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Showing posts from 2005

The Gift of Travel

by Rosario Charie Albar According to Patricia Schultz, there are 1000 Places to See Before You Die . Well, I've tried to see as many as I can in 2005 and came home with many beautiful memories of the man made wonders of Egypt, the natural splendor of Yosemite National Park, the lazy days at the Wannsee Lake in Berlin, the gastronomic pilgrimage in Prague and best of all, the warmth and hospitality of old and new friends I met along the way. Travel is a gift that keeps on giving. A fellow traveler once told me that she is always happy. She is happy during the trip discovering new places and meeting people. When she returns home, she is happy with travel memories and the photographs remind her again and again of the good times she had. This happiness is sustained when she starts planning for her next trip. And then it's time again to embark on another journey. And the cycle continues. Last night I spoke with a close friend who loves to travel and whom I met on my way to Europ

The Asian Art Museum Presents 18th Century Kyoto Painters

by Rosario Charie Albar What is intriguing about the Kyoto painting exhibition, Traditions Unbound: Groundbreaking Painters of Eighteenth-Century Kyoto currently at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, is that it brings together oeuvres by both pupil and teacher. This allows the viewer to observe the similarities in their works and to trace the student’s development as an artist as he makes a mark for himself. There is a poetic thread that ties the works of Yosa Buson and his pupil, Ike Taiga. Buson, a poet, found his inspiration in haiku and Chinese poems. This is true of his scroll paintings, Landscapes of the Four Seasons . Taiga’s paintings are warm and lyrical like his Boys under a Willow Tree and Views of Mt. Fuji . The door panels of Taro Field , 1752-1811 by Matsumura Gekkei (known as Goshun) are a take-off from the work of his teacher, Maruyama Okyo, entitled Chickens and Banana Trees . In both paintings, the austere background keeps the focus on the subject. The ar

Ho, Ho, Ho

by Rosario Charie Albar There are only a few shopping days left before Christmas. And as many of us brave the crowds, scramble for parking spaces at shopping malls across the country and bite the steep sticker price of gifts we'll give to friends and family, let us not forget the reason for the season. Let us reach out to those who are in need during this period of giving just as the Three Wise Men brought generous gifts to a child born in a humble stable on the first Christmas day. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you and me. Merry Christmas, Maligayang Pasko, Maalipayon nga Pascua, Feliz Navidad, Meli Kalikimaka, Prettige Kerstdagen, Joyeux Noël, Buon Natale, Frohe Weihnachten! * * *

A Friend at the Next Destination

by Rosario Charie Albar During the many years I've traveled solo, I've rarely felt alone or lonely. As a Filipina traipsing around the globe, I can easily make friends with a ngiti , smile and a simple kumusta , how are you. The much touted word, diaspora, is the reason why no matter where my travels take me, there is often a friend at the next destination. About two months ago I was in Prague at the Church of Our Lady Victorious. This is the home of the Infant Jesus of Prague which is in a temperature-controlled glass case. During mass I noticed two kababayans seated behind me. I turned around and extended my hand to them in the traditional “Peace be with you” greeting. I lingered a little bit after mass to examine a painting of the Madonna and Child on a side altar. I was surprised and pleased to see that the Madonna was dressed in a saya and nipa huts were at her feet. Crossing the street in search of a restaurant, I saw the two Filipinos I had noticed earlier in chu

"Love of Art Enriches Life"

by Rosario Charie Albar Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton Photo courtesy of the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico Picture this. I'm on a small island surrounded by exquisite beaches. But I'm not baking in the sun, I'm in the cool interior of a "museo de arte", gazing admiringly at a bodegon. Where am I? If you answered Puerto Rico, you have already discovered its best kept secrets - its fine arts museums. Here in Santurce, a short bus ride from Old San Juan, is the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (MAPR). It is the home of masterworks by Puerto Rican artists whose legacy spans nearly 500 years. Open since July 2000, the MAPR has amassed a collection of paintings, sculptures, folk art, ceramics, photography and graphic arts, all chronologically exhibited in a classical revival building. José Campeche is one of Puerto Rico's principal painters from the 18th century. His religious canvas, Virgen de la Soledad de la Victoria (1782-89), is a fine example of r

Prague - Czech it out!

by Rosario Charie Albar In the land of Mozart and Dvorak, jazz boats cruise the Vltava River. As a jazz fan, this is music to my ears. My new friend, Noubikko, a transplant from California, was shocked when I asked him to point me to a jazz club. “What? No Mozart concert for you?”, he teased me mockingly. Instead, we found ourselves in a five-story disco club where young people gyrated to the beat of heavy metal and hard rock. This is Prague. It is old, it is new. It minuets and it rocks. On my first day in town, Noubikko showed me how to make my wish come true. Standing on Charles Bridge, he told me to place my hand on top of a gold cross embossed on the stone railing and my right foot over a tiny gold dot just below it. Then pointing his finger across the river, he motioned me to look as far as my eyes could see before making a wish. I hesitated, checking carefully to ensure my gaze extended to the most distant reaches of the Vltava to make this exercise a success. Several years a

Berlin - A Tale of Two Sisters

by Rosario Charie Albar Barely two hours after landing at Tegel airport, I’m whisked by friends to a private club on the Wannsee Lake. I call it “Sonia’s Villa”. My friend, Sonia who recently turned 80 years of age, had worked 33 years at a government bank. As a former employee, she has access to the well-manicured grounds of this beautiful resort. Under the shade of a large plane tree, we lie on beach chairs overlooking the calm, cerulean waters of the Wannsee. Sailboats flutter in the slight breeze and the soft rustle of leaves is balm to my jarred senses. But I can’t seem to unwind. My travel weary body is as stiff as a camel buried under Sahara sands. I’m on vacation but my subconscious is still at work. The next few days include visits to the villa in late afternoon. I’m feeling more relaxed and enjoying the routine of drinking tea and eating sweets while watching the sun slide down the horizon, transforming the lake from shades of blue to shimmering grey. It is an idyllic t

Vienna, Salzburg and Budapest

  The Kiss by Gustav Klimt from the digital show at the Atelier des Lumieres Everything seems big in Vienna - its buildings, the wide boulevards, its palaces and its art collection. But it has a cozy feel that warms up to you soon after you arrive. Within the old city once surrounded by walls, are many testaments to the power this capital once held. I strolled to church on a Sunday morning and attended mass at the Church of Maria am Gestade, a Neo-Gothic structure that sits above a flight of stairs on Heinrichgasse. The space is small and narrow, so much so that its nave does not run on a straight line from the altar. Nevertheless, this church is still one of the most beautiful and intimate places of worship in Vienna. The size of the art collection at the Kunsthistoriches is formidable but rewarding for the viewer. It appears that the Hapsburgs were serious art collectors. There are Mid-Eastern, Western, and decorative arts on display. (Sadly the Egyptian collection was closed on the

Sensory Overload

Karnak Temple   As the wheels of our plane glided across the runway at Luxor airport, I had the impression we were landing on a bed of sand. Egypt, after all, is a vast desert broken by the Nile River and delta. But rather than steaming Sahara-like temperatures, the chilly air had me buttoning up my jacket. Eyes heavy with sleep, I followed a group of people to a waiting bus where our guide outlined our plan for the day. We were driving directly to Karnak to avoid the hordes of tourists who were surely still drinking their first cup of morning coffee. I was quite unprepared for what I was about to see. Who was Amun for whom the great temples of Karnak and Luxor were built? In the Ban region where the veneration of Amun thrives, the locals refer to him as “The Unknowable Lord” because he represented the hidden life force of the universe. Amun rose in stature to king of the gods when he was later associated with Re, the sun god, for which he was accorded the name Amun-Re. When Amun-Re’s

Sand in my Shoe

Racing out of Cairo toward Giza, I caught a glimpse of the pyramids in the distant horizon. I saw hazy outlines because the Egyptian sky goddess, Nut, had swallowed all but a tiny slice of the sun and the sheer veil of twilight had draped the countryside. Looking out the window, I was surprised to see the looming pyramid of Kufhu (Cheops). It would take another week before I could view these vestiges of the Old Kingdom up close and explore them intimately. For several days we drifted leisurely on the Nile, from Luxor to Aswan, and marveled at the temples and tombs of the kings. Every morning I woke up to a spectacular sunrise and the promise of new discoveries. Our guide would take us to a historical site early in the day and there he would nourish us with interesting vignettes of  pharaonic civilization. The evenings were devoted to sampling Egyptian cuisine and  colorful local entertainment. The unhurried and gentle life on the Nile with tremendous views of green riverbanks bordered

Has Portofino Sold Out?

Italian Riviera by Mario Borgoni* Memories of my first visit to Portofino linger like a favorite scent. We were driving from the south of France and across the border to Italy, ducking in and out of tunnels which stretches on for miles, when we got stuck inside one due to an accident that snarled traffic  along the coast of Genoa. It was a big relief when the line of cars finally started moving and we could breathe fresh air again. Today it’s different. I’m taking a public bus for the short ride to Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure. Along the way, the driver honks the horn just before a blind curve and he repeats this at every bend to warn oncoming cars of our approach. It’s important that he sounds the horn often on these hairpin turns so drivers can stick to their side of this pencil-thin road. After the driver deposits us behind the Piazetta, I walk to the dock to get a good view of the sheltered cove. It is as I remember it. Waterfront cafés and restaurants, boats bobbing in t