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I was supposed to write this ages (years) ago but for some reason was not able to. Still, I loved this experience with my friends so much  and I really want to write something about it. I guess recounting it makes me feel I’m back home…

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It wasn’t in the plan. Salve, Sherma and I were supposed to just attend a book launching courtesy of Armine. The thing is we were late and Sherma was the only one who heard part of the program (she heard the part where the author informed her guests that lunch will be served after the program!). But owing to Armine’s clout (she personally knows the author) we met with the author, conveyed our apologies for being late, bought her book and had it signed, had our picture taken with her and ate the free lunch. 😉

Afterwards, since none of us wants to go home yet and malling did not appeal to any of us we decided to go on a belated tour of Old Manila.

Starting with the National Museum

I am particularly interested in this area of Manila since one of my professors in college once remarked that the original plan of this area was to resemble that of Washington D.C. where major government agencies of America are located. The person who designed the layout was the architect Daniel Burnham – the same person who mapped out the City of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Incidentally, he was also the architect of the building that currently houses the National Museum. As interesting as it’s history and architecture maybe, the treasures within are also of great value. But since I do not want to go on and on about the artifacts and paintings and wealth of information one can gain here just try and visit it for yourself. The place however does not house the works of great Filipino masters such as Amorsolo, Juan Luna etc. It’s still in the old museum which is quite a disappointment. It would have been great to see the Spolarium once again. sigh…

Luneta… perceived by contemporary Filipinos as a place to be avoided. For some reason it’s just not cool to go there. I however do not agree, the park has so much to offer – great sculptures, at least three gardens (which I wouldn’t have known existed if not for Lakbay channel!) and rich history. The place has witnessed a great number of events marking our history through the ages.

A virtual plethora of sculptures dotted the park but I was particularly drawn to this sculpture. Although it embarrasses me to admit it I forgot the title of this particular piece. When I tried searching the net for any info I was unsuccessful. Apparently there is no inventory of sculptures found in Luneta. The emotions that the piece evokes was what  has drawn me to it. Sadly it’s not prominently displayed where more people may be able to admire it.

Gardens Galore

An Orchidarium that I think would really be spectacular if we came at a time when all the orchids are in full bloom and not raining. There’s a falls there though – called Cascade falls. I’m not sure if it’s man-made or not. Actually we went there in search of good food… and found the restaurant closed!

So off we went to another garden. Who knew that there’s an incredible array of gardens to be found in Luneta. I certainly don’t!

Japanese Garden, as the name suggests, it evokes the same atmosphere as the gardens found in Japan. The same serenity which is incredible owing to its location – smack dab in the middle of Metro Manila. It has a pond with a bridge crossing through it. Its simple lines echoing the Japanese aesthetic.

It even has a gate that usually, in Japan that is, heralds the existence of a temple but in this case it merely serves as an architectural feature which nonetheless adds to the general air of being not in the Philippines but in another land. Hmmmm… the gate does however marks an important site – it marks the area where 13 patriots were executed during the Spanish Period known in history books as the “trese martires.” The engraved words in the marker are as follows:

Trece Martires de Bagumbayan

Here 13 patriots were executed by the Spanish authorities on January 11, 1897. Ten were masons, namely: Numeriano Adriano, Jose Dizon, Domingo Franco, Eustacio Mañalac, Geronimo Cristobal  Medina, Ramon Padilla, Antonio Salazar, Moises Salvador, Luis Enciso Villareal, and Faustino Villaruel . Benedicto Nijaga, Braulio Rivera and Francisco L. Roxas died with them. All were patriots.

The 13 paid the highest price possible for the freedom and independence of their country having perished for so great a cause. They deserve to live on in the hearts of their grateful countrymen, to their memory this marker is raised.

The Chinese Garden, on the other hand, exudes a different air all together. Whereas, the Japanese Garden is defined by its tranquil environs,  the Chinese Garden is full of motion and energy. Straight off, you’ll see people roaming around the intricate layout of the garden as opposed to the meditating people in the Japanese Garden. The designs both at the gate and the various cottages dotted throughout the garden is both lavish and rich.

After the gardens, we decided to go to “The Walled City of Intramuros,” which is quite near. And what better way to get there than go there on a “calesa.” Our first ever “calesa” ride, an exhilarating one at that. You would also find your kutseros to be polite and extremely knowledgeable of the history attached to the whole area and of various buildings.

“Calesa” is a horse-drawn carriage that has it’s origins during the Spanish Period. “Kutsero” [ku·che·ro], on the other hand, refers to the person who handles the “calesa.”

Intramuros

From the latin words “intra” and “muros” which literally means “within the walls.” Intramuros was build in 1571 and was the old capital of Manila (Maynilad back then) – a city within a city. It’s historical significance for the Philippines cannot be emphasized enough. Who hasn’t read accounts featuring the place from history textbooks. And if you’re like me (which I doubt) you would have wondered what it would feel like to actually be there. Stand there and retrace a prisoner’s footsteps in Fort Santiago.

And end up in the very cell where a national hero – Jose Rizal – was incarcerated for the last time. The very place where he wrote his poem. The very place that witnessed his anguish, fear and acceptance.

Thinking back, it was truly an escape for us. One that did not cost us much but paid us outstanding dividends in terms of satisfaction. All Pinoys, I think should make this journey. It’s one way of looking at our past as a country. Hopefully by looking back we will find something to look forward to in the future (eventhough there is not much to look forward to now. Still, one can always hope). I assure you, you won’t regret it!

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Gone were the milling people around me. It was as if I was alone… free to luxuriate and immerse myself in this special world. There was both a feeling of wonder and calmness. I felt I could stand there for eternity and never feel the passing of time.

And I thought…

So this is what it feels like to witness firsthand the work of a master!

It was Claude Monet’s Soleil l’evant (日の出).

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NOTO BENE:

The ScRibbLeR attended the Impressionist Exhibit with her friend Kaishi at Nagoya City Art Museum (名古屋美市術館). Unfortunately, taking pictures inside was prohibited (which is as it should be!) :-).

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The ScRibbLeR at Kamikochi, Nagano. A day-trip with friends for Kouyou (紅葉). Kouyou literally means colored leaves or autumn foliage. Autumn is the time for Japanese to go to the countryside and the mountains to enjoy nature as the leaves turned from green to red, yellow and orange.  It’s a really interesting period and a much awaited one. Weather reports will usually include the best time for it. It’s a breathtaking sight and a wonderful opportunity for camera enthusiasts (like yours truly and a bunch of my friends).

Photo taken by Ronel (I think) or it could be Chi-chen 🙂

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Summer vacation, no deadlines to meet what better way to celebrate than have a party with friends. Finally after a couple of weeks of trying to match everyone’s schedule a date was set – and today it is! I was supposed to meet everyone (Hanh, Akiko, Kaishi, Jaja) 2 PM in front of Kawana Station but for some reason or another we ended up meeting at around 3 PM (shades of Filipino time although they all have valid excuses which everyone invariably has).

Anyway, we did reached my place and everyone were all smiles. I prepared halo-halo (perfect for a hot sunny afternoon) and ordered a large scrumptious pizza (I’m working under the assumption that if the halo-halo fail to satisfy them then I have a sure bet with pizza). Perfect!

In the photo (clockwise) Jaja, Akiko, Kaishi and Hanh

I also made leche flan beforehand to add to the wonderful halo-halo that you see in the picture and although it’s a bit burned it did not however affected the taste. To quote everyone – OISHII! And yes girls, I prepared halo-halo for them although prepared is a bit presumptuous a word to use in this case. Okay… okay… I admit I bought prepackaged ingredients for halo-halo. And by prepared I mean I put the ingredients in the bowl. But in my defense, I did prepare the leche flan from scratch which for some reason everyone thinks of as a cake.

Anyway, the object of the get-together was just the usual chikahan among friends but then Akiko brought her hakama which she used when she was in highschool when she studied kyudo (archery). Of course we all have to try it!

In the picture: the ScRibbLeR wearing hakama which is originally men’s traditional clothes and was later adapted by women. Nowadays, everyone can wear it especially during graduation or while participating in kendo and kyudo. The ScRibbLeR on the other hand feels just like one of the characters in Samura X. uh… Kenshin? Is that you?…

Well it was so much fun that I had to unearth my kimona set (not to be confused with kimono) and malong for them to try. Then my maxi dress which is in a wonderful orange color. Everyone wanted to try it on but unfortunately can’t coz it won’t fit them. We were all laughing at this point when Hanh remembered my still unused yukata which she helped find a matching geta for. Before I knew it it’s cosplay time!

In the photo: Jaja and Kaishi. Two Chinese girls hiding under a malong. Will they pass muster as Muslims I wonder? hmmmm….

In the photo: Akiko (in the left) and Hanh (right side). A Japanese and Vietnamese girl. Akiko somehow was able to squeeze herself in the dress although we kept on insisting she remove the shirt so it’ll have a better effect. Hanh on the other had looked just like a true-blue Pinay. All she needed is a pait of bamboo for tinikling. 🙂

In the photo: Hanh posing like a muslim dancer… cute one Hanh!

In the photo: Presenting Kaishi wearing my beautiful yukata and the exceedingly cute geta. I wonder when I’ll be able to wear it… Kaishi was posing so cutely and insisted none of her cute poses be put to waste. Picture! Pronto!

A truly lovely and fun day was had by all. It was so much fun we have to do it again this time at Akiko’s place. But we have to wait by the end of September to do it when Hanh gets back from Vietnam.

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