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!

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…

Meeting the First King of the Philippines in New York

Filipinos nowadays have developed the extreme love and proud-ness towards the Philippines.  It is so extreme, some would already categorize it as being conceited.  Some of the Filipinos are even fed up and would even go nuts when they would see “Proud To Be Pinoy” comments in a social media post that depicts success and triumph of a “kababayan” (fellow Filipino citizen)

But have you ever wondered how does the man whom the Philippines was named after looked like?  We proud Pinoys, I guess, never had the interest and curiosity on how King Philip II of Spain looked like.

In the whole duration of my student life – that honed my nationalistic stance – never was there a chance that a teacher, an instructor or a professor showed me the photo of the man whom my country was named after.  Considering that the academic world would be the most likely place where to see the image of this man, this regrettably never happened.  I never saw a single photo of the guy whom I consider to be the first king of my country.

And while I am on my post-student life, I actually am not familiar about the life of this king and much less I actually have zero idea on how King Phillip II looked like.  If he looked like a weakling chap, a skinny dude, a hunky fellow or a lumbersexual guy?  I have no idea at all.

patio from the castle of velez blanco
patio from the castle of velez blanco inside the met

That is why when I saw the bust sculpture of a man at the Patio from the Castle of Velez Blanco inside the Metropolitan Museum in New York City I did not right away recognize it.  When I read the label, indicating that it is the bust sculpture of King Philip II of Spain that was the only time I thought that this could be the same man whom my country was named after.

My inquisitiveness led me to right away google the words “Spain, King Phillip II, and Philippines” from my mobile phone.  The image I saw in my mobile was the very same image that was in front of me.  When I further read the information indicated in the net, it was the only time I knew how my first king looked like.

king philip ii of spain
king philip ii of spain
a great thanks to this lumbersexual chap!
a great thanks to this lumbersexual chap!

After recognizing, knowing and finally confirming the image, I stood right in front of the bust sculpture, I smiled and simply uttered “Hi!” Before I left the patio square to visit other galleries within The Met. I walked back to the same sculpture I took a photo and say “Thank you dude!”

Syet nakalimutan ko mag-selfie sa Unang Hari ng Pinas.

Swept Away by the Statue of Liberty

It took me some sweet days in New York before I was able to go to the Liberty Island, no thanks to the cold, punitive and prolonged winter.  I literally pushed myself on seeing the statue because I agree with every organism’s principle living on this breathing planet that you have actually never been to New York (or the United States for that matter) if you haven’t seen the Statue of Liberty.

a selfie with lib!
a selfie with lib!
"welcome to new york"
“welcome to new york”

On the day of my visit, I was actually already feeling jittery when I reached the Battery Park and got hold of my ferry ticket that will bring me to Liberty Island.  Such jitters were of reasons I don’t know.  It took less than ten minutes for the ferry boat to reach the island.  And even before the ferry has docked, all of us passengers were already taking photos of the stupendous statue of the unsmiling expressionless green lady holding a torch.

After taking a photo, I was experiencing some strange visual mirage.  I was seeing the green lady to be smiling and seem to be uttering some words while waving its arms towards us.  And then, all of a sudden I was suffering from acoustic illusion and could actually hear the most iconic American representation of freedom and democracy singing the song of Taylor Swift entitled “Welcome to New York”.

After a short walk of the island and while taking the next ferry to bring me to Ellis Island did I realize that the experience was so breathtaking it made me hallucinate.  But further contemplation made me conclude that such irrational visions and hearing was actually due to extreme envy.

american icon!
american icon! that’s my shot! i love it!
swept away by the grandeur of this lady
swept away by the grandeur of this lady

I was green-eyed and jealous of the fact that the United States is so free, democratic and unregimented.  I was so envious of the massive opportunities and social services provided to its citizens for them to live descent lives.  I was so envious of the fact that their country is such a superpower it can actually control and influence world affairs.  And lastly, which is actually the most essential, is that citizens has the right to wear leather jackets, trench coats and fashionable layers of clothing without bursting a single sweat gland.

Taray ni Libertad!  Dyaygantik!


A Rare Black Dude at the J. Paul Getty Museum

Every time I am in a country for the first time, I always try my best to visit a museum.  When me and Karen (one of my super travel buddies) are together on an out-of-the-country-adventure we would call it “the cultural day”.  Since it’s the day to appreciate high culture – some pieces of art of outstanding quality or historical importance – which in some ways feed our soul, we would somehow dress up a notch higher than the usual.

Of course my first-time visit to Los Angeles, California was no different from my other first-time visits to other countries.  It is because I and my super travel friends had a cultural day. We went to the one of the most visited museums in USA, the renowned and reputed J. Paul Getty Museum.

j. paul getty museum, los angeles, california
j. paul getty museum, los angeles, california
karen & joesel going up the hill via tram on a "cultural day"
karen & joesel going up the hill via tram on a “cultural day”
some fashion posing on a cultural day at the getty
feeding our soul with some fine art at the getty
(count how many bellies are there in this photo)

As I feed my soul from the captivating pieces of art, the one piece that moved me more than any other is the 1758 black stone sculpture entitled “Bust of a Man” made by an English dude named Francis Harwood.

Apart from the innate beauty of the bust, it struck me how unusual it was to see a sculpted figure of a gorgeous black man at that point of Western art history.  It would definitely be rare to see a man of African descent depicted as a person during the time it was sculpted because black Africans then (as I understand) were considered objects of slavery. 

I stood next to this man for quite a long time and instinctively absorb what it transmits and evokes.

me and the rare black dude
me and the rare black dude
bust of a man by francis harwood
bust of a man by francis harwood

What moved me is that the depicted features of the face conveys adversities, past terrors and destitutions.  But the neck and the massive muscle features of the chest sends messages of poise, strength and self-reliance.  While the strong jaw and up-turned head conveys conviction, audacity and nobility with an almost squire and patrician bearing.  A valiant vision perhaps of numerous centuries that it would take before equality would turn from wish to reality.

O di ba… ang itim pero dramatik…