Archive for the ‘Meanderings’ Category

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…


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.”


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).



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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What more can one ask?

Yet again, I’m playing paparazzi (evil grin :-)) Took the picture in one of my lunch breaks fall of last year. It was at the amphitheater in front of Meidai’s main library. Sigh, the fall leaves were wonderful! then lo and behold, I heard the pleasant strains of a guitar being played. The best thing was – the guitar player was quite good looking (well from afar anyway. don’t know if the same will be true up close!) hmmm…. and don’t ask me who he is, coz I simply don’t know ;-).

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I wonder who wins… Nature is the ultimate artist. The way it shapes the land and colors everything. I just wish I have a smidgen of talent to give it justice. Some people do have it though…

In the photo: An Ojiisan at Kamikochi, Nagano. Trying his hand at immortalizing one of nature’s masterpiece.

So, who do you think won?

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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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I found this flower amongst the weeds along the road of the village my friends and I visited for Hanabi. Lovely isn’t it ? Don’t know what flower it is though. Just goes to show that even in the most unpromising of conditions one can still find beauty you just have to know not where to look for it but to learn to use your eyes. Too many people see without really looking, hear without really hearing they just exist. I guess what I’m trying to say is no matter how boring one’s life seem to be now there’s still something there worth appreciating.

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July 28 (Saturday)

Target Prefecture: Shizuoka

Shizuoka is one of the provinces of Japan located in the Chubu Region (which basically means Central Region) at Honshu (literally means “Main State, it’s the largest island amongst the four major islands of Japan which includes Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushu) Island. It is famous for being the area where Mt. Fuji is located.

Hamanako Lake

We passed by this area on our way to the park. Our bus also made a pit stop in one of the service areas there. There was a viewing area at the side that I just had to take a peek and take a shot for posterity. The temperature was hot but it was breezy so it’s not uncomfortably hot and the sparkling waters was just so inviting. hehehe… making me wish I was home.

Ryuku Cha (Green Tea)

The famous green tea of Japan. Good for metabolism, so girls if you’re planning to lose some weight just drink green tea after every meal. Anyway, Shizuoka’s green tea is well-known all over Japan that it’s usual to see rows of green tea bushes being cultivated. It was a wonderful site too. At one point, there was an area that so reminded me of  “The Shire” that I was waiting for “Hobbits” to appear. No Hobbits though just Japanese farmers.

Destination: Fuji Safari Park

  • Address: 2255 -27 Aza Fujiwara, Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture

  • Admission Hours: 9:00 – 17:00

  • Admission Fee: high school students and older (¥ 2,700); 4 year old to junior high school students (¥ 1,500); senior citizen discount – 65 years and older (¥ 2,000)

  • How To Get There: From Nagoya Station take the JR Tokaido Honsen and get off at Mishima or Gotemba Station then take Fujikyu Bus to Fuji Safari Park.

As I said before, the park is located at the foot of Mt. Fuji thus offering visitors a good view of this famous landmark on a clear day. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times. Still, the attractions offered by the park more than made up for it, most especially their Safari Zone.

Safari Zone

The Safari Zone, which is divided into several zones – Tiger, Bears, Lions, Cheetahs, Elephants and various Herbivores,  enables you to witness animals you see in the Discovery and National Geographic Channels roaming freely.

You enter the area by either using your own vehicle or the park’s jungle bus (a modified bus open at both sides with steel cage bars as side panels). But I suggest you go in using the jungle bus because it’s more atmospheric and you will really feel like your in an African Safari adventure. In our case though, we entered it using our tour bus but that did not stop any of us in enjoying ourselves immensely. The whole group (and most of it are adults mind you) literally became like kids in a zoo all craning to see the lion or the bear sunning itself or sleeping in the shade. For my part, entering the area of each zones actually reminded me of Jurassic Park. Each entrances has this enormous gate with a tower-like security post. All clear though, not a T-rex in sight!

Simba up close and personal

A lazy tiger combatting the heat of the day

Find the Bear Amongst the Rocks

Other Attractions

The House of Cats

  • Admission Fee: ¥ 500.00

If you love cats then this place will be your idea of heaven. Cats rules this house. You see them lazily walking by, sunning and even coyly playing with the kids and tourists alike. Although, I did had an encounter with a rather boorish cat (on second thought it might have something to do with me petting the poor thing while it was sleeping when it woke up it was naturally disgruntled).

Met Crookshanks there

Metro-Goldwyn Mayer… a rather sleepy version

The House of Dogs

  • Admission Fee: ¥ 500.00

You will literally be in the dog house! And there is no need for anyone to put you there for you will be there quite willingly. It showcases various small breeds of dogs and allows visitors to spend time with them. hmmm… I personally liked one of the dogs there so cute and ugly. 😉

Met Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua 😉

The Cutest Pug of Them All

Fun Transformation at the Souvenir Shop

Turned into Galena in cooperation with some of Sherma’s friends


Walking Safari Adventure Tour

  • Admission Fee: ¥ 2,000.00

If you ever had a chance to come to this park make sure you have enough time for the “Walking Safari” attraction. It will take you at least 2 hours to complete the course but it will be worth it since it will allow you to get up close and personal with the various animals in the safari zone. Much closer than you’ll be if you go by their jungle bus. Alas! Much to my regret, Grace and I did not know about this attraction during our visit.

Now if you still have time and cash to spare you can join the park’s “Night Safari” on board one of the park’s jungle bus and observe the animals’ nocturnal behavior with night scopes. Hey, not everyone can afford a Safari vacation in Africa, might as well take the next best thing.

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