Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pinto Art Museum

The grounds of the Pinto Art Museum
Well so far, I'm doing well on my resolution to visit a museum a month this school year. Month two, museum two. Last weekend I headed out with a friend to visit the Pinto Art Museum. Located in Antipolo, about 11 miles away, it was a half day outing taking about 45 minutes to get there (have I mentioned traffic in Manila is bad?). However, as soon as we walked onto the museum grounds I could feel myself let out a sigh of relief and relax just a little bit. Set on the grounds of a private residence (?I'm not sure about that, it is surprisingly difficult to find clear information about this private collection) that reflects a Spanish colonial style with white washed building covering multiple levels on the hillside, rooftops that have been turned into verandas with seating area, and a lush garden.

One of the six galleries

There are sculptures scattered around the grounds, and there is a very real sense of the outside coming in. The 6 galleries are open to the air, with a few large fans to cool off the space. I have to admit to wondering how in the world this was conserving the artwork, after all the Philippines is an extremely humid place. At the same time I enjoyed the sense of openness in the galleries. Wandering in and out of the building, going up and down stairways to explore each corner of the museum.

My favorite sculpture
The museum is a private collection of contemporary art, all of which I believe are done by Filipino artists. There were definitely some pieces that captured my attention. The metal webbed people, were perhaps my favorite, but I also like the oversized work of a fiber artist who used layers of yarn to create slightly three dimensional images. I also found the full room installation mimicking a bamboo forest with dripping water, an escape to relax, mesmerizing.

Exploring every nook and crany
All in all, I have to say that this museum was well worth being on my list to visit and it provided a great escape from the busyness of the city for a morning.

Pinto Art Museum
1 Sierra Madre St, Grand Heights Rd, Antipolo
Open: Tues-Sun 9 am - 6 pm
Entry: 200 pesos 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Inflatable Waterpark

Mulitperson rocking ball...took them as long to get on as it did to fall off
We've had three long weekends in a row which has given me plenty to think about writing about, but not a lot of time to do the actual writing. The good news is that I have enough to keep me going for a while! Two weekends ago I headed up to Subic Bay with a group of 9 friends to take part in the Amazing Jeepney Race (more on that later, still waiting on the official video to give you a better idea of the day). The race was only one day, so that left us some time to have fun around Subic. Now what to do?
Katie and I before heading out
It turns out that there is an inflatable water park, Inflatable Island, yes it is exactly what it sound like...think of the giant bouncy castles and slides that you see at a kid's party. Except it is floating on the ocean.If you think you might have trouble balancing on a regular bouncy castle imagine how much much more difficult it would be on a wet slippery surface. I'll be honest I spent more time falling off the platforms than I did getting around from island to island. Of course, that is probably why I managed to get so many fun pictures of other people slipping, sliding, jumping and crashing.

Katie flying off
Perhaps the craziest  thing you could do was to go lay down on the end of a giant pillow, and then have someone else jump off a platform a floor up and launch you in the air. When our group decided that they wanted to try, the workers at the park decided to send two of their guys up to jump down together to make sure the ladies got air. By the time I watched the third person get launched and end up heels over heads (literally!) I knew this was not going to be something that I tried. I wasn't looking forward to the crash landing.

Ari getting flung off a giant pillow
So what is more my style? A few obstacles perhaps? Oh, a large rocking chair thing, perhaps that is more my speed....well, as long as I can actually get up on it? I feel like I spent a lot of my time trying to pull myself up, at least my arms have gotten stronger while I've been in the Philippines, so I actually had a chance. Although after an hour and a half in and out of the water I was definitely getting tired.

Rocking water toy
But, wait, it is a giant narwhal...I've got to at least give a shot at getting myself up to ride it. (If you don't know when I was teaching in Paraguay my students used to draw random narwhals all over their tests, starting a bit of a fascination with this long toothed fish - really, you should do some reading about them if you've don't know much, they're fascinating). It was a probably a good thing that our two hour time slot was all but up. It was fun playing around like a little kid, but two hours was plenty of time for me to feel it in my legs. The addition of the storm rolling in brought our wet and wild experience to an end.

Happy to have found a narwhal!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Birthday fun at Art in Island

I remember when I was younger and my birthday was still in the middle of summer. It was hard to find enough friends in town to have what felt like a birthday party. The celebration was always a pool party with some crazy decorated cake that mom had concocted based on my request. Now, I find my birthday is at the start of the school year. This year, I'd already completed a week of in service as well as the first week with students. I have to admit that a Friday full of classes doesn't exactly feel like a celebration! On the plus side there are people around and I was able to gather a small group to go out for some lighthearted fun on Saturday.

It took about an hour for the five of us to get to Quezon City, about 5 miles away - have I mentioned that traffic is bad in Manila? As soon as we arrived at Art in Island, we knew it had been worth it. After all, who wouldn't enjoy giant works of art that are painted in such a way you can get into them and be a part of the story? And Art in Island had two floors of a warehouse full of this. 

I was relieved that I had talked several people into coming with me, as it was a lot more fun being able to stage pictures with more than one person - the problem with just having two people is that you always need to have someone to take the picture. And we were even luckier that Katie had come prepared with a bag of props - definitely something that I would expand upon if I go back again someday.

It was definitely a lighthearted 2 hours filled with lots of smiles, visiting a museum that is not what you would typically consider a museum being. To top it off, I got in free for my birthday! A real treat.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

It is a new year

It's a new school year and I'm back in Manila for year 2. It was so nice to return back to my apartment that feels like home with hints of all the places I've lived before. There are so many things that are already better, not being the new teacher - just knowing how things work, and having a better idea of what I need to do and where I can go to get it done makes a huge difference. Not being sick this year, also gives me a bit of a new lease on this experience, and so I'm going to start over in so many ways. Start over trying to make this experience more what I want. Start over with trying to get myself into a routine, one which hopefully, this time around will include writing a bit more and sharing what my life here in the Philippines is like.

My wall of masks welcoming me back home.

In the meantime I'm glad that I have made it through my first week of school with students with no issues. My classes are a bit smaller this year, my largest at the moment is 19, although that may change a bit in the next few weeks. I'm already a few weeks ahead of where I was last year in terms of learning names. It is always helped when you have at least a few kids in each class that you already knew. I'm more relaxed and able to focus on teaching, instead of just trying to survive. As I've said many a time there is definitely a reason that contracts are for two years! The second year is almost always so much smoother. Stay tuned for more to come about what life here in the Philippines is like, both the exciting and the mundane.

A few students engaged in a first day activity

Saturday, October 15, 2016

It is the little things

It is the little things that make me stop and realize I really am in another country, even though from day to day it doesn't always hit me. But one thing that has shaken me out of the bubble, has been watching some of the motorcycles that go by. One long weekend, the most interesting thing I saw was  a couple of motorcycle gangs that were out enjoying the roads - complete with some additions to their helmets - inflatable dreadlocks flapping in the wind, and the extra addition of spikes for some of them.

Then a week or so later, I was stopped at the corner waiting to cross the street,  and almost missed my chance when a mini motorcycle gang rolled up. No, I don't mean a small number of riders, but that they were riding mini motorcycles. Small enough their feet, or even their knees, could touch the ground. I had to wonder how they were actually riding something that looked like a toy. And then I saw them playing around, and realized that the small ride had the distinct advantage of making it easy to pop a wheelie when they were stopped.

Just goes to show, that you never know what you will see when you are paying attention.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Unexpected Art

This week for me, when not at school, has been all about finding unexpected art in my neighborhood. Last weekend I was enjoying some of the murals near the coffee shop where I had gone to grade.

On Thursday I noticed a little upset Snow White at the bottom of a light post. I don't know what it is all about, but it made my walk to school that much happier.

Today I headed over to do some more shopping (that seems to be what the first few months is all about when you move overseas) at one of the near by malls (seriously - two blocks away) and came across Manilart - an exhibit that was done completely by all Filipino artists. It was so much more interesting than shopping, and felt like a reward for getting myself out of my apartment. The pamplet says the goal of the fair is to "create more awareness and appreciation for Filipino Art," and I must say that I definitely have more of both. The large variety of styles - from movable art, glass pieces, statues and a variety of paintings - meant that everyone could find something that they appreciated.

It is days like this that I'm happy to be living in a neighborhood that offers so much within walking distance. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Moving to Manila

I have to admit my first two months here in Manila haven't quite ended up the way I expected. Don't get me wrong, I'm settled into my apartment (on the 32nd floor! I've never been so high before) with a view over the American Cemetery on one side and other high rise apartment buildings out of the other. Classes are in full swing and I like my students (even if I'm still struggling to learn names - my worst year ever in that attempt) and they work hard. Of course starting at a different school is always a bit like your first year of teaching all over again, and I've felt that even more this time around since I actually stayed in Delhi for so long (for me).

View out my window, looking at the American Cemetery
That being said, my "first" impression of Manila, or more specifically, BGC (Bonafacio Global City) where I'm living is one of development. Full of malls, high rise buildings, traffic and restaurants it is still an extremely walkable area of metro Manila. The only reason I know for sure I'm in Manila on a daily basis are the jeepneys that drive by on my walk to school. I think this may be the easiest place I've lived since I moved overseas. Of course it doesn't hurt that English is so widely spoken.

Just one interesting apartment building
So why then, the rough unexpected start? That would be because I contracted Dengue less than a month after arriving, a little over one full week into the school year. It meant I missed 6 days of classes, was struggling for energy for another two weeks in addition to that, and had my first hospital stay in the Philippines. I'm still trying to figure out how I got Dengue here in a month, when I managed to avoid it in Delhi for five years. I guess you could say I've learned at least one lesson - be religious about putting on bug spray! I finally feel like I've recovered, and so am now ready to get myself into a routine that will help me find some balance in my life. Things can only improve, right?