February 19 – 20, 2012
If you will only consider how much Shanghai has changed over the years. Everything, everything has changed and changed again. There are parts of this city I once knew so well, places I would walk every day, I now go there and I know not which way to turn. Change, change all the time.
That is a spot-on description of Shanghai, a city that’s dynamic almost to a fault, by a Shanghainese character in a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. Although the fictional story is set in 1930s Shanghai, the observation holds true in real life, today. Blink and you will find the skyline altered, your old neighborhood replaced by a pocket development. When I lived there, there were only three metro lines. A decade later, the number would rise to a staggering 14. Continue reading
Puerto Princesa City, the Philippines
March 24 – 26, 2013
Our airport shuttle had traversed the narrow width of Palawan, yet we were still within Puerto Princesa, the Philippines’ second largest city in area. Right smack between the city’s eastern and western coastlines are picturesque limestone mountains, one of which is Cleopatra’s Needle. According to my brother who had previously worked in Palawan, the mountain was originally called Cleopatra’s Nipple – its summit does look like a pointy teat - but local people felt squeamish saying it. I never knew if that was just a joke; at least he got a chuckle out of my mother.
Sabang Beach @ Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, Palawan
At the end of a two-hour drive through zigzagging highways over Cleopatra’s bosom, we were welcomed by the aquamarine vista of the South China Sea to Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort. The swoosh of foam-crested waves lazily lapping the shore summoned us to make a beeline for the beach.
February 24 – 25, 2013
“Why Nepal?” I had been asked too many times before my trip. I would give a terse reply, “Everest,” name-dropping the world’s highest mountain in the hopes of eliciting at least a streak of recognition on people’s faces. Instead, I was met by quizzical looks. Even at the Air Asia check-in counter in Kuala Lumpur, the airport staff confirmed my destination by asking, “Are you sure?” I wondered if I should’ve taken it as a last-minute escape clause.
The Himalayas at First Sight
Dumaguete City, the Philippines
June 24 – 26, 2011
“I’m back here in familiar ground,” my father waxed nostalgic in a letter to his “dear Kid,” an endearment for my mother.
The year was 1961. Theirs was a young family, but Dad’s peripatetic job led him back to Dumaguete and his college haunts in Silliman University, where he had received his Associate in Arts degree almost ten years before. Despite the hassles of earning a living on the road, they faithfully corresponded through weekly missives; his were imbued with a romantic remembrance of his collegiate days. After all, it was in the acacia-canopied campus that my father would find the two great loves of his life.
Poliquit Family Photo (by Ki) @ Silliman Hall with Dr. Horace Silliman’s Bust
Shortly after his death at 79, my friend Ki took me on a trip that turned into a sentimental journey for my family as we traced my father’s footsteps in Silliman to get (re)acquainted with the young man that we would eventually know as a loving husband and father. Continue reading
Corregidor Island, Cavite City, the Philippines
February 11, 2012
Corregidor Island: Mom, Are you Looking for Bond?
During the American occupation, Corregidor Island went by the name Fort Mills or, simply “the Rock,” a moniker that connotes more than a dash of testosterone. The sperm-shaped island seemingly swims at the mouth of Manila Bay between the Bataan Peninsula and Cavite, the province that holds jurisdiction over it. Fortified by the country’s colonists, the rocky island lies at a strategic point that guards one of the finest natural harbors in the world and the city of Manila, about 16 miles within the bay. Belligerent superpowers, the US and Japan, took turns in seizing control of the Rock through two battles that bookended WW2 in the Philippines.
Manila, the Philippines
January 21, 2012
Dancing dragons seemed to have taken leave. In their wake, fruit sprouted by the sidewalk. Tied on red ribbons, they festooned the length of Quentin Paredes Street in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. It was my first Chinese New Year in their turf, and I had not expected to see a virtual orchard.
Chinese New Year @ Binondo, Manila
San Pablo City, Laguna, the Philippines
November 11 – 13, 2011
San Pablo City may have its share of urban woes, both vehicular and human traffic choking its narrow two-lane streets, but within city limits a parallel universe exists. Two B&Bs in sprawling tree-dotted enclaves have become pockets of peace far removed from the bustle of the city just beyond their gates.
Casa San Pablo, Laguna
November 23, 2011
“Now is the winter of our discontent.” As soon as he launched into the famous opening monologue, Kevin Spacey owned the stage.
Shakespeare’s Richard III in Singapore’s Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay
And he should. I flew to Singapore with my mother and sister to see Spacey in The Bridge Project’s production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Looking for Richard…all the way to Singapore, if you will. Although Manila has, in recent years, hosted touring musicals (Cats, Mamma Mia!, and The Phantom of the Opera), foreign productions of straight plays are hard to come by. It might as well be because local productions can hold their own.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 26,487 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals.
Click here to see the complete report.
Marikina City, the Philippines
November 7, 2011
Her name has given language a new superlative for decadent opulence: imeldific. Former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos has gone down in history for owning a legendary 3,000-strong collection of shoes, discovered in the basement of Malacañang Palace after the Marcoses had fled during the 1986 revolution. Today, more than 700 of these shoes are showcased in the modest-sized Marikina Shoe Museum.
A Girl Can Dream, Can’t She? Mom and Imelda Marcos’ Shoes at Marikina Shoe Museum
Quezon City, the Philippines
Only those who take leisurely what the people of the world are busy about can be busy about what the people of the world take leisurely.
I echo Zhang Chao’s philosophy. Amidst the hectic demands of life, I feel the need to disconnect from the world, both the real and the virtual, and reconnect with my center. This usually involves good ole-fashioned afternoon walks with my mother. The exercise is good for the heart – in more sense than one. On a few occasions, we are joined by my friend Ki.
Quezon Memorial Circle @ Twilight
One premium in taking residence in Quezon City is that nearly everywhere is within a stone’s-throw radius of green and spacious walking zones. In an urban culture where sidewalks are considered parking or vending areas, it is a luxury to find a place away from the dangers of unruly vehicular traffic. Continue reading
November 22, 2011
Singapore is Southeast Asia’s poster city for economic progress and urban modernism. Everything looks not much older than a year or so at the Marina Bay area. On a city tour with my elderly mother, I was curious how Mom, who was born during the Art Deco era, would regard this post-modern city.
Marina Bay from the Singapore Flyer
My sister, itching to go shopping for the day, deposited my mother and me at Suntec Singapore, where we would embark on the Singapore Duck Tour, a land-and-sea city tour on a remodeled Vietnam War era military craft. Repainted and refitted like an amusement park ride, the amphibious vehicle took us through the surreal sights of Singapore’s ultra-modern Marina Bay area. Continue reading
San Pablo City, Laguna, the Philippines
August 29, 2011
Family fun can be summed up in three words: eat, pose, love. But in a heritage restaurant in the famous southern food trail, it may not always be in that order.
Poliquitings @ Sulyap Gallery Café and Restaurant, San Pablo City
On one road trip, my family did all that at Sulyap Gallery Café and Restaurant, a two-storey turn-of-the-century house transplanted from Quezon Province and rebuilt in San Pablo City, Laguna. Outfitted with the owners’ antique pieces, it is a place where diners can partake of local cuisine and a cultural experience at the same time. Continue reading
Bacolod City, the Philippines
October 29, 2011
Bacolod is the self-proclaimed City of Smiles, and it is serious with the nick. City officials in the 80s invented an annual Rio-esque extravaganza around a smiling mask, the MassKara Festival, celebrated in October. Unlike the comedy-tragedy masks of ancient Greek theater, the MassKara shows only half of the pair – the smiling one.
Tourist in my Hometown: Bacolod – The City of Smiles
Clueless about my hometown’s tourist draw, I recently learned that the MassKara (a portmanteau of mass and face – “a multitude of smiling faces”) was established in 1980 when the price of sugar, the city’s primary export, plummeted to a record low and 700 people perished, including my brother’s friend Edwina, in the sinking of M/V Don Juan. The people needed to be reminded to smile, even if it was a mask they had to put on. Nevertheless, the symbolic smile had endured the vicissitudes of life and the sugar economy. It’s an unwritten decree: No sad face in this city, only a smiley. Continue reading
February 18, 2012
When I think of Chinese landscape paintings, an image of a body of water framed by distant mountains comes to mind. A bridge casts a perfect reflection on its mirror surface. A solitary boat ripples its glassy calmness. Drooping willow trees kiss its shore. Pagodas pierce through the mist. Such rustic delicacy had been recreated by the ink and brush of Chinese artists through the dynasties.
In Hangzhou, less than an hour by train from Shanghai, the painting magically comes to life. The city’s famous West Lake (Xī Hú) epitomizes the traditional Chinese aesthetic, not only in visual arts but also in verse.
West Lake (Xī Hú) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China