Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Changing Colors of Autumn

If we are friends in Facebook and you've been clicking on the albums I feature, I'm sure you must have read about this in my FB posts although this is the first time I'm featuring it in my blog.

Uhhh... I'm sure my kids (that is, if they get to read this) would say, "this is just one of her late posts..."! Okay, okay, yeah, yeah, so it's almost a year late! It's now or never... lest I don't get to finish this on time. 

This is a special post of our travel to Seoul, South Korea which I'm writing now for a special occasion. Since tomorrow, hubby and I are celebrating our 29th year together, for this post I'm just featuring selected photos of the two of us taken from places we visited. Of course, credits and thanks to our daughters, Ayana Grace and Ana Cristina, for capturing all these poses! Mwaaaahhh!
Sharing our memories of autumn in SKR.

Touchdown at Incheon Airport documented. 

Day 1. Hubby and me in one of the streets of Bukchon Hanok Village, an area of traditional houses where every alley has distinct atmosphere, characteristics and views. 

Next itinerary: The Changdeokgung Palace

Welcome to the Changdeokgung Palace!
This time, I'm not watching a telenovela... this is real!

Below, Billy, my husband, posing for a jumpshot  before proceeding near the palace.

Changdeokgung Palace was recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.

Taken at the grounds of Changdeokgung Palace, the very first palace we visited, one of the most historically significant attractions that represent the beauty of Korea. Built in 1405 as a secondary palace of the Joseon Dynasty, this palace was destroyed during the Japanese invasion, but was rebuilt in 1610, and henceforth served as the main palace for 270 years. 

One couldn't help posing with the beautiful colors of the autumn leaves behind us. 
How do you like these photos of us together? 

Oooopppsss... somebody's deliberately photo bombing!
Just beside Changdeokgung Palace, was Changgyeonggung Palace, another secondary palace. 

Panoramic view of the side of Changgyeonggung Palace with the Seoul skyline at the background

Both Changdeokgung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace, together, were known as the East Palace and shared a garden called the Secret Garden. On Day 1, we came late for a guided tour inside the Secret Garden, so we just explored the Changgeonggung Palace area. 

Had a feel of stepping on fallen leaves of autumn.

And walking on them, too! 

We enjoyed the view while taking more photos of us and the surroundings. 

Couldn't remember who took these photos anymore. Ayana Grace or Ana Cristina?
I simply love them!

Within Changgyeonggung Palace grounds we saw the beauty of the Daechundangji Pond. We fell in love with this pond, we could hardly move to leave the place. We had to drag our feet away from the place after taking photos and videos again and again. We had to wait for the best angle of the pond with the least number of tourists blocking our view.

Look at this---

I just realized that we had no photos of us together here 😞😭

Saying hi!

To take this shot, my daughter had to signal for me to move fast while the view was clear. 

This was the highlight of the day. But we had to go back another day to take a guided tour inside the Secret Garden, also known as the Forbidden Garden because even high officials were not allowed to enter without the King's permission. This is the palace garden where kings and queens strolled. 

Before the tour started, we took time to roam around Changdeokgung Palace once again while there were still few tourists.

Wow, we got the whole area all by ourselves!

Another pose please... this time a little bit closer... 

Nice background eh! I loved looking at the design of the rooftops of most structures here.

And just look at the colors of the trees! Beautiful!

Inside the Secret Garden, we were all amazed with what we saw that we seemed to forget to take photos of ourselves together. We were so immensely beholden by all these---

The Buyongji Pond and Juhamnu Pavilion at Huwon (Secret Garden)
The Juhamnu Pavilion was used as a library and royal archive and is located adjacent to a lotus pond. This pond is square to represent the earth and contains a round island for the sky.  

That's me with the Buyongji Pond at the background

The Aeryeonji Pond
The Aeryeonji Pond is as beautiful as Buyongji Pond. The name of the pond means "a pond where lotus flowers blossom."

Gwanramjeong Pavilion and Bandoji Pond
 This is where the king goes fishing. The shape of this pond resembles that of the Korean Peninsula.

My scarf blended perfectly with the yellow fallen leaves at the Gwallamji Pond. No other time to see the beauty of the Secret Garden than autumn when the autumn foliage is at its peak and the leaves have just started to fall. It was like looking  at a wide floor of fallen yellow leaves.

And now, showcasing another historical place, the Gyeongbokgung Palace. This is the main royal palace and the largest of the 5 Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. Gyeongbokgung served as the home of Kings and of the Kings' households. 

Panoramic view of Gwanghwamun Gate
The Gwanghwamun Gate is the main and largest entrance to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. At the background is Mount Bugak. I loved staring at Mt. Bugak and I was so happy having captured this view. My efforts (after several attempts at taking a  clean and smooth panorama) were not in vain at all. 

We were able to find a Hanbok Rental Shop strategically located in a corner outside the palace. GungNadri was the name of the shop. Wearing the hanbok allowed us free entrance to the palace. It was cold even with our warmers underneath the hanbok.

The kind and hospitable lady at the shop suggested we take hanboks designed for the King, Queen and princesses. And so we did! She also allowed us to use hair accessories such as headbands and handbags to match the hanbok--- at KRW 30,000 for each one of us. What a fortune! But we had no regrets. Our photos simply say it all.

Here we are--- on our way to the palace, clad in hanbok, ready to tour the palace grounds.

We arrived at the palace just in time to witness the changing of the palace guards. The tour wouldn't have been complete without a pose with the palace guards at the entrance. 

Inside the palace gate, I had to remember behaving properly like a Queen. See, I had to maintain the position of my hands all the time to maintain a queenly image (hahaha, for photo ops, of course!)

The Geunjeiongjeon (Throne Hall) of Gyeongbokgung (the Main Palace)

Corners of rooftops in palace buildings really fascinate me. 

I loved staring at them. 

The King and Queen wearing hanbok resting in between walks within the vast area of Gyeongbokgung Palace. 

Rest-rest din pag may time. 
Imagining myself to be the lead character of
Jewel in the Palace. 

One last pose with the palace guards before leaving the palace
We took a cable car that brought us to the N Seoul Tower (YTN Seoul Tower), commonly known as Namsan Tower. It is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul, South Korea. With a height of 236 meters, it marks the second highest point in Seoul.

 The lead characters for the new Korean telenovela, Lovers at Namsan Park. 

It was feezing cold up there!

Look closely. Do you see the lovelocks behind us? Those are padlocks of different colors, different designs and different sizes. This place is a popular date spot for couples who head to the tower to lock their "padlock of love" onto the railing and to dream that their love will last forever. Part of the famous Korean telenovela drama entitled, Lovers in Paris, was filmed at Namsan Park and fountain.

Guess what... we locked our padlove in Namsan, too! 

And now... for the next highlight of our travel--- Nami, here we come! It is said that in autumn Nami Island is poetry. I would like to believe so. It was so inspiring to be there!

Nami Island was named after Gen. Nami, who was known to fight in battles and died at a young age of 25. Declared as Naminara Republic, Nami Island today has become a place for rest and relaxation. Certainly, we did just that--- rest and relax while enjoying the picturesque view of any corner we laid our eyes on. 

Beholding the beautiful colors of autumn in Nami Island. Notice that I am wearing the crocheted scarf I made before the trip. It blended well with the leaves of the trees. 

In autumn, everything turns gold and red in Nami. 

In spring, flowers cover the island. In summer, winds from the river blow through the woods. In autumn, leaves fall and carpet the earth. In winter, the island becomes a world of icicles and snow. 

I loved how the foliage glitters with the light of the sun peeping through the trees.

Fallen Ginkgo leaves carpet the ground at the Ginkgo Tree Lane.

 In Nami, one couldn't help falling in love and communing with nature.

 Hubby and I walking along the Bungalow Row Riverside Path...
... drawing in the air the future... 
(may forever ba?)
Not so cheesy, eh?!

No candlelight. No soft music. No dancing. Just 30-minus-one years to treasure for now. We may not be the same persons this year anymore as we had been in the past. Yet it is amazing how we continue to love and live with the person who is also changing along with us every single year. 

"Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years," says Simone Signoret. So I pray that God would bless us with more and more of tiny threads for us to sew faithfully and happily together. 

Happy anniv to us! Mwaaaahhh!

💕 💑 💓 💖 💗 💝 💟
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Heritage Tour in Silay City, the "Paris of Negros"

El Ideal --- Silay's Original Bakery since 1920

A few days prior to the much awaited trip back to my hometown in May 2017 to attend the 8th General Alumni Homecoming of Binalbagan Catholic High School (BCCHS) where Batch of '77 celebrated its 40th year, my family and I were seriously looking into the details of our itinerary. Hubby, a very organized person, kept asking me about our activities upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay Airport. 

"Where do we have breakfast?" Uh-oh! In my mind, I repeated the same question. Then silently, I posted a message to our BCCHS '77 FB group asking for the best affordable place to have a typical Negrense breakfast near Silay Airport. Bless batchmates who are always on-line! Through them I was able to get several options, but El Ideal's proximity to the airport made it our best and final choice. 

El Ideal Bakery in Silay City
Looks like an old building. It is, indeed, having been established in the 1920s by the late Cesar Lacson-Locsin, El Ideal, is the oldest historical restaurant-bakery located at 118 Rizal Street, known to be the Heritage Zone of Silay City. 

El Ideal, the food heritage of Silay, is popularly known for its Guapple (guava-apple) Pie. Sad to say, we were not able to have a taste of it as we didn't learn about it then. I also regretted not having ordered a bowl of hot batchoy for breakfast (now I'm craving for it!). All of us opted for rice meals because hunger pangs already set in and we anticipated a side trip to a resort before checking in our hotel in Bacolod City. 

True to the information I received, price was reasonable. See the price list displayed on the board. I loved what was written below, "Ma-order ka sang yuhum? - Free! 😊"

One also gets a real good choice of the best pastries and delicacies as pasalubong from Negros.

Here's one corner of the restaurant, a nice area for photo ops. We liked the Spanish ancestral ambiance of the house with a certified heritage structure.

Hubby likes heritage houses so on our way to El Ideal, we requested our driver to stop over some heritage houses we saw along the way. Of course, we took photos and a closer look of these two famous ancestral tourist attractions in Silay, the  Bernardino-Jalandoni Museum and Balay Negrense Museum. 

The Bernardino-Jalandoni Museum

Balay Negrense Museum

Unfortunately, we passed by these houses very early while they were still closed. We couldn't wait any longer, hence, we planned to drop by again to see what's inside before proceeding to the airport the day we fly back to Manila.

Me and mi esposo

Before leaving the place, I saw this truck loaded with sugar cane. I couldn't help calling the attention of my daughters to show them raw sugar canes being transported to the azucarera (sugar factory) for processing. 

I was also intrigued at this Spanish writing on the fence--- Acta Rendicion. 

I also liked the sight of this man riding his tricycle.

After breakfast at El Ideal, on our way out of the city, we passed by another unique-looking old house. While hubby went out of the car to take a good view of the house, I was contented taking this shot from inside. 

Just before going back to the airport on our last day, we had enough time to visit another heritage house, the Hofileña Ancestral House, located in Cinco de Noviembre Street in Silay City

The Hofileña Ancestral house was built in 1934 by Manuel Severino Hofileña and his wife Gilda Ledesma Hojilla. The house features furniture that are considered family heirlooms. Ramon, one of the nine sons of Manuel and Gilda, resides in the house.

The house may look like an ordinary old house from the outside but contains the finest and rarest art collections in the country, among such are paintings of Juan Luna, Jose Rizal and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. The house also displays antiques belonging to the Hofileña family, a prominent family in Silay.
The Hofileña Ancestral House Marker
The Hofileña Ancestral House was proclaimed a heritage house by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines in 1993. 

Inside the ancestral house is a wooden grand staircase made of ironwood or balayong, 
a very hard kind of wood resistant to termites. 

Pensive mood, you may think. Not really. 

The truth is, I was not feeling well. This was just another attempt of mine to put up a front. Hubby was determined to take a photo of me sitting on an antique chair at the Hofileña Ancestral house, so I obliged. Would you believe that I almost collapsed a few minutes after? I remember seeing stars before darkness that I closed my eyes and devoured as much air as I could. I had severe stomach upset but I couldn't miss the flight back home. It was a real struggle keeping my composure despite my crumbling tummy. I exhausted all efforts not to ruin my family's excitement to savor more of the cultural and historical pride of Silay City, the Paris of Negros. Too bad, I wasn't able to take more photos of interesting furniture pieces in the house.

Let me conclude this post by sharing with you what I was able to capture in one area of the living room at the ancestral house. I just love the view of the foliage visible through the window. 

Watch out for more of our family travels in my next post.