Monday, 21 January 2013

Sinulog: Viva Pit Senor!!

dancing on the streets with face painted
That's all I could here and see in Cebu during the Sinulog festival: Viva Pit Senor!

The cheer is short for Panangpit sa Senyor a plea to the Senor Santo Nino or the Holy Child Jesus whose feast Cebu observes during the third Sunday of January each year. As the story goes, the image of the Sto. Nino was presented as a gift to chieftain Rajah Humabon by Ferdinand Magellan when he first landed in the Philippines, in Cebu in 1521.

The festival is a nine day long event. We were lucky to get a flight to Cebu and witness the culminating event which is the Grand Float Parade, where we were part of the Casino Femme Alcohol float. Note that Casino won first place several times in the past. This year, it placed second.

Well, for those who want to join the fanfare - book your flight and hotel early and be prepared to be painted, doused and to dance all day long under the sun! It was sure hot during the day so wear - shorts, comfortable shoes, hat and like the Cebuanos, have fun!!!
Tessa, Marcie posing infront of the crowd's favorite float
 Jean, Pauline and Bombom onboard the Casino Femme Float
more revelers

foreigners enjoying the parade

wear comfortable shoes

crowd along the way

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Casa San Miguel's 20th Pundaquit Season

An uncanny photo of Coke, he is indeed an angel of San Antonio
I love going to Zambales to visit ever creative Plet Bolipata in her farm. This is where she and her husband hied off in 2002 and established a home, in her family's mango orchard in San Antonio, Zambales.

The visit was a double treat - first to attend the opening of the 20th season of Casa San Miguel's annual Pundaquit festival dubbed "Pamana" and second,  to get a sneak peak of Plet's video "Manet of My Dreams". Note that she is currently taking a film course in Casa under the tutelage of Ruelo Zendo.

Mind you, the day was packed with several openings! First was the opening of the Museum of  Community Heritage at the third floor of Casa San Miguel.

Plet (in yellow) with her hubby Emong,  sister Non and pumpkins
Honestly, I am amazed by the constant transformation of Casa. It has completely changed since I first stepped foot way back in 1993. The ground floor now has  a restaurant called "Backstage Cafe" and the garden has a Bed and Breakfast. The third floor has been transformed into a museum to celebrate the history and culture of the town.

Currently on exhibit are: the wrap-around mural by local artist Zaniel Mariano, gigantic mobiles by Don Salubayba depicting sea creatures based on folk tales of Treasure of the Sea, a porcelain and earthenware collection salvaged from shipwrecks in the area, Nico Sepe's photographs of the fisherfolk community complemented by early 1900 black and white photographs of American anthropologist William Allen Reed  of indigenous aetas, bamboo poles with peepholes to view 1905 photos by a Mr. Damind and  videos of resident artists Ruel Lozendo and Geby Concepcion.
Nico Sepe's works
inside photos taken by Darmind in 1905 as part of a report by Allan Reed, and videos by resident artists Ruel Lozendo and Geby Concepcion
mobiles of sea creatures by  Don Saluyba
Good to see Amadis and Rome Jorge

Jazel Kristin
Next was the opening of multi-media artist and media practitioner,  Jazel Kristin's exhibit at the Siemen's Gallery called "I consume therefore I am."

Fresh from her artist-residency in Paris, Jazel's works are made up of cut-up images of food she's eaten and enjoyed in the different cities she's been in such as Paris, Baguio and Manila. She chose to mount these works on raw wooden chopping boards that "allowed her to cut,paint, gild, burn and destroy them to her heart's content."
"So I ask you, what consumes you" by Jazel Kristin, mixed media, 2012.
"Everything I touch turns into gold", mixed media, 2012.

After the exhibit, we were ushered to Ramon L. Corpus hall to listen to the Pundaquit Virtousi's concert. Coke opened the program with a solo violin performance. The "Pamana" video was shown. This is a  UNESCO  project promoting the Philippines' five world heritage sites, original music by Coke and the text  by award winning poet Vim Nadera.

Setting up the sneak preview of "Manet of my dreams"
The concert was followed by a dinner (more like a feast of local bests) at the Backstage Cafe and performance by the folk dancers from the local community under the direction of Manolito Basillo.
During dinner, we hurried to Plet's to watch her short film.

The Pundaquit Festival is an annual community program of Casa San Miguel to develop the local fishing community through various programs including long and short term residencies for visiting artists, performances, workshops and exhibits.  The Festival will run until May with different exhibits and Saturday performance. For more info, visit

Feb 9 - Geric Cruz's 'I Feel Safe' here exhibit, 'Next Wave' featuring shorts by Film students Plet bolipata, Glenn dela Cruz and Henessy Casiano.
March 16 - Foundation Day and Brendale Tadeo exhibit
March 29 - Seven Last Words of Christ and Geloy Concepcion's exhibit
April 26 - Conference for Art Educators
May 11 - Aviva Lerer's exhibit and Kianne Esteban's recital
May 19 - Karlo Gatus' exhibit
May 20 - Gab Mendoza's recital

P.S. For those who want to spend a weekend at Casa, check out their bed and breakfast. It has five airconditioned guest rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Do book really early since the rooms fill up fast especially during the festival season. Also, if you are a surfer, bring your surf board and hit the waves in Pundaquit, a 15-min walk from Casa.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

All bundled up in Shanghai this Christmas holiday!

too early for snow
This Christmas break it was a toss up between Osaka and Shanghai and since Osaka was already fully booked, we ended up in Shanghai where it was freezing at minus 3 degrees!!!  Brrrrrr!!

Shanghai is a modern metropolis, the largest of the People's Republic of China with a population of 22 million people (note that Manila has 1.6 million).  Because it is located at the heart of the Yangtze River delta, it has established itself as an important sea port and is now considered the biggest commercial and financial center in China.

My sister Chato who frequents China a lot, practically planned everything from the accommodations (the boutique Philip Stark-designed Jia Hotel on Nanjing Road), sight seeing, shopping, where to eat and the walks. Mind you, they were looooong walks.

siblings Ricky, Chato and Roca with nephews Enzo and Clark
Our first day stop was the Shanghai Art Museum to check out the works of ancient and contemporary works. Then a walk down the longest shopping area called Nanjing Road, a 6-km stretch filled with shops and pedestrians. On the way to the Bund, we were lucky to spot one of the venues of the ongoing Shanghai Biennale.

The Bund felt so much like Paris with its 4-km long row buildings dating back the colonial era. Directly across the river is  the famous 'Pudong', a former swampland and now houses the most modern architectural buildings - the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai tower.

There are two ways to get to Pudong, either through the underground walkway or go through the Light and Sound tunnel show.

hot Xiaolong bao at Yuyuan Garden
I just love our hotel's location! As Chato said, its all about location, location, location. We just walked everywhere.

The next day we set off to to Qi Tan Di and Yuyuan Garden, a 2-hectare garden built during the Ming Dynasty. It was packed with locals and they were making a beeline for the dimsum at Nanxiang Steamed Bun restaurant. Of course we followed suit and ordered four huge servings of hot steaming xiaolong boa!

Next stop was Dontai  Road market to check out the antiques. We were the only braved souls out that day because it was raining! Luckily though the shopkeepers were more than happy to bargain with us.  And finally, our last stop was the art and trendy art studios at Taikang Lu.  It was too cold to head out so we ended having Italian dinner in our  hotel.  And  later, checked out the night life with pinoy advertising executive Jeffrey.

at the tea house
Enzo in a Mao-inspired trapper hat
ersatz trinkets at Dongtai market

The walkway in Shanghai
It was a sunny day and Chato decided that we walk all the way to the  French concession . Aptly called, it was  established in April 1849 to create a territory for a French settlement. The concession lasted from 1849 until 1946, when the French Vichy government turned over the area.

This is one of the most beautiful places in Shanghai with its Eucalyptus trees. Do walk and arm yourself with a guidebook!  The Tudor mansions have been home to notable Chinese historical figures - like the Chinese Republic founder Sun Yat-sen, Mao's second in command Zhou Enlai and the British Morris estate (founder of China Daily News).

at the French Concession with Jeffrey 
After walking and shopping, we ended up eating in Lost Heaven for its excellent Yunnanese cuisine. Then more shopping and had our pre-New Year dinner at Mr and Mrs Bund one of the modern eatery places by Paul Pairert.

Our last day was a quick stop at the Modern Contemporary Museum to check out Qui Jie's large scale works on pencil and paper.

Despite the distance from the city, Chato insisted that we board the Maglev train from Longyang Road station to Pudong International Airrport. Well, I must agree that it's worth seeing. It is the first and only operational high-speech magnetic levitation train in the world. It only took us 7-minutes to the airport.

Roca dwarfed by Qui Jie's works
Must do:
1. Eat - Mao's favorite Hongshao Rou aka braised pork in Xin Ji Shi, Yunnanese cuisine in Lost Heaven in Gaoyou Lu, thinly sliced pork in South Beauty, Din Tai Fung for xiaolong bao and trendy places like Mr. and Mrs. Bund.
2. Arts - the Shanghai Art Museum for its permanent collection and check out the shows at the Modern Contermporary Museum. We were able to catch Qui Jie's large scale works on pencil and paper.
3. Shopping - my best bet are the shops at the French Concession, for trinkets and whatnots at Taikung Lu and for pure mongolian cashmere at Taboacity Fengxiang.