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Showing posts from July, 2013

Metropolitan Museum of Manila

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The squat, brutalist building of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila has more resemblance to a fortress than a museum. Located in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) complex in Roxas Boulevard, the museum's stark appearance seems to contrast the cultural treasures contained inside it. 
Meant to showcase Philippine art and culture and conserve important artifacts and artworks, the museum was established in 1976, partly funded by the central bank.

The museum's collection is housed in three floors of galleries, two above ground, and one in the basement. The main gallery is located in the first floor, and it showcases mostly international art and thematically curated exhibits. 

The second floor galleries feature contemporary Philippine art. The artworks were grouped into certain periodizations that reflect certain cultural or historical movements in the country. One of the galleries that I liked was the one featuring Filipino masters, such as Botong Franci…

PSA: Countries with No-Visa Entry Requirements to Philippines

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Just a bit of a PSA. The Philippine Bureau of Immigration and the Department of Tourism has announced that the country is relaxing its visa requirements. 
Starting August 1, 2013, nationals from 151 countries may enter the Philippines without a visa and may stay for a maximum of thirty (30) days, provided they are holders of a passport valid at least six (6) months beyond the period of stay in the Philippines, and present a return or outward bound ticket to their country of origin or to a next country of destination. 
The countries are:  Andorra Angola Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Australia Austria Bahamas Bahrain Barbados Belgium Benin Bhutan Bolivia Botswana Brazil* BruneiBulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia  Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad ChileColombia ComorosCongoCongo, Democratic Republic Costa Rica Cote d’ IvoireCyprus Czech RepublicDenmarkDjibouti Dominica Dominican RepublicEcuadorEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstonia Ethiopia Fiji Finland France Ga…

Hotel Review: Marriott St. Louis Airport

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On my third business trip to St. Louis I decided to skip Crowne Plaza and stay in a different hotel. I still stayed in the same general area - near the airport and around 15 minutes away from the office. The hotel I booked was Marriott St. Louis Airport, and it became my temporary home for two weeks.

Rooms
I got a non-smoking, deluxe room with a king-sized bed. It is air-conditioned but it was winter when I was there, so I would have preferred a more functional heater. The room comes with a shower/tub combination, a desk and a chair, another chair with an ottoman, alarm clock, and a television. 
The decor of the room is kind of uninspiring and bland.

Amenities
Amenities include a 24-hour gym and an indoor and outdoor pool, which I never get to use because it was still winter and temperatures sometimes drop to -1C. There's also a business center, and same-day laundry. Laundry services are kind of pricey - true in all hotels. Having a pair of socks laundered would cost about $4 per pair.

In Pictures: Meramec Caverns

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Discovered in 1720 by a French explorer named Philipp Renault and his Osage Indian guide, the Meramec Caverns is the subject of this week's In Pictures.
Meramec Caverns, a cave system that spans for more than seven kilometers, is located in Stanton, Missouri, in the highland region of Ozarks. I visited this in 2010, in my first time in the United States. I was brought there by my manager and his fiance, who drove me there from St. Louis. What made the cave system unique is the history behind it. Renault, whose party stumbled upon the 50-foot opening of the cave, discovered that the cavern contains a substantial deposit of saltpeter, which is an ingredient in making gunpowder. There was so much saltpeter in it that Renault named the cave as Saltpeter Cave. 
Mining in the caves lasted for 144 years, well into the Civil War. The Union Army built a gunpowder factory right inside the caves, which was subsequently destroyed by the Confederate troops. Some guns and ammunition  dug up from i…

Bryant Park, New York

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New York, particularly Manhattan, is often associated with skyscrapers more than open spaces, but the city has in fact hundreds of parks, seventy in Manhattan alone. There's Central Park at the middle of it all, the biggest and the most popular, but there are many others - tucked between major avenues, side streets, or even between apartment blocks - located around the island waiting to be discovered by visitors. One of the parks that I stumbled upon while walking around midtown Manhattan is Bryant Park. 

A privately managed park located between Fifth and Sixth Avenue and 40th and 42nd streets, Bryant park is one of the popular places for New Yorkers to sit back, meet friends, read a book and have coffee. 

On the east, and technically still on the ground of the park is New York City Public Library (the archives of the library was actually built beneath the park). To the west is Sixth Avenue, and skyscrapers from both 40th and 42nd streets framed the park such that it looks like a sm…

Happy 4th of July

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Today I'd like to greet my American readers and followers a Happy Fourth of July. To mark today's celebration, here are some of the Americana that I encountered during my travels to the United States.

The Great Hall of Ellis Island Immigration Station, where immigrants pass through for processing before entering America.

A helment of one of the first responders of the September 11 attacks, displayed in St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan, just a stone's throw from Ground Zero.

Mickey Mouse, in Times Square.


The Gemini 3 space capsule, inside the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum.


A Civil War-era flintlock pistol, in Missouri History Museum

Billboards advertising Broadway shows, also in Times Square.


Two Coca Cola trucks making early morning delivery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Coke is probably the most recognizable symbol of America in the world.

Just like mom and apple pie, baseball too, is as American as it gets. This one is at the Busch Stadium, in St. Louis

The top ph…