Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Postcard Perfect 044: Mapcard of the Russian Federation

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Here's a recent addition to my growing map-card collection - the mapcard of the Russian Federation.


From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the United States by the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sq mi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area. Russia is also the eighth most populous nation with 143 million people.[9] It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning nine time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms.- Wikipedia
Formerly the prominent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Russia has been an independent nation since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. As part of the Soviet Union, it was called the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, or the Russian Federation.
The Russian Federation includes 21 republics, nine territories, 46 regions, one autonomous region, four autonomous districts, and two cities of federal subordination: Moscow and St. Petersburg. The capital of Russia is Moscow (about 10million residents). The largest cities (above one million population) are: St. Petersburg (4.6m), Novosibirsk, Nizhny, Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Samara, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Kazan', Perm', Ufa, Rostov-on-Don, and Volgograd. - The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada Website

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday Stamps 050: Philippine Marine Biodiversity on Stamps

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According to a scientific finding in 2011, the Philippines has the highest concentration of marine species amongst the island nations that comprise the Coral Triangle (Indonesia and Malaysia are the other two). These findings point to the Philippines as the world's hub of biodiversity. (Source)

However, this marine biodiversity is under constant threat of degradation, habitat loss, and many more due to its improper use and management. Conservationists in the Philippines are locking in arms to save and conserve the country's marine ecosystem. I hope that we don't see the day that these marine species are lost and can only be seen on stamps.

The stamps featured this week are from different sets of definitive stamps issued in 2011 showcasing the Philippine Marine Biodiversity. These stamps are great reminders of the beautiful creatures under the sea and how important it is to help conserve our coastal environment.


One of the five definitive stamps (in P1, one peso denomination) in the Philippine Marine Biodiversity series issued in Oct 2011.

Left stamp: A definitive in the category of the Philippine Marine Biodiversity (in P3, three pesos denomination) issued in January 2011; right: another definitive in the same series but from a different set, issued in November 2011.

The above stamp shows the Picasso Trigger, a popular aquarium fish specie.
The Picasso Trigger is a magnificent and very popular aquarium species that is easily recognized by its creamy grayish-tan and white colored body splashed with many distinctive bright blue and yellow fine-line, and golden, black and white wide-band type markings. Average size is 9 to 10 inches. The fish enjoys the shallower waters inside and outside the reef where lots of rocks and creviced structures are present to hide in and search for food from. - Source
Below, left, is a stamp that shows a Striped Sturgeonfish.
The Striped Sturgeonfish has a yellowish head and body with prominent horizontal blue stripes edged with black. On the head, the stripes converge around the eye. The lower part of the body is pale blue. The tail is black with blue margins. It has a long spine on the tail stem that can cause a painful wound. The Striped Sturgeonfish is also known as Lined Surgeonfish, Clown Surgeonfish, and Clown Tang. - Source
And the last stamp, below, right, is not a fish but a flatworm. It's called the Polyclad Flatworm.
As their name suggests, these free living worms are generally dorso-ventrally flattened being no more than a few millimeters thick. Sizes range from less than one millimeter to over 30centimeters. Most polyclads are extremely delicate, typically elongate and/or oval with a smooth dorsal surface. Some genera, however, display dorsal papillae. Polyclads exhibit wide variety in colour pattern and texture. They have marginal ruffles tending to increase in number with size.    - Source

And, in case you hadn't noticed, the Picasso Trigger and the Polyclad Flatworm stamps each bear a bar code. Bar codes were first used by the Philippine Postal Corporation on stamps last year and, I may be wrong, but  I noticed the bar codes appear on the Philippine Marine Diversity stamps issued in October and November only. As to why a bar code is placed these stamps, or what purpose does it serve, I could not find any information at all.





Friday, 24 February 2012

Postcard Friendship Friday 063: Fernando Amorsolo's obra maestra




Sent by Arlene, who blogs over I Love Postcrossing, this postcard features the beautiful oil painting of the Philippine countryside, an obra by one of the Philippines' National Artists, Fernando Amorsolo. It conjures nostalgia, of a long-gone era in my country.

Below, the postcard illustrates the rice harvest season generations ago, with one woman on a break to nurse her baby. Harvesting rice in the Philippines, as in many Asian countries that grow rice, is a happy occasion. Villagers come to offer a helping hand and, after a day's work, a feast is prepared. There were games for kids, music and dances, traditional, of course. There were no electric violin or guitars yet in those times.

Postcard shows one of the oil paintings done by Fernando Amorsolo. His works depict his love for the Philippine rural landscape and farmers/labourers.
As he was developing his skills early on in his life, his mother did embroidery to support him. He also helped by selling watercolour postcards he himself created to a local bookstore.

Amorsolo's works are known for his play of light and shadows (noted for his signature backlighting technique of his subjects) and for his mastery of realism, impressionism and the use of chiaroscuro, an Italian term describing contrast between light and dark, to achieve a sense of three-dimensionality, especially in regards to the human figure. (Source)

Maraming salamat, Arlene.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Postcard Perfect 043: Colombia's Cartagena, the Heart of the Caribbean

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I'm having a bit of a dilemma right now, whether to sell my yoga stuff as I do not practice yoga anymore. Gathering dust in our storeroom is this nice yoga mat that I acquired two years ago from a garage sale. It still looks pristine and with the yoga mat bag in similar condition, both could still pass as new. Any takers?

Not to bore you with my domestic blabbers now, here is my first post postcard from Colombia:

Colombia's Cartagena: Corazon del Caribe. The Heart of the Caribbean.
Also known as Cartagena de Indias. Cartagena of the West Indies.
Colombia's Cartagena, a beach resort city located on the northern coast of the country, is one of the most fascinating port cities in the world. How many people you know have been to Cartagena? *No one, hehehe* Many travelers are probably put off going there considering Colombia's history of drugs and drugs-related violence and mayhem. However, a lot of people find it's beauty is too irresistible and are unfazed about it's negative image. These privileged few who visit Cartagena came back with positive ravings about the place. The beaches are spectacular and the city is oozing with romanticism, culture and history.

Cartagena was named after Spain's Cartagena and was an important Spanish colony in the region. The city's colonial architecture, massive churches and charming plazas, a maze of cobbled alleyways make it great for sightseeing. No wonder it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You know what...? I can do away with all the schmaltziness of many, many Valentine's Day in exchange for a trip to Cartagena! *wink*

Muchisimas gracias a mi querido amigo, Luis, por el envío de esta postal preciosa.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Weekend at the Rs

Our Internet connection went bonkers since Friday so I wasn’t able to join this week's. Last Saturday, the Internet just went completely kaput. Gone. Imagine our frustration. We are already fed up with the lousy service at Ezecom so we are making the big move. By the end of this week when our monthly subscription expires, we will no longer renew this ISP’s service. It’s the most dreadful service we’ve ever had. The first few months were good but the rest of our nearly 3 years of patronage the service went downhill that it is not practical anymore to continue.
Anyways, without Internet over the weekend, my husband and I went on a long drive to the city outskirts for a change of view. And he finally took me to to Shop 88, it’s a secondhand shop of sorts of all things Japanese located about five kilometers away from Chhba Ampoeuv bridge. I’ve been wanting to come back to this shop just because I love Japanese stuff.

We paid $10.50 for this lot!
I first heard about it from my friend PinayWifeSpeaks and I was hooked the first time I went there with her. So I was really happy that my husband drove me there and checked out the shop’s offerings together. I was amazed at everything! The shop contains an eclectic mix of anything and everything Japanese. There were really nice antique wooden wardrobes that caught the eye of my husband. Solid wood chests and bureaus with beautiful 1920s design. There is an amazing collection of kitchenwares, bakewares and other glasswares, ceramics. There are also sofas, tables and chairs, tatamis (Japanese mattresses), folding beds, Japanese dolls and miniature samurais, some paper crafts, a spray tan machine, and many other quirky knick-knacks. I didn’t find what I’m looking for except for the breakfast plates (that are oven-microwave-and-dishwasher friendly) and Pyrex pie plates - plus a handpainted coffee mug, a bowl and a square shaped thing my husband thinks would be great for nuts - that I took home happily.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Postcard Perfect 042: Mapcard of Prague

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A beautiful map card of Prague! It shows the layout of the city, a part of central Prague where you can see several centuries-old landmarks of historical and cultural importance.

This was the first map card sent to me in 2009 by my friend, Michaela, who lives in Prague. She sent me another one in 2010, this time a route map of Prague metro. Both are in my favourites album.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunday Stamps 049: Parrots on Macedonian stamps

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I almost forgot to post my entry this week again because I was fiddling with a friend's new gadget kobo ereader. It's cool to have one. Several of my friends use this now but I'm quite old-fashioned and still prefer to read a book with my hand and feel its pages...

Anyways, my entry this week came all the way from Skopje, Macedonia. Big thanks to Ana for sending me the Rafael Nadal postcard using the stamp below:




The Macedonia Post issued a stamp series called Pets depicting Parrots in 2010. The issued stamps consist of 2 stamps with nominal value of 20denars, and 40denars (shown above).

Parrots are the arguably the most popular of all pet birds in the world. They are sociable, intelligent, attractive and their ability to imitate human voices make them endearing to humans. However, I think they are too noisy at times and could be destructive, too. I'm scared of parrots (because of their sharp beaks), to be honest, and I always maintain a safe distance from them.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Papemelroti art stamps

I'm excited! I just learned that art rubber stamps are now available at Papemelroti, my favourite craft shop in the Philippines. Below are just two of the stamp designs that are available now:



Photos are taken from the Papemelroti online shop. Check it out.

Papemelroti is a specialty shop run and managed by the Alejandro family in the Philippines. They are all a creative bunch and their products are a testimony of their love of crafts and anything and everything handmade, their creativity, inventiveness and so much more. I remember trooping to their shop at SM Cebu when they first opened there. I was a huge fan of their paper products - cards, journals and notebooks that are made from recycled paper. It was the IN thing when I was in university... and even up to now! What was once a small shop has now turned into a chain of shops all over the country.

Please take note that this is not a sponsored post and I didn't enter any of their contests either. I'm only a big fan of Papemelroti expressing my love of their products. Anyway, I've been trying to finalise my shopping list making sure I get all what I need. I also can't make up my mind whether to order at their online shop and have it shipped directly to Cambodia, or, have my sister purchase them at SM Clark and post them to me. I haven't figured out yet which is more cost-effective, but one thing's for sure, I'm going to have enough Papemelroti products in my stash to last me a year or so.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Postcard Friendship Friday 063: Rafael Nadal, Australian Open runner up

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Warning, this is a fan-girl post. I will understand if you'll skip this. 

Anyways, this postcard, sent by my very good amiga Ana over My World of Postcards, is a tribute to my tennis favourite Rafael Nadal, who was a runner up in the recently concluded Australian Open. It was an unforgettable, epic finals match, dubbed by a tennis expert (I forgot, was it Steve Tignor?) as the Melbourne Massacre. The five-set match lasted for nearly six hours, the longest ever in the men's finals singles history in the open era, and it left both players almost dead in exhaustion, barely able to stand during the awarding ceremony and stay awake at the presscon after the awarding ceremony.

2011 was the year when Rafa lost three grand slam titles to the same man, Novak Djokovic, and unseated him off his number one ranking. Djokovic, the player who attributes his success to the gluten-free diet, beat Rafa again...in this year's Australian Open.

Rafa may have lost to Nole yet again but I am greatly impressed by his determination, resielience and self-belief. Carlos Moya, another Spanish tennis great, said it and I echo the same sentiment wholeheartedly: Y ultimo, yo soy de Rafa, ahora que nunca.
Despite this loss, my admiration for Rafa grows more and more. There is no other tennis player I've seen who pushes himself, crawls back into the game and gives himself chances again and again. He definitely has all the tools - in fact, all the tool bags there is - to beat Novak. He was so close and I think the tennis gods got it all wrong!

While Novak roared (my golly, his mouth is huge, second only to Andy Murray's!) and ripped off his shirt in delirious celebration, I saw the hurt in Rafa's eyes. Right then I was heartbroken. When Rafa accepted the runner up plate his speech is truly something many athletes should take a cue from, drawing the positives (in his particularly most heart-wrenching defeat) and sincere words for the winner.

“That's nice be there fighting, trying to go to the limit, bring your body to the limit of his chances,” he said. “Something I really enjoy, and I always said is good to enjoy suffering, no? So when you are fit, with passion for the game, when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering. So today I had this feeling, and is a really good one. I suffered during the match, but I enjoyed all the troubles that I had during all the match.  I tried to be there, to find solutions all the time.  I played a lot with my heart.  I played a lot with my mind, and is something that is nice to be around and not just play tennis.”
“I didn't have mental problems today against him,” he said. “I had in 2011 all these mental problems.  Today I didn't have.  I compete with normal conditions against him, no? So that's another positive thing.  Probably never say that many positive things after I lose.”  - Source.
He truly is a classy athlete...and which is probably why he is the most-loved tennis player by fans all over the world.


This is why I feel so lousy about his loss up to now.






 
Images by Freepik