Froggie goes a callin’
Gardening and especially Water Gardening is another one of my passions that is quite enjoyable and calming. Being able to watch all the life like the dragonflies alighting on the water plants, the fish chasing each other in little circles, the waterlilies pushing out their flowers and the frogs who have made my pond a home provide endless hours of enjoyment and entertainment .
My attention shifts from watching the frogs chirping and calling out to each other and catching insects to the dragonflies and damselflies chasing each other round and round in an elegant aerial courtship until eventually the little female damselfly allows herself to be caught and they continue their dance albeit now connected even in flight. If all goes well they will lay their eggs in the water and their offspring will become pond residents as well.
One of the stars of my garden pond are the beautiful and captivating waterlilies who very prolifically add their spectacular blooms like they were going out of style. They come in all shapes and sizes from brilliant white blooms to fiery reds, elegant peach tones, delicate sky-blue tints, deep blues and gorgeous purples. And a great thing about the waterlily is that they are certainly not shy in flowering. They grace any pond with their beautiful and elegant blooms in a constant and unwavering display of colorful blooms, only retiring their flowers come night-time and opening once the morning sun begins to break. There is also the night-blooming variety which opens its blooms once the sun starts to set. So if you have the two kinds you are constantly blessed with a show of their captivating display of blooms.
In this age where the concrete jungle is the norm and nature is being pushed back by development one way of bringing nature back into your life is by getting yourself a pond and give nature a hand.
The other day as I was heading down to Fort Santiago along Roxas Boulevard, i noticed that there were several billboards on the front lawn of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. An unusual sight as the CCP lawn was normally kept clear so that people would have an unobstructed view of the facade of the CCP, the fountains and the long sweeping driveway leading up to the entrance of the main hall. It wasn’t just one billboard but a whole slew of them blocking the view and causing an eyesore. Upon closer inspection I was quite surprised to see the contents of the billboards themselves–it said quite plainly ” On this site will rise xxxxx condominiums” !!! What!!?? Imagine the shock, surprise and indignation that went through my mind as the prospect of having yet another row of eyesore condominiums spring up in the Metro and not only that, it was going to be placed right in front of the CCP!!
All I could think of was–whose brain-fart is this? Another fine example of Government’s Urban Planning; or lack thereof. Also, are we so poor and desperate that we need to sell off part of our nation’s cultural heritage–aren’t we supposed to be in a strong growth cycle just now (until the next political genius throws a monkey-wrench in the works). So why the need to sell the lot? I’m in the hope that maybe it’s all just a stupid joke and the sale will be rescinded.
Other countries in the Asian region have a very strong preservation ethic when it comes to their historical and cultural structures–countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and even ultra-modern Japan know the value of preserving their old buildings. Old buildings lend a charm and character to any area that they’re found. A living historical record which is hard to recapture once gone.
So take heed ; not only is Manila in crisis from the trash in it’s streets and the pollution from buses and jeepneys and it’s general disarray, it also stands to have one of it’s greatest icons defaced.
Paragliding is a relatively new sport here in the Philippines but it is rapidly attracting a growing stream of determined and avid participants. Much like surfing it’s a sport which is just now being explored here , a reason for this I believe is that it’s just recently been discovered that there are sites where you can engage in these sports here in our own country. It even took foreigners to discover the now world class surf breaks of Cloud 9 at Siargao. But proudly, the main sites for paragliding here have all been established by local pilots who are still very much involved in the sport. The challenge now for local pilots is to discover new sites which can be used to develop their skills and explore new challenges. Currently only 2 sites are used on a regular basis due to the accessibility and regularity of the flying conditions; Carmona and Safii
Ranch in General Santos down South. Carmona is an excellent little flysite which offers the citygoers easy access to the flysite–an easy 45 minute drive from Makati is all it takes. From the Alabang area it’s just a short 30 minute drive.
As for thrills, paragliding is hard to beat–just imagine yourself flying through the air high above the ground with a view that very few people ever get to see. You are floating in the air , borne aloft only by the wind — this is probably the closest thing that man will ever come to experiencing natural flight. But I’m getting ahead of myself, I’ve forgotten to describe the experience of taking off. You begin your flight on the ground–usually an elevated patch of land; a hill or ridge of some sort which faces the wind and has a clear landing site at the bottom which is un-cluttered by electrical poles, buildings and other structures. Once you’ve determined that the conditions are suitable– wind speed, wind direction are good you then start to raise your wing overhead, steady it for a moment then run towards the wind and away from the cliff. And just like magic you find yourself in the air and floating above the ground , above the trees and free as a bird. A feeling that is hard to beat, in fact it still gives me a rush just remembering my first solo flight; a wonderful flight in Bali — but that’s another story.