Manila American Cemetery


MCKINLEY ROAD. Serious, simple, and sprawling, this is the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Established a decade after World War II in what is known then as Fort McKinley, it is the largest resting place for American service men outside the United States.

The best way to reach the cemetery from EDSA is to go under the canopy of interlocking branches of old acacia trees along McKinley Road passing by the entrances of the Manila Golf and Country Club and the Manila Polo Club and then Sanctuario de San Antonio in posh Forbes Park.


FORT MCKINLEY. Historically, McKinley Road linked the Neilson Airfield to Fort McKinley. After World War II, Neilson airport was decommissioned and the Zobel de Ayala family converted the airport runways into Ayala and Makati Avenues and developed the surrounding area into today’s Makati CBD. Years later, Fort McKinley was renamed Fort Bonifacio.

From Lawton Avenue, like soldiers standing in formation the row after row of simple, white Carrara marble crosses can be viewed through the fence enclosing the cemetery.



AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENT. Pass the unmarked marble headstones of  American soldiers who lost their lives in defense of the Philippines and East Indies during World War II is the American Battle Monument. The circular marble mall was designed by architect Gardner A. Dailey.  Etched on walls are the names of soldier whose dead bodies were never found. A bronze flower is placed next to the names of soldiers whose remains were later discovered.

The Philippines was a US territory when the Japanese began its surprise attacks to country. From 1941 to 1942, thousands of USAFFE troops and Filipinos died while defending the country from the invading Japanese forces.



WAR STORIES. There are large mosaics that recall the significant actions of the USAFFE in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. This part of the memorial where one can chance upon a war veteran retelling his experiences during World War II.

On Good Friday of 1942, the Japanese launch their final offensive. The battlefield was at the foot of Mount Samat in Bataan, where the USAFFE made its last stand.  After a week, the USAFFE forces surrendered to the Japanese. The Filipino-American prisoners of war were forced to march from Bataan to San Fernando Pampanga. This in history is known as the infamous Death March.


ART DECO CHAPEL. The cemetery chapel is decorated with bas-relief sculpted by Boris Lovet-Lorski. The façade depicts allegorical figures of Liberty, Justice and Country.

Columbia crowns the zenith, holding a child. Inside the chapel is a beautiful mosaic of flowers forever living in Art Deco style.

Published in: on October 23, 2016 at 4:50 pm  Comments (2)  

Art in the Park


CELEBRATE ART. Anyone should be able to own art. But prices of artworks nowadays are too prohibitive for common folks like me. The Art in the Park event organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines solves the challenge of making art by Filipino artists ‘affordable’ and reachable in a venue where there is a great amount of access.

Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village Makati is popular for its weekend market. But once a year, the regular food vendors give way to a gathering of selected art galleries and art groups for this annual celebration of Pinoy art.




ART WHERE IT BELONGS. Blending together with the lush greenery were large scale sculptural installations that transformed Salcedo Park as an exhibition of contemporary art.  Each sculptural installation was creatively placed in the flower beds along the walkway or were hanged or coiled on tree branches.

Greeting spectators is the happy-looking sculptural painting by Dex Fernandez. In the central walkway, we passed under Mac Valdezco whimsical plastic sculpture. Then there is the installation by Pete Jimenez that invites spectators to interact with his assemblage of found metal objects.



ART FOR SALE. Off course, the happiness is in seeing the enormous array of artworks on sale. Browsing at the original paintings, prints, pottery, sculptures, collectible toys, jewelry, wearable and useful art showcased in each booth has been an exciting learning experience.

In the process of looking at the works of young artists alongside with some of the established names in Philippine art, we are learning more about the current art scene. Events like this provide an opportunity to prepare and educate new generation of collectors who will perhaps together with our young, emerging artists be the key players of our future local art industry.



FOOD FOR THE SENSES. We also enjoyed most of the side activities. We watched Neil Arvin Javier performed his on-the-spot graffiti mural by the playground and the fishballs and fruit drinks at the food strip. Talk about multi-sensory impact!



EPILOGUE: FRIENDLY AND RELAXED.  To be immersed in trove of art is overwhelming. But given the relax atmosphere, we find it easy to ask about the art pieces that interest us and find out more about artists by casually conversing with artist Kidlat Tahimik, Charlie Co, and Ral Arrogante and the friendliest gallery owners like Albert Avellana and Dr. Joven Cuanang at the 2013 edition of Art in the Park.

Pia y Damaso

We’ve learned about the colorful characters of Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo during high school. In Greenbelt, Makati, we revisited the same characters at Ristorante Pia y Damaso.

Named after the controversial Doña Pia Alba and Padre Damaso Vardolagas, the restaurant serves mouthwatering cakes and desserts inspired by the iconic character from Noli and Fili.

With such names as Sisa’s Dementia, De Espadaña Quezo de Bola, Brazo ni Doña Vicki (as in Victorina), Ibarra’s Kiss, Maria Clara’s Velvety Cheesecake, Damaso’s Panaforte, Wicked Simoun, Pia’s Secret Passion, Salvi’s Canonigo, and even Guni-guni, a sugar free truffle cake with chocolate almond pastille, dark chocolate mousse, and ganache, desserts at Ristorante Pia y Damaso is a fun and sweet way to review Rizal’s timeless novels.

Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm  Comments (1)  

Caracol Festival

Caracol Festival as it is celebrated every third Sunday of January in Makati’s central business district is close to becoming a lot like a MGM grand extravaganza. But underneath the glitter and spectacle, the festival is in a way unique among Philippine fiestas since it honors Mother Nature and urges for preservation of her bountiful gifts.

Makati’s Official Festival

Unlike other traditional festivals that have begun centuries ago, the Caracol sa Makati was recently conceived. It started as a Fiesta Island program of the Department of Tourism in 1989 until on January 21, 1991, when the city government of Makati made it as its official city festival.

Caracol is a Spanish word for snail. The city of Makati has viewed the  shell of a snail as symbol of protection from the harshness of life and adapted the idea for its annual festival.

Tribal Competition

The Caracol Festival is held as a tribal competition among hundreds of students from participating Makati public schools. Representing different divisions and levels, each group consists of 30 to 50 performers.

Since the theme is about protecting nature and preserving Mother Earth, participants dress-up as colorful flowers, exotic plants, insects, aquatic creatures and forest animals. Judging categories include originality of costumes, choreography and overall performance. The main events are the street dancing contest and best in costume competition.

We arrived early for the main event. On Sunday at 3:00 P.M. a number of participants have assembled in the Gabriela Silang Car Park at the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues preparing for the grand parade.

The assembly area was packed with revelers, media people, photographers and participants in loincloths and floral headdresses, bodies covered in body paint and gold dust and children in elaborate costumes.

The Grand Parade Along Ayala Avenue

About 4:00 P.M., the participants began moving to their formation along Makati Avenue and turning at corner towards Ayala Avenue. The first part of the parade consisted of various business organizations sponsoring the event.

After the parade of sponsors, one by one the tribes burst into the street. Each group went through a series of chants and ethnic to modern dance steps. 

The grand parade ended at the corners of Paseo de Roxas corner Ayala Avenue where the participants jumped, stomped, wiggled, swung and draw out the rhythm from the beat of the drums while the audience cheered intensely and the judges watched to their delight.

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 12:01 am  Comments (3)  
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Reposo Street Makati

FRIENDLY MAKATI. One of the things I like about the location of my current work is that it is near Old Makati or Sampiro de Makati. I’m referring to the Poblacion and Bell-Air areas.

The environment in this part of Makati is different from the often fast-paced and snobbish Ayala Central Business District and Fort Bonifacio. Despite of some modern structures and high end establishments, the area still keep a sense of tranquility particularly along Nicanor Garcia Street.

AVENIDA DE REPOSO. Nicanor Garcia Street is formerly known as Reposo, which means to repose or rest. The place was called Plesantero or pleasant place during the Spanish times.  According to Guillermo Gomez Rivera, Reposo was a place outside the pueblo or town. It was a park and a cemetery but along the road was a row of vacation houses owned by the old rich and stretched as far as the old Camino Real (now Sta. Ana) and Pasig River. Behind and along the vacation houses also were vast rice fields and a row of fire trees, brought from Spain by the Ayala and Rojas families.

It is believed that the famous Nicanor Abelardo wrote and composed the romantic song La Perla del Pasig, the Mutya ng Pasig in his rest house near the river along Reposo.

PASEO ALONG THE OLD REPOSO. The serene environment of Reposo was conducive to gatherings of people. It was a picnic area and a favorite place for street parties and other affairs especially in May just before the beginning of the rainy season. These celebrations were complete with bands, dances, rondallas and zarzuelas.

STREET ART. An organization called Grupo Reposo is actively working in transforming the old Reposo strip as a premiere art destination particularly for the visual, culinary and performing arts. One of their first projects is to adorn the outer walls of Manila South Cemetery with artworks by some of the leading Filipino contemporary painters.

While walking along the strip, I immediately recognized the works of Armida Francisco, Aileen Lanuza, Joey Ibay, Jose Tence Ruiz Jr., Elmer TorioVincent de Pio, Egai Fernandez, Hermes Alegre and Lydia Velasco.

CHURCH OF SAN ANDRES. Just across the Lydia Velasco mural is the treasure of Reposo –the Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle.

Built by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin in 1968, the design of this parish church in Bel-Air Makati is symbolic of the manner the martyr died crucified on an X-shaped cross. The butterfly shaped floor plan emanates from this cruciform.

Many other symbolic features mark the tent-like structure, including the giant chandelier over the altar which serves as a halo over the copper cross by National Artist for Visual Art, Vicente Manansala.

EPILOGUE. While Makati will always be associated with its soaring concrete buildings, commerce, and shopping, a walk around in its old district revealed a city alive in history, culture and art.


Some of the murals on southern side of Reposo Street from the corner of Jupiter Street are gone. It was scrapped off or covered by galvanized sheet to give way to a condominium building.