Na-engkanto.

So Katz, some of our org friends and I went to Enchanted Kingdom.

It was my first time!

Katz speaks to the funny-sounding people at the entrance about our tickets: free access to all rides plus a free pass to either EKstreme, the 4D theater, Laser Mission or the Haunted House.

Katz puts me in first-timer mode the minute we get past the turnstiles at the entrance. “Go sit over there!”

Waiting to get on the Rio Grande Rapids ride. All in all we got on it thrice!

A trip to the gift shop was in order. Katz and I got one of these cute WillKate wedding hats for her niece.

Katz and I were starving by the time we got off the Rio Grande Rapids for the first time, so we snuck away from our group to grab hotdogs. By the time we met up with the pack, they had tried the Space Shuttle and were starving, too. Above, photos of us waiting for our pizza.

Kitkat Blizzard, upon Katz’s orders.

We tried the Haunted House. Katz very excitedly told me about it weeks before the trip, so I anticipated a lot. It turned out to be kind of boring, though. Only three people all in all made an attempt at scaring us, and they weren’t very good!

Checking my phone in the queue for Rialto. It’s a cinema with moving seats.

Katz having fun.

She made me do a couple of jumps afterwards. I’m a sucker for cobblestone streets! See my Intramuros post.

Sunsets = easy “pa-art” photographs.

Taking advantage of the soft light.

Bump cars! This was only my second time on one of these. The last time I’d ridden one was when I was five or so.

This here’s the badly named but nonetheless terrifying EKstreme. You sit on a circular floorless carriage that pulls you all the way up to the top, then releases you and lets gravity do its thing. The fall feels like your soul is carving a hole in your head and trying to get out.

Waiting for the fireworks display.

Around this time last year, Katz and I were watching fireworks, too.

The magic stays with you! Life’s fantastic.

Intramuros

Classes were suspended on Wednesday in commemoration of the birth of Andres Bonifacio, leader of the (to some, unfinished) Philippine Revolution.

Where better to spend it than Intramuros (more popularly associated with the reformist Rizal), right? I’m such a historical dick.

The imposing clock tower of the Manila City Hall—and the ugly gray of SM Manila in the background.

Bunch of cannons.

Manong Guard getting his daily tabloid news fix. They still use the guard tower thingies as guardhouses.

Calesa convoy. If I remember correctly, a ride on one of these (including a guided tour) cost me and my family around P2,000 last year.

Just behind the outer walls, garbage.

Imagine the guardia civil and their lovers HHWW-ing along these walkways.

Fartsy strikes a pose. (That’s the Lyceum of the Philippines University tower in the background.)

Those are dormitories! Right within Intramuros! How charming. “Parang wala sa Pilipinas,” commented Katz.

Chilling.

If you look closely, you’ll see that street signs in Intramuros were placed on the walls of buildings and not on freestanding posts.

Chinese-language newspapers still enjoy wide circulation in the Philippines. Even the owners of the big hardware stores in my hometown read them at their desks, next to their abacuses. Copies of the previous day’s issue are used to wrap small purchases like nails and screws.

Not all of Intramuros is colonially quaint. Some alleys, such as this, are simply unremarkable.

And then there’s the vulgar (or the stark raving mad, we can’t be sure). “Putol ari ang sinomang umihi,” announces the poster. That’s Filipino for “Try to piss on this GI sheet wall and I’ll hack your penis off.” Right next to the sign is a poster announcing the activities for a Marian celebration of some sort.

Sige pa, aso! Umihi ka pa!” If you aren’t intimidated by threats of genital mutilation, then maybe name-calling will tame you.

I was surprised to find that there are neighborhoods like this one even within the walls of old Manila. I’ll bet you none of the tours pass through this part of town.

Katz was aghast at the sight, which surprised me because she grew up in the Metro. “If the squatters leave then Intramuros will look really pretty,” she quipped.

Yeah, but this way it stays faithful to the truth.

After quite some walking, we found ourselves on cobblestone streets instead of paved roads. How romantic.

Katz thought we should look for urban art.

Punks doing ollies and grinds in the soft light of dusk in what used to be the center of power of the colonized Islands. I hope the irony isn’t lost on them, because it’s really nice.

Ancient artifacts! One of the few remnants of the pre-bilog na hugis itlog (egg-shaped circle) era of Philippine history.

Me pointing out to Katz that over yonder is reclaimed land.

Katz got tired of walking. Actually she wasn’t particularly excited about the idea of taking a walk in Intramuros for Bonifacio Day. (“Pupunta pa ba tayo? Tinatamad ako, hehe,” said she when we met up at SM Manila). But I think she could tell that I really wanted to go, so she very politely agreed to stick to the original plan.

We’d been partly ambling around, partly trying to get to Fort Santiago with a little help from Google Maps. But when we got to the ballot boxes, we decided to go up the nearby wall and check out the view. A few minutes later I started back down the steps and asked her, “Aren’t we going to see Fort Santiago?”

Anong gagawin dun?” she asked, which was my cue to raise the white flag, so I said okay. We headed for the gate through which we had entered, on the side of the district facing the City Hall. The sun had begun to set by then.

Soon after we decided to head back it started to rain—a drizzle at first, then a quick but frantic downpour of enormous raindrops, until everything receded and a cool post-precipitation breeze swept in. Katz and I had to walk through puddles of water on cobblestone streets, amidst the voices of children and the chatter of people in a neighborhood just awoken from the hour of siesta, with light that was growing weaker and shadows that were growing longer.

It could have been any point in the history of the Walled City, and I would not have been any less happy.

Chic-Boy

Mang Inasal used to be the charming entrepreneurial roasted-chicken place to be. Some guy from Bacolod started and nurtured it, helping it grow to become a really huge thing. Huge enough to get Jollibee’s attention. They bought Mang Inasal last year for P3 Billion.

Jollibee itself used to be the little engine that could, didn’t it? The guys who owned it resisted going public with it, but eventually gave in (perhaps because the idea of a Jollibee branch in California was too much to resist). Now it’s a corporate heavyweight. A heavyweight that still serves crispy chicken and yummy budget burgers, yes, but a heavyweight all the same.

Thank goodness we still have Chic-Boy.

Its menu bears very close resemblance to Mang Inasal’s, with the addition of pork items and—as far as I can tell—a little more variety.

The number system and the condiments on the table are unmistakably Inasal (except for the tissue box, which Mang Inasal‘s Philcoa branch doesn’t have).

The enchaladang mangga is awesome! I’m cool with tomatoes and don’t care so much about onions, but damn, the raw mango plus bagoong is to die for. May I suggest Chic-Boy add Hilaw na mangga with bagoong to their menu?

The house soup: a perfect embodiment, I think, of Inasal versus Chic-Boy. Up until November 11, the soup at Mang Inasal‘s Philcoa branch was actually quite delicious, even though it was pretty easy to tell that the cooking process mostly involved hot water and copious amounts of Knorr cubes. They seemed to have changed the formula on November 11 (either increasing the amount of water or decreasing the amount of cubes in the ratio). When I dined in that branch on Monday it was even worse, as though the kitchen staff had accidentally spilt oil on hot water.

But heavens bless Chic-Boy‘s soup. Real onion leaf bits. Genuine taste. That’s all you need to know.

These are their bathrooms:

“Boy” for the men’s room…

…and “Chic” for the ladies’ room. So funny it’s annoying!

On a final note, Chic-Boy tries to set up shop close to Mang Inasal branches. The two food chains are next to each other on the same building in Banawe. They’ve got balls.

Icecreamstore

After attending to church-related stuff last Thursday, Katz and I met up with Ditch and Sanse, her sisters, at this nice little ice cream parlor along G. Tuazon in Sampaloc, aptly called the Icecreamstore.

It’s a quaint place on a quiet corner of residential land. Nothing fancy: no airconditioning, simple seating, unadorned signage.

Katz and I split the Rocky Road float thing (pictured above), P40. We loved the ice cream scoop, but the drink itself tasted off, like cheap beer or spoiled coconut milk.

Sanse asked the nice ladies behind the counter about it, and they were kind enough to offer us another drink on the house.

Katz went for the cappuccino flavor, P50. They sprinkled corn flakes on top of the ice cream scoop, too!