The Oculus in Lower Manhattan

When I was in NY four years ago, there was one structure at the Lower Manhattan that was still being built.  It was a bummer of a sight then because it was construction noisy, construction dusty and construction ugly.

But now that I am back in NYC, I have nothing but special words for the new architectural landmark in Lower Manhattan on the very site that I am taking about.  It is called the Oculus and it is such a cool place to visit!  It is completely unique and is definitely different from the other buildings around the area.

Its beauty though comes with such a hefty price because according to google, it costs 3.9 billion US dollars to make!  That is just a massive amount of money!

Oculus, aside from being shopping center is also a transportation hub.  It is I suppose now the main train station in Lower Manhattan.  I know that Grand Central station is really classic, beautiful and un-comparable but I really really like this station.

The distinctive design of the building obviously seem to imply a bird’s wings that is ready to take off! The Oculus I guess is a symbolism of being like a Phoenix that has risen from the death and destruction in that area.

this blog post will not be complete without my proof of being there. striking a pose!

It is an awe-inspiring representation of giving hope and confidence to the whole New York that it is time to take off again after the sad events of 9/11 whose actual site of the tragedy is actually a few steps away.   But what I really love about this building is how it looks from the inside!  It’s matchless!

The Oculus is definitely one gorgeous structure!

Ganda! Grabeh!

The Vessel at Hudson Yards

It has taken me six days to initiate writing about my new New York travel.  Reason behind it is because I was just so zoned out by the magnificence of the very extraordinary centerpiece of the new Hudson Yards known as The Vessel.

The Vessel is the hottest thing to see now in New York City.  And it is said that The Vessel is one awesome piece of sculpture that is meant to be climbed.  I for one did not miss the opportunity to do such. And as what Hudson Yards website indicates, it is a new focal point where people can enjoy new perspectives of the city and one another from different heights, angles and vantage points.

Climbing the highest point of the structure which is almost a mile of a vertical climb was actually something easy for me. It is 16 storeys high!  Not because I am still fit but because I am so used to climbing stairs higher than this one which usually happens when elevator service in my condo is not available (I stayed at the 24th floor).

The Vessel with its network of stairs and landings offers some remarkable views of the city, the river and the Hudson Yards itself.  I was so lucky to make it to the first batch of people who were allowed to go up on the day of my visit.  Yeah, I was early and was too excited!

 

I particularly don’t know what this structure would do for the city aside from attracting visitors like me.  There has been actually quite a number of mixed reviews about this structure but for me honestly, I like the look of this structure from the inside than that of looking from the outside.  And when I looked down at the center of the structure from the highest point and landing, all I can utter was a big Wow!

For me I highly recommend seeing The Vessel when you are in New York City.  One more awesome thing about The Vessel experience is it’s for free.  Hudson Yards is not fully finished yet, I will definitely be back in the future to check on the full work of this new NY landmark.

Ang kool!

Templo Mayor & Piedra Del Sol

In my recent travel, I spent all my visiting days in Mexico City.  I opted to stay in the city and not move out or visit other places in Mexico because I prefer to completely immerse to the city’s rich culture.  This of course is beside the motive of giving myself a reason to go back to Mexico. Hahaha!

Mexico City is too vast to fully explore in two weeks and it’s seem impossible to see and experience the city in just a couple of days.  And what is good about staying in Mexico City is that visitors can still see and experience the old Mexico because right at the city center exists a very cool ruins called Templo Mayor.

templo mayor ruins  
the city beneath mexico city
a massive ancient metropolis 
portions of templo mayor

The incredible thing about Templo Mayor is that it is right near Zocalo, the center square of Mexico Ciity.  And that the existing and present city of Mexico was actually built on top of it.  Its like Templo Mayor ruins is just beneath the grounds of the present modern city.

Here’s one cool lecture and quick history lesson!  When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico City, it was actually an Aztec city at that time.  The Aztec people known as Mexica people had a huge beautiful city.  And basically the Spaniards (though they did not destroyed it), built over and on top of this Aztec City a new and modern metropolis.  So the huge Catholic cathedrals in downtown Mexico are actually built on the foundation of an ancient ruin.  And this ruin is known as Templo Mayor.

Templo Mayor as I noticed is still actually being studied and dug up.  It is a work in progress so as to fully understand the culture, customs, civilization and background of ancient Mexico.  It is so cool to know that the existing city is actually on top of another city!

And one of the major archeological find in Templo Mayor is the Sun Stone or locally known as the Piedra Del Sol.  Discovered in 1790, the Sun Stone now is housed at the National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City and is considered the most famous work of Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the sun stone)
the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

When I personally saw such a massive monolithic sculpture, my jaw simply dropped!  I could not describe the elation when I saw the Sun Stone!  I could not believe that I am actually seeing the actual figure and image of the most iconic sculpture in Mexico! 

This sculpture is one of Mexico’s famous symbols.  It is basically printed in almost all types of Mexican souvenir items (shirts, mugs, wall decors, keychains, etc.).  I did quite a number of readings about Piedra Del Sol after I have been stunned by the massiveness and beauty of it.  And I have learned that there was even a poem that was composed by a Nobel prize-winning poet because of the beauty, mystery and grandeur of such an epic piece of stone. 

12 feet in diameter and weighs 24 tons
ding ang bato!

There are a lot of different theories that historians and archeologists have about the stone’s meaning, its use and its intention.  Some think it was used as a calendar and some say it has some significance concerning ancient religion, geography, politics or even something else that hasn’t yet been thought of.

But whatever its original meaning, it is arguably now the most important Aztec sculpture that exists in the world today.  As for me, I prefer not to interpret nor even think deeper.  I simply prefer to be marveled by the beauty, intricacy and grandeur of such a massive piece of work.

Parang gusto ko iuwi nung nakita ko yang batong yan!

A Visit at Mexico’s Biggest Museum

If you are a tourist in Mexico City, a visit to a museum seem inevitable.  Reason behind this is because this city has the most number of museums in the world.

For an initial Mexico City museum salvo, let me then feature not just any type of a museum.  Let me introduce to you the Museo Nacional de Antropologia or the National Museum of Antropology.  Reason why it is so special is because it is the most visited and the biggest museum in Mexico.  It’s a staggering 8 hectares all in all!

After walking through the humongous and vast entrance area of the museum, the first this that any visitor of this museum would notice would be this…

its called “el paraguas” the umbrella

The museum since it’s so big is divided into 22 different section halls.  I started with section 1 of course, the Introduction to Anthropology and planned to finish all sections in one visit.  But after an hour and a half of marveling at various features (I reached half of section 4), I started to feel some sensory overload.  I started to feel so overwhelmed that I can’t seem to take in so much anthropological stimulus and information anymore.

Since I have seen so much, I started to slow down.  And instead of trying to see everything, I tried to just really focus on few specific things.  I then decided to head straight to the section where there are most number of people.  That is at the Mexica section or the hall number 6.

I was not surprised anymore that this seem to be the section where there are lots of people.  It is because this is the hall that houses the most emblematic exhibit of the museum, the Piedra Del Sol or the Sun Stone.  This is so special, that I think I will write separately on how I felt seeing this Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the stone sun)

 

Other exhibits that caught my attention were… 

the super massive… aztec goddess coatlicue (the mother of the gods who gave birth to the moon, stars and the god of the sun and war) taray!
brasero chicomecoatl (the goddess of corn)
stone of motecuhzoma

I highly recommend this place to those who are interested on human societies that thrived, lived and existed in Mexico or simply being a tourist in Mexico City.  The National Museum of Anthropology is located within the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.  And lucky me, it was free entrance for everyone on the day I visited!  With the grandiosity of this museum, I was all but willing to pay the seventy Mexican pesos entrance fee!

the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

 

Grabe! Oberwelming!

Bitter Gourd Monologues is so Me

It’s been uncounted number of years since the time I last finished reading a book written in my native language, Filipino.  This long streak of non-sense convention is finally over.  And I am glad to announce that the Filipino-language book I finished is sooo me.  Its entitled Ampalaya Monologues written by “spoken word” genius, Mark Ghosn.

Ampalaya Monologues is so me!  Ampalaya for those who don’t know is Bitter Gourd in the Filipino language or metaphorically defined as “bitter”.  There are 27 characters in the book that features varying idiosyncrasies of heartaches, heartbreaks, eccentric longing, quirky hopes, emotional struggles and of course romanticized bitterness.

This I guess would be the very first book written in Filipino that made me cry and laugh out loud at the same time.  I literally was laughing at a lot of lines and thoughts in this book for I am so bitter, I can totally relate. Here’s the top six monologues I loved and totally enjoyed!   

 

I haven’t see or talked to the writer yet Ampalaya Monologues seem to have entered into my realm.  It was as if Mark Ghosn has entered my cranium and cerebral cortex and wrote what he has seen inside.

According to some write ups, Ampalaya Monologues (like The Vagina Monologues popularized in the past in the western side of the planet) are actually staged and performed by actors in front of big audiences.  But I guess reading the book would be a totally different experience.  It was as if the character was merely talking to the reader and no one else like in a big crowd.  Thus, reading the book I guess would be more intense and can definitely hit you right at your very core.

I love every piece of the chapters/monologues yet the last part was actually the most fitting for it makes you realize that for every tear, every heartache and bitterness a reader felt and experienced in the past, such sufferings will eventually make a person fervently mature and emotionally stronger.  I believe in the ultimate message of the book and that is for bitter people like us, there is still a chance to move on and some freaking flicker of hope is awaiting for all of us. 

Ang sabi nga sa libro, mas mabuting maging bitter kesa fake!

Interpreting Cupid’s Span at the Embarcadero

I am a big fan of art that are commonly found in museums.  The forms of art I often marvel about outdoors would be magnificent architectures and massive infrastructures.  But while having a walk along the Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, one massive piece of sculpture struck me.  It’s the humongous bow and arrow monument in the middle of Rincon Park.

Upon google search, I learned that the title of this masterpiece is Cupid’s Span built in 2002.  The artists who created this gigantic piece made reference to Eros, the Greek God also known to the Roman’s as Cupid who shoots arrows into its would-be-victims.

Unexpectedly discovering this cool piece of art was great!  Perceiving and understanding the statement that Cupid’s Span makes – like any other piece of art – can be very subjective.  It is open to the personal interpretation of the individual.  You either like it or you don’t.  I happen to love it!  It blends well and stands out pretty impressive with the surrounding location.  You can actually view Cupid’s Span from different angles, backgrounds and perspectives at different times.  And this unique attribute of this masterpiece gives you different opinion and feeling every time.

It is one unique landmark in SF which I guess celebrates love and how an SF visitor’s heart can actually get stuck and held immovable by the beauty of the sights and culture of San Francisco.  For me, it is an unflinching representation of the famous line, “I left my heart in San Francisco”.

And while taking photos of this massive masterpiece, I was gleefully unashamed singing Rachel Alejandro’s song, Mister Kupido! (click the LINK to that song) Hahaha!

Ba’t hindi panain, ang kanyang damdamin ng ako ay mapansin…

A Visit to the Palace of Fine Arts

Sometimes we grow up with images of a place thinking we’ll never see them in real life.  But when you finally get there, those images are just as magnificent as you expected.  The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco CA is one of those places.

i love this shot
majestic!
overwhelming!

There has been voluminous magazines, journals and publications in my younger years that this popular tourist attraction has been featured.  There are even lots of foreign movies wherein this place is the location shoot.  One in particular is a 1995 Filipino movie starring Lea Salonga and Aga Mulach entitled Sana Maulit Muli.  (Hahaha! Of course I remember that!)

And when I finally and personally got to see and feel the whole majestic beauty of the Palace of Fine Arts, the feeling is just but surreal.  I can’t actually remember how many times I sat on various locations of benches scattered around the park.  I even sat under a tree!  Maybe it is because I was too overwhelmed by the experience, I had to stop and breathe so as to sink all the prodigious feelings in.

smile!
pikchur muna

A visit to this gorgeous piece of architecture is one memorable highlight of my SF adventure.

Akalain mong makaraing ako dun?!