This is a tall claim but San Sebastian Church in Manila City is the only known church built using pre-fabricated steel. It is also the only steel church/ temple building in Asia. Competed in 1891, it is the the second second all steel stucture in the world after the Eiffel Tower of Paris. French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel himself was assumed to have been involved in the construction but this was never confirmed.
Said to have been inspired by the famed Gothic Burgos Cathedral in Burgos, Spain, The plan was to build a fire and earthquake-resistant structure made entirely of steel. The design fused Earthquake Baroque with the Neo-Gothic.
Sadly, the steel structure has been stricken by corrosion being built near the Manila Bay. In 1998, it was placed on the biennial watchlist of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund, It is currently in the tentative List for the World Heritage List. UNESCO
Many Filipinos have heard of San Sebastian Church but from people I know not many have even visited or seen it in person despite living in Metro Manila. So I set out to photograph the church at noon during the past Holy Week to get a more detailed glimpse of the church and its interiors. All photographs were shot with a Nikon 24mm 1.8G using a full frame DSLR.
I heard they have a paid tour... I'll do that next time to supplement the images I have so far.
In the heart of Makati City lies a small slice of Japan aptly called Little Tokyo. It's maybe about 2,000 square meters of restaurants with a garden plaza at the center that offers al fresco dining by some of the surrounding Japanese establishments. Once you walk through the long entrance way you are greeted with wooden structures, garden patches and Japanese-inspired paper lanterns and other colorful lights and fabric. I've been to Little Tokyo maybe 5 times and it's usually filled with Japanese diners in white shirts with saki or asahi beer on one hand and either chopsticks or a cigarette on the other. In Manila, where there are foreigners, you have a few women too. Physically, preference for women is perhaps "mestizas" or those with more Caucasian features than Malay. At least that's what I observe. I have to add that "escorts" are usually seen at the entrance and not necessarily dining inside.
Since the entire place is really a dining destination with the exception of maybe 1-2 establishments: a club/bar and Japanese grocery, my photos reflected that. Cuisine here is authentic and traditional Japanese. None of that fusion variety. You'll typically spend P600 (low-end) person or approx US$ 13.00. This time as was my last visit there, I dined at Hana for Takoyaki and Urameshi-ya for Japanese barbecue/ grill or Yakiniku. What was different in this instance was the volume of Non-Japanese or Filipino diners queuing for the Buffet style Japanese charcoal grill that includes among others: wagyu cubes, scallops and large shrimp dipped in chili-garlic soy sauce . From the miso soup to saki, this is a place that will really satisfy even very discerning paletes.
Here are some photos to describe the scene that evening. Shot with my nifty fifty (Nikkor 50mm/1.4g).
As promised, I am finally doing a blog post on Chinatown! I went down there on Feb. 7, the day before Chinese New Year. The place to my surprise was already in a celebratory mood then. Ongpin Street was closed to motorists because of the deluge of people most of whom appear to be from the locality/ vicinity but some were obviously not local... tourists.
Chinese Lunar new year celebrations aren't complete without good luck charms. Luck to the Buddhist-Chinese generally follow certain themes/ characteristics: something red, round, sticky and sweet to name a few. Hence, you see plants, fruits, cakes, pasties and candy on street-sides and in front of doorways having one or more of them in form.
We were there to dine in a restaurant I had read in the morning daily but I suppose that article and prior experience dining in the area had set my expectations too high for Mami or egg-noodle soup and Siopao or steamed pork buns. That was the first time I was let down dining in this area. Theya're not however bad but not exemplary either.
Here are the sights as we walked to and from where we parked and ate. We also stopped by a mini Chinese grocery to pick up sun-dried peanuts and Tikoy or Nian Gao.
The following images were shot with the new Nikkor 24mm 1.8G ED lens and a DSLR. Shooting with a lens this wide on a full frame camera, the challenge was finding a focal point and achieving subject isolation. Otherwise, the lens is stellar in sharpness and in the way it renders color!
I took photos of the seafood market in Macapagal Ave in Pasay City in mid-january. The place is commonly referred to as "Dampa." Similar places are located throughout Metro Manila and as far as Cebu City in the Visayas Region.
Dampa's are a cluster of restaurants that serve fresh seafood (unfrozen) from a seafood market right next to it. Typically, diners shop for fresh seafood and have them brought to their choice of restaurant where they are cooked according to one's preference. Usual cuisines are Asian-inspired and on the spicy side. Popular dishes are those with chili-garlic sauce, "Sinigang" or Tamarind-soured soup and "Kinilaw na Isda" or raw fish marinated in vinegar and spices. I'll leave it to your imagination since I don't have photos of cooked dishes.
The following images were taken with a compact camera: Lumix LX-7 then enhanced later in Lightroom. This is my first blog post exclusively with this camera.
In the past, Quiapo was the premiere shopping district back in 50's-60's. Today, even if the area is trumped by gleaming malls and fashionable shopping districts, Quaipo is still a sprawling shopping haven where you perhaps get the best bargains for everything from electronics to flip-flops.
If you can look beyond the street stalls and vendors that crowd the streets particularly during the Christmas holidays, there is actually order to the madness. Just like modern shopping districts and malls the actual stores (not makeshift stalls and vendors) are organized by product category. You have a street that caters to the restaurant and food industry: Orosco St. Hidalgo St. is where you find almost every photography and videography equipment and accessory you can imagine. For Eyeglasses and optical supply, head to Paterno St. Interestingly, top brands like Cartier are available too and are kept in special retail areas/ rooms of the shops. There are also streets for audio, dental supply, tarps, furniture, industrial equipment among many others I have yet to see. Be warned that even if the stores offer authentic wares they are usually gray market goods (no warranty or only store warranties are offered).
No shopping destination is complete without good food. If you're not in the mood to shop, this a place where you can kiss your diet goodbye. Some of the tastiest traditional Chinese cuisine are alive and well here. For instance, Donbei is a hole In the wall restaurant that serves steaming-hot mouth-watering dumplings.
The area in front of Quiapo church is also renowned for its fortune tellers. Fortune tellers are known to start by mentioning unspoken specifics about your past to establish their credibility (and they suprisingly do) before they even start with the good (and bad) stuff coming your way. Count me out.
I still visit the place maybe twice a year for hard to find photography stuff so expect the gallery to be updated over time.
Here are scenes around the area of Plaza Miranda in front of Quaipo Church last December.
The blog is about the Philippines... the less photographed side of it. My hope is that as I develop the series, the story I tell about trivial life in the country resonates with its readers.