#32. Manila, Philippines (Day 2) pt II


Break at Rizal Park:
We spent a good amount of time exploring each floors of the National Museum. Soon, it was time for a break as we got hungry. We found a nice shaded spot in the park, got ourselves a mat to sit on to feast the sandwiches Zai made for us, I forgot to mention that on the 1st day, she made crab and salad sandwiches. But on the 2nd day, she made us something I've never tried before, a pastrami and pickled vegetables sandwich. Taste wise, I really loved the fattiness and peppery rub from the pastrami. To be frank, it tasted just like corned beef that has been smoked. The pickled vegetables however, wasn't my thing, maybe not for a sandwich. I wasn't quite used to the flavour combination. But hey, someone made it for me. Not going to complain about that!

My pastrami and pickled vegetables sandwich, whew
We also got a nice view of the monument of Lapu-Lapu (Statue of the Sentinel of Freedom) from where we sat. The only thing that got on my nerves trying to take a decent photo of the statue was the building behind it. The building, Torre de Manila, is known for being the national photobomber, Zai explained. I can see why.

The monument of Lapu-Lapu
Museum of Fine Arts:
Next, we headed to the second museum which catered more to visual arts created by Filipino artists... As usual, less words, more pictures. Though I must apologize for the act that most of the pictures are not in a correct sequence. Nevertheless, I hope you can at least enjoy the beauty of the artworks from the gallery specially made for José Rizal's "Noli Me Tángere".

View upon entering the gallery of "Noli Me Tángere"

Background of Noli Me Tángere:
José Rizal, a Filipino nationalist and medical doctor, conceived the idea of writing a novel that would expose the ills of Philippine society after reading Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. He preferred that the prospective novel express the way Filipino culture was backward, anti-progress, anti-intellectual, and not conducive to the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment.

In a reunion of Filipinos at the house of his friend Pedro A. Paterno in Madrid on 2 January 1884, Rizal proposed the writing of a novel about the Philippines written by a group of Filipinos. His proposal was unanimously approved by the Filipinos present at the tite, among whom were Pedro, Maximino Viola and Antonio Paterno, Graciano López Jaena, Evaristo Aguirre, Eduardo de Lete, Julio Llorente and Valentin Ventura. However, this project did not materialize. The people who agreed to help Rizal with the novel did not write anything. Initially, the novel was planned to cover and describe all phases of Filipino life, but almost everybody wanted to write about women. Rizal even saw his companions spend more time gambling and flirting with Spanish women. Because of this, he pulled out of the plan of co-writing with others and decided to draft the novel alone.

Legacy of Noli Me Tángere:
This novel and its sequel, El filibusterismo were both banned in Spanish Philippines because of their portrayal of corruption and abuse by the colonial government and the Catholic Church. Copies of the book were nevertheless smuggled in and hidden, and when Rizal returned to the Philippines after completing medical studies, he quickly ran afoul of the local government.

A few days after his arrival, Rizal was summoned to Malacañan Palace by Governor-General Emilio Terrero, who told him of the charge that Noli me tangere contained subversive elements. After a discussion, Terrero was appeased but still unable to offer resistance to pressure from the Church against the book. The persecution can be discerned from Rizal's letter to Leitmeritz:

“My book made a lot of noise; everywhere, I am asked about it. They wanted to anathematize me ['to excommunicate me'] because of it... I am considered a German spy, an agent of Bismarck, they say I am a Protestant, a freemason, a sorcerer, a damned soul and evil. It is whispered that I want to draw plans, that I have a foreign passport and that I wander through the streets by night...

Rizal was exiled to Dapitan in Mindanao, then later arrested for "inciting rebellion" based largely on his writings. Rizal was executed by firing squad at the Luneta outside Manila's walls on December 30, 1896 at the age of thirty-five, at the park that now bears his name.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noli_Me_T%C3%A1ngere_(novel)

Other artworks:

Lunch at Lydia's Lechon:
For lunch, we decided to settle down at Lydia's Lechon located at Robinsons Place Manila. Zai and Chuza were going to leave us in the shopping mall after lunch so we can have plenty of time to kill there. And oh man, they ordered quite a lot of food for us. The sisters got us a plate of Lydia's special lechon, crab relleno, pinakbet, and rice. There was also a plate of sauce to accompany the Lechon but I couldn't quite make out what it was.

The Lechon is the Filipino version of a roast suckling pig. We got the plain lechon without any stuffing. As you can see, the skin looks crazy and it had such an amazing aroma. Naturally, I started with the skin. I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping for it be absurdly crispy - it wasn't. My best guess is that the lechon had been sitting out too long in an air-conditioned place resulting its loss in crispiness. The meat of the lechon however, was incredibly tender. Moist, juicy,  it was ridiculously flavorful and a perfect accompaniment for the rice.

Zai told us that eating lechon in the Philippines is really a special meal, a true delicacy. It’s normally eaten on festive occasions, and at special family times. It’s a meal that’s really a part of the culture in the Philippines.

The crab relleno, pinakbet, lechon, and lechon gravy

Close-up of that beautiful lechon
Pinakbet was great too. I just couldn't get enough of the mixed vegetables steamed in that wonderful shrimp sauce. But I must give a personal shoutout to the crab relleno though. It was superb, nice and flaky with the crab meat. I'm not a huge fan of crab-balls, but that, that crab relleno changed my life and it made those terrible memories of the crab-balls I used to eat just.. a memory, something to be buried deep in the past. The crab meat was well sauteed with all the vegetable goodness, spices, and seasonings. Definitely one-of-a-kind!

Check out Lydia's Lechon menu:

National Book Store in Robinsons:
Zai and Chuza left us alone in the mall after lunch. The mall was packed since it was Father's Day. Being the book lovers we are, Derrick and I were eager to check out their bookstore known as the National Book Store.

Don't let the name fool you, it's more than a bookstore. One thing I loved about the National Book Store is that the place doesn't just sell books. Compared to most Malaysian bookstores (putting aside Kinokuniya), the place is famous for selling cute school and art supplies. The notebooks sold are gorgeous and artistic. I got two of them. One for 175php pesos and the other, 155php pesos. From pens to notebooks, to rulers and yarn, one will find all your school supply and art needs here!

This is the go-to destination for before school shopping or last minute crammed school shopping. You'll find all the brands here and choose your what best suits your personality. I love how National Bookstore has a great stock of books by Filipino writers. Tourists can buy Filipino written books which I think can really promote the beautiful culture that Filipinos have. You can find great books in this section that will surely change (if it is negative) the way you think and feel about local book offerings. Derrick got himself two books. The Great Political Theories by Michael Curtis and The Last Time Time I Saw Mother by Arlene J.Chai.

I'm a columnist in my university and I love writing (or everything related to writing). It's like a ritual that starts by choosing inspiring notebooks, beautiful pens and so on. You can imagine how I felt just by entering this bookstore. I was like a child running lose in a candy shop. Just don't know where to start, my eyes cannot decide where to look at. I just wanted everything in sight!

Coffee Bean in Robinsons:
Our legs were beginning to fail us from all that non-stop walking (there were no benches to sit!) so we wanted to sit and have coffee in a coffee shop. Our initial stop was at Starbucks but holy-moly, place was loaded with people. Luckily, we managed to find a nice place to sit at Coffee Bean. Got myself a nice cup of Americano, took out my sketchbook, and gave life to my ink pen.

It was really crowded

Random Chinese uncle appeared out of nowhere after I completed the sketch
The Shipyard (Malate) Food Experience:
When night came, Zai and Chuza brought us to a bar called The Shipyard. The place had a really nice grunge and laid-back vibe. The place serves booze, Filipino street food, and Middle Eastern dishes all in one place. What's impressive is that, as it name states, The Shipyard is a two-story structure that is mainly made of stacked-up shipping containers. These shipping containers have been reconstructed to be the restaurant’s kitchen and places where customers can sit, eat, and chill. One can choose to stay outside and enjoy the weather or stay inside an air-conditioned shipping container. The place looks attractive due to its colorful graffiti wall. It's truly unconventional.

The Shipyard
We got to choose from two food stalls - Bernie's Southern Fried and East London Kebab and Burgers. We ordered some chicken gizzard, chicken isaw, kwek kwek, kebab doner plates, and Tokwa't Baboy. One thing I noticed is that, Filipinos really love their pork and vinegar.

The crispy kwek kwek (quail eggs)

The plate of chicken doner kebab with lemon rice I ordered

The glorious chicken isaw complimentary with spicy sauce and vinegar
The chicken doner kebab with lemon rice was great. Mixing the chicken with the garlic sauce made it fantastic, lemon rice was fragrant as well. Zai allowed Derrick and I to try her Tokwa't Baboy. Basically you get the firm beancurd (commonly known as tau kuah in Malaysia) deep fried and sliced into bite sizes, good amount of pork, diced onions, sliced pickled chilies, soy sauce, and vinegar. I think it would've been even better if we ate it with rice or congee. Delicious.

At first, I got myself 2 sticks of chicken isaw (how foolish), and Zai got some as well. But after having my first bite of the isaw dipped in the vinegar, I knew at that instance I HAD to get more. Even Derrick, who isn't fond of eating organs enjoyed the isaw so much. And he was very addicted to the hot sauce. I was very amused because it's the first time I've seen so happy eating things like chicken intestines and chicken gizzard. Nevertheless, I felt happy for him. I recommend anyone that comes to Philippines, seriously, you have to get the chicken isaw. Your trip will not be complete without it. What's beautiful is that you can see those grill marks on them. You just to soak them in the vinegar, then eat them.. that wonderful smoky char flavor.. They're not really chewy actually. Crunchy outside, tender inside. I attempted to one-bite the whole thing from the stick. It was a success!

So there you go, quite a Day 2. Day 3 will be up soon. Happy eating!

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