Saturday, 25 April 2009

Enjoying downtown - CCP to Chinatown!

I'm hardly in downtown Manila - - so today, after spending the day in the Historical Museum in Rizal Park doing post-Living Awake with Art Park, we decided to hie off to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to catch CRTL+P, a forum on contemporary art and the art market.

Despite the economic situation, the art scene has been picking-up lately as evidenced by the number of art show invites every week and the growing number of Art galleries - like Art Informal in my hood in Greenhills; the converted warehouses along Pasong Tamo extension and even all the way out to Casa San Miguel in Zambales and Sta. Cruz, Laguna. It would be interesting to hear the views of artists, curators and gallery owners on this phenomenon.

Alas, what timing! The street down to CCP was closed because of the Grand Aliwan float parade. This is dubbed the 'mother of all fiestas', an annual event showcasing different cultural festivals of the Philippines. More than 20 contingents were vying for the half a million pesos top prize. The parade was emanating from our desired destination - the CCP Complex and causing major traffic havoc. We were re-routed to Mabini (road parallel to Roxas Blvd). We decided to park in Vito Cruz and walk to CCP. The place was packed! All sorts of people were milling around from the regular parade onlookers, tourists, vendors plying fresh coconut juice, chips, drinks; police and security; media; and photographers with mega lens (for the photo competiton)! We caught the gigantic float representing Laoag City.

Unfortunately, the forum ended when we got to CCP so we decided to check out the ongoing exhibits. Jing Turalba's armor sculpture (left) was part of the show "Uncommon Sense: trauma, interrupted" on the 2nd and 3rd floor hallways. The sculpture weighs 2 kilos and made of .38 and shotgun shells. It was first exhibited in Berlin in 2008 and then in New York.

There is the national artists exhibit (permanent disiplay) at the 3rd floor gallery and in the main theater lobby, an exhibit of furniture, clothes and sculptures made out of waste products like bottle crowns, shredded paper (right photo).

From CCP, we zipped back up to Binondo to eat authentic chinese food! Binondo-resident Terrence (and our tour guide) said that 5% of the Philippine population are chinese and 70-80% reside in Binondo. I felt like I was in Hong Kong!

First stop was "Sincerity" on Carvajal St. (tel 241-9990) to sample the best fried chicken in town and also oyster cake, kikiam, sauted gabi (root crop) with vegetables and shrimp, kiam pung (sticky rice), cha misua (noodles), black gulaman, cha o yi (fried gabi balls) and corn soup. Yes, served in that order. Then we walked down the corner to Mr. Ube's "Eng Bee Tin" (left photo) on Ongpin St. (Tel 242-9765) for almond jelly shake. The place is famous for its machang (sticky rice) oxtripe soup and ube-flavored hopia (moon cake). There is a coffee shop in the second floor where the proceeds go to Binondo's Volunteer Fire Brigade. To cap off the evening, we walked to a crowded un-chinese Starbucks by Plaza San Ruiz for coffee.

So if ever you find your self in Manila, Manila - - zip from end-to-end of Roxas Blvd and enjoy downtown!!!

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