December 31, 2010

[SkyWatch] Happy New Year!

I captured the last minutes of our sunset last night as we were heading home from our four-day mini-holiday.

 Ilocos Sur, 2010

And as the sun is setting on another year, I wish you a...

Linking with the community at SkyWatch Friday.

December 29, 2010

X is for Xintan Drum Tower

This pretty drum tower is in Xintan Village, an ethnic minority Dong village in the mountain province of Guizhou in China. 

 Guizhou, 2006

This is linked with Denise's ABC Wednesday, where the letter of the week is X.

December 25, 2010

O Tannebaum

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!
Each bough doth hold its tiny light,
That makes each toy to sparkle bright.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!

No doubt every family that celebrates Christmas has its own traditions. One such special memory for me from way back when I was a little girl was that our family lit the tree with real candles, if only to give us a few minutes of warm glow. It delighted everyone.

Last Christmas our tree decoration on the Sunshine Coast of BC was firmly directed by our mother; she wanted a simple elegant tree of white and silver with accents of blue. And, naturally, real candles. Her wish was gladly our command - it was to be our last Christmas together and we knew that. 

  Sunshine Coast, 2009

The cozy result pleased us all, but more importantly, the precious warm time spent together to make this tree happen will remain a profound memory.

Whatever your traditions, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you warmth in your heart, not only this day, but every day throughout the year.

I leave you with a link to Vienna Boys' Choir singing O Tannenbaum, a song often heard and sung in my childhood.


I also take this moment to thank my blogging friends for your generous gifts of encouragement and sharing. I may not be blogging for the next few days as I will be on yet another short road trip. See you again before the year is out.

Fairy Ballerina

When I was just a little girl... I loved being a ballerina. Today I still enjoy going to the ballet. It's about the grace, the elegance, the powerful fluid movement.

Seeing these fairy ballerinas at an upscale mall in Makati recently made me smile. Must be the little girl in me.

 Manila, 2010

The lit figures were nicely reflected in the windows, and when the images are enlarged you may find some other fun reflections, so I am linking with James' Weekend Reflections.

To everyone visiting today: Merry Christmas Eve!

December 24, 2010

[SkyWatch] Batangas Beach Sunset

After a predominantly gray day in Quezon province two weekends ago, we drove back towards home and stopped at Laiya Beach in the province of Batangas. The skies opened up for us. 

We checked into a small resort on what had developed into an entire strip of resorts since we last were there five years ago. Then I went for a walk along the beach with my camera just in time to catch the changing colors of the sky as the sun set.

Batangas, 2010

These are for SkyWatch Friday where skies from around the globe are linked. 

December 23, 2010

All Decorated

Another year goes by that I don't go out to capture what I know are gloriously decorated streets and churches and other public places. Daunted by traffic jams and short on time are my lame excuses. 

But I did go out last night around the neighborhood and found some lovely decorated villages (what you may call subdivision) and homes to show you and the community at Alphabe-Thursday who are sharing their holiday cheers. [All images can be enlarged.]

 My personal preference is for simple and elegant white.

Here you see the smaller home version of the grand parols I posted two days ago. What I like most are the decorations made of capiz shells aka window oysters: thin translucent shells. I will tell you more about this versatile shell in future posts.

 And another holiday e-greeting for new visitors.

Manila, 2010

December 21, 2010

[MyWorld] Pampanga Parols

No Christmas would be complete in the Philippines without the dazzling display of parols - handmade lanterns of every size, color and shape - throughout cities and towns, on the streets, shops and homes.

But the grandest display of all you will find in the province of Pampaga. Every December since 1931 teams of parol craftsmen of various barangays (villages) of the town of San Fernando come together to show off their ingenuity and design talents and to compete in the Giant Lantern Festival. This is an event that today draws scores of spectators from near and far. 

The parols are traditionally painstakingly made by hand with bamboo and paper, but today materials like plastic and fiberglass are also used. Each parol is about  6 meter / 20 feet in diameter and is illuminated by 3,500 to 5,000 light bulbs. If you'd like to learn more about the history and making of parols, a Pinoy blogger explains it well here.

This year nine lanterns put on a splendid light show. There were three rounds. In the first, each parol was given a time period to display a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes to recorded music of their choice (I think it was five minutes). [As usual, images can be enlarged.]

  Pampanga, 2010

In the second round, three parols displayed together to music played by a brass band.

And in the final round, all nine put on a show (from where I was standing  I could only get eight to fit the frame).

I could dispay a hundred photos of lanterns and still you would not get a fair presentation of the range of images; yet here is a montage of another 15 for you to enjoy.

For this event I wish I had been able to record a part of it on video to show  you the full effect of the parol display. Take a minute and watch this one taken last year.
I also used one of the parols to create my seasonal e-card for you.

This is my world and I link with the team at  MyWorld Tuesday.

December 20, 2010

Beach Morning Glory

Ipomoea pes-caprae - commonly known as beach morning glory or goat's foot - is a tropical vine that grows readily on tough terrains and in open spaces, in the Philippines and elsewhere. 

Follow this link or the ones given by Andrea in the comments below for more information. Andrea's own blog, by the way, is a treasure trove of great plant and other information.

I captured this pretty flowering vine on our brief trip to Quezon last weekend. This first photo was taken on the beach at the resort we stayed.

 Quezon, 2010

The photos for this montage were taken on the beach you may have seen on my post a few days ago: the flowers are visible there if you enlarge the last photo. [Both images can be enlarged.]

I link with Today's Flower and Mosaic Monday.

PS. The information in this post has been corrected with huge thanks to blogger friend, Andrea. When researching this again, I also learned that the fresh leaf of this vine can be used to relieve jellyfish poisoning... and that is handy to know for those of us in the tropics who enjoy swimming in the warm sea.

December 19, 2010

A Little Bamboo Bridge

The Quezon part of our road trip last weekend ended at a rustic little resort and there I found a rustic little bamboo bridge to post for Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges.

Quezon, 2010

This bridge takes you to the common washrooms. Viewed from the other side you can see a little bench to sit on in case you need to wait your turn.

December 18, 2010

Big Silver Glasses in a Small Town

Quezon, 2010

Continuing my Quezon road trip series, with this photo I link with the community fascinated by reflections at Weekend Reflections.

December 17, 2010

[SkyWatch] Quezon Skies

On every road trip - as in life in general - you win some, you lose some. And so it was with the skies last weekend for the two days we were at the beaches in the province of Quezon in search of Mother Nature's fish bowl.

Over the first 24 hours the sky was more often gray than not, making the drive through charming countryside rather comfortable, but the snorkeling less than ideal. And yet the water was warm, as was the company, and the skies did present us with moments of glory.

 Quezon, 2010

These skies join the fun at SkyWatch Friday.

December 16, 2010

L is for Laundry

The letter at Alphabe-Thursday today is L and I offer you... laundry; yes, colorful laundry drying on a small mosque in Cotabato City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

Unfortunately I did not get the name of this lovely little mosque, because I presumed it was on the sign you see in the top photo; but what it says is "Sahro Ramadan Al-Mubarak" which means Blessed is the Month of Ramadan (do correct me if that is a wrong translation, please).

 Cotabato, 2009

December 15, 2010

V is for Volcano

One of our favorite places to take overseas visitors is the town of Tagaytay sitting on a ridge at 640 m / 2,100 ft above sea level. It's palpably cooler there, it's close to home - only about an hour's drive through pretty countryside - and it offers a picturesque view of one of the smallest and lowest volcanoes in the world.  This panorama of the volcano in the middle of the lake is better viewed enlarged.

Tagaytay, 2008

Taal Volcano is also one of the world's most dangerous and most active volcanoes, having erupted at least 33 recorded times since 1572, the latest in 1977. Seismic activity continues to be reported, and as recently as this past June, the alert level went up to two (on a scale of 0-5). It is forbidden to live on the island; nonetheless you can see the fish farms in the lake and people still risk their lives by fishing and farming nearby.

This is a different angle to see the volcano.

It's time for ABC Wednesday and the letter is V.