Saturday, May 26, 2012

Coral and Chinese Craftsmanship

The rest of Taipei on a cloudy day
Taipei 101 still towers over the skyline
A very intricate coral artpiece
I am running around Taipei with some of the other teachers from UP Arki. Today we decided to brave the long lines to reach the view deck of Taipei 101, once the tallest building in the whole world.  We reached Taipei 101 at around noon but got to book tickets for a 3 o'clock schedule. To wait our turn, we perused through the precious coral displays at the lobby of Taipei 101 observatory.

Fine craftmanship
Kois from black coral
At first I thought the encased corals are just the plain polished specimens.  But scrutinizing one in detail, I realized that the bumps and crevices on the coral piece was not the plain texture you expect created by polyps. Instead in their place you find a series of figures from warriors, village people and even a pagoda. It is really amazing how all the detail were crammed into one fragile and slender piece of coral. The craftmanship is so intricate.   

Zeus created from coral
When we asked for how much some of the simple pieces were selling, they range from tens of thousands to millions of Taiwan dollars.  I guess you really have to put a price on real artistry.  But judging by the delicate and fine shapes created from just a very simple material such as coral, the artist would have spent much of his time and patience chieselling through the masterpiece. 

Red coral diety
Imagine that from a piece of coral that we in the Philippines find almost in all corners of our archipelago's coastline.  We usually scrap these whenever we find them on the beach.  Worst is that we destroy the coral habitats because we treat them as an everyday item, take them for granted.  We do not treasure them the way the Chinese craftsman do. We should have more vision and dedication to treasure these resources before we realize we underestimated their real value.   

Polished coral with sea background
Beautiful coral sculpture with Chinese dieties

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pitcher Perfect!

Plump succulents in my garden
At one corner the pitcher plant is pitchering.
Succulents benefit from hot weather
Quick Post: It has been too hot hot hot the past few days. My palms and cycads suffered with their leaves drying out. Same goes with a few syzygiums and cinnamons.  But my agaves are very happy exhibiting their very plump leaves. But even when it is too hot in my garden, my pitcher plant seem to be putting out its pitchers. Weird as most pitchers I know do not thrive in hot dry weather.  So there are resilient Nepenthes after all. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Aesthetics of Pahiyas

I went on my third Pahiyas Festival yesterday.  Three times to the Lucban feast have made me familiar with some tried-and-tested formulas employed by the local farmers-turned-artisans-for-a-day.  They are as follows:
Bright and vibrant colors
Rice kiping
Produce and bounty
Good combination of form and color

Monday, May 14, 2012

Photography 101 for Me

Carillon after dark
Well lit Oblation
Oblation against the night sky
Finally had a formal photography tutorial session with photographer Cathy Camarillo, with my friend Ibay Sicam as classmate. Cathy gave us the rundown of the basics, what are simple stuff likeshutter speed, apperture, white balance, iso, etc.  Finally learned what the SCN function of my camera is.  And ultimately had a few minutes actual hands on taking snaps of the Carillon and Oblation, but the sun have already gone leaving us with a dark setting. But learned my camera has its own night vision goggles, hehehe.
Oblation's view of University Avenue

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Star of the Show

The best in show
The nice compact leaves
There is a bonsai show mounted by the fledgling group Philippine Alliance for Bonsai and Suiseki.  It is in the Hardin ng mga Bulaklak in QC Circle and will run upto Monday, May 14. The group might be young but the bonsai specimens they exhibited are spectacular.  But again, as expected, the star of the bonsai show is the ever reliable and very beautiful native species, Pemphis acidula or bantigue. It was ubiquitous, to the point that there is a separate category for it. The best in show was hands down also a bantigue. It may take longer before it gets dislodged as the centerpiece of Pinoy bonsai hobby.

To the winners of the PABS bi-annual show, congratulations.  And to the Philippine Alliance for Bonsai and Suiseki, kudos for a simple yet very elegant presentation.   

A bevy of impressive bantigue bonsai specimens

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wildlife Art Crusaders

Turtle laying eggs art
Curled up turtle in egg
AG Sano in action
I was walking the other day from Ninoy Aquino Wildlife to Quezon Memorial Circle when something caught my eye.  The walls of Wildlife were being painted on with murals.  A few volunteers were putting white outlines of animals like the butanding and pawikan, something which seems appropriate for the Wildlife Park. I got curious and interviewed one of the artists in action. I was surprised to find that the person I approached was none other than the wildlife conservationist, AG Sano. 

Baby turtles
I have heard about AG a number of times. I know him as being a landscape architect by profession.  But I also heard of him being referred to as the whale man, rallying for the survival of whales and dolphins around the archipelago. I should have met AG before because we graduated a few years apart in the UP College of Architecture.  But this fortunate coincidence was the first time I met AG personally. 

AG Sano and Bing Granda
Nowadays AG Sano is known painting colorful and lively environmental murals of endangered animals. Last Saturday he was with 2 other friends composing the wall murals for Wildlife. AG was together with Bing Granda, who is also a landscape architect like him. The walls near QC circle were filled with images of the sea turtle's life cycle. For the next few weeks they will fill the Wildlife perimeter walls with the same kind of educational art about other Philippine animals. Then on May 25 they invited other environmentalists and artists to fill up the murals with color.  Hopefully putting a little more color to the empty walls, would give more than just aesthetics. They will breathe in new life into the Wildlife art.      

Monday, May 7, 2012

Flowers for Mom

It is exactly 3 years ago when my mom passed away.  I kept a nice picture of her in my old wallet, but my wallet was pickpocketed in the MRT a year ago. Last night I was staring at the only necklace she owned that was passed down to me. Today I almost forgot to go to the cemetery to visit her but was fortunately reminded by my dad. We bought her flowers. We offered her prayer.

Earlier I checked out my mom's remaining plants in my garden. The red bromeliads are in flower.  They are reminding me of her. They don't want her to be forgotten. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Myristica seedlings at last!
Quick Post: When you plant seeds, you do reap the rewards. Myristica sp. or dugu-duguan seedlings finally emerged after a couple of months wait!