Surprised by the Museum of Natural History in Manila

Lowering expectation is one simple secret to achieving amazement and happiness.  Setting high expectations tends to result to frustration especially when measuring reality against imagined reality.  High expectations often wrings the joy out of experiencing something for what it is.

This were my exact thoughts when I and a bunch of colleagues decided to have a detour and headed to the Museum of Natural History in Manila before driving back to our office after some brief business meeting in Intramuros.  Knowing Manila being a run down, sullied, traffic-infested and over-populated city, finding something amazing seem next to impossible. 

this hall houses some of the most important artifacts
world-class!
my county’s “under the sea” features is one of the best
biggest croc on record is in the philippines it’s name is “lolong”

But our visit to the Museum of Natural History in Manila was indeed a big surprise!  It is one destination on the City of Manila that definitely deserves a visit! 

What I love most about this museum is that all exhibits – flora, fauna, earth formations, etc. – were of Filipino representations.  Also, segmentations of exhibits were really well thought of.  It’s like being so at home yet you would discover new and amazing natural wonders of the country. 

some fauna with two lucky folks
open up! admission is free!
the old-fashioned “botica”
i love this!
hall full of rocks!

Me and my colleagues were a bunch of pre-millennial species that is why we could really relay and seem so familiar with some of the indigenous exhibits.  Some of us could actually recall childhood encounters with some of the now rare flora and fauna displayed in the museum – dragonflies, beetles, birds, fruit crops, seashells, clams, freshwater crabs, etc.  Too bad, these floras and faunas we played with during childhood has started to become so rare it can now only be found in a museum.

I also like the fact that some of the exhibits are interactive.  I and my colleagues were so surprised, we could not keep ourselves from saying “Wow!” every time we enter a gallery full of amazing collections. Museum of Natural History in Manila was one surprising experience!  I have been to some of the top museums of the world and I can say that Manila’s National Museum of Natural History is world class.  .  It’s truly a fantastic feast for the senses! 

museum of natural history, manila, philippines
…was so impressed!

The National Museum of Natural History in Manila is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Entrance is free.

Ang ganda. Inferness!

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Food for Thoughts at China Blue

Every time a member of my family finishes his or her studies – may it be elementary, high school or college – the graduation dinner treat for him or her is always held at the old, not so expensive and not so savory Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila (which I refuse to name).  It has always been the tradition that Nengkoy got to insist that the celebration be held in that restaurant may you graduated with summa cum laude honors or you finished at the bottom of your class’ ranking.

But for the Master’s Degree graduation of my nephew Luis, I got to choose the restaurant!  Nengkoy allowed that it be held someplace else maybe it is because the graduation is not just an ordinary bachelor’s degree but something higher, more advanced and more difficult to obtain.

I chose China Blue.  Having previously enjoyed the savory food I this authentic Cantonese Restaurant located inside Conrad Hotel, Manila, I knew that Nengkoy and the members of my family in that dinner would truly enjoy some sumptuous treat!

Nengkoy with Team Langit. Congratulations Luis!
the mandatory photo-taking of me and nengkoy…
super nice private room where we had dinner… the waiter i guess felt that me and my family are so noisy we were billeted in this private room

And since I arrive early in the restaurant, took the liberty of ordering the dishes for our group.  And when everyone arrived and each dish was being brought in into our room, I asked my family not to touch the dish until I tell them to because I want to take pictures of it.

Here’s the actual photos of some of our orders.  And since I lack the ability on how to properly describe each dish, let me then attach a Chinese proverb for every one of it…

when you drink the water, remember the spring.
(paper thin crispy beef in sweet and spicy sauce)
a bird does not sing because it has an answer. it sings because it has a song.
(sweet vinegar marinated cherry tomatoes with sour plum)
when the winds of change blow, some people build walls while other build windmills.
(barbeque honey-glazed matsusaka pork neck)
what you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.
(steamed truffle mushroom buns)
he who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left
(crispy fried shrimp salad with wasabi dressing)
pearls don’t lie on the seashore. if you want one you must dive for it (hahaha! can’t remember what this yummy dish is called)
true knowledge is when one knows the limitations of one’s knowledge
(pork belly wok fried)
if you always give, you will always have
(crispy pumpkin coated with salted duck eggs)
if you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow
(fried spinach bean curd with spicy sichuan eggplant with minced chicken sauce)

I failed to take a photo of the Buchi or glutinous rice dumpling with red bean filling coated with sesame seeds (our desert) which according to our waiter Angel was a very good choice because it was the award-winning dessert of China Blue Manila.  My family are all sweet toothed, it would not come as a surprise that everyone would just rapidly dig into the delicately sweet Buchi and would not care if I have already taken a photo or not.

I really can’t figure out what specific dish was the highlight of that dinner.  It is because every dish was beautiful, every dish was delicious and every dish deserves a big round of applause!

And when Luis would decide to further pursue his studies, doctorate degree that is.  I’m pretty sure Nengkoy would again agree that Luis’ PhD graduation dinner be held again in China Blue Manila.

Kongrats Luis!

Wicked (the musical) In Manila: A Wickedly High-End Run

This will most probably be one of the last write-ups of Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz musical as it ends its latest run here in Manila.  Me, my sisters and Nengkoy (of course) had the awesome opportunity to catch and watch the last performance night here in Manila.

We were of course bedazzled and captivated by the sheer magnificence if the costumes, the colors and the music of Wicked.  But I will not write anything about the musical for there has been millions of it in the web.  Instead, let me deliberate on the venue and the people on the night we watched the show here in Manila.

Unlike my sisters and Nengkoy, it was my first time seeing a musical show in Solaire Theatre.  I have seen a couple of shows in Broadway, New York but never was I been so stunned and dumbfounded by the high-endedness (is that a word?) of Solaire.  The theater was so modish and dashing there were moments when I doubted being in poverty-stricken Manila.  While waiting for the ushers to allow us inside the actual theater, the well-lighted foyer area was played with chic jazz music.  I never noticed or heard stylish jazz or muzak being played at the measly lobby and waiting areas of New York theaters. In some New York shows, we the audience actually have to queue at the cold and dusty side street.

nengkoy & my wicked sister with her high-end bag! bag lang nya ang high-end sa amin nung gabing yon. hahaha!
pictures muna
me & my sister… defying gravity…

And what further dumbfounded me were the rest of the audience.  Everyone was well-dressed for the night.  Well-dressed, I mean well-dressed.  Gentlemen were in their crisp long sleeve shirts with matching coat and necktie while the ladies were dressed to the nines.  Some ladies were even donning in elegant gown and seem to have been to some pricey beauty saloon prior to the show just to watch Wicked, The Musical.

I was actually so shocked, wearing just a polo shirt and my old dungarees, I could not control my utterances about the theater and the people.  I told my sisters that I have seen a couple of Broadway shows in New York but the atmosphere was never this chic, high-end and elegant.

Buti na lang di ako nag-tsinelas.  Taray… Walang ganyan sa Nyu York!

The Rustic Mornings in Marikina

During my childhood, my perception of Marikina is that of a faraway place from metropolitan Manila.  One of our neighbors in Pasay, Tita Linda and her family, were actually from this bucolic county.  And every time our family is invited by Tita Linda (one Nengkoy’s ‘mejor amiga’) to go to their place in Marikina for some party or gathering, the travel and journey seem so arduous and tiring.  I can still remember the exhausting hours it took for us to reach this green and tree-filled but faraway suburb.

During adulthood, the only time I got to Marikina (now a city and part of metropolitan Manila) was after the deadly flooding and wreckage brought about by the most devastating storm to hit Metro Manila known as tropical storm Ondoy in 2009.  I got the chance to go to Marikina then because the company I am working for did some charitable activity.  Our company prepared and distributed away hundreds of boxes of hot cooked food to the affected residents of Marikina, which was the most hardly hit area of that year’s deadly typhoon.  That memory was not a good one because Marikina that time was all mud, sludge and debris.

But just last Wednesday, I had a beautiful morning in rustic Marikina.  I was actually at awe because my childhood perception that it takes ages to get there has been erased.  It only took us 45 minutes to get there (from Malate in Manila).   And the ugly clutter brought about by the deadly Ondoy of course are all gone.  What’s present is a highly urbanized zone with remarkably clean roads and civilized communities.

The reason this time why I was able to get to Marikina is because of breakfast.  I and my colleagues decided to have breakfast at Rustic Mornings.

the menu
the menu
lovely interiors
lovely interiors
outdoor dining area...
outdoor dining area…
greens and shells at the patio area
greens and shells at the patio area

This restaurant can be considered one precious gem of Marikina.  The ambience is one-of-a-kind.  It makes you feel like you are not in crazy, hectic and stressful metropolitan Manila.  Once you entered their gate you’ll feel a sudden change in impression.  It’s quiet, calm and relaxed.  The restaurant is actually decorated with beautiful pieces of art and décor.  You would actually feel like being in a vicinity full of stunning and charming clutter.

But what is most important for me that morning was the food.  Rustic Mornings serve heartwarming and mouthwatering breakfast dishes in a suburban-like setting.  And from among the breakfast dishes that we ordered, I had two personal favorites.  The Crispy Waffle Churros and the Banana-flavored Pancakes.  These dishes are simply bliss!  The waffle churros was crispy outside yet heavenly soft inside!  While the pancakes I would say would be one hell of a pancake!  It was insanely delicious!

the smell and taste of heaven!
the smell and taste of heaven!
those coffee cups were like pieces of art
those coffee cups were like pieces of art
hearty filipino breakfast dishes
hearty filipino breakfast dishes

Because of Rustic Mornings, I can now say that I have a beautiful experience in Marikina.  This restaurant definitely gave me a reason to return back on a rustic morning in this rustic city.

Parang ako lang yung wapol nila… masarap!

Swooned & Captivated by the Sunset

After spending the whole afternoon at the mall with Nengkoy and family – watched a Filipino movie and have an early dinner treat – me and my nephew Luis decided to walk the three-and-a-half-kilometer distance from the Mall of Asia to our respective condo units in Vito Cruz.  I was actually in some way thankful that there was a traffic gridlock in our place and that taxi drivers refused to have us as passengers.  It is because on our way to our respective units, we instinctively slowed down, took photos and enjoyed this…

Capticating Manila Bay Sunset!
Captivating Manila Bay Sunset!

While walking the surprisingly breezy streets and intently listening to Luis about his school research/thesis, at the back of my mind I am realizing that appreciation for the beauty of nature is something that is innate and spontaneous.  Since it is instinctual, it is but a natural tendency for a person to stop, stare and be captivated.  It gives human beings a break from fretting over the past and a pause from worrying about the future.  Captivating beauty of nature makes you feel refreshed, relieved and revitalized at that very moment.

And for those who have been overridden by the acquired imperative of the need to be urgent, of the feeling to hurry up and of the thought to get things done immediately, I simply wish that you would someday take it easy and be swooned and captivated by the natural beauty of the sunset.

Teyk it isi…

The Journey On Madonna Concert Ticket

I grew up listening to her music.  I grew up liking her ever changing image.  I grew up idolizing this woman who ignited an entire generation to express themselves.

photo from madonna.com
photo from madonna.com

Seeing a Madonna Concert is the only thing that is lacking of my being a die-hard fan.  Click this LINK for you to know how big a fan I am of Madonna: https://neillangit.com/2008/08/17/a-fan-of-a-golden-girl/

To fulfil my self-imposed requirement, I seriously considered travelling to Tel Aviv, Israel in 2012 to watch the Sticky and Sweet World Tour.  I chose Tel Aviv because that seem to be the nearest country where I can watch that concert.  Also, being a Filipino I need not apply for a tourist visa in that country.  But due to budget constraints I obviously was not able to go.

Then just about two weeks ago, my super friend Jesse who’s based in Sydney messaged me and invited me to see the Rebel Heart show in Australia.  He sent me the link on how the purchase should go.  This is despite the fact that Madonna performing in Manila is already becoming a big buzz.   I was so close to buying the ticket!  But for some weird reason, obviously I did not.

Until two days after chatting with Aussie Jesse, the big news was announced that Madonna for the first time will perform in Manila.  I did not believe it still, until I personally checked the official Madonna website.  And when I saw for myself that Madonna is indeed coming, I was like feeling so moved!!!  I know I’m not religious, but I felt so moved, it made me wanna pray!!!

the only one in asia!!!
the only one in asia!!!

Then, 4 days prior to the official selling of tickets to public, I received a text message from Citibank informing me that I got the opportunity to buy Madonna tickets because of their pre-sale program. I of course did not let this chance go! I moved my ass and bought 2 ticket seats.

I need someone to accompany me during the concert so I bought 2 tickets.  One for my dear sister Gaying.  My sister during the event has been assigned to pinch my nose and slap me in the face to remind me that what I am about to see and experience is not a dream.

finally!
finally!

Now that I got myself her concert ticket, one of my life’s bucket list will finally become a realization.  See you there…

Parating na ang sugo. Bili na ng tiket!

Riding The Jeepney: A Fulfilled 2014 New Year’s Resolution

Worthy grade school teachers taught us that precise goals must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bounded.  This very principle was one of the backbones when I set my New Year’s resolutions late last year.

And I am glad to convey that I am triumphant in accomplishing one of these resolutions.  That is, to discontinue riding the pricey taxi when going to and from my workplace.  And instead, settle for the more economical Jeepney ride.

Considered a cultural icon, Jeepney is a bus-like mode of public transport uniquely found in the Philippines
Considered a cultural icon, Jeepney is a bus-like mode of public transport uniquely found in the Philippines

It is actually only fifteen to twenty minutes by foot getting to my workplace.   This is why my initial goal/resolution was to walk daily to and from my office daily.  But because of the thick toxic air pollutants in Metro Manila as well as fear from tropical sun’s Vitamin D overdose, I settled on taking the Jeepney ride.

My ceasing to take the taxi this year actually has lots of advantages.  I no longer have to deal with ill-mannered opportunistic taxi drivers and experience those horrible circumstances:  (i) suffering from feelings of rejection after being declined by taxi drivers who refuse to have me as their passenger; (ii) enduring the stench of putrid taxi interiors or the reeking foul body odor of taxi drivers who opted to start their day without initially getting a good shower; and, (iii) feelings of being duped every time the driver would not hand me the exact change but instead compute change based not to the nearest ten but to the ‘next’ ten.

Aside from averting myself to all these stressful hideous encounters, riding the Jeepney gives me the sense of being grounded.  It somewhat makes me feel that my soul is aligned and so incorporated with the Filipino norm and culture.  Others may say that riding a Jeepney is so baduy (tacky) and so masa (for cheap lowly masses).  But for me, these people can have their fake and shallow elitist eccentricity with freaking lavish panache and let me and the rest of the Jeeney riding public have the biggest benefit of all.  That is the astonishing bargain of paying for a Jeepney fare and the savings that we can actually amass.  Tell me who doesn’t like bargain and I will smack the freaking grungy muffler of the Jeepney on his or her face!

To be exact, my taxi fare (on a return basis) would cost me around 140 pesos.  But the Jeepney fare back and forth is only 17 pesos daily (as of this writing has been lowered down to 15 pesos).  Based on simple mathematics, this accomplished New Year’s resolution saved me a staggering 29,520 pesos for the whole year.  This money is actually more than enough for a plane ticket if you’re journeying from Manila to Tokyo and back!  This amount in point of fact is actually more than a two-month-salary of a minimum wage earner in Manila.  And is actually enough to pay for my electric bill for six remarkable months!

To sum it up, my simple yet specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bounded goal and resolution which I triumphantly achieved this year was indeed worth it.  I am not saying that I will no longer be riding the taxi, what I’m simply saying is that my preferred mode of transport when going to and from my office is the Jeepney.  And until major changes happen to the “taxi culture” and improvements be felt regarding the taxi drivers’ urbanity in the Philippines, I plan to continue riding the ever reliable Jeepney in the next years to come.

Sige. Ikaw na ang sosyal!