Saturday, October 22, 2011

PASTELS FOR DINNER (OR WHERE HAVE ALL THE LANZONES GONE?)

It was the week of Camiguin's annual Lanzones Festival.

And there were no lanzones in sight.

Except giant lanzones crafts festooned on lamp posts.

Not much seafood either (where have all the fish gone too!).

But we have our cameras, and there was the Gui-ob church ruins in Catarman.

The pastels were sweet but nothing beats early morning photography.





Saturday, October 15, 2011

MAMA BUTCH, INA NG LAGING SAKLOLO


Ang naaalala ko kay Mama ay ang mga uwi niyang buto ng hamon tuwing magbabakasyon siya sa Maynila.

'Tsaka 'yung kinilaw niyang talaba na nagbunsod ng karera sa amin nina Amor at Kata kung sino ang unang makakarating sa napakalaking banyo ng Joenga. Every 2 minutes.

'Tsaka 'yung maliit niyang kabinet na madalas naming hiraman ng t-shirt kahit di kami nagpapaalam sa kanya.

'Tsaka 'yung pag-coach niya kay Dada kung ano ang dapat gawin sa mga date nila ni Gaspar.

'Tsaka 'yung abutan namin siya ni Willy na maglilinis sa napakalawak na sibuyasan with all the colorful kurkurantings.

'Tsaka 'nung isinama niya kami nina Utol at Blance sa Pansol para maligo sa hot spring at kumain ng sinigang na kanduli.

'Tsaka 'yung konsepto niya ng ideal man na bangulbangolan at naglalangis katulad ni Al Carasco.


Madami pang ibang ala-ala. Nakakatuwa. Nakaka-miss.

Pero para sa madami sa amin, siya ang ina ng laging saklolo na takbuhan sa oras ng krisis. 

Katulad ng biglang pagsulpot ng magaling na kapatid kong kolehiyala para humingi ng allowance na magpapatsuktsak din pala kaya hindi na nakatapos. 

Ayaw niya ng mga malulungkot na eksena kaya n'ung farewell party niya bago mag-migrate sa US ay bigla na lang siyang naglaho.

Amerikano na siya nang muli naming makita at ipagluto kami ng mechado. 

At pinadalhan pa kami pagkatapos ng isang napakalaking package na pamasko kasama ang mga ni-request na x-rated video. 

Nagkita ulit kami sa LA after 5 years at d'un ko natuklasan na Butchoy pala ang nickname niya (pinanggalingan ng Butch?) at puede na niyang labanan sa karera si Schumacher (ni ayaw niyang umangkas so motorsiklo noon!) at isa na siyang accomplished nurse (di ba takot siya sa karayom dati?).

Walang nagbago. Siya pa din ang aming Mama Burch na Ina ng Laging Saklolo...


MGA LARAWAN: [1] Si Ruel ang unang photographer na nanggaling sa Nueva Ecija Branch at kuha niya ang unang larawan sa itaas halos 2 dekada na ang nakakaraan, na na-download ko sa Facebook account ni Tatang. [2] Ang pangalawang larawan naman ay mga kuha ko kay Mama Butch habang ipinapasyal niya ako sa LA area. [3] Ang pangatlong larawan ay kuha sa museum ng Mission San Buenaventura. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

JIMMY CARTER AND HOW THE GIPPER CAME INTO OUR LIVES


Once upon a time, old man Pepito wrote the president of the United States. I never knew what was in that letter but it got a package from President Jimmy Carter himself which included a letter signed by him and a coffee table book about them in the White House.

I would later read from the Bulletin that President Carter lost his reelection bid to a man called Ronald Reagan (handsome and dashing in the news photo). The last image we saw of him is a man in overcoat(?) waving to his supporters as the Iran hostages were being brought back to the United States.

I did not care much about President Ronald Reagan at that time. It would only be later from documentaries in the Discovery Channel (or was it National Geographic) that I would realize how he came to be known as the Great Communicator. I particularly like that speech in Germany ("Mr. Gorbachev brought this wall down!") and a presidential candidates' debate ("I promised not to make age an issue and so I will never question the relative inexperience of my young opponent!" or something like that).

So when Mama Butch asked me to choose between the J. Paul Getty Museum (where I can shoot the Cathedral of Angels along the way as suggested by climate change talks colleague Albert Magalang) and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, I went for the latter because I thought he was more of a real person to me.

The library at the scenic Simi Valley was recently refurbished and Mama Butch became an instant member. It was a surreal moment for me as the story of the man I read in the Bulletin who beat Jimmy Carter unfolded in video footages, blown up photos, and relics of his presidency while I munch on complimentary jelly beans.

It was a fitting finale to my 4-day sojourn in Los Angeles, so here's one for The Gipper.




PHOTOS EXPLAINED (from top to bottom):
The last 3 photos above shows [1] the statues of the late president and former First Lady Nancy Reagan at the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; [2] the Boeing 707 Air Force One that was in service from 1973 until 2001 and spanned the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George Bush the Elder, Bill Clinton, and George Bush the Younger; and [3] former president Ronald Reagan's tomb.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

HOLLYWOOD FOOTNOTES

Prologue

Yesterday, Mama Butch took me to Hollywood where I shoot some stars.

I've have that day lots of pavement stars, 3 Marilyn Monroes, and a Jamie Foxx at the Walk of Fame; and one who is said to be a rapper at the Universal Studios' CityWalk.

There's also a reluctant frame of me (Mama Butch insisted) at the Kodak Theater's Grand Staircase, Michael Jackson dancing for tips across Capitan Theater, and Frank Sinatra's prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

I though my best was a frame of the star of "Sa Bawat Gubat" with the (in)famous Hollywood sign in the background. Mama Butch did a good job on that one


FOOTNOTE 1: The famous Hollywood sign originally read "HOLLYWOODLAND" and was erected in 1923 to advertise a housing project in the booming Hollywood movie district which has become the locus of the American film industry. "LAND" was dropped from the sign during repair works in 1949. It was refurbished in 1978 through the efforts of rock star Alice Cooper and again in 2005. Five years later, the Trust for Public Land with the help of a $1 million contribution from Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner bought the area where the sign stands for $12.5 million dollars and annexed the property to Griffith Park.

Epilogue

FOOTNOTE 2: The first star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame was laid down in 1960. Since then, more than 2,000 stars have been added. That of The Beatles is located near the Silver Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo along La Brea Avenue, where the Walk of Fame begins and ends, besides that of Elvis Presley.


FOOTNOTE 3: Grauman's Chinese Theater opened in 1927 and became famous for the nearly 200 autographed foot and hand prints of stars preserved in the concrete pavement of its forecourt. It also served as the venue of the Oscars from 1944 until 1946. Nearby across Hollywood Boulevard is El Capitan Theater that opened a year earlier in 1926. Both theaters were projects of Sid Grauman and are still first-run or premiere theaters. Both were declared as historic and cultural landmarks.


FOOTNOTE 4: The Kodak Theater was built in 2001 on the site of the famous Hollywood Hotel (circa 1902) and has been the venue of the Academy Awards. Since then, stars and celebrities walked through its famous Grand Staircase for the Oscar Awards.


FOOTNOTE 5: The Universal Studios in Hollywood was established in 1912 by Carl Laemmle and today is one of the oldest American movie studios and one of the 6 major outfits.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

THE CALIFORNIA MISSION TRAIL II

Last year I was stripteased into the California Mission Trail.

Never knew it existed.

Until Oyet P and Jack walked me to the Mission San Francisco de Asis (yes, in San Francisco) that was the 6th Spanish mission to be established in California in 1776. Kuya Rudy Palomo also drove me later to the 2nd in 1770 which is the Mission San Carlos Barromeo de Carmelo in Carmel, and to the 15th in 1797 which is the Mission San Juan Bautista (yes, in San Juan Bautista). In a fitting finale, eman59 of Oakland presented me with a book about the mission churches.

I have a mission church in mind as I left Panama City for a brief sojourn in Los Angeles. I was so enamored with it that I refused a $300+hotel accommodation bribe to get bumped off that morning's flight. It kept me in high spirits when I missed the connecting flight to Houston. It consoled me when I found that 2 of my fried bawang jars did not survive Houston-Los Angeles.

The next day, Mama Butch --- he who would not even ride a motorcycle during his PRRM days --- drove me to a pilgrimage in 3 mission churches.





PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom):

[1] MISSION SAN FERNANDO REY DE ESPANA (Los Angeles, California): The 17th of the 21 California Mission Churches was established in 1797 by Fr. Fermin Lasuen. It was restored in the 1940s through a grant from the Hearst Foundation but was again extensively damaged by an earthquake in 1971. The mission was completely rebuilt in 1974. Comedian Bob Hope and his wife is buried in the mission's cemetery which has been renamed as the Bob Hope Memorial Garden. 

[2] MISSION SAN BUENAVENTURA (Ventura, California): The mission was the 9th to be established and the last by the legendary missionary Fr. Junipero Serra in 1782. It has the unique claim to having the only known wooden bells in all the mission churches. The mission underwent extensive renovation work in 1957. 

[3] MISSION STA. INES (Solvang, Californa): Fr. Estevan Tapis established Mission Sta. Ines in 1804 as the 19th Spanish mission in California. It has survived numerous earthquakes and remained mostly as it was built). 

Friday, October 07, 2011

THE BIG DITCH

"Speak softly and carry a big stick."

And so it was that Theodore Roosevelt's big ditch was built with the prodding of his big stick and American gunboat diplomacy. An accidental consequence would be the creation of the Republic of Panama.

The canal has dramatically reduced travel time from the Pacific and Atlantic sides and vice versa. Between 37 to 42 ships passes through it everyday and generates almost a billion dollars in revenue for the Panamanian government who have been ceded full control over the canal since 1999.

A series of locks raise or lower passing ships to 85 feet which basically is the difference in elevation between the Pacific and the Atlantic sides.

I was able to take a shot of the Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side as our plane approached Panama City. During the Panama Climate Change Talks, I squeezed in a quick visit of the Miraflores Locks (shown below) with lawyer par excellence Ping Peria.

And so I came, I saw, I clicked.





Thursday, October 06, 2011

THE SPIRES OF CASCO VIEJO

Panama City's Casco Viejo are in many ways similar to Manila's Intramuros.

Both were founded by the Spanish: Intramuros in 1571 and Casco Viejo 100 years later later in 1671.

Both are walled cities.

Both have lots of churches.

Casco Viejo's centerpiece is the Catedral Metropolitan which is as San Agustin Church is to Intramuros. It was built from 1688 until 1796 from the stones taken in the pirate-ravaged old city of Panama Viejo.


A walk away is the Iglesia de San Jose which dates back to 1673 and repository of the Altar de Oro --- painted black and smuggled out of the city as the pirate Henry Morgan pillaged Panama Viejo.


Then there is the Iglesia San Francisco de Asis (top photo below), said to be the smallest but the most ornate and striking of all the churches in Casco Viejo. It was razed by fire in 1737 and 1756, and fully restored to its former glory in 1998. Just across is the Iglesia San Felipe Neri (bottom photo below), inaugurated in 1688 and considered to be the oldest in Casco Viejo. It also underwent restoration work in 1995.



There are a couple of ruins too: the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus (top photo below) that was built between 1677 and 1741 and once housed the Royal Pontifical University of San Javier until it was razed by a fire in 1781 and and then by an earthquake in 1882; and the Iglesia Sto. Domingo (bottom photo below) that was built in the 17th century and also destroyed by fire in 1756, and features the Arco Chato or flat arch --- a 50 feet unsupported brick arch that is considered as an engineering marvel --- which served as proof of the absence of earthquakes in the area and hence the building of the canal across the Isthmus of Panama.



What separates Casco Viejo from Intramuros is it has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage. Only the San Agustin Church has that distinction within Intramuros.

And it is being properly restored to its former glory. I think Intramuros is not...  

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

WHY WE ARE IN PANAMA

The following are excerpts from an entry in Comm. Yeb Sano's Facebook account:

Pinoy Climate Team in battle for PHL survival as climate talks open in Panama

(Panama City, October 5) A battle-weary Philippine delegation quietly arrived in Panama with a vow to fight for the survival of Filipinos facing worsening climate change. At least three climate change-linked consecutive typhoons recently battered the country in a span of two weeks, resulting in damages reaching PhP 8 billion (USD 200 million).


“Millions of Filipinos are already suffering yet we are only seeing initial climate change impacts. Progress must be made in the climate treaty negotiations. We are here in Panama to tell the world that climate change is a matter of life and death for the Philippines,” said Commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño of the Climate Change Commission.

The CCC is leading the Philippine delegation in what is considered the most critical round of talks concerning the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Panama. The Panama round "has enormous implications on the success or failure of the Durban Climate Change Summit in November," Saño said.

Together with Saño are other government members, including Director Ivy Banzon  of the DFA, Dir. Alicia Ilaga of the DA and Albert Magalang of the DENR. The team is bolstered by a pool of advisers from civil society represented by Bernarditas Muller, Antonio La Viña (Dean of the Ateneo School of Government), Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Tebtebba), Atty. Elipidio Peria (Aksyon Klima), Jasper Inventor (Greenpeace), Atty. Vicente Paolo Yu (South Centre), Shubert Ciencia (PRRM), Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros (World Resources Institute),  Atty. James Kho, Joanne Dulce, Lawrence Ang, and Leticia Labre (Ateneo School of Government)...


Sunday, October 02, 2011

PRIMERA SANGRE

MISSION: Buy coffee at McDonald's.

WHAT HAPPENED: Found Iglesia del Carmen, my first Panamanian church.

LOCATION: An intersection along Via Espana two blocks from my hotel where traffic stops to buy the morning paper.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MISSION: Poor Spanish. I got tea instead.


Saturday, October 01, 2011

5 CONTINENTS DOWN, 1 MORE TO GO

The Republic of Panama was created by an American dream .

Its story as a modern country began in 1902 when the United States senate approved the building of a canal that will link the Pacific to the Atlantic at the Isthmus of Panama that was then part of Colombia.

For such design, Colombia signed the Hay-Herran Treaty which gave the United States a vague "renewable lease in perpetuity" over the land where the canal will be built.

Colombia's senate did not ratify the treaty so a secessionist revolution in the isthmus was encouraged and supported by the United States.

The Republic of Panama was officially proclaimed independent in 1903 only 8 months after the signing of the rejected treaty, and the United States was among the first to recognize the new country.

A French citizen who was then serving as a Panamanian ambassador signed another treaty granting the United States rights for the canal and an indefinite period of administrative authority that would later become an irritant between the 2 countries.

Colombia was appeased with a $10 million compensation and would recognize Panama as a sovereign nation in 1921.

Unrest ignited by popular resentment over the United States' sovereignty in the canal zone prompted the signing of another treaty in 1977 which gave Panama equal rights in its administration.

On 31 December 1999, the Republic of Panama assumed full control over the canal.

On 29 October 2011, I disembarked at Panama City's Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen and claimed the bragging rights of having been to 5 --- Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America --- of the world's 7 continents.


FOOTNOTE: Historically and geographically, Panama is part of South America. However, the United Nations geoscheme placed Panama and other Central American countries within the North American continent. But Panama's people call themselves South Americans and their culture is as South American as it can be.