my UNESCO World Heritage List

i go see all the places that make up one site. sometimes it's difficult and misleading, like "the baroque churches of the philippines" which is in actuality 4 different churches in 4 completely different regions (one in iloilo, another near vigan, etc.), but only has one listing. i feel my tour is incomplete if i haven't gone to them all. a good example is Hue, Vietnam. Gia Long was great, but it is one of many on the "multiple locations" list for this site and thus easily overlooked. the tourists who are prone to hurry think they've seen all they want with one or two nearer sites but in the same way i didn't think the Bayon (a specific temple within the area but built at a different time period) looked anything like angkor wat (another, more famous temple in the same area) (Both are under the heading "temples of angkor"), Gia Long (vietnam) didn't look like the others in the "multiple locations" hue list. doing justice to each WHS is time consuming and expensive but hey, i'm already there. It won't ever get cheaper to see it. and anyway, i think it's well worth it. come to think of it, even the 3 main tombs on the hue tourist list didn't look like anything like each other. they were all wonderful palaces, visually distinct from one another.

i also do all nature trails in national parks that take less than 1 day. i gave up doing them all when 1 trail in yosemite (usa) went all the way to, i think it was mt rainier (2 states away, hours away driving very fast by car) the other park trails were too intimidating, like going smack dab in the middle of the winter wasteland of the entire st. elias/wrangell/etc superpark (on foot, not a plane ride.) the park area's larger than several entire medium-sized countries put together.
sometimes i am disappointed by WHSs with only 1 trail. like ujung kulon's took days & i didn't see a rhino or elephant or jaguar, (i saw way too much trash washing up on shore though) and apparently not even the guides who do it for years have seen any. of course i realize the animals probably knew we were coming from far away and left. they might even have still been there, but remained hidden so i couldn't see them, like a where's waldo drawing.

i have posted up some pictures on facebook and multiply. i do all the stuff on the WHS tentative lists as well. It is a bit of an effort locating them on a map. Once again, sometimes they are great (sanqingshan, now an official WHS) and sometimes they are not.
i've seen some inscribed properties that i'm unhappy with, making me believe the list is bloated. sure i realize some sites are important or significant in some way, but just the same, i didn't need to see it. the WHS could also add some additional sites i know of that aren't even on a tentative list, like Sipadan (Borneo.)
overall, i'm glad i've heard of the WHS list. i'd never have been to places like guanajuato or lijiang (china) without it.
i do believe i learned how to scuba dive because of the WHS list.

As of April 28, 2009:

1. Temples of Angkor

2. Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek # * 5
3. SGang Gwaay

4. Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang ****.5
5. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor
6. The Great Wall
7. Mount Huangshan
8. Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area
9. Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area
10. Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area
11. Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
12. Lushan National Park
13. Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area
14. Classical Gardens of Suzhou
15. Old Town of Lijiang
16. Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing
17. Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
18. Dazu Rock Carvings
19. Mount Wuyi
20. Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun
21. Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System
22. Historic Centre of Macau
23. Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries - Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains (1/3)
24, Kaiping Diaolou and Villages
25. South China Karst
26. Fujian Tulou
27. Mount Sanqingshan National Park
28. Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties ***.5

29. Borobudur Temple Compounds
30. Prambanan Temple Compounds
31. Ujung Kulon National Park
32. Sangiran Early Man Site

Korea, Republic of
33. Changdeokgung Palace Complex

34. Gunung Mulu National Park
35. Kinabalu Park
36. Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca

37. Baroque Churches of the Philippines *****3/4
38. Tubbataha Reef Marine Park
39. Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras
40. Historic Town of Vigan
41. Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park

United States of America
42. Mesa Verde National Park
43. Grand Canyon National Park
44. Independence Hall
45. Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek * 28
46. Redwood National and State Parks
47. Olympic National Park
48. Statue of Liberty
49. Yosemite National Park
50. Chaco Culture
51. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
52. Pueblo de Taos

53. Complex of Hué Monuments
54. Ha Long Bay
55. Hoi An Ancient Town
56. My Son Sanctuary
57. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

73. Historic Town of Ouro Preto
74. Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas
75. Historic Town of Diamantina

76. Historic Center of Lima

58. Archeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes
59. Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila
60. Historic Centre of Morelia
61. Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara
62. Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
63. Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
64. Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro
65. Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines
66. Historic Center of Zacatecas
67. Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
68. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
69. Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco
70. Luis Barragán House and Studio
71. Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
72. Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
77. Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl (2 of 14)
78. Historic Center of Puebla


Our Childhood is Further Eviscerated.

I remember buying comic books in the dingy Greenhills Arcade, then later in Shoppesville. I remember going with my family to buy our PCs and software (i.e. GAMES!!!) in holes in the wall in Virra Mall. I remember ogling really cool Macross, Gundam and Transformer toys (you know...before they were declared antique collectibles) and diecast cars. Recently (i.e., within the new millenium) Virra Mall got a facelift and the Greenhills complex got a brand new building with the Promenade.

Apparently, though, it doesn't end there.

In the last two years I've revisited my childhood, in a manner of speaking; I've taken to collecting diecast toy cars of varying scales and detail levels, and most of the places that offer decent prices and the models I like are found in Greenhills. I'd been going there for a year and a half and it was yesterday that I found, to my shock, the staff one of my favorite merchants had packed all of the 1/43 scale cars that had once lined their store windows. To my shock I asked what was going on, and they told me they were leaving because the owners had raised their rent by P10,000.00, effective Monday. Not just one, but two of my favorite diecast car stores based in Shoppesville's "Blue Lane," along with a slew of other collectable toy retailers, were going out of business due to the ridiculous rates.

I basically went "sobbing" to the diecast car forum to which I belong, telling them the terrible news, and in the replies that ensued, someone shed light on what was going on, and what the grand plan of the Ortigas Group is.

Apparently, Shoppesville, Uni Mart and Theater Mall are all set to undergo major renovation with the intent of making the Greenhills Shopping Center the next SM or Robinson's, or, more ambitiously, perhaps the next Greenbelt. This sounds rather grand, but there's just one problem that I can see with that.

One goes to SM or Robinson's (and to a lesser extent Eastwood and Gateway) to cool down, have lunch or dinner or watch a movie. One goes to Greenbelt to do the same things, more or less, but to be seen and to look ridiculously affluent in the process.

When one wants to actually BUY something, and not be caught in sweltering heat, as one would in Divisoria, the destination of choice has, for YEARS now, been Greenhills, which is known to be the place to find great, CHEAP stuff.

With this planned renovation, which is reputedly set to be a multibillion peso project, the rents of the tenants are destined to go through the roof, and so they're not likely to be at all friendly with their pricing after that.

Greenhills, with the demolition of Goldcrest, and other similar shopping destinations around the metropolis, remained one of the few malls left with any real character. It isn't a total shithole like Harrison Plaza but it is certainly a lot more interesting, with its nooks and crannies, than a boring old SM or Robinson's. Even after Virra Mall was renovated there were still a lot of places to look for good bargains on all kinds of stuff, like Shoppesville and the teeming tiangge. It's worth pointing out that even with this setup, Greenhills attracts tons of people; parking there is quite often difficult unless one does it very early in the morning, and the human traffic even on weekdays is quite considerable.

I don't know why the Ortigas Group thinks they're trading up; if their ambition is to be the next Greenbelt, they should ask themselves how often they see people actually BUYING anything from the stores there. They may be the savvy businesspersons while I'm the working stiff, but in my humble opinion they run the real risk of killing the flock of geese laying golden eggs.

My beloved die cast car stores are safe for now; after the shocking news I heard yesterday apparently building admin backpedaled and said they could stay at the old rates until December.

Essentially, then, we have the rest of the year to enjoy the Greenhills we've known and loved for all of our lives. After that, well it's a whole new world, and I'm not at all sure that's a good thing.


no i am not living in the usa

there seems to be some confusion, but i do not live in the u.s. and i haven't lived there for years.
i am, seriously, always on the road, usually in some other country.
well, i have travelled the us, going around to different states, but that is quite different from "living" there (i.e. staying in one place, having a job, meeting new people, etc)



Last Friday my family and I buried my 93-year-old Lola, and oddly enough though I was certainly saddened by her death I found myself more afraid than anything else. I wondered, almost out loud, if when the time came for me to bury my parents, I would be able to do so. Specifics on my personal finances aside, I haven't exactly put aside a whole lot of money for a rainy day. I asked myself just what I've been doing with my life.

It then hit me that by 2011, the youngest of us will have turned 35. Though thanks to medical advances, this number no longer necessarily represents middle age, it certainly means that the excuses we used to give for not being able to achieve what we set out to do when we graduated from college are a lot fewer now. Questions will arise if we've lived up to the potential that people like our teachers and parents saw in us when we were still snot-nosed, awkward, rebellious teenagers.

I've noticed that with a few notable exceptions I can think of (no names now), those of us who've achieved some measure of professional or financial success have had to leave Philippine shores to find it, something that is more an indictment of the lack of opportunities for decent work here than it is of our abilities. Others among us are able to hold down respectable jobs with relative if not altogether certain stability, and others still are just basically winging it.

Whatever degree of success each of us has experienced, it's pretty clear none of us is exactly running the world just now, though that's more of a dilemma we'll come to face in our forties and fifties, I guess. So for a number of us the question remains a valid one: are we where we hoped we would be ten or fifteen years ago?

I'd like to think that I fall into the "respectable job" category, but often (especially in '06 and '07) it's felt like I've fallen by the wayside. In short, the answer to the question "have I lived up to expectations" is a big fat "I don't know."

I take some small degree of pride knowing that as a lawyer and even as a law student, I have spent a fair amount of my time helping people and not just the people who wanted to hang onto their money but quite often the people who don't really have any, so if nothing else I can say I have, to an extent anyway, lived out the "man for others" credo we were taught in high school. But still, I ask myself, shouldn't someone be able to be a man for others and able to put a roof over his family's head? And I fall back into that state of frustration and inadequacy.

I wonder how the rest of you guys feel about this.