Saturday, August 30, 2008

Photo-Hunter: Beautiful

with Franzia amidst the red
For this week's "beautiful" theme, I'm posting these beautiful flowers at Eden Nature Park. I'm housebound since Thursday due to a minor surgery, and I don't have access to my photo archive. The top photo was taken by our guide, Ceres; Franzia took the second photo.

in a field of beauties

More "beautiful" photos at TN Chick.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sky-watching at 35,000 feet

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed...It feels an impulsion...this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”
~ Richard Bach

More sky photos from around the world at Sky-Watch Friday.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sky-riding in Davao

One of my adventures in Davao was the "Skyrider" at Eden Nature Park. It was a heart-pumping experience, and I have proven once again that I'm still not too old to try something new.:D My cousin, Franzia, was quaking in her feet and almost backed out. "What's the worse thing that could happen?" I asked her. "Well, I could die!" was her answer. I assured her that I'd call her insurance agent first if anything would happen (I'm bad!). In the end, I convinced her to do it. And boy, she's glad she did it!

Located about 2,600 feet above sea level and overlooking Davao City, "Skyrider", also called "death slide", is an adventure anybody should try. It's a typical zip-line that consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on 2 towers. The cable is about 200 meters long (one way) and 50-60 feet high. A safety harness and helmet are requisite so I was not worried.

While sliding down hanging from a cable, I snapped some photos and enjoyed the view of the city and Davao Gulf. It was definitely the highlight of my trip.

a snapshot before my "death slide"

a few meters from the tower

the tower

snapshots I took while sliding:

the view below

that's where I come from!

a shot taken by my cousin

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Anahaw

Anahaw (Livistona rotundifolia) is a round-leaf fountain palm, the national leaf of the Philippines.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hope for the Philippine Eagle

Haring Ibon

When was the last time you saw a Philippine Eagle up close and personal? Or you may be one of many Filipinos who haven’t seen our national bird except in You Tube, TV and photos in books and magazines. I have been an admirer of this gorgeous bird since I was a kid. Growing up, we had a rich neighbor who rescued eagles from hunters; we call the birds Aguila. The rich neighbor called it a monkey-eating eagle, and as a child, I couldn’t visualize a bird eating a monkey. The eagles were housed in huge cages inside my neighbor’s compound, and it was always amazing to watch the birds during feeding time---they were fed live chicken. One of my childhood fears when playing in the fields was to be “kidnapped” by a child-eating aguila.

According to Haribon Foundation, the Philippine Eagle is one of the tallest, rarest, largest and most powerful birds in the world. In 1978, the Philippine Eagle was declared as our national emblem, and in 1995 it became the national bird. By 2007, it was included in the list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered. The Philippine eagle is also on the watchlist of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), an organization which regulates and prohibits the commercial import of wild animal and plant species, threatened by trade. Thanks to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) that is dedicated to save and protect one of the world’s most endangered birds of prey and its habitat in Davao.

The Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) is about 30 kilometers and an hour away from the city, located in Calinan district. PEF undertakes research, captive breeding, and rehabilitation of the Philippine Eagle. The foundation was able to successfully produce the first generation of Philippine Eagles that were hatched and bred in captivity in Davao. They are “Pag-asa” (Hope) and “Pagkakaisa” (Unity).

Inside the center are huge cages where eagles are housed. It was sad seeing the magnificent birds confined in cages, but they're safer in those cages than in the wild. Walking around the center, it was evident that big corporations and individuals support the foundation---cages are marked with their names. There are now 32 Philippine Eagles in the center, 16 of these were bred in captivity. PEC also rehabilitates 10 other bird species, 2 reptile species, and 4 mammal species. I spotted a crocodile, wild boars, spotted deer, monkeys and hawks.

I’ve read that American scientists have isolated the DNA of the Philippine Eagle and found it to be one of a kind. It is endemic in the Philippines and not related to eagles in other parts of the world. Our rain forests are their only home…but with the Philippine rain forests rapidly shrinking, evidently, the Philippine Eagles are at an evolutionary dead end.

In early July, a 3-year old Philippine Eagle named “Kagsabua” was killed by a hunter in Bukidnon. The hunter alleged that he didn’t know he was shooting a Philippine Eagle---he thought it was a wild chicken. Researchers who were monitoring “Kagsabua” found the eagle’s transmitter gadget buried near a creek, and all that was left of him were some feathers and 2 avian feet. Apparently, it’s not only deforestation that threatens the extinction of our national bird but also ignorance and indifference.

Certainly, the loss of this magnificent bird from our midst would steal some of the world’s wonder.

a mounted eagle

entrance to the Philippine Eagle Center

a family of spotted deer
shy monkeys
see yah later, alligator!
trail inside the center
golden bamboo

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sky Watch Friday: an afternoon in Davao

A late afternoon sky in Davao City, taken at the sea shore beside Magsaysay Park.

The Ramon Magsaysay Monument was built in honor of the third President of the Philippines.
Outside the park is the Magsaysay Market where Davao fruits such as durain, pomelo, mangosteen, lanzones are sold. The fruit stands have tables and chairs for customers who want to eat fresh durian.

the infamous durian---love it or hate it!

sweet and juicy pomelo

More sky photos at Sky-Watch Friday.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kama Sutra at breakfast

My grumbling stomach and the smell of fried rice led me to two flights of stairs to the top floor of Ponce Suites. Like the hallways on each floor, the restaurant is also loaded with artsy stuff, a collection of green bottles, mosaic animal shapes and plants. A cozy corner where hanging plants shades the breakfast table creates a comfortable ambiance. The textured mosaic animals’ shapes remind of a children’s park, playful and relaxed.

While waiting for breakfast to be served, my eyes roamed and were arrested by artworks on the ceiling. I came closer to make out what those ET-like creatures were doing. My cousin and I probably looked like a couple of weirdos looking at the ceiling with our mouths open. No, we were not watching lizards making out---but we were as fascinated as a devout of Michelangelo’s paintings at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Apparently, Kublai Millan adorned the ceiling with Kama Sutra-inspired two-dimensional artworks (you're a naughty boy, Kublai!). What a unique idea!

It was a little before 7 o’clock in the morning---an ungodly hour to talk about Kama Sutra. But it certainly made us giggle, and smile. He probably put it there to challenge or perhaps to discomfit, or to spark an energetic, sensual chat. Those paintings changed my mood and my entire frame of mind---it was a bit difficult to concentrate on food afterwards (hahaha)!

the restaurant

artworks on the ceiling

stairs leading to the artist's loft

ceiling of the loft

a mosaic croc-cum-steps to the artist's studio

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ponce Suites, the "unconvention" center

the Philippine Eagle guarding the hotel entrance

For Davao artist Kublai Millan, having a family-owned hotel to exhibit his art must be a dream-come-true. Ponce Suites in Davao City showcases the work of its artist-in-residence, from the sidewalk outside the hotel to every nook and cranny of the building. I read about Ponce Suites many years ago so I kind of know what to expect…but when I saw the massive sculptures, my reaction was---whoa!

My flight to Davao left Manila at 4:20 am and touched down a little before 6 am. I had no sleep, stressed from the chaos in the newly opened Terminal 3, tired and hungry, my guards were down---that the riot of colors in the lobby, walls, and hallways overwhelmed me when I entered the hotel. The first thought that came to mind was---Wow, he really let himself go! Artworks are crammed everywhere---even at the ceiling, the interior is definitely one of a kind, I've never seen anything like it. As I stood in front of the framed hair cuttings (presumably the artist’s), I wondered if the interior of the hotel has been an outlet of a mental health issue (hehe). But really, in an age of chaos, I understand how some people embrace the chaos theory.

As much as I’d like to be a minimalist, in reality, I am a clutterist. And walking around the artwork-filled hallways and stairways, I was able to appreciate how good it is to be surrounded by the evidence that you have lived a life, created something; that you have moved around and seen things, that you have collected things along the way, that you have sentiments, sadness and joys that you were able to express. And that’s what Kublai Millan did...he expressed them all in this little hotel. Lucky guy!

Ponce Suites seem to grow on you. The artworks definitely give it a unique appeal. I’m not an art connoisseur or an artist---I just follow my instincts with things that stimulate my senses. And frankly, some artworks on the walls are just a swirling mess of anything to me---but I know that they have a complex shape and order, I just don’t get it (hahaha). Those sculptures and the entire art-covered surfaces, not all of them beautiful by any means, but each are clearly there for a reason.

artworks on the wall

the hallway

at the lobby

poetry and photos of the artist in various state of nudity

the framed hair cuttings (right)

gigantic sculptures outside

this must be the artist---coming out of his shell

hallway outside my door

photographs as wallpaper