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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: Under the Tuscan Sun: At home in Italy




Under the Tuscan Sun: At home in Italy
By Frances Mayes
Memoir, hardbound, 280 pages

I believe there is no review on this 1996 book without mention of the film version. I, for one, have seen the film first starring Diane Lane before I read this book. Thus, I am setting the record straight here: they have different storyline although the house is the gravitating factor in both. Of course, I have to mention that the film is inspired by the book.
Mayes said that her book came out from the notes she has taken down and mementos she had saved for four years when she and her husband purchased the Bramasole (To yearn for sun) property in Cortona, Italy.
As I go on with the book, I wished for a map of the whole Tuscany to at least understand the route taken by the writer and a sort of map of the Cortona town. Thanks to google, I had clearer picture while reading the book. Tuscany is an Italian central region with Florence as its capital province while Cortona is a town in Arezzo province. I can say with confidence now that the Tuscan sun shines through many provinces. As for the Cortona town as well as its neighboring towns, the writer’s narration could have been best appreciated with illustrated maps or something. At any rate, I shift back and forth from book to google to imagine the locations in the story; I can only imagine that earlier readers of this book open real maps.
I love the fact that Mayes has an eagle eye for details which can only be attained by religiously keeping a journal. But she has no poetic rhythm in her story telling. It is like facts being woven to form a story. While I love her for her passion, I cannot feel her as she tells me about it. I almost gave up halfway through the book (the restoration details did not deserve that length) but that was about when the house renovation and restoration details were done. Mayes has the literary technique but she has the want of charisma. If it is not for my genuine interest on Tuscany (perhaps brought about by the film’s visual representation), cooking, and fresh produce, I would have given up.
Half-way through her storytelling till the end, Mayes shared her intimate thoughts on travelling and religion, as well as her recipes. While she bared her intimate thoughts to her readers, she seems not endearing still. I want to really like her as a writer but I can only simply conclude that while in real life she might be a magnet, as a writer she simply lacks it.
To prove it, I finished the book but I was not compelled to look for a colored pen to highlight a passage! For me, the shining moments of the memoir are not major but only contributed to the overall charm the book had on me such as when she was making her private thoughts on Etruscan cemetery, on Catholicism, on the Italian tradition of la passeggiata and siesta as well as while she introduces her recipe.
Another salvation the book had is when Mayes peppered her memoir with Italian terms along the way with ready translation as well as she salted it with many poems and quotes in enough proportions.
After reading her book on her quests in buying the property in another continent, restoring and renovating it for years and her shuttling back and forth from America to Italy, I can only surmise her financial freedom. She is a university professor in America and now a writer after the book was out. She must be born rich for having their own cook in her parent’s house in Georgia and her own seamstress!
And as for me now that I finished the book, I can say that my cooking class in Tuscany is still just a dream. In the meantime (and this is not sourgraping), I shall make sure that my Tuscan Sun shine bright where I am right now. This same personal yearning for the foreign sun, I guess, is the reason why this book deserved many republication!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

DAVAO CITY: Touring outside the city proper


We started the day by heading to the famous Davao City Philippine Eagle Center where they artificially hatch and raise the endangered specie. We were early by 30 minutes so that we roamed around before the gate opened. Lucky we were because the caretaker was around so that we were able to have our photo ops with the heavy bird. 


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We were told that the birds are named after their sponsors, the latter pay for the medicine, food, maintenance of the center and the caretaker. Aside from the Philippine Eagle, we saw the endemic owl, and some other bird species. 

From there, we proceeded to Eden Farm which is an eco-trail where we skipped the group tour on a tourist vehicle circling the whole place filled with trees. Instead, we played with the caged birds and the butterflies.

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We then proceeded to Jack Ridge supposedly for lunch but we were not able to have one there because they open for dinner. The place features a panoramic view of the city. We had a pleasant drop there before we headed to our lunch place.


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We had a sumptuous lunch here at the Vista View Resto just before ending the day at the People's Park where we had our last steps of the day.

 

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A pose that ended the tiring but rewarding day.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

DAVAO CITY: Lazing around the downtown



A vacation is not a vacation if there is no proof. And the proof is not the megapixel alone but PASALUBONG, a treat for those waiting at home. Part of the Filipino culture is to bring something home. To celebrate such tradition, we allotted a day to buy Davao's best: durian candies, pomelo, malong, bags, wallets, keychains and other goods in Aldevingco Mall.

But before we hit the mall, we roamed around the city hall of Davao, the Sanggunian Panlungsod hall, the San Pedro Cathedral, and the Museo Ng Dabaw. We had a great time that at the last minute we decided to head to Crocodile Farm which is located outside the city proper (You should do this on a Friday and weekends as they feature Tribu Mindanao fire dance on those days) and we ended our day there with a sumptuous meal at one of the restaurants. 


The City hall of Davao.

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A pose by the big painting on the making of the city. 
This is in the lobby of the city hall.

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With the cheerful tour guide at the Museo Ng Dabaw.
This is located just a walking distance from the back of the Sanggunian Panlungsod hall.

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This mix media is made of paint and durian thorns. Amazing Art!

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This was take in one of the parks of Davao City.

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Sangguniang Panlungsod Ng Dabaw.

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The imposing monument of peace against the pretty clear skies is captured here.

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The San Pedro Cathedral.

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The interior.

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The bell tower of the cathedral with spiral stairs.

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Still having a good time despite the darkness of the night.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Intro to Mindanao Tour: One-week Samal Island-Lake Sebu-Davao City




I call our trip as an introduction to Mindanao Tour because we took the easiest places to navigate: Samal Island, Koronadal City, Lake Sebu and Davao City during our one-week vacation. Here is our itinerary as it actually happened and I inserted some more suggestions to make your trip better than ours! Enjoy...

Nov 22 -- From Bacolod City, arrival to Davao Airport and headed to Samal Island (nightswimming at resort, bat cave and holiday view deck)

Nov 23 -- joined a brgy fiesta, White house, Haguimit Falls, Maxima Aquafun and tried Langka delight at a pasalubong center


Nov 24 -- traveled to Davao City Overland Terminal and rode yellow bus going to Koronadal/Marbel, South Cotabato. Checked in, checked out Koronadal. Commercial Center (KCC) Mall and dinner at basilio's and visited Lantaw Marbel


Nov 25 -- traveled to Lake Sebu where we did the dressing up, zipline, and sight seeing. Don't forget to enjoy tilapia. (Back in Marbel, one should see The Farm at night)

Nov 26 -- We did the zumba at Rizal Park and toured Notre Dame University of Marbel and before leaving Marbel, we went to The Farm and Paraiso Verde (great to swim here). Travel back to Davao City.


Nov 27 -- We roamed on foot Davao City Hall, Sanggunian Panlungsod, San Pedro Cathedral, Museo Dabawenyo and went to Aldivingco where we did the shopping for Pasalubong. (We went to the crocodile farm but it is recommended to do this visit on a friday and weekends to catch the fire dance by Tribu. Mindanawan)

Nov 28 -- We had our van tour proper and we went to the Philippine Eagle Center (opens at 8am; there is a farm which features chocolate and honey on the way if one has time), Eden's Farm (features light eco-trail hiking and the scheduled one-hour vehicle tour of the whole farm departs per group), Jack's Ridge is not open for lunch and we just dropped by to view the whole of Davao City. We concluded the day at People's Park.


Nov 29 -- Airport for morning flight back to Bacolod City

Tip: Pick daytime to do the bus travel; roads from Davao City to South Cotabato is concrete and safe to navigate. If I were not in the company of senior citizens, I would squeeze in an overnight in General Santos City (Nov 26) and do the travel back to Davao City early morning of the next day. 




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bahay Ni Tuding is pleasant hometel in the heart of Davao City


Bahay ni Tuding is a pleasant surprise. It is located in the bustling center of Davao City, it being a walking distance to the city hall and the sanggunian panlungsod as well as the San Pedro Cathedral. It has a facebook account here.

160 San Pedro Street
Davao City, 8000, Philippines
Telephone : +6382-295-2487
Mobile : +63947-361-3544
Facebook: Bahay ni Tuding
email: reservations@bahaynituding.com

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Not exactly that the place is artistically impressive, I just like the fact that they sporadically 
added some artworks on their walls.

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and the ceiling.

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A theme of their own!

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This is somewhat creepy but this woman is the namesake of the hometel.

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Here she is once more!

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a colorful artwork at the loby.

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the poinsettia centerpiece of the table at the dining hall.

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Obviously, christmas is approaching at the time we were there...

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I love their complimentary homemade not-runny-almost-sticky yoghurt.

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We ordered this on our first night: Chicken chopsuey.
Thumbs up!

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Also, we had their bulalo. The specialty of the house.
Two Thumbs up!

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Sidetrips before departing Marbel: The Farm at Carpenter Hill, City Hall of Koronadal and Paraiso Verde


      The Farm @Carpenter Hill is highly recommended to us. We were not able to enjoy it the night before we left Marbel because it was drizzling and we were tired of our Lake Sebu day trip. So, before we left the homey city of Koronadal, we went to this famous place.Usually, the place has an entrance fee of P100 which is consumable. But since we were in a hurry, we requested the front desk to allow us to take a few pictures for souvenir considering we were catching the 10 AM yellowbus going Gen.San. and we were allowed sans the fee.


Telephone #        : (083) 228-1888 / 228-9010
Telefax #              : (083) 228-9010
Mobile #               : (Smart) 09189210425 / (Sun) 09228489098 / (Globe) 09177260721
Email Address    : info@farmatcarpenterhill.com
Website                 : www.farmatcarpenterhill.com

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The mini park inside The Farm features US tourist spots like this San Francisco Bridge, 
Hollywood, Las Vegas and a lot more!

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The children's (and adult's) playground.

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The restaurant we were not able to sample!

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The city hall of Koronadal is gigantic.

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We proceeded to Paraiso Verde Resort and waterpark where there are lots of swimming pools and 
this resort features a man-made wave in their 4ft pool. Inside the resort, there is an aviary, cafe, pasalubong center and cottages. 

Brgy. Zone I, General Santos Drive
Koronadal, South Cotabato

+6383-228-1988 | +639999912932

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G is for giggles!

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His caricature when he was still a baby!


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The trike driver, who hails from Dumaguete, who drove us around!

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