TRAFFIC IN METRO-MANILA – PART 1

 

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[Shown on this photo is a sample of  the monstrous traffic on EDSA,  the metropolis’ main thoroughfare which cuts across major cities in Metro-Manila. Jeepneys have customarily been  pinpointed as the root cause of the traffic problem due to the common perception that most if not all of the jeepney drivers are ignorant of the basic traffic rules. But the sheer volume of vehicles in the metropolis nowadays plying EDSA, sparked perhaps by the aggressive marketing strategies of car dealerships coupled by the affordable down payments,  and the lack of a reliable mass transport system have made the traffic problem a hard nut to crack for the Duterte administration. ] 

One problem in Metro-Manila which has seemed to have become a hard nut to crack for the Duterte administration is the perennial traffic jam, which has continued to worsen from day to day.

Most people consider the problem as rooted simply unto the sparse network of roads and highways that certainly cannot logically cope with the volume of the vehicles that have been plying the roads, the streets and the highways of metropolitan Manila.

But what could be done to alleviate this seemingly unsolvable problem that has brought stress to many motorists, heightened tensions and brought a lot of traffic related disputes that led to brawls and even killings.

In some discussion, it has been said that the lack of road courtesy and the sheer seeming ignorance of most Filipino drivers to basic traffic rules and regulations could be the root of the problem.

Based on 2013 data, there are about 7.7 million vehicles in the whole country and 2.1 million of those vehicles are in Metro-Manila.

Of the total number in the country, about 870,000 of these are cars, 1.8 million are utility vehicles, about 347,000 are SUVs, 360,000 are trucks, 32,000 are buses, 4.2 million are motorcycles or tricycles and 40,000 trailers.

There has been an emerging campaign to scrap the jeepneys from the streets especially in Metro-Manila. However,   such surely would result in very dire consequences especially because jeepney-driving is the livelihood for a number of household heads of the country’s hoi polloi. But those jeepney drivers undoubtedly, are considered as most reckless and most of them are said to be blindly ignorant to the basic traffic rules and regulations.

And how did these UNIQUE jeepneys  emerge in the Philippine scenario? When American troops began to leave the Philippines at the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus military jeeps were sold or given gratis to Filipinos. A famed American soldier, Harry Stonehill, was involved in the disposal of military surplus. Eventually, Stonehill created a black market for the military surplus including jeeps. Thus, the military jeeps were stripped down and altered locally: metal roofs were added for shade; and the vehicles decorated in vibrant colors with chrome-plated ornaments on the sides and hood. The back saloon was reconfigured with two long parallel benches with passengers facing each other to accommodate more passengers. The size, length and passenger capacity has increased as it evolved through the years. These were classified as passenger-type jeeps. The non-extended, original-seat configuration jeeps were labeled owners, short for owner-type jeeps, and are used non-commercially.

Those originally manufactured military-issued jeepneys were refurbished military jeeps by Willys and Ford.

The jeepney rapidly emerged as a popular and creative way to re-establish inexpensive public transportation, much of which had been destroyed during World War II. Recognizing the widespread use of these vehicles, the Philippine government began to regulate their use. Drivers now must have specialized driver’s licenses. Routes are regulated and prices are fixed fares. Illegal (un-franchised) operators are officially referred to as “colorum” operations, from the color of the vehicle plate, which denotes a private rather than public registration.

Indeed, jeepney driving has then become a very attractive source of livelihood. And these jeepney drivers would alternate at times as taxi drivers or bus drivers. However, as it is very easy to get a driver’s license in the Philippines, a  lot of drivers who eventually drove jeepneys as well as taxicabs and buses, plying routes within the metropolis became reckless drivers as they tend to be ignorant of the basic traffic rules and regulations (this is because more often than not, the licenses issued to them, churned out via sleaze money; would just pass through a truncated process bereft of the usual orientation on traffic rules). And an ordinary motorist who would always experience and see how jeepney/taxi/bus drivers would cut and swerve with gusto and zest; would eventually drive like those jeepney and taxi drivers.

In other countries, it is very hard to get a driver’s license. Take the case for example of driver’s license issuance in Sydney, NSW. The following regimen must first be complied with to culminate in one’s having a full-fledged driver’s license. 

  • Pass the Driver Knowledge Test (“DKT”) – this gets the applicant a learner’s license;
  • Hold the learner’s license at least 12 months for drivers under the age of 25. Complete 120 hours minimum driving practice (log book records the driving experience);
  • Pass the Driving Test – progress to a Provisional License – Stage 1 (“P1 License”);
  • Hold your P1 License for a minimum of 12 months;
  • Pass the Hazard Perception Test – progress to Provisional License – Stage 2 (P2 License);
  • Hold one’s P2 License for a minimum of 24 months;
  • Pass the Driver Qualification Test (“DQT)”Progress to a full-fledged License.

Perhaps, the sheer easy route to get a Philippine driver’s license is one reason why we have a bunch of reckless drivers who are ignorant of basic traffic rules. In fact, one time, in a driver’s license issuance scandal which got sensationalized in national TV was about a totally BLIND person who was able to get a driver’s license in a jiffy.

In this regard, as there are thousands of drivers who may have not been actually briefed/oriented on basic traffic rules, perhaps it would do well for us all, for the government TV network (which perhaps should be replicated in other TV networks) to telecast via video clips basic traffic rules and regulations. Among those traffic rules often violated is the prohibition against getting caught inside the orange box in road intersections as well as the BAN against COUNTERFLOW. In fact, I am even swayed to have stickers made out (and I would affix them on my front and rear car bumpers) which would scream in BOLD and GLEAMING letters: “HUWAG NA PONG MAG-COUNTERFLOW; SI DUTERTE NA PO ANG PANGULO.”

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[Indeed, proper implementation of traffic rules is one aspect that needs to be focused on to put a solution to the monstrous traffic problem in Metro-Manila. More often than not, the ORANGE BOX in most intersections are filled with vehicles as motorists are all craving to beat the red light creating gridlocks therefore in those intersections. Also, the ill-bred Filipino’s proclivity to do a COUNTERFLOW entices many motorists to follow suit, as most of the time, the streets are without traffic enforcers that could visibly thwart such violations.Along EDSA, motorists are fond of swerving from one lane to the other, right and left, influenced perhaps by jeepney/taxicab/bus drivers who have been regarded as “kings of the road” during the halcyon years of a traffic-free EDSA and who need to hurtle through the highways with speed to insure that they get a decent day’s wage (as their wages/take-home pay are customarily based on the number of trips).]

MY FRIEND, MIKE MULLER, and THE TAEGEUK CORDON ORDER OF THE MILITARY MERIT MEDAL

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[Photo shows at right, Mike Muller aka Antoine Michal Muller,  one among FOUR (4) personalities from among the many veterans who fought for freedom and democracy during the 1950-1953 Korean War, to receive the highest South Korea’s award— the Taegeuk Cordon Order of the Military Merit Medal, on the occasion of the 63rd Korean War Armistice Anniversary on July 27, 2016. To Mike’s side is his lovely and classy wife Katie. This photo was snapped at their cozy Pretoria, South Africa home.]

When I went to South Korea in the 4th  week of July 2016 to represent Daddy Max (i.e. Maximo P. Young) in receiving an award, the Taegeuk Cordon Order of the Military Merit Medal from the Republic of Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, I became friends with THREE (3) notable personalities.

These THREE (3) personages (myself included which made us a QUARTET of notable men)  jointly became the cynosure in that 63rd anniversary of the Korean War Armistice; namely: Antoine Michal Muller (“Mike”) from South Africa, Patrick Beaudoine (“Patrick’) from France and Jeffery Coalter Davis (“Jeffery”),who represented his granddad, Raymond Davis (“Raymond”); from the U.S.A.  These THREE (3) similarly received the Taegeuk Cordon Order of the Military Merit Medal;  Mike and the late Raymond for their Korean War feat just like Daddy Max and Patrick for his invaluable/dedicated service as President in Paris, France of the French Korean War Veterans’ Association.

From among those THREE (3) awardees, Mike became    closer to me as we were almost always in touch during that 6-day Korean War Armistice event. In fact, we (i.e. myself and Mike) sat side by side, as we shared the same head table during the THANK YOU Dinner held at Seoul’s Hyatt Hotel Ballroom, after that morning’s awarding ceremony on July 27, 2016 at the Seoul Olympics Hall. And from those tidbits of information that I was able to gather from Mike, in our casual talks, boarding the same car unto the Seoul Olympics Hall, and those had inside the shuttle bus which ferried the event participants from place to place, including my further research; I now want to share this BLOG which I have transcribed about my friend Mike. Though Mike was very much taciturn in regard to his Korean War feat, virtually curtailing me to write about it; I got so fascinated with Mike’s outstanding humility, dignified and polished manners. As only tidbits of information came out from Mike’s seemingly sealed mouth,  I actually embarked on an intensive research on Mike’s life and the daring Korean War feat of the 2 Squadron SAAF. Thus, I hope Mike will forgive me for this well-meaning intrusion.

Antoine Michal Muller aka Mike was born on June 28, 1930 in Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa. Mike went through his secondary education at the Hoerskool Monument in Krugersdorp and eventually at the Hoerskool Sentraal in Bloomfontein, South Africa. After his secondary education, Mike studied at the South African Military College, now known as the South African Military Academy.

During the 1950 Korean War, Mike saw action as a pilot. Mike was part of the famed 2 Squadron SAAF2 Squadron SAAF is considered as an elite air force unit of the South African Air Force which has a long history of combat. During the Second World War, it made a name for itself in the battles for East Africa, before reaping laurels in North Africa as part of the Desert Air Force.

In this year’s celebration of the Korean War Armistice Anniversary, the Republic of Korea invited the so-called United Nations (UN) soldiers who fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement that halted the South Korean-North Korean conflict.

As earlier said, among those who were honored (actually only 4 personalities were awarded the South Korea’s highest military decoration, the Taegeuk Cordon of the Order of the Military Merit Medal), was Gen. Antoine Michal Muller, for his daring war feat in providing cover to the UN forces who were on the ground fighting off the North Korean soldiers with their Chinese communists reinforcements.

It would appear that in the many combat sorties flown by the F-51D-Mustang operated by Mike, after some scary skirmish; Mike needed to parachute out of the cockpit as his plane got hit and for this, he was brought deep into the enemy lines. However, after some time, Mike was successfully rescued.

During the Korean War, the 2 Squadron SAAF came under the operational control of the US Fifth Air Force and it was charged with the following main tasks:  (1) destruction of enemy air power; (2) close support of UN ground forces; (3) maximum range armed reconnaissance and offensive strikes; (4) interdiction of enemy ground lines and communications to include attacks along avenues of escape for enemy forces; (5) escort and/or cover for UN air, sea and land forces; and, (6)  air defense of military installations.

On those successful combat sorties had during the Korean War of the 2 Squadron SAAF where Mike served as one of its elite pilots, they invariably received commendations of “outstanding performance” from the then Commanding General of the US Fifth Air Force, Major General Earle E. Partridge.

Mike eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and was named South African military commander, who thereby held on the post of Chief of the South African Air Force.

Ultimately indeed, Mike was appointed Chief of Air Staff operations in July 1978 before becoming Chief of the Air Force in December 1979. After his retirement from the military, Mike served as Ambassador to Chile, which explains Mike’s genteel, well-bred and good-mannered persona. And Mike was so overly humble too, because when I commended him about his daring  feat in the Korean War, his casual repartee was this: “I WAS JUST DOING MY JOB.”

A GRAND SALUTE FOR MIKE MULLER!!!!

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Group photo shows Mike Muller 3rd from left.
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Photo shows SOKOR’s highest military decoration, the TAEGEUK Cordon.

THE HAPPY TALE & PATH OF ADRIENNE & IVAN

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[Photo above shows the GLEEFUL GARCIA family with their signature INFECTIOUS SMILES most especially ADRIE, who is shown at center, sandwiched by her sweet and cuddly son JEREMY to her right; and her endearing and romantic husband IVAN to her left. With ADRIE’s long locks, alluring pose and seemingly playful pout, she could  easily be deemed as a dead ringer for a petite version of Angelina Jolie.]

Adrienne Llorca Garcia aka Adrie is my niece being the daughter of my maternal cousin Arlene “Beth” Lever. Beth served as our host together with her hubby, Steve Lever, when my family stayed in their Oxley Park home in Sydney, NSW in the 2nd week of September 2016.

During her toddler days, Adrie was alternately called as either Bombom or  Pompom. These names which evoke merry-making (i.e. in the Philippines, “bombom” would denote a musical instrument actually a drum for some kind of festivity; while a “pompom” is an instrument used in cheering up teams in a contest), perhaps is an extension of the legacy of happiness which has endured in the Llorca household where Adrie spent her infant and nonage years. That household is located at No. 69 20th Avenue, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines. Personally, I was more attuned and comfortable then, at referring to Adrie as Pompom instead of Bombom.

And more often than not, when Adrie was growing up, that place called home by Adrie was a virtual happy house where evenings and nights would feature Adrie’s uncles and their friends — singing, barbecuing, drinking, feasting and merrymaking.

First and foremost, the patriarch of the Llorca clan, Tio Gene Llorca (i.e. Adrie’s grandpa), is of Visayan descent; and the Visayans are known for being exponents of a happy and carefree life; a life of singing, merrymaking and carousing. In fact, the province of Negros where Tio Gene hailed is deemed as peopled with fun-loving folks and its city was even considered and named as the City of Smiles.

A pompom actually is a loose, fluffy,decorative ball or tuft of fibrous material, made from a wide array of materials, including wool, cotton, paper, plastic, and occasionally feathers; and they are usually shaken by cheerleaders, to arouse jubilation, merry-making and enjoyment.

And happiness seems to have not left the psyche and persona of Adrie though she has migrated with her Mom Beth to Australia in 1988. Indeed, happiness may have attached and latched on unto Adrie’s very character. Moreover, it would show that happiness is contagious,  nay infectious, just like the infectious smile of Pompom (i.e. Adrie).

On October 7, 2006; Adrie’s infectious smile ( a kind of smile which engenders a smile from another) and her steady stroll to find lasting happiness reached its fruition and zenith when she married an equally gladsome gentleman named Ivan Paul Santos Garcia (“Ivan”).

Ivan, who from his dapper looks could even be considered as a Philippine version of Aussie’s  Russel Crowe is currently studying Nursing and will be graduating in October of this year, while he continuously works at a leading medical, surgical and research facility in Sydney, the St.  Vincent’s Hospital at Darlinghurst, NSW. Ivan also has roots in the Philippines particularly in Lubao, Pampanga, the hometown of two (2) distinguished Presidents of the Philippines, the late President Diosdado Macapagal and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Adrie, on the other hand, is employed as a Premium Personal Banker at the Westpac Banking Corporation, Australia’s first bank, where she has been working for over 10 years. The Garcia couple is blessed with a son, Jeremy Austin, who is currently in Year 10 and studying at the Champagnat Catholic College located in Maroubra, NSW. Jeremy zestfully enjoys Art and Photography, and as he will be starting Year 11 in January 2017;  Jeremy has graduated into tinkering ways on the art and science of  making music videos which he intends to resoundingly upload in Youtube.

Innately animated perhaps to always trek the happy path, Adrie and Ivan chose to live near the beach at Hillsdale in the eastern suburbs of Sydney; where they enjoy in gay abandon to take conventional coastal walks from  Coogee to Bondi Beach through a coastal trail. And the coastal trail is a well-marked and well-maintained path; indeed a HAPPY PATH.

And Adrie’s trek to lasting happiness continues, as the Garcia family has made it a habit to go places on holidays particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, USA and into their native land, the Philippines. This December, the Garcia family is planning another holiday to go around places in Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines; for them to gel and bond together as one happy, jovial, blissful and fortunate family.

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[This group photo taken on September 9, 2016 with the Sydney Harbour Bridge as backdrop shows the Mom-and-Son tandem of Adrie and Jeremy (5th and 6th from left). Others in the photo are: (L-R: Beth Lever, my wife Dang, my daughter Cheska, Steve Lever, Adrie, Jeremy and myself).]

VALOROUS VENALS OF A VIBRANT VILLAGE IN SYDNEY, NSW – THE QUAKERS HILL

 

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[Photo above shows the VENALs and the would-be VENALs fashionably dressed/attired like those  elegant guests at the Sydney Opera Bar whom I espied on my first up close and personal sighting of the SPLENDID SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE on September 9, 2016. From L-R: Sean, Leah Mitchell, Jun, Kit, JC, Krystle and Matti.]

 

Quakers Hill      is the vibrant village where the family home of the Venal clan composed of its household head, Conrado “Jun” Venal and his dainty wife, Annabelle “Kit” Venal (together with their youngest child Krystle), is located. Quakers Hill indeed, has become a fairly populated suburb, experiencing major growth in recent years. The famed Quakers Hill Parkway bridge (going over the train line) has been widened from two to four lanes; population has indeed risen and numerous educational institutions are existing.   Truly, a vibrant village among the suburban districts of  Sydney, NSW.

Jun and Kit, both Filipinos at birth (the latter being a first cousin of mine) migrated to Sydney, Australia in 1982 and found greener pastures therein. Personally, I admire to a great extent,  people who displays valor and much courage in migrating to another country, uprooting one selves from their native land and to be away from their origins, their beginnings and their own natural hub.

And I admire most especially, Jun and Kit for having spearheaded the sequel migration of Kit’s older sisters (i.e. Kit is the youngest sister among her siblings of the Llorca-Tobias clan based in Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro-Manila, Philippines); namely: Arlene aka Beth now known as Arlene Lever of Oxley Park, NSW and Araceli aka Cely aka Sally Beckham of Rooty Hill, NSW. 

Now, Arlene aka Beth is happily married to that suave and sociable Aussie of Irish descent, Steve Lever, who is so madly in love with her. Indeed, if not for Jun and Kit, Beth would have not found paradise in the persona of his lover, soul-mate and friend,  the smooth and slick Steve.

On the other hand, Cely got transformed and has metamorphosed into a beauty therapist thereby allowing her to hobnob and rub elbows with Sydney’s crème de la crème and the city’s upper crust particularly of the venerably-aged variety.

Jun and Kit are the proud parents of three (3) responsible and loving kids, namely:  John-Conrad (“JC”) who is the eldest having been born in 1983, Sean-Conrad (“Sean”), who is the middle-child having been born in 1986 and the youngest, Krystle-Anne (“Krystle”), who was born in 1995.

JC works as a Mortgage Settlement Officer, Sean as a specialist IT Recruitment Consultant; while Krystle just commenced studies at the Macquarie University in the Creative Field.

Jun is still at it working in Sydney, NSW’s bureaucracy continuously displaying his courage and valor in efforts to maintain placid peace and social order in this splendid Sydney of Oz.  On the other hand, Kit exhibits her valor and courage too, in tune with the bold, brave  and innovative spirit customarily shown by SONY, AUSTRALIA, where Kit works, in churning out new and similarly bold and brave models and brands of home appliances and electronic appointments.

Next year, Sean (who now lives in Olympic Park which plausibly explains his “Olympics Games-inspired” heft and the cock-sure image and the swagger of an USAIN BOLT), the couple’s (i.e. Jun and Kit) middle child will express his own valor by embracing domesticity in married life, via bringing to the altar his fiancée, Aussie Leah Mitchell.  JC, on the other hand, is affianced too unto Edrea Teo, while Krystle is dating Chile-born and Leonardo di Caprio-look alike, Matti Bolla.

As Matti, a Spanish-speaking Chilean, would surely holler and howl, with the valor and courage shown by the VENALs—VIVA VALOROSOS VENAL!

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[The macho-honcho of the Quaker Hills Venal clan, Conrado “Jun” Venal, is shown in this photo at left, with my son Tonton at center; and with Jun’s beauteous wife, Kit (my maternal first cousin), at right. Photo was taken during my birthday bash held at the Oxley Park home of Mr. & Mrs. Steve and Beth Lever on September 12, 2016.]

CELY, CHARMY AND CANDY aka ARACELI LLORCA, CLARISSE MAUNG and CANDICE GALVAN

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[The THREE (3) gracious and most helpful ladies that made the LEGIT STATUS HIPHOP DANCE TEAM’s stay at their ROOTY HILL HOME in Sydney, NSW most convenient, comfortable and NUTRIFYING. CANDICE GALVAN aka CANDY at the foreground; to her right is her MAGNANIMOUS MOM, CELY aka ARACELI LLORCA and at near background, to CELY’s right is CHARMY aka CLARISSE MAUNG.  Photo was taken when CHARMY and CANDY treated their MOM CELY to a movie during CELY’s recent birthday.]

Cely is my other lovely maternal first cousin who has for years been based in Sydney, NSW; while Charmy and Candy are her daughters; and therefore, my nieces. And I just want to commend these three (3) gracious ladies for the help they purveyed unto my daughter’s (i.e. Alee’s) Legit Status Hiphop Dance Team (“LS Team”).

The LS Team which competed at the 2016 World Supremacy Battlegrounds-Hiphop Contest (Varsity Division) [“WSB”] in Sydney, Australia; eleven (11) of them plus their coach Vimi Rivera (“Vimi”) and their team manager and my eldest daughter Shayna Young (“Shayna”), actually got billeted in the Rooty Hill home of my maternal cousin, Araceli Llorca aka Cely aka Sally Beckham.

The members of the LS Team who were transient guests at Cely’s household were: Vahan James “Jim” C. Arceo, Lorenzo Gabriel “Enzo” S. Banayo, Janea Racquel “Jaja” R. Dancel, Jhunvie A. De Paz, Judd Delos Reyes, Franklin N. Francisco, Justine Elin “Justine” M. Ramos, Tim Ricafranca,   Jan Jayson S.D. Tirados,  my daughter, Ma. Winnalee “Alee” E. Young; and, Jim Sten E. Yumang.

Earlier, the beauteous Beth Llorca Lever, the elder sister of Cely, was able to close a deal for the rental of a commodious house situated near the Mount Pritchard Mounties Club (venue of the WSB contest], except that the house-owner eventually got a surprise arrival of her kin’s family which would need commodious lodging accommodations too.

Finally, as we, my family which includes myself, my wife Dang and my two (2) other children; Tonton and Cheska, were all scheduled to stay at Beth’s Oxley Park home; it was decided that the LS Team members plus Vimi and Shayna, be quartered instead at the Rooty Hill home. The cemented driveway leading to Cely’s Rooty Hill home got transformed into the LS Team’s transitory rehearsal venue

Upon arrival from the Philippines (via an 8 hour Cebu-Pacific plane ride), our group which included the LS Team  and my family partook of a Filipino-cuisine lunch of SINIGANG NA BABOY, BISTEK TAGALOG and fragrant steamed white rice at Cely’s Rooty Hill home.

About the LS Team’s hospitable hosts, namely: CELY, and her two (2) daughters CHARMY and CANDY,  have been long-time residents of Aussie. Cely is a beauty therapist and is doing part-time geriatric care to people living in high-end areas in Sydney. On the other hand, Charmy (being the eldest daughter of Cely) who is now married to Phillip Maung, actually lives separately with her hubby and is on the family way with her first child. And the proverbial stork is expected to come on January 26, 2017 coinciding with Australia Day.

Candy is a Cruise Consultant, actually part of the Administrative Staff of the Inventory Department  at Carnival Australia. Carnival Australia serves as the parent company of several popular cruise brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard Line, fathom, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises World Cruising, Princess Cruises and Seabourn.

Candy, standing up to her hospitality-consciousness by reason of her being a Cruise Consultant virtually served as BIG SISTER, together with her Ate Charmy; to the members of the LS Team, even cooking and churning night snack-foods for them such as pastries and cakes (i.e. M & M cookie  bars, chocolate rocky road cake, etc.). In Candy’s recent post in her FB account, she mentioned having missed the LS Team as she imagined herself having a lot of brothers and sisters during the LS Team’s stay in their home. Candy with her BF, the winsome Gilby Gaynilo, loves going to Aussie’s beaches and hiking. In fact, they have come up with an Instagram account called “hikeunamatata” which journalizes their various hiking experiences in colorful photos displaying Aussie’s rural and bucolic  locale in its pristine and natural beauty.

Charmy who despite being recently wed to her handsome hubby Phillip Maung (who is Burmese) and pregnant even, took time to help the Rooty Hill household just as to make the Legit Status Team’s stay convenient, comfortable and nutrifying. Charmy works with the Australian Military Bank   and that as her share in the seeming nutrification regimen for the LS Team, Charmy would churn out specially baked cheese dips and nutella pizza. Charmy excitedly recounted too that every time the LS Team would do their practice dances at the driveway at the Rooty Hill home, she would be so mesmerized by the dance movements as she would fantasize and imagine herself (while watching) to have become a hiphop dancer too during her teens.

During our brief stint in Sydney especially at Sydney’s city, I felt so cosmopolitan…for this, I want to thank CELY, CHARMY and CANDY…..SALAMAT… THANKS… MERCI…GRACIAS….KYAAYYJUUTAINPARTAAL (that is Burmese, I think for THANK YOU)…

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[This was Candy’s post in her FB account which came as caption to this photo: “Feels so weird coming home to an empty house. For the past week, me and my Mom played host to my cousins from Philippines and their lovely Legit Status dance crew. It was nice feeling like I had so many brothers and sisters. I enjoyed cooking for you guys late night snacks. Hopefully see you all again, next year! Miss you already!” —Charmy and Candy are shown in this photo (i.e. 6th and 7th from L-R, respectively) with the whole Legit Status Team which competed at WSB.]

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS OF KETOOMBA, NEW SOUTH WALES

 

[Scenic and majestic view of the BLUE MOUNTAINS from different perspectives with the ICONIC THREE (3) SISTERS, a natural rock formation at the backdrop. Left photo shows, from L-R: Steve Lever, Beth Lever, my daughter Cheska and my wife Dang. Top-right photo shows, from L-R, myself, Cheska and Dang. Bottom-right photo shows, from L-R, myself Steve, Cheska, Dang and Beth.]

Legend has it that  the THREE SISTERS which are the iconic and popular figures in the BLUE MOUNTAINS of New South Wales refer to three aboriginal sisters of the KETOOMBA Tribe in New South Wales. The THREE (3) sisters of the KETOOMBA Tribe are named: Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, who all lived in the Jamison Valley. The story goes that these THREE SISTERS all fell in love with THREE MEN who are BROTHERS but who belong to the neighboring NEPEAN tribe. However, aboriginal laws forbid the inter-marriage between tribes and so, the marriage between the THREE SISTERS and the THREE BROTHERS was forbidden by the said aboriginal-tribal law. But the THREE BROTHERS  were not happy to accept this aboriginal-tribal law and so they decided to do an elopement and had to  use force to abduct the THREE SISTERS. A major tribal battle ensued, as the THREE BROTHERS attempted to abduct the THREE SISTERS; and the THREE SISTERS were turned to stone by a mystical elder to protect them. But the said mystical elder got killed in the fighting between the Ketoomba and the Nepean tribes. Thus, no one else from among the members of the Ketoomba Tribe possessed the mystical power to turn the THREE SISTERS back.

Truly, the BLUE MOUNTAINS is one of the most majestic scenery in Sydney. The appellation BLUE Mountains, which pertain to the mountain range which sort of envelopes/encloses the Jamison Valley got its name according to what I heard from the phenomenon that happens every day usually at near dusk. It is said at dusk, the emanating vapors from the vast bunches of eucalyptus trees planted in the depths of the Jamison Valley (underneath the ECHO point, which serves as the viewing deck for one to behold the majesty of the Blue Mountains) would form a bluish color haze and that it would gradually turn the color of the mountains from green to BLUE.

It is apparent though that even if it is still not yet dusk,  the farthest mountain ranges from the observation deck at the ECHO Point would actually look BLUE already.

The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region and a mountain range located in New South Wales, Australia. The region borders on Sydney’s metropolitan area, its foothills starting about 50 kilometers west of the state capital. The public’s understanding of the extent of the Blue Mountains is varied, as it forms only part of an extensive mountainous area associated with the Great Dividing Range. Officially the Blue Mountains region is bounded by the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the east, the Coxs River and Lake Burragorang to the west and south, and the Wolgan and Colo rivers to the north. Geologically, it is situated in the central parts of the Sydney Basin.

The Blue Mountains Range is a popular tourist destination and is ideal for rock climbers, mountain bikers and hikers. Those who are interested to do rock climbing and hiking ventures are well catered for by guiding companies and equipment stores located mainly in Ketoomba.

Popular climbing destinations include the Centennial Glen cliffs near Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Mount Piddington and Mount Boyce. Climbing is currently banned on The Three Sisters area.

Mountain biking takes place mainly on the many fire trails that branch away from the main spine of the Great Western Highway, such as Narrow Neck, and Anderson’s Fire Trail. Likewise many of the fire trails are popular with day hikers, though many dedicated walking trails exist away from the fire roads.

Canyoning in the Blue Mountains is a popular sport and caters for various skill levels. Canyoning actually is some kind of sports which is done by travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, rappelling, rafting and swimming. It carries inherent dangers, yet for those with the appropriate skills or those looking to take a guided trip there are many great opportunities to experience a different view of the Blue Mountains.

Also, there are numerous rappelling (i.e. roping down sports) options available in the Blue Mountains Range including single and multi-pitch routes. There are some restrictions however, with respect to certain areas which have been closed for rappelling.

[Top-left photo is another view of the Blue Mountains Range.Top-right photo shows myself resting on a bench at the ECHO Point as I encoded some caption on the majestic view of the Blue Mountains which I posted on my FB account.Bottom selfie-photo taken by my daughter Cheska shows our group at the SCENIC WORLD Station  within the Blue Mountains Range resort where cable cars are available for a more thrilling view of the Jamison Valley below and the panoramic view of the Blue Mountains Range in the horizon.]

SPLENDID SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

 

[Top-left photo shows the nighttime view of the SPLENDID SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE from behind; top-right photo shows the front view of the Opera House; and bottom photo shows the Opera House from the side near the site of the Harbour Bridge.]

From photographs that I have seen and from video clips on TV, my initial perception of the Sydney Opera House was that the seemingly-looking shells that adorn its virtual roof structure were just splashed with white paint. But I was wrong, the white “shells” which also resemble as though petals of an immaculately white flower sprouting up in its entire splendor are plastered with stone ware tiles.  Though the shells appear uniformly white from afar, those tiles were so arranged and juxtaposed featuring thereby subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colors: glossy white and matte cream.

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts center in Australia. It is considered as one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings.

The Sydney Opera House was designed by a relatively unknown 38 year old Danish architect by the name of Jørn Utzon. It was Utzon’s entry, Scheme No. 218, which on January 29, 1957 won in the INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION FOR A NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE IN SYDNEY.  Work in putting up the opera house begun in 1958 and it was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on  October 20, 1973. Yes, it took 15 long years for the edifice, a true work of art to be finished/completed.

Actually, planning for the construction began in the late 1940s, when Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, lobbied for a suitable venue for large theatrical productions. The normal venue for such productions, the Sydney Town Hall, was not considered large enough. By 1954, Goossens succeeded in gaining the support of NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, who called for designs for a dedicated opera house. It was also Goossens who insisted that Bennelong Point be the site: Cahill had wanted it to be on or near Wynyard Railway Station in the northwest of Sydney’s  Central  Business District.

Indeed, it was the government of New South Wales, led by then premier, Joseph Cahill, which authorized work to begin in 1958 with Architect Utzon directing the construction. The government’s decision to build Utzon’s design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect’s ultimate resignation. Due to a change of government in NSW which eventually questioned Utzon’s costings culminating in the stoppage of payment to him, Utzon resigned in 1966 and never ever returned to Australia to see and behold the completed Sydney Opera House.

The building and its surroundings occupy the whole of Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove, adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, an area which is close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Though its name suggests a single venue, the building comprises multiple performance venues which together are among the busiest performing arts centers – hosting well over 1,500 performances annually, usually attended by more than 1.2 million people.

Performances are presented by numerous performing artists, including four resident companies: Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than eight million people visit the site annually, and approximately 350,000 visitors take a guided tour of the building each year.

The building is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, an agency of the New South Wales State Government.

On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The whole building covers 1.8 hectares and is 183 meters long and 120 meters broad at its widest point. It is supported and stands on 588 concrete piers sunk as much as 25 meters below sea level.

The original cost and schedule estimates in 1957 projected a cost of AU$ 7 million and completion date of 26 January 1963 (i.e. Australia Day). However, the project was completed ten years late and at a cost which was 1,457% over the original budget in real terms.

When we went to take an up close and personal viewing of the Sydney Opera House, the venue’s frontage at the foot of the majestic stairs unto the Opera House’s lobby, about a quarter of a hectare large, was rhapsodic, euphoric and jubilant. An Indian yoga master, who seemed to be adept at ZUMBA dancing too, and who was standing atop an improvised pedestal was directing and  demonstrating the steps, the sways and the hand movements of a melodious and rhythmical dancing to the tune of Indian exotic music. And joiners, old and young; tall and wide; black and white; sexy and pulpy; congregated in.

DANCE!DANCE!DANCE!

sydney-dancing-people

[People dancing near the Sydney Opera House!!!]