Monday, June 26, 2017


Mines View Park? Mansion House? Baguio Central Market? Session Road? Lourdes Grotto? Wright Park? PMA? Good Shepherd? La Trinidad's strawberry fields?

Nope! Been there, done that.

Except maybe a family picture at Burnham Park, more as a rendezvous point rather than a place to visit.

"Let's go see a museum!" I said. 

"Search for BenCab's museum!" I next asked Bulan who, after giving us time to digest the sinking disappointment of not being able to correct the wife's birth date on her PRC ID, led us through the jigsaw of Asin Road via Waze.

And that was how we found the BenCab Museum, a modern edifice perched on a cliff housing a treasure trove of visual art, from a gallery of Filipino masters to budding artists, through modern printed art to a collection of antique Cordillera artifacts, and an interesting corner of erotic art to which Balong exclaimed "Nakakasuka!" but with that mischievous smile of his. 

Somehow, I have to balance my interest in Philippine art with the plain curiosity of my companions which unfortunately equates with a short attention span so after taking one last shot at a reproduced Igorot house, I herded them to the van.

"Take us to the Korean Ssambap Restaurant" I said to Bulan.

We found the place along Leonard Wood and with guidance from the chef, we tested two ssambap courses with bulgogi and the usual shabu-shabu, not really sure where to start, rolling condiments into fresh lettuce leaves, grilling frozen beef, experimenting with the shabu-shabu which turned out fine, wondering when the bulgogi would be cooked enough to eat, and declaring at the conclusion of lunch that it is among the most memorable ever. 

I realized only later that in ssambap, the rice should have been wrapped in the lettuce leaves too along with the bulgogi [grilled beef] and condiments. We ate it wrong and I don't really know what the last dish is but the entire meal was good just the same. 

Old Manila is also a museum of sorts. 

The square in Liwasang Bonifacio and the walls of Intramuros are etched with history, Escolta and Ongpin smells of acrid pollution and our Chinese heritage, while famous dead Filipinos are paraded in ornate tombs at the North Cemetery. 

I say the rice fields of Nueva Ecija is also a living museum on agriculture and a diary of our biking forays! 

Meanwhile, historic [bawdy] Cubao is undergoing gentrification with high rises dominating its skyline.

Malls and hotels have enveloped the Araneta Coliseum as restaurants sprouted like mushrooms among which are Food Exchange Manila in Novotel where for two lunches I gorged on Chef Sau Del Rosario's Kanyaman Buffet [the best of elevated [[fusioned]] Kapampangan cuisine [[[tamales pampanguena, lamb shank kaldereta, rellenong bangus, sisig with foie gras, three kinds of lechon belly, kare-kare with truffle oil, atbp]]]]; and Fred's Revolucion in what was the Cubao Expo now colonized by restobars where I have the best kinilaw na bangus ever and of course, reconnecting with old friends over glasses of free wheat beer.

That was more than a day and much more than museums but it was good memories that can be packed in a diamond studded day.     

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