Monday, September 26, 2011

Angono Petroglyphs, Rizal, Philippines

Back in Manila and knowing how boring big cities can be from time to time the majority (i.e. my person) decided to get some fresh air and visit a petroglyph site along the trip. So off we went to the small town of Angono where the rock shelter covered by petroglyphs is situated. With 235 masl we had a lovely view over the bay and Manila City.

To get to the rock shelter of Angono we had to walk through puddles of water full of tadpoles

and slippery ground until we reached a not so inviting dark tunnel

but at the end of the tunnel we found ...a small museum that exhibited some finds from the excavation in front of the rock shelter

The 63 m long rock shelter is just next to the museum

From the finds of this excavationthe petroglyphs can be roughly dated to the Neolithic, which in the Philippines was somewhere between 6000 and 2000 BC.

But so close to the jungle there were not only rock carvings but also all kind of creepy-crawlies like poisoneous millipedes

not to mention this poisonous dahong palay! The name is Tagalog and means rice leaf and is the local name of the so-called vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

(but I have to tell you in secret it is only mildly venomous and not really a threat to humans)

Thank god all the creepy-crawlies were kept in check by their biggest enemy, the cat

The very friendly staff at the museum told me they are very good in hunting down snakes. This one here will one day become a famous snake hunter; it was already very good in hunting fingers.

If you want to know more about the cats petroglyphs you can read more on my other blog here in English and here in German.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Trip to the Philippines - and even more on Cebu

The next day we headed towards the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, a typical colonial Spanish church, squat and massive. Not one of my favourites, but still impressive with its thick white walls.

Next was the San Carlos University Museum

Unfortunately, taking photos was not allowed, so I can't show you any of it's exhibits. Lucky you :)

Although only one exhibition room was devoted to Cebu's prehistory (the other ones were filled with zoology, ethnography, and more recent history) it was quite interesting.  I loved the secondary-burial boat coffins and the many limestone burial jars found in cave. These jars, some with lizard motives on them, some only with stripes, were also used for secondary burials.  Secondary burials are known in the Philippines as bone washing. The body of the deceased is buried in earth and then after some time recovered, the bones washed and buried again in for example earthen jars, limestone jars or boat coffins. So it was a good day for me *hehe*

Since our hotel was booked out, we had to move to the Crimson Beach Resort in Mactan. This is how our beach villa looked like from the outside

And this was behind the facade, our very own plunge pool :)

The Crimson Resort was utter bliss, a brilliant beach, a superb infinity pool, cool beach villas, the best spa in the world; I had a deep tissue massage with hot stone therapy and the girl was sooo good, I felt like being in heaven afterwards. Besides, they have spa facilities which makes you feel like being in a Japanese onsen (hot spring spa). The only downside was the restaurants; all shared the same menu and although there were some vegetarian dishes, with three vegetarians you have quickly eaten your way through the menu and it got soon very, very boring.

So we started using the shuttle bus to the Ayala Mall, where loads of nice restaurants waited for us.

Out of curiosity we also wandered into the supermarket and marveled at the many different types of rice:

The Crimson Resort also offered a lot of beach activities and so we had a ride on the banana boat.
This is not us, but a photo from an Indonesian hotel site, but it shows what can happen when you ride the banana boat:
you can imagine M and I got pretty wet :)

This night we also ritually killed a bad book. And I mean a really bad book:

If you ever want to read a German book about a 'detective' in ancient Rome, avoid this one. It was written by a teacher of Latin and it exactly sounded like a lesson in Latin. I don't want a recap on Cicero's Catiline Orations nor a history lesson on Cesar's achievements, all I wanted was a thrilling story about an abduction of a boy and how an unwilling wounded veteran gets interested and solves the case. You could really have done a nice story about it, but I haven't a read a more boring book in a long time. So we had to kill it to save other people from reading it.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Trip to the Philippines - more on Cebu

The triangular Fort San Pedro near the pier area of Cebu City, Fuerza de San Pedro, was started as a wooden fortification in 1565, but only built as a stone fort in 1630 with major modifications in the late 19th century.
Since then it served a multitude of purposes; it was an army camp, a school, an emergency hospital, a garden for the Cebu Garden Club, and a zoo. Today the fort hosts a small museum and serves as a recreation area.
This is a drawing that shows the fort in 1565:

If you are lucky you can find a by-the-way blind musician playing inside the fort:

You can also find nice butterflies:

And fossil rocks!! Doesn't it look great?

On our way back we walked through the not so lucky districts

When driving back to Mactan, the small coral island where most resorts are, you can see pile dwellings. I was told that they are not used for living but only for fisher men's activities. But maybe the lacustrine pile dwellings of old have looked a bit like these stilt houses. A bit more messy than on reconstructed drawings :)

And this is back in our safe tourist haven of our resort, the Shangri-la Mactan. So we spent the rest of the day enjoying some luxury like a swim in the infinity pool:

How about a massage while watching sun set?

Or rather exploring the wild life near the pool?

Or maybe just paddling off into the sea ...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Trip to the Philippines - Cebu

After having enough of city life we fled to a resort on the island of Cebu:

Here, too, jeepneys are the common mode of transportation:

After a day at the beach we got soon bored again and invigorated by an early morning yoga class we decided to do some of the dreaded sight seeing again. Close to our resort was the place where Lapu-Lapu and his 1500 warriors fought off the Spanish invasion. Magellan was killed and Lapu-Lapu became a national hero. On Mactan that is, everywhere else they seem to be happy that they were invaded by the Spanish. Here you can see Lapu-Lapu holding a bolo knife (itàk) and a shield:

In 1866 this obelisk-ish monument was build in honour of Magellan inside the Lapu-Lapu shrine by the Augustinian priest Simon Aguirre:

This is the supposed spot where Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu. In the background is a panorama painting depicting the battle of Mactan.

Then we took a free ride to a shopping mall of a different kind ;) Just kidding, Philippine people tend to give weird names to their shops.

Magellan Cross was next. When Magellan arrived on the island of Cebu in 1521 he soon befriended himself with chief Rajah Humabon and -probably with the help of exquisite gifts- managed to get Rajah and his large family baptised. To celebrate this success he had a wooden cross erected. What one can see today is an outer-casing cross; the original is said to be inside this casing.

Just for a bit of atmosphere:

Close to Magellan's cross is the Basilica of Santo Niño, an Augustinian 16th century church basilica (Pope Paul VI elevated it's status from church to minor basilica in 1965). Here a relief carving on the outer wall:

Although a lot of children are playing outside the church, this was not the reason for its name.

Nor were the bats in the church responsible for it (albeit quite fun to watch them fly around in the church; that proves that vampires are not afraid of being in a church)

It got it's name from the 'Holy Child of Cebu' (Santo Niño de Cebú), a wooden figure of the Child Jesus which Magellan gave or gave not to Rajah's wife. In any case, the church was build on the spot where the burnt box with the child figure was found. Since it is said the Cebu Jesus wrought several wonders of which I couldn't find a single in the web this basilica is magnet for pious people. So of what nature could the miracle be? Maybe it was the trance like dance the natives started when the Spanish presented the figure? Nahhh... so although there is a complete absence of evidence for these miracles Philippine people are very devoted and pray for little miracles in their daily lives. They spit and  wipe the glass that separates them from little Jesus, obviously not knowing that this is just a replica which couldn't fulfil even the most trifling and petty wish. The original is kept in the convent, predestined to work on larger miracles.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Trip to the Philippines - Manila

Now, it has been a looong time since I have updated this blog. But I was travelling quite substantially and enjoyed it too much to write something on my blog during my holidays and in China I couldn't access blogger anyway ... nor Facebook ... nor youtube ... you get the picture :)
But anyway, here I am and show you a couple of photos from our time abroad. First we spent a couple of days in Manila because we wanted to do some sightseeing in the Philippine capital. Here is the Bay of Manila as seen from our hotel. Yes, you can guess from the photo, it was the rainy season. But since it was hot I was quite pleased with the weather. I don't mind some rain on a hot day.

The hotel was quite nice and even served sweet and savoury canapés in the afternoon:

Of course we went to the José Rizal Park, where Rizal, the Philippine national hero was executed. Rizal was not only an M.D. but also a poet, painter and freedom fighter. But more importantly he studied in Heidelberg and lived for some time in Wilhelmsfeld. Here in Wilhelmsfeld we have a Rizal park, too, but it can of course not compete with the Manila one. In the museum of the park there is even a note mentioning his stay in Heidelberg.

A view on the river from Fort Santiago which is adjacent to the Rizal museum:

Another must-see is San Austín church, the oldest Roman-Catholic church in the Philippines. Although it doesn't look really baroque on it's outside, some features definitely have a baroque touch,  like this beautiful wood carved door:

Turtels in a fountain in the inner church yard. They were, however, quite unimpressed by our attempts to lure them closer to us :(

Although most people in the Philippines are Catholic, they also have a Bhuddist temple in Manila:

We could also get a first glimpse of the famous jeepneys, the main medium of public transport; a kind of much beloved private mini-bus. The owners proudly adorn them with lights, flags, and all kinds of ornaments on their bonnets.