Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘antonette maniquis’

Our First Day In Singapore (Part 2)

continuation of Our First Day In Singapore (Part 1) – August 20

The Camerawalls along one of the streets of Singapore.

Arab Street

Singapore has a diverse population made up of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians and Asians (of various descent). It isn’t a wonder to find shopping and ethnic districts like Arab Street, Little India, Chinatown, Orchard Road and Marina Bay. We were able to do a walking tour of two of them before the day ends.

Our food trip in Bugis Street was preceded with a walkabout around the vicinity of Arab Street  just a few blocks away. Arab Street interestingly illustrates the Arabian culture. You can easily find conservatively dressed Muslims, beautiful old shop houses lined up on the streets and marvel at the largest mosque in the country – the Sultan Mosque – easily identified by its golden domes.

 

The grand Sultan Mosque.

Some of the many old shophouses common in the district.

Right across the Sultan Mosque is the famous Zam-Zam, one of Singapore’s best know restaurant for all sorts of Muslim-Malay food, which serves their legendary Murtabak (a type of stuffed pancake eaten with curry). Too bad we’re still full from our last meal.

One of Singapore's best known restaurant famous for their Murtabak.

Along Kandahar Street was a long line of street food vendors selling items quite unfamiliar to my eyes. I spotted a table that sells mini Otah-Otah. I asked what it is to which the vendor replied, “Fish cake made of mackarel”. I have never tasted fish cake so to my curiosity I bought some and shared it with the others. It’s spicy and is an acquired taste. I can do for one more hadn’t we moved along.

Later on I found out that Otah-Otah is also sometimes called Otak-Otak. Otak means brains in Indonesia and Malay. (Very close to the Filipino word “Utak” with the same meaning)  and the name of the dish is derived from the idea that the dish some what resembles brains, being grey, soft and almost squishy. Otah-otah is made by mixing fish paste (usually mackerel) with a mixture of spices. The mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf that has been softened by steaming, then grilled or steamed.

 

Otah-otah - a cake made of fish meat.

At Bian’s  Cafe

We chanced upon a cozy looking coffee shop along the same street and decided it’s about time for some caffeine in our system. We took our seats and was greeted by the very nice Chinese owner named Bian Huibin. While we wait for our order he offered us a book to browse: “The Sidewalk Beauty – The Stray Cats Of Singapore” – a photographic journal that pays tribute to Singapore’s street cats. Over 200 pages of beautiful cat photos with humoring captions. We notice most of the cats’ left ear in the photos are snipped. His website mentioned that in an attempt to curb the proliferation of stray cats, most of the strays have been sterilized. The snipped left tip on their ear is the mark of their surgery.

It took awhile before we found out he’s the author/photographer of the pictures in the book. Very entertaining for cat lovers like us. (I have one at home name Doro, Law has one named Bassline, both Ian Zafra and Antonette has one too and Bachie has a dozen!) Quite interesting is the author’s biography:

Bian Huibin graduated from the Faculty of Music at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in 1985, having majored in Percussion and minored in French Horn. In 1991, he graduated from the Beijing Film Academy Photography faculty, having majored in Feature Film Photography. He has been in Singapore since 1995 upon invitation to work in television production here. Since then, he has produced numerous advertisements and documentaries. He is currently the Artistic Director of Hetian Film Productions.

It’s very humbling that a man of his stature is serving coffee and drinks to his customers. I admired him for that. For more photos and info about his book visit straycatsofsingapore.com and singopera.com.sg. I went inside his shop and found a lot pictures on the wall of chinese opera singers in costume. He told me his wife is a Chinese Opera singer and instructor.  Chinese Opera is an old form of drama and musical theater in China with roots going back to the third century. Upstairs is Singapore Chinese Opera Museum (SCOM) in which Bian is also the museum director.

Relaxing at Bian's Cafe below the Singapore Chinese Opera Museum along Kandahar Street.

The Sidewalk Beauty - The Stray Cats of Singapore

Clementine with Bian Huibin (Photographer/Author of The Stray Cats of Singapore)

Some merchandise items from The Sidewalk Beauty.

A chinese opera doll at the entrance of Bian's Cafe and Singapore Chinese Opera Museum.

A wall full of opera singers' photos.

Bian and I had a difficult time conversing since he is not well-versed with the English language. But graciously tried to explain the things he do, showed me around a bit and opened his website for me to browse. He also showed me a sample clip of an actual chinese opera he produced. He asked about my music and I showed him our site and in no time at all the whole coffee shop was blasting “Canto De Maria Clara“, one of our songs from the debut album. And when it was time to say goodbye we took pics and exchanged cards for future correspondence.

A photo in one of the alleys of Arab Street district with the Sultan Mosque at the background.

Children’s Little Museum

There’s wonderful pedestrian area on Bussorah Street located right behind the Sultan Mosque. There are shops and cafes there. Many of the restaurants have sheeshas or water pipes, which you can smoke. We also checked out a vintage shop called Children’s Little Museum. It has items from 1950s to 1970s. A very nostalgic and enjoyable find!

Many of the restaurants have sheeshas or water pipes, which you can smoke.

Children's Little Museum - Singapore

A Wurlitzer Jukebox

Bruce Lee and vintage Tellies.

Orange everywhere?

Miniature Vespas!

The Beatles, classic radio and ashtrays.

Old Timepieces.

A place to drool and marvel.

Continued at Our First Day in Singapore (Part 3)

Our First Day In Singapore (Part 1)

A few months ago we were mighty thrilled to receive an inquiry from Esplanade exploring The Camerawalls for Baybeats 2010 and privileged enough to eventually be included in the line up. It’s our first regional gig outside the Philippines and I would like to share some of the things we did and experienced during our three-day stay in Singapore from August 20 – 22.

Day 1 – August 20

Eat, Pray, Love

We left Cubao, QC at 3am after a brief sleepover with the whole band at Antonette’s place. Her brother Anthony graciously woke up during witching hour to drive us to the airport. Checking in wasn’t much of a hassle. We killed some time beside a dimsum shop on the second floor of the airport while waiting for boarding time. Coffee and small talks while Ian Zafra (SATI) reads a soft bound copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A memoir that chronicles the American author’s trip around the world after her divorce and what she discovered during her travels. A New York Times bestseller with a film adaptation starring Julia Roberts. Both I have yet to read and see.

I tried to sleep on board but was distracted by the most number of sneezing and coughing. A dreadful chorus producing an awful discomfort coming from all sides. One more hour… I  hope I don’t catch  any unwanted virus that would hamper my singing the next day.

We arrived at Changi International Airport 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Our artist liason officer was already waiting for us. Nice girl named Clara Ang. She gladly welcomed us and during one of our short conversations she asked if we smoked. I said “No”.  “Great. Easier for me,” she replied.

My entourage: Ian Zafra, Bachie Rudica, Antonette Maniquis and Law Santiago.

We rode a coaster with Chicosci, another fellow musician from the Philippines and went to our first stop at Esplanade where we stored our musical instruments at assigned dressing rooms. Roads will be closed the next day for the first ever Youth Olympic Games – an international multi-sport event featuring athletes from ages 14 to 18. It would be such a drag to do a 15 minute walk from our hotel to Esplanade carrying our equipment.

Also I finally met Christie Chua the program director who invited The Camerawalls a few months back. Had a little chat with her and learned that Baybeats Festival is on its ninth year. Gave her some copies of “Pocket Guide To The Otherworld” to sell at Esplanade shop during the festival. According to her, normally the weather in the country is fairly warm and humid. But we notice that day it’s particularly cooler accompanied with patchy drizzles. Best time to go for a walk and see some parts of the city.

St. Joseph’s Church

We went straight to Grand Pacific Hotel to check in and freshen up. Got a hold of a free Singapore Island map at the lobby before we went up the elevator. We were tired from lack of sleep but excited at the same time since it’s our first time in the city with only a few hours to kill each day to do other things not related to Baybeats.

The hotel along Victoria Street is ideally near a lot of places and is situated right inside the heart of the district. Transportation is easy with buses, cabs and MRT lines. We decided to walk instead to see the sights and find a good place to eat that’s cheap and authentic. Heading northeast along Victoria St. we saw our first stop – St. Joseph’s Church. A gothic styled Roman Catholic church built in the early 1900’s by the Portuguese mission. The building’s very attractive and the place boast of beautifully-crafted stained glass windows.

St. Joseph's Church along Victoria Street.

Bugis Street

We went pass Middle Road and crossed Manila Street till we reached Bugis Street. A once famous tourist spot in Singapore for a nightly gathering of transwomen and transgender sex bazaar culture. A colourful and unique era that ended in 1980s during the redevelopment of the place into a retail complex of shopping malls, restaurants, nightspots and back-alley vendors plus the underground construction of the Bugis MRT station. It is now billed as “the largest street-shopping location in Singapore“.

The New Bugis Street

After going thru sections of food, clothing, apparels, watches, fruits, even a sex shop stall, we found ourselves in an alley full of small street restaurants with a common dining area in the middle for customers. The combined scent of dishes after dishes being prepared and served signaled a retreat to one of the tables near Cui Xiang Yuan restaurant. We soon realized how hungry we were. We ordered Chili Chicken, Mushroom Chicken, Seafood & Beancurd Soup, Seafood Rice and they were absolutely delicious. Or maybe we were just famished.

Chili Chicken with Rice

Seafood & Beancurd Soup

Mushroom Chicken with Rice

First meal of the day.

The food is rather cheap and authentic. It was a good idea to check out that alley. Enough to prep us for another couple of hours walking around the place. We further looked around before deciding to hit the streets once more towards our next destination – Arab Street. – continued at Our First Day In Singapore (Part 2)