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Monday, June 26, 2017

What If We Practiced Urban Planning in Metro Manila

My topic for my students last term was on urbanisation and one aspect I concentrated on was urban planning.

I told my students that if you were Superman and could hover over L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, you would see that 12 streets emanated from it, something you won't really notice when you're down on the arc, since you'd be dizzy from all the cars whizzing around you and of course, by the immense structure of the arc, which houses the tomb of an unknown soldier.
Furthermore, you won't see any skyscrapers in that area, as all buildings that tall were built in an area they call La Defense.
So I don't think you'd ever see a condominium development in front of the Eiffel Tower anytime soon - but here, the Manila government of Mayor Lim did not do their due diligence and allowed a condominium development to rise behind Jose Rizal's memorial.
That's how we revere our national hero. Walang urban planning, bara-bara na lang.
So I told my students, you could just imagine the political will of the French, not to allow any private developer to desecrate any of their important historical sites, something which unfortunately, many of our city mayors do not have.
Luma na? Gibain na! Gawing mall.
May open space? May park? Sementuhin na. Gawing mall.
So I told my students, by the time they reach 30, Metro Manila will have cemented all its open spaces and parks and turned them into big, humongous, boring malls.
By the way, the picture above is the Quezon Memorial Circle and its bevy of parks, way back when. Nowadays, at the rate the current local government is going, all that greenery will be gone in 20 years - and Quezon City will have no more 'lungs' and fresh air to breath.
God forbid, the UP Diliman administration of the future will also think of converting all of Diliman's open spaces into one nameless big mall into another.
It actually has begun already.......

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Beautiful Pre-World War II Pictures at Quezon Resto in Fisher Mall













The Quezon Restaurant in Fisher Mall has been there for a few years now but it's only today that we tried it - and the lunch buffet was good!
What was more interesting were their collection of pictures of the city of Manila circa the 1920s-1930s.
My pictures here don't do them justice because of their glass frame and their chandelier lighting which causes some reflection on the pictures.
Manila was indeed a genteel and a beautiful city by the bay before with, already at that time, a mixture of American and Spanish architecture.
Too bad the Japanese bombed almost everything into ruins in World War II.

Something Hot and New From Wryan Chua



Welcome to the Family Sam!



Welcome to the family, Samantha, a.k.a Roger a.k.a Sam!
He' so cute and adorable, like a baby sheep that is a dog and in the close-up, he looks like the wolf-man!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Finding Inspiration in Vincent Van Gogh













Mama and Dylan went to Teacher Amos' painting class today and they drew inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Starry Starry Night - and I think they both did well!

Movie Review: Madonna's Delectable and Sumptuous W.E.


Madonna is undeniably a visual artist and you can see it all over the last movie she directed, W.E. (which I presume stands for Wallis Edward - Wallis being the American divorcee who stole Edward away from the throne of England).
If this movie were food, it would be a very delicious cake as everything in it looks sumptuous and elegant - and you can really see how painstakingly Madonna recreated the scenes to mirror the era they were in.
For her efforts, I remember this movie getting an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design - and deservedly so!
However, I think she forgot to tell the story.
I was only a baby when the Duke died, and Mama, whom I also watched the movie with, was still a baby when all this brouhaha happened.
So I thought it was important for Madonna to 'educate' today's audience on who these people were and why should we care about them!
To make it more confusing, she used two women, living in two different eras so in the first 20 minutes of the movie - we were a bit lost to find out who was who!
Anyhow, three of my favorite actors are in this movie - Andrea Riseborough, who I find to be very pretty, Abby Cornish - who I also think is very sexy - and Oscar Isaac - an actor who has this dangerous sensuality in him!
And they all do well in the movie - if only the script allowed them to tell more of the story that would actually matter to us. And I think the 'modern' component part of the movie seemed distracting - when Madonna could've just focused on Wallis and Edward, whose story alone needed at least 120 minutes of screen time.
Well, an interesting partner to this movie would be the Oscar-winning 'The King's Speech' since Colin Firth's character there is the younger, albeit, more intelligent brother to the Edward character in this movie.
Find out where their storylines intersect in both movies and see which one delivers more gravitas.
I will watch this movie, again and again, because I love the soundtrack and the sexual tension between Cornish and Isaac (which are unfortunately, not even part of the real W.E. story), and watching all these people in elegant clothes and speaking in clipped royal and upper-class English accents.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

I had to finish John Green's 'The Fault in Our Stars' today because I had to have my clearance signed by our librarian.

I don't know why I picked this book to read because I don't really go for juvenile books as I have this unfounded condescension for things that matter to the youth.


Although I plodded at first, trying to enjoy the book (it is about dying and kids with cancer - so the premise is depressing already), I finally found my pace as I reached the middle part - especially the part when they embark on this remarkable journey to meet a person they held with such high regard.

This is actually the part that I would want to see in the movie version of the book. I would want to know if THE Van Houten in the book sizes up well with the Van Houten in the movie! (I just googled it and learned that Willem Dafoe plays the role - great choice!)

Interestingly, for the kids who grew up in the 70s, Van Houten is a well-known chocolate brand which we ate a lot as kids but has disappeared from the grocery shelves. That part is mentioned in the book, lending it some reality.

That part of the story, I thoroughly enjoyed, as well as their flirtation dialogues which sounded real as the words used should be the words young people use today when they get to know each other.

However, as the book was ending, I just rushed reading it because reading about people dying of cancer is not something I would consider as enjoyable - and that was around a hefty 20 pages before THE END.

I don't even think it's the cancer that is hard to read - it is the idea that a young person would die before he or she even lives a full life - something which many of us just take for granted.

"No parent should ever bury their own child", but this thought lingers with you as you read the book - so I guess, just like the protagonists in Ian McEwan's book 'Atonement' - we can give Augustus Waters and the heroine of the book - Hazel Grace - some God-like capacity to live out their love for as long as their physical bodies can hold off their disease.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Artworks Done By Adult Autistic Children at St. Benilde School of Art and Design







Autism was part of my lesson last term on Education for All, and I told my students that my first encounter with autism did not come from real life but from the Tom Cruise movie, Rain Man!
So early on, I learned that people with autism can function in the real world environment as long as the people around them are sensitive and tolerant to their needs.
The character of Dustin Hoffman in the movie showed immense numerical intellect and a vast memory so I was not surprised to see very well drawn artworks in tonight's art show which featured the works of some really talented youth with autism along with the interpretations done by the art and design students of Benilde.

It was a surprising and eclectic mix as the design students took inspiration from the works of these talented artists.
Based on the audience reaction, it was a productive partnership!

Art, Design, Autism: An Art Exhibition at the College of Saint Benilde - School of Arts and Design








"Art, Design, Autism" is the impressive result of the collective efforts of the College of St. Benilde, Artism and Unilab Foundation for the Benildeans to explore creative means of sustaining the practice of special artists by interpreting their works into design ideas. The exhibit is a showcase of this collaboration, which I find highly innovative and optimistic for the Special Education advocacy. See it at the DLSU-CSB School of Design and the Arts, 10am-8pm from June 16-July 29.

Here are some of the interesting stuff in the art exhibition yesterday, all designed by Benilde students, inspired by the works of the youth with autism.

Fete de La Musique Electronica Stage at 784 Time Makati Avenue











Drunk foreigners raring for a fight, 'working girls' who should've retired at 40, dance music I haven't danced to since the mid-00s, the reliable Wendy's for a food and chat break, the cute chinito DJ and his eagle-eyed gf (wife?), nice and gracious fete music lovers and the unpretentious relaxed vibe of Makati Avenue in the wee hours of the weekend.
That's how I, 'Tina Turner' and 'friend who wants to be anonymous' spent the Fete de la Musique Electronica at 7840 Time.