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Showing posts from April, 2016

France: Impressionist Normandy

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Apple orchards, calvados, camembert, organic farmer’s market and the bucolic scenery came to mind as we head north from Paris to Normandy. But when I started firing my SLR camera, all the pictures turned out hazy and blurry like some ‘impressionist’ paintings.  Blame it on my inability to work the new camera, but the photos made me realize that we’re in the region of France where life and art intermingles.   Driving through Normandy is like seeing many impressionist paintings come to life. So what started as a weekend getaway in search of camembert and calvados turned into a few days of ‘Chasing Monet’.

Our first stop was at Giverny, an hour drive outside of Paris.  It remains the quiet village where Claude Monet made his home and drew inspiration in his water lily paintings.   The house, and the gardens outside and the water lily pond are now part of the Foundation Claude Monet (a museum of sort).  Spring flowers like hyacinth, pompom daisies and small flowers with fragrance and color…

The Banaue Rice Terraces: A Living Cultural Landscape

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My interest in exploring the northern part of the Philippines started from looking at a piece of art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California.  Among the display of ceramics and pottery engraved with gold and other decorative stuff,  a wooden carving of a male figure squatting on a platform with the lower arms on top of each other, resting upon his knees, caught my eye.  According to the docent, the wooden sculpture was called "Bului" which literally means "granary guardian" in the "Ifugao" tribe dialect. The carved wooden sculpture was set on a platform on top of another platform, a mortar. Our docent explained the significance of the wooden mortar (which was used with the pestle, to separate the husk from the rice, sort of rice mill) and linked the story to the Rice Terraces in the Cordillera Mountains of the Philippines built 2000 years ago by the “Ifugao” tribe.

So two years and three hundred kilometers north of Manila later, we explore t…