Thursday, February 24, 2011

5th Floor Window Sky

Changing of the sky in my 5th Floor Window.

 When i woke up before dawn i saw this morning moon, and with still sleepy eyes, fumbled on my camera without turning on the light. However, my lens is only 150mm so can't get a bigger photo. Then i tried to sleep again, and finally slept so well unable to be in the office at the right time.

 I am amazed at the fan-shaped haze through these cloud formations. Even some birds appreciated the views that they took advantage of the scenes.  They seldom fly in these areas before.

The Iglesia ni Kristo church dominates the skyline in this area, superimposed to the high television communication tower.

The setting sun almost shyly peeping in one of the INK towers. Isn't it like a view from a famous fairy tale play?

The expanse of the bright red sky is so wide and awesome this afternoon. I can't seem to get off my eyes from these magnificense. My mind was hypnotised by what i saw, that I almost forget the smog, which occupies the lower part of this sky too!!!

Please visit more Skywatch Friday posts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hoya Collages

This is a continuation of the Horticulture Exhibit 2011, at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation, where i got some materials in the previous few posts. I made them into collages in groups because Bom of the Plant Chaser, already posted the individual plants.  Hoyas have an exhibit of their own, however the flowers already dried when i visited. So i content myself in so few remnants and grouped them with those from other private nurseries outside the exhibit area.

Top left is Hoya imperialis, while top right is Hoya diversifolia. I specifically asked for the name of the H. imperialis because it is so big unlike most of the Hoya flowers. This photo of H. diversifolia is my own, and this is its first flowering since it got into my care.

Hoya imperialis at different stages of flower opening. One flower is about 3 inches in diameter. Literatures say it has a very strong scent especially in the morning. A good reference for its description, culture and requirements is found HERE.

This is my very small Hoya diversifolia plant showing only the flower stalk, the flowers are shown at the top right side of the first photo. It just clings to a coconut husk for support. It suffers water deprivation when i am on travel, which is not good for hoya, resulting in this stunted growth rate. However, it still gave a small flower umbel. I noticed a first flower layer followed by another 2 sets inside at different stages of development. The youngest layer died when i forgot to water it for one day. Moreover, it is located outside the west window, where the afternoon sun is very strong. I wish i have more appropriate location for it, but i am deprived of that, sorry for it! 

The two tarpaulin posters have titles: A Selection of Hoyas from the Philippines I and II. The names are written below the posters, but not readable in these photos. So I surmised, a total of 44 Hoya species are endemic to the Philippines. My prior Hoya posts are HERE.

Friday, February 18, 2011

View from the place i was born!

Skywatch Friday
(February 18, 2011)   
 This is the normal view from the place i was born. I am just visiting this place once in a while now. This is the view to the Northeast, and the sun rises directly accross the bay to the right. The air is still clean of smoke and smog, and family closeness still observed, respect for other people and property still high.  
In the big city where I live now, atmosphere and space are already displaced by the price of development. It is just maybe a matter of time before my birthplace will also succumb to development's 'false meanings'.   At the background, we can already see industries beggining to appear, communications towers appearing on destroyed patches of the natural landscape, big ships now anchor at portions of the bay where they dock for repairs, and the oil spillage starting to be seen on the shore. Effects and symptoms on micro-ecosystems cannot just be obviously seen but definitely there. Regulations in this country we strongly love is a bit far from excellent. In a little while, this place will not be as beatiful as the place i normally call HOME!


Please visit more  Skywatch Friday posts.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Succulents, agaves and bonsais, plus

I might be boring you with my collages, I am sorry but this is my new-found hobby! I have long been appreciating those who make them, and i am a bit late in learning it. But i am glad i can now post many plants in one placement, unlike the past posts where i had difficulty putting it right or left, and then my captions got in between them, which i cannot do anything about them anymore!
These are all from the Horticulture Exhibit in Quezon City, Philippines which i attended the other weekend.
Above are mostly succulents. I love the way they put the cacti in the cement wall (center of collage). I am sure this is the type of garden i should do, because this is a bit drought and neglect tolerant. Perhaps those of us who travel once-in-a while for a few days leaving our plants alone might do this cliff garden. Those planters are fixed in the wall, so can't be relocated.
Alistair of  Aberdeen Gardening will tell me i am teasing you again because i included some rocks at the bottom, which are definitely not succulent. That just means they are concrete fillers!
Can you guess which among those are not included in the group? It's like the game 'point the difference'!

A blogger friend from India, Radhika will love to look at this bonsai collection. Those two bottom right are same tree, tamarind. One is laden with fruits, which are already ripe for picking. This is definitely a lovely table fruit tree, unlike the tamarind tree near our house which is  more than 10 meters high, so we cannot pick the fruits. We need to wait for the fruits to drop. If we have tamarind bonsai, then picking is so easy! I just wasn't able to know how old are these tamarind bonsais. I re-posted the bigger photo below for better appreciation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Aroids and Ferns

Last weekend i visited the garden sale here at the Manila Seedling Bank in Quezon City, held on 24 Jan to 6 Feb, 2011. There are wholesale plant sale for ornamentals, fruit trees, endemic plants, imported plants, landscaping requirements, and whatever the nurseries have. There was an enclosed exhibit area for plants and landscape designs, where lectures are held everyday. I grouped my photos with similar characteristics, so i can show more of them in one post.

The Arum family or Aroids is a big group of plants composed of 107 genera and over 3700 species. It  includes our Dieffenbachia, Aglaonema, Caladium, Epipremnum, Philodenron, etc. Most of you might be familiar with these plants, so you will tell me that something in the collage is not included in the group. Yes, it's at the bottom right of the 2nd collage! Can you guess what plant that is? I just put it here as a filler because it was actually also included in the exhibit to give texture in one of the landscape designs. Aroids, like Colocasia and Alocasia are stem tubers, and tubers are related to roots. They are all enlarged underground parts. Are you still with me? The photo in question is a root tuber! Hence, I purposely relate it to aroids, but not botanically of course. Give up? ......It is a sweet potato vine or Ipomoea batatas! haha. I am so sorry for my logic. I am actually just trying to give justice for including sweet potato here, just because i love to include it.

Aroids and Ferns

I am also very fascinated by the very dark red color of that Caladium.

For the landscape designs i would like to link this post to Bom's post: specifically this one:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Early Vacation in 2011 Part 3

After our Borobudur experience and on the way to the airport to send off our companion returning home, we visited another temple on top of a hill, Candi Ijo (Temple Ijo). We had to walk maybe 200m of uphill unpaved road, leaving our car below.  It is a very strategic temple to clearly see the lowlands, but we had only a few minutes to take photos.

 Candi Ijo at present is composed of a big temple with 3 smaller ones. A big area is still not yet reconstructed, but the piles of stones are seen below right.
At the left is the linga at the center of the biggest temple, many of these are also seen in some temples in Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Its top directly points to the rooftop with small hole for water to seep through. Water droplets are collected at the base of the linga and believed to be medicinal or even magical. Top right shows the ruins of Candi Ijo waiting for reconstruction.
After sending our companion to the airport, four of us still continued our Indonesia escapade by taking a train from Yogyakarta to Solo, Surakarta. It is a place often suggested in travel sites as an old town with beautiful cultural traditions. For us it really is an awesome experience! After checking two hostels which were full, our taxi driver brought us to a homestay, located along narrow, circuitious residential areas. It was a bit difficult to traverse these alleys, as there are many motorcycles going around, motorcycles being their primary mode of transport. Chakra II Homestay was our hostel for 2 nights in Solo. It is in a big compound with many rooms, and a swimming pool. Serendipitously, it houses the Gamelan Orchestra that practices there every night. A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments ( We are free to watch them practice and take photos of the traditional instruments.

Top left: Chakra II Homestay Gamelan Orchestra playing on the floor; Top right: one of the side lobbies at Homestay where we take our free breakfast.                                                        

Top left: an elaborately carved walls for another set of Gamelan instruments. Top right: Wayang Kulit puppet at the Museum in Solo.
Top left: Batik making in one of the batik shops; Top right: image of Visnu in a side street

Becak (pronounced betsak) - unmotorized tricycle and manually pedalled by the operator is a common local mode of transport. Photos 8 & 9 are not becak but #8 is a mobile delicacy store, while #9 is a carriage drawn by a horse. All of the mentioned modes of transport are always very colorful in Yogyakarta and Surakarta, most especially in Solo.

Colored doors and windows of Solo. It is a cultural tradition in Solo to have brightly colored gates, windows, doors, as well as the becak (pedalled unmotorized tricycles).  At bottom right is a mosque door.

Our trip back home entailed an hour by train from Solo, Surakarta to Yogyakarta; followed by another hour of Asia Airlines domestic plane to Jakarta, and lastly, 4 hours via Cebu Pacific Airlines to Manila. We lost an hour in crossing the dateline, but we gained a lot from the wonderful sights and experiences.

Postscript: For a more detailed article of our trip to Indonesia, please visit

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Early Vacation Part 2

Our second night in Jogjakarta (pronounced Dyogdyakarta there but Yogyakarta for non-Indonesians) was spent at the Manohara Hotel, only five walking minutes to the Borobudur Temple. We arrived there at about 4 pm with grey skies and rains, but it did not deter us to approach the foot of the temple which closes at 5 pm. Good thing that we are prepared with hats, umbrellas, raincoats, dry bags and camera covers.

At 4:30am the following morning we started our walk to the temple for the sunrise shots. Manohara Hotel provides guides and flashlights for the resident tourists. The stairs are a bit steep, but there are stainless rails added lately to avoid accidents. There are nine levels, but the 2 top levels are still closed due to the destruction by the recent eruption of Mt Merapi. The temple really depicted the visualized Path to Enlightenment. The first levels show wall-stone carvings of the mundane things, including human vanities and pursuit of worldly happiness. As the level rises the carved pictures lessen, with the topmost and biggest stupa already devoid of any human or animal depictions. This show the disappearance of worldly concerns as the consciousness approaches enlightenment. Literatures say that the biggest and topmost stupa is open and contains nothing both inside and out. Several stupas in the lower levels contain the bust of the Buddha.

Above and Below: The Manohara Hotel complex

The approach to the Temple of Borobudur before sunrise in a really foggy cold morning

      I am sorry i still don't know how to merge photos, the topmost protruding stupa is the topmost center of the Borobudur Temple. Besides, my wide angle is not as wide to capture it in just a click!

 The Path to Enlightenment is very steep, and the symbol to get that is steep too! At the right is the moon on top of the central dome

Top left: Mt Sumbing at the background, the highest volcano around Borobudur. Top right: the side walls along the pathways upward the temple.

Those stupas have Buddha's bust inside, and at the top right is an open stupa showing the Buddha

The central dome or Stupa is already devoid of carvings, signifying the clean consciousness after undergoing the travails of life and diligent cleansing and good deeds. At the right shows details of walls at the mid levels of the temple, of people in meditation pose, to be one with the Divine.

Left: the walk at the mid-level of the temple. Right: the gargoyle serves as water spouts

 The wide angle view taken from the grounds of Manohara Hotel.

For a more detailed description of the places and events we saw in Indonesia in this trip, i would like to recommend you see this link from my journalist friend. He writes and photographs better and even put the cost and prices for hotels, entrance fees, and transport, hahaha.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An Early Vacation in 2011

A vacation in January might be too early, and maybe to most it is unusual. But for me and four of my friends it is just the right time. We have availed of promotional airline fares a few months earlier and our New Year has been more exciting because of the expectation for this trip. My friends called it 'Oplan Whirlwind Borobudur' because it really was so sudden and everything just went into place. I just asked them when are we going to Borobudur and immediately one booked us for the plane and the hotels. Two of them also made the itinerary. It was really more exciting for me because i did not have any input in the planning, but to agree with them in whatever is the plan! Maybe that's the privilege of being the oldest in the group. haha!

It was a budget flight so we left Manila at midnight. Indonesia is an hour late than the Philippines, and we spent 4 hrs in flight to Jakarta and another hour domestic flight to Yogyakarta, where Temple Borobudur is located. We slept for a night in Yogyakarta and spent the whole day at the old Royal Palace and the Temple of Prambanan before transferring to another hotel near Borobudur. Prambanan is a must to visit as it rivals Borobudur Temple in elegance and magnificence.

It was vacation, but it certainly is not easy because no matter how late we were in going to bed, we always wake-up early for the sunrise shots. But of  course, we went there purposely to get photos! My friends are either professional photojournalist or expert hobbyists, I am the only trying hard photographer in the group.

Hotel 1001 Malam, Yogyakarta is clean and organized, a pocket garden at the middle, with free coffee/tea the whole day in addition to free breakfast

At the left is a painting on the wall of the hostel, while at the right is the long rows of motorcycles, a common mode of transport in Yogyakarta.

The expanse of Candi (Temple) Prambanan with the renovated structures. A wider ground with blocks of stone ruins are still waiting to be reconstructed. 
Left: Skyward view of the main temple; Right: a detailed apsara on the wall of the temple

A night shot of the Prambanan Temple

The Ramayana Ballet in Prambanan complex was a beautiful cultural presentation, at left is one of the lady dancers, while at the right is a fast dance number almost like the Turkish swirling dervishes.

I will cut my post here and will continue the Borobudur episode next post.

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