Castillo De Chapultepec

A castle is the last thing I am expecting to find when I decided to tour and visit Mexico City.  But expect the unexpected because I found Chapultepec Castle or Castillo De Chapultepec which is also unexpectedly located in the middle of a very huge park, the Chapultepec Park.  This park is so big, it is even bigger than the famous Central Park of New York City.    

The funny thing is, while roaming around the castle area, I am reminded by a number of things and I am telling myself that I have seen such place in the past.  And then I realized that this was the place where some scenes were shot in the 1996 movie Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes.  It was the set of the Capulet Mansion in that movie! 

The castle has been home for different purposes throughout its long history.  It has been a military academy, a presidential home, of course the royal residence, as well as an observatory.  Now it houses Mexico’s National Museum of History.      

It is the only castle in North America ever actually used as a royal home.  It was the residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his wife Empress Carlota.  And during such time, it was still considered to be in the outskirts of Mexico City.  This emperor then wanted to connect his castle to the main city.  He then ordered the construction of a road so as to link it to the energetic city.  That road now is known as the bustling and affluent Paseo Dela Reforma. 

paseo dela reforma

 The construction of the castle started in 1775 and in 1806 it was purchased by Mexico City’s municipal government.  It was mostly abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence.  But it rose to prominence again with the story that is probably the most famous event that has taken place in that castle, the Niños Heroes (or Hero Children). 

Niños Heroes are six Mexican boys who defended the castle against the U.S. soldiers invasion of the castles in September 13, 1847 during the bloody Mexican-American War.  These boys are now permanently honored throughout the grounds of the castle through massive sculptures, artifact exhibits and a commemorative mural painting.  

Besides the beauty of the castle itself, there are lovely gardens and grounds.  You also got fantastic view of the city and the park’s surroundings.  And since it is now the National Museum of History, there are also historical artifacts, exhibits and furnishings that I really enjoyed seeing.

Chapultepec Castle caught me in such a big surprise, that it is one site that I would recommend seeing when in Mexico City.  It was one lovely and surprisingly enriching visit.

Mapapa-biba Meksiko ka sa ganda!

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Uncle Duties in Kyoto

Single and unattached uncles often times are the cooler and more amiable versions of a father. They are often the type of human beings who initiate messy-yet-fun activities that parents dread or wouldn’t dream of doing with their kids.  They are the ones who permit impish and playful pursuits of youngsters that nervous or impatient parents would not want to do.

Since single and unattached uncles are often times financially stable and obligations and responsibilities are few and are often far between.  Thus, they even become cooler because they have the money to splurge. 

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And since uncles are older and experienced, they would often be the ones that kids would run to in case they could not discuss stuffs to their parents.  They can give worthy and wicked advises that kids need not necessarily follow.  And in case nieces and nephews refuse or won’t listen, nothing changes.  Kids not following advises is not going to be an issue to cool uncles.  Cool uncles remains cool uncles.     

Though my monster pamangkins (translation: nieces and nephews) would totally disagree, I would like to believe that I am that type of an uncle.  And while my family had a short vacation in Japan, I further my being a neat praiseworthy uncle by accompanying 3 of my monster pamangkins around the marvelous sites of Kyoto and the grounds of the massive Osaka Castle.

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miggy
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kate
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luis
kyoto station with pamangkins
i had a blast!

Though I was there slave photographer, I had a blast with these three!

Saludo ako kung ikaw ay isang kul Tito!

A Surprise Visit to Himeji Castle

The highlight of my October 2014 Japan trip with Nengkoy was something unexpected.  When my mother and I flew to Osaka for an extended long weekend, the only thing that’s both in our mind was to do a little shopping and visit nearby walking distance places where my nephew and nieces are based.  We did not even had plans of riding the modern, intricate and very efficient subway trains!

But my sweet nephew Denden had a different agenda.  He along with his sisters (my nieces) Erika and Thatcher brought me and Nengkoy to one of the first World UNESCO Heritage Sites of Japan, the famous Himeji Castle located in Hyogo Prefecture (about an hour by speedy train from Osaka).

Upon reaching the Himeji train station, people will definitely not miss this magnificent architectural jewel for it dominates the whole place.  The 20 minute walk from the train station to the castle along a wide boulevard was also enjoyable for you will encounter arty pieces of sculptures lining the whole Otemae-dori pathway.

with my niece erika, enjoying the breezy walk along otemai-dori
with my niece erika, enjoying the breezy walk along otemae-dori

And when we reached the entrance, we were at awe on how magnificent the site was.  What I particularly loved was the bright white color of the building that contrasts the dusky overcast sky during the day of our visit.

There was a Japanese guy at the ticket vending machine who spoke in excellent English who explained to us that the castle is still under renovation and that we would not be able to enter the main castle’s interiors.  Notices posted around indicated that the renovation is expected to be finished by March 2015.  I guess in time for the peak ‘sakura’ spring season.

magnificent!
magnificent!
picture perfect!!! hahaha!
picture perfect!!! hahaha!

Nevertheless, we still purchased tickets and settled on what can be seen inside.  Indeed the view of the castle was spectacular while the Bailey and the accessible grounds that allows visitors were all fantastic.

To compensate for the restrictions to enter the main tower, the bailey and storehouses were converted into dazzling museums showing off many historical artifacts such as armor suits of shoguns, various building as well as the living quarters of Princess Sen and her multitude of female servants.

nengkoy and her beautiful grandchildren exploring the himeji castle complex
nengkoy and her beautiful grandchildren exploring the himeji castle complex
sakuramon bridge at the entrance and the moat surrounding the whole himeji castle complex
sakuramon bridge at the entrance and the moat surrounding the whole himeji castle complex
beautiful cobblestones leading to the west bailey
beautiful cobblestone stairs leading to the west bailey

Though we were not allowed entry inside the tower, I still was very impressed on what we have explored.  The whole surroundings and the atmosphere seem to remain authentic and true to its historical roots.  Indeed, our surprise visit was an overwhelmingly great experience.

Himeji Castle, is truly worth visiting when in Japan!  It definitely possess a grandiose class of its own.

Tenk yu Denden… sa uulitin…