Saturday, November 7, 2009

Some Photos of the Philippines

MOUNT MAYON - The Perfect coned volcano

It is in the Bicol Province of Albay. On the graceful skirts of Mayon Volcano you can see the green tropical forests. It is by no means a benign volcano. Throughout the centuries, including the 20th, it has erupted ferociously.

The warlord Tung Lok, pays 10,000 pounds gold sterling for the priceless cockatoo Fray Paco, then called Katala ( sold to him by the infamous pirate Don Pedro de Freitas; Tung Lok encounters a volcanic eruption of Mayon Volcano while on a buying expedition with his 70 Chinese junks.

At one time, my father's clan used to have a 30 thousand acre hemp and abaca plantation at the foot of Mayon. I remember holding my breath at the beauty of it as a young girl.


We used to picnic by its shores and swim in the warm waters of the lake.Fray Paco would fly and glide high above us, showering us with his choicest quotations from his mangled Horace and Marcus Aurelius.

The lake is quite close to Manila, an hour's drive so we often went there. Few tourists of any nationality visited the Philippines then, except movie stars, politicians and billionaires like the Rockefellers.

Now, thankfully the mass of Filipinos have discovered their own treasures after having spent time abroad as domestics, workers, professionals and just plain RICH Filipinos.

They have come to realize that in many ways the Philippines is a far more beautiful country than many of the countries they visited and or worked in. Beyond a doubt. EVVIVA!!!


Mindoro is an immense island with superb international airports for the boring, thieving and thuggish Billionaires who often park their private jets in their own hangers while they party with the cookies/chicks of the moment.

After the wonders of Mindoro; Nice, Monte Carlo and Portofino leaves me frigid. But its Location, location, location, as they say.

Now the European, American and Arab billionaires with more money than taste are staying closer to home. Chinese billionaires are now coming to El Nido - which means the nest in Spanish.

When Fray Paco is kidnapped by a Colonel in General Yamashita's army during the Liberation of the Philippines in 1945/1946, he is taken aboard the destroyer Sakura Maru and the Japanese replenish their supplies in Mindoro.

This forms part of the hundred island chain of Pangasinan Province, in Northern Luzon. The Ortigas-Nieto clan nearly 100 plus souls in more than 15 large praus/bancas sought refuge deep in the jungles of these islands, Punta, Hala=Hala,Kawayan, Puti to name just a few. This was in order to escape the Japanese onslaught. Everyone, Filipino and foreign who crossed their paths ended up slaughtered and mutilated to pieces by their bayonets, hand grenades and firing squads.

In addition to Fray Paco, the clan carried Teddy bears, dolls, pet hens, champion fighting cocks, cats and dogs. The Cosmic Forces and the right hand of God must have protected them. All of the two-legged and four=legged creatures remained undiscovered and unharmed. God is great. The Philippines is great. MABUHAY!!!


Built a thousand years ago by the warlike and imaginative engineers the Ifugao tribe of Benguet province in Northern Luzon. It is one of the wonders of the Modern world. The Ifugao and Igorot tribes still use it today. I have flown over them and they fill you with as much awe as Mayon Volcano, the chocoate hills of Bohol, Mount Apo in Davao Mindanao ( southern Philippines) or even the pyramids at Gizeh.

The Ortigas-Nieto clan had mountaintop villas and homes in Baguio City. After the Americans took the Philippines all the names in Baguio bore Anglo/American ones. Don Cesar built a retreat made of stone and narra wood in the foothills of the Cordillera mountain range. This was later inherited by Dona Esperanza who made important additions such as a verandah and 10 more bedrooms en suite.

Almost all the members of the clan played golf at the exclusive Camp John Hay. All the glitter litter,snobs, the marriageables, sauntered and showed of their beauty at Burnham Park in the late afternoon just before the extravagant meriendas.Philippine pine trees are a sight to behold. They do not have the umbrella, mushroom cloud look of the Mediterranean pines, instead they are majestic and almost triangular. Burnham Park was a forest of these pines.

Lucrezia and her cousins used to sit in the verandah and count the eagles and hawks circling below in the valley. Then dozens whirled and glided before them. Now, the Philippine eagle, a majestic golden raptor is almost extinct.

This was a trying time for Fray Paco. Eagles, hawks and falcons remain to this day, the natural enemies of cockatoos. He would perch on Lucrezia's shoulders and tremble or growl.

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