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Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Last Supper

During the Good Friday Triduum yesterday, the painting of Leonardo Da Vinci came into mind. I had the chance to take a look at his masterpiece "Il Cenacolo" in the refectory of the Dominican convent adjoining the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie*, Milan, Italy in 2006. We took the train from Venice to Milan just to see this. With the growing popularity of the painting after the release of Da Vinci Code** (the movie), it requires several weeks of advance booking. So I booked a city tour of Milan including a visit of Cenacolo for $54 (now the tour is selling at $74 in!) to get a guaranteed entry to the refectory. Ticket price is only 6.5Euros, so much for the service fee! But it was worth it, this was my fave stop (and we found several tourists begging to enter that day).

We've always had a jigsaw of it framed and hanged by the staircase but little do I know about the painting's history. All along I thought it was a framed painting like what I see everyday with the carpet and vase in front (notice it?).

Leonardo abandoning the traditional method of fresco painting, depicted the scene on the wall of the refectory. It was designed such that when they ate at the refectory, it was as if Jesus was having his meal in front of them. In awe, I can say it looked so real! Extensive measures have been implemented to protect the fresco from further deterioration. Visitor intake has been restricted to a group of 25 every 15 minutes passing through several security clear glass doors to maintain a certain room temperature and limit exposure to light.

**If you've seen Da Vinci Code they argued that John isn't John but was a girl in the person of Mary Magdalene. Our guide (who is a historical art major) during our visit at the Vatican Museum explained that young men were often depicted with long hair.

*Il Cenacolo Vinciano of Santa Maria delle Grazie is located in Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie nr. 2, in Corso Magenta. Opens from Tuesdays to Sundays. For more info, visit

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wow Cebu - There's no place like home.

It is such a shame to be a stranger to your own hometown, right? It was a pleasure being a host to visiting friends from Manila and Bacolod, because I got the chance to explore and tour Cebu City and its neighboring towns. So I thought I'd compile the interesting places in my hometown that I myself have set foot on.

SINULOG! Every third Sunday of January, Cebuanos celebrate the feast of Sr. Sto. Nino with a mardi gras. The street party is flocked by locals and tourists and it's the most feastive season in the island.

BASILICA MINORE DEL SANTO NIƱO is the country's oldest church and the only basilica in the Far East. It contains the image of the Holy Child given by Magellan to Rajah Humabon's wife. Look up and you'll find fine artwork on the ceiling. (A block away is Cathedral Church.) Don't forget to say your prayers, miracles do happen!

Right next to the Basilica is MAGELLAN'S CROSS, an octagonal shrine with a red-tiled roof that have paintings depicting the events of Magellan's visit on the ceiling. The original cross in encased with a wooden cross to preserve it.

In the middle of downtown Cebu, next to the Pari-an Fire Station, stands a bronze sculpture showcasing the "HERITAGE OF CEBU", commemorating the historic events that unfolded since the arrival of Spanish conquistadors and the battle that ensued between Ferdinand Magellan and Lapu-Lapu. I finally came up close to this masterpiece, I pass by it everyday on my way to work.

FORT SAN PEDRO, the smallest and oldest Spanish fort in the country that served as core of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. (Feel free to request the guard on duty to take your pics, he'll gladly take your photos and direct your pose!) Adjacent to the fort is a public park, Plaza Independencia (Freedom Square).

JUMALON BUTTERFLY SANCTUARY AND ART GALLERY the home of the late Prof. Julian Jumalon has the country's oldest butterfly collection from around the world and a display of his lepido mosaic art collection, so called because it utilizes butterfly wings as its medium.

TOP, high on top of cool Busay hills offering breathtaking view of Metro Cebu and the islands of Mactan and Olango. Best to visit on a clear night when the fog won't block the view. Entrance fee is pegged at P100, or find a local who has a discount card and pay half the price (they give that out for free on your first visit, but you have to ask for it)!

MACTAN ISLAND, where the airport is located, is a coral island famous for scuba diving where beach resorts of international standards are located. Go island hopping in pump boats and take along Cebu's specialty -lechon baboy (roast pig) and puso (hanging rice) for a hearty lunch at sea.

Two and a half hour drive from the city via the South Reclamation Project and detour at Carcar Market, takes you to MOALBOAL. Panagsama Beach, Moalboal has a strip of dive shops and restaurants, the tip off point to diver's haven like Pescador Island. A long stretch of white sand and live corals at White Beach is an option for non-divers.

Further drive along the coastline takes you to the next town, BADIAN. Visit Kawasan Falls, Badian for a refreshing bath in this ice cold three tiered cascade of crystal clear mountain springs. Rent a raft for P300 and go under the falls for a HARD massage. U can also take a plunge off the cliff next to the falls as high as 50 feet or trek up the mountain to the source.

Then there's also Taoist Temple, Bantayan Island, Balamban, Tuburan, Pinamungahan and wherever you go around the island, there's always good food, food and food!

I've been to more places than I thought! I'm a stranger no more to my own hometown Cebu. :D the adventure continues... I'm proud to be a Cebuano, there's no place like home.

PS. am lovin' my sony t-100 with underwater casing! ;)

Monday, March 10, 2008

God the painter

These are photos of God's artwork taken from butterfly wings that took at least fifteen years to compile, the so called Butterfly Alphabet. Amazing!

In a recent tour around Cebu, we visited the Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary and Art Gallery*. This is the home of the late Prof. Julian Jumalon, an artist having the country's oldest butterfly collection. The place isn't fancy and only a few live species are found in the sanctuary (should I say in the garden), but the glass encased collection are beautiful enough to be appreciated.

Apart from his collection, he was known as an artist for his lepido mosaic art work; he used pieces of butterfly wings as its medium.

For a P50 guided tour fee, we were met by a man in a wheelchair - paralyzed waist down; he happens to be the son the late artist. He started out saying "Take a stool for an examination." so I blurted "Now?" I thought, why in the world do they need my stool to see their butterfly collection?! and besides I'm not ready to do my thing! Only to find out he was pointing to those monoblock stool on the side implying that he was about to start his lecture... duh, I can't stop laughing at myself, wahahaha!!!

*located at 20-D Macopa St., Basak, Pardo, Cebu City, Philippines
Jumalon Residence, Tel. No. (63-32) 2616884