Art exhibits, coffee and underground books (manila adventures part ???)

Turning a rainy Monday afternoon into an adventure. Of sorts. Also: catch these exhibits until August 31.

Revisiting Manila

I have a humble list of must-see places within walking distance of PGH Manila. It includes some oft-visited favorites —the National Museum complex, Solidaridad Bookshop— some that only trigger vague memories from a decade or so ago— Paco Park, Manila Ocean Park and Arroceros — and some that I have yet to visit, like swanky new cafes and one or two Intramuros museums.

My goal is to revisit all that Manila has to offer, preferably before they close or move entirely. And obviously before I graduate residency. Unfortunate case in point: the Metropolitan Museum, which I’ve only been to once with C way back when, is apparently moving to Taguig.

You would think this post is about checking off some milestones. Surprisingly, it isn’t.

Finally, a walk to Intramuros

It’s been several months since residency started —and wow, what? Since it began, I’ve been to Intramuros only for dinner and a cup of coffee (more on that later). I’ve also been in talks with a fellow ASMPH x PGH resident to hangout, but his much, much busier schedule and maybe my general laziness have led to indefinite postponements.

But fortune favors the impulsive and the kaladkarin, as we like to say. The timing worked out to visit the NCCA Gallery, where an ongoing exhibit featured works of my stellar senior DFCM resident, Dr. Niko Cedicol. That’s a sentence I didn’t think would be possible, but apparently some doctors can do it all.

Here we are, at a crossroads of intentions: to visit a slice of Intramuros, to catchup with a friend enjoying the tail-end of his two-week leave, and to also see the art exhibit of an idol.

A late afternoon walk from Ermita to Intramuros through Taft and back. This whole thing probably took only two hours. Future goals for self: join a legitimate 1-hour walking tour. Maybe I need a refresher on (Manila-centric) Philippine history.

Also, catch me on Instagram still posting stories like a millennial.

NCCA Gallery: Morbus and The Four-Winged Prophet

Every time I meet a new piece of art, it’s a gamble on whether I’d be hit by life’s most profound mysteries or my head will buzz then go silent. Most cases those two are the same thing.

Sometimes I wish I have the energy or the foresight to write my reactions as they happen, for want of writing about the pieces later, but then most times I think and agree and firmly believe that it’s the ephemerality of feeling that matters. No man steps on the same river twice and all that.

Enter the National Commission on Culture and the Arts. On the left you’ll meet death, and the lives the dead leave behind. On the right you’ll meet the dying and the surviving.

Admission is free. Both exhibits will run only until August 31 2022.

The Four-Winged Prophet is a group exhibition that commemorates Riel Hilario’s first death anniversary. It pays tribute to the man’s talents and passions as an artist, educator, curator and critic. The exhibit lasts until August 31 2022.

Ricky Francisco. The Void You Left is Surrounded by Light and Opportunity Nonetheless (in Rememberance of Riel Hilario), 2022.

I wish I have enough detail in me to write viscerally how this piece made me feel. It’s like staring at a Rothko: the depth expands, or you sink, or the piece moves in its stillness. Something like that.

Morbus explores the conceptual resonance of disease in our bodies and society, and prompts conversations on healing. It features artists and insights from the fields of medicine (including Dr. Niko Cedicol and his brother), biology, public service, multimedia design, and civil engineering. The exhibit lasts until August 31.

Sayid Cedicol. Lost his Head, 2021.

A crazy amount of sutures. I am: tired.

I don’t know how I feel about art that attempts to capture the illness of society in almost medical terms. Maybe it disrupts the escapism for a spectator such as I. Or is that the point? I certainly remember liking anatomical art before I started working properly in the healthcare industry. Maybe I just remembered my deliverables at work, my patients waiting for a reply, the impending return to duty the next day…

Café Intramuros and a wedding in San Agustin Church

(I didn’t take a photo of the wedding. I’m not actually a creep.)

A few steps in any direction will land you a museum in Intramuros, and also a cafe. Café Intramuros is a new establishment located at the Plaza San Luis complex right across San Agustin Church and only a few minutes’ walk from NCCA gallery.

The menu is affordably priced for such a tourist destination. As said, everything in Intramuros is near everything else, but this café is particularly close to another food shop and a souvenir store in the same block.

Since we went out around 3PM ish (thank you, by the way, to Berty for covering my last few patients), J and I stopped only for coffee and a cake. The ambiance had an appropriately Spanish colonial feel, and the coffee was good. It fit the cobblestones wonderfully. Even if the taste was sakto lang, I can forgive them a lot of things for serving the macchiato in such a cute cup.

Caramel macchiato (probably) from Café Intramuros. The foam art leaves much to be desired, but the cup makes up for it.

For a single mad minute I was tempted to buy a tea set to entertain myself and my non-existent condo guests. In hindsight I still can…

Buy me a Ko-fi, wink wink.

This is in direct contrast to one of my life’s greatest disappointments, also referred to as La Cathedral Café serving their coffee in basic disposable paper cups. Will I ever forgive them? Only time and selective memory loss will tell.

Read here: FM Residency: From 0 to 100 real quick

Cheap books and an expensive dinner

It’s about the quality and not the quantity of the money we spend. Don’t quote me on that.

On the way back from Intramuros, we decided to walk along Taft Avenue instead of passing by Luneta side. This time, we got to walk through the underground crossing (well lit and beautiful, but I maintain the baybayin in the signages is still pretentious and unjustifiable). And that’s where I lost another PHP250 on a book I may or may not read. Worth it.

Books from Underground, along the pedestrian walkway near Manila City Hall. Selections include everything from a hardbound collection of Western classics (which I bought) to textbooks to young adult romance.

I’ve passed by this store many many times, but this is the first time I’ve actually stopped to buy anything.

For dinner, I introduced J to one of my favorite overpriced cafés in Manila. It’s kinda funny that I’ve been here around once every two months, come to think of it. I’m almost a regular.

Kapetolyo by SGD. The letters stand for Sagada. As we went there for dinner, this is obviously a photo I took from another day.

The pasta remains so-so, but I am comforted that my money’s probably going to local farmers and business people. Hopefully. The portion’s quite filling for its price; I couldn’t even finish my pesto. So that’s also a comfort to my wallet.

Sad that we missed music night though.

And that’s it! I still actually haven’t managed to cross out anything from my bucketlist for Manila, since I’ve been to Kapetolyo SGD before, and both NCCA gallery and Intramuros Café weren’t even in my list. But there’s still next time.

Until then! ❤️

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