Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chicago Chicago! 5 Must do things in Chicago.

Chicago River
Did you know that the Chicago River is color green because of the clay floor and the algae that grows on that clay?  Well, that's what the guide said during our architectural boat river cruise which by the way is a must- do while in Chicago. 

Here's my five must do things while visiting Chicago:

1. The restaurants! Its a foodie's haven. "Chicago cooking" has been buzzed about in the last couple of years as one Chicago resident described it as "daring, snout-to-tail, chef-driven." 
Blackbird chef Paul Kahan was the first to defy the foie gras ban way back which led to the city repealing the law. Must try are: Purple Pig food from rising star chef Jimmy Barrios who opened Batali's New York restaurants (note: no reservations so best to go off-hours), top Chef winner Steph Izar'ds Girl and the Goat, Maud's Liquor Bar by Chef Jeff Pikus, Boka in Lincoln Park, Naha on Clark, the new Italian-fare Balena. To book a table try 

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate sculpture 
2. Take the  Architectural River Boat cruise. Actually, it  should be the first on your list to give you an orientation of the City, its history and architecture. Note that it was scorching hot this June with temperature as high as 100! So, best to go early to avoid the lines and also wear a hat and sunglasses.

3. The Millenium Park to see the modern  art sculptures laid out in the 9-hectare garden and the iconic Cloud Gate (right photo), the gigantic, biomophic  sculpture made by Anish Kappor. It took him two years to complete this biomophic piece referred to by Chicago residents as 'the bean'. It is huge! 33 x 66 z 42 feet and apparently weighs 110-tons and made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together with a mirror finish. 

with Eileen, Torpedo Los by Lichenstein behind
4. The Museums - top of my list is the Art Institute of Chicago on South Michigan Ave.  I was lucky to catch the retrospective show of Roy Lichenstein (until September 3), the largest exhition so far of the pop artist mounted with more than 160 of his works up. I heard it took four years to mount this exhibit. Also check out the Museum of Science and Industry on Lakeshore Drive. The museum has four floors and special exhibits so allot at least 4-5 hours!! I was able to see the interactive exhibits You! The Experience, Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery and Fast Forward and missed Mythbusters Explosive Exhibition and Smart Home: Green + Wired
If you have more time, go visit Sheld Aquarium which has the largest shark exhibit and tank and the natural history museum,  Field Museum

5. And lastly, go check out the theater scene which now rivals New York. Clybourne Park was first staged by Steepenwolf before winning a Tony for Chicago-playright Bruce Norrisand now playing in New York. Theater! I watched the Million Dollar Quartet, a fun musical about the story of Sun Records producer Sam Philips' last night on December 4, 1956 with his four bankable talents - Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and his then new discovery Jerry Lee Lewis. To get discounted tickets, visit

Last tip, bring your running shoes and run along Lakeshore Drive or Michigan Ave to the Water Tower. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Happy birthday Jose Rizal (June 19)

Jose Rizal, photo from Lopez Museum via Eric Ambata
Philippine alternative filmmaker

In commemoration of our  national hero's -  José Protacio Rizal birth month, internationally acclaimed filmmaker and author Nick Deocampo will trace the beginnings of Philippine cinema signalled by the first feature film on Rizal, and how the history of local cinema has been further enriched by films about him and his works. Deocampo's lecture "Rizal, Cinema and the Filipino Nation" is on June 30 (Saturday) from 2 to 4pm at the Lopez Museum in Ortigas, Pasig.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Twitterville upset with Manny Pacquiao's lost

We're not the only ones not happy with the judges decision, even twitterville celebs reacted to his loss:
Today in the news, ABS-CBN reported that even US Senator Harry Reid has also  expressed his support for an inquiry.  Two out of three judges scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Bradley. Let's see what happens next - most likely scenario is a rematch. Hmm... 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Check out Beat exhibit @ Lopez Museum

Ernest's "Hidalgo, the super multi-dimensional time bandit"
If you want something fresh and different, visit the Lopez Museum at the ground floor of Benpres Building on Exchange Road and check out its current exhibit called Beat.

Husband and wife Chit and Eileen Ramirez curated the exhibit playing with the double entendre of Beat - which can be interpreted as defeat (verb) or rhythm and movement (music).  The exhibit features commissioned works from two contemporary artists Nikki Luna and Ernest Concepcion, juxtaposed against 19th and 20th century masters from Lopez Museum's private collection particularly that of Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo.

Chit said [watch Cityscape clip below] "we wanted to engage the audience to think about what Beat is for them. It is a nice discourse how people would view old masters' works and the contemporary works."  Eileen explains in her curatorial notes  "...By staying on the present tense rather than as the more definitive 'beaten', this exhibition also conscripts the energies of artists Nikki Luna and Ernest Concepcion to effect stagings of confrontation with the difficult the resistant and even the impossible."

Nikki's "Precious and Fertile" installation 
And so Nikki presents her advocacy, her concern for the plight of the farmers of Hacienda Luisita and the various issues faced by indigenous people in their ancestral lands. She said "art should talk about what's happening especially those who are not able to articulate their problem and issues that are usually ignored." For her Precious and Fertile installation, china bone pipes hang atop a mound of soil with a portion of a video documentary on Hacienda Luisita projected on the wall. And for Azucera,  she shaped sugar into diamond resins to represent the value of sugar as produced by farmers.

Spotted Ernest drawing in one of the galleries
Ernest, on the other hand, is creating an epic piece in his Hidalgo, the super mutli-dimensional time bandit installation. He said "I wanted to challenge what the museum has to offer... kind of an action-reaction dynamic."  His artwork is a work-in-progress, spilling out unto the other parts of the museum including the main hallway, unto walls which hang the permanent collection of the museum.

Chit said that at one point their works will connect because of what Ernest is doing. He is hopeful that this will come in to fruition at the end of the six months that Ernest is in Manila (he is based in New York) or at the end of the exhibition run in October. So, if you're lucky like me, you may catch Ernest in action.  

Don't miss Myra Beltran's Mi Ultimo Adios (excerpt from Itim Asu, running time of 5:07) and go all the way down to the Library and view the studies of Hidalgo. The museum is open everyday from 8am to 5pm except Sundays. Tip - do ask for a guided tour and check out their note cards and notebooks for only P100! 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Venus Transit on June 6, 2012

Venus transit  in 2004 (photo from the Internet)
Don't miss one of the rarest of planetary alignments in this century- the Venus Transit on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. This happens every 243 years with pairs of transits eight years apart. Only eight events have occurred since the invention of the telescope: 1631-1639, 1761-1769, 1874-1882 and 2004-June 26, 2012.

Wikipedia says that a Venus Transit takes place when Venus passes directly between the Sun and the Earth, becoming visible against the solar disk. During transit, it will be seen as a small black dot (left photo) moving across the face of the sun.  The transit in 2004 lasted six hours.

Well, we are quite lucky because this rare event is entirely visible in the Asia-Pacific region  (refer to chart below). According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical And Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), there are four named 'contacts' during a transit - this is, when the circumference of Venus touches the circumference of the sun at a single point. The contact points are (Manila time) at 6:09 am when Venus is outside the disk of the Sun;  6:27 am when Venus is entirely inside the disk of the Sun moving inward; 9:29a m when Venus is entirely inside the disk of the Sun, moving outward; 12:31pm when Venus is entirely outside the disk of the Sun, moving outward; and at 12:49 pm, the greatest transit, when Venus is at the middle of its path across the solar disk and marks the halfway point in the timing of the transit.

the entire transit is visible in Asia-Pacific (file from the Internet)

Venus is the dot (photo from internet)
There are several astrological interpretations of this astronomical event. Debra Campbell says "This alignment will force us to look within ourselves, and into each other’s hearts. The key really is about love, healing and most importantly, forgiveness of ourselves and others."  Cathy Lynn Pagano  notes that since "Venus is moving through the sign of Gemini, the Mind, we are being called upon to create a New Mind (Gemini Solar Eclipse), with new categories of belief (Sagittarius) and perception (Gemini), including a renewed knowledge of dreams, of unseen realities, and of out-of-the-box potentials of the human mind and heart."

Who knows what this alignment may bring? I sugest to write whatever you want to happen in 2012 onwards right now and reflect. It's like a wish list but be very clear what it is that you want.

countdown of Venus transit on
To those who will be out there to watch the transit, PAGASA warns that "observing the Sun directly without filters can cause a temporary or permanent loss of visual function, as it can damage or destroy retinal cells." So please do NOT wear your sunglasses! Protect yourself by using special solar eclipse glasses or a welder's glasses (#14 or darker), peer through a pinhole projector or telescope, or better yet, watch early during the ingress at 6 am until 7-ish,  then from 9am onwards, watch the live webcast of slooh online.