World Music: Jew’s Harp

30 05 2010

Or Jaw’s harp. Somehow I think the latter sounds better. I absolutely love buskers, and in Toronto there are a plenty. This one isn’t in Toronto but I am amazed by this instrument and would like to learn how to play it. The artist’s name is Byon Keiichi, listen to him work that thing. I can imagine a group of people dancing around a campfire to this, move over Lady Gaga.

I like World Music and from now on when I come across an amazing instrument or musician I will feature them. These people and instruments need a lot of credits

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Heaven on Earth is an awfuly big secret

2 09 2009
 
“I just feel like everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same damn thing”

 

When Richard lands in Bangkok, all he wanted is to have an adventure – an ultimate adventure. Not the typical tourist destination, not the the typical prepackaged resort, nor the typical backpacker’s route – but a once in a lifetime experience that travelguides just won’t cut it. The problem is, everybody seems to be going to the same place and doing the same thing- until he meets Daffy (Robert Carlyle).
Daffy speaks about a paradise that is a myth in the tourist world, a paradise that only a few deserve to know and only a handful could find. Then Daffy hands Richard a map to a supposedly secret island where you will find a beach.

But it isn’t just any beach, it is the ultimate perfect beach.

Now that fate has handed him an adventure he couldn’t surpass, Richard (played by Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio) recruits a French couple; beautiful Françoise (Virginie Ledoyen) and sweet caring boyfriend Étienne (Guillaume Canet star in Joyeux Noël) to come with him to the island and search for this paradise.

“My name is Richard. So what else do you need to know? Stuff about my family, or where I’m from? None of that matters. Not once you cross the ocean and cut yourself loose, looking for something more beautiful, something more exciting and yes, I admit, something more dangerous. So after eighteen hours in the back of an airplane, three dumb movies, two plastic meals, six beers and absolutely no sleep, I finally touch down; in Bangkok. “

But like any paradise it has its price, as beautiful as it may seem it is far from perfect. Shark infested waters, untrustworthy tribe, a dangerous secret – a perfect cocktail for a ride you’ll never forget. Based on the book of the same name by Alex Garland, The Beach is a story of an American backpacker (in the novel he is British) trying to escape reality looking for a thrill and ends up in an adventure he will never forget. Like most backpackers in Thailand he is captivated by its beauty and charm. Every traveler wants to find his own paradise and Richard is determined to find his own in the exotic land of coconut trees and buddhas, and will all of these comes a deception that in escaping reality perilous forces is at hand and only a few brave will conquer the courage to face them.

The Lord of the Flies inspired story depicts a dog-eat-dog world even in paradise. It isn’t easy finding a peace of heaven you can call your own and that essentially, every one of us is looking for an escape. Enjoy the coconut trees, pristine waters, white sand beaches and the beauty of Thailand in this film, in a blink of an eye it may soon be gone from your movie screen.





Aliwan Fiesta

13 08 2009

Orville takes us on a one of a kind festival in Manila where Filipino cultures mix and showcase the best cultural performances of the country

Words and photos by Orville del Rosario

Summer breeze gave me goosebumps as my officemate, Francis, and I walked towards Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex in Manila to watch the Aliwan Fiesta. It was almost at the end of April, halfway out of the summer season, but it felt like summer was just getting started. The heat of the sun was pretty much right on! Good thing the clouds were giving the best shade at the time, hiding the mighty hot sun lights. We could see the towers of Star City as we were getting closer. I was so excited because this would officially be my first photo shoot ever. We were actually trying to enter a photo competition organized by a local AM radio station in the Philippines, the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC). The theme was the Aliwan Fiesta, from anything taken during the street dancing competition and parade. I got into this because Francis, being a photography enthusiast, encouraged me (a newbie in photography ) to come with him to watch the festival and take some photos. He said that there was a photo competition and we should join. Of course I wanted to join, this was a new experience for me, both in my life and in photography. So we decided that we would come to the Aliwan and take as many photos as we can. We were joined by Ethel, another officemate, and the three of us were on the same team. Like I said, this would be my first time to attend a real photography event and first time to watch the Aliwan Fiesta.

The Aliwan Fiesta is yearly event where different provinces and cities across the country showcase their own festivals; for example the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, Dinagyang Festival of Davao, Panagbenga or the Flower Festival of Baguio City, Kadayawan Festival of Ilo-Ilo, and Karatong Festival of Dulag, Leyte to name a few.

This festival is not just about music and dances, they actually have their own stories to tell – stories that are native to their town or province of origin, like the Karatong Festival from the town of Dulag in the province of Leyte. Karatong is the Waray (a native of and language in Leyte) word for bamboo. During the olden times, way before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, the people in Dulag used bamboos to warn the town if there were enemies, such as pirates and tribes, who wanted to invade their lands. They would make loud noises to warn the townsmen of the arrival of the intruders, and would use it also as their weapon in the form of spears to fight against the enemies. With the story they have, they will make it into a series of routines, amazing music and dance moves.

To be in the presence of such diverse and rich cultures, it makes me feel so proud that I am a Filipino. We have different culture, traditions, beliefs, but through these events we become one united nation. Yes, the main purpose of the Aliwan Festival is to showcase the talents of each province or town, and that it is a competition more than anything, but this is also a time where different people, or shall I say “tribes”, from across the seven thousand one hundred and one islands of the Philippine archipelago, meet and be one as a nation. Together, they show to the world how rich our culture is, and how we preserve it, which is through our festivals.

“This festival is not just about music and dances, they actually have their own stories to tell – stories that are native to their town or province of origin”

All the festivals are great and we should be proud of them. On a personal note, the Karatong Festival in particular, is what I am most proud of. Simply because my mom is from Dulag, Leyte, where the Karatong Festival originated. She lived and grew up there, and I am proud to say that she is a native of Dulag, and I am proud to say that I have a blood of a Waray. And I was so thankful to God the He gave me the opportunity to have watched the performance of the Karatong Festival. I was so honored and proud that during the performance, and even got teary eyed. To simply be there and witness all that – not to mention how amazing they were with their performance – is just overwhelming and unbelievable. I was so proud of that moment, that I kept saying to my officemates that my mom is from where the Karatong Festival originated. God, that was so amazing! I am very happy I got to watch their festival.

Orville is a graduate of Electronic and Communications Engineer in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Currently working as an Associate Software Engineer at an IT company.

If you win a free trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d say, united kingdom…hehe..I dunno, maybe because I love Harry Potter that much that I wanted to see London and all that…haha. But seriously though, I think the place is cool..with all the castles and stuff and I want to see the stonehenge.





CAPTURE: Punting

9 06 2009

On a fine beautiful day during my trip in England my friend suggested we head to the city of Cambridge, about an hour train ride away from Baldock (an hour and a half to two hours train from London). A quaint, peaceful small city, Cambridge is known for its University (Cambridge University, 4th oldest University in the world).

Like the rest of England, I was thrilled to see cobble stoned streets, cute little shoppes, century old houses, gargoyle-guarded church, cafes and botiques. Walking around the campus of Cambridge University are constant reminders of ‘Keep Quiet’ to give the students the peace they need to study. However, what stood out for me the most is a Cambridge tradition called punting.

Punting is a past time for Cambridge students (and locals), where a flat bottomed boat is proppeled by a long pole along the river Cam within the University. It isn’t like a Gondola ride in Venice but observing students flip through their thick text books while sitting on the simple raft and the chauffer pushes the raft along the river looked more serene for me. I could have gone for a ride but there were still a lot of places I had to see around Cambridge so I patiently waited until a ‘punt’ boat came along. It wasn’t easy waitig at the top of the bridge for boats to come by below you.

There were times were three boats came at the same time, and then just one but it went by too fast. Until I waited patiently for this punt to float along the river, slowly and took a few snapshots until I got a good one.

Punting” photo taken by me. Cambridge, England





Uncontacted Tribes

15 04 2009

An amazing video delivering awareness with the survival of uncontacted tribes around the world. It is very intersting to watch the impact of the outside world has to these nomadic people. There is a great ordeal that some of these tribes are being wiped out – from diseases, logging, genocide, violence or losing their culture.
There are two parts to the video.

The video is not mine, it is embeded from youtube.





Got Gas? Canada says goodbye to a funny group of friends.

13 04 2009

It is undoubtedly Canada’s funniest comedy. When Corner Gas came out on Canadian television six years ago, the cast of Corner Gas had no idea that their lovely show would even last one season. Located in the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan, the show consists of a great collection of casts: Brent Leroy, the owner of the show’s infamous corner gas; his bestfriend Hank Yarbo, Dog River’s most likely candidate ‘village idiot’; Wanda Dollard, opposite Yarbo as the candidate for the town’s smartest person who coincidentally works as a clerk at corner gas; Brent’s mother Emma who often has to deal with her husband Oscar’s shortcomings (a runner up to Hank); the town’s two officers Sergeant Davis Quinton and Constable Karen Pelly; and the town’s newcomer Lacey Burrows who moved from the big city (Toronto) to re-open Ruby’s Cafe beside Corner Gas, completing an ensemble that truly promises a laugh out loud Canadian style.
But tonight, April 13, 2009, the laughter is coming to an end.

The show is dubbed one of Canada’s funniest comedies and true to it. Unlike most of its American and British counterpart comedies, Corner Gas has a different style and effect on being funny. The comedy doesn’t rely much on sexual innuendos or creating a character that is ill-fatedly retarded (Hank and Oscar’s shortcomings are just due to their innocence or lack of understanding of what’s going on around them). It relies on the character’s wits, shortcomings, quirkiness, light humour and oddness that just makes it entirely laughable. And if a show can pull off cameos with politicians being less-reserved, then it must be funny (former Govt. General Adrian Clarkson, I will take that barn down with you!)

Little or less is known much about the life in the Canadian Praires and having a comedy sketch in rural Saskatchewan is like a dose of a new medicine. How do people in the Prairies live their everyday lives? How crazy do they get when things aren’t as accesible around in the middle of nowhere? And what excactly is a gopher? The show uncovers a beautiful scenery of Saskatchewan and the lives of the people in a small praire town. Fictional Dog River is located in Rouleau, Saskatchewan, a once sleepy town which closest biggest city is Regina, it has gathered attraction to tourists ever since the show aired. Tourists now flock to the area to visit the site of Dog River and possibly see some of their favourite characters on set. Corner Gas definitely put Saskatchewan on the map.

Garnering international attention, Corner Gas has made an impact on Canadian Television and foremost the hearts of Canadians. The characters of the shower are relatable that’s what makes them funny. They are not far-fetched from the norms of society can easily fit one in a group of friends. We have become friends with them, we have become a part of this small group of people in a small town in rural Canada. And yes, we are saddened to see the go.

So why, if it truly does gather a lot of great criticism and international attention, is the show ending? Creator and Producer Brent Butt (no, it’s not to be funny, that really is his last name) says that he wanted to end the show during its highest peak. Butt claims that he wanted to end the show while people still remember it being funny, and not remembered as “used to be funny”. Some shows end because people stopped liking them, he wanted people to like the show as much as they liked the beggining til the end. That makes sense. (Brent Butt plays Brent Leroy in the show, yes, the Corner Gas owner) Tonight, I will probably skip watching another of my favourite show Heroes and watch the finale of my favourite Canadian comedy instead. Corner Gas is definitely a show I will remember being funny. I will probably cry, but most of all I will laugh.





In the Jungle, the Mighty Venezuelan Jungle

7 04 2009

“As my eyes adjusted in the dark I heard the howling of a monkey in the distance. While the rest of us was trying to sleep, the forest was wide awake.”

A sudden startling jolt woke most of the terrified German passengers aboard the small rickety-shacked plane. I looked behind me to find my new found friend Vladimir asleep while half of the passengers clung on to anything for dear life even though from the looks of the interior and exterior of the aircraft, it could rip into pieces anytime in midair. I had met Vladimir that morning, very early that morning when the van had picked me up from my hotel at half past five, to bring us to the airport and fly on a trip to Orinoco Delta. We later introduced ourselves in broken Spanish our backgrounds. Why were we here? What brought us to Venezuela and brave exploring Orinoco Delta? I found out that Vladimir is a Russian travel photographer on to his next mission to capture the beauty of Venezuela, while I on the other hand was just looking for my next adventure. At that moment, I decided I will try to sponge any knowledge dear Vladimr will throw my way.

The plane flew over the thick fresh swamp forest, a lavish of endless green, while rivers snaked through the jungle below us. I looked out my window and sighed in awe. Orinoco Delta, I thought, what wonders will I endure out of this? It may not be the Amazon (which someday, I hope to experience as well) but I felt giddy-up inside nonetheless. Along with thirteen other German tourists, the group was completed by Vladimir and a Canadian (yours truly) and our heavy smoker female tour guide. It took about an hour for us to finally land on our destination, but having no watch around me my calculation on the length of the time we flew could be wrong. Let’s just say an hour. We landed at Tupacapina on one of the most isolated airports you can ever place on earth, then greeted by the extreme heat as we board off the plane and carry our backpacks to a boat that awaited us on a nearby river. At this point was when the bad news really hit me. Having thirteen Germans on the tour I had booked I should have had read the red flag that told me that this tour was going to be not in English – but in German. Oh did the excitement start as instructions were directed and I committed to not show my clueless face to anyone but just play along to any activity, they begin and then I follow – was what to become my routine. Also my routine, was to pay attention to our local guide, Li, who would give me instructions en Español (and my rusty Spanish was put to test the next couple of days).

As the boat wound and cruised the freshwater river, mangroves, giant water lilies, coconut and banana trees, and an abundance of flora and fauna whizzed by us. There were no roads in Orinoco Delta, the only way to get around was by boat. Locals raced us with their engine-run canoes as they hurried back to their villages. Every now and then at a corner of the forest welcomed us with locals doing their daily chores – whether washing their clothes, fishing, children playing and adults watching over them – they stopped to wave at the boat filled with tourists to welcome. The Waraos (which translates to ‘boat people’) are the Indigenous people of Northern Venezuela who are the inhabitants of Orinoco Delta. Their houses were modest, simply described as colourful boxes with windows on each side of the wall and roofs mounted on top. And in every village we passed seemed to have a large hut with no walls, lined with hammocks and where most of the locals could be found, which is actually a typical Warao hut where most natives lived or gathered. Moments passed and Li tapped my back and pointed straight ahead telling me we were almost at our destination. I squinted my eyes trying to peer on what was at the end of the rio and saw beautifully built huts ahead of us. As we approached closer to the location, I gasped in awe along with the German tourists bedazzled by our humble accommodations.

  

 

“As the boat drifted in pitch dark silence came upon the boat. Nothing could be heard from any one of us, we were all sitting under a million stars tuned to mother nature’s own concerto.”

 

Going alone on this trip had its advantage, I had a lodge to myself! They were lined up along a catwalk and semi-hidden behind the lush greenery. Local birds named Papagayos squawked around us, other birds tweeted, and some occasional howling from tree monkeys while bugs and insects chirped behind the leaves which rustled carefully in the wind created a beautiful symphony. My lodge was at the end of the catwalk, number 16 it said. It had an open space concept windows around it with screens to keep the insects and unwanted animals (such as snakes, yikes!) out. It had two double beds and a small side table attached to the wall completed with one light bulb that illuminated the entire lodge up to the bathroom located on the back. And the most important addition to all was the hammock that sent a big grin on my face, I decided I was going to sleep on the hammock that night.

The rest of the day was spent hiking in the forest, spotting for local wild animals, piranha fishing, drinking a few shots of rum on the lancha (which I wasn’t keen upon doing, piranha fishing and drinking… Hmm…fun nonetheless), visiting a local Warao village, and ending it with watching the sunset. I thought, life was good.

The Waraos are very simple group of people. While the outside and more developed world fell into the depression due to recession, they just casually live their life like how it’s supposed to be. I felt a little jealous of the children I have met in the Warao village, they were happy to see us. As one child approached me with his curious eyes, I decided I did not want to take photos of these people. They were not going to smile for me so I could come home and show my friends and family to boast my photography skills. While the rest of the German tourists (and Vladimir) enjoyed taking photos upon photos of these simple people, I turned mine off. A small Warao child looked at me with adoration that just made me smile. I admit, I found this kid really cute that made me want to pull an Angelina Jolie adoption. As I played with this little boy, I offered to him my hat. Some of the elderly locals giggles and adored his look while he on the other hand stared at everyone in puzzlement. Such simple joys these people have, it didn’t take so much to put a smile on their faces. I envied them. One of the German ladies pulled out a bag of candies and started giving it away to the little children and they smiled even more. Simple sweets for cute little smiles, oh I was melting in adoration, I wish I had done the same.

After dinner later that evening, the tour went on a nocturnal Cayman tour. We were instructed that we had to remain quiet to not scare the Caymans off, and even the boat stealthy cruised the river in the dark. It was an endless search for these creatures and to our dismay we did not find one. However, we did spot a couple of tree snakes. To those who would pass on such an adventure, it would have been their loss. The best part of the nocturnal tour wasn’t even the search for nocturnal animals. About half an hour to the tour, Li turned off the motor and our other guide Alejandro turned off his lamp. As the boat drifted in pitch dark silence came upon the boat. Nothing could be heard from any one of us, we were all sitting under a million stars to mother nature’s own concerto. The sky was filled with twinkles due to the lack of light pollution. It was so clear that we saw two comets in the sky. How amazing and beautiful the sky would be if we didn’t blind it with city lights and actually try to count how much stars we’d see? Frogs croaked, bugs chirped, a harmony of the animals in the forest howled, and the sound of the river flowing made a romantic scene. I could not stop myself from uttering ‘wow’ in disbelief. But alas, it was broken by the engine veering taking us back to our lodge.

I woke up in my hammock in the middle of the night, it may have been such a bad idea after all sleeping on it. As my eyes adjusted in the dark I heard the howling of a monkey in the distance. While the rest of us was trying to sleep, the forest was wide awake. I heard other animals that I haven’t heard earlier that day, the nocturnes now roamed the forest. I slowly moved to the bed hoping to get a decent sleep. As beautiful as the jungle sounded, I was determined that if I had a snooze button to quiet down the noise I would have. The stretch of that night was spent waking up in some intervals, lay wide awake and fall lightly asleep again. There were times that I pictured a snake slithering on my feet and I’d scream bloody mary (or in any funny case, one of the German ladies would scream as a snake slither on her feet). Because of the open concept, I was adamant on feeling violated that someone outside was watching me sleep. I’d hear twigs cracking or light footsteps outside my lodge but I carefully just reminded myself that I was tired and imagined things.

Soon enough I realized the sky was lighting up again and there was no way I can fall properly to sleep that I grabbed my camera and followed one of the lessons I have read from some Travel Photography 101 that waking up early in the morning to catch the crack of dawn had its gifts. The air was still chilly and the nocturnal noises had recessed. I sat by the river watching water plants drift by me. It wasn’t long enough until the monkeys started to wake up along with the rest of the animals. It was time for everyone to wake up. It was like somebody had cranked up the volume slowly that the sounds and noises got louder and louder as the sun slowly rose too, Orinoco Delta was coming alive again. Footsteps were heard from behind me as some of the German tourists started waking up as well greeting me good morning. A flock of Papagayos flew above me crossing the river. I was dying to have my morning coffee, I may have not gotten a proper sleep but I did love every second of my night as annoying as it was. I’d listen to it over and over again. As I entered the restaurant, our guide was already having her morning coffee.

‘Buenos dias,’ she said.

Buenos dias indeed.

All photos taken by me.
Orinoco Bujana Lodge information click here