Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha

In Orchha (State: Madhya Pradesh) apart from palaces other attractions are temples in the city. One of the major attraction in the city is Chaturbhuj Temple, built between the years 1558 and 1573 by Raja Madhukar. (Click on the images for bigger picture)

Built upon a massive stone platform and it is reached by a steep flight of steps. This is a huge temple that has plenty of light and space inside. The temple has a huge cross-shaped congregation hall that caters to devotees. Conical spires crown the sanctuary of the spacious temple. The temple was specially constructed to enshrine the image of Rama that queen got from Ayodha. But this could not happen and the image of Rama remained in the Ram Raja Temple forever.

Lotus emblems and other symbols provide the delicate exterior ornamentation. The doorway is crafted beautifully.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Food Therapy: Plataforma Churrascaria

I love meat.  I know that you're never supposed to say never, but I will never be a vegetarian.  It just ain't gonna happen.  Let me reiterate: I love meat.  And every so often, I get a HUGE hankering for lots and lots of meat.  When this happens, I head to Plataforma Churrascurria Rodizio (located at 316 W 49th St (b/w 8th & 9th Ave), NY, NY; there's also one located in Tribeca but it's not as good).  They serve different cuts of meat at your table Brazilian-style!  It's a prix-fixe:  $56.95 per person.

Don't make what Sunshine and I like to call "the amateur move."  There is a very tempting buffet in the middle of the restaurant filled with salad, so-so sushi, shrimp cocktail, etc (you get the idea).  Avoid the buffet at all cost!  Everything at the buffet is just filler!!

If you're at Plataforma, you're there for meat.  Just go for it!  Each person is given a paper coaster.  One side is red (which indicates that you don't want meat) and one side is green (which indicates that you do want meat).  Slap that little coaster on the table so that the green side is facing up.  You want meat.

Here are staple cuts/meats that you can expect:  (They will also bring out filler-meats such as chicken wrapped in bacon, sausage, fish, etc...don't get the fillers!!)
  • Sirloin Steak:  This is my FAVORITE!!  It's tasty, tender and juicy.  It's best when you ask for it rare.  Go for medium rare if you can't stomach such redness.
  • Flank Steak:  This is a tasty cut but not as tender as the sirloin.
  • Prime Rib:  Sunshine loves this cut...maybe because you get bigger pieces?  It's good but after one slice, I go back to the sirloin.
  • BBQ Pork Ribs:  These bbq ribs were surprisingly decent - not because they were smoked nicely but because they were tender and the bbq sauce is sweet-ish and sloppy.
  • Dinosaur Beef Ribs:  Beef ribs are a favorite of mine (especially smoked beef ribs), but they're very had to do right.  And these were unfortunately not done right.  They were dry and tasteless.  So skip these...I know, they look impressive but they're not worth your stomach space.

They used to bring all the sides to your table but now you have to select your sides (there's no limit).  My favorite sides are mashed potatoes, fried bananas and this sauce to put on your meats:

Yummy-Yummy Tip:  They used to have asparagus risotto at the buffet (back when I was an amateur (gasp!), I would start with the buffet) but now they have sun-dried tomato risotto at the buffet.  The sun-dried tomato risotto is good but not as good as the asparagus risotto.  The former is much heavier (more cheese?) so it fills you up quickly.  Don't get hooked on it.  If you ask nicely, they will make the lighter asparagus risotto.

Dessert is NOT included in the prix-fixe price (nor are drinks).   But the dessert cart is truly scrumptious looking.  If you love sweets the way I do, you will end up getting dessert despite being full beyond belief.  We ended up getting this chocolate mousse cake to share:

It was okay.  The liquor mixed into the chocolate mousse was a surprise (an unwanted surprise).  I should have ordered the regular chocolate mousse or the creme brulee:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kalutang Playing Preservation

Kalutang playing is unique to Marinduque. Originally used as auditory signal by farmers, it later came to be associated with the moriones in the town of Gasan. Then in the 70's Tirso Serdena, a farmer, developed a series of kalutang pairs and used them together with other players to play popular folk melodies. It is now considered part of the town's - and Marinduque's - cultural treasures.

The National Commission for Culture & the Arts (NCCA), municipal government of Gasan, Gasan DepEd and Serdena organized a project to teach the art of kalutang playing to elementary and high school students in Gasan town. All recognize the importance of handing down this skill to the next generation. Selected students from 15 elementary schools and 5 secondary schools were trained by Serdeno.

Bong and PA Abling

Bong Carrion, outgoing governor of Marinduque expressing his thanks to employees of the provincial government during the last flag raising-ceremony he attended at the capitol compound.

The exit of Carrion, Pizarro and their allies at the provincial board was marred with accusations of 'midnight re-allignment' for purchase of the day-care learning packages.

The mild-mannered provincial administrator Juan Roberto L. Abling, whose term is co-terminus with the governor also took time out to express his thanks and personal thoughts on the issue.

Random Thought: Easy-Bake Oven & Cabbage Patch Kids

After watching Toy Story 3 this weekend, I have two toy-related childhood stories to share with all of you.  The first story popped-into my head while I was pondering my penchant for foods cooked in the oven (whether it's baking or roasting).  The second story came to mind as I was writing the first story.  Here goes...

Story 1:  As a little girl, the one toy that I really Really REALLY wanted (aside from a Cabbage Patch Kid) was an Easy Bake Oven.  Since my dad was a toy manufacturer for Hasbro back-in-the-day, there really wasn't a good explanation as to why I couldn't get one, right?  Wrong!  Unfortunately for me, my father manufactured dolls.  Easy Bake Oven was under the domain of a completely different division of Hasbro than the one he worked with.  Yes, there were lots of free My Little Ponies and Barbies but really, they couldn't hold a candle to one Easy Bake Oven for me.  

Why not just ask for one when I was in a toy store, you ask?  I don't think I ever bought a single toy in a toy store.  In fact, I was rarely taken to a toy store as a child.  I believe my parents' reasoning (sound for adults but shaky for a kid) was this: why do I need to take my child to the toy store when we can take her to the Hasbro sample toy room?  So I never had the opportunity to come face-to-face with an Easy Bake Oven at a toy store, and do the point-and-pout routine.  

Every now and then, I think about getting an Easy Bake Oven...just to try it once!!  I love using the oven in my kitchen to bake and roast.  Perhaps it's because I was deprived as a child of an Easy Bake Oven?  Did you own one?  Or were you like me and just dreamed about one?  Hmm...maybe I should get one.  How often do you get to fulfill a childhood dream so easily?  (Because I'm sure not buying myself a pony.)

Story 2:  If you're around my age, then you remember how Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage.  Everyone had to have at least one Cabbage Patch Kid.  Let's just say that I was very adamant and vocal about getting one.  I never really asked for toys (I knew I had a lot), but this was one toy that I could not not have.  And yes, they were practically impossible to find in the stores...sold out everywhere.

So what did my dad do?  He had a friend in the toy business give him a fake (hmm..."fake" is not the right word.  Imitation?  Yes, let's use "imitation."), imitation Cabbage Patch Kid.  I was soooo excited when he showed up with it.  But let's be real.  Kids are not dumb.  Kids are really Really REALLY smart when it comes to things they want.  It's really hard to hoodwink a kid with an imitation anything.  What's the first thing I did?  What any kid would have done:  I pulled off the pants of the imitation doll to make sure that it had a signature on its ass.  And then, yes, I threw a huge tantrum when I realized that he tried to give me an imitation Cabbage Patch Kid.

Apparently, my father didn't know about the signature on the ass (for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the company that created Cabbage Patch Kids cleverly stressed the importance of authenticity; every child knew to check the ass of their Cabbage Patch Kid for an authenticity signature).  It was a very clever marketing scheme of the company and it worked: no signature on the ass = not a real Cabbage Patch Kid.  My dad was somewhat bewildered when his daughter started ranting and raving about how the doll wasn't real because it didn't have a signtuare on its ass!

In the end, he came out like a champ.  About a month after the whole hoodwinking incident, I received my very own real Cabbage Patch Kid.  Actually, I received two.  One was a newborn and the other was a red-haired girl with bangs and pigtails.  Life was good.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best Beach Hotels in Goa

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Beach Hotels in Goa
Goa has the reputation of the ultimate party town while it is also unbelievably quaint outside its lush resorts and amidst its abundance of green. The city echoing sounds of inebriating trance, invigorating revelries, flowing alcohol surprises its visitors with its other facades that of sedate serenity. 
Best Beach Hotels in Goa
If the North Goa makes you dance to its tune in the legendary nightclubs the Southern part of the state is way too gentle in its ways which is peppered with various rejuvenating resorts. Goa hotels are mushroomed in between the thick greenery and some are lined by the shores opening their 
Best Beach Hotels in Goa
windowpanes to the breathtaking view of the ocean. The land which pulsates with leisure and gaiety caters to recreational requirements of a large number of tourists in its magnificent resorts and hotels. These hotels in Goa include a number of praiseworthy guesthouses, resorts and hotels.
Goa Beach Hotels
Goa is stuffed with modes of accommodation fitting all price brackets. Essentially a beach town, people visit Goa to bask in the celestial beauty of its beaches and thus prefer to stay near the prime beaches. The beach resorts are the most thus the most preferred mode of accommodation 
Goa Hotelsdefined by blue sea waves and pristine emerald hues. Goa beach hotels are found in aplenty, however for a carefree accommodation option one should rely on the big names or the hotels with five star ratings. Amongst the best of the lot following are ideal retreat for an exciting holidaying experience:
Beach Hotels in Goa
Whispering Palms Beach Resort

Accommodation at Whispering Palms Beach Resort is provided at 106 rooms that blend Goan decor along with contemporary features of architecture. Situated by the beach, the resort is 
Best Beach Hotels in Goa
one uniquely decked in Goan decor and is also contemporary in appeal when it comes to the facilities offered. Each of the rooms is decked with high technology appliances and offers state-of-the-art amenities along with stunning interiors in order to match up to the taste and comfort of the esteemed guest list of the hotel.
Goa Beach Hotels
Zuri White Sands Resort

Amongst Goa beach hotels the name of Zuri White Sands Resort deserves a special mention. The only five star deluxe hotel in entire Varca Goa the resort offers exclusive access to opulent settings and extravagant lifestyle. 
Best Beach Hotels in Goa
The pan Asian to delicious Goan Sea food kitchen of the hotel is long known for its innovative cuisines and for offering an exemplary dining experience. Fun galore at Zuri White Sands Resort with aplenty of recreation activities and world class comforts to choose from.

Beach Hotels in Goa
Ramada Caravela Beach Resort

Overlooking the Arabian Sea, the Resort features a cascading waterfall and a stunning lagoon like pool lies parallel to the balmy beach and the azure sea. The design and construction of the hotel is inspired and designed taking 
Goa Beach Hotels
aspects from Old Goan architecture which surely includes the features from colonial era architecture. The rooms are thus huge with large private balconies and are decked with supreme appliances, antique furnishing and comfortable settings.

Beach Hotels in Goa
These Goa hotels are great cocoons of luxury and comfort. Designed exclusively for those who like to settle in style, these luxury beach properties embodies Goan festive spirit and the bonhomie of its tender and soothing ambiance. To add to the luxury stay apart from big luxurious rooms these hotels offer amenities such as Spa therapies, indoor game facilities, discotheque, casino and various exclusive services apt for a fun-filled Goan treat. 

Goa Beach Hotels

"Putong" for Gov. Bong Carrion

Putong is Marinduque's traditional ritual normally sung and danced by local elderly folks to celebrate a person's milestone. In this video, employees of the provincial capitol perform this ritual on the occasion of Gov. Bong Carrion's 62nd birthday on June 19. Carrion also ends his term as Marinduque governor on June 30, 2010.

Video also features some of Marinduque's colors, tourist attractions, events, people and festivals.

Gov. Carrion's Day-Care Learning Program

About the provincial government of Marinduque's Day-Care Learning Program. IT company Pisces Publishing, Inc. provides the instructional software programs and services where day-care workers had to undergo a basic computer literacy program.

Research showed that fifty percent of a person's ability to learn is developed in the first four years of life according to research findings, and that another thirty percent is developed by the 8th birthday. As disclosed by DepEd only 12% of every 100 grade 1 pupils are ready for school.

For the volunteer day-care workers who teach the young kids, the program provides powerful but simple-to-use tools to diagnose, track and report on day-care children's knowledge and progress. The software allows children to learn independently with lively animation, vivid videos and photos.

The program is formulated to help children develop thinking skills, reading, listening and visual comprehension, analytical skills, grammar, spelling, pronunciation, memory development and problem-solving skills.

Pisces Publication's representative Elmer Dioquino explains to the day-care workers in this video the features of the instructional software learning program at their disposal.

Ram Raja Temple, Orchha

In Orchha (State: Madhya Pradesh) the architecture of the 16th century temple with its soaring spires is very different from any other temple in India. It is also the only place in the country where Lord Rama is worshipped as a King. (Click on the images for bigger picture)

This temple was originally the queen's palace of the Bundela King Madhukar Shah. There is a legend associated with it. The queen being an devotee of Lord Rama had got an idol of Rama from Ayodha to be kept in a newly built temple. She was told that, once the idol is kept down for the first time in Orchha, it can not be later moved out.

It so happened that, when queen arrived in Orchha, the new temple the Chaturbhuj Temple built for the Lord Rama was not still ready. Due to this the idol was placed in Queen's palace for the day. But, later it could not be relocated from this place. Because of this the palace was converted into a temple.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A visit to Mark Twain's Hannibal, Mo.

Reporting from Hannibal, Mo. — It was long after dark when Henry Sweets brought me to Hannibal's Old Baptist Cemetery, "a graveyard of the old-fashioned Western kind." No moon. Ragged weeds, crumbling gravestones. We tried to tread lightly, but it had been raining, and mud grabbed at our shoes. Down at the bottom of the hill, the Mississippi churned. I had to smile, because here I was, three decades removed from 11th grade, still slogging through American literature.

This, as Sweets explained, was the cemetery Mark Twain remembered when he imagined the midnight murder of Doc Robinson in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"— grave markers leaning every which way, Tom and Huck hiding behind a tree, and the treacherous Injun Joe burying a knife in his victim's chest.
read article

Video on central Marinduque

The 82-year old former governor Aristeo Lecaroz' (left in photo below), dream of central Marinduque development continues to be cherished by some local leaders. Some see it as a future haven for eco-tourism where, because of its cool climate, could also serve as ideal location for retirees' villages. Others see it as a promising site where academic institutions could rise.

(Lecaroz with Carrion)

Model Trains -- All Aboard!

The '20s & '30s Modular Model Railroad recreates the Golden Age of railroading modeled in 1:87 HO scale. Members build and transport their own six-foot-long modules which depict North American railroading during the period from 1920 through December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. Started in 1991 by Charley Hepperle, seventeen members have built a total of 35 modules, many of which were on display at the National Model Railroad Association Train Show in San Jose, California in August 2000. Each module or group of modules meets standards for interface such as rail location, height and electrical connections so that each can connect with another. The club sets up at public shows in Southern California about six times a year.
read more End Of The Season Sale! is having an End Of The Season Sale!!  A huge selection of handbags are now 40 - 50% off!  On top of this lovely sale, get a free gift with purchase (a necklace or leather pouch) when you spend $400+ on sale merchandise (GWP offer expires 6/30/10).

Here are my picks:
  • Botkier Logan Satchel ($375) in black:  This soft lambskin bag is just structured enough that you can take it to work!
  • Botkier Trigger Moto Clutch ($147.50) in silver:  Still looking for a clutch/cross-body bag for  a fun girls' night out?  The Trigger Moto Clutch is a no-brainer.
  • Hayden Harnett Biblio Bag ($334.80) in grape shine:  Yay!!  The Biblio Bag is now on sale!  Save your 40% Survey Discount for another bag (to get AA Survey Discount, read this post: Take Survey & Get 40% Off Code!!). 
  • Linea Pelle Dylan Medium Tote ($249) in espresso:  This is a great price for the Dylan Medium tote.  Grab this soft and smooshy dark brown tote while it lasts!
  • Linea Pelle Dylan Folding Clutch ($97.50) in dark olive:  Sometimes, all you need is a casual clutch/cross-body bag for a day at the park or a stroll around the city.  The Dylan Folding Clutch is a great choice!
[Images Courtesy of]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yet, Marinduque remains at peace

Communities in Marinduque remain peaceful and insurgency-free nearly a year after the internal security operations of the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) was turned over to the province’s Peace and Order Council (PPOC). The continuing peaceful status is attributed to the effective maintenance of security by the local government as well as the PPOC's observance of the provisions embodied in the Memorandum of Agreement. Marinduque was the first province to be declared insurgency-free by the AFP.

(Gov. Carrion and AFP Southern Luzon Command Chief Roland Detabali after MOA signing)

One of the commitments made by the PPOC as stipulated in the MOA between PPOC chairman Governor Jose Antonio Carrion, the AFP, and of the PNP was for the province to “use reasonable resources to ensure that the CPP-NPA will not be able to influence any political subdivision of the province” as well as to “conduct activities designed to prevent resurgence of the communist terrorists in the province of Marinduque”.

Marinduque had 20 NPA affected barangays in 2004; this number reduced to zero by 2008. As for NPA’s strength, it had 47 armed members during the years 2004-2007 but had been reduced to zero by 2008.

(Village children in interior Boac at play with the Bulating)

To date, two of Region 14-B's, or MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) provinces, the other being Romblon, have been declared free of CPP-NPA influence. Romblon was declared free of NPA influence on December 2009.

“With the absence of NPA intimidation and terrorism in the province of Marinduque, the people began to experience progress as the business climate and tourist arrivals improve”, said Brig. Gen Francisco N. Cruz Jr, Civil Relations Service commander.

(Malbog Sulfuric Hot Spring, Buenavista)

“We appreciate the local executives in these insurgency free areas for having been our active partners in securing their respective communities. They can be assured that with the primary responsibility of internal security operations transferred to them, the AFP shall always support them. We hope for other provinces and locales to experience this as well, how it is to be free from fear and harassment”, said Cruz

(Maniwaya beach, Sta. Cruz. Boracay of the future)

Source: balita-dot-ph

Video Review: Treesje's Runaway Mini

Here's my video review of Treesje's Runaway Mini in black!  It's from Treesje's JETT Collection.  It's a washed lambskin tote with gunmetal hardware (yes, Yes, YES to gunmetal hardware!!).  I know what you're it a zip tote?  There's no zipper for the main compartment but it's not wide open either.  There are three magnetic closures at the top.

Here's a pix of the Runaway Mini (without the shoulder strap):

The leather is crazy soft and smooshy!  This would make a fantastic black tote for Fall, right?  If the Runaway Mini is too small for you (it's 12.5" tall and 11" wide), consider the Runaway (it's 16" tall and 13" wide).  That would be a very stuffable bag! 30% Off All Cross-Body Bags!!

I'm pretty vocal about my current obsession for cross-body bags.  So I'm thrilled about's Cross-Body Bag sale: take an extra 30% off ALL cross-body bags!!  So many to choose from...which ones will make the cut?

These fab four reign supreme for me: (Note:  Price reflect 30% discount.)
  • Rebecca Minkoff Eyelet Rocker ($206.50) in pale grey:  Sometimes leather feels a bit heavy for summer but the combo of pale grey and eyelet detailing lightens things up!  This is such a cute bag!
  • Treesje Jovi Crossbody ($255.50) in viola:   I like that this lilac version of Treesje's Jovi is more pretty than edgy.  It's such a gorgeous shade of light purple!
  • Botkier Venice Feed Bag ($244.30) in naked:  Need a more substantial/functional cross body bag?  Then Botkier's Venice Feed Bag is for you!
  • Rebecca Minkoff Main Squeeze Foldover ($276.50) in pale grey:  This RM bag is for you ladies who like to tote around a little more than you should (that's me!) on the weekends.  Sunshine is always wondering why my bags are so heavy...I don't have a good explanation for him.
[Images Courtesy of] - THE handbag site for coolest designers

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Better days with Monte and day-care workers for instructional software training

The introduction of ECCD's Early Childhood Learning Development Program for local kids was met with excitement by day-care workers, parents and barangay leaders who'd eventually pass official resolutions addressed to the governor requesting that their day-care centers be included in the program.

On the part of the IT-company, Pisces Publishing, Inc. that provided the instructional software programs and services, day-care workers had to undergo a basic computer literacy program.

Shown in these photos is an earlier batch of day-care workers during their training. Board member Leticia Monte took up the cudgels to explain to the day-care workers how the new technology could address the learning requirements of young children.

Monte enjoying the exercise. Instructional software programs for kids is a pioneering program of the provincial government.

Monte stressing a point during the training program.

The program for pre-school and kindergarten children is designed to teach them in an entertaining way with the use of lively animation, vivid videos and photos.

Teachers through these software products are provided with simple-to-use tools to diagnose, track and report on day-care children’s knowledge and progress.

The learning package was formulated to help children develop thinking skills, reading, listening and visual comprehension, analytical skills, grammar, spelling, pronunciation, memory development and problem-solving skills.

Trainings and purchases conducted in 2007, 2008, and 2009 for computer-aided instructions, computer aided lessons and applications CD-ROMS. Early recipients were forty-two of Marinduque's day-care centers.