Archive for the locales Category

get crazy and high

Posted in architecture, events, health, interior design, lifestyle, locales, news, people, sports, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by mijodo

 If New York has the Empire State Building, and Paris has the Eiffel Tower, then Cebu may just have Crown Regency Hotel. Afterall, in these tall landmarks, it is not unusual for many tourists and locals to come up, and take in all the panoramic views the eyes can afford to see from such edifices. People in the city of New York clamber up to the 86th floor of the famed Art-deco office building to set eyes on the uniformed street blocks of Manhattan and its countless skyscrapers. In Paris, all try to move up into the observation platform of the iron tower of Eiffel, and gush at the lush garden sceneries down below, particularly the Trocadero Fountains. But once in Cebu, visitors go to the highest floors of the hotel edifice, and try to admire the vast aerial views of the metropolis, but possibly, even quite literally, with a twist.

 Of course at the very top of the building which is said to be the  tallest in Cebu, and probably in the whole Philippines, there are the usual coin operated binoculars and telescopes to zoom in on specific areas of Cebu City, but one can be most appreciative of the commanding and extensive views of the city without the necessity of such peering device. But alas, still that would be a little unexciting as there are more atypical ways to get a 360 degree views of this historic and economically robust southern city destination through the Sky Experience Adventure, at the very top of the Crown Regency, along President Osmena Boulevard.

Take the Plunge.  One can even get out of the comfort zone by checking the vista a little outside the perimeter of the building through its Edge Coaster. At the 39th floor, one can take on the ride, similar to the cabs of a rollercoaster, that takes you around the building, yet facing full frontally the views. But then the seat tilts down 55 degrees giving one the impression of plunging 430 feet towards the ground. In fact, if both parties (the cab can only seat two at a time) decide to increase the slant more, the seat can even go to an extreme 90 degree down slope. But then one gets to realize that one is strapped safely at the coaster. Still the experience is intense and may not be advisable for those who have the fear of falling.

 The ride starts with the gracious staff giving all pointers for safety. And not like the usual rollercoaster where cabs move together, each cab in the Edge Coaster moves independently. Then the cab slowly tips over and gives one that feeling of falling down. One just prays that one does not actually fall off from the seat. Expectedly, people just hold on to the to the seat’s handlebars for dear life. But as the cab moves slowly around, then the safety features of the ride are guaranteed ok. During the ride, it is a little straining and awkward for some because of the position they are in. But then the ride is not very long, it just goes around for a minute or so.

 Look Ma, No Railings. If the Edge Coaster gives one a sensation of dropping toward land, another feature of the Sky Experience Adventure, the Sky Walk provides an impression of flying – or at least walking on air. At the 38th floor of the building, there is a four foot wide ramp around the building to walk on, without the supposed security of the railings or barrier. At the ramp there is only the harness which is securely tied from the ceiling to the suit worn by person that provides some sense of protection.  The harness’s length is short enough to make the person stay only on at the ramp, making it difficult for one to fall off from the ledge. Again, one gets to see the whole scenic vistas of Cebu. But of course, somehow there is just more mind thrill when one is romping around on the tallest building in the city, and without supposedly the safety net of the guardrails.

 But indeed, the Sky Experience Adventure team does all the precautionary procedures to avoid all untoward incidents. The team of ladies and gentlemen who have mostly mountaineering experience briefs everyone on the safety measures provided for the Skywalk Experience and how everyone should conduct himself during the walk. One must don on the blue and yellow suit specifically for such walk. And if there are those who are in slippers or highheeled shoes, the team can lend rubbershoes to provide them sole traction while on the ramp. The team also says that harnesses which can carry a weight of 5000 pounds are there for the utmost safety of the people. The ramp is strong enough and can accommodate a number of people at a given moment.

Then people are instructed to get out of the building premises, and go out and step on the actual walkway. Together with some members of the team crew, people are instructed to start walking guided by the harnesses that dangle from ceiling top. With some trepidation, one walks, and in due time, he or she enjoys a seeming moment of freedom. Then somehow, one is even emboldened to perch and sit at the very rim of the pathway. Or he can show off  a one foot standing trick at the glass edge as well, directed by the team leader. Everything can be documented by an official photographer that goes along with group for the romp.

Everything to see and feel. During the day time, you get the whole arresting vista of Cebu’s Metropolis, with the Cebu Harbor at the Southeast, and the other neighboring cities of Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Naga and Talisay.  There might be some challenge to find famous landmarks of Cebu such as Tops at the hills of Busay. But definitely, one can easily find the iconic memorial plaza – the Fuente Osmena Circle, and of course, further up – the beautiful and majestic Capitol building of Cebu Province.

And since the Sky Experience Adventure opens until past midnight, particularly during weekends, it is very worthy to visit and participate in both rides during the evenings as well to see the luminous lights of the Capitol and Fuente Osmena Circle, and experience another enthralling aspect of the whole Cebu City. One must do the rides then twice – during the day and during the night.

Bill Killgore, General Manager of Sky Experience Adventure, devised ways to make the rides affordable, even offering two rides for the price of one promotion, many times. The patrons even get a certificate after each ride – detailing the exact date, time and even the condition of the weather. Then of course, one can purchase a picture of himself enjoying the rides, and if hungry, then he may have some food at the Sky Lounge or Sky Resto Bar.

And if there is some more money to spend, one can go several floors down to watch and experience a movie of a 4D kind! In other words, not only will he view movie scenes almost realistically through state of the art magic, he also experiences and definitely feels everything almost authentically what is shown on the screen. It is not good to spoil a film by spilling out the details, but it is recommended that one brings a hanky or small towel at the theater.

Bill Killgore, recollects that Cebu locals had some hesitations when the Sky Experience Adventure started late 2008, and it was people outside Cebu who were more adventurous and enthusiastic to partake in such rides. But it has changed through the months. In fact one local Cebuano guy, through the help of the Sky Adventure Experience team and its manager, surprised his girlfriend and popped the ultimate question – “Will you marry me?” – at the 38th Floor during their promenade at the Sky Walk. “I am just waiting that a marriage ceremony will be done here one of these days,” Killgore says a matter of factly. Well, that surely is another way of taking the plunge – 30 plus floors above the ground in Cebu.

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(lg2a) give me the dirty, the dingy, the dazzling new york city

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, fashion, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, nature, news, people, religion, sports, tradition, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by mijodo

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“This reminds me of Cubao, Quiapo and Makati altogether,” one sister declared.
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Yes it can be true. Just go to the heart of New York City – Manhattan that is, and you get a melange of all our iconic busy places in Metro Manila. The monumental glass buildings and skyscrapers, and fancy boutique glasswindows remind you of Ayala Avenue. The corner delicatessens, the quaint coffeshops and small emporiums, and the ubiquitous hotdog stands are reminiscent of the old Cubao, just before the posh Gateway Mall was built. Oh yes, the seedy, dirty streets, the incessant scaffoldings blocking pedestrians, and  the chaotic volume of people, crisscrossing the grid streets (which then Manila Metropolitan Commission Governor Imelda Marcos wanted to impossibly copy for the layout of Metro Manila )of Manhattan implore a Quiapo feel overall.
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“I will never come back here,” another sister threatened. She is happy to stay in a quiet suburb somewhere in the midwest.
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It is not only her who seems to be disillusioned by New York City. Aside from the disarray of Manhattan, some have outrightly warned of the bedlam that happens in the Big Apple such as frequent muggings and  the saucy attitude by the New Yorkers. There was even a time when all patrons were forcibly asked  to leave a store just because it was already closing. My sister pointed out such crudeness to a store manager. The store got some rude awakening from a Detroit diva there!
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But it is the diamond in the rough that makes New York special and iconic to many of us non-New York dwellers. The Statue of Liberty at the harbor, United Nations Headquaters and the Financial District appeal to those who have romanticized the ideals of freedom, harmony and capitalism. The beaches at Hamptons, the artifacts of the numerous galleries and museums, the runway fashion shows of designers, and the explosion of architecture connect highly to the desires and senses of the erudite, the avantgarde, the sophisticated, and the moneyed from all over the globe.
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But for many of us, hoi-polloi, including me, it is the razzle-dazzle of pop culture that makes us warm with delight in the City that Never Sleeps. Aside from the music and stories that are churned out from musicals and plays of Broadway and the numerous movies which featured the city, it is the weekly and probably daily television shows, old and new, that familiarize us with a piece of New York life. Shows such as Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City give the couch potatoes a weekly dose of insights regarding independence, fraternization and even perhaps fabulous urban living, aside from the quality comedic scripts that comeout from these shows. It is the involved appreciation of such shows that make travelling to this megapolis quite surreal and a definite treat for pop culture afficionados. 
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It is quite a testament to New York City, a city that has experienced trouble in the last few years, in terms of finance and security, of how it has remained on the top, for visitors and travellers passing by America.  No matter how shoddy and dirty New York is, the spotlight stays on that Big Apple.

(lg2a) boo!

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, food, history, letsgopinas goes to america, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by mijodo

Towards the first day of November, we, Filipinos, busy ourselves in remembering and honoring our dead.  Ordinarily, the feast for the commerating the dead is on November 2, however we seem to start trekking to the cemeteries on the first day of November for some reason.

As November approaches, we ask family members or our handymen to repaint the tombs, niches or family mausoleum of our dead relatives for All Saints Day or Todos los Santos. We spruce up the surroundings, trimming overgrown grass. Then we lit up candles, and buy a pot of flowers as an offering to our dearly departed. Some try to remember their loved ones with quiet prayer and masses, but some opt to have a grand reunion party in the very place where the dead is buried. Obviously, just like in any family gathering, filipino fare, like suman and pansit will be served for everyone who remembers. Some cemeteries will even allow some dance music and a little gambling for the people to while away until the wee hours of the morning.

However, in most parts of America, many prepare for Halloween instead. Americans busy themselves preparing their houses, with scary decorations usually made out of carved pumpkins for jack o’lanterns or some familiar creepy figures to entertain, and perhaps spook out kids, asking for some candy treats from them.

It is said that next to Christmas, halloween is the most anticipated celebration in the calendar.  Parents try to look for some fun costumes  to be worn by their kids during the day. The origin of wearing costumes with masks is done to ward off and confuse the evil spirits roaming around during this season.

It is quite interesting to see how Americans have incorporated the otherworldly into their tradition and customs such that the whole country even celebrates halloween with gusto, and with no religious guilt.  Surely, the Philippines is rich with folklores and mythical creatures like the manananggal (usually a woman who can detach its upper torso from the lower body part), tiyanak (evil toddler), or mangkukulam (witch).  And it is even very popular to scare ourselves about ghosts, hauntings and other deathly concerns during this time through television and movies, and in print. However, our national government is not into celebrating the ghouls and the ghosts of the netherworld, much less putting the event in the timetable of Philippine holidays.

However, there was one time when a certain province in the Visayas Region unabashedly played out its infamous reputation through a festival observance.  Some non-government offices in Capiz, a province in Western Visayas, thought of the Aswang Festival, despite its controversy as aswang is another diabolic folkloric creature that changes in form, from human, usually a woman, to an animal, usually a dog that pounces and eats the fetus of a pregnant woman.

But for some unknown reason, the Capizenos have been unfairly and preposterously identified as aswangs through generations. Probably many of them are offended by the connection, but some have played along with some chagrin.  Some creative Capizenos just tried to utilize the labelling as another way of promoting the province in terms of tourism.

By October 31, 1994, a day before the yearly Todo los Santos, the Aswang Festival was celebrated through parades and  costumes that depict the evil mythic creatures of the Philippines, just like the Halloween festivities in America. However, local government and the Catholic heirarchy intervened, and condemned such celebration as it relates to the evil spirits, and may just make the stigma of the aswangs in the area even more pronounce. It seemed that the festival died out eventually years after.

As they say, to each his own.  Whether we celebrate Halloween or All Souls’ Day/All Saints’ Day or both, may the good spirit be with us always.

(lg2a) from silver to gold, from silver to blood

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by mijodo

Precious (2009). Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Tsotsi (2005). Hotel Rwanda (2004). American Beauty (1999). Shine (1996). Strictly Ballroom (1992). Places in the Heart (1984). The Big Chill (1983). Chariots of Fire (1981).

These are some of the films which have captivated the hearts and minds of the cineastes who have come to watch such  in the Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF for almost four decades now.   Second to Cannes International Film Festival in terms of international media mileage and hoopla, TIFF awarded silverscreen flicks with the gold standard of excellence such that the results can be a barometer for Oscar wins in Hollywood. 

This year’s “seeming” Filipino entry in the festival is produced and directed by a Malaysian. A full length film, Pinoy Sunday which stars comedians Bayani Agbayani and Epy Quizon delves on a narrative of two men and a couch.  Somehow it is not sure how the audience responded to this film, but in recent years, there have been other Filipino Films which have garnered critical praises and plaudits in other international film festivals.

Moscow International Film Festival has awarded the International Critics Prize to Jeffrey Jeturian’s Kubrador (2006) which centers  on the illegal numbers game, Jueteng.  Also, the Berlin Film Festival has honored Auraeus Solito’s Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005) which is on how a family of men copes tenderly on the blossoming of an effeminate gay boy in a slum environment.

The newest golden boy in Philippine cinema is Director Brillante Mendoza whose account of films gives hope and shock to the Philippine and international cinephiles. His slew of dark, bleak, and almost raw films such as Masahista (2005),  Manoro (2006), Serbis (2008) has received numerous awards and citations in different award giving bodies. But it is in Kinatay (2009) where Mendoza gets recognized as the avant garde director, and who has snatched the Best Director plum at Cannes Film Festival.

Body Heat (USA). Gallipoli (Australia). The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Great Britain). Smash Palace (New Zealand). 36 Chowringhee Lane (India). Oro, Plata, Mata (Philippines).
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These were the films which graced the defunct and much ballyhooed Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) in the early 80’s. It was a gargantuan project by Imelda Marcos who had wanted Manila as the international film market of the Far East. Again, just like any project of the Marcoses,the MIFF was seen as another whim and caprice by its project leader, Imelda.
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However just days before the MIFF was formally opened, almost 200 workers who sped up the completion of  the Manila Film Center Building at the Cultural Center of the Philippines reclamation grounds in Pasay, met their tragic ending, which news was heavily controlled by the government’s news agencies.
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Apparently, the scaffolding slab on the second floor had collapsed because of the shoddy and expedited work of the people. And the fast drying cement landed on the sleeping workers at the ground floor. Not many were able to escape catastrophe. For the few who were able to live and breathe under the rubble and cement, few had been taken out to actually survive and be brought to the hospital. There was not much time for rescue as the film festival was just days away.  There was little attempt to excavate people under the ruin. Some were left to die, and be finally covered with new cement. 
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The Manila International Film Festival did not prosper, even with the visits of then Hollywood A listers such as Brooke Shields, Jeremy Irons, and Imelda’s good friend, George Hamilton. The international film fest was staged only for two years. Years after that, blue films  were introduced without censorship and cuts in the film showings inside the Film Center. This was done to placate political rumblings in Manila.
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However such bomba pictures were said not to appease the ghosts of the construction workers inside the building premises. Imelda, and her Blue Ladies had even asked knowledgeable spiritual  advisors from Northern Mountain provinces to exorcise the haunted building of such malevelont dwellers, ready to avenge their untimely deaths.  One witness even mentioned that the ceremony had used live chickens and blood to cast out the restless spirits.
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Strange rumors had been active then, right after inauguration. The accidental Tagaytay death of Betty Benitez, one of the active handlers of the film festival, was seen as a seeming result of such payback.
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Had it been responsibly handled, MIFF could have been another prestigious film festival such as the ones in Toronto or even Cannes. However what remains of the Parthenon like – Film Center is just a reminder of a cavernous, sick excesses of the past and its proponent.

(lg2a) city of life

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, health, history, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, news, people, technology, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by mijodo

It has definitely been a privilege to crisscross North America, and see some great cities in this part of the world –  from the flashy glitz of Las Vegas to the can-do character of New York City. However it seems that there is a place in Canada which is esteemed to be the “most livable” among all the cities in the world. And if you happen to be living in Vancouver City, British Columbia, then you are one lucky dude.

However if you just happen to visit Vancouver, it is not difficult to be impressed with what it has to offer –  a working, thriving, and clean metropolis in the bellows of scenic landscapes and sea vistas.  People may be working hard in the city, but the city is not working hard on its people.  The city seems to be aware on how it  can assist its dwellers in making life accessible to convenience and prosperous growth. There is a web of trains and trams that bring its people to work and home – even right to its airport. Passengers don’t need to box out fellow passengers for valued commuter space, during rush hour as commuter crowd is quite sparse. 

It is quite possible  not to even own a car, if a bike ride (or even skateboard) is sufficient (and certainly efficient) for you. There is a bike lane that goes around the city. And however way you explore the city, there are always the surrounding mountains and Fraser River that accompany you, and make your stay, in awe of Vancouver and its environs such as Surrey, Richmond and New Westminister.

The temperate climate even during winters make the whole place bearable, particularly that one can delightfully see from the city snow capped mountain sites, around Vancouver.

Our Version Apparently, it is not only the transport infrastructure or the sceneries that make Vancouver on top of the surveys (one of which is Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey) as “most livable.”  Of course, prime importance are the economic viability of the place and the secured neighborhoods.  Such criteria may be applied on the cities within the Philippines.  And among such places, Davao stoodout, beating out Manila and Cebu City, as “most livable city” in a survey (http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideLifestyle.htm?f=2010%2Faugust%2F24%2Flifestyle3.isx&d=2010%2Faugust%2F24).

Just like Vancouver, Davao City is a bustling megapolis (considered the biggest city in the world in terms of sheer size) with a progressive economy, almost zero percent crime rate, and significantly less traffic hassle compared to that of Manila, Makati and Cebu City.  Since it is located in Mindanao, its weather condition has been mild and almost typhoon free.  Also like in Vancouver, Davaoenos enjoy the short distance access to many beaches, particularly in Samal Island, and the rustic settings of its many mountains, such as Mt. Apo, the tallest mountain within the Philippines.

City of New Life It is no wonder expatriates and newcomers, looking for  opportunities, with a kinder way of life, gravitate towards such cities, such as in Davao, but more particularly in Vancouver.  You right away get the impression that the city of Vancouver welcomes people from all over the world, but more particularly the Asians – Chinese, Indian, and yes, of course the Filipinos, wanting to have a peaceful, rewarding life.

The Vancouverites don’t discriminate. In fact they encourage the people from different nationalities and ethnicities to profess and manifest their own cultural identity without much hesitation.  There is no need to assimilate. Vancouver  wants its people to add on to the vastness of customs and conventions to form a “mosaic” instead of a “blend.” 

The city government offers all the aid and help to new settlers – particularly, to couples with children.  You are given housing assistance, especially if the family’s income may have difficulty with coming up with rental money.  If you are just starting out, this indeed is a sweet deal.

It is not sure if Davao does the same to its new lifetime guests, but for as long you are able to work, contribute and be a good partner in building both cities, then you and your family may just have the life you have been wanting for – a great and productive one. Welcome to the Cities of Life – Davao and Vancouver.

(lg2a) sorry, we just don’t have any space

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, history, interior design, letsgopinas goes to america, lifestyle, locales, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by mijodo

 

 

After some little shopping at Madison Avenue, in New York City, my sister Christie accompanied me and our niece, Ernestine to Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Met as it is popularly monickered.

We were ready to pay for the entrance fee however for some reason, the lady assistant attending to us said fees were waived that day. Instead we could make some donation, if we wish too. My sister handed in 25 Dollars for the three of us, and rented out two audio guide players to accompany us throughout the exhibits. My sister, who has been there many times, was pleasantly surpised about the fee arrangement.

And I was giddy about coming into the halls and the cloisters of the much vaunted and iconic Met. Aside from the financial district, and the skyscrapers defining New York City, it is the plethora of cultural staples that mark New York City as a “global city.”  Plays and music of Broadway, distinct ethnic communities, and a number of significant museum buidings just put New York into that cliche as the city “that never sleeps.”

Well, I almost never slept, right after the museum visit. My thoughts wandered after a seemingly innocent comment from another lady assistant inside the museum.

After taking a look at the Egyptian collection, the Americana artifacts, classical European statues and paintings, I checked out the Asian treasures, particularly the ones from South East Asia, afterall Philippines is part of that region. However I noticed right away, that only relics from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand were occupying the huge corner space of the museum.

My instant reaction was to look for the museum person probably guarding the South East Asian pieces. “Do you have some artifacts from the Philippines?” I asked, hoping that the lady knows that Philippines is part of that particular Asian region.

“Sorry, we just don’t have any space,” was the lame excuse of the lady.

I did not push the issue. I felt sorry for the Philippines. In the huge halls of the august museum, there seemed no representative piece from my country. “Not even the Man in the Barrel woodpiece from Baguio,” I told jokingly to my sister.

I was incensed and disturbed. Didn”t the Metropolitan Museum of the Art know that Philippines is part of South East Asia? Or did the Met think we only have “rebultos and santos,” such that this Philippine collection might only mar a decidedly Oriental character of the space which is full of ceramic plates and buddha statues all around. But the Philippines does have pre-hispanic ceramic plates and jars excavation finds. Probably our National Museum should lend some of our collection pieces used by our pre-Christian ancestors – mostly Aetas and Indo-Malay ascendants.

The seeming  faux pas on Met’s side begs a deeper question. Is the Philippines’s culture and civilization not significant for the visitors to see and understand. Apparently, we as a people from the Philippines know that we had a culture similar to our Asian neighbors, but the Western countries which colonize our islands apparently had severe influence in our way of living up to this moment.  Probably to many outside the Philippines, we, as a people, are neither here nor there – brown skinned, chinky eyed Asians who have unwavering loyalty to Catholicism (from the Spanish), and talk and write good American English.  

Obviously, the Philippine archeological antiquities will never be found in the European collection nor in the Americana mementos of the Met or probably in any sensible museum.

Too bad for us, Filipinos and too bad for Met’s visitors, as there is much to take and see from our unique Filipino heritage – buddhas or no buddhas.