Category: Holidays & Travels

Masks

 

Masks, photo by PH Morton

Masks

#1 Noh Mask

#2 Zo-Onna Mask

#3 Hannya Mask, represents a female demon

#4 Hanakobu Akujo

#5 Uba

These masks can be currently and readily admired at the V&A Museum, East Asian gallery.

Masks are used for protection, disguise, performance and entertainment.

The above masks were Japanese and were sculpted from wood.  They were based from the 14th century classical Japanese theatre called Noh which was much loved and patronised by the Shogun, supreme military leader.

Saint Scholastica

Death of St Scholastica by Johann Baptist Wenzel Bergl

Saint Scholastica

Saint Scholastica (Santa Scholastica) is said to be the twin sister of St Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism. She is a saint recognised by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The twins came from a very affluent family of Norcia (Nursia), in the province of Perugia, southwestern of Umbria, Italy.

The twins were quite religious from an early age.  They were inseparable until St Benedict had to leave for Rome for further studies.

Later on after St Benedict founded his first monastery in Monte Cassino, St Scholastica also headed a female version (nuns) of the Benedictine monastery just a few miles from Monte Cassino.

St Scholastica Reliquary, V&A Museum, photo by JMorton

The above is a reliquary, a container of holy relics.  The hand is shown holding a bird, which is reminiscent of how St Benedict saw the soul/spirit of his dead sister as she ascended into heaven in the form of a dove.

The above St Scholastica reliquary was made from silver and originated in Spain and now proudly displayed at the Victroria and Albert Museum.  It is quite spectacular.  The little glass hole was once used to view the relic from St Scholastica’s left arm.

St Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, convulsive children, schools, tests, books, reading (there are many schools and colleges named after St Scholastica).  She is also the saint to invoke against storms and rain.

There was a mystical  story regarding St Scholastica and St Benedict.  Apparently the twins met up once a year in an inn inbetween their respective monasteries.

St Scholastica begged her brother to stay with her for the evening so they can continue praying and discussing religious matters.  But St Benedict refused; he was adamant, he had a rule of spending the nights in his cell in his monastery.

With clasped hands, St Scholastica prayed in earnest, there was suddenly heavy rain and storm, making it impossible for St Benedict to leave.

St Benedict was not very pleased! Benedict asked, “What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.[

Three days later, St Scholastica passed away; St Benedict saw the dove flying into the heavenly blue yonder instinctively knowing that it was his sister.

St Benedict ordered for his sister’s body to be brought into his monastery for burial in the space he allotted for himself.  In the end they were buried together as St Benedict also passed away not too long after.

Her feast day is 10 February!

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower and the Parliament Bldg, photo by PH Morton

Elizabeth Tower, photo by PH Morton

Big Ben, Clock Tower, Elizabeth Tower

Elizabeth Tower was formerly known as the Clock Tower.  It is part of the imposing, one of the most famous landmark of London, the Palace of Westminster.

The tower is often identified by a  misnomer, Big Ben.  In actuality, Big Ben is the huge 13 tonnes Great Bell located at the top of the 360 feet high tower.  The four-face clock became operational on 7 September, 1859.

The Clock Tower has been renamed as Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

 

 

Malacañang Palace, Philippine President’s Official Residence

Malacañang Palace, the residence of the Philippine president

Malacañang Palace, Philippine President’s Official Residence

This very grand palace by the rather stinky Pasig River is the Malacanang Palace, which is the official residence of the incumbent president of the Philippines.

The newly elected president is the popular Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who was unanimously chosen by the people during last month’s election.

Now, for 6 years, he will be Malacanang Palace’s official tenant.

Duterte sold himself to his Filipino constituents as being very modest and with simple taste.  He is not one for grandeur and excess.  In fact, he does not want to be called president but would prefer to be known by the humbler title of Mayor.  ( He was a mayor in Davao for more than 20 years).

Duterte had been commuting to Davao city, after a day’s work from 1pm to 12 midnight each day rather than sleep at Malacanang Palace.

Before, we say our ahhhs and awws in admiration for his modesty, simplicity, no fuss and total lack of delusions about grandeur, 😉 apparently the reason Duterte would not sleep at Malacanang Palace was because he is afraid of ghosts. Allegedly Imee Marcos, the former First Child of Malacanang Palace during Ferdinand Marcos Regime, scared Duterte shitless by confirming the existence of at least five ghosts of former presidents at the palace.

hahaha

I bet Duterte was just in a jovial joking mood. He is not afraid of no ghost! 🙂  One thing, though, Duterte should stay at the Malacanang rather than commute to Davao City for at least three reasons (in my opinion).

First, he is putting himself into unnecessary danger of flying everyday.

Second, he is causing airspace traffic. As it is, flying in Manila is a frustrating experience due to monumental delays.

Third, as a president of the Philippines, he should be an example to the people; flying every day creates high level of carbon footprints, which is a danger to the ozone layer. Air pollution is no laughing business, just look towards Beijing!

If he really that scared, get a cavalry of priests for thorough exorcism.

Sunflowers at the Glorious Burnham Park

Sunflower of Burnham Park, photo by PH Morton

Sunflower of Burnham Park, photo by PH Morton

Sunflowers at the Glorious Burnham Park

The sunflowers were in full bloom when we were in Burham Park in Baguio City, Philippines in February 2016.

It seems we were not the only admirers of the flowers; there were busy, buzzy bees hard at work gathering nectars.

The flowers were so beautiful to look at as it built a fragrant fence from one corner of the park into the next.  Though the park was busy, the tall flowers exude a haven of tranquility and serenity, thus promoting well-being.

It made me think that yellow must be the colour of happiness and peace.

Sunflower has the scientific name of helianthus, which comes from a combination of two Greek words, helios, meaning sun and anthos is of course, flower.

Sunflowers are annuals, which means they die down each year and new ones needed to be planted annually.  There are species of perennial ones but they are not too popular with gardeners as they tend to spread rapidly and can overwhelm a garden.

Travails of Travelling

Modern travelling is not travelling at all; it is merely being sent to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel.
– John Ruskin

John Ruskin had a point. Just board a tube in London at rush hours and you will find out how sardines are packed in the little tins that sit aloft a supermarket shelf.

Travelling can be stressful whether as an everyday occurrence or going on a holiday.

St Peter, First Apostle

St Peter (V&A), Photo by PH Morton

St Peter (V&A), Photo by PH Morton

St Peter, First Apostle

Peter was originally called Simon (Simeon).  Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, the Greek translation of the Aramaic, ‘rock’ in anticipation of Peter’s major role as the leader of the disciples and the first church of Jerusalem.

Before Peter became a disciple, he was a fisherman together with his brother, Andrew.  He was also married.

Peter was a very interesting disciple.  He was the first disciple chosen by Jesus.  Though he was a willing one, he often questioned his faith.

He admitted his unworthiness and guilt when he had to deny knowing Christ three times as the cock crowed and when he was being examined by the Jewish council.

He was crucified in Rome head downwards.

Galapagos Tortoises

Zoo 2012 571

Astride a statue tortoise, photo by PH Morton

Zoo 2012 572

Galapagos Tortoise at ZSL London Zoo, photo by PH Morton

Zoo 2012 574

Galapagos Tortoise at ZSL London Zoo, photo by PH Morton

Galapagos tortoises are the largest in the world and they can outlive me very easily as their life span is up to  150 years.

These galapagos tortoises played a major role in Charles Darwin’s revolutionary theory of Natural Selection theory when he visited Galapagos Island in 1835.