Thursday, June 25, 2009

If I were in your shoes, ...





Imelda Marcos turns 80 on July 2, 2009 and told the Associated Press in an interview that “she is nearly broke”.
“Here I am, at 80, still struggling to look presentable,” the widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos told the news agency in “her swank two-storey penthouse in Manila, wearing a dark red dress over matching pants and red slippers”.
Imelda, whose shoe collection became a worldwide symbol of extravagance, and Ferdinand fled the Philippines in 1986 following the “people power” uprising, which installed Mrs Corazon Aquino as the next president.
According to a 1990 news report, she left behind 508 gowns, 427 dresses, 71 pairs of sunglasses and 1,060 pairs of shoes.
Nicknamed the “Iron Butterfly” during her 20 years as First Lady, Imelda was at one time known as the “Muse of Manila”.
The way she had earned the title gave a fascinating glimpse into her philosophy of life: take EVERY opportunity that presents itself!
She had entered the Miss Manila contest at the age of 20 but was not selected as a finalist.
She felt crushed by the outcome and pleaded with the then mayor, accusing the judging panel of vote-rigging.
The mayor, who was partial to pretty girls, fell for her charms and appointed her the “Muse of Manila” to cheer her up.
Imelda continues to shock the world with her comments. The tone of her "broke" declaration is consistent with the general tenor of previous remarks.
The following are a few examples.
Imelda on her shoes, jewels and paintings
“Shoes are not even my weakness. Many of the paintings I bought were for our poor museums at home. As for jewels, I was blessed with a husband who was very generous to me,” – July 1990.
“Before I had 3,000 pairs. Now the official count is only more than 1,000. Where have the rest gone?” – November 1991.
Imelda on Mrs Corazon Aquino
“I will ask her what it is she is angry about, what it is I have done. If I have done something wrong, I will say I’m sorry and do what I have to do,” – November 1991.
“I am so sorry for her and ultimately for the country. She had all this opportunity. Everybody wanted to give her a chance, and she blew it. – January 1992.
Imelda on aspirations to run for presidency
“When the people speak, Imelda follows. I am now considering all options for the survival of our country.” – December 1991
Imelda on her concern for Filipinos
“As long as there is one Filipino who is poor, Imelda’s work will not be over. I am my little people’s star and slave, ” – December 1991
NOTE: Imelda's collection of shoes is on display at the Marikina Shoe Museum. For more on Imelda Marcos visit this site.
TOP PICTURE: Imelda Marcos at her 70th birthday party on July 2, 1999
BOTTOM PICTURE: An official of Marikina's tourism council showing off Imelda's shoes on August 16, 1999
PHOTOS: AFP, AP (New Straits Times Photo Library)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The clock is ticking ...



When my eldest brother was in his forties some 25 years ago he threw the following question to his younger siblings: "how do you live your life when you are very old?"
He was referring to people in the above 70 category.
My brother had some issues about growing old at the time and was questioning his own ability to age gracefully.
Naturally, none of us knew the answer to the question but it did stick in my mind for a while.
The announcement of Tomoji Tanabe's death who was named as the world's oldest man in June 2007 at age 111 took my mind back to the question.
Tanabe was 113 when he died in his sleep at his home in southern Japan on Friday (June 19, 2009).
A statement from a city official in Miyakonojo on Japan's southern island of Kyushu revealed that Tanabe, who was born on Sept 18, 1895, had eight children — five sons and three daughters.
He lived with his fifth son and daughter-in-law.
He also had 25 grandchildren, 53 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
City mayor Makoto Nagamine said Tanabe "cheered many citizens".
I have my own questions about the elderly now.
* What do they think in the morning, afternoon, evening and just before going to bed?
* Do they have more regrets or wonderful memories?
* What is their definition of a full life?
* How do they feel when all their peers have passed on?
* How do they keep themselves busy?
* Do they receive only pitying looks from people or is the interaction genuine?
* How do they relate to the younger generation?
* Do their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren visit them often or if they are single do they keep in touch with their friends (assuming that some of them are still living)?
My parents lived long enough to see their nine children grow up and develop their own careers but I never got the chance to ask them these questions.
My father passed away when he was 76 and my mother at 74.
It was quite clear to us that they wanted to see more of their children as they grew older.
These questions demand another round of gloomy introspection.
NOTE: The oldest man is now World War I veteran Henry Allingham

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Style me batik

Sultry females and bold batik prints make a lethal combination as this photo of Indonesian student Cynthia Chaerunissa shows.
She is wearing a sexy, one-shoulder dress which is fashioned from zebra striped batik by student designer Stacia Andani, also from Indonesia.
Chaerunissa modelled the outfit at a fashion show organised by students at LimKokWing University of Creative Technology, Cyberjaya campus.
Both Chaerunissa (mass communications) and Andani are students at the institution.
The snazzy presentation howled Animal Print as 49 designers -- fourth and fifth semester students from Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Botswana, Indonesia -- revealed their creations.
The grey and black toga-style robe looks great on the model: she reminds me of Indonesian singer/songwriter Anggun.
Batik is terrific for many reasons: you can style it casual or glamorous, among others.
Women and men in Malaysia have been wearing batik for a very long time and, yes, I am a fan!
See the YOU section of the New Straits Times (June 20, 2009) for more on the fashion show.
Photo: LimKokWing University of Creative Technology.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who am I?






Malaysian artist Jeganathan Ramachandram will be exhibiting his paintings in Singapore if a deal with a company to display Human Watching: A Visual Poetry on the Science of Human Watching in the island republic is successful.
The intuitive artist told Survey that the move is still under negotiation.
Human watching made its debut at Galeri Petronas in March, 2009 and was well received by both art critics and art lovers.
Fourteen portraits representing females and males born on each of the seven days in a week were put on view.
The depictions (acrylic on canvas) were based on his observations of human behaviour for the past 14 years.
Images of seven females and seven males inform viewers through symbols of their strengths and weaknesses and their relationships with other people.
Those who have seen Human Watching identified with their profiles almost immediately.
Admit it: you are curious about yourself!
Males, who were born on Sunday (bottom picture), were pleasantly surprised to discover that Jeganathan (top picture) had read them correctly: they agreed that their families are very important to them and would do everything in their power to make their wives and children happy.
You would also perceive that they excel in public service.
Females, who were born on Monday (middle picture), are said to be keen observers of life and it would appear that the publishing industry was created for them.
Critics dismiss Jeganathan's work as "mumbo-jumbo": accusing him of being strongly influenced by astrology and numerology, among others.
What it all boils down to is little or no understanding of his take on human behaviour.
"My work is based purely on human watching -- there is a biological pattern which decides one's abilities," he told journalist Jehan Mohd (Learning Curve March 22, 2009).
He believes that his conclusions would help people understand themselves and their children better.
You would be surprised to learn that you could have been a great singer if only your talent had been discovered and nurtured when you were a child.
Please allow your imagination to roam freely.
The artist is currently working on a book based on his research and, hopefully, that will be a useful guide for parents.
"The book will help parents identify innate characteristics and abilities their children have from young and help them develop their offspring towards their full potential," he told Jehan.
"People CAN be what they want to be," he says.
NOTE: Survey will be talking to Jeganathan soon.
Photos: Jehan Mohd

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Happy Father's Day


June is a significant month for fathers and those who have acted as father figures: stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, big brothers, teachers and mentors.
It is the month when some countries including Malaysia celebrate Father's Day.
As American poet Anne Sexton put it: "It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was."
My own father, who was a major influence in my life when I was growing up in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, passed away a long time ago.
Since then there has been one major father figure in my life: my mentor, who is also my uncle, and he has helped me through difficult times.
Fathers teach by example.
You learn important values from them and you acquire some of their tastes for things.
It could be anything: a love for English literature, words and books, among others.
Sometimes you did not agree with their viewpoints but realised later that they were right about many things.
As a child, growing up in a hometown known for its laid-back ways, my father seemed like a walking encyclopedia: he knew everything, for example, the spelling of difficult words and why prayers were important.
I didn't always agree with him but thought it wise to remain silent.
Then I moved out of our family home to start life at university in another town.
New faces, new surroundings and lots of excitement.
I thought I owned the world until trouble hit me and my father came to my rescue.
That would happen several times in my life as a young adult.
Do Fathers know best?
I would say mine did, and with the benefit of hindsight I now see where I went wrong.
These days I find myself recalling his pearls of wisdom of which there are numerous.
New York writer Margaret Truman expressed it in the following manner: "It's only when you grow up, and step back from him, or leave him for your own career and your own home -- it's only then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it. Pride reinforces love."
That is so true!
Like Mother's Day, the celebration honouring mothers, Father's Day is an excellent way to bring family members together.
It is a time to reaffirm our commitment to our family and to reflect on what it means to us.
Some say that families are under threat.
They cite longer working hours, absent parents and divorce as harmful influences that threaten the traditional family.
The United Nations admits that the changing social structure and an ageing population pose a challenge to both families and governments.
Other major trends that affect families worldwide are migration and HIV/AIDS.
Also, consumerism and globalisation have turned luxuries into necessities, forcing parents to work harder for the money because raising children in the consumer culture takes effort.
They built up successful careers but at the expense of neglecting their children.
Not many of us are really free of these issues.
If you are, then count your blessings and examine your own relationship with your family members with a view to improving it.
Do we spend enough time with our families? How often do we visit close relatives who stay in another county? Do we bother to check on older relatives who are ill?
These are uncomfortable questions but they must be asked if only to appease our conscience.
As we gather round our fathers one evening this month to honour them let us also ponder on the family as an institution and why we need to maintain it.
Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 12, 2009

And the winner is ...

Mer? has announced the winner of her Giveaway Game.
Find out the name of the lucky lady who will now own a striking mer? original handbag.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who is the Lucky Winner?






Tomorrow (June 12, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) mer? will announce the winner of her Giveaway Game! There's a feeling of excitement in the air!
I wonder who will go home with a gorgeous bag (as shown in the photos above) -- the coveted prize of the game -- made by mer? herself.
I am certain the winner will enjoy the bag because mer?'s bags have the capacity to make their owners feel special.
That is how I feel when I use mer?'s creations.
Do take a walk through mer?land.
Thank you mer? for allowing me to use your photos.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hauntingly Surreal




This image seems hauntingly surreal, yet it is based on a photograph of an actual place.
It is a computer graphic of an area which takes visitors to Dr Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum at the Zhong Mountain Scenic Area in the east suburb of Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province.
The mausoleum of Dr Sun, widely known as the father of the Republic of China, is considered the Holy Land of both local and overseas Chinese.
Don't miss it when you are in Nanjing.
The CG was created by Japanese creativity teacher Shunya Susuki in November, last year.
Susuki, who is also an architect and urban planner, creates and innovates during his spare time.