7848 Makati Ave, Makati
    Tel 816-37-49; 11:00-14:00, 17:00-22:00 closed on Sun; fairly new but al-ready popular; reservations recommended; they also serve Sate, an Malaysian inspired dish of small pieces of beef or chicken on a skewer, with a peanut sauce poured over; one may specify upon ordering whether one likes a dish mild, medium, or hot

    Sala Thai
    866 Nakpil St, Malate; Tel 522-46-94
    521-66-83; 10:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00
    This restaurant near Philippine Women's University started as a canteen for Thai students but now is frequented rather by international businessmen who have come to love Thai cuisine; however it still has some low priced Thai dishes that even students can afford; the place is renowned for its desserts of sticky rice with fruit.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Vietnamese Cuisine

    Vietnamese cuisine is a unique combination of Asian and French cooking. Of Asian origin is the importance of vegetables in the daily diet, and the habit of chop-ping up food before preparation. Accordingly chopsticks are used at the table.

    French, for example, is the base of most Vietnamese soups, actually a consomme. Also French are many terms in cooking. The most common spice, lemon grass, is referred to in Vietnam as citronelle; and an indigenous paste of mashed shrimp, black pepper, and coriander is called pate.

    Aside from the French influence in cooking Vietnam has a tradition of purely French dining. Before the US-Vietnamese war and the communist take-over there was a large number of French restaurants in Vietnam, particularly in Saigon.

    However, Vietnamese cuisine dif-fers in one aspect from French cuisine: it uses hardly any oil. But it also doesn't boil most of the foods; the most common preparation is to stir-fry.

    Meats are less important in Vietnamese cuisine than are fish and particularly seafood. There is an immense abundance of shrimp in Vietnam. Among meats the Vietnamese prefer beef over pork be-cause pork is often too fatty for their taste.

    It was mentioned that the Vietnamese use a soup base similar to the French consomme. However, in Vietnamese cuisine noodles are of-ten added to the soup. The resulting "noodle consomme" is called Pho Bo.

    The Vietnamese also eat curries but they are less spicy than In-dian or Thai curries. Vietnamese curries get their taste mainly from coriander, and chili is used in very small quantities.

    Spring rolls seem to be an adop-tion from Chinese cuisine. However, much in contrast to the Chinese habit of deep frying spring rolls, they are prepared largely without fat in the Vietnamese variation, named Cha Gio.

    In common with most South East Asian cuisines the Vietnamese have a very tasty fish sauce (Nouc Mam). It is added to many dishes and also used as a salad dressing.

    Where to eat:

  • Vietnamese Cuisine / Restaurants
  • Ville De Saigon (174)
    816 Pasay Rd, Makati, Tel 85-55-48
    11:30-14:30, 17:30-23:30

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / West Asian Cuisine

    There is not much West Asian food available in Metro Manila. The whole region from India to Turkey is therefore covered in one section of our dining guide in spite of existing variations.

    West Asia is the globe's corner of forbidden foods. Based on medieval religious perceptions, the Moslems don't eat pork because they consider it dirty, and the Hindus don't eat beef because they believe that cows are sacred.

    Particularly India could be a showcase on the beneficial effects of enlightenment; she notoriously has a problem of malnutrition and anti-religious enlightenment could be part of a relief to it if the populace could be convinced that there's nothing wrong with eating beef.

    Largely because of religious prohibitions lamb and mutton are the most common meats in all of West Asia. However, there is a definite distinction in the preparation which does not depend on different religions but on whether coconuts are grown in a region or not. The Arabian and Iranian world does not grow coconuts, and the cuisine there seems to lack sauces. A typical Arabian dish is meat grilled on a skewer called Shish Kebab.

    On the Indian sub-continent on the contrary where coconuts are grown, meat is mostly elaborately prepared in thick sauces based on coconut milk.

    Actually in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, dishes are named accord-ing to the manner of spicing the sauce. The most common is curry. In Indian and Pakistani terminol-ogy, curry is not a spice but a dish. And depending on the meat used in the dish one has mutton curry, chicken curry, fish curry, or shrimp curry. Vegetable curries are also common in Indian cooking.

    The spices of a curry are a mixture of around ten seeds or roots. The dominant spice in all curries is coriander seeds that have a flowerish, slightly sweet taste. Coriander makes about a third to one-half of the spices used. Other generally used ingredients are tumeric, a reddish kind of ginger, ordinary ginger, and cumin seeds which look like and resemble caraway in taste. Mustard seeds and poppy seeds are part of some curry mixtures.

    Curries do not have to be hot. The degree of hotness depends solely on the amount of chili that is added. In Indian street cuisine, the amount is enormous, so enormous that it is, for ex-ample, impossible to determine whether the curry dish is served warm or cold, so enormous that a Westerner can merely dip bread or rice in the sauce.

    Coriander and cumin, once crushed, do not maintain their flavor for long, particularly when exposed to light. Therefore, a fresh curry powder mixture tastes different from (and much better than) any of these readily available mixtures of McCormick etc, which all are of minor quality to a true gourmet.

    Another common sauce in Indian cuisine is Garam Masala. The preparation of Garam Masala is very similar to the preparation of curries, and it includes many of the same spices. However, coriander is not predominant, and it includes cardamon. Cardamon is a very strong spice with a taste reminiscent of fragrant woods; it strongly overlays all other spices used in this mixture and it also gives the sauce a grey-brown appearance. Cardamon, by the way, is one of the more expensive

    spices but it is not half as expensive as saffron. A common Indian vegetable are lentils. They are often pureed and served as a spiced pulp, named dahl.

    Overseas Indian and Pakistani cuisine always tends to use less chili, but curry dishes still are generally hotter than any Western cuisine.

    Except for the West Asian res-taurants listed below, the tourist belt has a number of cheap, simple Arabic food stalls which cater mostly to Middle Eastern people living in the area; these food stalls have the sanitary standard of street kitchens and are not recommended to the health con-cerned traveler. Furthermore there are a number of nightclubs oriented to Middle Eastern enter-tainment taste; they generally also offer some Middle Eastern short orders, commonly at high price but low quality.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Italian Cuisine

    Italian cuisine has become very popular in the Philippines in recent years. It's in accord with a worldwide trend, and so it's no surprise. Among all fine cuisines of the world the Italian is the one that appeals to the largest number of people. French es-cargots, Spanish tripe, German sauerkraut, and Japanese raw fish are a matter of taste. Not everyone appreciates these delicacies. But hardly anyone would vehe-mently object to an offer of a plate of well prepared Spaghetti Bolognese or a pizza.

    And there is one more aspect which con-tributes to the popularity of Italian cuisine: among all fine cuisines the Italian is likely to be the most affordable.

    The first associations almost everyone in the world has with Italian cuisine are noodles and pizza. In both cases, it's somehow a misconception. In the case of noodles the misconception is that they are originally Italian. They indeed are an in-tegral part of Italian cooking but they weren't invented by the Italians but adopted from Chinese cuisine and introduced to Italy only by Marco Polo (1254-1324) of Venice who lived in China from 1275 to 1292.

    As far as pizza is concerned: this dish is much less important to Italian cuisine in Italy than to Italian cuisine overseas; ac-tually, pizza was developed into a full meal only in the US and Northern Europe; for the Italians, it's rather a evening snack. Particularly many Americans wouldn't like the original Italian pizza which primarily consists of a bread crust and has only few toppings.

    Because pizzas are prepared best in big, preheated ovens, it is always advisable to eat pizzas in restaurants that specialize in pizzas. Not only do they have a larger selection of different toppings but waiting time is also considerably shorter.

    More on noodles: particularly American English has adopted the Italian term pasta for noodle dishes of Italian origin. However, in Italian pasta just means dough whereas the Italian term for noodle dishes is minestre.

    There are many kinds of noodles in Italian cuisine, and they vary in color and shape. Yellow noodles are made of a mixture of flour with eggs, green (verdi) noodles with spinach, and red (rossi) noodles with car-rots or beets. The weight watcher may be interested in knowing that noodles made with spinach and carrots have fewer calories.

    There is a wider variety in shapes than there is in colors. Aside from spaghetti and macaroni there are fettuccine (flat and wide), tagiatelle (also flat and even wider than fettuccine), penne (short tubular), rigate (also short tubular), vermicelli (thin and short), capellini (thin long spaghetti), anelli (rings), spirali (corkscrew shaped noodles), fusilli (a wavy round spaghetti), ravioli (envelopes of dough with meat inside), cannelloni (tubular noodles with a filling of meat and spinach), etc.

    The curious reader and gourmet may question what the advantage is of all these dif-ferent shapes, and in how far they vary in taste. An honest answer is that if they do not have a filling, all these different kinds of noodles do not taste differently - it's always the same dough (except in the case of spinach or carrot and beet noodles). The gain is just in eye appeal and for the playful Italian temper. Why should noodles look the same every day if they can look different ?

    The most common Italian noodles of course are spaghetti. As a dish they are prepared in many different ways. The most well-known way is as Bolognese (with a sauce of minced meat and tomatoes). Another popular way is carbonara (with beaten egg, cream, and small slices of bacon). They may also come al frutti di mare (with seafood in a tomato sauce), alla vongole (with clams), or al formaggi (with a light cheese sauce, made of milk and commonly up to four different cheeses). There are many more variations in the preparation of spaghetti, and many chefs have their own recipes. And of course all the spaghetti recipes apply to all the other differently shaped noodles as well - there are no such rules as that macaroni originally have to be prepared with cheese sauce, and fettuccine with seafood.

    A unique Italian noodle dish is lasagne. These are wide stripes of pasta baked with a sauce of tomato, cheese, and meat. In Italian cuisine, noodles are normally not a meal by themselves. In the order of a fine dinner, they are served in between the hors d'oeuvre and the main course. Because hors d'oeuvres come before the pasta dishes, the Italian name for hors d'oeuvre is antipasta, literally meaning nothing but "what comes before the pasta".

    There is a wide variety of antipasta; but there are also two types of standard mixed plates of antipasta, the ordinary one that includes cold cuts, salami and slightly marinated vegetables in olive oil and vinegar, and the antipasta di mare that mainly consists of cold seafood with a few vegetables added.

    Beyond these appetizers Italian cuisine is rich in exclusive hors d'oeuvres. Among them are many kinds of thinly sliced meats, often served in a marinate containing olive oil. The most famous of these thinly sliced meat dishes are Parma ham and Carpaccio.

    Parma ham is an air dried ham originating in the region around the Northern Italian city of Parma. It's much milder in taste than most kinds of ham, and therefore it's suited to be eaten without bread. Actually, Parma ham is most commonly served with fruit - in Europe with melon, in the Philippines also with mango. For those who want to become experts in matters of Parma ham: the best is said to come from the town of San Daniele.

    Carpaccio are thin slices of rare beef ten-derloin marinated in olive oil, salt, pep-per, and Parmesan cheese. This dish is so popular in Philippine first class restaurants that it almost can be considered a fashion food here. In Italy, carpaccio is less prevalent as an hors d'oeuvre than one gets the impression from Philippine menus.

    Soup and salad are served after the antipasta but before the main course. They may come before or after the noodle dish. The most typical Italian soup is minestrone. It's an unthickened soup with plenty of vegetables and noodles, mostly macaroni.

    Salads are served with an Italian dressing, consisting of oil, vinegar, and herbs. Insalata cabrese is a tomato salad topped with Mozarella cheese.

    Italian main courses are generally meats. Among the meats, veal (vitello) is the most popular, followed by beef (bue), pork (maiale), chicken (pollo), and lamb (agnello). Meats are often spiced with two herbs with a strong flavor, rosemary and basil. A number of meat dishes use wine.

    Where to eat:

  • Italian Cuisine / Restaurants
  • TOURIST BELT

    Capriccio (91)
    Silahis Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 57-38-11
    Mon-Sat 11:30-14:30, 18:30-23:00
    Sun, hol 18:30-23:00
    the finest Italian restaurant in the tourist belt; Mon-Fri at lunch time good value Italian buffet 160 P ++; dinner a la carte; very elaborate menu, includes Carpaccio in two styles (with walnut oil or truffles and parmesan cheese); several pasta dishes also with truffles; shell dishes with saffron sauce; delicious Italian cheeses such as Gorgonzola; they also serve artichokes, a fine vegetable typical of Italian cuisine

    La Taverna (52)
    Adriatico St, Tel 521-36-42, 521-37-22
    12:30-14:30, 18:30-24:30, Sun no lunch
    La Taverna makes its own pasta (among them green spaghetti) and bakes its own very tasty bread; reservations for dinner recommended because the restaurant is very popular

    Cafe Vienna (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-79-61
    6:00-2:00; Italian dinner buffet Fr 18:00-22:00, 175 P ++; desserts and coffee or tea included

    Alda's Pizza Kitchen
    1313 Adriatico St; Mon-Thu 11:00-24:00
    Fri, Sat 11:00-2:00; Sun, hol 15:00-24:00
    great variety of sumptuous pizzas at very reasonable prices; among them unique crea-tions such as Peking Duck Pizza; but not only pizzas, for lunch and dinner complete line of meals; good selection of pasta and salads; bar with international drinks; cozy ambience; very clean place

    Prego (72)
    Rotary Circle, Malate, Tel 521-66-82
    Mon-Thu 11:00-24:00; Fri, Sat 11:00-2:00
    closed on Sun; kind of ice-cream parlor; fashionable disco (Limelight) and dance club (Tito's) upstairs

    MAKATI
    La Primavera (144)
    Legazpi St; Tel 818-19-42, 818-19-45
    11:30-22:30, closed on Sun
    fresh bread and fresh pasta prepared twice a day (for lunch and dinner); this res-taurant even grows its own herbs from seeds imported from Europe; lunch salad buffet for 128 P ++; includes many Italian antipasti, 10 to 15 pasta dishes and even desserts; considering that one can eat as much as one wishes, this Italian buffet is excellent value; from 15:00-18:30 snacks, including sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / French Cuisine

    French cuisine has internationally set the standards for fine dining. There is no regional Western cuisine that has not adopted a number of French ways of prepar-ing food and the terminology to go with it, and the finer the dining the more.

    Accordingly, even as there is only a small number of purely French restaurants in Metro Manila, French cuisine is very well represented. Practically all the first class restaurants in the Philippine capital, be they Spanish, Italian, German, seafood, or grill restaurants, offer a number of French dishes. And what in English English is referred to as continental food (as Great Britain for centuries didn't con-sider itself part of the European continent but a separate group of islands), is dominated by French cooking.

    The French have a different approach to dining than do all other people. They dine out not just to enjoy good food but also as matters of adventure and education. Understanding how these two aspects are inter-woven is instrumental to understanding the French.

    If one sees dining out as an adventure, it's clear that newness is a quality in itself. The French are always on a search for the last frontiers of contemporary cooking and dining. Accordingly nowhere in the world there are as many people going to first class restaurants just for curiosity as in France. And because newness is a quality in itself, it's no surprise that the French create designations for cuisine in the style of nouvelle cuisine. We should not be surprised if we came across terms like "post modern cooking" or "21st century cuisine" or "new wave" or "new age" food preparation. French cuisine is like French bread; it's stale tomorrow. And nouvelle cuisine which a few years ago was the latest in fine cooking, went out of fashion in France before it gained acceptance by the wider public abroad.

    Besides the aspect of adventure, there is the aspect of dining out as a matter of education. In French public opinion the worst among the low-brows are not those who have failed to read certain books or view certain pieces of art but those who don't know enough about fine cuisine. Never mind if one cannot converse on the latest trends in literature, painting, or music, as long as one accepts every challenge for a small talk or a long discourse on the latest dis-coveries from the hearth. And public opinion excuses rather the man who doesn't care for his clothes than another who doesn't care for what he eats. To be in-formed on eating is a matter of general education, and accordingly dining out is like going to (pleasant) classes. One takes the right textbooks in the disguise of dining volumes such as the Michelin Guide.

    Except for nouvelle cuisine, the sauces are considered the essence of French cuisine. They bring the characteristic taste to a specific dish. French sauces in general are more elegant in taste than sauces in the rest of the world. They normally owe their elegance to essential two ingredients: cream and wine. Other common ingredients are a meat or fish stock, butter, flour, tomatoes, carrots, onions, bacon, thyme, and bay leaf.

    The crudest classifications of French sauces are: fish sauces and meat sauces; butter sauces, white sauces, and brown sauces.

    Butter sauces are for example Hollandaise and Bernaise. Hollandaise sauce is made mainly with eggs; Bernaise is based on Hollandaise but gets its particular taste from the addition of tarragon. Bechamel is the basic white sauce; it always includes milk and often also cheese.

    The basic brown sauce is demi-glace. It comes in very many variations depending on what meat it is to accompany.

    In French cuisine a much wider range of meats is used than in all other European cuisines. This includes other poultry such as duck, goose, and turkey, lamb (but not as much as in Great Britain), and a lot of game like hare, wild boar, roe, but also domesticated rabbit. As all these less common meats are hard to get or at least very costly in the Philippines they are under-represented in the French cuisine as it is found here.

    Fish and seafood are less important to French cuisine than to her Spanish and Italian counterparts. However, French cuisine has developed one of the most famous fish recipes in the world - bouillabaisse. Actually, the recipe for this French fish soup is amazingly simple. It just takes a strong fish stock (extracted from fish bones by boiling them), a variety of different fish cut into pieces, some tomatoes and onions, and a few herbs. It's characteristic bright red-yellow color and its particularly flowery taste comes from saffron. Saffron, by far the most expensive spice in the world, originated in Asia but is widely produced in Southern France. It is extracted from the blossoms of the crocus flower, and it takes hundreds of flowers to produce a single gram of saffron (price per gram 5 to 10 dollars). To spice the bouillabaisse is the main use of saffron in French cuisine today.

    A very original seafood recipe is the one for lobster a la Thermidore. If a lobster is prepared this way the meat is first removed, mixed with a cheese sauce, and then put back into the lobster.

    French cuisine is famous for its dining order, dividing a meal into five to ten courses, with long breaks between the courses. Eating the French way takes time. A comparatively ordinary and cheap meal in a restaurant in France will easily take two hours, and a luxurious dinner occupies a whole evening.

    A standard fine dinner starts with a cold hors d'oeuvre (an appetizer dish). Most commonly, this is charcuterie (sausage in plain but insufficient English). A French hors d'oeuvre that is surprisingly available in Manila is escargots de Bourguignonne (snails cooked in burgundy wine and herb butter).

    The appetizer is followed by a soup, most probably a consomme, a broth of beef that is cooked with many ingredients which are removed before serving. If later some vegetables are added, it's called a soup julienne. A double consomme uses a double amount of beef; bone marrow is sometimes added.

    The famous thick French onion soup is seldom served as part of a menu but rather for a small meal in between as it would be too filling as part of the dinner.

    Instead of soup a fish dish or a souffle may be served. A souffle consists mainly of air. What is served in a very large bowl is a normal portion of spinach or cheese with beaten egg white leavened underneath.

    What follows in the dining order appears rather strange to the non-French: it's an entremet, a sweet dish before the main course of meat. However, there is a fairly strict limitation of what this sweet dish is allowed to be. Sorbetes, mild fruit ice creams and variations thereof only are permitted.

    Instead of sorbetes a salad may be served. The most typical French dressing, of course, is French dressing, prepared with egg and various spices. Salad Nicoise (named after the city of Nice on the Mediterranean coast, actually is more Italian than French in style. It contains lettuce, tomatoes, olives, tuna, and an-chovies, and it is dressed with vinegar and olive oil, the basis of Italian dressing.

    At the same time as the main dish of meat, but not on the same plate, a side dish of vegetables is served. Vegetables usually have butter melted over them.

    After allowing some time for the main course to settle, the dessert is served. The most typical French desserts are mousse and crepes. Like a souffle, a mousse has a flair with air, resulting from beaten egg white worked into a chocolate or fruit creme.

    Where to eat:

  • French Cuisine / Restaurants
  • Chateau 1771 (76)
    1771 Adriatico St, Tel 50-85-06, 58-54-89
    Mon-Wed 11:00-1:30, Thu-Sat 11:00-3:00
    Sun 17:00-24:00; elegant bistro and res-taurant with a beautiful garden; very nice old world ambience; excellent Ceasar's Salad; several unusual dishes such as 'Tripe a la mode de Caen' (veal tripe stewed in apple cider) or 'Crevettes geantes aux lait de coco et safran' (king prawns poached in coconut milk and flavored with saffron); delicious desserts and after dinner snacks such as 'Churros con Chocolate' (deep fried English style biscuits dipped at the table by the guest himself in melted chocolate), peach crepe and Coup Danemark (vanilla ice cream with orange syrup); amazing selection of coffee - from 'Macadamia' (a brew of coffee and ground Macadamia nuts, with an exotic sweet-bitter taste) to 'Ristretto' (a kind of espresso, but more concentrated and slightly more bitter); for a French res-taurant reasonable prices

    VIP Grille Room (91)
    Silahis Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 57-38-11
    19:30-2:00; closed on Sun
    at the Playboy Club on the Silahis premises; service by "bunnies"; exclusive menu with many dishes including such su-perb items as truffles, caviar, duck liver, lime cream and champagne butter sauce; aside from French dishes: US steaks and New Zealand lamb chops

    La Fayette (38)
    1322 Del Pilar St, Ermita, Tel 59-73-58
    12:00-14:00, 18:00-24:00; the French restaurant of the Guernica's chain (and this information alone already is a seal of excellence); elegant little restaurant with a very pleasant and French atmosphere; the author loves their souffles or shrimp in cheese sauce as a first course and their Coq au Vin for a main dish; adequate selection of French wines

    L'Eau Vive en Asie
    1499 Paz Mendoza Guanzon, Paco
    Tel 57-56-16; 12:00-14:00, 19:00-22:00
    A unique French restaurant, managed by French nuns; excellent cuisine and moderate prices; among the regular guests is his excellency, Jaime Cardinal Sin

    MAKATI

    La Coupole (145)
    Greenbelt Mall, Legaspi St
    Tel 87-34-56, 817-83-47; daily 11:00-1:00
    Seating capacity 140; the name 'La Coupole', in English 'dome', refers to a decorative structure in the center of the restaurant which has a beautiful temple-like ppearance; elegant ambience but very affordable prices; piped-in French music; air-conditioned even during power failures; daily specials for lunch at only 120 pesos; food is prepared by two French cooks; menu presented both in French and English; among the specialties are 'Terrine de Poissons' (fish pate), 'Terrine de Legumes' (vegetable pate), 'Soupe de Poissons' (fish soup with garlic sauce), 'Emince aux Poivres' (sliced beef in black and white pepper sauce), 'Volaille Chasseur' (chicken, vegetables, mushrooms in sauce); fresh baked French bread; for des-serts and meriendas mouth-watering cakes and pastries; drinks at the bar include aperitifs such as Pernod as well as champagne; red and white wines; sufficient parking space, easily accessible by public transportation

    Truffles (142)
    Delton Arcade, Greenbelt Park, Legaspi St
    Tel 815-27-77; 11:00-23:00; closed on Sun
    They offer a feast for the taste senses - with a number of dishes containing one of the gourmets' most prized delicacies: truffles; but dishes with truffles are not the only tempting creations of chef Billy King; tables set with the finest china ware, crystal, and cutlery, upon raven-black linen; cozy inte-riors done in elegant ebony and burgundy; complete wine list, semi-formal attire adequate; major credit cards honored

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / German, Swiss & Austrian Cuisine

    No cuisine of the world relies as heavily on pork as the main meat as does German cuisine. And the Philippines is an excel-lent country to eat German food, not only because a number of German restaurateurs have settled here but also because the quality of pork in the Philippines is bet-ter than in Germany. The reason for this funny coincidence, according to one of the German restaurateurs here in Manila: in the Philippines pig raising is by far not as industrialized as it is in Germany.

    In Germany pork is produced in pig raising factories where the animals are fed exactly according to a scientifically calculated diet plan aimed at producing the most meat with the smallest possible input of food. To achieve this goal a large number of pharmaceuticals are added to the feeds and the animals are not given the chance to move around much as this would only needlessly burn off calories.

    It is true that these hog factories produce a lot of meat efficiently; but it is also true that the meat is less tasty than the kind produced in the Philippines with more natural methods. Therefore it's no surprise that one finds better Koteletts (pork chops) in the German restaurants in the Philippines than in Germany.

    In Germany like anywhere in the world the most ordinary way of preparing pork (in German: Schwein) is as Koteletts (chops); but this is not the most typical German way. More characteristic of German cuisine is Schweinebraten (pork roasted in the oven for one to two hours). Pig knuckles are roasted in the same manner, particularly in the Southern part of Germany. If correctly prepared, the skin is deliciously crisp. The secret lies in carefully brushing the skin with the knuckles' own fat every ten minutes. Typical for Northern Germany is another preparation of pig knuckles. There the knuckles are salted and marinated in a spice mixture that contains vinegar and then cooked in water. Knuckles prepared this way are called Eisbein. If prepared well Eisbein is very tender, even the thick skin, and it has a unique underlying dry taste.

    Eisbein is practically always accompanied by Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is cabbage, fermented with salt in its own juice and seasoned with a number of spices among which caraway (in German: Kuemmel) is predominant. Fermented, the cabbage is much more pleasant to digest as it no longer produces bad body odors as does raw cabbage. Fermented cabbage also doesn't have the unpleasant smell that is typical when raw cabbage is cooked.

    Sauerkraut is so uniquely German that Americans after World War II have turned the short version of the word Sauerkraut, Kraut, into a nickname for anything German. German soccer teams are referred to as Krauts in the US and Great Britain, and rock 'n roll produced in Germany was baptized kraut rock.

    German cuisine is famous the world over for its Wuerste (sausages). There is an amazing diversity. The most ordinary German sausage is Bockwurst made of fine ground meat and fat. It is commonly served boiled in thick German vegetable soups or grilled and topped with a lot of mustard. Other original German sausages include Muenchner Weisswuerste (white sausages that are boiled and served with a hearty, sweet mustard), Bratwuerste (white sausages for frying), and Nuernberger Schweinswuerste (small pork sausages, normally accompanied by Sauerkraut). There is also a large variety of cold cuts (Aufschnitt in German).

    Special kinds of sausages are blood and liver sausages (in German: Blut- und Leberwuerste). They are either produced to be eaten cold on bread just like Aufschnitt sausage; or, in a more original way, they are made to be eaten hot a few hours after slaughtering. Served with Sauerkraut, they taste incredibly good.

    It's not as bad as in Poland, but still, the Germans do eat a lot of potatoes. Actually, potatoes (in German: Kartoffeln) are not even considered vegetables in German cuisine but are rather seen as starch. There is a 80 % chance that a German meal will be accompanied by a rather big portion of potatoes. Normally they are just simply boiled and taste fairly neutral. To add their own taste to a meal is not really what the Germans want from potatoes. They are supposed to taste rather neutral as the particular taste of a meal comes rather from the meat and the sauce.

    German food is more hearty than Italian or French foods, and it tends to be very filling and satisfying. However, the Germans need fewer plates than the French and Italians. Vegetables, meat, and potatoes are not served separately but normally come on one big plate. It is common to have a soup in advance, and to serve a salad on a small plate with the main course.

    Even though no other country has such a wide variety of breads, bread is normally not served with a warm meal. It is German style to have a warm meal only for lunch and to eat bread and Aufschnitt sausage for supper and breakfast.

    The most hearty German cuisine is from the federal state of Bavaria. Munich probably has the highest density of butcher shops in all of Germany; one can be found in every other street. They not only function as retail stores but also as canteens. Almost all serve fresh hearty meat loaf (in German: Leberkaes). In Bavaria they eat a lot of Leberkaes for breakfast; and because beer goes so well with Leberkaes, the Germans, particularly in Bavaria, start drinking as early as breakfast.

    Meat loaf and a large number of German sausages are available in Manila of the same quality as in Germany. They are produced by a large Swiss meat factory in the Philippine capital, Euro-Swiss (7431 Yakal St, Makati, Tel 815-13-59), and by a number of small butcher shops operated by Germans and Austrians who have settled in the Philippines.

    More famous than German food is German beer. Munich is without doubt not only the beer capital of Germany but also the beer capital of the world. The city alone produces dozens of beers and the number was even larger at the beginning of the century when one brewery just served a few res-taurants and a small neighborhood.

    Many of the beers popular in Munich are quite different from those available throughout the world as for example the white beers (Weissbier). The main ingredient is wheat not barley, and the yeast is not filtered out but remains in the bottle and continues the fermenting process. Such beers are commonly not exported because they can only be stored for a very limited time.

    Munich is not only famous for the quality of its beers but also for the quantity consumed by the locals there. The regular glass for drinking beer in Munich, par-ticularly in the summer, holds no less than one liter. In the Munich beer gardens and at the Oktoberfest, if you don't want a liter the waitress will tell you to go home.

    The beers of Munich are comparatively light. Therefore they are not very typical for German beers in general. Beers from other parts of Germany are stronger and have a distinct bitter taste; compared to these beers most Asian brews seem sweet. The German beer most widely available in the Philippines is Jever distributed by Dale Starr (Tel 90-12-75). Dale Starr also imports two other German brands, Astra beer and Becks beer.

    Germany is so associated with beer that it is widely forgotten that she also produces fine wine. Gourmets are said to prefer the wines of Baden (a region in the Southwest of Germany, along the French border). The wine yards of Baden have a volcanic soil which produces a special taste. It's hard to describe the taste of a wine beyond saying that it is sweet or less sweet (in wine terminology: dry). But experts claim they can taste the lava in Baden wines.

    Swiss cuisine varies only little from Ger-man cuisine. It's less hearty but finer. Swiss cooking does not make as much use of innards for the production of sausages as does German cooking, and fermenting food is less common. In general, Swiss cuisine is a combination of German and French cuisine.

    Switzerland produces a great variety of cheeses, particularly hard cheeses; among them are Appenzeller and Emmenthaler. Em-menthaler is so typically Swiss that in Germany it is simply called Schweizerkaese (Swiss cheese). It is world famous less for the taste but for the large holes. Of course they are not carved but a result of gas from the fermenting process.

    Emmenthaler, Appenzeller, and other Swiss cheeses are imported to the Philippines by Euro-Swiss, the company that also makes most of the German sausages consumed in the archipelago. The Swiss cheeses are avail-able in the Swiss restaurants in Metro Manila and at the Saentis delicatessen shop, a sister company of Euro-Swiss, at 7431 Yakal St, Makati, Tel 815-13-59 and 86-26-47.

    Surprisingly European cheeses are not more expensive at Saentis than they are in Europe. The reason: most European countries heavily subsidize the exportation of milk products.

    Whereas a large number of Swiss meat dishes are much the same as German meat dishes, the cheese dishes are really unique. Among them is cheese fondue, made of melted cheese to which white wine and spirits are added. Bread cubes are dipped into the melted cheese on long forks.

    Cheese fondue is a complicated dish seldom eaten at home, even in Switzerland, but mostly at restaurants. Not only does its preparation require special know how and care; also needed is a unique table set. The cheese must be kept warm during the whole dinner, and therefore a special pot is used with a small alcohol flame under-neath.

    The melted cheese must have a creamy tex-ture and completely bind the wine. The standard cheeses used are Emmenthaler and Gruyere. While Emmenthaler is a fairly fat cheese, Gruyere is a hard cheese with low fat content. The Gruyere is needed to reduce the fat content of the mixture.

    Another unique Swiss cheese dish is Raclette. But actually Raclette is rather a way of eating than a way of cooking. To eat a cheese in Raclette style a loaf of cheese is held near a heater until the edge starts melting. Then the melted part is scraped onto a plate and then eaten with a garnish of mixed pickles, fried potatoes, and bread.

    Fondues are also made of meat, seafood, and even chocolate. For a meat fondue (Fondue Bourguignonne) cubes of beef tenderloin are served raw and then individually deep-fried by the guest in a pot of hot oil in the middle of the table. Like the cheese for the cheese fondue, the oil is kept hot by an alcohol flame under the pot. The deep-fried tenderloin cubes are eaten with a variety of sauces.

    For a seafood fondue, shrimp, clams, squid, and other seafood is deep-fried and eaten with various sauces in the same style.

    Chocolate fondue is handled like a cheese fondue. Either British style bisquits or cubes of fruits, in the Philippines preferably mango and pineapple, are dipped into melted chocolate.

    Fondues are a social matter. Hardly any dish is more suitable for festive occa-sions. In restaurants they are commonly served in orders for at least two guests.

    Austrian cuisine differs only a little from German cuisine. However, it has integrated some Eastern European, mainly Hungarian, cooking characterized by the use of much paprika (large green and red bell peppers) and the use of more beef than pork.

    It's a funny happenstance that many people think of Wiener Schnitzel (breaded cutlet) as an Austrian dish. First, it's not at all typical for Austrian cuisine because Wiener Schnitzel is normally served without sauce; but Austrian cooking is noted for heavy, delicious sauces. Second, a Wiener Schnitzel is supposed to be a veal cutlet; but veal cutlets are uncommon in Austrian (and German) cuisine; therefore, what is often served in German restaurants as a Wiener Schnitzel is actually a pork cutlet. And third, "Wiener Schnitzel" is a misnomer anyway because it originates not from the Austrian capital of Vienna (in German: Wien) but from the French city of Vienne. This explains why a so-called "Wiener Schnitzel" is so untypical for Austrian cuisine.

    "Wiener Schnitzel" is not the only gastronomic term with the Austrian capital in its name. Another such term is Wiener-wald (literally: forest of Vienna). This term does not refer to a dish but to an extremely popular chain of restaurants specializing in grilled chicken. The origin of this chain, however, was not in Vienna but in the German city of Munich. From there, the Wienerwald restaurants spread first throughout all of Germany, then Europe, and finally around the globe. There was even a Wienerwald restaurant in Makati. This restaurant still exists but as the Wienerwald chain encountered rough sailing at the beginning of the 80's, the former Wienerwald restaurant was renamed Schwarzwaelder (Black Forest man). The problems of the Wienerwald chain had noth-ing to do with the popularity of their food. The Wienerwald owner, Mr. Jahn, had ventured unsuccessfully in the travel busi-ness.

    The speciality of the Wienerwald chain has always been grilled chicken (Hend'l in Bavarian dialect). Schwarzwaelder at the edge of Greenbelt Park still serves them in exactly the way they were served when the restaurant was still called "Wienerwald".

    Where to eat:

  • German, Swiss & Austrian Cuisine
  • Old Heidelberg (47)
    494 Soldado St, Ermita, Tel 521-18-23
    8:30-2:00; very German atmosphere with German music; the German husband of the Filipina owner comes from Heidelberg; the restaurant is nicely decorated with so many Rizal memorabilia that it's almost a small museum; Rizal lived, studied, and wrote in Heidelberg and he is not only the Philippine national hero but also a local hero of Heidelberg; it is no surprise therefore that the German husband of the Filipina owner of this restaurant is also an active member of the "Knights of Rizal"; the author recommends eating a la carte but there are also daily set menus; good selection of wines from Baden; nice veranda to sit outside, espe-cially in the months of November to February (cool season in the Philippines)

    Cafe Vienna (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-79-61
    6:00-2:00
    Swiss dinner buffet Mo 18:00-22:00 (with Raclette); Bavarian dinner buffet Th 18:00-22:00 (many kinds of sausages); each 175 P ++; desserts and coffee or tea in-cluded

    Edelweiss (36)
    1335 Del Pilar St, Ermita, Tel 522-39-55
    10:00-2:00; downstairs pub, upstairs restaurant; best established German pub and restaurant in the tourist belt; set lunch for 55 pesos; also good value speciality dinner; popular Goulash (beef) soup; excellent grilled pig knuckles; many German newspapers and magazines

    Muenchen Grill Pub (33)
    Mabini St cor Padre Faura St, Ermita
    8:00-24:00; newly opened; offers Bavarian specialities like grilled pig knuckles (Schweinshax'n), meat loaf (Fleischkaes'), German beer; Wednesdays and Fridays 19:00-22:00 grilled imported beef and lamb; same management as "Edelweiss"; set lunch 55 pesos

    Swiss Bistro (47)
    494 Soldado St, Ermita, Tel 521-95-52
    11:00-3:00; new Swiss pub, serves imported Swiss cheese and air-dried beef; nice small veranda; popular among Swiss tourists and residents

    Jodi's Place (17)
    1120 Mabini St, Ermita; Tel 59-52-43
    10:00-morning; pub with German TV programs on video, such as "Die Sportschau" (sports news); video films in German; German papers, books for rent; dart board; German bread; German breakfast with cold cuts;

    Lili Marleen (35)
    1323-B Del Pilar St, Ermita
    10:00-early morning, Tel 59-83-17
    since 1976; with German reliability every Saturday night the latest results of the German soccer league (Bundesliga); the German manager Dorian is also a renowned photographer;

    Fischfang (45)
    1509 Del Pilar St, Tel 521-86-44; 24 hrs;
    German pub, particularly popular as the end stop of an outing tour; serves original German Rollmoepse (marinated fish, delicious and healthy after a few drinks); at breakfast time all local newspapers (about a dozen); German beer; San Miguel draft beer; recommended: German fried potatoes (Bratkartoffeln)

    MAKATI

    Chesa (140)
    Peninsula Hotel, Tel 819-34-56 loc 3952
    11:30-14:00, 18:30-23:30
    not exactly cheap but the cuisine is of the finest (who expected anything else in the most luxurious hotel of the archipelago); available are typi-cal Swiss dishes such as raclette, air-dried meat, roesti, and of course a choice of seafoods, meat, and cheese fondues; however, their offer-ing includes also a large number of dishes which are inspired by French rather than Swiss cuisine; a number of dishes make gourmets curious, such as 'smoked fish tea with saffron' (a soup, not a beverage), 'balik salmon with caviar and cucumber mousse', 'sole fillets with grapes', or 'sirloin steak with snails'; eating can be an adventure if one searches for the last frontiers in taste

    Schwarzwaelder (152)
    Greenbelt Park, Makati Ave, Tel 86-51-79
    11:30-14:30, 17:30-23:00
    named after the people of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) in Southern Germany; formerly "Wienerwald"; serves a great variety of chicken dishes; the standard preparation is to grill the chicken on a spit; there are seven more ways of serving chicken at the Schwarzwaelder, among them are: with herbs, Hungarian style (with pepper rods), or baked, etc; the author recommends their "Kraeuterhend'l" - grilled chicken with mustard and many herbs; the Black Forest is renowned in Germany for fruits; Schwarzwaelder serves fruit juices and the famous fruit spirits imported from the Black Forest; attached to the restaurant is a delicatessen shop; good selection of German wines

    Pilatuskeller (147)
    Plaza Bldg, Greenbelt, Tel 816-38-33
    11:00-24:00, closed on Sun
    newly opened in July 1989; cozy Swiss atmosphere; walls decorated with the seals of all Swiss cantons; reigning in the kitchen is a renowned Swiss chef who started his career at the Palace Hotel in the Swiss resort town Gstaad, one of the best hotels in Switzerland; in Manila he previously cooked at the Silahis and the Manila Garden; in Baguio he was chef at the Hyatt Terraces; Pilatuskeller offers a wide selection of cheese fondues - among them are the 'Fondue Luzernoise' which is more hearty than the normal fondues as it is made with Appenzeller cheese instead of Emmen-thaler and the 'Half Half Fondue' made with soft cheeses; 'Fondue Bourguignonne' and 'Fondue Neptune' (seafood) are also served; a Swiss dish in the Philippines exclusively available at Pilatuskeller is 'Hirschpfeffer' (deer stew)

    Treffpunkt Jedermann (123)
    Restaurant and Delicatessen Store
    140 Jupiter St, Bel Air II
    Tel 85-92-50; 7:00-2:00, Sun closed
    Branch: 18 Liberty St cor EDSA, Cubao Quezon City; Tel 722-28-10; 8:00-22:00
    Quezon City branch open on Sun
    in business since 1983; cozy Austrian atmosphere; delicacies such as Austrian sausages, ham, salami, bacon, cold cuts, mustard, sauerkraut all made according to well accepted Austrian formulations; authentic Austrian whole wheat bread; im-ported Austrian and German wines such as Gruener Veltliner (white) and Blaufraenkischer and St. Laurent (red); at the Jupiter St branch grill terrace with canopy where the guests can enjoy their grilled specialties such as sausages, meat, chicken and seafood; major credit cards accepted

    Fondue Room (143)
    At the "La Tasca" Restaurant, Greenbelt Park, Legazpi St, Tel 86-85-86
    11:30-14:30, 19:30-23:00, closed on Sun
    specializing in fondue; the only place in the Philippines (and maybe even Asia) that offers chocolate fondue ('Fondue Suchard') - British style biscuits and fresh fruit pieces coated with hot chocolate; with the chocolate fondue as a dessert one can make a real 'tour de fondue' at the Fondue Room, starting with seafood fondue ('Fondue of the Seven Seas') as appetizer, the meat or cheese fondue as main course, and the chocolate fondue as dessert; reservations recommended for Fridays and Saturdays

    PARANAQUE

    Old Manila
    142 Elizalde St, BF Homes, Tel 801-63-69
    10:00-3:00; BF Homes is a very large residential area in the suburb of Paranaque; many Germans and other Europeans who stay permanently in the Philippines live in BF Homes; the Old Manila is their meeting point; many locals also frequent this fairly large restaurant

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / British Cuisine

    There is no cuisine in the world about which there are as many jokes as there are about British cooking. Particularly the French are great in making jokes about British cuisine. For example, according to one French comic, hell is a place where the cooks are British.

    Or did you know why the British serve mint sauce with lamb ? According to French food critics, mint must be the only plant not eaten by sheep.

    Of course, these all are exaggerations. The British bear them with their superior sense of humor. And probably it's their preference for understatements why they haven't cracked similar jokes about French cuisine.

    It's granted that British cuisine cannot present as wide an array of internationally renowned dishes as does French cuisine. But British cuisine has contributed a lot to the world's steak culture, and there are a number of inventions in British cuisine which are even adopted by the French - as for example the creation of sandwiches.

    As for steaks, that has in the past been so British that British elite troops were referred to as beefeaters. And the term Porterhouse for a special large kind of steak cuts has nothing to do with porters or luggage carriers but originates from British pubs where a special brand of dark beer, Porter beer, was served, and where a snack consisted of a steak some 2 lbs (about 900 grams) by weight - a single por-tion for a single man.

    Talking about snacks: the first association is a sandwich, and the origin is as British as it could be. The name refers to the Earl of Sandwich who lived 1718 to 1792.

    The British have always been betting and gambling buffs. It's in accordance with their idea of sports and sportsmanship - basically a British philosophy.

    But the Earl of Sandwich overdid it even by British standards. During his gambling days, taking meals was considered by him as highly unwelcome interruptions. He there-fore invented a kind of meal not requiring him to exchange the gambling table for the dinning table: sandwiches.

    In Manila a large selection of sandwiches is found not only in the very few British places but also in most bistros (see under "Bistros"). But while there is a clear ter-minology for steaks (see under "Grill Restaurants") there is no such thing for sandwiches. Clubhouse sandwiches, for ex-ample, are found at various places, but the garnish does rather seem to depend on the creativity of the cook than on a clear recipe.

    It's a character trait of the British not to be overly proud of their cuisine. This is a state of mind that makes one open to learn. In the case of their foods and drinks, the British did learn quite a bit from the colonies conquered by the beefeaters all around the world. From East Asia (China) they adopted tea (and re-exported the habit to India), and from In-dia they adopted curry style spicing.

    However, they didn't just copy these food and drink habits but combined them with their own foodstuffs: tea with milk, and curry with pastry (to make curried pies).



    Where to eat:

  • British Cuisine / Restaurants
  • MAKATI

    Prince of Wales (147)
    New Plaza Bldg, Greenbelt, Tel 815-42-74
    11:00-24:00; closed on Sun; a pub that is famous for its food; at lunch time, large buffet for 110 pesos available from 11:00; their selection of sandwiches (very big portions) includes a Tanduri chicken sandwich, and a Kofta sandwich (minced meat mixed with chopped onions and parsley, garnished with onions and rolled in pita bread). Some of their typical British dishes are Bangers, Beans and Mash and Roastbeef with Yorkshire Pudding; also curry buffet every lunch time for 110 pesos, including chicken, beef, seafood, pork, and vegetable curries, a choice of 15 condiments and of rice, pita bread and papadoms (spiced unleavened bread); in the evenings the ten meter long bar is prob-ably the place where it is the easiest to make friends with foreign Makati executives; regular customers get com-plimentary beer mugs with their name writ-ten on them (that should save some calling cards)

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Spanish cuisine

    Spanish cuisine is well rooted in the Philippines - much better than even Filipinos commonly know. It's not only par-ticular dishes Spain and the Philippines have in common, it's also the underlying ideas in preparing food.

    For example, Philippine cuisine employs comparatively large amounts of oil, more than all other Southeast Asian cuisines; this is already a Spanish tradition as the Spanish cuisine uses the most oil among all Western and Central European cuisines.

    In Spain it's of course olive oil - one of the best oils of all; ordinary Philippine cooking, on the other hand, is based primarily on coconut oil. Coconut oil is considered of lower quality than olive oil as it tastes more lardy.

    All the better Spanish restaurants in Metro Manila do prepare food in olive oil. Cus-tomarily the Spanish export quality is chosen which is more refined than the kind of olive oil widespread in Spain. However, as the more original and less refined Spanish olive oil lies rather heavy on the stomach, the more refined qualities are anyway preferred by non-Spaniards. A fur-ther concession to the non-Spaniards are the reduced quantities of oil in many dishes as they are served in the Spanish restaurants in Metro Manila.

    Another general feature of Philippine cook-ing that has been adopted from Spanish cuisine is the wide use of innards or uncommon cuts of meat like tongue or feet. In Spanish cuisine a number of innards and un-common cuts are prepared in an elaborate manner, and they then are not considered a poor man's dish of minor quality but a delicacy. Particularly high ranking among Spanish specialities is ox tongue (lengua). Other uncommon specialities are pig knuckles and tripe (callos). Tripe may be served with ham and sausage as Callos a la Madrilena.

    Similarly, squid is served in its own ink (Calamares en su tinta), as a separate dish or on paella the rice of which then turns black - a dish called Arroz Negro, or "black rice".

    The Spaniards consume more rice than any other European people, and that does make Spanish cuisine more easily adopted by Asians. A very well known Spanish rice dish is Paella. Basically it consists of spiced saffron colored rice, garnished with shrimp, crab, Spanish sausage, and pieces of fried pork, beef, chicken, and lamb.

    Very much in contrast to her neighbor in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy, culinary Spain doesn't know noodles. If it's not rice accompanying a meat or fish dish, then it's most probably potatoes, and if it's not potatoes, then it's bread.

    Among meats, lamb is of much more impor-tance than in any other continental European cuisine. The manner of preparation of lamb is decisively different from the only other European cuisine consuming much lamb, the British. There is no such thing as mint sauce in Spanish cooking. Lamb (cordero) is prepared in Spanish cuisine certainly with garlic, and lamb chops (chuletas de cordero) often with tomato sauce, a la Navarra (as the region of Navarra grows the most tomatoes in Spain).

    Garlic is one of the most important condiments in Spanish cooking, and this again is a trait Philippine cuisine has adopted. A very delicious garlic dish is gambas al ajillo, shrimp with garlic fried in oil or butter. Some other garlic dishes are: champignon al ajillo (mushrooms sauteed in garlic), sopa Juliana (vegetable soup with garlic).

    Spanish cuisine has a few standard proce-dures to prepare meats, and to some of them, there are Philippine variations. Meats may be marinated for a short time before being fried in a sauce of vinegar, oil, garlic, and onions (adobado); the Philippine cuisine uses the same recipe but calls the dish just adobo. Pureed liver may be added to the marinate (estofado).

    An emphasis in Spanish cooking has always been on seafood considering the location of The Country but today with the Mediter-ranean becoming fished out and more and more polluted the Philippines is perhaps a better place to sample Spanish food than Spain herself. Philippine waters are still exceptionally rich in fish as well as in shrimp, shell fish and other seafood. One of the most famous Spanish seafood dishes is zarzuela de mariscos, a seafood stew.

    To Spanish sauces, for meats as well as for fish, a dash of wine is generally added. Most commonly it is Sherry, a very typical Spanish white wine that is aged 5 to 25 years before consumed. The Spanish also drink sherry with the meal.

    The most common Spanish red wine is Madeira, a rather sweet heavy wine. It is found in many Spanish meat sauces. Another Spanish red wine added to sauces is Marsala. The name should not be confused with Masala, an Indian spice mixture based on cardamon.

    Where to eat:

  • Spanish cuisine / Restaurants
  • Guernica's
    In Manila, the Guernica's chain is strongly associated with luxurious res-taurants. It has served international gourmets for 33 years.
    (70) - 1856 Bocobo St, Malate
    Tel 521-44-15; 11:00-14:30, 18:00-24:00
    Sun no lunch; the most elegant restaurant of the Guernica's chain; preferred by many leading public figures; convenient parking space.
    (38) - 1326 Del Pilar St, Ermita
    Tel 50-09-36; 11:00-14:00, 18:00-24:00
    Sun no lunch; the smaller Guernica's res-taurant that opened 33 years ago.

    Casa Marcos
    Roxas Blvd Ext, Paranaque, Tel 831-09-15
    Mon-Sat 11:00-24:00, Sun 16:00-23:00

    MAKATI

    Nielson Tower (139)
    Ayala Triangle, Makati Ave, Tel 817-11-80
    11:30-14:00, 17:30-24:00; Sun no lunch
    The Nielson Tower building was Asia's most modern airport terminal in the 40's. It was transformed into a restaurant named after the pioneering American who built the edifice. Ante-Bellum classical Philippine cuisine with strong Spanish influence is served. Among the specialties: Boquerones, sweet-tasting fresh anchovies marinated in lemon and olive oil; Sopa a la Reina, a rich, clear broth flecked with dainty slivers of chicken neck gallatine; Pato a la Manga, a roast duckling with a lively mango sauce. Tempting desserts, such as Almendrado, a meringue cloud cra-dling strawberries and almonds. Very well trained, the staff performs at-tentively without seeming to hover. Art deco simulated in multi-tinted capiz shell light diffusers and decorative friezes match the Bauhaus architecture of the original struc-ture. A guitar trio plays in the eve-nings. There is an adequate wine selection; of special interest is the engaging bar upstairs in the former control tower.

    Gasparelli (148)
    Greenbelt Dr, Tel 815-36-89, 817-76-80
    11:00-15:00, 18:00-24:00
    Even though it is not so small, it is one of the coziest restaurants in Makati; because of the name, some-times mistaken for an Italian restaurant; very large selection of reasonable priced Spanish dishes

    Guernica's (162)
    1034 Pasay Rd, Tel 88-11-67
    11:00-14:00, 18:00-24:00, Sun dinner only; particularly at lunch time frequented by many of Makati's busi-ness executives

    Zarzuela (173)
    822 Pasay Rd, Tel 816-79-35 to 36
    11:00-15:00, 18:00-24:30; closed on Sun
    an international restaurant where East and West meet; many Spanish dishes

    Dona Nena (124)
    8298 Anza St, Tel 818-94-80
    The restaurant of an old upper class Spanish-Filipino family, named after Dona Natividad Lukban Albert, the daughter of the first mayor of Manila during the Commonwealth; Dona Nena was not only the preferred cook of her family that included 8 children and 42 grandchildren but also for many parties of Manila's high society; the most famous recipe of Dona Nena is the 'Albert Paella' - a dish that particularly delighted the Filipino nationalist Don Claro M. Recto

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / US Cuisine

    As the US is a melting pot of people with an independent history of just over 200 years, not much of an indigenous cuisine has been developed there. That doesn't mean that the US does not have good food. First class restaurants in the US serve excellent steaks, an excellent Italian cuisine can be found, and at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, seafood is prepared French style as good as in France herself. But the cook-ing is not American at these places - it is Italian, French, or originally British.

    There are fewer genuine US dishes than genuine French, German, Italian, Polish, Greek, Chinese dishes, and this is reflected on the menus of first class res-taurants anywhere around the world and also in the Philippines.

    However, a classic US dish that has found recognition from gourmets is Boston clam chowder, a clam soup that also contains potatoes, onions, bacon, milk, and cream, and that is thickened with flour.

    Another classic US dish is Caesar salad. It's a lettuce salad in a very tasty dressing of oil, vinegar, egg yolk, mustard, garlic, bacon bits, and parmesan cheese, garnished with croutons (small cubes of crisp toast).

    It is a funny happenstance that this deli-cious salad is extremely popular in the US and even in the Philippines but hardly known in Europe. The reason is that the lettuce grown in Europe (kitchen name: butter lettuce) is not as firm as the species produced in the US (and the Philippines); butter lettuce is just not suitable to make Caesar salad because it looses its crisp-ness immediately when mixed with the strong Caesar dressing.

    It's a common misconception that Caesar salad originates from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Its origin actually is very typical US tale as Caesar salad is a naturalized immigrant. The true story is that Caesar salad was born in the Mexican border city of Tijuana just below San Diego. There it was accidentally created by a cook who had run out of food but still had a hungry crowd in his restaurant. In his despair he just mixed all that he had left on his shelves and even threw the bread crumbs from former food preparations into the culinary bastard that came to be known as Caesar salad.

    But Caesar salad and Boston clam chowder are two distinct single dishes and two dishes do not yet make a cuisine. A cuisine must have an underlying idea that is repre-sented in many dishes - such as the Italian noodle craze or the French sauce philosophy. A Yankee cuisine living up to this judgment has surfaced just a few years ago - heavily aided by a chef of French origin, Paul Prudhomme. From the beginning of the 80's, Mr Prudhomme has popularized a refined version of the old Louisiana cuisine, better known as Creole or Cajun cooking. "Creole" and "Cajun" means much the same. Both terms are designations for the descendants of French settlers in Louisiana.

    Their cooking, however, is not just an off-spring of French cuisine. It includes the technique of blackening meat and other food by frying it for a short time in an almost red-hot heavy cast-iron pan. Creole and Cajun cooking also is much spicier than French cuisine. The predominant spice is a slightly sweet red paprika that grows very well in the Southern Mississippi basin.

    One of the Creole dishes that should appeal very much to Philippine taste is Jambalaya, a modified paella (see Spanish cuisine) that is typically served in a cast-iron skillet.

    US style diners as they were typical in the 50's are experiencing sort of a revival in the Philippines. Generally they offer sound but not very refined dishes but are good value. The ambience is often styled with photographs and memorabilia of the 50's.

    US cuisine isn't sufficiently discussed by focusing on the contributions it has made so far to international fine dining. The reason is that probably the most influen-tial innovations to man's eating culture made by the US are not in preparing dishes but in efficiently running restaurants.

    Serving speed is one such innovation, therefore self-service. Furthermore, dishes are standardized, not only in order to as-sure the customer that he knows what he is getting but also in order to prepare the food with a comparatively unskilled staff. If the chef doesn't have to pay attention to single orders, he can't get into rush hour trouble that would result in waiting time for the guest.

    Several Yankee fast-food chains operate in the Philippines; among them are McDonald's, Wendy's, Shakey's, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and there are local com-petitors who have successfully copied the Yankee fast-food style. The strongest local competitor for the burger chains is Jol-libee.

    In the opinion of the author, Wendy's makes the best hamburgers. But one should choose the regular hamburgers and cheeseburgers and not the much more expensive so-called Wendy's Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers as they do not contain much more meat and other ingredients. The main improvement of the so-called Wendy's Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers over the ordinary ones seems to be the styrofoam container.

    Jollibee is even more oriented to please children's tastes than are McDonald's or Wendy's. Accordingly, many Jollibee res-taurants don't permit smoking and close early.

    US style diners as they were typical in the 50's are experiencing sort of a revival in the Philippines. Generally they offer sound but not very refined dishes but are good value. The ambience is often styled with photographs and memorabilia of the 50's.

    Where to eat:

  • US Cuisine / Restaurants
  • Cafe Vienna (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd
    Tel 59-79-61 loc 324, 6:00-2:00
    American dinner buffet Tu 18:00-22:00 (with Boston Seafood Chowder and Jambalaya); Caribbean dinner buffet We 18:00-22:00 (with Creole dishes); each buffet 175 P ++; desserts and coffee or tea included

    Rosie's Diner (44)
    1433 Del Pilar St, Ermita, Tel 59-54-82
    24 hrs; the restaurant that started the revival of US style diners in the Philippines several years ago; very good selection of dishes; excep-tionally good French onion soup; thick milk shakes; good value

    Hula Hut Rest. & Bar (44)
    1433 Del Pilar St, Ermita, Tel 59-54-82
    24 hrs; same kitchen as Rosie's Diner; good selection of US newspapers and magazines, FEN TV; good value

    MAKATI

    Arnold's Diner (112)
    Makati Ave cor Kalayaan Ave
    Tel 818-34-81; 24 hrs; large diner under the slogan "Happy Days"
    referring to the 50's; breakfast 24 hrs; very popular pasta specials for just 35 pesos; good selection of Mexican dishes; good value

    New Orleans (143)
    La Tasca Bldg, Legazpi St, Tel 817-29-56
    11:00-14:00, 18:00-23:00; Cajun and Creole cuisine; in the evenings the best jazz in the Philippines

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / International Cuisine

    Many of the best restaurants in Metro Manila, just as in any other world city, are hard to categorize under the cuisine of a single country. They combine on their menus specialities of different nations. French cuisine is often predominant, but Italian specialities like Carpaccio, Spanish Zarzuela, American Caesar's salad, and of course steaks are also included. They are often im-ported either from Australia or the US. Some restaurants, on the other hand, have a tender and palatable local beef.


    Where to eat:

  • International Cuisine / Restaurants
  • TOURIST BELT

    Guernica's
    Mostly Spanish and French dishes
    (70) - 1856 Bocobo St, Malate
    Tel 521-44-15; 11:00-14:30, 18:00-24:00
    Sun no lunch; the most elegant res-taurant of the Guernica's chain; con-venient parking
    (38) - 1326 Del Pilar St, Ermita
    Tel 50-09-36; 11:00-14:00, 18:00-24:00
    Sun no lunch; the original Guernica's restaurant that opened 33 years ago

    Baron's Table (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-79-61
    12:00-15:00, 19:00-24:00
    closed on Sun, no lunch on Sat
    first class restaurant with palatial, baroque ambience; large selection of seafood and grilled dishes; one of the very few first class restaurants in the metropolis where one can finish a meal with a selection from a cheese board; a compliment must be issued for their menu which explains dishes better than menus of luxury res-taurants normally do

    The Mariner (85)
    Admiral Hotel, Roxas Blvd
    Tel 57-20-81 to 94; 24 hrs
    Mo-Fr 12:00-14:00 lunch buffet (140 ++)
    recommended dishes: shrimp cocktail (good portions), mango jubilee (hot mango and liqueur on ice cream)

    Hugo's (99)
    Hyatt Regency, Roxas Blvd, Tel 831-26-11
    12:00-15:00, 19:00-23:00, closed on Sun
    No lunch on Sat

    Sud (92)
    Sheraton Hotel, Malate, Tel 522-10-11
    12:00-14:30, 18:30-22:30, closed on Sun
    The dining room's interior is an inter-play of peach, mint green, and cream, set off by a profusion of greens and flowering plants from balcony windows which give it a Mediterranean air. The menu unveils an astonishing selection of creative cuisine which changes peri-odically. There are dishes like goose liver parfait with a salad of snow peas and home-marinated salmon with green asparagus. A businessman's lunch is a favorite of Sud habitues as it of-fers them four choices in each of the three-course menu, thus proving to be versatile for those who dine there more than twice a week.

    Cafe Chuling
    913 Estrada St, near corner Leon Guinto
    Tel 522-35-75; 11:00-14:00, 18:00-2:00
    Continental cuisine in a cozy, homey ambience with relaxing music; the menu includes dishes like Paella, Lengua con Setas, Ceasar's Salad, pasta dishes and pizza - all prepared in the original style of this restaurant

    None Such (84)
    435 Remedios St, Malate
    Tel 59-56-44, 58-60-22
    11:30-23:30, Sun closed
    Varied menu with dishes from many countries; US Seafood Chowder and New England Boiled Dinner, German Bratwurst and Schnitzel, Spanish Gam-bas and Callos, Mexican Tacos, Korean Barbecue; of course also Filipino dishes; well-known for its cakes and pastries

    Hobbit House (77)
    1801 Mabini St cor Remedios St, Ma-late
    Tel 521-76-04, 50-65-73; 18:30-2:00
    Mexican, Italian, and Irish dishes (the founder of this restaurant is an Irishman); live entertainment, the famous Filipino folk singer Freddie Aguilar performs three times a week

    Exotic Garden (37)
    Del Pilar St, open until 4:00
    Open air but roofed restaurant decorated with bamboo and some 2000 exotic plants; the author likes their deep fried seafood platter; also recommended are steaks; one of very few restaurants which serve a good fresh fruit salad; many local and international newspapers.

    MAKATI

    Old Manila (140)
    Peninsula Hotel, Tel 819-34-56 loc 3953
    11:30-14:30, 18:30-23:30; Sat, Sun no lunch
    Iranian caviar, Norwegian salmon, US beef, Dutch veal, Australian lamb - obviously the best from all continents; among the sauces for the various dishes are truffle sauce with port wine, bouillabaisse cream, lemon dill mousseline, raspberry vinegar dressing; they also serve beef tenderloin with a fine ragout of lobster thermidor - all combina-tions that make every true gourmet curious.

    The Tivoli (138)
    Mandarin Hotel, Makati Ave, Tel 816-36-01
    7:00-10:00, 12:00-15:00, 19:00-10:30
    Sat, Sun dinner only

    Mario's (111)
    7856 Makati Ave, Tel 86-44-78
    11:30-14:30, 17:00-23:00; Sun no lunch
    Want to know what a classic is ? For 18 years this restaurant has prepared its Ceasar's Salad according to a recipe that didn't undergo the slightest change. Ac-tually, Mario's is the one restaurant in Metro Manila that helped the most to popularize this particular salad; even today, every third guest patronizing the place or-ders Ceasar's Salad - and steak (served with a choice of four sauces); T-bone steaks 350 grams; recommended also: French onion soup - the onions are sim-mered for hours before the soup is served with a very rich cheese topping; Spanish, French, Italian cuisine; daily specials 160 (chicken) to 280 pesos (beef dish), includes free glass of red or white wine; Mon-Thu 17:00-19:00 early gourmet special with reduced prices for all dishes; Sat com-plimentary mango jubilee; function rooms 10-50 seats; catering to many embassies

    Guernica's (162)
    1034 Pasay Rd, Tel 88-11-67
    11:00-14:00, 18:00-24:00; Sat, Sun dinner only; excellent French and Spanish dishes

    La Tasca (143)
    Greenbelt Park, Legazpi St, Tel 86-85-86
    11:30-14:30, 19:30-23:00, closed on Sun
    w/ Fondue room; popular for dinner rather than for lunch; for evenings reservations are therefore recommended; in French tradition many meats are served with sauces contain-ing wine, as for example chicken with tarragon with a port wine sauce or an armagnac sauce, duckling with a cherry brandy sauce or flambe with cognac, lamb with a mango wine and sherry sauce, chicken liver in marsala sauce, etc; for a first class restaurant surprisingly reasonable prices

    Zarzuela (173)
    822 Pasay Rd, Tel 816-79-35 to 36
    11:00-15:00, 18:00-24:30; closed on Sun except by special arrangement; an in-ternational restaurant where East and West meet; among European dishes Spanish prevail; among Asian foods Filipino traditional dishes abound; available also oriental delicacies such as "Fish Penang" and "Javanese Ox Tail Soup"; a number of very exotic desserts; very appealing elegant am-bience

    Prince of Wales (147)
    New Plaza Bldg, Greenbelt, Tel 815-42-74
    11:00-24:00; closed on Sun; in addition to traditional English pub food at lunch time large buffet for 110 P (no service charge); available from 11:00; the buffet and the menu include a number of very delicious Eastern European specialities such as Turkish Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), Kofta (spiced ground meat), an excellent Greek Moussaka (egg plant and ground meat), and pita bread they bake themselves; at lunch time also curry buffet at 110 P; very large barbecued spare ribs; weekly special menus

    The Concourse (161)
    Manila Garden Hotel, Tel 810-41-01
    6:30-10:30, 11:30-14:30, 17:00-24:00

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Grill Restaurants

    Grill restaurants serve mainly steaks. But beef is less indigenous to the Philippines than pork, and if beef is prepared in native Philippine cuisine it is not in the form of steaks. Therefore, there is only a limited number of restaurants specializing in steaks in Metro Manila.

    Practically all five star hotels have steak restaurants and in quality they can compete with steak restaurants anywhere in the world. Anyway, they commonly do not sell local beef but the same meat that is served in first class grill restaurants around the world: prime US beef.

    But aside from grill restaurants in five star hotels and the very few specialty steak restaurants, many independent first class restaurants serve excellent steaks. Commonly they not only serve imported beef but also a good local quality. Philippine beef comes primarily from Batangas province. As local cattle are not of the US hybrid kind (which wasn't bred for tropical climates), and as less grain is fed to the cattle, Philippine beef commonly is leaner than US beef and the meat has thinner fibers. As it is leaner, local beef also is less tender than US beef. How tender a steak is going to be can be judged from the appearance of the piece. If it is well marbled it will most probably be more tender than less marbled cuts. A number of first class grill restaurants therefore show the cuts to the guest before cooking.

    Beef is imported to the Philippines not only from the US but also from Australia and New Zealand. US beef, however, is considered the best quality. It is also more expensive than beef from Australia and New Zealand.

    Eating out for steaks in Metro Manila's first class restaurants requires some more knowledge on terminology than eating out for steaks in the US or continental Europe. This situation results from the fact that the cuisine (and terminology) of the first class restaurants in the Philip-pine capital is oriented to the diverse nationalities of the foreign co-owners who might be European or American. American as well as French and other continental designations for steaks are found on menus.

    Prime cut is an American designation that has nothing to do with the place a steak has been cut from the carcass of the cattle but with the quality of meat in general. Prime cut is best quality, and in the case of beef it mainly means that it contains enough fat. Prime cut steaks are well marbled with fat. Second choice quality is called choice cut and third quality is utility cut which is generally not used for steaks.

    A New York cut on the contrary has nothing to do with the quality of the meat but with the location of the meat on the carcass. A New York cut is a slice of meat from above the ribs without the bone but with an edge of fat. In French, such cuts are called entrecote, and in England and Germany they are named rump steak. If the New York cut comes rather from the back section of the animal, and if it is prepared with the rib bone, it's called a sirloin steak.

    The name sirloin has a funny origin. It dates back to England of the seventeenth century. There, King Charles II. (1630 to 1685) once was served such a delicious piece of beef loin that he immediately conferred the title "Sir" on that piece of meat. Al-legedly it was a cut that today is called sirloin.

    The meat below the ribs is called tenderloin in American terminol-ogy, and filet in continental Europe. The tenderloin is the most tender part of the beef, and unlike the parts from above the ribs and spinal cord, it is mostly served cleaned (stripped of fat edges).

    Chateaubriand is a special French way of serving tenderloin for two persons. In that case, a double portion of the tenderloin is prepared in one piece and only then cut in rather thin slices at the table of the guest.

    Characteristic of US cuisine are steaks that are served with the bone. The above mentioned sirloin steak is such a cut. More common, however, than the sirloin are the T-bone steak and the Porterhouse steak. Between the last two, there is only a small difference. In both cases the entrecote and the filet are not separated from the spinal cord and ribs. T-bone and Porterhouse cuts therefore always include a piece of entrecote and filet, or in American terminology, of the New York cut meat and the tenderloin.

    Connoisseurs are supposed to eat their beef rare. This is, however, not the way beef is prepared in ordinary Philippine cuisine. In ordinary Philip-pine cooking, beef is normally well-done, or, to the claim of some French gourmets, over-done. Accordingly, in local restaurants there is a tendency that even when ordered medium, a steak will be rather well-done if com-pared to what Medium means in the US or in France. In first class grill restaurants, as for example those in the five star hotels, international standards for rare, medium and well-done apply.

    A large number of local res-taurants serve sizzling steaks. In that case, the steak is served on a very hot iron plate, mounted an a board. There is some sense to it (or there was, originally): if a steak is grilled over fierce heat the meat fibers contract and the juice is extracted into the space between the fibers. If the steak is served directly after being grilled over fierce heat, the meat juice that still is in between the fibers appears as blood leaking from the steak as if the meat wasn't aged at all. But if the steak is granted a rest of some five minutes after being grilled over fierce heat the juice goes back inside the fibers and there is no more "blood" leaking. But as the steak cools down while resting it makes sense to serve it on a hot plate.

    This consideration, however, seems of no importance to the Philip-pine steak houses that serve the meat on hot plates. The steaks are not given a rest before being served on hot plates, and they wouldn't need it in most cases anyway as they are grilled well-done and the rest is only needed for rare or medium steaks, mostly for the rare.

    To serve sizzling steaks in the Philippines is mostly a matter of show, and besides that, impractical. Unlike what is the case in the US, steaks in the Philippines are often served with a sauce or kind of gravy. Whereas gravy with steaks is uncommon in the US, filet steaks are served with a sauce in French cuisine. Most famous with filet steaks is the French pepper sauce; other sauces are Ber-naise (butter sauce) or Cafe de Paris sauce (with herbs). In the local res-taurants (and they are the ones serv-ing steaks sizzling) this sauce some-times tastes like sweetened tomato ketchup.

    If the sauce or gravy is poured over the steak and onto the hot plate, it not only starts to boil but also to splatter. The most expensive part of the dinner may then be the lady's blouse and not the meat.


    Where to eat:

  • Grill Restaurants
  • TOURIST BELT

    Baron's Table (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-79-61
    12:00-15:00, 19:00-24:00
    Sun closed, no lunch on Sat
    first class international restaurant with a wide selection of grill dishes; among the grilled meats are US steaks, prime ribs, rack of lamb ('Provencal' style), but also lobster and prawns; one of the very few restaurants in Metro Manila where one can finish a meal with a selection from a cheese board; palatial ambience

    Sud (92)
    Sheraton Hotel, Malate, Tel 522-10-11
    12:00-14:30, 18:30-22:30; Sun closed
    While specializing in creative cuisine, this Mediterranean-style
    restaurant also offers steaks and grilled seafood. For good reason they are proud of their US prime steaks of aged and rich corn-fed beef. All steaks are cut to the preferred size, charcoal-broiled and served with fresh garden vegetables, baked potato or rice. They offer a choice of Sauce Bearnaise, mild pepper sauce, or herb and garlic but-ter.

    MAKATI

    Old Manila (140)
    Peninsula Hotel, Tel 819-34-56 loc 3953
    11:30-14:30, 18:30-23:30; Sat, Sun no lunch
    All the steaks served in this exclusive res-taurant are supplied by
    the renowned House of Pfaelzer in Chicago, US; large original cut T-bone steak; among their beef dishes is tenderloin with a fine ragout of lobster thermidor; among their sauces are truffle sauce with port wine and bouillabaisse cream; aside from prime US beef they serve Iranian caviar, Norwegian salmon, Dutch veal, Australian lamb - obviously the best from all continents

    Mario's (111)
    7856 Makati Ave, Tel 86-44-78
    11:30-14:30, 17:00-23:00; Sun no lunch
    popular for steaks not only because they know how to prepare the
    beef; they also are famous for the dish that best goes with steak - Ceasar's salad; actually, Mario's is the one restaurant in Metro Manila that helped most to popularize this particular salad some two decades ago; even today, every third guest patronizing the place orders Ceasar's salad - and steak (served with a choice of four sauces); T-bone steaks 350 grams; daily specials 160 (chicken dish) to 280 (beef dish), includes free glass of red or white wine; Mon-Thu 17:00-19:00 early gourmet special with reduced prices for all dishes; Sat com-plimentary mango jubilee; function rooms 10-50 seats; catering to many embassies

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Seafood

    Seafood is a fabulous deal throughout the archipelago, and Manila has a true seafood culture. A seafood outing is something a foreign visitor definitely should not miss when in the Philippine capital. Many restaurants in Manila specialize in seafood, and one gets it expertly prepared in any of three styles: native, Chinese or European/American.

    In native Philippine cuisine, preparation of smaller fish is normally to deep-fry them until they are crisp. Larger fish are either cut and stewed or cooked whole with innards intact over a fire.

    In Chinese cuisine, fish and seafood may be fried in oil over fierce heat, breaded and deep-fried, cooked with a sweet and sour sauce, prepared as soup, or steamed. When simply steamed, fish and seafood main-tain their natural flavor best. In steaming freshness is of utmost impor-tance. When frying fish there may not be a difference in taste between one killed just before cooking and another killed but kept fresh for approximately a day; but when merely steamed, a fish killed just before preparation certainly has a finer taste than one just kept fresh for many hours. The difference is an underlying mysterious sweetness in taste which is unknown in European fish and seafood preparation.

    As it is much easier to catch and keep lobsters, crab, prawns and shrimp alive, these are only killed before cooking both in Chinese and European style seafood restaurants.

    When it comes to lobster, large seafood restaurants have an often un-thought of advantage over smaller ones. Lobsters shouldn't be kept in aquariums for too long a time not be-cause it harms the quality but rather the quantity. A lobster loses quite a bit of weight if kept in an aquarium. This may result from the stress it suffers during transport and the keeping time in the aquarium. The lobster, however, doesn't lose the weight of its shell and innards but only of its meat. And as the proportion between meat and other parts of the lobster declines the longer a lobster is kept in an aquarium, it's a loss to keep the lobster too long; and it's a loss the guest in a restaurant pays for as lobster is commonly priced according to weight. A lobster of 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) in weight yields different amounts of meat, depending on whether it was stored in the aquarium for two days or two weeks.

    French cuisine (and European cuisine in general) prepares fish decisively different than either Filipino or Chinese cuisine. French cuisine has a very gentle way of handling fish. It is not fried too hot, and not for too long, and then served with a sauce. One very specific French fish sauce, for example, gets its taste from almonds; but cheese based sauces are also common.

    Seafood in Manila is perfectly fresh. Of course it is not caught in the dirty, oily Manila Bay but is either farmed or comes from the sea surrounding Palawan. Particularly Chinese seafood restaurants keep a lot of fish and seafood alive in aquariums to secure the ultimate in freshness.

    A number of restaurants show the fish to the guest before preparing it. Those who want to check the freshness can apply two methods: look at the eyes of the fish - the clearer the eye the fresher the fish; or press the fish body - the more elastic the meat the fresher.

    Those fish which contain fat (tuna, mackerel, lapu-lapu, sardines) have reddish colored meat while those that do not (bangus, catfish, mudfish, tilapia) have white meat.

    Bangus (milkfish) is most peculiar to Philippine cuisine. They are a shallow salt water fish which feed on algae and are grown in coastal fish pens. They taste like sardines but have many more bones. One fish normally makes one serving. The best bangus is said to come from the fish pens of Dagupan City.

    Lapu-Lapu (Grouper Fish) is one of the most delicious Philippine fish, and even it is not rare it is more ex-pensive than the other fish commonly found; therefore it is seldom eaten in homes but mostly served in res-taurants. There are three kinds of Lapu-Lapu, the red, the spotted, and the black. The black is the best, being softer and juicier than the others. It's also the most expensive of the three. Some Lapu-Lapu can grow to an amaz-ing size, to a weight of more than 50 kilos. Those served in restaurants, however, are of a size that makes one fish one serving.

    Similar to but rarer than Lapu-Lapu are Maming, Panther and Suno. All three are considered an adventure (and not necessarily a cheap one) to seafood gourmets.

    Blue Marlin is common in Southern Philippine waters, and it is liked not only by game anglers but gourmets as well. As the Blue Marlin is a big fish it's served cut into steaks. Of course it is milder than meat but as in the case of meat, a serving of Blue Marlin gets its taste mainly from the sauce going with it. Contrary to what is the case for pork and beef, the belly is the best part of the Blue Marlin, not the back; whereas the belly is soft, the back is slightly tough. Those who don't mind the bones may order the fin of the Blue Marlin; it's taste is somehow sweeter than that of the belly.

    Tanguigui is a large mackerel com-mon in Philippine waters. With its high fat content it has a meaty taste. Seafood res-taurants commonly serve it fried. However, Spanish restaurants and delicatessen stores of five star hotels also sell it raw and smoked.

    Galunggong is the most common fish prepared in homes but less often served in restaurants, particularly not the classy ones. It's usually fried or grilled. Other common fish prepared in homes but not that often in the better restaurants are talakitok and dalag which are usually served grilled. Sapsap is a common smaller fish; however the savoring of this fish is disturbed by its many bones.

    European cuisine considers sole one of the best fish; sole is occasionally available in the Philippines, and so is a similar tasting fish, pampano.

    Pusit (squid) is prepared grilled, fried, or as adobo. Eel is more common in Chinese than Filipino restaurants.

    Shrimp (also called by the Spanish name Gambas) are very affordable in the Philippines and therefore also commonly eaten in homes. The Philippine way of preparing shrimp is to steam them with garlic. They may then be fried or not. A special kind of shrimp is Suahe. Alive they appear as if they have a skin of glass; when steamed they turn bright red. And they not only look more attractive on the plate but they also have a more delicious taste, slightly sweeter than the ordinary kind.

    Prawns are much more expensive and therefore only found in better restaurants where they commonly are served grilled.

    The lobsters caught in Philippine waters are of a Pacific species, also called rock lobster; they do not have the large claws typical of the so-called Maine lobsters caught in the northern Atlantic.

    Alimango is a very delicious Philippine crab with large pincers. In Philippine cuisine, crab is commonly steamed or simmered in coconut milk. Better native restaurants only serve the female alimango as it always carries the spawn (Aligi in Tagalog). The spawn is the most delicious part of the crab; it is red colored, tastes stronger than the rest of the crab, and has a slightly crisp texture. As restaurants, when purchasing crabs from dealers, often specify that they only want female alimango, that sold by ambulant vendors is generally the male. Crab crackers are not common in Philippine homes and simple res-taurants. The original Philippine way of cracking crabs is by banging on them with a spoon.

    Curacha is another kind of Philippine crab, but to the gourmet it ranks only second to the alimango. Curacha (in English: red frog crab) is a little bit meatier than the alimango, but females do not carry aligi (spawn).

    Coconut Crab is much rarer in restaurants than the two kinds mentioned above. It's meat has a higher fat content than Alimango and Curacha; it's not surpris-ing as it feeds mainly on coconuts. By the way, coconut crabs are interesting animals not only as a dish but also alive. They make their living climbing coconut trees where they bore holes in coconuts and scrape them out with their long pincers.

    Three kinds of shellfish are common in Philippine cuisine: oysters (in Tagalog: talaba), mussels (in Tagalog: tahong), and clams (in Tagalog: imbao).

    In native and Chinese cuisine, oysters are usually steamed or grilled on the half shell after being marinated in vinegar and onions. Oysters are very cheap in the Philippines. At local restaurants a serving is available for about 20 to 40 pesos.

    Mussels are served steamed or in soups. There is a great abundance of tahong on Philippine shores, and therefore they are a poor man's food. Clams are more expensive. As anywhere in the world, they are most commonly served in soups.

    The French way of preparing seafood is more elaborate than the na-tive and Chinese styles; in French cuisine seafood is accompanied by fine, sometimes even mysterious sauces which often contain wine as well as cheese.

    Oysters, mussels, and clams all can be prepared with a cheese and wine sauce. However, as oysters have the mildest and clams the strongest taste of the three, the sauce for oysters has to be milder, too. Clams can also be served in a combination with little bits of bacon without completely concealing the seafood taste.

    Unlike in Europe and the US, to serve oysters raw and chilled with lemon is uncommon in the Philippines.

    The most famous French combination of seafood and cheese sauce is lobster a la Thermidor. If prepared in this style the meat is taken out of the lobster, cooked and served in a cheese sauce. The dish may or may not be served in the lobster shell; serving in the shell adds eye appeal but doesn't influence the taste.

    Prawns, and even crabs, can be prepared and served Thermidor style. For crabs, however, a slight variation is more common: the preparation a la Newburg.

    The meat of lobster, prawns, and crab tastes fairly similar, par-ticularly if prepared Thermidor or Newburg style. As a rule of thumb, lobster has a stronger flavor than prawns or crabs, and crab meat is softer in texture than lobster or prawns.

    Where to eat:

  • Seafood / Restaurants
  • Imperial Garden Seafood Market (88)
    Ambassador Hotel, Mabini St, Malate
    Tel 50-50-11 to 19, 50-81-57, 50-99-29
    11:00-1:00; capacity: 180 seats on the ground floor, 400 on the 2nd floor; great selection of fish and seafood; many live fish and seafood in aquariums; one can view live moray eels, lobsters, suahe shrimp and a number of rare Philippine fish such as Maming, Panther and Suno Lapu-Lapu; the guest chooses individually the fish and seafood he wants prepared; predominantly Chinese cooking style; also available a number of Chinese marine delicacies such as fish lips (shark), sea cucumber and lobster salad

    Sea Palace (66)
    1766 Mabini St, Malate, Manila
    Tel 521-64-26 to 28
    11:00-14:30, 17:30-22:30, Chinese cuisine of live seafood; one of the longest operating Chinese seafood res-taurants in the tourist belt; large selection of rare fish, among them panther, parrot fish and snapper; one specialty of the house is lobster sashimi, originally a Japanese seafood dish; also popular coconut crab

    Zamboanga (53)
    1619 Adriatico St, Malate, Tel 57-28-35
    9:30-23:00; seafood restaurant with the best known cultural shows in town; a highlight of many organized sightseeing tours; a good offer for tourists who want to combine an outing for typical Philippine seafood cuisine with a glimpse at Philippine cultural tradition

    Nandau (98)
    Roxas Blvd cor Lourdes St, Pasay City
    Tel 521-80-07; 10:00-23:00
    dishes served in a traditional way on banana leaves; speciality: Blue Marlin with a choice of three different sauces; among the non-seafood dishes they serve is wild boar (stronger, spicier taste than pork)

    Baron's Table (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-79-61
    12:00-15:00, 19:00-24:00; closed on Sun, no lunch on Sat
    first class international restaurant with a wide selection of seafood; Lapu-Lapu alone is served in five different styles, Norwegian salmon in three styles, and lobster also in five; palatial (baroque) ambience

    Cafe Vienna (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd
    Tel 59-79-61 loc 324, 6:00-2:00
    seafood buffet Sat 18:00-22:00; 190 P ++
    dessert and coffee or tea included

    Pier 7 (93)
    Philippine Plaza Hotel, Cultural Ctr Compl
    Tel 832-07-01; 11:30-14:30, 18:30-24:00

    The Beachcomber (87)
    Aloha Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-90-61
    24 hrs

    Shin Shin Garden (90)
    2126 Mabini St, Malate, Tel 521-90-66
    11:00-14:00, 17:00-23:00

    Palaisdaan (62)
    1718 Adriatico St, Malate, Tel 522-01-10
    7:00-1:00; mainly serves city tour groups

    Bright Garden (54)
    Las Palmas Hotel, 1616 Mabini St, Malate
    Tel 50-66-61; 8:30-21:00

    Pinausukan (22)
    1207 Orosa St, Ermita, Tel 59-58-97
    11:00-23:00

    MAKATI

    Via Mare (146)
    Greenbelt, Legazpi St cor Paseo de Roxas
    Tel 85-23-06, 85-27-46, 85-73-63;
    11:30-14:30, 18:30-22:00; closed on Sun
    excellent continental seafood cuisine; specialties are crab in mango prao (chilled crab meat in mango boat), Bisque de Mediterranee en Croute (seafood bisque topped with pastry), Lapu-Lapu Caprice (pan-fried fillet of grouper with banana fries); exotic salads and desserts; very dis-tinctive ambience with Tiffany lamps and simmering brass; oyster bar features a cart of fresh oysters on ice; one of the best-trained crews in town provide attentive and courteous service; live guitar music at lunch, trio at dinner; menu is revised every six months combining familiar delectations with exotic innovations; private party rooms available

    Jade Garden (155)
    Makati Commercial Center, Tel 85-04-09
    12:00-14:00, 18:00-22:00
    One of the most elegant Chinese restaurant in the metropolis serving a wide variety of seafood dishes

    Nandau (142)
    Greenbelt Park, Legazpi St, Tel 816-06-21
    7:00-23:00; 1st class Philippine food, served in a traditional way; very nice surrounding park; for further details, see listing under 'tourist belt'

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Pubs & Bistros

    While "pub" has become a common term all around the world, the Philippines must be the only country in East Asia that uses the designation "bistro" for a particular type of res-taurant. It's not that easy to describe what a bistro exactly is. One could say, a bistro is a French pub, but that is not sufficient. Bistros are more fashionable and normally more elegant than pubs, and they tend to serve more sweet dishes. But unlike coffee shops bistros normally have most of their guests in the evening and at night. Many stay open until shortly before sunrise. Whereas a pub in the British sense is first of all a social place where one goes to meet friends and talk over a few glasses of beer (and perhaps eat in between), eating is a central affair in bistros. And it's not just snacks and sandwiches; bistros offer full scale meals, and often of a very good quality.

    The atmosphere is of much greater importance in a bistro than in a pure restaurant. Bistros are places to stay for two or three hours after dining and to chat with friends and have a few more drinks.

    As atmosphere is so important to bistros, they are furnished in a pleasant, and often expensive, way. Bistros are also not as well lighted as plain restaurants in order to create an intimate atmosphere. Generally, the music is not just background but a part of the entertainment, and some-times a reason to choose a particular bistro.

    Names of places which include the term "bistro" are not a safe guideline when contemplating a visit to one. Actually, some establishments that call themselves bistros are not bistros at all, as for example Bistro Remedios which is just a plain restaurant. The latest fad in bistros, particularly in Makati, are Jazz cafes. Several have newly opened in 1989. Many of the pubs have pool tables and dart boards.

    Where to eat:

  • Pubs & Bistros
  • Chateau 1771 (76)
    1771 Adriatico St, Malate, Tel 50-85-06, 58-54-89
    Mon-Wed 11:00-1:30, Thu-Sat 11:00-3:00, Sun 17:00-24:00
    elegant bistro and restaurant with a beautiful garden; very nice old world ambience; excellent Ceasar Salad; deli-cious desserts and after dinner snacks such as "Churros con Chocolate" (deep fried English style biscuits dipped at the table by the guest himself in melted chocolate), peach crepe and Coup Denmark (vanilla ice cream with orange syrup); amazing selection of coffees - from "Macadamia" (a brew of coffee and ground Macadamia nuts, with an exotic sweet-bitter taste) to "Ristretto" (a kind of espresso, but more concentrated and slightly more bitter)

    Remember When (77)
    1795 Mabini St, Malate, Tel 521-76-05
    16:00-4:00; a very pleasant bistro; serves good food (the steaks are recommended) and is cozily furnished; they have a huge collection of records of the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's; a good place to have a few beers after a good dinner and to revel in remembrances associated with the music of those times

    Moviola (69)
    Remedios Circle, Malate, Tel 521-01-17 11:00-2:30; Fri, Sat 11:00-4:00
    Sun 18:00-1:00
    meeting place of movie and theater people, artists and fashion designers; many of the dishes and drinks on the menu are named after famous movies or plays - High Noon (tenderloin with gravy), The French Connection (French onion soup), Some Like It Hot (shrimp sauted in garlic and green chili) - go and find out what you will get as "Marriage Italian Style"; genuine antique wooden chairs and tables; live piano music; good value set lunch (soup, salad, main course, coffee) for 60 and 70 pesos

    Cafe Adriatico (68)
    1790 Adriatico St, Malate, Tel 58-40-59
    10:00-6:00, Sun 14:00-6:00

    Hard Rock Cafe (68)
    1786 Adriatico St, Malate , Tel 59-57-09
    17:00-3:30, closed on Sun; a bistro that in many ways resembles an art gallery

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Theater Restaurants

    Theater restaurants in Metro Manila normally stage cultural dances. But culture as it is presented in these restaurants is of a light motif; the emphasis of the presentations is entertainment not art - unlike what is offered at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Dance at the Cultural Center may rank higher as an art form but is as entertaining as Shakespeare without costumes. At the theater restaurants the shows often focus on special effects, even stunts involving traditional swords or knives and occasionally fire rings.

    The dances basically reflect four cultural traditions: the traditions of the mountain tribes of Northern Luzon, of the Moslems in the far South, of the era of Spanish colonialism, and of the Filipino farmer.

    However, one theater res-taurant in Metro Manila is very different from the others - the Hobbit House on Mabini St. There the world-famous Philippine folk singer Freddie Aguilar performs three times a week. Saturday is usually one of the days Freddie Aguilar is on stage in the Hobbit House. As his schedule is ir-regular because of TV appearances, record productions and engagements abroad, it's advisable for those who want to be sure not to miss him, to call for his schedule (Tel 521-76-04 or 50-65-73).

    Where to eat:

  • Theater Restaurants
  • Hobbit House (77)
    1801 Mabini St cor Remedios St, Malate
    Tel 521-76-04, 50-65-73; 18:30-2:00
    Mexican specialty restaurant, live entertainment; the famous Filipino folk singer Freddie Aguilar performs three times a week; but Freddie Aguilar is not the only attraction at the Hobbit House; the place is operated entirely by lilliputians, and the small folk do a great deal serving their guests and entertaining them by their mere presence; furthermore, Freddie Aguilar may be by far the most famous but he is not the only Philippine folk singer performing at the Hobbit House.

    Zamboanga (53)
    1619 Adriatico St, Malate
    Tel 521-98-36, 57-28-35, 521-41-79
    9:30-23:00; the best established theater res-taurant with cultural dances in Manila; they train their own dance groups who ex-clusively perform in the Zamboanga Restaurant; shows with attractive and ex-otic Philippine folk dances and a few Tahitian dances start daily 20:00; serves seafood and Philippine dishes

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Buffets

    With all the advantages buffets have for the guest as well as for the restaurateur, it's suprising that they haven't become more common in Metro Manila earlier. But certainly, they are the trend now. Until recently buffets were confined to restaurants of five star hotels. But meanwhile, more and more independent restaurants also offer buffets. By now, there is lively competition so the guest can expect the best.

    Among the undoubted advantages of buffets to the guest are: first, no waiting time for the meal; second, individual selection of favorite foods; third, big portions with second or third helpings.

    But buffets can not only just be a good deal for the guest but also the restaurateur. His advantages are: first, tables are occupied for a shorter period of time and can be used for two settings during one lunch time; second, more economical preparation of the meals because they are not prepared one by one; third, shorter storage time for unprepared foods.

    Buffets really have the potential of being a good value. And the advantage of no waiting time is particularly important to all who eat out for lunch on a work day. Therefore, buffets are to executives what fast-foods restaurants are to ordinary employees.

    In general but particularly with buffets that include many warm disher, it's an advantage to arrive early - around 12:00 for lunch buffets. All lister buffets allow eating as much as one wants (unlike salad bars that commonly only allow one plate).

    Where to go:

  • Buffets
  • Cafe Vienna (94)
    Holiday Inn, Roxas Blvd, Tel 59-79-61
    6:00-2:00; breakfast buffet 6:00-10:00, 115 P ++; lunch buffet 11:00-14:00; Mo, Tu, Th, Fr 135 P ++; We 150 P ++; theme dinner buffets Mo-Sa 18:00-22:00; Mo Swiss, Tu American, We Caribbean, Th Bavarian, Fr Italian, Sa seafood; Mo-Fr 175 P ++, Sa 190 P ++; a dinner buffet offer with a nice idea to it; while buffets in many other five star hotels vary only every month, the dinner buffet at the Cafe Vienna is different every night; desserts and coffee or tea included

    Capriccio (91)
    Silahis Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 57-38-11
    at lunch time (11:30-14:30) Italian buffet, 160 P ++; appealing pasta dishes, salads

    Sunburst (91)
    Silahis Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Tel 57-38-11
    6:00-11:00 breakfast buffet, 110 P ++; Mo-Sa int'l lunch buffet, 155 P ++

    Makati

    La Bodega (140)
    Peninsula Hotel, Makati Ave
    Tel 819-34-56 loc 3950, 6:00-23:30
    breakfast buffet 7:00-9:30, 160 P ++; int'l lunch buffet 11:30-14:30, 195 P ++, Su 220 P ++; Sa Mongolian lunch buffet at the poolside, 195 P ++; din-ner buffet Mo-Sa 18:30-21:30, 240 P ++, featuring the cuisine of a different country every month; cooking some-times by guest chefs from around the world; desserts and coffee or tea in-cluded

    La Primavera (144)
    Legazpi St; Tel 818-19-42, 818-19-45
    11:30-22:30, closed on Sun
    lunch buffet 128 P ++; includes a large number of Italian specialities, among them many delicious antipasti; particularly these appetizers not only taste great but are exhibited with su-perb eye appeal; also included are two soups (one clear and one cream style soup), ten to fifteen pasta salads, at least one hot pasta dish, and even a variety of desserts such as mousses, tartlets, custard cakes

    San Mig Pub (143)
    Legazpi St, Tel 86-85-56, 85-42-36
    11:30-24:00, closed on Sun
    lunch buffet 90 P ++; more than 50 plates of the most excellent salad buf-fet in town; exclusively salads but in an astonishing variety; the buffet not only includes many vegetable salads (with asparagus, among others) but also many rich and satisfying meat salads; even a number of fruit and dessert salads are offered; many of the salads include expensive imported ingredients - olives, capers, grape leaves, maras-chino cherries, etc

    Prince of Wales (147)
    New Plaza Bldg, Greenbelt, Tel 815-42-74
    11:00-24:00; closed on Sun
    lunch buffet 110 P (no service charge added); good value and excellent quality; more than 50 different dishes to choose from; among the warm dishes are many that are particularly suited for buffets because they can be simmered (like their excellent Greek Moussaka) or because they can be eaten warm or cold (but shouldn't be eaten hot) like the great selection of French Quiches they offer; the lunch buffet is so popular that the restaurant is fairly full at lunch time - in spite of 170 seats; but the buffet is available quite early, shortly after 11:00; for those who can arrange to have their lunch that early, it's the best time to go there

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Vegetarian, Health Food

    Because there is no religious prohibition on meat the Philippines doesn't have a vegetarian tradition as does India for example. Therefore, there are not many purely vegetarian, or lacto-vegetarian, restaurants in Metro Manila or the archipelago.

    Of course, one can always order a mixed salad or a dish of vegetables at any restaurant and then one has a vegetarian meal. But explicit health food restaurants go further than ban-ning meat from their kitchens. Cooking in health food res-taurants always is as fast as possible in order not to destroy nutrients. And it includes ingredients normally used to a much lesser extent in ordinary res-taurants that, of course, also serve vegetables. Among these ingredients ranking high in health food restaurants but hardly used in others are nuts, cereal mixtures like granola, and oats.

    Health food restaurants, however, are not only an alternative for those more concerned about health than the average person but also for those who want to loose weight. As health food is always higher in fiber than other foods one can eat larger, filling portions without a high calorie intake.

    Where to go:

  • Vegetarian, Health Food
  • Guernica's
    Luxurious restaurants serving health food
    (70) - 1856 Bocobo St, Malate
    Tel 521-44-15; 11:00-14:30, 18:00-24:00
    (38) - 1326 Del Pilar St, Ermita
    Tel 50-09-36; 11:00-14:00, 18:00-21:00
    (162) - 1034 Pasay Rd, Tel 89-11-67
    11:00-14:00, 18:00-24:00, closed on Sun

    Mother Sachi
    252 Gil Puyat Ave; Tel 87-82-32
    Mon-Sat 11:00-21:00; one of the largest and most rigorous vegetarian restaurants in Metro Manila; meals from around 30 pesos up; probably the one restaurant with the cleanest air in the whole metropolis as they use ionizers to clear the air; these in-struments emit negative ions which cause dust particles and bacteria in the air to clump and sink to the ground; the instru-ments are also on sale

    Kim Wan Garden (58)
    571-573 Malvar St, Malate
    Tel 58-72-54, 26-97-21; 24 hrs
    Chinese and Vegetarian cuisine; vegetarian meals are catered to the needs of different vegetarian philosophies; one of the oldest vegetarian restaurants in Manila; color photo menu; upstairs Traveler's Inn

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Coffeeshops

    Coffeeshops in Metro Manila are chiefly associated with hotels. After all, every decent accommodation needs a place where guests can have their breakfast, and that place is usually called coffeeshop. In luxury hotels where speciality restaurants normally only open for lunch and diner hours, coffeeshops are open not only for breakfast but throughout the day and they don't only serve coffee but generally full meals at any time.

    There are very few independent coffeeshops in Metro Manila. Among them is the chain of Pancake House, with 9 branches in the metropolis. The chain opened its first outlet in 1970 at the Magallanes Commercial Center and has since then steadily expanded. They not only serve fluffy and multi-flavored pan-cakes but also an array of waffles, sand-wiches, salads, omelettes, tacos, spaghetti and desserts.

    Pancake House is popular with families and, the Philippine yuppie community and the editor of this book. He regularly visits their branch at the United Nations Avenue where buttermilk pancakes and double chocolate sun-dae are his favorite orders.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Dining / Pastry & Bake Shops

    From the tiny neighborhood bakeries to the large bakery chains with better quality baked goods, to the specialty, up-market pastry shops with freshly baked breads or an array of mouthwatering cakes and pastries, one can find in the metropolis what it takes to satisfy one's sweet craving.

    Spanish influence is evident in many of the names of local Filipino baked goods, though the actual product differs from the Spanish original. For example, the ensaimada here, with its small size and topping of butter, sugar and grated cheese, differs from the original ensaimada from Mallorca and Menorca, Spain, which is lighter in texture, coil-shaped also, but flatter, and sometimes up to about 2 feet in diameter. In fact, Dulcinea, the only Spanish pasteleria in the metropolis, attempted to popularize the authentic ensaimada, but the Filipinos preferred the local version. Other Spanish-inspired Filipino sweets include lengua de gato, polvoron, leche flan, and brazo de mercedes.

    But those who come across a pastel, will not find a cake as in Spain, but a rectangle of glutinous rice with a savory filling, wrapped in a banana leaf and steam cooked. Dulcinea, however, does produce the authentic Spanish tuna or chorizo pasteles, which are savory-filled pastries.

    One of the most startling items the Westerner will ever see in any bakery display case is the ube cake, whose screaming purple color is only slightly offset by touches of white cream frosting, or by macapuno, a kind of young coconut preserve. The ube is a root crop whose natural purple color intensifies upon cook-ing. Since it cannot be directly incorporated into cake recipes, ube ice cream is used.

    Not until 1986 when the government relinquished its monopoly on the sale of flour did many local quality pastry shops and bakeries spring up to meet the demand of the increasing number of West European visitors, expatriates, and well-traveled af-fluent Filipinos.

    Before then, the major outlets were La Suiza, founded by a Spanish couple, and Swibak, after "zwieback" or melba toast, founded by a Swiss. Both produced a variety of European-style pastries and baked goods.

    The best pastry shops and bakeries are found in the major shopping districts of Makati. Most of the 5-star hotels have an elegant coffee shop serving a selection of fine pastries and other desserts, from an in-house bakery which also sells for take-out. The Manila Midtown Hotel offers a limited selection of excellent and very competitively priced danish and doughnuts in Maxim's for take-out, but dining in requires a beverage purchase, in large hotels often priced three times as much as the pastry.

    Among the 5-star hotel bakeshops, those in the Mandarin Oriental, the Century Park Sheraton and the Holiday Inn offer an exquisite variety of home-made designer chocolates, using imported Swiss chocolate, various local and exotic nuts, assorted liqueurs and other fillings. They are available by weight or in attractive gift packages. The bakeshops in the above named hotels also offer the best whole grain breads.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping

    A large variety of food is grown and processed locally throughout the year. Domestically raised food is cheap compared to other countries. Also, foods locally produced reaches the market in a fresher condition than, for example, in the US. There are also imported foods available from neighboring countries and the west. Canned goods are relatively cheap, but things like imported cheese and meat are costly.

    Basic food is cheapest and often of the best quality in markets. These correspond to what Americans call Farmers' Markets. Rice costs approximately 11.50 pesos per kilo, pork is about 60 pesos, chicken 60, and beef 80. The price of fish and seafood is very inconsistent. As long as the weather is good prices may be as low as 18 pesos a kilo for fish, but when there has been a typhoon, or just bad weather, the price may double or triple. In comparison to meat and fish, vegetables generally are not cheap. The most common vegetables in The Country are potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, beans and eggplant. These all cost 10 to 15 pesos a kilo most of the time. Untypical vegetables such as cauliflower, red cabbage, and head lettuce are grown in the mountains around Baguio. But prices for these western vegetables are quite high. Head lettuce sometimes reaches 85 pesos a kilo.

    There also are native vegetables, many of them not found in western countries. The most important are: sweet potatoes (kamote), pumpkin (kalabasa), kasaba, kangkong, malunggay, gabe, ube, sitaw, lima beans (patani).

    Sweet potatoes are not unlike potatoes in taste, but have an underlying sweetness. The color varies from yellow to violet. Cassava, gabe and ube are also carbohydrate vegetables, similar to the potato. Kangkong and malunggay are leafy green vegetables. Sitaw are very long string beans. There is an abundance of tropical fruit available. Fruit is cheapest on markets. In Manila, the biggest market for fruits is Divisoria. Another market in Manila with a wide variety of high quality fruits is the San Andres market in the tourist belt. However, fruit prices at San Andres market are high.

    More Shopping information:

  • Markets
  • Markets vary only a little from one another. The center is generally a hall or wide building, a great part of which is the wet section where meats, fowl, and seafood are sold. In and around the hall, many vegetable and fruit dealers can be found. There are always some grocery stores around the markets which often also stock kitchenware and household products. In nearby side streets there are hardware and auto supply stores.

    Big markets often have a very wide selection of clothing whereas at the smaller markets, clothing is scant.

    It is possible to bargain at traditional markets. In modern stores, it is also possible to ask for and to get discounts for items which cost a few hundred pesos or more.

    At the market, the customer has the best chance to bargain if he goes in the early morning. Vendors take a good early sale as a positive sign for the rest of the day, and therefore are often willing to give a good discount. The term explaining this attitude is buena mano, coming from Spanish and literally meaning "good hand" or "lucky hand."

    Fixed prices are often only a formality. For example, hardware or households products bought at a market have, below the so called fixed price, a fixed discount price (often called the last price) which is readily available to those who ask for it.

    Stores will generally give a discount of 20 to 30 %. Wandering street vendors, on the contrary, will first offer prices which are three or four times as high as one would pay in a store and one may therefore start to bargain by offering 20 % of the amount first demanded by the vendors.

  • Department Stores
  • Department stores are found in all major cities of the archipelago. In Manila, most department stores are located downtown, especially along Rizal Ave in Sta Cruz. Other department stores of the capital may be found in the shopping centers such as the Makati Commercial center or the Cubao Shopping center.

    There are several big chains of department stores in The Country . In Manila, the biggest is Shoemart, in the southern Philippines, Gaisano is most common. The most highly rated department store chain is Rustan's, with outlets in the Harrison Plaza Shopping Mall and the Makati Commer-cial Center in Metro Manila, and along General Maxilom Ave in Cebu City. Other department store chains are Isetann, Fairmart, and Uniwide.

  • Jewelry
  • The Philippines are also renowned for its pearls. They are of high quality and considered to be among the best in the world. Pearls, which are the protective layer an oyster puts over an irritant inside its shell, are often cultivated. But the natural pearls are more valuable, especially if gray colored. Off many islands, the locals dive for the oysters. The pearls are sold to middlemen who then sell them again to the jewelers in Manila. Every time the pearls change hands, the price increases. But in the boutiques and shops of the metropolis, they are still cheaper than in western countries.

    The Philippines has rich deposits of gold ore, which it refines and exports. In contrast to neighboring countries, gold is relatively inexpensive. Gold panning and searching is a daring adventure for foreign tourists. The best goldsmiths of The Country are supposed to be found in Meycauayan, Bulacan province, just north of Manila. Aside from the jewelers in the shopping centers, several jewelry shops are located in Ongpin St in Manila's Chinatown.

    Foreigners interested in buying jewelry in the Philippines are advised not to take chances and to buy only from reputable jewelry shops to avoid being cheated. A lot of fake jewelry is offered on the sidewalks at bangketas (literally small benches).

  • Photo Material
  • The prices for photo products have changed greatly during the last few years. In late 1983, after the Aquino assassination, an ordinary 100 Asa, 36 shot film for color prints cost slightly more than 5 dollars at the official exchange rate and 4 dollars at the black market rate. Now, in mid-1988, the same film costs less than 2 dollars (36 pesos). That is much cheaper than in most western countries.

    Development and printing of ordinary color film is available everywhere. In the tourist belt of Manila, along Mabini St and inside Harrison Plaza, there are several shops with on site development and printing. Many photo stores in the tourist belt, but also in major provincial cities, develop and print in around one hour.

    Developing a color film depends on the brand and the number of exposures per roll. Colored prints cost 1.50 to 2.50 pesos each for album size and 3.50 to 7.50 for post card size.

    For photographic equipment, accessories, products and articles, one of the best stores is Manilafoto, 92 C. Palanca St, in Quiapo. Almost every store in nearby Hidalgo St is connected with photography in one way or another.

  • DeliKatessen
  • In recent years, Manila has become increasingly cosmopolitan, and that has had its effect on the food industry. More delica-cies,primarily imported, have appeared on the shelves of supermarkets, and many locally prepared items as well. Specialty restaurants and delicatessens have sprung up like mushrooms, at five-star hotels and at areas preferred by expat shoppers like Makati and Greenhills. Filipino gourmets, too have discovered the delicacies of other worlds as well, and especially those of old Europe.

    Europe has always been the paragon of exquisite culinary creativity in the preparation of food of any kind, and the taste and quality of Eu-ropean gastronomy is legendary around the globe. For centuries it was chiefly Spanish masterpieces which made their way into Filipino cuisine. Today the gourmet in Manila has a choice among delicatessens from almost any place in the world at rather reasonable prices. This may come as quite a surprise especially to American gourmets, who are used to paying exorbitantly for their refined tastes.

    Whether Spanish Chorizos, Italian Cabanossis, Hungarian Debreziner or German Bratwurst, Camembert, Brie, Gorgonzola, Mozarella, Edam, or queso de bola, French croissants, German rye bread or Austrian bagels, smoked salmon or Russian Beluga Molossol, spicy Turkish coffee, Jamaica blend or Italian roast, it is all there for the tasting 100% pure, and affordable to anyone.

    The Confiserie
    Jupiter cor Saturn St, Bel Air, Makati
    SM City Annex, Quezon City
    Soon at Robinson's Galeria
    The Confiserie, a Filipino-European joint venture is undoubtedly the unchallenged Mekka for chocolate lovers in the Philip-pines. The variety of the sweet temptations displayed is dazzling: 60 different kinds of irresistible nougats, petit-fours, marzipans, caramels, and pralines, filled with exquisite delicacies including fine nuts, fruits, creams and even seductive liqueurs. Around special holidays, the shops sell chocolates shaped in traditional motifs and figures. Patrons are also invited to bring their own designs to have them done in chocolate. Delivery within two days is guaranteed.

    The chocolates are entirely hand-made ac-cording to traditional European processes and under close supervision, and each is as finely crafted as a piece of jewelry. Conse-quently, the quality is at least equivalent to that of their imported counterparts. Moreover, it does not suffer through long storage and transportation. The Confiserie's kitchen is one of the most modern in The Country . Ovens, freezers and other equip-ment are all imported, and it is continu-ously dehumidified and air-conditioned. Even the delivery vans are acclimatized to ensure the stability of the chocolates during trans-port.

    Schwarzwaelder
    The Parkway, Greenbelt Park, Makati Ave
    87-52-20, 86-51-79
    The Schwarzwaelder delicatessen and restau-rant has probably the largest assortment of German specialties, including a wide variety of select wines and spirits, delicious sausages such as Hausmacher, veal Bratwurst, garlic sausage, Bure Schueblig, white Bavarian and Nrnberger, and whole grain, whole wheat, rye and other bread. The world renowned Jensen's pat‚s are also available. As the German art of distilling clear spirits from fruits or berries is unequalled in the world. Probably the most famous represen-tative of this ancient art is Schinkenhaeger, a rare drink made from juniper berries. It goes along perfectly with a plate of German specialties, or just ice cold with a beer chaser. It and other choice brands like Schladerer Kirschwasser, Himbeergeist and William's Birne (distilled from cherries, raspberries and William's pear, respectively), Berentzen Pirshaw peach Vodka and apple liqueur are sold at Schwarzwaelder, as well as select Badensian wines, Frstenberg Pilsener, one of the best beers in the world, and last not least that great brandy from one of the most enchanting parts of the Rhine valley, Asbach Uralt, each bottle distilled from five liters of the finest wines, matured in Limousin oak barrels and blended in the ancient Asbach family tradi-tion. Of course, Germany's best cham-pagnes, Henkell Trocken and Fuerst von Metternich are present as well in Schwarzwaelder's cellars.

    Treffpunkt Jedermann Corp.
    140 Jupiter St, Bel Air II, Makati
    Tel 85-92-50
    Mon-Sat 7:00-2:00
    18 Liberty St cor EDSA, Cubao
    Quezon City, Tel 722-28-10
    Daily 8:00-22:00
    All major credit cards accepted Established 1983, the Austrian delicatessen store Treffpunkt Jedermann is supplied by its sister company Fil-Austrian Corp., which manufactures all its products under rigid quality control and according to time-hon-ored Austrian/German traditions. They sell Austrian sausages, ham, cold cuts, salami, bacon, corned beef, and prime cuts of pork and beef. There also is genuine, healthy Austrian whole wheat bread, mustard and even im-ported Austrian and German wines such as the white Grner Veltliner, or the red Blaufr„nkisher and St.Laurent. On the grill terrace at the Jupiter St branch one can enjoy a wide variety of grill specialties like grilled sausage, meat, chicken, seafood, etc. The terrace is protected from the weather by a canopy.

    Saentis Deli
    7431 Yakal St, Makati
    Tel 86-26-47, 815-13-59
    Saentis offers a variety of first-class deli items such as German and Swiss sausages, hams, bacons, cooked cold cuts, smoked fish and imported cheeses as well as special cuts of fresh meat, fresh imported fruits, fresh herbs and spices, fresh vegetables, and baked goods, jars of olives, pickled capers and onions, jams, marmalades, and jellies. The author regularly buys imported European cheeses at Saentis as they havethe widest selection and very reasonable prices.

    Actually, many of the cheeses imported from Switzerland, Germany and France are not more expensive at Saentis than in Europe. The reason for this strange circumstance is to be found in European agricultural policies. As many European countries have an overprodection of milk and milk prodects, they all give export incentives. Not only is the production of milk and milk products for export practically free of taxation in European countries; they often even subsidize such exports. As Saentis passes on those discounts, their cheeses are virtually the same price as in The Country of origin, in spite of air freight cost. Their products are perfectly fresh, with air containers arriving weekly.

    La Tienda
    Spanish Food & Wine store
    5033 P. Burgos St, Makati
    Tel 88-16-51
    In the old Spanish tradition, La Tienda in-vites to flavor one's paella with saffron and chorizos and the salad with Spanish sardines and olives, or to try Spanish peaches and cream for dessert. And not to forget a bot-tle of rich, castilian wine to round the ac-cent of a Spanish table.

    Dulcinea Spanish Delicacies
    Pasteleria y Salon de Te
    Greenbelt Mall, Makati
    Tel 817-70-74, 85-54-95
    daily 7:00-21:30
    Dulcinea is chiefly a pastry shop but also offers traditional Spanish meats such as Jam¢n Serrano, Chorizo Salamanca, Vela de lomo, Manchego and blue cheese. For those with a sweet tooth, there is imported Swiss liqueur-filled chocolate and candied, glazed fruits like figs, peach, pineapple, kiwi, and orange. A specialty is their Hojaldre assortment, thin pastry layers with assorted fillings, sweet and also savory for hors d'oeuvres. Tarts or pastels with meat, tuna, chorizo and chicken fillings, freshly baked french bread, rolls and croissants are also available.

    Acke's Delicatessen
    1332 Perez St, Paco
    59-55-79, 59-56-04, 50-69-89, 59-75-20
    * The Landmark, Makati
    * South Supermarket, Magellanes Commercial Center, Makati
    * 2-5 President cor Don Rufino St, Para¤aque; Tel 342-55-58
    * South Supermarket, Ayala Commercial Center, Ayala Alabang
    * SM Supermarket, North EDSA, Quezon City
    Acke's offers a choice of European-style fresh prime cuts beef, pork and chicken, cold cuts and sausages, without any artifi-cial sup-plements whatsoever. The assort-ment includes native tocino, chorizo and longaniza. A ready-to-serve holiday spe-cialty of Acke's is their delicious cured, smoked, boiled and baked Farmer's ham, not salty as some Chi-nese hams are, and with glazed pineapple and cherry topping.

    Peninsula
    Ayala cor Makati Ave, Makati
    The Cake Shop & Delicatessen
    Tel 819-34-56 loc 3970
    Daily 7:00-21:00
    A delectable world of oven-fresh breads, pastries, chocolates and deli specialties; a gourmet paradise where one can find home smoked ham, salami, terrine and pate; country bread, croissants and old-fashioned pan de sal; tarts, fruit-topped cream cakes and French pastries; vintage wines and spirits and the world-famous Peninsula chocolates.

    Mandarin Oriental Hotel
    Makati Ave, Makati
    The delicatessen's principal feature is pat‚, homemade duck or chicken liver with brandy, rum, etc. in refillable, decoratively painted, duck-shaped crockery pots. There is also a small selection of sliced cold cuts, cheese and, occasionally, sausages. Also available are assorted pistachios, local and ex-otic nuts, liqueurs, creams, and assorted teas.

    Midtown Hotel
    Maxim's Adriatico cor Pedro Gil St, Ermita
    Daily 8:00-22:00
    Maxim's has delicious fresh French, whole wheat and rye bread as well as croissants. The doughnuts, twice the size of the chain variety, are a sellout at only P4.75. A cake of the month and the best Danish and pastries for only P5.25 a piece make Maxim's a real treat at bargain prices.

    Century Park Sheraton
    Deli-Snack, Vito Cruz st, Malate
    Tel 50-12-01, 50-60-41;daily 8:00-20:00
    The Century Park Sheraton deli seduces the patrons with an irresistible variety of palatable delicacies. Their specialties are in-house made cookies using Swiss chocolate, pralines, covered nuts and truffles, kiwi, apricot and strawberry preserves and jams. The bread section offers wonderful Danish, cinnamon twist, whole wheat, croissants, ba-nana cake, and fruit cake. For the salad friend there are ham, Italian and potato salads. Cheese wedges, sausages, sliced cold cuts, sandwiches, a black forest platter with as-sorted hams, and ice cream cre-ations invite to an appetizing snack. A va-riety of teas are available as well.

    Holiday Inn
    3001 Roxas Blvd, Mr Deli and bakeshop
    Tel 59-79-61 to 80; Mon-Sat 9:00-21:00
    Roxas Boulevard cor Vito Cruz, Malate
    Mr. Deli has excellent GruyŠre and Cheddar cheese, German bratwurst, homemade pick-led Lapu-Lapu and features a "Bread of the Week". The crois-sants, Danish, brioche, rye bread, sour dough and whole wheat bread available are always freshly baked.

  • Cigars, Cigarettes
  • The Philippines produces an excellent tobacco. The main tobacco-growing provinces are La Union, Ilocos, Cagayan and Isabela, all in Northern Luzon. Today most of the tobacco raised is used in the manufacture of cigarettes. However much more famous are Philippine Tabacalera cigars, produced by the La Flor de la Isabela company. Actually, after Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and decreed that Havana cigars are no longer produced almost exclusively for export but for consumption in Cuba herself, many cigar connoisseurs around the globe were said to have shifted to Philippine cigars. After all the seeds were brought from Cuba during the early Spanish times.

    While cigarettes are like fast-foods, cigars are more like elaborate French menus. There is not much to write about cigarettes but cigars are a science and an art just like French cuisine.

    No-one bothers to question what particular kind of tobaccos are used in the manufacture of cigarettes but in the case of cigars not only the tobacco variety is of importance but also the single leaf. Considered the best quality because of their mildness are the older leaves of each tobacco plant. Actually the best single leaves are positioned on the plant just above the lowest - the so-called sand-leaves that lay on the soil. Sand-leaves are commonly separated and used as cover leaves. But in general, the lower leaves are used for the manufacture of cigars while the top leaves characterized by a more acrid smoke are used for cigarettes.

    The Philippines grows around 50 million kilos of tobacco a year. The best quality grown in the archipelago is Simaba. It's a variety derived from Cuban tobaccos and therefore locally also called Cuban seeds. Simaba accounts for about 5 million kilos a year. Of this harvest only 10%, the finest tobacco, is used for the manufacture of Tabacalera cigars. Small quantities of Brazil and Sumatra tobacco are also grown in The Country . They are used primarily for blending. Simaba tobacco is exceptionally mild and Brazil and Sumatra are added to make the cigars stronger.

    Cigars smokers are commonly particular not only about the kind of tobaccos they smoke but also about the shapes of the cigars. Tabacalera manufactures its cigars in 20 different forms. Tabacalera produces them from about the size of cigarettes to the size of the Coronas Largas Especiales which have a length of 20cm. The most exclusive Tabacalera cigars are the Coronas Largas.

    A third aspect (after tobacco kind and cigar shape) is storage. Cigars can adopt the flavor of the particular wood a container is made of, they can absorb the flavor of a certain spirit that is allowed to evaporate in a cigar box, and first of all, correct storage of cigars avoids drying the tobacco. Special boxes have been invented that contain a humidifier. These boxes make sense for those who smoke cigars only on festive occasions.

    Except for standard boxes, Tabacalera offers its cigars in very elegant Narra wood boxes of 25 and 50 cigars, in a Narra humidifier box, in double deck boxes that contain two kinds of cigars, and in sampler boxes that contain 5 different kinds of 10 cigars each.

    Just like an elaborate French menu in comparison to fast-foods, a cigar is much more festive than a cigarette. While cigarettes would make only odd gifts for Christmas or any kind of jubilee, a box of cigars may be fitting for a smoker on any occasion. Tabacalera offers various ways to personalize such gifts of cigars. Initials can be engraved in Narra wood boxes for a minimal charge, and names or short messages can be printed on ring bands or cellophane wrappers for a low additional cost. A large number of European and American companies thereby can produce and give for Christmas presents of their own brand of cigars.

    Tabacalera cigars can be bought in Manila in many outlets. Some shops having a large selection of Tabacalera cigars in the tourist belt of Manila are near the Exotic Garden on Del Pilar St and Bon Appetite Store in Harrison Plaza. These stores also accept orders for personalized boxes, ring bands and cellophane wrappers. However, to get cigars at factory prices we suggest going to the Tabacalera factory itself. Luckily the factory is located right in the tourist belt, at 848 Romualdez St (Tel 50-80-26, 521-56-80). All taxi drivers know the Tabacalera cigar factory. The fare is about 10 pesos from the center of the tourist belt.

    Filipinos tend to favor imported cigarettes or those made in the Philippines under license such as Winston, Marlboro, Philip Morris. Europeans and Americans accustomed to paying 1.50 to 2 dollars a pack will find any cigarette here a good value. Local brands are better value than those produced under license.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing

    The Philippines is the only Christian nation in East Asia, so in Manila there are several old churches to view. Unfortunately, earthquakes through the last centuries have considerably reduced the number. Manila also has some nice parks worth visiting, and some old Spanish fortifications as well.

    Many museums are scattered all over the city. For specific details on museums, please refer to the chapter Art and Culture.

    Some popular sights:

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Rizal Park

    This park of about one third of a square kilometer (7.4 acres), located between Intramuros and Ermita, can be considered the oversized city plaza of Metro Manila. It is one of the most beautiful city plazas (or city parks) in the world, less because of the way it is designed, landscaped or planted, but because of ways in which the people of Manila make use of it.

    The park, named after the national hero, Jose Rizal, is divided into three parts by Roxas Blvd and Maria Orosa St. The part nearest Manila Bay is referred to as the Grandstand Area. The portion between Roxas Blvd and Maria Orosa St is the Monument Area named after the Rizal monument, while the segment between Maria Orosa St and Taft Ave is designated the Globe Area, in reference to a globe in center of the skat-ing rink.

    In spite of its giant size, Luneta, as Rizal Park is commonly called, never looks big. On the contrary, every Saturday, Sunday or holiday, it seems too small to accommodate all the people strolling around. And Rizal Park does not close at night. The music, broadcast through numerous loudspeakers, continues until after midnight, and the lights do not go out until dawn.

    Luneta is emptiest around noon time, be-cause more often than not, it is too hot to stay in the sun. The most pleasant time in Luneta is in the evening.

    Photographers by the dozens are in the park to take pictures of strollers for a small charge, and various vendors hawk their wares. The park also serves as a meeting place for both saints and sinners, as there are small evangelical groups and faith healers as well as male and female pros-titutes.

    Even though Rizal Park is listed here un-der sightseeing, along with historic monu-ments, it is not only a place to see but a place to be. Foreigners residing in Manila easily adopt the Filipino habit of just stroll-ing through the park during leisure hours.

  • Rizal Park / Grandstand Area
  • Along the harbor front in back of the grandstand, people picnic, swim, stroll, sit, sleep, and wash clothes. It is also a place where many like to watch the famous sunset over Manila Bay. There are two playgrounds (6,7) for children, and several refreshment stands. A comfort room and a police outpost (8) are located under the grandstand.

    At one end of the sea front there are boats for the harbor and sunset cruise (9) as well as cruises and guided tours to Corregidor. Monday through Friday Golden Horizon Cruise Services operates a sunset cruise in the evening. On Saturdays there are two morning cruises and two evening trips and on Sundays and holidays they have 5 morning trips and 4 afternoon and evening trips.

    Also along the sea front is a commemorative (10) in honor of the first landing of the China Clipper in Manila November 29, 1935. The clipper used to pull right up to the side of the Manila Hotel.

    Today the site is a dock for the MV Island Cruiser which makes tours to Corregidor daily at 7:30 and returns at 12:20. On Sunday there is a trip at 13:30 with return at 17:50. For reservations and further information call Sun Cruises Inc Tel 50-66-11 to 18, 58-88-09, 521-07-91, 521-07-92. Often there are small groups of evangelists (11) with loudspeakers in this area. There are several restaurants (5) which extend over Manila Bay.

    The Quirino Grandstand (12), is the site for big political demonstrations. During the last weeks of Marcos' rule, this was where Cory Aquino's huge rallies were held reportedly attended by up to two million people. Even if this figure is exaggerated, the rallies were definitely gigantic. 500,000 people is still an enormous crowd. Some of the more successful and commercialized evangelists also talk to their audiences at the grandstand. And the grandstand is frequently used as the start and end point of marathons. Sometimes it is the site of Ati-Atihan contests.

    In front of the grandstand is a large field where many teams of various kinds of sports practice and play. The area is big enough for several soccer fields. Just opposite the Manila Hotel is the Rizal Park Post Office (13).

    Statues of a carabao (15), the water buffalo which still does most of the work in rural areas, and a Tamaraw (15), the small-sized wild buffalo in the Philippines, may be seen on the stairs which lead to the grandstand portion when coming from Roxas Blvd. Along Roxas Blvd, double deck buses can be boarded for rides to Baclaran, all the way along the sea front.

  • Rizal Park / Monument Area
  • The Rizal Monument (1) marks the final resting place of the remains of Jose Rizal. Around the clock, the memorial has Marine guards of honor trying to be as unaffected by the onlookers as only guards of honor can be.

    At the monument, the Philippine president regularly attends flag ceremonies (2) on political holidays, and foreign dignitaries of-ten place wreaths here. All road markers on Luzon island show the distance to the Rizal monument.

    In a grove of trees is Bagumbayan Field (17) where Rizal was executed by the Spanish. The place is surrounded by a low wall on which are inscribed some of Rizal's writings in several languages. Between Bagumbayan Field and the monument is a marker at the place the Spanish executed criminals (and some patriots) by garroting (18). The marker has a picture showing the device used.

    There is a reflection pool (19) which extends almost the full length of this part of the park containing fountains which can pulse, and which at night are sometimes il-luminated with colored lights. Acrobats practice at the northwest end on Sunday afternoons.

    For the hungry, thirsty, and weary there are five refreshment stands in this section. There also are two enclosed gardens, a Japanese Garden (20) and a Chinese Garden (21) which has a well populated fish pond. Entrance to both costs a small fee. The pigeons (22) also have a resting area here.

    A band shell (23) is the site of many kinds of entertainment throughout the year. The regular programs include an amateur night on Saturday and Concert at the Park on Sunday. Both are free and begin at 17:00. Free films, many donated by various em-bassies, are shown after the performances on Saturday and Sunday nights.

    Next to the band shell there is a shady area with chess tables (3) which are always in use. Also some chess players bring their boards with them and meet there.

    A beautiful floral clock (24) adorns the East end of the monument part of the park. Even when the clock is not working it is a popular place for Filipinos and foreigners alike to be photographed.

    A popular spot in the monument area is a restaurant operated by the deaf and dumb (4).

    Near the Kalaw entrance to the park on Sunday mornings elderly Chinese do their exercises and meet to converse.

    Just back of the band shell in Luneta but with an entrance on Burgos St is a planetarium for a trip among the stars. Shows are daily at 9:00-10:00, 10:30-11:30, 13:30-14:30, and 15:30-16:30. Viewers are ad-vised to arrive one half hour before show times. Admission: adults 3 pesos, children and students 1 peso. Children below the age of five are not admitted. Programs are in English.

  • Rizal Park / Globe Area
  • The third portion of Rizal Park is dominated by a globe (25) which is also a fountain and is illuminated at night. Around this structure is a roller skating rink (26) which is operated from the cooler hours of the afternoon until almost morning.

    Stretching between the rink and Taft Ave is a reflection pool(27) containing a physiographical model map of the Philippines. There is an elevated platform to provide a better view.

    Within, but not a part of this section are the Department of Tourism (28), the Department of Finance (29) and a children's playground (30). There are also several refreshments stands.

    There is an artificial waterfall (31) on a traffic island in Maria Orosa St.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Paco Park

    A very beautiful small park, a real oasis of shade, cool, and quiet within the throb-bing metropolis, is Paco Park at the multi-intersection of Padre Faura St, General Luna St, and San Marcelino St. Its romantic at-mosphere is slightly diminished by the fact that it originally was built and served as a cemetery. But still, weddings are popular there on Saturday mornings, and everyday lovers and others like to stroll in the park, atop the walls and around the pool in the center.

    It was in 1807 that the construction of the cemetery was begun. The cemetery was put into use in 1820, two years before its completion. In 1859 it was enlarged. The remains of Dr. Jose Rizal were secretly in-terred there by the Spanish from his death until December 29, 1912. Most of the graves of the original cemetery were in niches within two thick concentric stone walls. Several rectangular sections have been built into the outer wall for children's graves. A circular chapel makes up a part of the inner wall.

    The park is open 8:00 to 17:00 daily, entrance is 1 peso. Paco Park Presents is a regular feature on Fridays, starting at 18:00, with a variety of programs. Performances are outdoors unless it rains; then they are held in the chapel.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Intramuros

    Intramuros (Spanish within walls) bounded by the Pasig River, Taft Ave, P. Burgos St, and Bonifacio Drive with an area of 60 hec-tares (148 acres) was the Spanish capital of the Philippines. For centuries, only Spaniards and mestizos were allowed to live within the walls. The gates were locked to pure Filipinos (called Indios at that time) who lived in the area which today is Rizal Park, and to Chinese, the Sangley, who lived in the Parian which today is Mehan Gardens between theMetropolitan Theater and Manila City Hall.

    Construction of Intramuros was begun in 1574 by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, according to the plans of the Jesuit father Antonio Sedenio. The wall, 4km (2.5mi) around its perimeter, was started in 1584 by Governor Santiago de Vero. It took six years to finish the fortress walls and surrounding moat built to protect the Spanish from the natives. Intramuros protected not only the body but also the soul of the Spanish. There were five chapels and seven churches: San Fran-cisco, Santo Domingo, San Ignacio, (only the outer walls remain standing on the cor of Anda and Arzobispo Sts.) Recollets' Iglesia de Nicolas, Lourdes, San Agustin (45) and Manila Cathedral (46). Only the last two survived WW II (see below for descriptions), and the decision not to rebuild the others is claimed to have taken the spirit and soul from the walled city.

    There were also 3 convents, 2 palaces, 2 universities, and 88 government offices inside.

    Access to the city was through seven gates each with a draw bridge over a 7-8ft (2m) deep moat, parts of which still exist. The portals (Spanish Puerta), were: Real (32), a part of which was modified into open air theaters where regular programs are presented (see chapter Art and Culture); del Parian (34); Isabela II (36); Postigo (38) renamed Pintong (Tag. door) which currently houses the Intramuros Police Detachment; de Sto. Domingo (65), and ravelin of the same name have been reconstructed Sta. Lucia (39) built during the time of Gov Gomez Perez Darmarinas, improved in 1782,bulldozed after WW II and restored; and a small river gate inside Fort Santiago. The perimeter of the wall is not only broken by the original gates but also by large gaps which were more recently provided to allow access to truck and car traffic. General Luna St. gap (near Puerto Real), Quezon gap (35) built for the car of the former President Quezon and opens onto Lawton, Aduna St gap (37), and Victoria gap (33).

    The outer wall had major projecting bastions (baluarte) at each corner: de San Diego (42), de Maestranza, not yet rebuilt, de San Andres, de Dilao (61) formerly Baluarte de San Nicolas y De Carranza, de San Gabrial; and four within the fort proper: de Sta. Barbara, de San Lorenzo, de San Miguel, and de San Francisco (63) aka San Fernando de Dilao or San Lorenzo San Francisco, built to reinforce landward side of the wall between Puerta del Parian and Puerta Real in the late 18th century (reconstructed with cannon). Puerta del Parian was named Parian de Arroceros (Chinese Rice Dealer's Market). It was the official gate for the governors-general after the British occupation (1762-1764). Today it has been largely reconstructed and there is a foot-passage to Lawton. Puerta Isabel II opened in 1861 and named after Queen Isabel of Spain. A horse drawn trolley (tram, street-car) entered Intramuros through this portal which has been partially restored. There were a number of small bastions along the West wall.

    Generally there was a detached fortification (ravelin) having two faces to protect the major bastion's flanks and one in front of each gate. Ravelins at gates had the same name as the gate. The Revellin de Recoletos (62) is an exception as it fronts no major gate but was built to defend the Baluarte de Dilao and de San Andres. It was named after the former nearby Recoletos Church and is now called Aurora Garden in honor of Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon. It has been largely rebuilt and can be entered from the inside wall through a small door in the wall.

    Through the centuries many stones of the wall were taken away and used in other buildings. The moat was filled-in by the US in 1904 to reduce malaria. What was left was destroyed in World War II. In 1966, however, a reconstruction program was started. The restoration is still in progress, but some parts have been finished along Magallanes Drive. The park area surrounding the wall, which was once the moat, contains a public golf course, called Club Intramuros. There are also nicely situated public tennis courts along the ancient walls.

    The Intramuros Administration was created in 1979 and has encouraged and regulated reconstruction. Near San Agustin Church several buildings have been erected in old Spanish style. Among them are Casa Manila, a museum depicting the lifestyle of 19th cen-tury Intramuros, Muralla, a restaurant with 19th century ambiance and El Amanecer.

    El Amanecer at 744 Calle Real del Palacio (Gral. Luna St.) is a majestic reproduction of a 19th century town house. The building was made of hand hewn paving stones, wide board panels, massive adobe blocks and traditional capiz shell windows. The name El Amanacer, dawn's first light, is meant to symbolize new light on Philippine history and culture. The building houses: Silahis Art and Artifacts, Tradewinds Bookshop, Ilustrado Cafe and Restaurant, Chang Rong Antique Gallery, and Galeria de las Islas Philippine Folk and Genre Art. Near the corner of Bonifacio Drive and Burgos St is a loaded five-inch gun (43).

    The College of San Juan de Letran (44) was founded by Diego de Santamaria in 1630. It absorbed the school of Juan Geronimo Guerrero in 1638. After it was destroyed by earthquake in 1645, the college was removed from the Parian to where it has remained since 1669. The building was remodeled in 1937.

    The Governor's Palace (47) which today houses the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, served as a palace until 1863 when it was partially destroyed by earthquake. At that time, the residence of the governors was transferred to Malacanang.

    Across the Plaza de Roma (51), Plaza McKinley under the US and Plaza Royal under the Spanish, are the ruins of what was formerly the Cabildo, or City Hall (52).

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Fort Santiago

    The area just south of the mouth of the Pasig river was fortified by the Muslim Rajah Suliman, even before the Spanish ar-rived. It was an ideal location to defend the area, particularly against enemy ships going up river.

    First the Spanish just took over the wooden palisades, but in 1590 they began to construct a stone Fort Santiago.

    The fort served as a military post, as a residence for high ranking Spanish officials, and as a prison. It was as prison that it was used the longest, actually until the end of World War II. Hundreds died in over-crowded cells and in dungeons which were flooded by the tides. The grounds are divided into an outer, Plaza Moriones (60), and an inner part. They are separated by a moat and a high wall. Except for the barracks, which are still in ruins, the fort has been restored as a public park. Fort Santiago is open to the public daily from 6:00 to 22:00. There is a minimal entrance fee.

    The main attraction of the inner grounds, or the Fort proper, is the Rizal Shrine (49). This museum is open from 8:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 17:00. It contains memorabilia of the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal and a reproduction of the cell where he was im-prisoned and wrote his Last Farewell prior to his execution by the Spanish on December 30, 1896. No smoking and no photographs are allowed inside. There is no entrance fee but donations are solicited.

    The Plaza de Armas in the inner part is the original site of the Muslim fort of Rajah Suliman. At the side of the plaza, a part of the ruined barracks (called Dulaang Rajah Sulayman) contains a stage where all kinds of cultural performances including plays, book-launchings, concerts and presentations remembering Rizal take place.

    The former Spanish powder magazine was used as a prison by the Japanese, and 600 of the 800 imprisoned there during World War II died and are buried in a mass grave under a nearby cross. The subterranean dun-geons which regularly were flooded may be seen as well as a river gate which allowed a secret exit from the fort.

    Plaza Moriones has flower beds, and a fountain as well. To one side is the Hacienda Real (in ruins) which was the former warehouse of the Spanish treasury. On the opposite side are bomb shelters which now house the rusting remains of former presidential limousines. There is also a slope to the top of the wall from which one may see an outer artillery fortification, Ravelin de San Francisco (50). At the bot-tom of this was a connecting tunnel gate to Baluartillo De San Francisco and its guard house. The ruins of one building was a Japanese prison which held among others the former presidents Elpidio Quirino and Fer-dinand Marcos. There is an 1892 locomotive and car of the kind that made the Manila-Dagupan run. Dagupan is a city 6 to 8 hours north of Manila.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / San Agustin Church

    On orders from Philip II the area on which San Agustin stands was designated by Adelantado Miguel Legazpi to the Augustinian order. San Agustin Church is the oldest church in the Philippines, completed in 1606. But it was not the first church built in Manila by the Spaniards, and it was not even the first San Agustin Church. At the same site the Spaniards had built other churches before, constructed of wood. The first church was consecrated here June 24, 1571, the day Manila became capital of the Spanish colony. But in the following decades the wooden buildings burned down three times. So in 1599, the construction of the current stone church began.

    As Filipinos were not stone-masons the work was done by Chinese workers who ironically left several stone-carved Chinese dogs to guard the Christian edifice. They must have done their job well.

    San Agustin is the only church in Manila which has resisted all earthquakes and the bombings of World War II. It has lived up to the motto "Firmiter Aedificata" (strongly built), given to it in early times.

    To the right of the main altar is a chapel con-taining a tomb with the skeleton of Miguel de Legazpi.

    For centuries, San Agustin Church has been the center of the Agustinian Order, not only for the Philippines but for all of Asia. And even now, it is used as an Agustinian seminary. This is the reason why not all of the facilities are open to the public.

    The halls of the lower floors and a part of the second floor were converted in 1973 into a Museum that displays Hispanic-Filipino religious art. The Recibidor and Refectoro has frescos, statues, carvings and antique furniture from the collection of the late Don Luis Araneta. There is a crypt (Cripta) where prominent Filipinos and Spaniards are entombed as well as a memorial to 141 POW's killed by the Japanese in WW II. The Sala de la Capitulacion,according to tradition, is where Gov Gen Fermin Jaudenes prepared the draft for the surrender of Manila to the US in 1898.

    A collection of very fine liturgical vestments is on display in the Sacristia. Also on display are the collection of the Intramuros Administration and a 19th century photo collection of churches built throughout the Philippines by the Augustinians.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / The Manila Cathedral

    The Manila Cathedral, see of the archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Sin, is just a hundred meters away from San Agustin Church. At this site, the Spaniards had also erected an older church in 1571. But unlike San Agustin Church the subsequently built and rebuilt stone churches at this site have always been destroyed or badly damaged by earthquakes. And during World War II, the cathedral was one of the seven churches in Intramuros bombed to ruins. But unlike the six other destroyed churches, the cathedral was rebuilt, with strong financial support from the Vatican.

    To the left of the main altar is a stair leading to a crypt where previous bishops of Manila are buried.

    For lovers of the arts, the stained glass windows may be of interest. They were designed by the Filipino artist Galo Ocampo. The Manila Cathedral also has the biggest organ in Asia, with 4500 pipes.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Quiapo Church

    Quiapo Church, at Plaza Miranda along Quezon Ave, is worth seeing not so much for its architecture but more for its contents. The Black Nazarene which is one of the Philippines' most worshipped repre-sentations of Christ is kept here. The statue allegedly was carved by Mexican Indios at the beginning of the 17th century and brought to the Philippines by one of the regular galleons which carried most foreign trade to the archipelago in the early days.

    On Friday evenings, long lines of the faithful pass by the glass case which con-tains the figurine. They present to it their grievances from which they request relief, and their wishes which they expect to be-come reality.

    On Good Friday, the Black Nazarene is carried in procession throughout the city, fol-lowed by huge masses.

    Quiapo Church is located in one of the most air polluted areas of Metro Manila. This is probably why the whole church needed renovation in the middle of the eighties. Now, the original Quiapo Church is mantled in a concrete housing which might resist jeepney exhausts better than the old stone walls.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Malacanang Palace

    Malacanang Palace on the bank of the Pasig River in San Miguel is a lesson to everyone who does not know that many rulers of poor countries live in more luxury than those of rich countries. Malacanang, the living quarters of the deposed president Fer-dinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, can be visited as a museum.

    The museum is a major sightseeing attrac-tion not only for foreign tourists but for lo-cals as well. In the first months after the downfall of the Marcoses, so many people wanted to visit Malacanang, that in order to control the number of viewers, they had to get first their tickets at the Department of Tourism. Then, they still had to stand in line for hours to get in. Even now, on Saturdays when admission is free, hundreds of people visit the palace.

    Apart from its social and political in-decency as the former seat of a dictator-ship, Malacanang Palace is a nice piece of architecture. It was built along the Pasig river as The Country residence of a Spanish nobleman, and therefore was named by the Philippine fishermen May lakan iyan, meaning "noble people are living here".

    The Spanish colonial government took over the place in 1825 and used it as residence for its general governors from 1863. In the next 35 years, Malacanang was damaged several times by earthquakes, fires and typhoons. But each time it was repaired, it came out more magnificent than before. From 1899 onwards, U.S. governors replaced the Spanish and improved the area according to their way of life. When the Philippines gained partial independence from the U.S. in 1935, Malacanang became the of-ficial and regular residence of the Philippine presidents, until Mrs Aquino came to power.

    Since the Malacanang's main building serves as a museum now, President Cory Aquino holds office in a secondary building of less grandiose proportions, the so-called Malacanang guest house.

    Jeepneys from the handicraft market under the Quezon bridge, Quiapo, with the destina-tion "San Miguel" pass the palace.

    Viewing Schedule
    Monday and Tuesday
    9:00-11:00, 13:00-17:00
    guided tour, entr P 200
    Thursday and Friday
    9:00-11:00; guided tour, entr P 200
    12:00-15:00, public viewing
    entr P 5/10 children/adult
    Saturday
    9:00-15:00, public viewing; entr free
    Closed Wednesday and Sunday

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / CCP (Cultural Center of the Phils.)

    The buildings of the Cultural Center Com-plex were erected on reclaimed land along Roxas Blvd. To some people the complex is a symbol of the extravagance of former president Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda. For details on cultural activities at the Cultural Center Complex, see chapter on Art and Culture.

    The Cultural Center (21) along Roxas Blvd is easily recognized by its gigantic driveway. It houses a large symphony concert hall, a smaller theater and an experimental theater, too. The school and offices of the world famous Ballet Philippines are located in the premises, and there is also a small eth-nological museum, a library, and an exhibi-tion room.

    The Exhibition Center (22), also named Philcite is used for trade promotion and commercial exhibits. The Folk Arts Theater (24) has a hall with a capacity of 8000 seats, which can be completely converted to different uses. The Convention Center (25) has large facilities, a plenary hall, small meeting rooms, a restaurant, etc.

    The huge Manila Film Center (27) is not used for film-related activities anymore and parts of the building are occupied by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Passports are issued there.

    The Philippine Plaza Hotel (26) is, together with the Manila Hotel, the most luxurious in Manila.

    The Philtrade (37) provides much informa-tion on local products for those who want to export from the Philippines.

    The Design Center (23) exhibits modern design applied to any commercial product.

    Two pavilions located in the area are the Coconut Palace (34) (a former luxury town house of Imelda) and the more accessible tourist pavilion, called Fiesta Islands (36). The latter has a beautifully landscaped gar-den, with a view over the bay, a stage for music performances and a luxury dining room.

    At the Hovercraft Pier (30), a yacht (not a Hovercraft) leaves every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 for a package tour to Corregidor Island. The tour costs around 700 pesos per person; Filipinos get a 50% discount. Arrival back in Manila is at 16:00.

    The whole area is pleasant for strolling - even though it is not as pleasant as Rizal Park. There is a carnival ground (31) which is very busy during the Christmas season. Parking areas are sometimes converted to tennis courts. There are also bicycles for rent.

    *****

    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Nayong Pilipino

    At Nayong Pilipino, literally Philippine Vil-lage, near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are rebuilt in miniature many fea-tures of the Philippine archipelago. One can see houses in the style of the various Philippine islands, and crafts of tribes. Even landscape attractions are rebuilt, e.g. Mayan Volcano, rice terraces. The area also houses a number of museums including an aquarium (for details on these museums, see chapter Art and Culture, also in the Manila section). On Saturdays and Sundays at 16:00, there are shows of traditional Philippine dances. When-ever there is a big festival somewhere in the archipelago, similar programs are also held at Nayong Pilipino.

    As the area of the Nayong Pilipino is quite large, there are transportation facilities within. A jeepney does a round tour. Nayong Pilipino is open daily from 6:00 to 21:00, entrance is 22.50 pesos for foreigners and 10 pesos for Filipinos.

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    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Chinese Cemetery

    The Chinese Cemetery in La Loma is worth seeing because of the ornate, some-times extravagant and lavish mausoleums that have been built to house the dead. It is pos-sible to have a passing view by riding the Light Rail Transit (LRT), the elevated city train of the metropolis, in the direction of Monumento. Those wanting to spend time there can get off at the R. Papa station.

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    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Bamboo Organ

    The only bamboo organ in the world can be viewed in San Jose church (constructed 1797 to 1819) in Las Pinas. The organ was built by the Spanish Priest Diego Cera from 1816 to 1824. To make the bamboo elastic it was kept in wet sand for several months. The organ consists of 832 bamboo pipes and 121 metal pipes, has 22 registers and a five octaves manual. The organ was completely renovated in 1973, in West Germany. Once a year, there is the week long Bamboo Organ Festival during which world famous organists play the instrument.

    Jeepneys from Baclaran Market with the destination Las Pinas or Zapote pass San Jose church. It is part of commercial tour.

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    Philippines / Metro Manila / Shopping / Sightseeing / Hobbit House

    The Hobbit House, 1801 Mabini St, near Malate Church, is an attraction by itself. It is a folk music house almost completely run by lilliputians. But not only for this curiosity, the Hobbit House is worth a visit.

    Also there, the world famous Philippine folk singer Freddie Aguilar performs twice a week, usually including Saturdays, and he has done for the past ten years. However, he is not the only singer who regularly performs there. There are also Jazz and other folk musicians, showing their genius or talent, respectively. Among them is Egoy, physically the smallest, but musically one of the greatest Elvis imitators.

    The Hobbit House opens every day around 19:00. There is a entertainment charge which depends mainly on the fame of the per-former for that evening.