Thursday, October 29, 2015

Panaghiusa Multipurpose Visit

Core Shelter residents honor the death of a community member by playing games, eating food, and sharing stories at the multipurpose hall.
Each time I visit Core Shelter community and the multipurpose hall, I learn something new.  Today, I happened to witness an unexpected event.  Foundation U. workers and I were visiting Core Shelter to assess the building condition for maintenance and improvements.  As we approached the community,  residents were gathered at the steps of the multipurpose, playing bingo and eating food.  It appeared as if we stumbled upon a fiesta celebration of sorts.  I soon came to realize after speaking with ma'am Johna David, that two elderly women had passed away within a weeks time of each other, and the residents were using the multipurpose to hold the wake and funeral services.

It is Filipino tradition to honor the death of a loved one by hosting a wake at the family's home.  The casket is typically placed inside the home where family and friends can commune and visit day and night.  Funeral wakes and visitations can last up to two weeks.  They believe in celebrating their life, by playing games and sharing food and conversation while also comforting family members, so that they are not alone.  It is a time of celebration and in this case, Core Shelter homes are very small and it would be cumbersome to have a casket inside the home for so many days.  The multipurpose hall is suited for the residents, friends, and families who will visit over an extended period of time.  The building design is open to receive many visitors, at all hours, without compromising the family's domestic life.  It's great to know that the building has served so many uses for very special occasions.

Funeral casket placed inside the multipurpose.
Foundation worker climbs the ladder to patch a hole in the gutter while the funeral wake activities pursue.
Anna Koosmann (myself) pictured with Johna David.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Buglasan Festival

Buglasan Festival parade and street performance.
Returning back to the Philippines after spending a week in Bali, we were able to catch the parade and fireworks display for the annual Buglasan Festival.   Each year, Dumaguete hosts this annual event bringing together the municipalities that make up Negros Oriental.  The province is the center of agriculture and one of the largest sugar cane growers in the Central Vasayas.  People travel from remote villages, from mountain and seashore, to represent their community.  Each municipality designs their costumes for a winning street dance competition.  Each town incorporates their distinct food or product that represents their community in colorful costume display.   Crowds line the streets to get a good view of these marching performers.  It's quite a show!

This year's winner for best street performance, Sandurot Festival of Dumaguete City.  Dancers with crabs on their backs and open hoop skirts, as crab pots, represents Dumaguete as a fishing port community.
Bright orange and green seahorses were seen bouncing down the streets.
Sea urchins, all in a line, proudly showing their spikes.
Glittery costumes, dance around in the afternoon golden light.

And what better way to end a three-day festival other than with a fireworks display?  Like the street performances, the fireworks shows competed for a grand prize.  An interesting way to get a line up of fireworks display, where the community benefits and the city doesn't have to pay.  For two nights, four separate displays lit the sky on Saturday and Sunday, marking the grand finale to the annual Buglasan Festival, over Dumaguete City's port.

The first batch of fireworks on Saturday night along the Boulevard.
Last batch of fireworks on Sunday night over the port.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Semester Break in Bali, Indonesia

Two Balinese women en route with offerings for a traditional ceremony in Ubud, Bali's cultural center.
For a week, Hersley and I traveled to Bali, Indonesia during Foundation University's semester break.  Finding time to relax and explore another part of Southeast Asia was enriching for both of us.  My interest in Bali perked after seeing Elora Hardy's (founder of Ibuku) inspiring TED talk, "Magical Houses, Made of Bamboo", highlighting their progressive structures and sustainable methods in sourcing, treating and building with bamboo.  Being so close to Bali in the Philippines, I made it a point to see Ibuku's facilities in person with the interest of bringing that knowledge back to FU's architecture program, and a chance to meet Ms. Hardy in person.  The latter never happened, but I was able to take a tour of the facilities, including; Ibuku's bamboo factory and two, Green Village homes.  Unfortunately, no photographs were permitted during the factory tour, nor one of the village homes.  However, you can view their professional photos online at:  

Looking through the circular entry door at Ibuku's central office and visitor's center.
Looking up at a village home interior, features a curvaceous roof and spiral stair.
Looking up inside the spiral stair.
Looking up at a bamboo pendent light fixture.

Green Village inspired our trip, but after discovering Bali's vibrant culture and rituals, our short visit exceeded our expectations. We saw a lot in six days.  Highlights include: exploring Ubud, the cultural center of Bali; attending the Negara Makepung (water buffalo) races; witnessing the annual ceremony at Rambat Siwi Temple; and catching waves in the Indian Ocean.  After absorbing all these events and vibrant places, Bali lingers in my memory on all five senses.  The sights, tastes, smells, textures, and sounds are magical; they stimulate your mind and soul into a transcendent state. I never anticipated to experience a place quite like this, where 80% of the Balinese people authentically practice daily prayers of Hindu origin.  It is common among the Balinese to offer blessings in form of flowers and incense, for all human kind to stay healthy, protected, and prosperous.   These rituals set the tone and permeate throughout Bali and they manifest into a seemingly more peaceful and harmonious lifestyle.  It inspires me to incorporate more beauty and rituals into my life, and generate a positive mindset on a daily basis.

Ubud Traditional Market
Residential entry gateway.  Traditional Balinese homes are designed as an open-air complex; defined by a perimeter wall which clearly separates the public and private spaces to create sacred space.  Balinese people view their homes as temples.
The woman features traditional markings of crushed rice on her forehead and a flower tucked behind the ear.  They are symbols of blessings which are placed after a daily prayer.
Fresh flowers, like hibiscus, are common to see placed on statues and small temples at all corners of the city.  The flowers are a symbol of blessing for the place.
Ubud Palace, a historic place to catch nightly, traditional Balinese performances.
Ubud Palace traditional Balinese performer.

Negara Makepung (water buffalo) races.  The buffalo handler waiting to race.

Thousands from the Negara region assemble along the well-worn path, set in open rice fields, to view the Makepung races.

Charioteer and buffalo racing in action.

Buffalo racing towards a dusty finish.  The winner is determined after two rounds of racing for the shortest time.

Rambat Siwi Temple annual ceremony.  We were very lucky that our hired driver directed us to this ceremony.  There were no other tourists here at this three-day event celebrated only once in a Balinese calendar year, and at only six temples throughout Bali.  This temple was located on the Indian Ocean cliff shoreline.
A grandmother and her grandchildren, playfully posing for a picture.  The girl in yellow, second from the left, was ecstatic upon seeing me (a white American), as if she met a celebrity. Many who made a pilgrim to this temple, came from remote regions, which may have provoked a strong reaction from this young girl.
Xylophones and bells ring a delightful melody throughout the temple complex.  Traditionally, men play the instruments and women perform a dance.  It is uncommon to see a predominant-woman band, like in this image at Rambat Siwi Temple.

The sacred water at Holy Spring Temple in Ubud.

People line up to purify their physical and spiritual well being.

A wall of curling, white waves crashing behind me at Seminyak beach. My first time to dip my toes into the Indian Ocean.  Photo courtesy of Hersley Casero.

Surfing is popular on the West side of Bali and the open waters of the Indian Ocean.

A clean, sandy beach stretches on for miles in Seminyak.

The famous Tanah Lot Temple at dusk during low tide.  One of the top ten tourist destinations of Bali.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Estudio Damgo IV: Welcome Center at Dumaguete City Port Terminal

Estudio Damgo's fourth project: a Welcome Center at Dumaguete City's Port Terminal.  Renderings courtesy of Foundation University's Department of Architecture

After several design reviews with the Philippine Port Authority, Foundation University Estudio Damgo's fourth project for a Welcome Center is approved.  Fifth year architecture students have finalized the design just as the first semester closes.  It is currently semester break and Estudio Damgo students are putting together their last set of drawings and construction details for the City of Dumaguete and the Port Authority for construction.

I've been involved on Estudio Damogo IV's project since August, when I returned as a Fulbright Scholar and consultant for the program.   The Welcome Center was well underway when I came on board.  Student's had already performed the research and secured their partnership with the Philippine Port Authority.  They prepared a conceptual master plan for Dumaguete's Port Terminal and a schematic design for the proposed Welcome Center.  The master plan is divided into phases: the Welcome Center is part of the Phase 1 efforts to improve the port and serve as a gateway landmark for visitors.  The Dumaguete Port is the largest port in Negros Oriental and provides travelers a first impression to the province.  Dumaguete City is the capitol of Negros Oriental and it is known as "U-town" because it hosts 7 universities and colleges, and it serves as one of the largest student population in the Central Vasayas outside of metro Manila.

Foundation University's architecture students will be putting their mark on a prominent site in Dumaguete City with the proposed Welcome Center.  A chance to showcase innovation in design using local materials derived from Filipino culture and unique to Dumaguete, is a rare opportunity for students and for the Filipino community to witness.  This is an ideal site to feature Foundation University's emerging architecture program, at the port's front door and "city of gentle people".        

View the links to see the proposal and a flyover of the site.

View from the water

View from the port gateway

Interior view

Foundation University Estudio Damgo IV team members with Philippine Port Authority engineers.  Owner's review for the Welcome Center at Dumaguete Center Port Terminal.

Estudio Damgo team members and the Port Authority engineers discuss the design for the proposed Welcome Center.