Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Return of my 80's Robot Toys

Daimos is one of the more popular robots in our time
Some time ago I was looking through Facebook when one of the online posts caught my attention. It was an old robot for sale which looked very familiar to me, a child of the 1980's.  It was Gaiking. Though the robot never got any local airtime in the 1980's, most of us Gen X'ers would be familiar to it as toys were available in select shops in Manila. 

I myself remember getting a shogun warrior version of Gaiking in the old Anding's toy store in Tabora Street in Divisoria and everytime I would go to Central Market, Cartimar and Zurvaran I would swoon over the toy displays of Voltes V, Mazinger Z, UFO Grendizer and Getter Robot (which I thought was named Geta Robot).  My mother, who was very frugal, only got to buy me a handful of this.  I remember getting the first series of the Shogun Warriors including Getter Dragon, Grendizer, Getter Poseidon, Gaiking and Combattler (which I thought was named Combatra 5). I got each one of them on different occasions through my childhood years.  I wanted to get the very nice 'voltable' Voltes V. but of course I figured my mom will not part with the whopping 500 pesos for all 5 Voltes V vehicles (100 pesos each in Cartimar circa 1981). 

The shogun warriors were sold cheap at 25 pesos each, that is why it was more reasonable for me to ask for all five of them. I wore those die-cast toys out till the plastic joints broke off.  I even asked our maid to drive nails onto the plastic parts to replace the broken joints just to make them look whole again. I recalled also getting a larger die-cast Getter Leiger for one birthday, a plastic Macross-Gerwalk and a plastic doll knock-off of Getter One (similar to the vinyl versions of the robot) made in China. Then my obsession for them was abandoned in favor of Lego and Playmobil.  
I remember I had the shogun warrior versions of this robot trio 
When I saw the Facebook post, I clicked on the details and next thing I knew I purchased the Gaiking. That was months ago.  Today I am looking at my new Gaiking, I have it on a shelf in my bedroom. And it is already alongside a few more robots of my childhood like Mazinger Z, Getter and Daimos.  I still could not afford Voltes V though (which is now far more expensive than its original 500 pesos price).  I myself got the robots at a much higher price than the 25 pesos they were in my childhood. But these ones will be there for me to appreciate visually and would not be probably worn out by play.  I know my childhood toys were much worth the price they were paid for but I would have to contend myself looking at these ones to remind me of my childhood robot memories.
Gaiking on the far end is now in company with my Mazinger Z collection.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Cariton Caravan

Saw this cariton caravan along Visayas Avenue
The caravan fare of native household items
Quick Post: I have not seen a buffalo caravan for quite sometime.  When I started my masteral degree back in 2005 I still notice a few of them parking near UP on Commonwealth Avenue.  The caravan leaders were letting the buffalos graze on the grass growing on roadside.  Now I don't see them anymore.

A few days ago I saw this cariton caravan on Visayas Avenue.  Are the buffalo caravans  completely a thing of the past? I sure hope not, though these cariton caravans seem to carry all the items sold by the original animal caravan, with some new additions of course.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

That Little Black Alocasia

A very nice robust specimen of Alocasia scalprum

I love the deep patterns on the glossy thick black leaves 
Quick Post: I love this black Alocasia, botanically named A. scalprum. It has been a while since I have seen a good specimen of this. About 10 years ago, this was a hot item in garden shows but then it disappeared from the shelves.  I feared that the plant got over-collected as its price tag was quite exorbitant then. Specimens also prove to be quite difficult to grow as they pop in and out with the leaves, sometimes going into very long dormancy periods (which makes collectors afraid whether the plant would have enough energy to bring out a new leaf growth).  I was glad to see it again resurface in the last show giving the probability that some nurseries may have been successful in cultivating it. 😊

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Out with the Old and In with the New...Garden That is!

This is my old roof top garden
Succulents in old garden has now been transferred to the new
I think I have been over-explaining myself for not regularly blogging in the last number of years. This last hiatus is because I transferred houses. Yes my old garden is expected to seize existence in the next few months.  But I have started transferring some of my plants into the new house, especially my prized succulents and of course some of my seed-grown natives which I have cared for in the last decade or so. The new house is quite far from the old so transferring the plants is a tedious task, which requires time and effort and I would have to of course squeeze it in with my work load. But the garden has to be given the time too, or else I might lose my precious plants - the ones that have been shocked in the transfer and even the others left in the old house, under the care of our house-sitter. 

Challenge is to fit the bigger plants into the smaller space
As with any garden, I did start from scratch in the new location. Yes I have the plants, but the space is considerably smaller than the old one. The new space was literally bare soil and a breadfruit tree when I arrived. But at least this one had the soil to plant some of my trees and shrubs in, not like the old where it was all concrete of the roofdeck. The soil however is noticeably mixed in with much garbage bits like broken glass shards, candy wrappers, plastic bottles, discarded concrete, etc.   It was a tough palette to attack but I am already deep into taking the challenge, garbage and all.

The new site is much smaller but had bare soil ground
Pavers were introduced as stepping surface to minimize muddy areas
I asked my friend Susan Topacio of Jardin Isabel to help me in setting up the new garden. First thing we did was to top the old soil with new stock garden medium to cover the garbage.  Then we laid out paving stone so that when it rains, the area would not be muddy and it would be easier to step on. Then we planted the bigger plants into the soil.

I started this about 4 months ago. I will post the other progress pictures some other time.  But so far the garden is shaping up quite well, but I still have to see how the plants will react to their new location.  Just keeping my fingers crossed!

More than half of my plants are still in my roof garden.  I have to empty the roof top so probably all of it will not get to be transferred to the new site though.  I would have to get them new homes.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fat-bottomed Plants


A small unknown specimen
A hybrid of E. rossi
I have been saying this over and over, I am a gardener aside from other stuff that I do. I have been keeping plants and it makes me centered especially when all other things in my life are becoming stressful. Aside from growing the natives which I occassionally talk about here in this blog, I keep succulent plants. I fancy the non-cacti species in the genera of Agave, Sansevieria, Dyckia, Aloe and a lot more, but the plump branching specimens of Euphorbia have a soft spot in my heart.  I have been collecting since probably the year 2000 ever since I picked up my very first specimen of Euphorbia millii. And I have not stopped since then. I probably have jumped collecting several succulent genera but my fascination for Euphorbias has never waned.


Euphorbia enopla
Euphorbia tortirama
Last year there was a resurgence of the succulent collecting hobby especially when local hobbyists put up various fora in Facebook.   The prices of locally sold succulents especially the cactus varieties escalated from the usual 3 for 100 pesos value in the Cubao stalls. They are now much higher in price. But because of the interest, a lot of new Euphorbias and other succulents became available in the local scene. But even with the emergence of new succulent plants I still am very much sticking it out with the Euphorbia species especially the ones with succulent branches and thick base caudex. They are very nice to pot though some may prove to be quite delicate and sensitive.  But when you get the hang of how they are grown you are rewarded with a display that in my opinion is out of this world.

E. stellata
Euphorbia decaryi ssp. decaryi 
Here are some of the Euphorbia plants which I have seen sold locally and some I have the privilege to keep in my garden.  I bet that seeing them makes you understand why I am crazy-gaga over these fat-bottomed plants!
Euphorbia squarrosa

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Anonang in the Old Cabrera House

The rustic looking character of the Cabrera house  
The large anonang tree
My friends Albert and Minnie decided a few years ago to leave the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila for the simple and more relaxing life in Mindanao. For the past 5 years they lived in the quaint ancestral house in Surigao del Sur belonging to the Cabrera clan. Last March my other friend Pinky and I visited them again (we did before in 2013 while the house was still being fixed) and we were elated to find that the couple's projects are starting to come into fruition. 
Garden is greens all around 
Branches are covered with Pyrrosia
The house stands in a lot of about a few hundred square meters but the buiding footprint occupies about a fourth of the lot area.  The remainder was planted with a garden with lots of ornamental and edible plants cultivated by some of their household mates and by Minnie and Albert themselves. It appears to be the greenest property within the city center. One garden feature which immediately ctches every visitor's eye is a massive tree at the farside of the lot which appears to be anonang (Cordia sp. probably C. dichotoma).  

The branches frame the house beautifully
Minnie had many stories about the garden.  One is that people, some are pure strangers, come knocking on their door asking for plants. But there are a number of them who ask for leaves and branches of the anonang tree to use as medicinal remedy.  She does not exactly know what sickness they are used for though but recalling a friend's statement, they were used for high fever and poultice for 'pilay' in Bicol. I have not confirmed whether these claims are true but it is evident that even here in Surigao, they believe anonang has some medicinal properties. 

I frequently encounter anonang in my trips to different provinces but everytime I see a tree, I can't seem to remember how to identify them.  It appears unremarkable to me, with non-memorable features. I tried to examine the Cabrera house anonang but it is hard to see the individual leaves as most are high up the tall specimen.  Plus the tree is enchantingly covered with Pyrrosia ferns. The anonang beautifully frames the old house charm of the old Cabrera house, adding a little more rustic character to that part of Tandag City.   

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Fairest and the Flawless

Alma Moreno was regarded as the pretty one.
Lorna was said to be more sexy at the time.
Quick Post: These were exhibited in a place I did not expect, the Quezon City Museum. They were part of the industry display as these were promotional calendars of businesses that thrived in Quezon City, at one time or another. It is  a throwback moment as it featured the primary sexy vixens of my generation, Lorna Tolentino and her loveli-ness Alma Moreno. 

Calendar with a daring model who I do not know
I remember that in our time, my siblings and I were always arguing as to who was more sexy, beautiful or famous. Undoubtedly one of my sister's favorite was Alma and I recall myself choosing the side of Lorna. But looking at the calendars now I think I find Alma Moreno the cuter of the two. Hahaha, evolving taste I guess. But I would prefer both of them over the more daring calendars brought out today by the alcohol brands, which are also exhibited.  And like wine these memorabilia pieces are now classics, which is why you could find them in a museum.  

So who do you prefer, Alma or Lorna? Probably Rio Locsin, hahaha!