Confucius said…


“Three kinds of friends are beneficial, and three are harmful.
When friends are honest, sincere, or knowledgeable, they are beneficial.
When friends are pretentious, fawning, or opportunistic, they are harmful.”


Chinese symbol for friendship
Grabbed from



Madam Margaret Thatcher, The King and I, and BFD

The Iron Lady and the Hopeless-Romantic Me  =)

Euro-cultural immersion – done!  I was homebound, aboard a CX for a good 13-hr flight.  I said good for I had plenty of time to catch up on some interesting films, including The Iron Lady, a Margaret Thatcher biopic.

There’s one scene from The Iron Lady, that I wished to experience in this lifetime (I tried to be specific with the timeline).  I never want to become a Prime Minister; the scene I’m referring to is Denis’ and Margaret’s date in a theatre – they were enjoying a lively scene from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.  That idea of a date is both classic and classy.  I’ve always loved the theatre…I used to act / write / and direct plays back in school, and I (then secretly) wished – that I’d end up with someone who would also appreciate the theater…oh, and a date in a theatre production of any Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classics.

I was aboard CX, 30th April 2012…and five months later, 30th September 2012…I was at the Newport Performing Arts Theater enjoying that same lively scene – the King of Siam and Mrs. Anna – singing, dancing, and what would appear – falling in-love…Shall We Dance?  BFD reached for my hand…exactly what Mr. Denis Thatcher did, as depicted in the biopic, The Iron Lady.  =)

Shall We Dance? =)

The King and I at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre, Resorts World Manila

The King and I is a stage musical based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, derived from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens.  Anna became the governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the 1860s. Anna was hired to support the King’s drive to modernize Siam.  The story depicts cultural conflict with some political undertone, and a love that neither the King nor Anna was able to express.  (source:  Wikipedia).

Photo grabbed from the King and I Resorts World Manila’s official website.

What made Newport Theater production extra-special is that it’s all-Filipino!  The production showcases world-class Filipino talent, top-billed by Leo Tavarro Valdez (King) and Monique Wilson (Anna), directed by Mr. Freddie Santos, with performances by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Ballet Theater.  Oh, and I just have to mention the lovely gowns designed by Rajo Laurel for Monique Wilson! =)

We’ve got Resorts World Manila to thank for producing the show. It is indeed a very ambitious project, but the all the effort that went into is every bit perfect for bringing out a truly stellar stage production.  The Newport Performing Arts Theater is as modern as its name implies – acoustic and lighting are superb.

As of press time, the play runs every Friday at 8PM, Saturday at 2PM and 7PM, and Sunday at 2PM.  Ticket price starts at P1000.00.  For more details, you may visit Newport Theater’s official website:

Photo grabbed from the King and I Resorts World Manila’s official website.

Sharaku Interpreted @ the Ayala Museum

Sharaku Exhibit Banner from the Ayala Museum’s Official Website

My budding interest for Japanese Art has coincided with the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month – July.  From the stellar performances at the Drum Tao show, 15th of July; I just had to deal with another ‘art attack’ last Sunday, 22nd of July.  With BFD in tow, I head out to the Ayala Museum in Makati for the Sharaku Exhibit.

About Sharaku (  Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794 – 1795) is widely considered to be one of the great masters of woodblock printing in Japan.  Little is know of him, besides his ukiyo-e prints (ukiyo-e: a genre of woodblock prints and painting produced between the 17th and 20th centuries; the genre features landscapes, tales from history, the theater, and entertainment quarters).  His active career as a woodblock artist seems to have just spanned for 10 months, Edo period (Tokugawa), from mid-1794 to early 1795. 

The re-evaluation of Sharaku’s work was prompted by a book, published by German scholar, Julius Kurth in 1910.  About 150 works were attributed to Sharaku, and his influence in Japanese contemporary art has become pronounced. (Info from the exhibit’s primer)

About the Exhibition: In 1996, after ‘two hundred years of Sharaku’, an exhibit was conceptualized to feature reinterpretations of Sharaku’s works by contemporary graphic designers and artists. It has become a ‘traveling’ exhibition since then, the current leg being hosted by the Ayala Museum until 16 Sept 2012. 

The exhibit is divided into three segments: 1) Reproduction of Sharaku’s Works; 2) Sharaku in Graphic Art; 3) Homage to Sharaku. 

The exhibition also features a reinterpretation by Takashi Murakami, a celebrated avant-garde Japanese artist, also known for the commercial success of his collaboration with luxury label Louis Vuitton in 2002. 

Art for visitors:  The exhibition also features two huge boxes with cards and envelopes.  It acknowledges the fact that ‘everyone likes someone as you like someone’.  The fun thing here is that you get to keep an envelope with a postcard and drawing of someone else’s favorite person.  Then you are to draw your favorite person on the back portion of an unused postcard.  Colorful markers are provided.  Put the postcard back into the envelope and leave it in the other box.  Someone will discover and get to keep your work in the next leg of the exhibit.  This sort-of-chain continues as the exhibition travels from one place to the next.  From Manila, the exhibit’s next stop is Indonesia.  =D

BFD: runner turned artist

Drum Tao: The Art of Drum Tour is in Manila

Their headquarter is in the mountains of Southern Japan.  Their day starts at 4:30AM, with a 12-KM run.  I suppose, it’s mostly uphill runs since they are in a mountainous terrain. The run is to be followed by an hour of nonstop drumming.  They prefer to train outdoors.  Now, try to sharpen the picture in your imagination…then, the ‘zen-like’ feeling that goes with it, transcending from the harmony of nature, music, and martial arts…

…and watching this group perform live is a totally different cultural immersion!  It really is the DRUM TAO – The Art of Drum Tour

High energy. Highly cultural. Highly engaging.
The natural high that is drum tao!
Photo by: A. Sales

This is the first time that I’m posting two ‘full-length’ articles in a day (in my blog).  I can’t help it.  I feel inclined to promote Drum Tao.  I watched their show at the Newport Performing Arts Theatre in Resorts World Manila (RWM) last Sunday, July 15.  They are to run 10 shows at RWM, with their closing show slated, July 22. 

I only have good words to describe my Drum Tao experience – I was transported back to epic Japan.  Their extraordinary performance showcased about 50 different drums.  Adding more harmony to several acts, they also played the flute and the shamisen (a native Japanese guitar, expertly played using a bachi or plectrum – beautiful combination of strings and a little percussion).  One can ‘see’ the rigorous training of the performers, not only in the way they perform and blend, but also in their strong physique. Admirable talent and discipline.

Action photos – from Drum Tao’s tarpaulin display
Collated by: A. Sales

I never had a dull moment as the show ran for 2 hours.  It was highly engaging. As audience, we did participate in some of the skits, filling the theater with lively claps and stomps – fun atmosphere in the light of a highly cultural performance. 

‘Meowth’ rating:  ALL PAWS UP!  =)


Catch Drum Tao at RWM.  Buy your tickets now!  =)

Schedule and ticket details
(a section of the brochure)


Video ad, as posted at

Paris Museum Series: Musee Du Louvre

Facade – Musee du Louvre and Pyramid (completed, 1989)
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Musee Du Louvre (myze dy luv) – in English, Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world, and a historic monument.  A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located in the right bank of the Seine at the first arrondissement (district).  Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area 60,600 square meters.  –

At the Pyramid’s underground lobby (inaugurated in 1988), plus the imposing view of the Richelieu Wing.
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

It was during the French Revolution that a committee to ‘preserve the national memory’ was appointed – this paved the way to the opening of Louvre as a museum, 10 August 1793. 

Early perspective drawing of the Louvre Palace , Louvre Exhibit
Photo by: A. Sales

The current facade of the Grand Louvre and the Pyramid were completed in 1989, as part of a major renovation.  That renovation was earmarked as a high-ticket project under President Francois Mitterrand’s administration. 

In 2011, the Louvre, being host to 8.8 million guests, was ranked as the world’s most visited museum. 

In April 2012, I got the chance to visit the Louvre!  I was able to take some interesting photos, too! =)

Visitors are allowed to take photos and videos in the permanent collection halls.  However, flash or similar lighting device/equipment is prohibited.

A ‘meowth moment’ at the Denon
Denon Wing : Named after the first Louvre museum director, Dominique Vivant Denon – appointed by Napoleon I, 1801.

Musee du Louvre is divided into 8 curatorial departments:  Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, Roman; Islamic Art; Sculptures; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings.  –

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is considered as the most celebrated art work at the Louvre.  It was thought to have been bought by Francis I sometime in 1546.  Now speaking of Da Vinci in the context of pop subculture, the Louvre has reported earnings of about 2.5M USD for allowing the movie, The Da Vinci Code (2006) to film at its galleries.

Meowth : Vis-a-vis avec Mona Lisa
The most important Italian Renaissance art work at the Louvre
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Mona Lisa is displayed at the Denon Wing.  Opposite her portrait is one of Louvre’s finest religious paintings – The Marriage at Cana by Paolo Veronese (1528 – 1588).  He painted a crowd of over 130 figures, set in high-fashion 16th century Venice. 

Backdrop : Marriage at Cana

Two of my favorites are:  Venus de Milo – a marble sculpture from the Hellenistic Age (2nd century B.C.), which served as the epitome of Greek feminine beauty; and Nike of Samothrace (190 B. C.).  Both sculptures are displayed at the Denon Wing of the Louvre.

Hellenistic image turn classical art : Venus de Milo

Nike (Victory) was once erected at the prow of a ship which she would guide to victory. Found in Samothrace in 1863, arms and hands missing, Nike dates from about 190 B. C.

It’s now becoming obvious that I did spend a considerable amount of time at the Denon Wing.  The greater collections of Italian Renaissance paintings, including that of Raphael’s and Michael Angelo’s are housed in this section of the Louvre.

Portrait of Baldassarre Casteliogne – Raphael (1483 – 1520)
This canvass painting dates from around 1514-1515.
Photo by: A. Sales

David and Goliath – Daniele da Volterra (1509 – 1566)
Photo by: A. Sales

Italian painting, inspired by Catholicism
Photo by: A. Sales

The Richelieu Wing is home to Napoleon III Appartements exhibit.  The place has been restored to its equally splendour setting as it was during the time of Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugenie (Second Empire).

Grand Salon

Grand Salon

State Dining Room

Other interesting photos, as captured by our lenses…

Ceiling adorned by paintings
Photo by: A. Sales

Springtime! Duck at the Pyramid pond, Grand Louvre
Photo by: C. Dirampaten


When in Paris…

Musee du Louvre is conveniently accessible to the public via METRO – Palais Royal Musee du Louve Lines M1, M7;  Louvre – Rivoli M1

Official website:

Paris Museum Series: Chateau de Versailles

The Orangerie of Versailles
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Versailles (Ver-sai), located on the outskirts of Paris, was once the seat of political power in France.  It used to be a township where the estates of Louis XIV were established (1682), and the celebrated court of Louis XVI and his famous wife – the last queen of France – Marie Antoinette thrived until the beginning of the French Revolution (1789).

Today, Versailles is the picturesque grandeur of what it used to stand for.  By structure, it is a collective tribute to the greatness of Baroque architecture and all the finer things upheld by the absolute monarchy of the Ancient Regime.  It presents history in a setting that is unparalleled – mix of charm, human struggle, and nostalgia. A day trip to Versailles is akin to going back in time.    

I read about Versailles and Marie Antoinette in the history books.  So when I got the chance to visit, I did not pass up.  Last spring, with my good friend Cashmer, I went to Versailles – the experience was about history magnified a hundredfold.  I was in awe.

The Grand Chateau

The interior court of the Chateau de Versailles.
This entrance leads to the Grand Chateau.

Chapel at the Grand Chateau – one of the five chapels built during the time of Louis XIV
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Grand Appartement du Roi (King’s private apartments), Grand Appartement de la Reine (Queen’s bedchamber), Hall of Mirrors, and the Orangerie are part of the Grand Chateau.

The Hall of Mirrors – the most celebrated room in the castle; venue for important ceremonies, Court of Versailles

Paintings cum masterpiece all over the ceiling of the Grand Chateau.
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Appartement de la Reine – Marie Antoinette’s Room
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Giving birth was not a private occasion for the Queen and the royal family.  The public was allowed to witness the birth of the royal children.  This was somehow in line with how the throne was passed on in terms of birth rank and gender.  The Queen’s bed area was lined with balusters as demarcation – the members of the royal family and doctors were the only ones allowed to stay beside the Queen.  

The Queen’s bedchamber also has a (once) secret door adjacent to the jewel cabinet.  It was used by Marie Antoinette to escape the siege of Versailles (1789).

Gardens of Versailles

Versailles is also host to well-manicured gardens. 

“I know how much you love flowers, but I’m not going to give you a bouquet. I’m giving you a garden, instead.”  Louis XVI offering the garden to his wife, Marie Antoinette.  (Since this is my blog – I can make side comments:  Siya na ang mahaba ang hair!)

Enjoying a windy spring afternoon stroll at the Gardens of the Grand Chateau

Pathway to the Grand Chateau

A serene garden – Grand Trianon, Versailles
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

The Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon

Built in the time of Louis XIV, the Grand Trianon was used as a rest house.  Guests were invited and received, minus the strict etiquette of the Court at the Grand Chateau.  The smaller palace next to it is the Petit Trianon, which was built for Louis XV’s long-term mistress.  During the reign of Louis XVI, the Petit Trianon was given to Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use. 

Facade – Grand Trianon

The Salon – Grand Trianon

Marie Antoinette’s Estate

Marie Antoinette, so wanted to escape the regimented ways of the Court of Versailles, ordered the construction of her own hamlet (1783).  It was to copy the true ambience of a village – rustic charm + country living.  It eventually became a farm – supplying products to the kitchen of the Chateau (Palace).

The Queen’s Hamlet
Photo by: C. Dirampaten

Cashmer and I spent a day in Versailles – time well-spent! As for the ‘take away’, I now have a better appreciation of history – I must say, the visit is tantamount to N units of history subjects being taught in schools.  Versailles is no ordinary museum.  It is a testament, representing power as a cross between triumph and tragedy.  Evocative.

Fountain and lagoon – Versailles

Next:  Musee D’Louvre 


Getting there:  Versailles is about 30 minutes away from Paris city center via train.  Station:  Gare St. Lazare (St. Lazare Station).  There are several trips from Paris – Versailles in a day, interval of about 30 – 45min.

Official website: