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!

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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!

Pinoy Elements in Villa Escudero

If I am to choose a place where to bring a foreigner-friend so as to fully immerse him to the culture of the Philippines, I would choose Villa Escudero in Tiaong Quezon. 

team langit in front of the museum

Villa Escudero seem to contain and characterize a wide assortment of a true Filipino culture.  Employees from engineering, to servers, to housekeeping and receptionists are all comfortably dressed in the traditional “patadyong” for the ladies and the colorful “camisa de chino” are worn by the guys.

The structures of Villa Escudero room accommodations are all native, characteristic of the traditional Filipino house known as “Bahay Kubo”.  Villa Escudero also boasts of a marvelous museum collection, majority of which are about the rich Filipino religion, clothings, history and even fauna.

After a glorious Filipino buffet lunch right in the middle of a river with a man-made waterfalls as a backdrop, guests will get to enjoy and watch a Filipino show inside a humongous pavilion.  The show features various uniquely Filipino dances, costumes and customs.  I particularly loved the energetic TInikling dance, the funny vignette about Sabong, the robust and brawny Maglalatik and of course the singing of the song Filipinas at the end of the show.  The show boasts about its authenticity for it was conceptualized and choreographed by the late Filipino National Artist for Dance, Mr. Ramon Obusan. 

Then later in the afternoon, guests would get to enjoy and listen to a “harana” (a serenade).  In the old days in the Philippines, a way for a suitor to woo a lady is by having a visit in the lady’s house.  But prior to being allowed inside the lady’s abode, the suitor needs to sing by the lady’s window otherwise known as the Harana

If the young lass showed up through her window, it means that the admirer will be welcomed inside the house after he finish his singing.  But if the lady refuse to show up and face the singing dude by her window, it signifies that she is not interested towards the guy singing outside. In Villa Escudero, their male employees get to sing old and traditional Filipino song in front of the houses where guests are billeted as if they are doing a “harana”.

But what I am most impressed about the authentic Filipino element present in Villa Escudero was its excellent food selection during breakfast.  Never have I seen a buffet breakfast as Filipino as that of the selection of dishes served in Villa Escudero! 

pinoy breakfast!

It seem that all remarkable Filipino breakfast dishes are featured in their buffet.  Aside from the usual fruits, yogurt, cereals, jams, milk and eggs, there were Filipino breakfast varieties like Champorado, Singangag, Lannganisa, Lugaw, Gatas Ng Calabao, Suman Sa Lihiya, Bibingka, Crispy Danggit, Crispy Dilis, Quesong Puti and of course Kapeng Barako.

Why do I know all these?  It is because Villa Escudero was again the chosen venue of Nengkoy for her to celebrate her 81st birthday.  Six years ago, this was the same venue for Nengkoy’s 75th birthday.  Villa Escudero no matter what year we visit still has the same authentic Filipino elements for everybody to enjoy.

nengkoy having buffet lunch by the water falls
i love it here…

Ay Lab Bilya Eskudero…

Bravura of Hagia Sophia

VoucherCloud, a money-saving app, last year released a world map that identifies each country’s most popular tourist destination based on TripAdvisor’s top-rated “things to do” feature.  Surprisingly and with a bit of disappointment, the stand out for my country, the Philippines, was Kayangan Lake.  But where is that?  I wonder how this lake beat and knocked out world-class destinations like El Nido, Boracay and Bohol.

spectacular especially at night
massive indoor view
impressive minbar, the pulpit where the imam stands to delivers sermons
grand calligraphic panes!
selfie muna
monolithic marble cubes: these massive liquid container is used to distribute juice to the public for holy nights and prayer celebrations

But when I checked Turkey, I was super happy to know that this beautiful country’s top destination was the Hagia Sophia.  Though they seem to be a flop in the Philippines, VoucherCloud and TripAdvisor are so correct with the Turkey result.  I have recently been to Turkey and only a stupid, puny and absurd tourist will miss the majesty, grandeur and beauty of the great Hagia Sophia.

As one of Turkey’s most celebrated landmark, the great Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church for 916 years. It was later converted into an imperial mosque by a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and stayed as such for 482 years.  Then in 1935, it was transformed into a museum and was later considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It may have a turbulent past but because of its rich and significant historical background, Hagia Sophia easily earns respect from all religions and occupations.

Though every nook and corner of this building seem to have an intense and loud story to tell and despite being the busiest and most visited attraction in Turkey, the Hagia Sophia still maintains its calm and peaceful effect towards its visitors.

I don’t have a tip on how to explore this ancient structure.  The only advice I can give to all those who will be fortunate to visit this top Turkish destination is to breathe, digest and admire the bravura of the rich stories of this spectacular structure.

mother mary with baby jesus in the middle. to the left is emperor john komnenos while to her right is empress irene
theotokos! apse mosaic
lovely dome
ancient deisis mosaic treasure…
at awe!

Nakakamangha!

Stepping Into the Good Olden Days of Osaka

Only now that I realized that in the past 7 times that I have travelled to Japan, only few times did I went to a public art museum.  Reason maybe is because Japan in itself is one whole country of a public museum.  Everything you see, touch and feel seem worthy of being preserved, collected and exhibited.

When I go to a foreign country, I often set aside a day to visit either an art, cultural or historical museum.  I call it my “cultural day”.  A day when my soul is fed with art, history and culture.  But being in Japan, everyday seem to be a “cultural day”.

LIFE doesn’t come with an instruction manual, it comes with a MOTHER!

 

Though it is my 8th journey to Japan, this visit is still something different.  It is because I got to go and check on an actual museum.  And what is so unique about it is that I myself seem to be part of the museum’s exhibit.

While my nieces and nephews settled to go to Osaka’s Universal Studios, accompanied by one of my nieces, I, my sisters and Nengkoy went to Osaka Museum of Housing & Living.

super fun dressing up!
i love this shot!
what’s cooking?
gabi na! hahaha!

 

i call this the “rabbies shot”! hahaha!

The whole museum is a replica of an old Japanese town, specifically during Japan’s Edo period.  The cool thing about this museum is you got to rent and wear clothes of people during that era.  Thus, visitors donned in kimonos and yukatas can interactively feel how it really was 200 years ago in Osaka.

Adding up the modern Japanese technology, the lighting and sound simulations of the whole museum would shift, in which visitors would get to witness how it is to be during early morning dawn, daytime and nighttime period of the Edo era.   The awesome feeling was like stepping into  the good olden days of Osaka!

super fun peeping back into some japanese history…

Ang galing!

Traveling In Strange Circles by William Allan

I am in San Francisco.  And in keeping with my personal tradition of visiting a museum every time I travel abroad, I went to SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts).  Like what I personally do in the past inside a museum, I let those pieces of art feed the cultural facet of my soul.  And the one that most moved me will be featured in the Nengkoy blog.

one of the iconic works of andy warhol

I thought that it would be the works of Andy Warhol that will most fascinate me.  Though seeing his works is one of the highlights of my San Francisco adventure, it was actually this that nudged a silvery spur into my little brain:

traveling in strange circles by william allan
great shot by the equally entranced lady

I was easily entranced by the work of William Allan.  This big piece of acrylic painting on canvass is entitled Traveling in Strange Circles done in 1973.

An old lady who was with me inside the gallery, I guess saw some glow spilling out from my body, she involuntarily volunteered and asked if I would want a photo with the piece of beautiful art.  I of course obliged.  She too was so impressed by the works of William Allan it took quite a lot of time before both of us left that specific section in SFMOMA.

Before I left the William Allan gallery, I told the old lady, “I want that piece in my room!” while pointing to the great piece of art.  The lady then smiled and told me,”You then need quite a lot of fortune before you can own such an excellent piece of work”.  Both of us laughed and bid each other goodbye.

Traveling in Strange Circles though made in 1973 is very modern and is very on with the times.  It is a happy painting.  I never imagined liking a piece of painting that centers a pair of sneakers in it.  Or maybe the painting in a way represents me, a person who loves to travel.

Akong ako ang peynting na ‘to. Kalyehero!  

A Refreshing Day at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

hunter's moon 2007 by jim dine
hunter’s moon 2007 by jim dine

 

With the rich and complex history and events that took place that resulted to a worldwide belief, culture and conviction, Israel in itself can be revered as a living or breathing museum.  Every street corner seem to have a history connected either to Islam, Judaism or Christianity.  Every crook, bend or junction seem to have something interesting to tell.

And when I was in Israel, I thought visiting a museum seem no longer noteworthy unlike the way I would usually require myself to visit at least one museum every time I got to go to a foreign country.  The feeling of being in Israel itself was like being in a museum 24/7.

But when I got a good window of a time to go to an actual museum, I was hesitant at first but nevertheless, pursued with my commonly known “cultural day”.  I did visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

The vibrant mix of pieces featured in Tel Aviv Art Museum are poles apart from the arts and artifacts seen in the old streets of Israel.  The art pieces were not of a biblical, dogmatic or spiritual in nature.  Instead, featured art were more of an intense personal expression, more of an eclectic retrospect and view and more of a strange emotional articulation.  Its novelty-ness, freshness and innovation are awesomely high!

awesome collection!
awesome collection!
super pop art entitled "shit boy showers" part of the rosenfeld gallery collection
super pop art entitled “shit boy showers” part of the rosenfeld gallery collection
sensory overload!
sensory overload!
refreshing!
refreshing!
cool ink works by justine frank. i want these printed on shirts and wear it!
cool ink works by justine frank. i want these printed on shirts and wear it!
my personal favorite entitled: "construction workers" by moshe matosovsky
my personal favorite entitled: “construction workers” by moshe matosovsky
the hallways of the museum are already a modernism form of art itself
the hallways of the museum are already a modernism form of art itself
the massive entrance hall along with some of the awesome art pieces!
the massive entrance hall along with some of the awesome art pieces!

The modernism are so breath-taking I could not control myself from saying “Wow!”  The visual art pieces were so cool and fresh, I want it printed on shirts and wear it!  Tel Aviv Museum of Art indeed is a remarkable representation of modern Israel.

Kakaiba ka!