Saturday, October 1, 2016

Wisdom from the Road #44

On numbers
There is strength in numbers.
But one is also a good number.

They say two is company, three is a crowd. Four, five, six, seven, eight...traveling in big groups could be fun. (But might be an awful headache for the one in charge of the itinerary, accommodation, and transportation arrangements.) And there is strength in numbers budget wise: 
  • Four – the maximum number of passengers allowed in a taxi. Sometimes four people in a taxi will spend less compared to four people taking the bus.
  • Five or Ten or Whatever – some guided tours require a minimum number of people.
  • Six or Eight – some accommodations have big rooms for an even number of people, maximize this and it comes out cheaper than getting a single or double room.
  • Seven or More or Less – eating at family-style restaurants in big groups is an advantageous setup for foodies: you can order a variety of dishes for the group.
  • Ten, Fifteen, Twenty – pumpboats for island hopping come in different sizes; most don't want to ride a small boat, so the bigger the better. Maximize it to minimize the cost per person.
  • Twelve – it is faster to rent a van then to ride the bus (i.e. Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa). Most vans can accommodate 12 persons comfortably.

One. Traveling alone might be costlier than traveling with a friend of two. On the monetary side of travel, you learn to budget when going solo. On the non-monetary side of travel, you have these to look forward to:
  • You can make your own itinerary or none at all.
  • You go at your own pace. You can stick to your schedule or throw away your watch.
  • If you are running late, you only have yourself to blame. But if you have thrown your watch away then this shouldn't be an issue.
  • Did your mother tell you not to talk to strangers? Well, you become brave in approaching strangers when you need to ask for directions.
  • You develop your communication skills. Even if you don't speak or understand the language, you will somehow learn to understand each other through context clues and actions.
  • You become an expert at getting lost and finding your way back. If you get lost, you drum up the courage to ask for directions, you get creative in communicating with non-English speakers, you exercise your memory by trying to remember signs and landmarks, you become more observant (aware and alert of your surroundings), your analysis skills improve (you try to understand the complicated subway system in just a few hours or at least try to).

For more lessons from the road, please visit Go Learn.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What's in a (Business) Name? Cincuenta y seis

When it comes to fashion, don't be open-minded, be...
Spotted in J Centre Mall in Mandaue City, Cebu

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Art Aplenty in Angono, Rizal

Angono, a municipality in the province of Rizal, is home to a bevy of artists...from the millennia-ago-then to the here-and-now.

Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs
Daily 9AM to 4PM

The artists from millennia ago drew, or rather, engraved on rock and their artworks can be found at Binangonan (it is officially part of the municipality of Binangonan but access roads are through Angono). The Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs is said to be the Philippines' oldest artworks, dating to 3000 BC. These 127 figures carved on a rock shelter were discovered in 1965 by Carlos "Botong" Francisco. After the discovery, a research team also discovered tools and earthenware. The tools and earthenware are now housed at the National Museum in Manila.

The museum guide is very enthusiastic in sharing information about the site and is very open to questions. He laments though that the tools and earthenware should be housed at the museum at the site, or at least a replica of it. (Sadly, he himself hasn't seen those.)

I am glad the government has taken steps to help protect these petroglyphs. A view deck has been constructed so visitors can view the ancient artworks from afar (thus protect the site from vandals; a security guard is also stationed at the site).

11 Doña Justo St, Doña Justa Village, Brgy San Roque, Angono, Rizal
Daily 10AM to 10PM
Menu Price Range: Php190 to Php370
Serving Size: 2-3 persons

Balaw Balaw Restaurant offers exotic dishes such as beetle larvae, frog, crickets, ants, flowers, cow balls, deer, wild boar, and duck eggs. I was willing to try the ants, but none of the group was up for chewing ants, so we just went for good old pork and chicken adobo, puso sa saging (banana blossoms), and fried itik (duck). All of which were pretty good (I especially liked the puso sa saging, and fried itik), but a bit pricey.

Wooden carvings, papier-mâché figures, and paintings are found around the restaurant. And more of these are found at the second floor of Balaw Balaw which serves solely as an art gallery. There are about a hundred paintings by the late Perdigon Vocalan, the owner of Balaw Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery.

Clockwise from top left: The restaurant, adobong baboy at manok (Php270),
kinilaw na puso sa saging (Php240), crispy fried itik (Php250)

Nemiranda Art House
6 Doña Elena St, Doña Justa Village, Brgy San Roque, Angono, Rizal
Tuesday to Thursday 10AM to 10PM
Friday to Sunday 10AM to 12MN
Art House Admission Fee: Php 20

Nemiranda Art House is another art space just a few paces from Balaw Balaw Restaurant. Like Balaw Balaw, Nemiranda is also a restaurant and gallery. The front area is the restaurant and the back area is the art space for Nemesio R. Miranda Jr.'s sculptures and paintings. Restaurant patrons can check out the art house for free; non-patrons need to pay the admission fee of Php20. Look around and try to spot the bird in each of Mr. Miranda's artworks!

Carlos "Botong" Francisco Street Murals
Doña Aurora St, Pob. Itaas, Angono, Rizal

In honor of the National Artist, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, the walls along the street of Doña Aurora are adorned with reliefs of Carlos "Botong" Francisco's paintings. These reliefs were created by local sculptors. The narrow one-way street is best admired on foot.

312 Ibañez St., Brgy. San Vicente, Angono, Rizal
Tuesday to Sunday 8AM to 5PM
Admission Fee: Php 100 adult / Php 70 child

The Blanco Family Museum is an amazing gallery of paintings from every member of the Blanco family. Yes, every family member! Jose "Pitok" Blanco, the head of the family; Loreto, his wife; and his seven children (from oldest to youngest): Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy, Jan, Gay, and Peter Paul...all artists!

Within the walls of the museum is an astounding collection of art done by the Blanco family over the years. One can clearly see the impressive development of their talent, especially of the Blanco children: From kiddie oil pastel drawings done at the age of 3 to beautiful, minute-detailed oil paintings as they grew older. And it's also a wonder that Mrs Loreto Blanco started painting at the age of 48!

Jose "Pitok" Blanco died in 2008, at the age of 76. The children, all now grown (the youngest now 36), are all still practicing their art.

Paintings by Jose V. Blanco. Bottom left is his 8' x 15' masterpiece "Angono Town Fiesta"

Paintings by (clockwise from top left): Loreto (wife of Jose), Glenn, Noel, Michael

Artworks by (clockwise from top left): Joy, Jan, Gay, and Peter Paul

Other Art Galleries you might want to check out:
Carlos "Botong" Francisco Gallery - Carlos "Botong" Francisco is a Philippine National Artist
Orville Tiamson Gallery
Yab Design – creates small to larger than life resin and fiberglass figures