Monday, May 18, 2015

Santa Monica Parish Church

Church of Pan-ay or Santa Monica Church

The original church in Pan-ay was first established in 1774. A little over a century later, in 1875, a typhoon devastated that structure. It was reconstructed in 1884 and that is the church we see today. It is a fine example of the colonial Baroque style of architecture. Its walls of coral stone are three meters thick (about 9.84 feet). Renovations have been made in recent years to the roof and belfry which have suffered from termites and the ravages of time. Santa Monica Parish Church has been declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

Main altar

In the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in 2013, the church was damaged once again. The patches on the walls that you see in these images are part of the repairs made to make the structure safe and sound.

The floor of the church consists of terra cotta tiles accented by white marble and black slate tiles. The black and white accent on the center aisle leads the eye to the main altar, the floor of which is entirely done in black and white tiles.

Retablo (altarpiece)

The retablos on the right and left side chapels are ornate and exquisite. The image above shows the Virgin Mary (in the top center niche) about to be crowned by cherubs.  Directly below her is St. Anne, her cousin, and the mother of John the Baptist. Cherub's heads peep below the saints' niches. Two of the cherubs in the bottom band are playing the horn. A fine patina on the hardwood retablo accentuates the intricate carving of flowers and foliage.  I find these altarpieces to be the real treasures in the church.

Side door

There are several side doors which have a low clearance. They are more intimate and will accommodate only a few worshippers at a time. It certainly speaks of a bygone era. Definitely no rushing out after mass through these doors. 

St. Augustine

The statues St. Augustine and St. Thomas flank the main portal on either side.  Santa Monica looks out to the plaza and beyond from her niche above the main door. Eight sets of two pilasters each divide and frame the main façade into sections. A pediment crowns the top section.

Biggest bell in Asia

The Church of Pan-ay is renowned for one of its bells - a 10.4 ton bell referred to as dakong lingganay (big bell) made from 70 sacks of melted coins donated by the congregation. It is the biggest bell in Asia. The inscription on the bell reads: "Soy la voz de Dios, I am the voice of God which I shall echo and praise from one end of the town of Panay to the other, so that the faithful followers of Christ may come to this house of God to receive heavenly graces." 

Pan-ay is a short 15 minute drive from Roxas City. You can hail a cab or tricycle to take you there and wait for you until you're ready to go back to Roxas.

*****

Images by Charie


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Parallel Landing at SFO

It was exciting to witness a parallel landing at San Francisco International Airport recently. I was onboard a Delta flight when I noticed another aircraft close by.  I watched our approach to SFO until we touched down together on parallel runways. Needless to say, the key to doing this successfully is for both aircrafts to keep their distance.

Mid air

On approach to the runway

Wheels down

******

Images by TravelswithCharie



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens


Japanese inspired bamboo tea house

The Bellagio Hotel Conservatory and Botanical Gardens always presents some of the most visually appealing floral displays. I never fail to see their seasonal offerings when I'm in Vegas. This Spring's theme is the Japanese Garden. The scene is complete with a temple, a bamboo tea house, stone lanterns, a footbridge, and cherry blossom trees, the quintessential symbol of spring in Japan.


The garden is awash with tulips, the elemental spring bulb. I spotted an exuberance of daisies, hyacinths, chrysanthemums, lilies, cyclamens and other blooms I couldn't name. Above is the cherry blossom tree with 300 oversized acrylic blossoms and leaves. Overhead are painted paper parasols which may or may not provide shade from the sun but are pretty nonetheless. 


These photos were taken in the evening so the mood is markedly different. The colors are more edgy and the lighting adds a magical quality to the fountains. 

A temple

This 26-foot tall temple is wrapped in rice paper shoji screens. A golden veneer has been applied to the upper floors, an allusion to the famous Kinkafuji or Golden Temple in Kyoto. 

Crane 

Two scene stealers are the 6-foot tall crane and the tortoise topiaries  These are considered mystical creatures in Japanese culture and represent longevity.  The crane also symbolizes good fortune. 

The Bellagio floral display is open 24 hours daily and admission is free. This particular display will continue through May 11th.  The Bellagio Hotel and Casino is at 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard. 

“And spring arose on the garden fair
Like the spirit of love felt everywhere
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of the wintry rest.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

*****

Images by Charie


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Vegas - It's not all that it seems

Ca' d'Oro

The last time I was in Venice was nearly two years ago. It was in mid June and Venice was teeming with visitors.  We took the vaporetto which was jam-packed with passengers bound for St. Mark's Square. It was scary full. And I had no view of the beautiful palazzos that line the canals.  So nice to see a replica of the Ca' d'Oro's façade in Las Vegas. This 15th century palace is my favorite building in Venice.  It's all about the balconies, each one with its own distinct personality. 

Tour Eiffel

Disguised against the black of night, who would think that this tower is on the Strip and not in the City of Light? Were it not for the building in the background, this scene could be mistaken for Paris!

Miracle Mile Shops

Clouds dot the bluest sky inside a shopping mall. It's nice to be indoors when it's smouldering hot outside and have a glimpse of the sky, faux though it may be. 

Fortunately, I have something here that's really what it seems - sunrise in Las Vegas. This was taken from my hotel window at Planet Hollywood. In the foreground is Sunrise Mountain. How apropos!


"All that glitters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscroll'd:
Fare you well; your suit is cold.
Cold, indeed; and labour lost:
Then, farewell, heat, and welcome, frost!
Portia, adieu. I have too grieved a heart
To take a tedious leave: thus losers part."
Merchant of Venice, (Act II, Scene VII) William Shakespeare 

*****


Images by TravelswithCharie


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Meditation Hills



Halfway between Roxas City and Kalibo is the town of Sapian, Capiz which is the home of the lush gardens of Meditation Hills. Yes, it is a great place to meditate amidst nature's beauty and bounty.


What I like best about the Healing Chapel is its location halfway up the hill. It has a commanding view of the surrounding countryside and the hills across the road below. 


This uphill path leads to the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. I didn't venture the climb as we were there at midday and it was really too hot and the sun had sapped away my energy. All I wanted to do was take a nap. The best time to attempt this climb would be early morning or late afternoon. Bring a hat or parasol and suntan lotion. 


The grounds are well manicured and the trees seem to have grown and recovered easily after the devastation of the super typhoon, Yolanda.  Above the grotto and many more steps to hurdle is a big white cross which can be seen for miles around. That cross was damaged by Yolanda's fury. It was recently restored by the Capiz Cyclists Club to its rightful place.


This is a place of worship.  Let us respect these grounds. 

“Perfect prayer does not consist in many words, silent remembering and pure intention raises the heart to that supreme Power.”  Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation

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Images by TravelswithCharie



Monday, March 09, 2015

Sweet Pandan

Exploring our island has led to many wonderful discoveries. On this day trip to Pandan, Antique, we drove from Roxas City to the coastal town of Buruanga in Malay then continued on paved roads to this rustic beach town. We realized soon enough that we should stay longer as there was quite a bit to see and do but we'll have to save that for another day. We'll come back to this laid back and friendly niche, that's thankfully off the grid, soon enough.

Eat, beach, relax, repeat

This is the first thing that greeted us when we entered the resort. Two hammocks beckoning us to rest from the midday sun. How easy it is to surrender to the whisper of the sea, swaying palm fronds and clear blue skies!

Not a wave in sight 

It was the calmest sea. And though my room was just across from the beach, it was blissfully quiet except for the whir of the ceiling fan.

Glorious sunset

I started my walk on the beach at 4:30 p.m. The sun was still high on the horizon but it was slightly cooler. Fisherfolks were cleaning their nets while an X Factor wannabe was singing karaoke in the distance. There's are signs of a thriving village life here - colorful laundry hanging from clotheslines and palay (grain of rice) left to dry on a large mat on the sand.

Silhouettes

The children came out to frolic on the shore as the sun slid down the expanse of sky.  It was a joyful time with kids returning from school and playtime for the little ones.

A magical evening 

And when the sun graciously gave the moon some breathing space, the resort was lit up in the most romantic way. It was magical! Then I heard a knock on my door. Dinner was ready. Light dinner for me after a day of eating local delicacies.

24 hours was all the "real" vacation I had within my hectic vacation. So glad I came his way.

Pandan Beach Resort
Pandan, Antique
Panay Island, Philippines
pandanbeachresort.org

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Images by travelswithcharie 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

January

Yosemite in Winter

January by John Updike

The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark

Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door

The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace

The sky is low
The wind is gray
The radiator
Purrs all day.

*   *   *

Image by TravelswithCharie