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Showing posts from April, 2013

National Museum of the Philippines

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It's quite ironic that many people sometimes neglect to see the treasures that are right in their doorsteps. The usual excuse is, "they're just there and they aren't going away anyway."  I sometimes have that problem; I've been inside some of the great museums abroad, but I haven't been to the one just a few miles from where I live. I did try to rectify that last weekend, when I went out of my usual weekend routine of going to the gym and then to the mall. I went to see the National Museum of the Philippines in Manila instead. 

Known in Filipino as the Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas, the museum is the official repository of historical and cultural treasures of the Philippines. The museum is composed of several institutions, including the National Planetarium and the Museum of the Filipino People. It also has several branches around the country, the Fort Pilar Museum in Zamboanga City being one example. The main repository is housed in the National Art Gall…

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York

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The currently-under-repair St. Patrick's Cathedral is I think the perfect metaphor for the state of the Church of late. When I went to the cathedral the day I landed in New York, the new pope was only in his office for a about fortnight, trying to set the institution's affairs in order. But just as the church managed to withstood the test of time, the interior of the cathedral was just as awe-inspiring even when it was in a state of being repaired and in disarray in some places.

This actually was my first time to see the interior of St. Patrick's Cathedral. I visited it in 2010 and again a year after, but the church was closed for some exterior work. I was in a bit of luck that they opened the church, as it was a day before Palm Sunday when I visited.


The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of New York. It took twenty years to build the cathedral, from 1858, when the first cornerstone was laid, to 1878. The construction was interrupted for about five years by the Civil …

In Pictures: Shanghai

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For this week's In Pictures we go to a country that I might not visit again, due to geopolitical  reasons, China. Specifically, I will feature Shanghai. I visited the city twice, once during the 2009 total solar eclipse, and again in 2010, for the World Expo.

Shanghai is a very cosmopolitan city. It is huge and populous, with the number of skyscrapers rivaling that of New York and Hong Kong. It is also a city of contrasts - behind the veneer of modernity lies the Old China, and you can see it in the old architecture of the city, and in the small streets between the high rises. 


It would seem that Shanghai is in a middle of a huge construction site. Construction projects - new skyscrapers, road, bridges - are being done in almost every corner, underlying the strength of China's economy. Many old buildings are torn down to give way to the new. 

If you're a fan of grandiose buildings, the Pudong district in Shanghai is one of the places to see them. Many of the notable supertall…

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

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Almost in contrast with the fluid, organic form of Cloud Gate, the public sculpture in Millennium Park in Chicago, is the structure nearby called Jay Pritzker Pavilion. 

The structure is actually a bandshell, similar to the Hatch Shell in Boston. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the non-linear and distorted elements of the pavilion's structure underlined Gehry's deconstructivist inclination [1]. 
Gehry is responsible for iconic structures such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Dancing House in Prague, and the spaceship-shaped Expo train station in Singapore.

Built over a large grassy area called the Great Lawn, the pavilion comprises of a stainless steel headdress that frames the proscenium. The headdress, made from ribbons of stainless steel that looked that they are peeled off from the structure, is designed to reflect sound and aid the acoustic of the concert hall. It is intersected by a crisscrossing trellis, made of steel pipe. The sound system is installed on these …

Harvard Museum of Natural History

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Tucked in a red-bricked building in Oxford Street in Cambridge is the Havard Museum of Natural History. Me and my friends found it while walking along the snow-covered streets of the campus.

The museum was created in 1998 to give a "public face" to the three research museums of Harvard University, the University Herbaria, the museum of Comparative Zoology and the Harvard Mineralogical Museum [1], giving the researchers a venue where they can connect with the public with their research and show their extensive collection.



There were several other visitors who were with us when we entered the museum. The concierge is located at the second floor. After paying for the tickets and leaving our jackets in the coat room, we proceed to enter.The first thing that I noticed in the lobby and gave a preview of what's inside is an assembled skeleton of a dodo, an extinct flightless bird that died out in the 17th century. 


After entering the first exhibit that we saw was the Earth and pla…

What Prepaid SIM with Data to Get in the USA

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It is nice to lose yourself in a new city when you are traveling, but there are countless instances that you need to stay connected - whether with your loved ones back home, or to the office if you're on business travel. Before the ability to call using prepaid phone cards was enough, then when cellular phones came, the ability to call and text became de rigeuer
Now, with the proliferation of smartphones, having a data connection became a necessity, for checking emails, looking up information through Google, posting status and tweets in social media sites, checking in on Foursquare, and accessing maps when you can't seem to find that small cafe that the bloggers have been recommending. 
For the requirements mentioned, the first option would be to bring your smartphone with a pre-activated line from your home country and just set it to international roaming. Roaming has one advantage: people from where you came from can call and send you text messages by just using your old num…