kultura: philippines


Manila Bay Kids

Took these photos months ago in Manila Bay. I was lucky enough to see these kids swimming in it, and not totally caring with the dangers that the water can bring to them.

I know that I should’ve warned these kids with the risks of swimming in Manila Bay. But seeing them so happy and just living the moment was kinda inspiring actually. It’s about those moments that we miss the most because of work, school, etc. It kinda reminds me how precious and important it feels to be a kid. And yeah, I should just go back to the state of being a kid, and enjoy all the blessings that life gives us.

Don’t look back at your (painful) past, or look way ahead of your life. Just live the moment.


February 8, 1945. A rain of bullets and banging of shells. Most of Manila proper especially near the Pasig River, were already unrecognizable.

In Intramuros, the male residents who were rounded up a few days ago, including the Recollects, Augustinians, Franciscans and Capuchins , were taken to Fort Santiago.  (It is unclearwhether this happened on the 7th or the 8th as testimonial accounts differ)

Survivor, Belarmino de Celis, O.S.A. wrote:

…at about nine o’clock in the morning, all the men aged 14 and above, were asked to proceed to the churchyard. We were grouped by fours, and without telling us why, we started to walk through the streets of Intramuros. Soon we reached the gate of the tragically famous Fort Santiago, where countless people have been martyred during these three years by the most cruel and inhuman means never ever heard of before.
We felt shocked and horrified to see Fort Santiago for the first time. Once inside, we were held for one hour at the open air patio during which time machine guns fired intermittently, artillery shells exploded non-stop over our heads, and the pieces of shrapnel fell everywhere like rain. But no one could move from his place to seek some shelter, for fear of being shot.
We were ordered to surrender our arms, knives, shaving blades, and even our matches. Then, one by one, after a thorough inspection, we were put in a cell after confiscating our watches, jewelry, money, keys, papers, everything. It was twelve-o clock, but we were not given water to drink. In the afternoon, the Spaniards were separated from the Filipinos. The Spaniards were placed in a very small prison cell [about 150 in number]. The cell had a dirt floor and here we had to sit and lie down. We were not allowed to leave, not even for our immediate necessities. At the slightest noise, the guard would threaten to shoot everyone, if we could not observe complete silence. More than once, we had to stop praying the rosary together in the afternoon.

Two days later, out of about 2,000 or 3,000 men (figures conflicting in memoirs) who were herded in Fort Santiago, only 150, including de Celis would go free. “The Filipinos remained there,” says de Celis. “We never saw each other again.”

In another survivor account of Dr. Antonio Gisbert, one of those who remained:

We were surrounded and drenched with gasoline. A few survived and escaped. I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3,000 men herded into Fort Santiago, and two days later, massacred. They were bombarded by a cannon placed at a distance of a hundred meters from their prison buildings.

Meanwhile in another part of Manila, at Calle Herran (now Pedro Gil), La Concordia College was already teeming with thousands of refugees, as the institution became a make-shift refugee camp. At 2:30 pm, however, to the shock of the refugees, the Imperial Japanese forces based in Paco Parish Church began firing at the direction of the college. The refugees took cover, but the constant shelling blew off the roof of the college’s main building at night. Hundreds of people in one instant were killed. Shrapnel and debris killed the some of them. Those who ran outside were met with bullets from the Imperial Japanese soldiers waiting in the streets.

It was clearly mass murder.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 Battle of Manila, the gruelling battle for the liberation of the city that lasted from February 3 to March 3, 1945. 


(1) Fort Santiago gate after the Battle of Manila, 1945 by LIFE Magazine, from John Tewell Collection

(2) “Ruins of Old Fort Santiago,” 1945, from the Fred Hill Collection at the Pierce Library of Eastrn Oregon University 

(3) A photo of Calle Herran (now Pedro Gil St.) near Bellevue Theater and Paco Market, February 1945, by LIFE Magazine from John Tewell Collection


February 1, 2015

Cubao Expo Hits.

It’s been a year since I last wandered around this beautiful haven of vintage stuff & good beer. The Reading Room had its garage sale, and I bought myself a pair of The Beatles postcard. The simple joys in life, yes?

There were old to-go establishments replaced by perky new ones. But in general, nothing’s really changed, the unique ambiance still lingers. Will definitely have more visits this 2015.

LAMAVEs Dr Alessandro Ponzo (struggling…) to hold up a dead Fraser’s Dolphin calf. (FYI - It’s not cool to pick up dolphins unless you are qualified to handle them in a situation like this)

This poor baby died in a net in Dauis, Negros Oriental. LAMAVE and AA Yaptinchay of Marine wildlife watch of the Philippines with a team were on hand to record the stranding, and had the baby been alive coordinate a rescue. Ale and AA are members of the Philippine stranding network response team. They’ve recently been carrying out workshops and lectures on how to handle marine animal strandings.
Though sad, this baby gave a real life experience of how to record a stranding. Recording details of stranded animals helps us learn more about the marine species of the Philippines.

Photo credit: AA Yaptinchay