What’s cooking?

18 07 2017


Philippines TV celebrity chef JP Anglo.

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13 11 2016


Although I was lucky enough to gorge myself on vogueish Thai food ( care of hot new Bangkok import Soul Food) and a gut-busting Indonesian brunch at one of my favourite spots, Potatohead, the weekend’s most memorable South East Asian meal came courtesy of the Philippines – and more specifically its ubiquitous fast food chain, Jollibee. I finally found the HK branch in Central. For 30 HKD you can enjoy a leg of fried chicken, a burger-shaped patty of rice and a dining room ringing with the sound of Tagalog. Something different!

Asia Weird

15 12 2015

This week around Asia:


BANGKOK’s very own Batman got busted for speeding his batmobile along the city’s always crowded freeways – a somehow perfectly surreal turn of events for the world’s most comicbook-like city.


JAKARTA sewer cleaners unearthered a shroud-like cloth containing monkey bones, leading to fears that a “Pocong”, a much-feared Indonesian spirit that takes the form a shroud-bound corpse, was on the loose.

HONG KONG celebrities ate Kentucky Fried Chicken at an awards ceremony.


And in MANILA, a call for volunteers to help restore the city’s most beautiful building.

OUTER SPACE: A distant star and its orbiting planets received names from Thai folklore. Now all that remains is to find life in the “crocodile tears” constellation to set into motion a Ramkien space-opera!


Monster reptiles of Southeast Asia

5 10 2013

A missing dog turns up – kind of – in the Bangkok suburb of Ratburana.

And below, a funny viral internet piece from the Philippines.


23 02 2013

Manila has problems. The Philippines capital lacks many things – proper drainage, traffic that moves, cops who can effectively resolve a hostage crisis without everyone getting shot – but one thing it does not lack for is a lively B movie scene. And in Khaven de la Cruz the city even has its very own Bruce La Bruce or John Waters.

Cruz is a fan of DIY guerrilla-filmmaking on the cheap, with a penchant for the queer, the gritty and the grotesque. Production values are gloriously low and bad taste is celebrated. His Manila is a cityscape of grafittied slums and garbage dumps, peopled by rappers, zombies, “little people”, actors missing limbs and drag queens. It all comes together with a slightly shoddy, flamboyant and very Filipino aplomb.

I became aware of the director through an interview in ‘Dazed and Confused’ magazine in which he reminisced about ‘Piling-Piling Pelikula’, a 1980s Philippines TV show “that showed all these wild Filipino B-movies: giant salamanders, third world superheroes, Filipino Westerns…it started a lifelong love for all things B and outrageous”.

And in Manila, a city of hobbit bars (where the directors does much of his casting), garbage-sifting slums, manic-depressive cuisine, decayed elegance, high camp and dire poverty, there is a lot of material for Khavn to work with.

His latest project is a “sci-fi black comedy rock-opera” which from the clips I’ve seen on youtube, looks a little bit like an ambitious high school production shot in the ruins of a military installation on a tropical island. It is titled EDSA XXX – named after the particularly nightmarish traffic-blocked motorway that connects the city – or not – at an excrutiatingly painful crawl. Its a great title and sums up perfectly the quandary for a city that delights, infuriates and disappoints in equal measure.

For my trip report from Manila, see my essay entitled Ghetto Superstar and other stories here.

11 07 2012

Church versus reason

11 07 2012

You find these all over Manila: stickers in favour, and against, the “RH” or “reproductive health” bill which would legalise government funding for contraception, a move fiercely opposed by the country’s Catholic church.