Saturday, June 06, 2015

June

The Days are Clear
Christina Georgina Rossetti 

The days are clear, 
Day after day, 
When April's here, 
That leads to May, 
And June 
Must follow soon: 
Stay, June, stay! 
If only we could stop the moon 
And June! 

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) was a British poet and lyricist. 


*****

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Greenhills Shopping Center Revisited


Religious articles

It's been years since my last shopping trip to Greenhills Shopping Center. We were looking for some giveaways for a big meeting and Greenhills has an incalculable array of gift ideas. We started in the jewelry section and found a fresh pearl bracelet with an attractive and colorful accent stone for P95.00. We were able to bargain with the vendor since we were buying 50 pieces. She marked down the price to P70.00 for each bracelet.

Souvenirs

Greenhills is divided into sections - handbags and accessories, clothing (separate sections for men and women), jewelry, home decor, souvenirs, Filipiniana arts and crafts, shoes and knick knacks. It's especially fun to shop here in November for Christmas decorations and gifts though the crowd might be unabearable. 

Knock-offs

Many shoppers come to Greenhills to buy knock-offs. And there are gobs to choose from. Be careful though if you are bringing this to another country because Customs at your destination may fine you and confiscate your bag. Alternatively, there are bags and wallets that are not a replica of a known brand and may be just right for your needs.

Blouses

I bought a couple of blouses made of light material with quarter sleeves. One of the blouses I bought is of chiffon fabric and easy to wash and dry.  Both were perfect for a super hot summer season and the price was reasonable at P350.00 each. I couldn't bargain this down because I was only buying one blouse each from two different vendors and the discount is given when you're buying 3 blouses. Three blouses are offered for P1,000.00. (The exchange rate at the time of purchase was P44.35 to the US$.)  There were also cheaper blouses which were for sale at 3 for P400.00.
  
Distressed jeans

The most trendy outfit today is the distressed jeans and these are available at Greenhills. You might find the perfect fit here.

Statement tees

Sometimes these t-shirts hit the mark!

There are electronic gadget shops on the upper floor and many restaurants to choose from across the street from the main shopping area.  Covered walkways connect the complex so you don't have to walk under the sun which can really wipe you out.

Greenhills Shopping Center is on Ortigas Avenue, Norwestern Street, San Juan.  

*****

Images by Charie


Monday, May 25, 2015

The Lopez Museum & Library

España y Filipinas, Juan Luna
Oil in canvas, 1886

The Philippines has a rich artistic heritage. Following the lead of Juan Novicio Luna who earned a gold medal for his painting, Spolarium, at the Exposición General de Bellas Artes in Madrid in 1884, many Filipino artists have gained international recognition and left an indelible mark in the art world. 

In this painting, España y Filipinas, two women representing Spain and the Philippines are seen with their back to the viewer. Spain or the motherland has her arm around the Philippines and she is pointing to a bright horizon. Notice the elaborate red dress of Spain compared to the simple dress of the Filipina. Class distinction is obvious here. The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 400 years and that bright spot on the horizon is supposed to signify progress with Spain leading the way.  It might as well be the prospect of independence.  (A few years after this painting was.created, the Philippines declared its independence from Spain in 1898.) But in fact, the painting is a subtle message to Spain to foster reforms, grant equality, and steer the Philippines towards economic prosperity.

Woman with Sword, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo
Study for Per Pacem et Libertatem, Oil on canvas

Felix R. Hidalgo was a contemporary of Juan Luna. Hidalgo was awarded a silver medal for his painting, Las Virgenes Christiana's Expuesta al Populacho at the same exposition where Luna exhibited in 1884. In subsequent years, Hidalgo won a string of awards and recognitions including a gold medal at the Exposición de las Islas Filipinas for La Barca de Aqueronte (The Boat of Charon) which also earned a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and a diploma of honor at the Exposición de Bellas Artes in Barcelona. He received a gold medal for his participation at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 and his work, El Violinista (The Violinist) was awarded a gold medal.

Native Fruits, Fernando Amorsolo
Oil on canvas, 1950

Fernando Amorsolo is a well loved Filipino artist best known for his rural landscapes and portrayal of the dalagang Filipina, the Filipino woman.  Amorsolo grew up in the countryside and though his family moved to Manila after the demise of his father, he often traveled outside the city to paint the local scenery. With the exception of his works from the war years, Amorsolo's paintings are full of life, light and convey everyday scenes. It speaks volumes of happy times.

A section from "Search", Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab)
Acrylic on paper, 1985

Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) is recognized as one of the leading artists of contemporary art in the Philippines. He was bestowed the National Artist for Visual Arts award in 2006. This year he celebrates his 50th year as an artist and the Lopez Museum is the first to host an exhibition of his life and art from the 1960's and thereafter. The exhibition, Frames of Reference, runs through July 4th. It includes BenCab's Soldiers, a charcoal, chalk and acrylic painting on hand made paper from the Museum collection together with a selection of art books, postcards, drawings, etchings, studies and mementos. It is a body of work that reveals BenCab's virtuosity and grasp of different types of media.  I was particularly attracted to his rendition of a Japanese woman from his ukiyo-e collection but my photo didn't turn out well. I'll share it here anyway.

Japanese Woman by BenCab

I found Galicano's painting displayed in the Propaganda Exhibition gallery. It caught my eye because it reminded me of European paintings from the Romantic period. It is traditional in style, employs light and shade (which has the effect of dividing the painting in two sections), and uses rich color brushstrokes to highlight the characters. Galicano uses drapery to add drama to the scene. The man in the foreground (wearing a salakot), is partially wrapped in the folds of green drapery, leaving his muscular back open as the drapery forms into a wave that enfolds a figure in the background who is supposed to represent Conscience.

Study for Allegory of a Farce, Romulo Galicano
Oil on canvas

The brochure explains propaganda in the following context: "Propaganda fleshes out the idea of myth-making and its ability to inspire change in society and conversely, the formation of fantasy or outright fallacy packaged as a promise that never gets fulfilled". This study is for the painting Siete de Agosto which alludes to a protest on August 7, 2009 by the art community against the lack of integrity of the selection process for National Artist of the Philippines. In the background is a person holding a sign which is a smudge in this study but quite clear in the original canvas. The sign says, Parody of the Arts. Allegory of a Farce is full of symbolism and leaves the viewer intrigued and begging for more.

Galicano blends the traditional style of painting with a contemporary theme. I learned that the vertical lines running down the center of the painting is a trademark of Galicano. It represents the "reconciliation of opposite poles and the merging of the subjective and the objective creating a new meaningful work of art".

The Propaganda Exhibition - Truth, Lies and Subtleties has been extended through July 4, 2015.

The Lopez Museum has a treasure trove of over 500 artworks and counting. Only a few are displayed at any time. The Library specializes in Philippine material and has a collection of 20,000 titles. The Museum is moving to a new location in the near future. Till then their address remains at BenPres Building on Exchange Road in Pasig. For more information about their hours and current exhibitions, check out their website: lopez-museum.com. 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie



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