Sunday, July 31, 2011

Remembering Cory today

Today is Pres. Cory Aquino's 2nd death anniversary. I am still moved with emotion every time I think of Cory, EDSA and those turbulent days. Am sharing thoughts I wrote two years ago while watching Cory's funeral cortege:


We bid farewell to our Icon of Democracy. As I watch her funeral cortege on TV I write this from my Marinduque house in tears now and then. I never got the chance to shake Cory’s hand. But I remember...

I was a Marcos and Imelda fan before Ninoy Aquino was shot dead at the airport tarmac that hot Sunday in August 1983. It was probably the result of constantly following for over a decade, on government-television, all his speeches, all her affairs and all the glitter that went with them.

But then before Ninoy’s arrival reports were already abuzz that he’d be assassinated upon arrival. Which was why Salvador Laurel organized a sizeable crowd to meet Ninoy at the airport to surround the returning Marcos nemesis. When the flash reports came out that Aquino had been killed at the airport, I remember that the streets of Manila were practically deserted, with people glued to TV-sets wanting to know more details.

I didn’t join the long kilometric line of people at Ninoy’s wake in Sto. Domingo Church although most of my friends did. I had mixed feelings watching the unending stream of humanity go by during the long funeral cortege to Manila Memorial. Something in me still rejected the notion that the Marcoses had anything to do with the crime committed...

But not too long after that, a diplomatic official of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila, where I was working then as office manager, asked me what I thought of the assassination. I replied coldly: How could someone like Galman who was supposedly with the Left have entered the tarmac and have previous knowledge that Ninoy would not be allowed to pass through the passenger exit like the rest of the passengers, but be brought down by the security forces to the runway? It reeked with conspiracy.

Then I found myself part of the regular Friday rallies at Ayala and Paseo de Roxas, that eventually led to the snap elections, that led to the Tagumpay ng Bayan rally at the Luneta where a million people converged and remained oh so deafeningly quiet listening to every word that came forth from Cory’s mouth. At another rally in Liwasang Bonifacio, my mother, she was 66 then, wanted to see Cory in person and joined me. We both never got the chance to even touch Cory’s hand.

When Marcos and family fled in the evening of the fourth day of the people power revolution in February 1986, the jubilation, shouting and happy faces at EDSA could only be described as that of a people’s collective realization that there was freedom at last. Someone around remarked that the final Liberation of Manila in 1945, must have been like it. A bonfire was lit near the gate of Camp Crame and I, together with some close friends, joined the people dancing around it. Some of Cory’s close supporters were there including Tingting Cojuangco who also joined that ‘liberation dance’.

With Cory’s installation as the revolutionary president there was more euphoria. Weeks later the local papers bannered news stories that a Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to the Filipino people for that peaceful revolution. “Smilets Revolusjon”, the smiling revolution, was the first book co-written about EDSA only within a few weeks after the victory by Bjorn Egil Eide and Terje Svaboe, the authors, well-known Norwegian correspondents had made Manila their base to follow the events as they unfolded. But the peace would be besieged with coup threats that Cory, clearly serving singularly to restore democracy and the democratic institutions, survived only because of her unwavering faith that we all knew.

But I wondered what I, an anonymous soul among the old Cory crowd, could do somehow in my own way to help her regime survive. I checked the PLDT directory and traced the address of Raul Manglapus, a former exile who I knew did propaganda work in the U.S. against the regime of Marcos, and known close friend of Ninoy. I came up with a proposal to pursue the Nobel Peace Prize angle.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee created by the Storting, Norwegian Parliament and could only be given to individuals (not to a people), who’ve made exemplary political achievements the year following its announcement. I wrote to Manglapus about the need for somebody to work quietly for the nomination of Cory for the Nobel Prize and not assume that someone else is doing the work. He immediately responded with a phone call and invited me to his house in San Lorenzo village. To make a long story shorter, to fulfil the nomination requirement, he eventually made representations with the U.P. president, Jose Abueva to make a formal nomination and I was given a copy. Later, Manglapus confirmed to me that separate nominations were also made for Cory by Nobel laureates, Lech Walesa and Desmond Tutu whom he had some earlier political association with during his exile as a human rights activist and Christian democrat.

Then on my part, when the opportunity came, I was able to arrange through Manglapus an exclusive interview with Cory in Malacanang by Eide and Svaboe to be telecast, for several installments, on the Norwegian government television, NRK (Norsk Rikringskasting). Soon, Aftenposten and Arbeiderbladet, Norway’s biggest newspapers were featuring Cory as the number one favorite from among a shortlist of other nominees for the peace prize, with full page color features on her. There were many phone exchanges between Manglapus and me following those developments, and I sent him clippings from the Norwegian dailies that were sent by diplomatic pouch to the Embassy.

A couple of days before the announcement by the Nobel committee in October 1987, Reuters picked up the alarming news (not played up locally), that Cory was set to declare martial law following another failed coup attempt. Finally, it was not Cory... The Nobel Peace Prize that year went to relatively unknown Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica. The embassy diplomats told me on the day of the announcement that Sanchez was way below the shortlist of nominees but the Nobel committee apparently opted for a “safe” winner. They couldn’t afford to give the award to someone who might indeed declare martial law later.

I thought how wrong they were, because a Nobel would precisely discourage what Cory described as “dambuhala” from staging more coups.

A few more days after the announcement Larry Henares wrote on his Inquirer column “Make My Day”, details on how the coup plotters robbed Cory of her peace prize; how her enemies intercepted phone calls and used the foreign media to alarm the Nobel committee that she was set to declare martial law - precisely to thwart the awarding of the world’s most prestigious and most coveted award to Cory.

I would have been the happiest person on that day in October 1987. But too bad, there were no cellphones yet that could have prevented buggers and interceptors from doing further disservice and evil deeds against those on the side of truth and freedom. I just wonder now if ever they regretted that, or remain pleased that they had the power to destroy an idea that could only be good for the country including themselves.

But in the final analysis, who needs a Nobel Peace Prize, our democracy has been restored and it is up to us, Filipinos, to protect it and keep it going. And Cory who fought for it with resolve is resting now in blissful peace in the company of her solitary hero, Ninoy. A whole nation is in deep gratitude to the woman who awarded us with Peace, Democracy and Love. Goodbye Cory!

Malik-e-Maidan, Bijapur

There are many interesting sights in Bijapur (State: Karnataka). One among them is Malik-e Maidan.

Malik-e Maidan ("Lord of the Battlefield") is a massive cannon located on the top of the Sherzah Burj. It was considered to be largest weapon in medieval times. The 8.5m long and 1.6m wide cannon weights 55 tons.

The head of the cannon is fashioned into the shape of a lion's head with open jaws trying to devour an elephant. This huge cannon is a cast of alloy of copper, iron and tin.

The outside surface is shining and adorned with inscriptions in Persian and Arabic.

Kadayawan Festival

Kadayawan Festival

August is a merry month in Davao City, because it is on this month that Dabawenyos celebrate a thanksgiving for the year's blessings of bountiful harvest of flowers, fruits and other agricultural produce, and honor the city's richness and diversity of artistic, cultural and historical heritage in a grand annual celebration called Kadayawan Festival. The festival is celebrated every 3rd Week of August

The Kadayawan Festival has its roots. Long time ago, Davao’s ethnic tribes residing at the foot of Mount Apo gather after a bountiful harvest in a ritual called "Pahinungod" to honor the gods, the "Manama" (Supreme Being) in thanksgiving.

Different farming implements, fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice and corn grains were presented on mats as villagers pay their respect and give thanks to Manama for the year's bounties. Singing, dancing and offerings to their gods ensued which are the highlights of this ritual. While times may have changed, Pahinungod still remains in practise by modern day Dabawenyos. This tradition flourished and eventually evolved into an annual festival of thanksgiving.

Davao City is the Fruit Basket of the Philippines

In the 1970's, the then mayor of Davao City, Elias B. Lopez, initiated a yearly festival among the natives of Davao, the Lumad, and all the Muslim tribes of Davao City in a showcase of their dances and rituals as a way of thanksgiving. Mayor Elias B. Lopez himself was from a Bagobo tribe.

Davao City Mayor Elias B. Lopez
(1968 to 1971, and 1981 to 1986)

In 1986, the city government initiated a program called "Unlad Proyekto Davao," whose objective was to unite the Dabawenyos after the turbulent Martial Law era. The festivity was called "Apo Duwaling," in honor of the three royalties of Davao: The word "Apo" was taken from Mount Apo, the King of Philippines Peaks, the country's highest mountain peak at 10,311 feet above sea level; "Du" came from Durian, the King of Tropical Fruits; and "Waling" from Waling-Waling, the Queen of Orchids, all of which Davao is famous for. Apo Duwaling was meant to promote Davao City as a peaceful destination in Mindanao.

The following are the three royalties of Davao, from which the festivity called Apo Duwaling was coined:

Mount Apo, the King of Philippines Peaks

Durian, the King of Tropical Fruits

Waling-Waling, the Queen of Orchids

Two years later, in 1988, then mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, renamed the festival to "Kadayawan sa Dabaw." The word "Kadayawan" is derived from the friendly greeting "Madayaw," from the Dabawenyo word "Dayaw" which means "good," "valuable," "superior" or "something that brings good fortune." Mayor Duterte envisioned the festivity as a way for the people of Davao to celebrate the bountiful harvest of Davao's produce as well as the wealth of the city's cultures. 

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte
(Three-term office from 1988 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010) 

Today, the Kadayawan continues to honor every year the city's richness and diversity of its artistic, cultural and historical heritage personified by the ancestral Lumads, as the people of Davao celebrate on the streets, and together with its floral industry as its representatives parade in full regalia in a grand celebration of thanksgiving for all of city's blessings.

Kadayawan is a celebration of life

Kadayawan Festival interfaces three aspects: tribal, industrial, arts and entertainment. It is a week-long celebration which is highlighted with a parade of floral floats, street-dancing competitions, and exhibits that showcase the island's tourism products and services.

Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan

The two of the biggest parades of the festival are often held during weekends: The street dancing, called "Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan", is done on a Saturday, while the floral float parade on a Sunday.

Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan has two main components: The first is the street parade, where performers groove it up while parading along pre-selected routes of the city which are usually along the streets of Claro M. Recto, San Pedro, Pelayo, Bonifacio, Ponciano, and Roxas Avenue. The second is the showdown, where the very same performers compete traditionally held at the San Pedro Street. The parade normally takes place in the morning, while the showdown starts in the afternoon and ends in the evening.

Street dance formation

Indak-Indak sa Kadalanan has become a widely popular entertainment as it features distinctively Mindanaoan beat and costumes. Many foreign tourists visit Davao City to witness and join-in with the hundreds of Dabawenyos dancing vigorously in the streets, who are clad in their colorful native attire and carrying extravagant props. 

This annual competition is open to any group, organization, institution, or community. Participating Mindanao-based contingents showcase the festival of their own locality, while participating Davao City-based contingents interpret the Kadayawan festival based on Mindanaoan folklore, myths or legends. 

Prizes for the best in performance, in costumes and parade are given to the winning participants which may range from P10,000 to P300,000.

Floral Float

Pamulak Kadayawan

On the other hand, the floral float parade, called "Pamulak Kadayawan", is a spectacular parade of flowers and fruits set in colorful floats by participating business establishments, community assemblies and organizations as they proudly promenade on the streets symbolizing all the year's bounty enjoyed by the city's residents.

The competition is open to any person, group, organization, institution or company. It has three categories, namely, Small (maximum size of 8 feet x 16 feet), Big (over 8 feet x 16 feet) and Alternative (use of miniature cars, golf carts, mini tractors, push carts, karo, kalesa, pedicabs or similar vehicles, motorized, mechanical or animal driven).

The competing floral floats are required to use at least 80 percent fresh flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables as medium, while non-competing entries are required to use at least 10 percent. Prizes are also given to the best float from P50,000 to a whooping P500,000, judging on symbolismdesign and execution.

For more information and latest updates, please visit the Kadayawan Official Website:

The United Colors of Kadayawan

Hurricane alert

Hey there. We're busy enjoying life here but just wanted to say hi. There's a potential hurricane coming our way which is now located around 650 miles East of the Antilles, and as we're located as North up as St Lucia in this moment, we now need to make a quick plan for how to save ourselves and our boat from this seasons first hurricane. Will be back with more info later on.... if we survive the cyclone that is... can be interesting. Laters.

Walking Directions To Ortigas Buildings From MRT Shaw Station

This article shows you the walking directions from MRT Shaw Station to the important institutions and buildings located to the south-west part of Ortigas Center. Below are the names of these significant places. Check if your destination is listed here, then read the directions that start at the train station. If your building destination is not listed here, visit other chapters of how to get to the buildings in Ortigas Center, click HERE.

Citiland Shaw Tower
Crossing Department Stores
EDSA Shangri-La Hotel
Lourdes School of Mandaluyong
Medical Plaza
One San Miguel Avenue

Richmonde Hotel
San Miguel Properties Centre
Shangri-La Plaza Mall
SM Mega Mall Building B
St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church
The Alegro @ Sonata
The St. Francis Shangri-La Place

Here's how to get to any of these buildings from MRT Shaw Station:

MRT Shaw Station is big. If you get out via wrong exit, you'll get to the wrong side. And it's long before you get to right directions because you need to wait for pedestrian green signals, it's a long wait because this is a crossing of two busy main thoroughfares. So, if you want to get to your destination real quick, follow this: If you get off the train from Taft Station, use the escalator located towards the front of the train. If the train you're riding comes from North Station, the escalator to take is the one near to the rear of the train. From the turnstiles (exit machines), go right. That's the side going to Ortigas Center south-west area.

Shaw Station is connected to Shangri-La Plaza Mall, just go straight and enter the mall at the end of the walkway. Crossing Department Store is inside Shangri-La Plaza. Just go down to the lobby, take the hallway that goes south east and walk past National Bookstore. Crossing Department Store is to the other end of the mall.

Going to SM Mega Mall Building B, where Cyberzone is situated at fourth level, take the stairs to the left of MRT walkway. In the ground, just walk and cross Internal Avenue (you'll see the road sign) until you get to the open parking space that leads to the entrance of SM Mega Mall B.

From the foot of the stairs, go right at the corner of Shangri-La Plaza building. Walk along the edge of the mall past main entrance until you see the signage of EDSA Shangri-La Hotel to the left of Internal Avenue. Use the pedestrian lane to get to the side entrance of the hotel down the slope. The St. Francis Shangri-La Place also known as The St. Francis Shangri-La Towers 1 & 2 is situated next to Shangri-La Plaza Mall along Internal Avenue. Just walk past the sign of EDSA Shangri-La Hotel and towards the end of Internal Avenue until you get to the tall twin tower skyscraper which is exactly situated at the corner of Internal Avenue and Saint Francis Street. That's St. Francis Shangrila-la Place.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church is just across St. Francis Street opposite the corner of Internal Avenue. Now, if you go right from Internal Avenue corner St. Francis Street, you get to Shaw Boulevard where Citiland Shaw Tower stands next to St. Francis Shangri-La Place. The entrance of Lourdes School of Mandaluyohg is just across St. Francis Shangri-La Place.

If you go left on St. Francis Street from Internal Avenue, you'll see San Miguel Properties Centre building from the distance, situated to the right of St. Francis Street. To go there, you need to cross St. Francis Street first from the corner of Internal Avenue. Walk along St. Francis, cross Lourdes Drive, to get to the building. The Alegro is situated right at the corner of Lourdes Drive and St. Francis Street, just before the San Miguel Porperties Centre building. Richmonde Hotel is situated to the other end of Lourdes Drive. Just walk along Lourdes Drive up to San Miguel Avenue. Richmonde Hotel is across San Miguel Avenue, to the other corner. Medico is opposite Richmonde Hotel to the left cornner. And Medical Plaza is next to Medico along San Miguel Avenue.

If you're going to One San Miguel Avenue building which is situated at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and San Miguel Avenue, follow this: From the turnstile, walk towards the entrance of Shangri-La Plaza Mall. Before you get to the mall entrance there's stairs to the right of the walkway that leads to the ground where EDSA and Shaw Boulevard intersects. Take that stairs to get to the corner, go left on Shaw Boulevard, walk past Shangri-la Plaza, cross St. Francis Street until you get to San Miguel Avenue where this skyscraper stands. It's only 8 to 12-minute walk and the distance between EDSA and San Miguel Avenue is approximately 492 meters. If it's way too far for you to walk, then read the article that explains how to commute to the buildings located along San Miguel Avenue from MRT Shaw Station. Click HERE.

Click the red pins to see the building names.

If you're looking for a direction to a building inside Ortigas Center CBD, go to the following chapters of this topics:
Commute To Ortigas Center Buildings From MRT Shaw Station - click HERE
How To Commute From EDSA To Buildings Inside Ortigas Center - click HERE
Walking Directions From MRT Station To Ortigas Center Buildings - click HERE

Discover few simple ways not to miss new and upcoming articles on commuting and driving directions to lots of places in Metro Manila. Click HERE.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bonsai Forest

Bonsai Forest in Mount Hamiguitan

Bonsai is a widely popular and quite expensive pursuit of art form where specific species of trees suitable for bonsai development are meticulously cut and shaped to restrict its growth; with its crown defoliated, and root pruned, and grafted periodically to make them small and compact purposely to mimic the shape and style of mature, full-grown trees. It is an ancient art form that has become a tradition in Japan and other Asian countries. But, in the Philippines, particularly in Davao Oriental, Mindanao, Bonsai trees are naturally grown and shaped over time, untouched by human hands.

This unique wonder of nature can only be found in the lush forest of Mount Hamiguitan located within the boundaries of Mati, Governor Generoso, and San Isidro, Davao Oriental. Popularly known as "Bonsai Forest", it is the Philippines' largest and only protected forest noted for its unique bonsai field or 'pygmy' forest of outstanding universal value. It sits in an elevation of 5,345 feet above sea level, covering a sprawling area of almost a thousand hectares of 16 species of century-old bonsai trees of twisted trunks and branches that grow naturally to an average height of about 1.4 meters. The bonsai trees are very sturdy that one can literally stand over it without falling. Because of the rampant timber poaching, illegal logging, and over harvesting of forest products and resources, Mt. Hamiguitan and its vicinities was declared a protected area under the category of wildlife sanctuary and its peripheral areas as buffer zone by virtue of Republic Act 9303 on July 30, 2004.

Mount Hamiguitan is a declared protected area

The entire Mount Hamiguitan covers a land area of about 31,000 hectares and is home to many endemic, rare, endangered and economically important flora and fauna, and is part of the reason why the Philippines ranks seventh among the 17 biologically rich countries of the world that represent fast disappearing habitats of globally important species of plants and animals. 

Mount Hamiguitan is considered ultramafic. It has a kind of soil that contains high level of heavy metallic compounds that makes it suitable for bonsai trees to grow naturally. Unlike other ultramafic forests in the Philippines, Mount Hamiguitan has several special and unique species of century old miniature trees. 

Bonsai Tree at the peak of Mount Hamiguitan 

Philippines' largest and only protected forest
noted for its unique bonsai forest of outstanding universal value

A typical form of a natural bonsai tree
about 1.4 meters tall, century old, twisted trunks and branches

Mossy-Pygmy forest

Hidden inside the thick bonsai forest are living trees that seem lifeless at a first glance due to its unusual branch structure and color. This plant community exists at the Mossy-Pygmy forest of Mount Hamiguitan.

This is one of the 10 amphibian species identified in Mount Hamiguitan
wherein seven of which are endemic to the Philippines

Nepenthes Peltata

Nepenthes Peltata is one of the three tropical pitcher plant species that can be found only in the upper slopes of Mount Hamiguitan. It is a plant species endemic only in the Philippines and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Full grown pitcher plant

Full grown orchid

Almaciga Bonsai Tree

Shown in above photograph is a full grown but waist-high Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis) bonsai tree which is already bearing fruit. Normally, Almaciga grows at a height of 15 meters or so at its natural habitat with a diameter cannot be embraced by two persons joining hands together. 

Tinagong Dagat atop Mount Hamiguitan

Tinagong Dagat (Hidden Sea) is situated a thousand feet above sea level, atop Mount Hamiguitan. The site is uninhabited and considered as one of the most puzzling phenomena of nature; a mysterious lake having high and low tide cycles as if a sea rises in the mountain - only in Mount Hamiguitan.

Unusual rock formation in Mount Hamiguitan

 Twin Falls

Twin Falls is an identical cascade of waters situated in Barangay La Union, near the Bonsai Forest. It is a popular stop-over to mountaineers and trekkers where they refresh after a stressful journey in and out of Mount Hamiguitan.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lalbagh Flower Show - Orchids - 7

At flower show in Lalbagh Gardens at Bangalore on January 2011 there were exclusive collection of Orchids on display. The colors were amazing. Below are some of the orchids on display:

There were stalls selling the Orchids plants outside the flower show. The price ranged from Rupees 600 to 1200 depending on the variety.

For more visit Today's Flowers

In Martinique

Beautiful sunny day in Marin, Martinique today. We're awaiting parts of Alex family to finally arrive here this afternoon and then to leave with them for a week of sailing in St Vincent and the Grenadines. I guess it will be quite quiet here in the blog for the next few days but I'll try to give you an update if and when I find the time. For now it's all about family time and quality relaxation. Have a good weekend you all.

Iwrestledabearonce - You Know That Ain’t Them Dogs' Real Voices

Iwrestledabearonce is back with their new song "You Know That Ain't Them Dogs' Real Voices". Enjoy!