Friday, April 07, 2006

I guess the only way is up.....

A little bit of archery, a little bit of reading, a little bit of walking....and a fair amount of Imelda how one spends a Thursday in Manila!

Archery is improving in that I did not hit anyone yesterday and the target is looking a little healthier...still at 10m and still haven't managed to nail the cross completely.....but apparently next month is some beginners competition that I am told I should enter for practice - should be entertaining! the only draw back of my archery lessons is that there is no a/c and it is inside so I come out wringing wet....!

Since I have been in Manila I have scanned the dates of the walks of Carlos and never matched the date with my day off...yesterday I was lucky. Yesterday afternoon I was treated to the joys of 'Living La Vida Imelda".

The guided walk takes you into the Cultural Centre of the Philippines, past the Folk Art theatre and into the Coconut Palace. All the time accompanied by the totally irrereverant and very funny commentary of Carlos! I am a fairly low profile creature by nature and although I am fairly good at acting the idiot amongst safe public, being low profile is the aim.....walking through the CCP area following a tape recorder playing disco music is really not my idea of low matter - it sets the scene!

The CCP is a monstrosity....I can think of no other word for it.....I am not a great fan of concrete...precast or otherwise and find little to love in buildings such as the CCP, however, through Carlos' eyes one can appreciate what Imelda was trying to achieve and what in a fairly limited way she did achieve. The one thing that did impress was the staircase in the main foyer... - unfortunately no photos as no cameras are allowed inside....seems bizarre to stop photos in what is supposed to be a public building.

The Coconut Palace is lovely...and incredibly well maintained. The floors are so highly polished that I was skidding all over the place....a pair of socks and an empty corridor could make for hours of fun! The Coconut Palace was built as another of Imelda's ideas to promote all things Filipino, as you can guess by the name everything in the Palace is made out of coconut or some other local material, flooring from coconut wood, furniture from coconut wood, bed covers from coconut or pineapple fibre. The setting is lovely, overlooking Manila Bay although I think when it was first built the bay was probably in better nick than it is now. Imelda originally built the Coconut Palace as a guest house for visiting of whom was supposed to be the Pope...he refused to stay there...either because he has to stay (by Vatican law) at the Vatican's embassy equivalent....or because he felt that the money for the Coconut Palace could have been put to better use....possibly feeding and housing the poor....either way it seems that the only visiting dignatories who stayed there were Brooke Shields, George Hamilton and the Marcoses themselves!


Ferdinand Marcos' four poster bath....

and sketches inside the Coconut Palace are lovely...if anyone knows where I can find something similar in Manila...I would be very grateful.

Imelda gets a fairly bad rap and is portrayed internationally as a bit of a fruitcake with a penchant for brother called half way through the walk and when I told him what I was doing...his comment was "Surely just a quick wander through some shoe shops would suffice!", however scraping off the fruitcake icing and looking a little deeper - is it at all remotely possible that some of her ideas and theories were right and she did have the best interests of the Philippines at, clothes and jars of mayonnaise not withstanding.

What ever you may think of Imelda, Carlos' patter was a laugh a minute...actual facts and figures may be missing but I came away from my two and a half hours, laughing and with a greater interest in Imelda and a greater appreciation of the concrete monstrosities that dominate that area of Manila bay. the anecdotes that Carlos passes on..heavily emphasised with "they say..." do make everyone feel as if they are in the 'know'...

Carlos quotes readily from two books about Imelda which I then tried to get from Fully Booked....a raised eyebrow and a 'No, we don't hold those books" makes me wonder if Philippine family politics is involved?!

Speaking of Fully Booked...what they hell have they done to their Rockwell store....just as I was getting to understand everything, they move it all around, take away all those interesting nooks and crannies and make the place look like an airport departure lounge....I was very rattled and for the first time in my life I left a book store without buying anything...those that know me well will understand how not buying a book is a fairly dramatic thing for me!

More about Carlos' little adventures here


Blogger Indiana said...

Little known Indy fact: Indiana grew up bowhunting and shooting competition archery...the secret my dear is to not let go of the string, but rather to no longer hold on too it...very zen I know...but the key is to think like this: pinch a cheap paperback novel between your thumb and don't let go of it, simple relax your hold until it falls...that is how you should release the bow-string, not with a force of action but rather the gentle release of no longer holding...

A little old Japanese man taught me that and I shot Nationals in my country. ~grin~

10:44 pm  
Blogger Madame Chiang said...

I seem to have some mental hang up about releasing the string at all..not really conducive to archery!! However there was a marked improvement this last time. And I shall bear your comments in mind next time!....BTW...'shooting nationals in my country'....sounds a little brutal....but I think (hope) I know what you mean!

8:48 am  
Anonymous Phil said...

Honestly - that target board looks like it was shot up with an AK47 not arrows!

1:05 pm  
Blogger Madame Chiang said...

strange you should mention that....when I left the archery school I took the target paper with me...I didn't want to fold it up into my bag so just carried it around in my hand...first stop after the class was the bank...where I placed the target paper face up on the counter without even thinking about it...alarmed looks, a quick chat with the security guard and a very polite 'may we check your bag?'.... Anyway, said target is now up on my office wall - that should keep people quiet! When I told my colleagues I was going to start archery lessons, they asked why I didn't learn shooting instead - wouldn't it be more useful!?....Welcome to Manila!

1:29 pm  
Blogger carlosceldran said...

It's all too predictable that I would comment on a post about well... me. But in fairness to myself, I just saw the link on the bottom of my page, I swear I did not vanity google.

Anyhoo, the prints are available in Galeria de las Islas on the third floor of Silahis Handicrafts in Intramuros. They are relatively cheap. I would say PHp600.00 each at the MOST. Haggle if you must. I also sighted some at many a sleazy/creepy looking art gallery on MH del Pilar in Ermita. Just around the Ermita Church and US Embassy area.

And I have more of those books where those came from too. I would be more than happy to give you one if you wish.

Either that or go to the Bookmark Bookstore Mothership here:

I know they have toooons of them there. And lovely cheap postcards and Philippine traditional music as well. there are also some nice galleries down the street near Ayala Avenue, The Drawing Room and Team Manila being really good ones.

Thank you so much for the lovely post. I hope you don't mind that I linked you to my bloglist.

8:30 pm  
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