Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yosemite National Park

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”  Ansel Adams
 
The photographs of Ansel Adams have always been my guide to Yosemite National Park. We recently visited Yosemite and took many images of it in color but I'm posting black and white photos here for that singular Ansel Adams effect.
 
I still have that frog in my throat whenever I behold the wonders of Yosemite Valley.

 
Bridal Veil Falls

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.” A. Adams

North Dome and Royal Arches

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.” A. Adams 

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.”  A. Adams

I have more images of Yosemite Valley here: http://travelswithcharie.blogspot.com/2006/08/ah-yosemite.html

For more quotes by Ansel Adams, check http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/12115.Ansel_Adams

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Images by Charie

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Roxas City


Roxas City, with a population of approximately 157,000 (2010 projection), is a small town with a big attraction, its seafood. Dubbed as the seafood capital of the Philippines, much of its seafood is shipped to other parts of the country but there's plenty of fresh pickings left to savor at beachside restaurants.


The Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral sits in the center of the city, sandwiched between City Hall and a Catholic university. It is one of the oldest churches on Panay Island. It was recently renovated and a dome was added to it. During the feast of the Immaculate Conception (She is the patroness of the city) in December, the city comes alive with the colorful Sinadya sa Halaran parade and a fluvial parade down the Panay river which is right across from the church.


On the other side of the river is the public market which is especially busy on Sundays when it spills out onto surrounding streets. It's amazing what you can buy here. Fruit, fresh produce (mostly home grown), fish and meat, clothes, canned goods, merienda fare, plants, housewares and so much more.


The business district of Roxas City along Roxas Avenue was threatened by a big fire decades ago. One building in particular was razed to the ground but its skeleton remains. A bittersweet reminder of things past.


I always try to catch the sunrise in the early morning hours. But the sunsets are equally mesmerizing. Baybay beach is a good vantage point to catch both.

There's more to see and do in Roxas City. Check out my articles on Olotayan Island, In the Seafood Capital of the Philippines, Captivating Capiz, Baybay Beach and Roxas City Fresh Market. Or you can also come to Roxas City and luxuriate in "il dolce far niente", the art of doing nothing.

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Images by Charie

Monday, March 11, 2013

California Central Coast

Sunrise on Pismo Beach

California's Central Coast has some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Driving south on 101 from the San Francisco Bay Area, I passed rich farmlands and vineyards crawling up the hillsides. And halfway down to Santa Barbara, the beach towns of San Luis Obispo County are the hottest spots for sun worshippers.

The outdoor tables at the Marisol at the Cliffs Resort on Pismo Beach offer premium seats for watching the fiery descent of the sun into the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it calls for a toast!

It's always a treat to eat breakfast at Stearn's Wharf in Santa Barbara. Seacraft of all sizes ply the Channel in the early morning hours. A walk on the pier is a must with a full stomach. Camera at the ready, I spied a sailboat coming into the harbor. Ahhh, beautiful mornings are made of these.

Santa Barbara Channel from Stearn's Wharf

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Images by Charie

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Guimaras Island

A short 15 minute hop in a motorized outrigger from Ortiz Port in Iloilo City and we were on Guimaras Island. (The fare is P14.00 each way.) We could see the island from the dock in Iloilo. It was a fun ride with water splashing into the outrigger when the waves were particularly high. I got slightly wet as I was sitting right by the porthole. When we arrived at the Jordan pier, we made arrangements for a jeepney to take us to our hotel through the tourism desk which is a few steps from the waterfront. It costs P400.00 for the ride to Nueva Valencia with a stop at the Trappist Monastery along the way. We visited the church inside the monastery grounds before we approached a monk to pray over us. It was a calming experience and so glad we did this. Then we shopped at the in-house gift shop where they sold everything with mango in it: mango tart, mango polvoron, mango jam, mango flavored biscotti, mango piaya, and dried mangoes. Mango is of course the prime commodity of Guimaras Island. In fact, they have the sweetest mango in the whole world. But don't despair if you don't like mangoes. They had other goodies in the store. I found religious gift items like rosary bracelets (which I bought for friends and family in the U.S.).

Ortiz Pier and Guimaras Island in the distance

The ride uphill to Nueva Valencia was smooth in parts where the highway is paved. In a few months, the road will be completely paved and it will be a pleasant ride through mango orchards and roadside fruit stands. We bought mangoes to take home with us. A kilo costs P60.00 ($1.50). What a steal!


We didn’t have hotel reservations so we were taken to two places before we made our choice. The first hotel was a little bit crowded but it was a newer hotel than the one we chose. At Villa Igang Resort (where we stayed), there are lots of things to discover like their mangrove sanctuary, coral cave, butterfly garden, fishponds, and walking trails. And it is totally private, tucked far enough away from the main road. But the hotel’s bedsheets were too old and worn and we had to ask for new sheets and towels from the Hotel Manager who was gracious and responsive to our requests and suggestions on improving the hotel rooms. Though the rooms were only P1,000.00 a night for a non air-conditioned room ($25.00), this was no excuse to put old sheets on our bed! (They also have airconditioned rooms which would be great for summer stays.) The food at the restaurant was a little bit wanting as well. Good thing we had brought a lot of snacks and had a full lunch so we weren’t that hungry for dinner. Instead, we spent the evening in front of the karaoke machine which we had to feed P5.00 per song. But it was fun!

Mangrove Sanctuary at Villa Igang Resort

The next morning we explored the mangrove swamp following the bamboo bridge trail. At the end of the trail is the butterfly garden. We didn’t find any butterflies though. Maybe it wasn't the right season? We also explored the north side of the property where Villa Corazon is located. Villa Corazon is a two condo building (perfect for families) with its own private beach. We counted four short stretches of beach at the Villa Igang property. The water is so clear you can see starfishes and blue crabs (alimasag) from the jetty.

One of the caves in Villa Igang

My biggest find was the cave right outside our hotel room. I had to pass through a low clearing to enter the cave. The water was knee deep and there were rocks and boulders which made the going slippery. I wore my flip flops and it kept me from sliding though I did fall briefly into thigh high waters. There’s enough light inside the cave as it opens to the sea. I had my camera with me so I couldn’t swim to other parts of the cave and not knowing how deep the water might be in those areas, I didn’t dare go too far.


At the end of the day as we stood near the grotto, we were rewarded with the most beautiful sunset. We watched as the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving a trail of fiery light across the sky. Too fast I thought, wishing it could have lasted longer!

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Images by Charie

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Ponsyon Restaurant


Sautéed Eggplant and partial menu
I was impressed with the food at Ponsyon from my very first dinner with cousins a year ago. I specifically remember the native chicken inasal and how tasty it was. I can also picture in my mind the big plate of oysters on our table. And so many other savory dishes. So before cruising off to Guimaras, my friends and I paid a visit to my new favorite restaurant in Iloilo.

My first order was the ginisa nga talong or sautéed eggplant. I'm enamored with eggplants and love to try different ways of preparing it. This particular dish is served without meat so the flavor of the eggplant has no competition in the palate.

Ensalada nga Puso ng Saging
My friends went for the ensalada nga puso ng saging (salad with banana heart or banana blossoms) which is a little exotic for me. But they loved it as much as they enjoyed the eggplant.

Sizzling crab
The sizzling crab meat was totally good. Every bite, a delight. But the sizzling tangigue was unfortunately too dry and I was disappointed as this is my favorite fish. We also ordered the native chicken inasal which brought me back to Ponsyon in the first place. But with all the dishes we ordered, this chicken dish took a back seat. We ate it later that evening in Guimaras.

Native Chicken Inasal
Ponsyon is always full of customers whether it be for for lunch or dinner. Proof that their food is good and diners keep coming back for more. The owner of Ponsyon also operates Breakthrough Restaurant, a famous beachside eatery in Arevalo, Iloilo. Ponsyon is located at the Plazuela de Iloilo, Benigno Aquino Avenue in Iloilo City. It's next door to SM City mall.

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Images by Charie

Friday, March 01, 2013

Carlos "Botong" Francisco, A Nation Imagined


Carlos "Botong" Francisco, FILIPINO STRUGGLES THROUGH HISTORY
 Oil on canvas, 1964, (located at Manila City Hall)
A National Cultural Treasure owned by the City of Manila

Carlos Botong Francisco: A Nation Imagined is the latest art installation at the Ayala Museum in Makati to celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of Carlos “Botong” Francisco (1912-1969), a Philippine National Artist. Forty paintings and lithographs were culled from various private collections to form this exhibition. Of the large scale paintings on display, Maria Makiling and Fiesta, both oil on canvas, are representative of the indigenous genre which Botong loved to portray. In Maria Makiling, Botong reveals a relaxed and recumbent woman with her legs dangling in the cool waters of the stream and playing with an exotic deer by her side. Fiesta is about how the Filipino people gather to celebrate an important occasion, be that a religious feast or a wedding. The central figures are dancing the tinikling, a popular Philippine dance imitating the bird, tikling, amidst a rustic landscape. Fiesta is vibrant, colorful and chronicles local mores and culture.

The 1969 oil canvas, Camote Diggers, stirs an emotional reaction from the viewer. Hunger and poverty are suggested by the bent and intent figures that are digging with bare hands for their meal. The female digger is skeletal, showing a protruding bone at the nape of her neck. This painting reminds me of Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters.  

The Potato Eaters from the Yuchengco Museum*

“Sungkaan” is a portrait of two women with flowers on their hair and seated on the ground in the same way as Gauguin’s Tahitian Women. They are playing with a sungka, a long wooden board with two rows of carved holes and cowrie shells.

The First Mass and Blood Compact are some of the historical works done in watercolor, the latter in sepia. Botong's historical genre paintings tell a story of the Philippines in bold colors from its brush with the Spaniards which lasted 400 years to the sacrifices of its heroes, Andres Bonifacio and Jose Rizal.

Of the watercolor works by Botong, I was thoroughly captivated by The Pilgrimage to Antipolo circa 1960. In this canvas, an elegant woman is carried in a hammock by two men on her way to the pilgrimage site. (There's a lot of implied irony here when the real meaning of a pilgrimage is understood.) In the foreground are two little kids who are carried in separate baskets by their father. Their heads bob from the depths of the basket. This painting arouses a feeling of nostalgia, the age of innocence and happy, carefree days.


There’s so much to discover and love about the chef d’oeuvres of Botong, the Poet of Angono, who shows us through the fine details in his works, his immense love of his craft and country.

“And to live we must go back to a bigger audience. For this it must have the power to communicate and not repel. That is why I love to paint big murals for like a composer, I can create a symphony from a history of our country or our own way of life." Letter of Botong to his daughter, Carmen, March 5, 1968.

Harana
(Image from the Carlos "Botong" Francisco Centennial Facebook page)

The exhibit will run through March 31, 2013 at the Ayala Museum on the corner of Makati Avenue and Dela Rosa Streets. http://ayalamuseum.org

*Note: Please check out my article, This Small Museum Packs a Punch written in August 2016 for more entries about Carlos Botong Francisco. https://travelswithcharie.blogspot.com/search?q=Yuchengco

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Images by Charie