Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THE CHARMINAR

Finally, a tour.

Guided. Rushed. In a bus dripping with the air conditioner's condensation. But a tour.

The 15th century Charnimar [first photo]. Sultan Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah's "Arch of Triumph of the East". Good shooting. But it turned out that I have to fight for a few photos amid the irrational rush.


The Nizam's Museum [second photo]. By then, murmurs of "Let's go shopping instead" were beginning to pick up. I paid 150 rupees for the right to take photos of an assortment of royal artifacts belonging to the last Nizam of the Princely State of Hyderabad and Berar - Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII. Afterwards, I felt like going shopping too. 


Secunderabad. The new city. A fleeting snapshot of an 18-meter granite Buddha statue looming in the center of the 24-hectare man-made Hussain Sagar Lake [third photo] that was excavated in 1562 by the same sultan who built the Charnimar. There, a unanimous agreement was made to have lunch first before deciding whether it will be the old Golconda Fort or to go shopping.


An unforgettable lunch. The famous Hyderabad Biryani certainly lived up to its billing and was excellently complimented by what I presumed to be chicken tandoori [fourth photo]. And in that air conditioned dining hall of the Lotus Palace Restaurant, it was decided to scratch the old Golconda Fort (to my severe disappointment) and go shopping instead (to my great irritation). I just can't see the logic in foregoing a chance of a lifetime for something that can be done later.


Later that night, I poured both frustration and vengeance on the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport's duty free shops. Then I realized I have yet to have an "MVI in India" photo. So my boss snapped the one below. With a tourism poster in the background. At the airport.


Good bye India. And thank you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

VALEDICTORY (Pangatlong Araw sa India)

Katulad ng pagbubukas ng kumperensiya ay matalumpati din ang pagsasara nito na dinaluhan ng ilang technocrat na karamihan ay galing sa World Bank [unang larawan]. Nakasanayan ko na ang cuisine at ang pagkain nang nakatayo at walang kubyertos. At marahil dahil huling araw na, nag-serve ng pansit ang cafeteria [pangalawang larawan]. Malamig ang pasta at marekado katulad ng inaasahan. Puede na din...


Saturday, June 25, 2011

FIELD VISIT (Pangalawang Araw sa India)

Makakalabas na din ako sa kubkuban ng Dr. Marri Chenna Reddy Human Resource Development Institute sa Jubilee Hills. Maipapalit ko na din ang baon kong ilang pirasong dolyar sa rupee. Makakapamili na din ng kung ano-anong ipapasalubong. At sa wakas ay makakakain na ng hindi maanghang sa McDonald's.

Pero akala ko lang 'yun dahil kinailangan kong pumasok sa bahay ng isang ale na may matagumpay na milling shop [unang larawan], manood sa pulong ng isang self-help group ng mga kababaihan at makipagkuwentuhan sa isa pa [pangalawang larawan], busisihin ang isang marketing project, dumalaw sa parang isang day care center [pangatlong larawan], pumasyal sa isang sustainable agriculture farm [pang-apat larawan], at magtapos sa parang isang community alternative school center para sa mga may kapansanan. At lahat ng iyan ay may kinalalaman sa negosyo ng pagpapautang na kung tawagin ngayon ay microfinance.





Dahil 4 pm na nga kami nananghali at medyo pagod na sa kalilibot, itinulog ko na lang ang biyahe pauwi. Wala akong nabiling yosi at alak. Buti na lamang at nakunan ko ang nag-iisang Hindu temple sa dinalaw naming lugar... 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

PASAKALYE (Unang Araw sa India)

Mahaba ang pasakalye ng aming kumperensiya sa Hyderabad: kasing haba ng mga makukulay na sari ng mga ushers na nag-aabang [unang larawan] sa mga ministrong medyo nabalam sa pagdating [pangalawang larawan] na sinundan ko hanggang sa magulong press conference para lamang makuhanan ang isang napakagandang reporter/journalist [pangatlong larawan].




Kaya mag-aalas tres na din kami nananghali dahil kailangan pang tapusin ang isang pang pasakalye na panel discussion.

Buti na lang at may cultural night (huling larawan) na pumawi sa aking antok at tumighaw sa pagkakangarag ng magkakasunod na mahahabang biyahe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NA LOST, AT NA FOUND SA HYDERABAD

Dalawang beses na akong naiwanan ng eroplano: isang pa-Boracay at sa San Francisco.

Muntik na akong mawalan ng paboritong laruan nang damputin ng isang mama ang aking camera bag paglabas nito sa x-ray machine ng Terminal 2 nu'ng bumiyahe ako pa Cotabato.

Kinotongan ako ng airline counter staff sa Islamabad at immigration officer sa Cotonou. 

Sa Minneapolis, naging saksi ako sa pangingisay ng isang pasahero.

Pero hindi pa ako nawalan ng gamit kahit kailan sa buong panahon ng aking pag-eeroplano.

Kaya para akong binuhusan ng nagyeyelong tubig nang mapagtanto kong 'di ko bitbit paglabas ng Rajiv Gandhi International Airport ang aking backpack. 

Habang humahangos ako pabalik ay naisip ko na lamang na bumili nang mas murang kapalit ng aking mawawalang lap top, tawagan agad ang aking maybahay para ikansela ang mga debit at credit card, at ang hirap at abalang susuungin ko upang palitan ang mga mawawalang PRC license, driving license, Mabuhay Miles card, company ID, Mercury Drug discount card, SM Adavantage Card, Jollibee card, etc.

"Slow down", sabi ng aming Indian welcome comittee. "You'll get it back".

At siya'y nagdilang anghel nga nang na iniabot sa akin ng bigotilyo at nakangiting security officer ang aking bag na tatangatanga kong naiwanan sa x-ray machine.

"Ngarag ka na", sabi ng isang kasamahan nang makabalik ako sa bus.

Tama siya dahil n'ung isang araw ay kararating ko lamang mula Bonn at kinailangang bumiyahe pa-Manila ng madaling araw kinabukasan para sa flight papuntang Hyderabad.

"Boss", tanong ko sa katabi ko, "naisakay mo ba 'yung luggage ko?"

Oo daw.

Paalis na ang bus nang magtanong ang mga nakaistambay sa parking lot kung kanino 'yung bag na nakakalat sa bangketa...


TALABABA: Katulad ng sa pagpunta ko, isinuksok ko ang aking bagong biling Beach Walk kasama ang aking ardyud bag sa walang lock na compartment ng aking luggage pag-uwi ko ng Maynila. Wala na sila ng hanapin ko upang maligo sana sa aming National Office. Ang larawan sa itaas ng Philippine delegation na dumalo sa Alternative Asian Microfinance Summit sa Hyderabad, India ay kuha ni Marlon Palomo. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ME, ACCORDING TO THEM

Taken by Riza Bernabe, with my Nikon D40:


From Usec. Fred Serrano's birding lens:





From Com. Yeb Sano's brand new DSLR:




Friday, June 17, 2011

THE CASTLES OF KONIGSWINTER

Independence Day ala Bonn for Riza (Bernabe) and me is taking time off the climate change negotiations for the historic Marketplatz.

There we went church hunting and Beethoven watching. 

There was that al fresco lunch of a huge pretzel and layered coffee and milk. 

There was Abert (Magalang) at the tourist information center as we frantically hunt for a place to wiwi.

There were the three us deciding to spend the afternoon in Konigswinter and visiting that palace we heard from Denise. 

And there were us walking to the banks of the Rhine River, across the bridge to see the love padlocks, and getting in to the Bad Honnef-bound train.   

Konigswinter is a popular summer resort and the gateway to the Drachenfels Castle ruins and the elegant Drachenburg Castle.

To get to the castles, we paid 9 Euros to ride Germany's oldest cog wheel train up and down Drachenfels Mountain where legend says Siegfried from the epic Nibelungen Saga slayed a dragon. 


First stop is the ruins of the Drachenfels Castle at the highest point of Drachenfels Mountain for a panoramic view of Bonn, where the Romans used to quarry stones, and where the Archbishop of Cologne has the castle built as a watch tower between 1198 and 1208.

First stop was a castle of minor importance until its stone quarry was again rediscovered when the Cathedral of Cologne was being built, and sparked a family spat among its owners which in 1526 led to the assassination of Count Clas of Drachenfels by his own nephew.

First stop was blown up in 1634 by order of the the Archbishop of Cologne during the Thirty-Year War to repel the Swedish army who converted the castle into a military base, with subsequent quarrying causing what remained of the castle walls and tower to collapse, until it was finally stopped in 1836 by a royal edict, and conservation work began from 1855 until 1900.

Today, the ruins of the Drachenfels Castle is today among Germany's most popular sites with 2 million visitors every year.


On the way down,  we stopped midway at the newer Drachenburg Castle having been built between 1882 and 1884 by a Baron von Sarter.

On the way down, I remember Denise telling me that the castle was used as a Nazi school and as punishment was heavily bombarded by allied troops during World War II and remained in ruins until it was rebuilt in the 1960s and opened to the public in 1973.

We walked down to Konigswinter disappointed that we were not able to go inside Drachenburg Castle since it was already closing time.


Back at Konigswinter, we bumped into most of the Philippine delegation. 

Back in the banks of the Rhine, Albert decided to take the train back to Bonn while we decided to ride the ferry back to Bad Godesberg.

Back in Lando's house, me and Riza joined the Team Philippines in finishing off the left-overs of last night's reception dinner.


CREDIT: Last photo was taken bu Usec. Fred Serrano.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CHURCH-ing BONN

Kirsche is the German word for church, and there are lots of old kirsches in Germany. Old as in almost ancient. And as in every travel and shoots, here are some and the more famous churches of Bonn.


[1] The Cathedral of St. Martin traces its history back in Roman times as a pagan place of worship and burial ground. Christianity claimed the site in 400 AD when a church was built over the graves of the martyred Roman soldiers Cassius and Florentius. This church was replaced by what is now the cathedral that was started to be erected in 1248. Two king were crowned in the cathedral namely Frederick the Handsome in 1314 and Charles IV in 1346. Elevated as a Basilica Minor in 1956, the cathedral is Bonn's main Catholic church and city landmark.


[2] The font where Beethoven was baptized in December 17, 1770 can bee seen in this church including remnants of the church organ he used to play as a 10-year old. St. Remigius Church was first built in 1276 and after enduring centuries of wars and calamities, it was demolished in 1806. The parish of St. Remegius was then relocated to the current church that was heavily damaged in the aerial bombardment of Germany in 1944, and underwent renovation in 1949. 


[3] Following the rebuilding of the Residence Palace after being gutted by fire in 1779, its Palace Church was relocated its present site where the young Beethoven received music lessons and where he later had his first job as organist when he was only 14 years old. 


[4] I took this snapshot of an unidentified church after crossing the Rhine River on our way to Konigswinter.

Monday, June 13, 2011

WHEN SHUBERT MEETS BEETHOVEN

Perhaps Bonn's most famous son and among the greatest classical composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven was born on either December 16 or 17, 1770 at what is now Bongasse's house no. 20. Magnifying his greatness was the fact that he suffered from deafness from his teenage years which progressed until his death on March 26, 1827 in Vienna.


Some 17 years after Beethoven's birth, Franz Peter Schubert was born on January 31, 1797 in Vienna. Also acknowledged as a master composer of classical music, Schubert died a year after Beethoven's death on November 19, 1828 also in Vienna.


What is not sure is if the two geniuses worked together or ever met. Whatever is the case, a symbolic meeting of the masters happened on June 12 (Philippine Independence Day), 2011 when Shubert Ciencia (born January 18, 1970 and named by his parents after the great Schubert) visited the great Beethoven's origins on 20 Bongassee, breathed the air of that great house, gazed at the relics of that great man, and fell asleep midway into an inter-active presentation of an excerpt from Fidelio.


PHOTOS (from top to bottom): [1] Beethoven's ancestral house at 20 Bonngasse; [2] Beethoven's statue at the Munsterplatz in front of a centuries old baroque palace that now serves as Bonn's post office, which is the first to be erected for him and unveiled on his 75th birthday in 1845 during the holding of the first Beethoven Festival; [3] Shubert at the door of the Beethoven house.

Friday, June 10, 2011

BAD GODESBERG

I am in Bonn.

I live in a hotel called Haus Berlin along a street called Rheinalee in a district called Bad Godesberg.

I walk everyday.

I leave at 8 am to to the Otto-Kuhne Shule and at 10 pm from the Bad Godesberg Bahnhof on the way back.

That's where I am now: a posh spa district named after a hill where a castle once stood in what then became West Germany's Embassy row.


That's what I do now: walk a lot with my briefcase in wheels to late lunches and dinners and open-ended meetings.




FOOTNOTE: Woudenesberg (now Bad Godesberg) was already existing as far back as 722 AD. The ruins of what is now known as Godesberg Castle (top photo) was built in 1210 on top of a hill with the same name. Down the castle is old St. Michael's Chapel (second photo) that was also built in the same year. Further down is the old Castle Cemetery (third photo) that was first used in 1805. And further down is the 19th century neo-Gothic St. Mary's Church (last photo) that now serve the parish of Godesberg. "Bad" was added to Godesberg in 1925 and means "spa".  

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

GUTEN TAG!

I dedicate the first German church I shoot and the first German noodles/pasta I ate to Ramon Zamora (1935-2007), he who was once The Bruce Lee of the Philippines before converting to a German soldier supporting role. Spraken heit!



Monday, June 06, 2011

A DUTCH TREAT, FINALLY

It's just a couple of hours.

One long walk from the arrival gate to immigration to Gate B26 for the connecting flight to Cologne.

I emptied my bladder, changed dollars into euros, and witnessed 3 Filipino passport holders (an old woman, a young lady, and a boy) led to an immigration holding room as I queued to have may passport stamped.

The sun refused to die as KLM Flight No. 8414 pulled up, its vanishing red rays exorcising the ghost of turning down a 3-week fellowship at the Maastricht School of Management some 2 years earlier.

I'll be back. On my way back home, or perhaps longer some other time...