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The Difference Draft Beer Makes

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Understand the difference between the tap and the bottle when it comes to serving and appraising good beer

You may have heard the words “draft beer.” Perhaps you’ve heard them uttered by that insufferable 20-something who definitely shouldn’t have been at your favourite bar. Or maybe you read it on a menu, the one time you decided to consider your options instead of just immediately ordering a Pale Pilsen by default. Draft beer is becoming more and more popular in upscale bars and pubs of Metro Manila, but what is it, exactly? And more importantly, what makes it so different from the beer we’re already accustomed to?

The immediate difference is simple:  draft beer–or draught beer, if you’re talking to a Brit–is served on tap, drawn straight from a barrel or cask. This type of beer is stored, poured, and served there-and-then by bars with draft lines; as opposed to the type of beer we’re more used to, which is bottled and distributed, served individually or by the bucket.

It certainly seems simple, but when you consider what that means to people who are really serious about their beer, it makes all the difference because of one critical factor:  freshness. Draft beer is served fresh, which means you can easily distinguish its distinct flavours and notes; appreciate its subtleties and nuances; understand the fullness of its flavour. It’s also easier for beer connoisseurs to evaluate the color and aroma of the beer, because it can be immediately served in a clear glass. Some even insist on appreciating your draft beer as you would fine wine–by swirling it, and sniffing it before actually drinking it to taste. Whether or not this is something you could do when you’re out at a bar is entirely up to you.

But what can be said for certain about draft beer is that its recent return to the fore has sparked something of a revolution among discerning beer drinkers who are on the lookout for more distinct flavours and a unique drinking experience. If you would like to count yourself among these discerning drinkers, San Miguel is a good name to start with. The San Miguel Lifestyle Brews are familiar flavours: San Miguel Super Dry, San Miguel Premium All-Malt, and Cerveza Negra. On tap, these beverages take on a new dimension. Begin your discovery of draft beer with any of these excellent brews.

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Now available at The Keg (Fort Strip), The Sugar Factory (Shangri-la BGC), Snaps Sports Bar (Sofitel), Buffalo Wild Wings (Conrad, Glorietta, Estancia, Uptown Mall), Bugsy’s (BGC and Makati), Brick and Mortar (Fort Strip), Balkan (BGC), Z-Hostel (Makati), Dillingers (Greenbelt) and Mike and Jeni’s Gastropub (Marikina)

This article first appeared in Compass: A Style Premier for the Modern Man, November 2016

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Man of the Hour: Joe Camacam

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Interview by Kolleen Feria
Photography by Jonas Tamayo and Thurees Obenza

We at Felipe and Sons have always believed in local talent. Just as our stores are mancaves to Filipino gentlemen, they are also spaces for our barbers and tailors to continuously develop their craft and thrive with it. As one of our best barbers sets out for new endeavours, we sit down with Joe Camacam for an exit interview.

What’s next for you?
May offer sa’kin to be an educator in the industry, and syempre, I’ll still be cutting hair. Ngayon umiikot-ikot ako to learn as much as I can about the barbershop industry. Tinitingnan ko pa tsaka pinag-iisipan. 

Last time we sat down with you for an interview, you mentioned there was more to do with women’s hair.
At that time, pa-start pa lang ako ulit with men’s hair. I was a barber first before I was a stylist, and then in Felipe and Sons I went back to my roots as a barber. Throughout my time in Felipe [and Sons], I also learned about the details of shaving. Mas na-enhance talaga ako sa barbering. Natagpuan ko dito ‘yung pagiging barbero ko. Felipe [and Sons] gave me a real platform to explore men’s style. I built a client base that’s dominantly male, so even if I miss coloring and highlighting women’s hair, I now feel more challenged to apply those techniques to men’s hair. I feel like here, men are still afraid to try new things, and as a barber, I feel like that’s my challenge now–How do I make my clients trust me to try a new cut, a new color?

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Do you think that’s the limitation of the barbershop industry that salons have an edge over?
Initially, yes. ‘Yun kasi talaga ang main difference ng barbershop sa salon, but now I believe there’s a way to introduce and integrate color into barbershops without necessarily losing the masculine edge. Kailangan lang talaga well trained din yung mga barbers. Filipino barbers also need to have pride in what we do. Dati akala ko pag barbero ka, barbero ka lang, but now I see the craftsmanship and expertise involved. Kailangan din siguro magkaroon ng school for barbers dito sa Pilipinas so we don’t hesitate to call ourselves professionals.

What’s your dream project then for men’s hair and color?
[I want to try] Hair art, colored in ash grey. Ash grey is actually a very difficult color to achieve. If I get to do that well, mafu-fulfill ako kasi konti lang nakakagawa nu’n.

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What will you miss most about Felipe and Sons?
The events! My favorite memory here is Déjà Vu. I interacted with not just barbershop clients but even haberdashery guests. I met and talked to Jensen and the Flips. I felt like I was also a guest during the event.

Can you give some words of advice to other barbers?
Just the barbers of Felipe and Sons or pati ‘yung iba?

To both!
For those who are in Felipe and Sons, especially the new ones, I encourage them to stay and practice their craft. It really takes a while to master barbering, even if one already came from another barbershop or salon. [I also advise them to] Build their network. Being at Felipe and Sons has brought a lot of opportunities to me, so [I would tell them to] just be open.

For the barbers in other shops, keep researching para matapatan nila ‘yung mga nasa Felipe [and Sons]. Joke lang! Pwera biro, kailangan talaga hindi lang isa o dalawang gupit ‘yung magaling sila. They have to research about different styles so when their clients go to them and ask them,“Kaya mo ba ‘tong style na ‘to?” they can confidently say yes. Confident sila na competent sila.

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Man of the Hour: AJ Dee

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Interviewed by Kolleen Feria
Photography by Jonas Tamayo and Andrei Suleik

If you follow celebrity-fashion blogger, AJ Dee, you’ve probably already seen several of his Instagram posts from Norway. It’s almost been half a month since AJ left the Philippines to be with his family, but right before he flew across the continent, we caught up with The Filo Dapper for a quick chat.

Are you excited?
I’m still tired, actually. I’m about to attend a charity event today, and I haven’t even finished packing. It’s bittersweet because I’m leaving everything behind here but I also feel like I’m finally going home to my family.

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What are your plans for The Filo Dapper when you get to Norway?
My goal is to get big in Europe. The reason I started my blog is because I knew I was going to migrate to Norway, and I was looking for something that could replace acting. It was a blessing in disguise because I never would have thought I could be a successful blogger had I not planned on moving.

I had many apprehensions before I started blogging—I knew I wasn’t good at writing, I didn’t know much about photography, but one day I decided to just go for it. Now that I’m fairly established as a blogger, I want to use what I learned here in the Philippines to build The Filo Dapper up again, but this time, in Europe.

What’s the most valuable take away from your time in the Philippines?
To be true to myself. It’s hard to create something you’re not really interested in. In a larger scale, I want to continue what I’m doing here with a different environment and a different audience, and I think my style will translate well in Europe.

What would you say The Filo Dapper’s impact was to local men’s fashion?
I believe The Filo Dapper showed many Filipino men that it’s still possible to wear suits despite our climate, and it gave men an alternative to streetwear. It brought back the idea of looking dapper, and that well-tailored clothing doesn’t need to be stiff or old fashioned.

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But just as you said, many are still sceptical about suits just because it can get so hot here. How would you advise men to be dapper without wearing a suit?
The idea of dapper is looking sharp and neat, so it isn’t a suit per se that makes a man dapper. You can wear jeans and a clean white shirt, and exude dapper. It’s all about how you carry yourself, and the attention you put to details such as fit, or even scent.

Any parting words?
Don’t be afraid to try doing something out of your comfort zone. It’s cheesy, but it works. I was hesitant before starting my blog, but I went for it anyway. You will only know your capabilities once you’ve put yourself out there.

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The Last Typewriter Men

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Words and Photography by Shirin Bhandari

For the third time in a month the letter “F” fell off my keyboard, “D” was in close suite. I tried to patch it up but the industrial glue burned into the plastic key making it worthless. I was left with a white rubber stub. The surly technician inside a nearby shopping mall raised his eyebrows with the botched up work. “You’re better off upgrading to a new laptop instead of replacing the entire panel!” he said.

Our gadgets constantly change and fall apart, we lose memory and speed- it becomes obsolete over such a short period of time.

Is there something so wrong with becoming attached to an old (5 years) piece of equipment? I fear change.

“You’ll never have that problem with a typewriter – picture an Underwood; some are over a 100 years old. For a writer, which computer can last that long?” my father would say. Good point. He is a textile engineer and I’ve been surrounded by mechanical machinery, nuts and bolts all my life. It could become a decent back-up for work. The closest I’ve come to a typewriter since the 1990’s is the pathetic typing sound application installed on my computer.

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V. Avena & Sons–probably the last typewriter store in Manila

“There’s a quaint store along España across the roundabout probably the last typewriter store in Manila.”

I took heed to the advice and set out early on the hopes of finding the place and dodging the metro’s epic traffic jams. España is a road constructed in 1913. Named after Spain- they colonized the Philippines for over 300 years. With the current 8 lanes – it has become a thoroughly used route in Metro Manila.

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Rows and rows of typewriters were on display.

The heat was unforgiving despite arriving a little after 9 in the morning. The bustling road was filled with colourful and noisy jeepneys. A tall and sturdy elderly gentleman opened the clear glass door. He had locked it from the inside -a smart thing to do in such a large city. “May I help you?” he said in a soft voice. Rows and rows of typewriters from various decades were on display. “I’d like to purchase one,” as I pointed to a shelf across the room. He led me to a large desk. A brass ornament lay on the table, etched into the dark metal read the name of Mr. Ramon Avena. He sat down in a swivel chair next to a flat screen TV playing the latest NBA playoffs.

Behind him a man worked patiently on a Deco period Underwood along a well ventilated terrace. Mr. Avena let me walk around the store. His family owns the low-rise building and lets out the remaining rooms to tenants. His parents established a sporting goods store in the mid 1930’s on the other side of town now known as Recto, before shifting to typewriters in 1939. They moved to España in the 1960’s. Ramon learned the trade as a child. His father, Mr. Vicente Avena, was an accomplished sportsman and played center- representing the Philippine basketball team in the 1920’s Far Eastern Olympics.

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Mr. Avena’s father was a remarkable basketball player in the 1920’s

On the floor leading to the terrace lay a grave yard of typewriters. Each with a paper note of the date and owner neatly placed on the top carriage. There is a long line of repairs and restorations for people willing to wait. A medium-sized notebook showed Mr. Avena’s handwritten list of clients, including a few famous personalities. The business has survived the Japanese occupation and a World War. Every typewriter brought to the store has a personal history, a story-some hold onto it as a memento of a loved one who has passed.

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Long line of typewriters waiting to be maintained and repaired.

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Names of clients are personally handwritten into a medium sized notebook.

The smell of paint thinner and oil filled the air. The recycled parts of cannibalized typewriters from every brand conceivable were placed in well-organized glass bottles. Wide metal filing cabinets carried an abundance of steel, rollers, spools and keys. “I have kept everything.” Mr. Avena exclaimed as he pulled out the drawer with small wooden compartments that held each letter of the alphabet.

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Spare parts are collected into clear glass bottles.

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Each part is kept in well-organized compartments.

The onset of the 20th century brought businesses and writers to the typewriter. You put more thought before typing as you would now-with fewer distractions. Ideas are printed and translated into ink.

We may be in the computer age but V. Avena & Sons was never drawn to upgrade. “I need technicians I can trust.” His faithful assistant, Nemecio Matalang, has been with him since 1972. From 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except for Sundays, V. Avena & Sons has remained open for the past 70 years. A lot has changed since then- where the Government, Universities, offices and factories would constantly call for their services. At present about two typewriters are repaired a day and if luck would have it- one sold a week.

Ironically despite the store name, Ramon who is now in his 80’s is the only son among 4 siblings. Sadly no member of the family has any interest to continue the trade. “It is what it is, I kept my promise the day my father died-I will continue like he did until my time comes. Life is about holding on to your word and having integrity.”

Nemecio Matalang, Mr. Avena’s faithful assistant, has been with him since 1972 . “I need technicians I can trust,” says Mr. Ravena.

Nemecio Matalang, Mr. Avena’s faithful assistant, has been with him since 1972 . “I need technicians I can trust,” says Mr. Avena.

The second floor of the store is his private sanctuary. His withered hands gestured to random clippings and photographs against the wall. Another office held basketball memorabilia of his late father. It smelled like an old woolen sweater with moth balls-but somewhat comforting. As if time has stood still.

Mr. Ramon Avena

Mr. Ramon Avena

“I have no regrets, this is where I started and all of this will end with me.
The typewriter is my life.”

Long before we had email inboxes there were high piles of paper stacked with impulsively written letters made on heavy metal contraptions.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Mr. Avena took out two typewriters for me to try, both in mint condition, restored meticulously. A short blank piece of paper was in the roll with a line of “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” It is an English phrase that contains all the letters of the alphabet. Instinctively I copied it over and over again to get the feel of the keys. You see each word hit the paper. The clickety clacking sounds are mesmerizing–as one would be entranced with watching a record spin.

The QWERTY keyboard layout was developed to help keys from jamming. It became so successful with the 1878 Remington that it has remained in use with standard electronic keyboards to this day.

About 1-2 typewriters are repaired each day.

About 1-2 typewriters are repaired each day.

Three hours later I was still in the store. Where did the time go? Close to lunch break a group of men arrived in a tricycle (Philippine auto rickshaw) from the local barangay (town hall). They lugged in a large electronic typewriter used to fill government forms. “I’ll see what we can do,” Mr. Avena said as he handed them a receipt.

Regardless, I settled with an antique Remington Monarch. I didn’t have enough money and gave a partial deposit. Mr. Avena was kind enough to oblige.

It was also a valid excuse to come back and spend time to listen to his ramblings.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“You know some people have everything. But are they happy? Do they have what money can’t buy? You made a good choice.” Mr. Avena smiled as he walked with me towards the door.

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V. Avena and Sons
2282 España Street, Sampaloc, Manila

The Unwritten History of The Philippines

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Words by Troy Bernardo
Images by Jordan Jacinto

Back when the planet was young — the air, much denser and the water, thinner– there stood a vast continent which, today, could only be found in myths, the New Age section of bookstores, and, according to W. Scott-Elliott, the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The continent, which also went by the name Mu or the Motherland (of Mu), was believed to contain an ancient civilization, Lemuria, which existed prior to and during the time of Atlantis, some 14,000 years ago. Scott-Elliott’s book, “The Story of Atlantis and Lost Lemuria,” dated the latter to about one million-years-old; its cataclysmic sinking, 10BC.

Why the continent, which allegedly had 7 rivers, 7 mountains, and 7 Subcontinents – thus, it was also called the 7 Blessed Isles, the 7 Islands of the Blest, the Land of the Mother and the Womb of the Planet — vanished could be blamed on volcanic eruptions, plate tectonics, or simply, geological change. Though this event may seem incredibly dramatic, it isn’t that far-fetched. As recently as December 26, 2004, an earthquake triggered a series of tsunamis that killed more than 225,000 people in eleven countries.

The exact location of Lemuria is unknown. Scott-Elliott believed that it existed “largely in the Southern Pacific Ocean, between North America and Asia/Australia.” Rudolf Steiner, author of “Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Man and Earth,” placed its location in the “south of Asia, and extended approximately from Ceylon to Madagascar, including what is today southern Asia and parts of Africa.” Crystalinks.com, a website dedicated to Lemuria, wrote that its location is linked with the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Some non-traditional historians like Prof. Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago, believe that Philippine history can be traced back to Lemuria, which occupied the Pacific and Indian oceans, encompassing the islands of Hawai’i, the Philippines, and everything in between.

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Another non-traditional historian, Bong de la Torre, makes an even bolder claim. Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak on the island of Mindanao, is what was left of Lemurian civilization.

Interestingly enough, they could be right.

Before Portuguese explorer Fernão de Magalhães, a.k.a. Ferdinand Magellan, re-discovered The Philippines back in March 1521, the country was just a nameless archipelago, a collection of islands, where various tribes and communities lived. The center of trade, for example, was the Kingdom of Butuan, which was Indianized like the Kingdom of Tondo.

Mindoro, which was called Ma-i by Chinese traders, was a popular trade route. Could Mindoro’s residents have been called Ma-ian?
The island province of Siquijor was called Isla del Fuego, or Island of Fire, by the Spaniards; because, of its huge population of fireflies, according to Esteban Rodriguez, who led the Legazpi Expedition in 1565.

When the Spanish colonizers came, they created a country out of the archipelago; named it after then King Philip II, a.k.a. Philip the Prudent; and, then replaced the deeply spiritual nature of the islanders with Catholicism.

That was the gist of Philippine history according to the Spaniards.

 

The Lemurian Connection

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According to Argonza, spiritually advanced beings populated one of Mu’s 7 Subcontinents, the one called Maharloka.

There, a deep spirituality combined with the mastery of combat made for a powerful, awakened society. The words Mahar or Maha, meaning Great, and lekha, which in Sanskrit meant Creation or Effort, after all, when combined, meant Noble Creation or The Great Land.

After the Great Flood, only the mountain tops of the 7 Blessed Isles were left in what would later be modern-day Indonesia: Borneo, Celebes, Java, New Guinea, the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra.

The highest peak on the 7th Blessed Isle, Maharloka, was believed to have been called Apo, which could be found on the archipelago that would later be renamed the Philippines. This could be a reason why Filipinos have a penchant for faith healing, shamanism, superstition, and other cosmic, esoteric, mystic and spiritual pursuits. This was also probably why religion managed to firmly entrench itself in the population. We were already predisposed to the spiritual.

The symbol of Mu, also known as Sunda or the legendary Lemuria, is 8 rays radiating from a circle, which might as well be the same 8 rays that emanate from sun on the Philippine national flag today.

The Lemurian alphabet closely resembles Baybayin, the ancient Philippine alphabet.

That is the gist of our unwritten history according to non-traditional historians.

According to Argonza, an Initiate of the Brotherhood of Light, who calls himself “a sociologist, economist, development specialist by profession, while spiritual teaching (+ healing, messenger, writer),” because of Maharloka’s connection to the divine, the isle was known to be a cosmic portal, its citizens trained in the gathering of sacred knowledge, the manipulation of energies, and the passing on of divine wisdom to affect collective consciousness of the planet.”

These tasks had been passed on to the archipelago’s shamans, tribal spiritual leaders called babaylans, who were then demonized by the Roman Catholic Church, calling them aswang. Babaylans were outlawed, gathered, and sent into exile to the island of — you guessed it — Siquijor.

Siquijor, or Isla del Fuego, could’ve been a metaphor for the fires of Hell.

Not all Catholics, however, were against the highly advanced spiritual consciousness of the archipelago. When the Jesuits first came to the country back in 1581, many of them were said to have had links with the local shamans; so much so that when they were expelled after 187 years of work in the country, many Jesuits remained hidden in the mountains, leading ascetic, spiritual lives. Hiding from the law, they became reclusive hermits, which explains why the ermitanyo in popular Filipino culture, were always depicted as tall, white, bearded men.

Whatever may, or may not be, the truth about the stories above, non-traditional historians wish that these won’t get lost in a sea of barber tales. In fact, they are hopeful that the stories encourage all of us not just to question what is fed to us by history books, but more importantly, to embrace whatever memories they awaken.

The King of the Road

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Words by Shirin Bhandari
Photography by Josef Gadista

The stainless steel horse would vibrate from left to right, up and down. The springs below the hooves were raised at a certain angle so it would give the illusion of trotting. The horse was placed top and centre on a colourful and highly ornamented hood.

Traffic in Manila was scarce when I was a child and for once as the signal turned red- one could look forward to staring at the kitschy and brightly designed Jeepneys. Each vehicle unique with its own streamers and colours; sometimes even with a full steed of horses.

The word Sarao has become synonymous with the Jeepney.

The word Sarao has become synonymous with the Jeepney.

The Jeepney is a popular mode of public transportation in the Philippines. It was originally constructed from the left over Willy U.S. Military jeeps from World War II.  As the U.S. troops started to pull out from the Philippines at the end of the war, the remaining surplus Jeeps were either sold or given to the locals as gifts. They were stripped down and altered, painted with vibrant hues and ornaments. The back was reconstructed with parallel benches to accommodate more passengers. People are made to sit facing each other in close proximity with their knees touching. The running joke is the Jeepney combines the root word “jeep” and “knee”-hence the name. But the true origin is from the word “jitney” which is an American slang for a nickel fare or a small bus that picks up and discharges passengers over a regular route which was popular before and during the war.

The unextended jeeps were called “owners” and are not used for commercial purposes.

The word Sarao has become synonymous with the vehicle. The company was first established in 1953 as a small automotive shop.  Entrepreneur Leonardo Sarao from Cavite earned a living as a kalesa (horse carriage) driver before becoming a mechanic.  He incorporated the airiness of the kalesa into the design of his jeep. Since the Philippines is a tropical country- the open sides serve well for cross ventilation- keeping passengers cool, when air-conditioning was still a luxury.

Sarao Motors incorporated the design of the kalesa into its Jeepneys to provide airiness and cross ventilation.

Sarao Motors incorporated the design of the kalesa into its Jeepneys to provide airiness and cross ventilation.

Other forms of transportation were virtually destroyed during the second World War and the country was left with little alternatives. The jeepney became the most used and popular form of public transportation in the Philippines next to the bus. It is an inexpensive way to get people around. The government acknowledged their importance and began to issue special licenses to drivers and regulated their use, routes and fares.

The Sarao company outnumbered other manufacturers by 7 to one. The Jeepney became a symbol of Philippine pop culture in the early 1960s. The specialized Sarao vehicle was exhibited at the 1964 New York World’s Fair- Philippine Pavilion. It then travelled from Manila to London in 1971 and throughout Europe to promote Philippine tourism and industry. A custom made Jeepney was manufactured by Sarao in 1981 for Pope John Paul II, for his first visit to the Philippines.

The Sarao Motors factory serves as a museum for Jeepneys from various decades.

The Sarao Motors factory serves as a museum for Jeepneys from various decades.

Sarao Motors is located south of the capital in Las Piñas City. The vast lot still holds original pieces of various Jeepney designs. However the once active factory has become more of a museum. It has seen better days. Upon entering, there are rows and rows of parked Jeepneys from various decades. Majority are in mint and pristine condition- some go as far back as 1955. Others remain incomplete with bare steel bodies; as if time has stood still.

Due to the rising costs of production the company had to downsize in October 2000. Mr. Sarao died a year later at the age of 80.

On the left is a Jeepney commissioned by Hennessy for their campaign Hennessy King of the Road

The once bustling factory with over 350 employees has been reduced to a crew of 50. The collection department is the only section that is currently in operation. Sarao has tried to resume operations in a smaller scale; concentrating more on commissioned work.  The average output is 40 units per year, a far cry from their production when the company was at its peak.

There is no concrete program for the local automotive industry in the Philippines. It is unfortunate that foreign brands have taken the lead. The government has neither passed a law to protect Sarao’s design. Other manufacturers have reconstructed the original pattern with their own modifications- using cheaper materials and engines. The look varies in each region of the Philippines. The length, size and seating capacity has evolved through the years; however none can come close to the beauty of a Sarao.

The company is currently managed and supervised by Mr. Edgardo Sarao, the fourth son of the  legendary mechanic and entrepreneur.  It was through the grace of his father’s commitment and hard work that he decided to continue the legacy.

Mr. Edgardo Sarao poses beside a vintage 1955 Sarao Jeepney.

Mr. Edgardo Sarao poses beside a vintage 1955 Sarao Jeepney.

The lack of infrastructure and other modes of transit still make the iconic Philippine Jeepney relevant. “They’re here to stay. What other alternative do we have?” Mr. Edgardo Sarao quips. “Now that our LRT-MRT (train system) is constantly under repair, a Jeepney can always take minor routes around the metropolis and provinces. Without it, mobilizing the masses will be a monumental task. People still need a cheap form of public transportation.”

The company is in talks with local and foreign companies for a joint venture- looking to source the next generation of environmentally friendly Electric Vehicles.

“How do you see your future?” I ask.

The portly Mr. Sarao smiles as his eyes go into a small squint.
“We have high hopes- the entire work shop in itself is a museum, all that nostalgia.
It would be nice to have a Jeepney themed restaurant…Who knows?” he says with a laugh.

If luck would have it- the gears might just shift into the right direction and the Sarao name will be great again.

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Man of the Hour: Andrei Suleik

Interview by Kolleen Feria
Photography by Jonas Tamayo

Aside from elevating the local indie scene, Purveyr and Sakaling Hindi Makarating have something else–well, someone–in common: rising photographer, Andrei Suleik. For someone used to being behind the lens, Andrei seems just as comfortable being in front of it.

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What’s a day in your life like?
I wake up, take a shower, and then check my schedule. Minsan kasi nakakalimutan ko may shoot pala ako. I also check editorials everyday for inspiration, and then I spend the rest of the day with people in shoots or just hanging out. I love people. My Instagram is full of them–a good mix of close friends and those I just see in the Explore tab of Instagram.

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You randomly look for people to shoot on Instagram’s Explore? How does that work?
I send them a direct message first and establish a friendship. It’s weird if I just ask them right away if I can shoot them. I only get to do that in real life. Occasionally, I’ll be people watching and when I see someone who looks interesting, I’ll ask them if I can take their picture. Most say yes. I feel like it’s because I look young and harmless.

What makes a person look interesting to you?
When a person wears clothes together differently or if it’s a look I haven’t seen before. These are the kinds of pictures I like sharing with others on @visualbasick, a platform I created because I feel like there are many of those who want to experiment and try things out but are unsure. They’re just waiting for someone else to try it first.

What about you? Is there a look you’d like to try?
I’d love to mix up a suit with a bomber jacket or maybe a windbreaker. Perhaps in the rainier months.

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What’s your personal style like?
I feel like all artists have a certain look. ‘Yung di maarte. Kailangan comfortable kami lagi eh. We have shoots that often last the entire day. For me, it’s the shoes. Mine are always dirty, and I like them that way because when shoes are too clean, they attract too much attention. I don’t like standing out, but I also don’t want to look like everyone else. Nothing too trendy. Ayoko lang manggaya, pero alam ko rin naman lahat may pinanggalingan. I look a bit out of date, like Marty McFly.

Do you achieve that look consciously?
Nah, I don’t intend for it. I don’t even look at the mirror when I get dressed! I just wear whatever I think looks nice. Sometimes, I’ll see myself in pictures, and I’ll realize, ay hindi pala maganda! But it’s okay. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, then there’s always next time.

How does your personal style translate into your photography?
I always try to capture a person’s best when I take a portrait. It’s about the subject. Kung may Andrei man dun sa picture, hindi ko pa alam. Right now, I’m just striving to explore more, and when the time comes, get discovered.

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Leslie Espinosa

Interview by Troy Bernardo
Photography by Jonas Tamayo

Leslie Espinosa, New York-trained guest barber-stylist, talks to us about how she discovered Felipe and Sons, and what she loves about cutting curly hair.

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How did you get to Felipe and Sons? How do you like it here?

I met the team from Felipe and Sons through Dee Jae Paeste who helps with the retail store.  We were talking about trends in barbershops, salons, merchandise back in the U.S., and he brought me to check out the shop and I loved everything I saw when I walked in.  One of my best friends, who is living in London, is a stylist too and we used to always joke about working in a barbershop…now that has become reality.

What do you love most about cutting hair? How do you view cutting hair?

I love cutting hair because it is like sculpting for me.  There is so much you can do with shape and texture from a basic haircut.  When you are creating a style for your client, thinking about their lifestyle, their wardrobe, and their personality it is not just a haircut anymore. It definitely is our best accessory so cutting hair for me is getting to know and understand the client to give them exactly what they want.

What kind of people / hair do you like to cut? Dream haircut? Favorite?

I love cutting all hair, but I would say a large part of my clientele in New York were those with big, curly hair.  I think it is wishful thinking because my hair is very straight so I love working with curls. They tell you what they want to do and you have to go with it!  I also love styling men’s and women’s hair, there are simple things we can do with a blow dryer, brush, curling iron, or flat iron.

My favorite cuts are all lengths and curls!  Dream cut? That’s a hard one, I want people to embrace their natural textures and I know a lot of people do straightening and bonding… so when I get my hands on more curly haired friends, that would be awesome!


Leslie will be available for appointments in Felipe and Sons Ortigas on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays beginning May 5, 2016. Click here to book an appointment with her, or call our hotline at +62 997 37 24.

The City of Dreams

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Words and Photography by Shirin Bhandari

“How many copies?” asked a diminutive man dressed in loud flowery board shorts and a dishevelled t-shirt. “Four of each…” I said and handed over the papers. The photocopier machine or Xerox as they call it in the Philippines was randomly placed at the end of a dirty alley. An object’s name is invariably always associated with a brand. Colgate not toothpaste, Hershey’s not chocolate- get it?

The concrete walls of the shack were close to black. A calendar of a half naked girl on a white horse hung askew. A rickety desk fan struggled to blow air. The street outside was noisy and busy with traffic blocked a kilometre down. It was a 15 minute walk from my apartment. I was counting the coins in my hand when three men came into the shop. A man with a denim jacket barged in. His skin brown, stretched and wrinkled from the sun. His posse stayed close behind. Pretty hot and humid for the get up, he looked like somebody out of Django or the Wild Wild West. We said nothing. He suddenly opened the flap of his jacket. A greying (once) white shirt lay underneath full of sweat marks exposing a tanned leather holster strap. His eyes looked wild from drugs. The photocopier man hid under the machine. It was a dead end.  I mustered up the courage to speak and remain calm.  With a weak smile I asked, “Pare, asan ang baril?”(“My friend, Where’s the gun?”). He looked down surprised and confused. The holster was empty. His companions burst out laughing exposing their gummy Meth mouths. They dragged the goon out of the stall. An embarrassment for would be robbers.  I walked home shaking. It makes for a funny yarn but looking back, quite a dodgy situation to be in.  Was it just a bad day at the office or a typical day in Pasay?

Pasay is a dense city south of Manila named after a princess of the long-gone Namayan Kingdom. A trade hub during the 12th to 14th centuries, merchants from across Asia came to barter their wares with the natives. It’s also the city I’ve called home for the past eight years after moving to the Philippines from India. I was born in Manila to a Filipino mother and Indian father, and felt it was time to revisit my roots. Pasay might not seem like the obvious choice of a place to settle, but I liked its grit and close proximity to the airport. These days, Pasay could be anywhere in the world, with its casinos, luxury hotels, and shopping centers.

The Philippine daily minimum wage is Php 481 pesos or about $10. The current condominium rates are Php 149,300 (U.S. $ 3,179) per square metre. “I’ve been working on the same construction project for close to three years. I will never be able to afford an apartment which I helped build. Definitely, not in my lifetime…”

The Philippine daily minimum wage is Php 481 pesos or about $10. The current condominium rates are Php 149,300 (U.S. $ 3,179) per square metre. “I’ve been working on the same construction project for close to three years. I will never be able to afford an apartment which I helped build. Definitely, not in my lifetime…”

The Philippine archipelago was named after King Philip II of Spain. It is the only predominantly Christian country in Asia. Its 5% Muslim population are concentrated in the lawless southern island of Mindanao. Colonized by the Spanish and Americans, the republic is closest to the American form of democracy and constitution. English however remains the main mode of communication next to the national language of Tagalog.  Spanish was never integrated into society and remained exclusive, spoken by the colonizers and elite. Other than Catholicism, Filipino names reflect a strong Spanish influence. Imagine the name Juan Jose oozing with macho Latino vibes paged over the airport PA- a wiry South East Asian man turns up at the check in counter! From the moment your plane lands into the world’s worst airport you are pushed and shoved through the immigration line to the taxi stand; just to fall in line again to experience the world’s worst traffic. In some instances travel time on land takes longer than your actual flight.

A recent article released by Forbes warned-if basic highways and infrastructure were not upgraded immediately the traffic woes would worsen. Metro Manila is at risk of being uninhabitable in the next four years. Then what is it now? It is a running joke that the Filipino love affair with the automobile runs deep.  It comes before the wife, mistress or kids. Easy access to loans will see an annual growth increase of 500,000 cars by 2020, the bigger the SUVs, the better.

The once open green fields have been raised to the ground to build more condominiums.

The once open green fields have been raised to the ground to build more condominiums.

A work meeting may last 15 minutes but it can take three hours for a distance of 3kms to get to by car or via public transportation/post war Jeepney. The lack of roads, bicycle lanes, railway connections and skyways will just elevate the chaos and congestion.  Pedestrians are an afterthought.  Some have ventured into buying motorcycles on the hopes of zooming through the packed roads- Vietnam style. However the recent law passed against “no two men riding in tandem” have put people off. The term- Riding in tandem has taken its own definition in Filipino English.  As a noun it refers to crimes carried out by more than one person, usually two men on a motorcycle.  From petty thefts, to murders- easy access to guns and hit men make it eerily similar to most banana republics.

From across my apartment the view of the sea is close to nonexistent.  One would have to go to the 21st floor of our building to get through the skyline. A tragic concrete jungle; in less than a decade I have seen the reclaimed area of Manila bay (once sea and fields) fill up with an assortment of buildings.  No greenery or parks to show for. Majority of the establishments are constructed along the main highway without proper planning. The President himself attended the last Casino inauguration- so there doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Metro Manila is the main city for work but people continue to find homes farther away from the business district or capital to save on expenses. Presently rows and rows of minute condominiums remain empty because it is too expensive for an average family of 5 to live inThe logistics of more than one person existing in a 21 sq. foot apartment is baffling. Less than half the size of what I’m cooped in now. The poor planning and constant construction brings everything to a halt. A small downpour brings flood water to knee level outside these buildings; with a typhoon- waist deep or higher.

Manila will approximately have 500,000 more cars on the road by 2020. (

Manila will approximately have 500,000 more cars on the road by 2020.

A group of young girls kill time near a stagnant water way. The Philippines has one of the highest cases of teenage pregnancies in Asia.

A group of young girls kill time near a stagnant water way. The Philippines has one of the highest cases of teenage pregnancies in Asia.

There are a little over a 100 million Filipinos, 10% work abroad, mostly women. With the Catholic Church meddling and not legalizing birth control, the numbers will continue to rise. At the moment the Philippines has one of the fastest growing HIV cases worldwide.  Next to Iraq it is also holds the title of world’s worst place to die.  The upper 10% families control majority of the wealth while more than a quarter lives below the poverty line. The future is bleak.

Korean Invasion

Korean Invasion

The sudden influx of South Korean nationals is puzzling. Apparently here to learn English but rarely hear it practiced or spoken. The once vibrant convenience store below me that sold an array of local knick knacks is now Korean owned- over flowing with Kimchi, Soju and Spam. As one enters the lobby we are to present identification cards issued by the administration for our own safety. Two armed security guards are assigned to each building.  I share elevators with mainland Chinese and South Korean casino dealers. Dressed in crisp white shirts, a black coat with a brass name plate of (guessing) their name. The idea is to bring in the high rollers from their own countries to gamble, no questions asked. The casino next to us is all over the news for allegedly filtering millions of dollars of hacked funds. Nobody flinches.

There is at least one drug bust, prostitution raid and illegal online gaming scam or murder suicide every other month. I’ve added a third lock to my door. The most tragic as of late-a South Korean man thrown from a couple of floors above, his body bounced through a tree to the pool area then down to the neighbours’ compound. The police could not get a statement from anyone in our building. None of us trust the authorities to get involved. Majority of the cases are paid to remain unsolved.

“Don’t you fear for your life, maybe it’s a sign to move?” a friend asked.
“Worry all the time, but what are you going to do?” I reply.
Another side of the city doesn’t ensure safety.
There is little difference.

For people like us who can’t afford to just get up and leave; it is what it is.
Each day is an uphill battle.

Lack of infrastructure and proper publication transportation makes getting around the city difficult.

Lack of infrastructure and proper publication transportation makes getting around the city difficult.

A man sells freshly cut slices of watermelon along a busy alley in Manila. The Philippine population has reached over 100 million. 10% of which work overseas, mostly women. A quarter still live below the poverty line.

A man sells freshly cut slices of watermelon along a busy alley in Manila. The Philippine population has reached over 100 million. 10% of which work overseas, mostly women. A quarter still live below the poverty line.

Until the government realizes that success and modernity does not entail the latest shopping trends, resort living and slot machines my city of Pasay and the rest of the Philippines will remain a failed state.

Rows and rows of minute condominiums are being built at an alarming rate . Most remain unoccupied.

Rows and rows of minute condominiums are being built at an alarming rate . Most remain unoccupied.

Progress is attention to research and development, infrastructure, good wages, health care, public transportation, agriculture, legal investors, industry, art and culture.

Ideally…

The Presidential elections are up in less than a month. The country has been ruled by a succession of corrupt and unreliable leaders. We can’t forever be reminded of the past 30 years- where one sees no improvement. It’s time to live in the now.

If nothing changes within the next 6 year term or another natural, man-made disaster doesn’t flatten us- here’s hoping the last one out gets to pull the plug.

The Lure of Zombies

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Words by Troy Bernardo
Images by Jordan Jacinto

It can happen 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, or in the awesome case of World War Z, in the most glorious Now. Undoubtedly, there is something frighteningly attractive about the concept of a zombie apocalypse, or else the genre, which began in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead back in 1968, wouldn’t continue to have such a global appeal.

In 2005, Evil, also known as Το Κακό in Greek, spread through Athens, while the flesh-eaters took on Japan in Tokyo Zombie. In 2007, the undead terrorized an apartment building in Barcelona, Spain, and that movie, Rec, has since had 4 installments, the last of which came out in 2014, as of this writing. GP506 brought the zombie to the DMZ in Korea in 2008. La Horde then took Paris, France by storm in 2009, the same year Nazi zombies emerged in Dead Snow.

Resident Evil, the game that showed us the horrors of the T-virus back in 1996, has since had five movies, the last of which – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is slated for 2016.

It’s peculiar that the zombie genre is probably the only genre where audiences allow, and forgive, movies for ending badly. There’s no need for redemption here. There’s even no need for survivors. Instinctively, we know how vulnerable we are, how fragile our societies are, and that when we’re up against a zombie outbreak, the fabric that ties us together disintegrates, and we go back to the most basic law of nature: survival of the fittest.

This phenomenon, each man for himself, can be seen when you join any of the Zombie Runs organized by Outbreak Manila. Groups of friends normally start out together, planning strategies, vowing not to leave anyone behind, even running on the same cadence, the same breath. But once one zombie appears – one — all hell breaks loose.

Zombies

The scary thing about zombies is that they don’t stalk their prey like predators; on the contrary, they just feed, mindlessly. There is no premeditation for killing. It’s just their nature. And, that need to feed is contagious. Zombies act like the unstoppable virus that infects them, like the Rage virus, which is passed through blood or saliva. Whether it comes from a biological agent, a mutagenic gas, or another unlikely source, matters little when it spreads so exponentially that it leads to failure of containment. In a zombie outbreak, quarantines are useless.

With this in mind, we realize that the most frightening thing about a zombie apocalypse is that it can happen.

Cities have become so dense that something like Avian Flu, SARS or the dreaded Ebola, can spread quickly, easily, and washing our hands regularly with anti-bacterial soap won’t be able to stop it. Imagine how a virus can decimate a city like Manila, with a population density of 111,002 per square mile. We still live in constant threat of catching the common cold.

It is this proximity to reality, this closeness to the truth that gives the zombie genre its appeal. Sure, there are a lot of zombie films that exist for sheer gore, frontal nudity, and yes, senseless violence. We have only to look at Japan’s roster, which includes schoolgirls, baseball bats, and gratuitous arterial sprays. Many of the films, however, reveal a deeper, even darker point. World War Z, for example, deals with issues such as corporate corruption and government ineptitude; and, even the hilariously campy Zombadings (Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington) in 2011, made people aware of the struggles of the GLBT community.

George A. Romero, a.k.a. the Godfather of the Dead, who gave us a night, a day, the dawn, and the land of the dead, among others, may have warned us about societal turbulence, lack of human communication, consumerism, and class conflict, respectively.

Really, as we sat through season after season of The Walking Dead, didn’t we ask ourselves which was more evil: zombies or people?

Sadly, the answer is undoubtedly people.

In the second movie of the Rec franchise, the man responsible for spreading the virus talked about how his group wanted to wipe out the entire population, because the earth, the environment, can no longer survive humanity’s presence. A zombie apocalypse would pit us against each other until there’s no one left, and then, and only then, can Mother Earth breathe.

And, let’s face it: humans are the only creatures on earth that kill for the sake of killing. As for killing animals to feed us, well, gluttony applies only to us.

Zombies often reflect what our societies have become – cities populated by the mindless, brainless masses, dumbed down to utter gullibility by the lies of big business, government, media, and the church. As long as people – sheeple – are kept comfortable, fed, and entertained, they can be easily controlled and manipulated like, what else, the living dead. Those of us who manage to wake up from this illusion, “the matrix,” if you will, are still hammered into conformity, followership, and blind obedience.

Zombies remind us of this, that in order to be alive, aware, and awake, we must go beyond the clutches of our institutions, using every bit of wit, and rise above the herd. Still, not many people get it. They choose to go on like the undead, consuming, unthinking, simply waiting for the next opportunity to feed.

Zombies teach humans that the only virus we should be worrying about is Us.