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Archive for April, 2012

It is so far the most magnificent and most historically significant “jigsaw puzzle” I have ever seen in my life!  Who on earth would have the idea of putting together parts of very old, decaying and abandoned heritage houses in one place and create a magnificently beautiful nostalgic paradise?  I guess it is in the person of Jerry Acuzar, a rare soul with lofty ambition, who owns Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar.

My Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar adventure, located in Bagac Bataan was like travelling through a time capsule bringing its visitors back to the glorious 18th and 19th century Philippines!!!

At the outset of our visit, I was a skeptic.  I did not believe on the resort’s claim that the buildings were the actual and authentic parts of Filipino Principalia Mansions.  Initially, the “illustrado” fragment of my soul was screaming “Cinverguenza! Punyatera! No way will Jerry Acuzar be able to transfer, rebuild and restore such old houses?!”

But when I and Karen went out of the resort to buy a pack of cigarette from a nearby construction workers’ carinderia (eatery and mini-store), we passed-by multiple decks of old stone bricks, voluminous timeworn planks of wood as well as various antiquated hard-wood house-posts lying on the ground.  Those materials were obviously salvaged from an old house somewhere in this country.  That was the moment I believed and confirmed that those massive mansions inside the resort were no-doubt authentic.

Let me then offer an honorable salute and a big standing ovation to Mr. Acuzar for such a rare feat, ingenuity and craftsmanship!

Kakaiba! Cinverguenza sa ganda!

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On our way to Namba Parks shopping complex in Osaka, me, my sister Joecel and my niece Erika passed by a store named Kiki.  “Kiki” being a word that means vagina in Tagalog – out of fun – took the opportunity to take a photo with the store’s banner.  Don’t be too assuming on what the store sells, because when I checked they sell ladies’ ready-to-wear clothes!

After marveling on the aesthetic architectural sensation of the building’s park and garden rooftop and had a huge hamburger snack inside the mall (a delicious break from all the Japanese meals we had and will be having), we decided to head back to Erika’s house.  However, the three of us had some difficulty figuring out the correct exit door so as to have a short walk from Namba Parks to Erika’s apartment.

With nervousness starting to build up inside me (being in a country where the English language is seldom spoken by the locals), I was reminded that we passed through the Kiki store.  Out of tenseness and uncontrollable edginess, I told Erika that we should look for the “puke” (the blunt and vulgar Filipino way of saying the word vagina).  Still confused, I reminded Joecel and Erika that “we earlier pass through the pussy of the mall!”

When we found the Kiki store… I was relieved.  We happily headed back at my nephew and niece’s apartment.

Pag nerbyusin ka din, kung ano-ano din naman ang nasasabi mo ‘di ba? 

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A film is considered a classic or a masterpiece if the viewers today will still be totally stirred, emotionally moved and knocked off even if it has been created decades ago.  Usually a movie turns out to be ridiculous and hilarious when it will be viewed years after it has been produced – outrageous costumes; goofy hairstyles; over-the-top spiels; and, campy setting – though during the time when it was released for commercial screening it was once considered hip, sensible and even serious.

But the movie I saw last night belonged to a different league.  It is a 35-year old classic entitled “Midnight Express” directed by Alan Parker and written by Oliver Stone.  It is a graphic story of Billy Hayes and his brutalized ordeal in a Turkish prison for a drug abuse offense.  It is a prison drama years before my favorite 1994 prison-themed movie Shawshank Redemption was produced.

Midnight Express is a riveting film that still holds up in today’s viewing public.  It exhibited unmatched intensity concerning injustice, human abuse, releasing of pent up anger, frustration and even sensualism to the point of mental disintegration. This is so far the oldest prison-themed film I have seen that invokes nail-biting emotion on my part.

Right after seeing the movie, I immediately googled Midnight Express and was not surprised to learn that the movie won a couple of Oscars (for best music and Oliver Stone for his writing).  It was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Best Director and Best Picture.  If I were an adult during the year it was released, I will definitely write the Oscars demanding them to explain why on earth they snubbed Brad Davis’ brilliant performance in the film!

Naubos ang kuko ko!!! Kakakagat! Galing!

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Sakura in Osaka

Late in the afternoon on our way to Super Tamade, a local store in Sennichimae Dori in Osaka to buy food stuffs to be cooked for dinner, I asked my nephew Denden if Japanese people are still amazed with and still looks forward to Sakura (the blooming of cherry blossoms).  Since it is a yearly phenomenon, I supposed people in Japan must have been so used to it.  I supposed that it was just like an ordinary occurrence in Japan similar to the blooming of bonggambilya or kalachuchi flowers in the Philippines.  It’s nothing to celebrate about.  However, he replied, “Definitely Tito, because autumn is such a gloomy cruel season.  It is so depressingly dull it makes people feeling down and heavy.”

After our first night, walking along the streets of Osaka in the morning, I was a little disappointed because I can actually count few trees whose flowers has bloomed.  Majority of the trees were just brittle branches with dark buds and whose leaves have totally fallen off during the autumn season.  Erika, my niece who’s also based in Japan told me that we arrived too early and should have scheduled our stay in Osaka on the latter days of April to witness the amazing flowers.

On our sixth and seventh day of staying in Osaka we went to Kyoto and Nara, I noticed that only few trees has bloomed with cherry blossoms flowers.  I started to feel the depressing dullness of winter.  I already set in my mind that I need to be back in Osaka some other time and make sure that those days will be the time when cherry blossoms are on its best.  I told myself that the trip in Osaka, Japan could have been more perfect if the cherry blossoms are in full glow.  The Osaka trip could have been like tasting the greatest cake in the world but without the cherry on the top.

On the day prior to our flight back to Manila, my family’s itinerary is to go and visit the Osaka Castle.  I was looking forward to seeing one of the most famous castles in Japan that played a great role in the unification of its people during the sixteenth century but has set my mind that only few cherry blossoms in the area has bloomed.

But when we were about 200 to 300 meters away from the yard vicinity of the great castle, I saw that the color of the trees were strangely different.  I started to feel lighter and a little delighted.  And as we moved in closer, swarms of people – young and old – started to walk in the same direction that we were heading.  I was very glad and very happy because everybody were all heading towards the immense occurrence of Sakura!

 

Denden was all along correct!  Sakura elicits a cheerful feeling pointed towards the core of someone’s heart.  Witnessing the Sakura on the last day of our stay was just like putting the freshest cherry on top of a cake, it was like seeing the Reigna Elena and Reigna Emperatriz combined of the Pinoy Santacruzan, it was like hearing the last yet the greatest hit song of a singer during a phenomenal concert, it was like the highlight of the highlight!

 Grabe! Ang ganda!

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Hey Japan, I’m A Fan

It’s official.  I’m a fan of Japan!

The anime-ish hairstyles; the remarkable efficiency; the tranquility of the intricate subway trains; the quietness of train stations despite presence of swarms of people; the matchless technology yet preserved rich culture and heritage; and the unrivaled fashion.

a calm train station in Osaka

covered street in Namba

Kinkakuji, the temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

The cute Japanese school uniforms; the efficient weather bureau; the smart looking young office workers dodging on thick manga books; the melodic language; the fine art of Kanji;  the people’s civility, honesty and good manners; and the remarkable cleanliness and ecologically aware streets.

one of the colorful stores in dotonbori

an afternoon walk at dotonbori (nengkoy in white pants)

Don Quixote - a famous landmark in Osaka

wet market in osaka

The wet-less wet market; the people’s courteousness in using the escalator; the ladies’ fake eyelashes, wigs and fingernails; the composure of geishas; the blushed cheeks of cute little children; the aesthetic splendor and freshness of dishes; the serene temples; the wide roads with long tunnels penetrating the mountains; the wonderful cherry blossoms; and the Nissin Chicken Ramen TV commercial I posted below which caught my full attention while I was lazing at the hotel in Osaka.

geishas in kyoto

Todaiji (the Great Eastern Temple) in Nara

my nephew Den Den with cherry blossoms and Osaka Castle in the background (i love this shot!)

 No doubt Japan is all very Zen.  I am so impressed with Japan I sometimes wish I were Japanese.  I could die happy even if I died because of a tsunami as long as in my next life I will be a “delicious” Japanese.  But I guess the Japanese themselves wish they were something else.

Hay nako walang duda… Da gras is griner in Japan.    

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Eating Art

May it be pieces of priceless art found in the famous museums, unique chunks of architecture or praiseworthy monuments my usual tour out of the country always includes finding good or amazing pieces of art of the place I visit.

But in Japan, pieces of admirable art can be found right on the dining table.  Japanese people I suppose have the liking and inclination of utilizing first their sense of sight when dining prior to using their senses of smell and taste when consuming a meal.  I know that culinary craftsmanship is a creation meant to communicate and appeal to the taste buds but chefs here in Japan seem to put so much effort in details of food arrangements in their repertoire. Aside from being so yummy, I adore the aesthetically beautiful food presentation!!!

Walking through the streets of Osaka, I found various food presentations that are not only a banquet for someone’s palate but a feast for the eyes as well.  There are moments when I would not want to take a bite of the food I ordered but instead wish to preserve it and have it donated to a local museum for others to see and appreciate.  Dining in Japan is just like eating pieces of art.

classic japanese food

 

egg soup with shrimp & mushroom

 

green tea cake

this Mister Donut sign board is so cute I want it printed on my shirt

i love their window displays... truly mouthwatering...

the japanese versions of "espasol" with various fillings

"burrrrppp"

Busog pati mata mo!

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One of the exciting places me and my family visited is the Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda City, Osaka, Japan.  The instant digestive solution of the hungry may it be a quick emergency snack, a late-evening nibble or after hunting for giant dinosaurs an emergency meal instant noodle no doubt has become indispensable in our daily lives.

Momofuku Ando was the Japanese dude responsible in the invention of the instant noodles right after the World War II on the time when Japan was a literally hungry.  The museum showcased various features starting from the humble beginnings of how ramen was invented, how it was mass produced and was even one of the vital elements in the history of Japanese space exploration through the sustenance of its astronauts.

The most fun part was when we were all given the opportunity to design our own Nissin cups and got to choose four flavors that will be added in our noodles to have it truly personalized. Love it!

neil "delicious"

left most cup is nengkoy's cup

inside the noodle tunnel

Dapat sa Pinas meron ding ganito, Da Suman Myusiyum! 

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Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.

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Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.

Nengkoy

Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.