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Showing posts from June, 2017

On graduations and history

The road blocks on Freedom Park and the appearance of the tent and the chairs marked the beginning of the end of another academic year in UPLB (and in the other UP campuses): the senior class of the university was going to march and to receive their diplomas in front of friends and family. A joyous occasion, definitely; but what made this year's commencement exercises remarkable for me is the presence of an Aeta, the first Aeta to finish college in UP (UP Manila), being part of this year's graduating class. 
His name is Norman King. Norman received his BSc Behavioural Sciences degree. As he walked up the stage, I am sure that he knew that he was making history. By no means is he the first Aeta who graduates from college; there are many Aetas finishing their degrees in Pampanga. But Norman made UP history be being the first of the Aetas to graduate from the top-ranked university in the Philippines. His story is inspiring because he has not allowed his culture to limit his pote…

10 things I learned while driving on Marcos Highway to Baguio City

I went on a day trip to the City of Pines, which was around a 700-km drive from my house. I drove going up there and then from the city to Victoria, Tarlac. After that, my dad took over the driving duties. It was day trip with Tita Ising and Tito Sibing with us.
Anyway, this trip was my first time to go to Baguio City with me behind the wheel. As everyone who drives up knows, there are three main routes to Baguio from the lowlands: Kennon Road, which ascends from Rosario, La Union. It was out of my options because it's too dangerous to use that road in the rainy season. The second route is via Naguilian Road, which makes my trip a lot longer because the beginning of the ascent is in Bauang, La Union (further north). The last route, and the one I took, was the Marcos Highway, now known as the Aspiras-Palispis Highway. This 47-km road starts from Agoo, La Union and is touted as the safest route among the three. 
As I drove up and then down (on the same day; we were in Baguio City f…

Toruk: The First Flight

Many years ago, I was one of the many people who watched James Cameron's Avatar twice on the big screen: once on the regular cinema and another time on IMAX. So when I learned that Cirque du Soleil was bringing Toruk: the First Flight to Manila, I was so excited! This happens only months after I've watched Luzia under the Grand Chapiteau.
Basically, Toruk is like a prequel to the events leading up to Avatar. But instead of Star Wars-esque style of narrating, the show features puppetry, acrobatics, great music, and audience participation via their mobile phones. 
As always, I watched in awe as the story happened seamlessly in front of me. The lighting and the production design were so intricate... my absolute favourite were the sparkly things floating around that are supposed to be wood sprites. I also likes how the staging made me focus on one side of the stage while they were prepping the new props on the other side; so by the time I looks back, there's a new scene there…

Film Talks with Nick de Ocampo. Part 2: Horror

Professor Nick de Ocampo is featured in Ayala Museum's trilogy lecture series on film. I'm not a film buff nor a film-maker but I wanted to spend my Saturday afternoons educating myself culturally. So I ended up taking a seat in his film lecture series.


I had so much fun listening in Nick's film lecture on comedy that I decided to watch his talk on horror. I have to admit that I am not, absolutely not, a fan of horror movies. I couldn't sleep after watching this type of movies. So imagine the torture I had to go through when my elder cousins kept showing Child's Play and Friday the Thirteenth on the telly. I also can't stand Saw, Psycho, The Shining... I could barely watch Interview of the Vampire, for goodness sakes!

Anyway, as the saying goes: face your fears. I thought that if a horror film is dissected into its basic components, I wouldn't be as frightened anymore.

And indeed, that was how Nick tackled his lecture series... very academic and scholarly. …

Old Manila in photos and paintings

Manila is a city established on June 24, 1571 by Miguel Lop├ęz de Legazpi. This year, therefore, marks its 446th founding anniversary. But note that in this post, I refer to the greater metro area as Manila in general, not just the old walled city built by the Spaniards.
For me, finding old photos of Manila is always fun because it gives me a glimpse of what this modern city looked like back in the day. These days, Manila is a busy metropolis of buildings, millions of vehicles (hello, EDSA traffic!) and of people (parts of Manila have higher population densities than Tokyo, Dhaka, Kolkata, Mumbai, Paris, and Shanghai). In fact, it's so crowded that there's an urgent need to find a way to move these people to and from work and school in the most efficient way. 
It's quite difficult to imagine Manila from the time it was an idyllic city. The photos I've seen exhibited at the Ayala Museum demonstrate what it was like back then. Although I expected that there were horse-dr…

Meryenda at Antonio's

Unfortunately, the restaurants that Ate Bing suggested in Silang, Cavite were closed when we went on our road trip. Could they have declared a holiday too because it's Rizal's birthday?
No biggie: we could always drive up to Tagaytay City for dessert. This was fast becoming a real road trip, cool! The good thing is that the roads in Tagaytay were mostly clear... people were not in Tagaytay that afternoon!
So, we went to a restaurant I haven't tried yet: Breakfast at Antonio's. Ironically, we were there to eat dessert. This explains why Ate Mary and Ate Bing both ordered for puddings while Man and Krishna got crepes. I, as predictable as I am, ordered a chocolate truffle cheesecake.
A post shared by Mary Ann Burac (@marianggala) on Jun 20, 2017 at 6:15am PDT

Man has always been into taking "flat lay" photos to post in his Instagram account. I haven't figured out yet how he can make shadows cast by his iPhone disappear. What I know is that we have to wait f…

Lunch at Asiong's

The museum-hoppers were at it again! This year, however, we opted to celebrate Jose Rizal's birthday (our excuse to go on a road trip in search of good food and some history lessons) in Silang, Cavite. At Asiong's of Cavite, to be precise. I first the owner, Sonny Lua, at a food-writing workshop organised by Amy Besa at Enderun Colleges. Then I saw his dishes featured at the Madrid Fusion Manila 2016 (I didn't hang around, however, because I was just going around with my parents). 
But his dishes made an impact when I first tasted Cavite cuisine so I kept his restaurant in mind for the next trip of the museum-hoppers. I asked Ate Mary, Man, Ate Bing, and Krishna to try the famous pancit pusit (which I couldn't eat so they had to enjoy it while I watched). I enjoyed the pancit with banana hearts. We partook of the beef caldereta as well. The food was delicious! We just didn't have the space for dessert anymore.
With bellies full, it was time to explore what Silang,…

Fashion show of priestly garb

On a beautiful but balmy Saturday afternoon, I wanted to escape the heat so I took refuge at the Ayala Museum. It helped that it was featuring, on that afternoon, the creations of designer-turned-monk Dom Martin Hizon Gomez, OSB.

Gomez used Filipino fabrics and ethnic patterns as designs for the priests' robes. There are several colours, I learned, connected with the time of the year or with the religious festivities. Red vestments are worn during the Feasts of the Holy Spirit and the Martyrs. Blue is the theme for feasts honouring the Virgin Mary. Purple is worn during Advent and Lent. Black is for Masses for the Dead. Priests wear pink vestments too, on Gaudete Sunday and Laetare Sunday. Gold is worn to honour the solemnities of the Lord. And green is used during ordinary time.

I always thought that priests just wore coloured vestments based on when they felt like wearing the different colours!

At the end of the day, I still felt that this exhibit looks like a department store …

Film Talks with Nick de Ocampo. Part 1: Comedy

Professor Nick de Ocampo is featured in Ayala Museum's trilogy lecture series on film. I'm not a film buff nor a film-maker but I wanted to spend my Saturday afternoons educating myself culturally. So I ended up taking a seat in his film lecture series.
Comedy is a genre aimed at making us laugh, to suspend our reality to help us to temporarily forget our problems in real life. As I listened to Nick talk about comedy, I learned that comedy is not just one big funny bone; there are sub-genres, some laugh-out-loud and some require more mental work for us to see the humour in them.

He started off his lecture with the slapstick comedy. Charlie Chaplin was his example, demonstrating that music and gestures are enough to change our mindset of a very depressing situation (they were so desperate that they were down to eating the leather of Charlie Chaplin's shoes) to see it as a funny scene. Thought-provoking. I suddenly remembered Fiddler on the Roof because that movie was al…

Sunday on the driving range

The clouds in Laguna couldn't rain on our parade, that's for sure. We left the wet and wild province for an afternoon of golf (actually, we were just in the driving range... we didn't go to the fairway yet) in Alabang, where it was all sunny and bright. 
Daddy was well-prepared. He packed my golf hat together with my golf clubs (take note: they're left-handed women's clubs) and my glove. Daddy also brought his own clubs so that Val could practice golf swings too.
And then, we took lessons from a professional golf player. He corrected our swings, which was good for me because Daddy and Tito Tony couldn't teach me (a southpaw) how to properly do it because the instructions are totally in the opposite direction. In Val's case, the pro player was able to teach him the half-swing. While I was able to let the balls go a respectable distance (50 to 100 metres... nothing to laugh at because I used to not hit the ball!), Val just let the balls fly! Not bad for newb…