The Wishing Toe of Atlas

I happen to bumped into one quirky superstition while reading articles and editorials online about Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg.  One irrational belief by the locals is about the magical powers of the huge and hard-to-miss Atlas sculptures near the Hermitage, one of the striking and imposing symbols of this lovely city.

The Sculptures of Atlas has been around since 1848 and surprisingly stayed standing even during the bomb-filled events of the Great Patriotic War.  Because of obtaining only minor damage during the war, locals reaffirmed on the unorthodox mystical nature of these sculptures.

super massive sculptures of atlas! look at how small people has become at the lower left portion of this image.

proof! hahaha!

People now would troop to these sculptures to touch the toes of Atlas which is believed to bring protection to those who rub it.  Also, locals and tourists alike come to the area to hold the big toes of Atlas because it is believed that it will bring good luck as well as make their wishes come true.

I actually got the chance to pass by three times in the area.  And three times did I go up so as to touch the wishing toe of Atlas.  One actually already came true prior to touching the wishing toe.  It is the awesome blessing sent by the heavens of seeing, feeling and smelling the charming city of St. Petersburg, Russia!

Here’s a video slideshow of photos & clips I took during my exploit with the Sculptures of Atlas.

The Spectacular Teotihuacan

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent trip to Mexico was my visit at the magnificent ruins of Teotihuacan.  It is about an hour bus ride from the modern-day Mexico City.  And because there are massive information available online on how to get to these ruins by commute, I decided to do the adventure by following the instructions indicated on various blogs and web write-ups.  I could have simply joined a tour group but as usual, I challenged myself. 

courageously doing a commute at the bus station armed with a lot of things

I learned from my first few days that majority of Mexicans do not really speak English.  Thus, before I left for this ancient city, I armed myself with adequate internet data, the proficient Google Maps and reminded myself the simple steps to communicate, i.e. (i) speak English slowly; (ii) drop the articles as they only cause confusion; (iii) repeat the main concept two or three time; (iv) gesticulate; and, (v) smile a lot.

Teotihuacan was really overwhelming!  And based on various write-ups, no one knows who built this humongous ancient city.  It was so old that it was already in ruins before the ancient Aztecs were able to discover this old puzzling metropolis.  In 1987 this ancient city was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  And since it is so close to the modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan has been the most visited archeological site in Mexico. 

on my way to the pyramids via calle de los muertos

pyramid of the sun

strike a pose! it’s one of the largest pyramids!

unbelievable! I had to pinch myself!

cleverly called… the avenue of the dead


i need to have a selfie! on top of the pyramid of the moon!

photo taken from the pyramid of the moon

i love this shot!

What for me is so cool about Teotihuacan is how spots in this ancient city were named and labelled.  Mexicans’ naming of the interesting places of Teotihuacan gave it more appeal and character.  Whoever tagged or named the places inside Teotihuacan are so smart and imaginative.

And since the term “Teotihuacan” meant as “the birth place of the gods” or “the place where men turns into gods”, it is but fitting that this ancient city has the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) and the more gracious-looking Pyramid of the Moon.  There was even a location that is sensationally called the “Temple of the Feathered Serpent”! 

feeling happy & feeling blessed! pyramid of the moon at the background…

will definitely not forget this adventure

The coolest actually was how the main road leading to the pyramids was called.  The central 2.4-kilometer main road is called Calle de los Muertos or “the Avenue of the Dead”.  So when I was walking on this runway, it felt dramatic! I felt like I was being transformed by some creative spirit from being a human being to some sort of a god!  It was really amazing! 

Teotihuacan, built hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, will remain a mystery.  Little is known about its first inhabitants and why this magnificent place was later abandoned.  Whatever is the mystery behind the ruins of Teotihuacan, it remain to be something so pleasing and imaginative.  Its mystery definitely adds up to its awesome charm. 

Ispektakular! Ang galing!

Obtained Charms For The Year Of The Dog

It’s Chinese New Year this coming Friday.  To somehow get ready for the upcoming Chinese New Year, I and the 80-year old Nengkoy went to the world’s oldest Chinatown!  Yeah, established in 1594, the Chinese-filled, Chinese-looking and Chinese-smelling Chinatown in Manila is the oldest.

And guess what?  I have been on numerous times to Hong Kong, Taiwan and some portions of mainland China, but this is my first time to visit and traverse the street of Ongpin, the heart and center of Manila’s Chinatown.

my sister say that i look like the owner of the store in this photo. BILI NA! hahaha!

nengkoy while we traverse the old Ongpin Street

will i get rich if i buy and wear all these?

Me, Nengkoy and my sisters proceeded to Chinatown not to greet the folks Kung Hei Fat Choi nor get there to immerse ourselves on some exotic Chinese food.  We went there to optimize the potentials of our good fortune in the coming Year of the Dog.  Believe it or not, we bought ourselves some oriental good luck charms and amulets.

It was such a fun experience when we reached and entered a store that sells various charms and amulets.  A variety of glossy gleaming rocks and a cornucopia of gemstones, trinkets and ornaments that believed to dispel bad luck and will attract fortune, good health, peace of mind and even auspicious love life are all seem present in that store.

I got myself these…

i’m ready to get rich!

The ritual of cleansing the purchased charms and putting a spell on it (as if switching on the potency of the trinkets) before it was handed over to us seem to enhance some authenticity to the powers of our chosen charms.  It also adds up fun and amazement to the rare adventure we had at Ongpin Street.

Some would say that we may have made a fool of ourselves and we let ourselves be duped, tricked or conned by the sellers of these Chinese ornaments.  But I have always believed that there must be something in these knickknacks that seem to influence human fate and providence.  Nothing will be lost anyway if I am to practice or believe in these age-old Chinese tradition.  Yet, what if it works?  Hahaha!

But seriously, ,may it be effective or not, I know deep within my sensibilities that hard work, perseverance, Intelligence of the mind and the brightness of the heart are still the keys to good life and sought after fortune.

Kung Hey Pat Tsoy!

Chinese New Year & The Three Signs I Encountered

Tonight everyone in this planet will welcome and celebrate the Chinese New Year.  But according to Chinese Feng Sui, glories of the previous year will wane for those who are born in the Year of the Dog.  It is believed that Dogs have a number of afflictions to deal with this year.

I am born in the Year of the Dog and I will not just let and allow this ancient belief to be taken lightly.  So to protect and prevent myself from these upcoming hardships, I have carried out a couple of things that the Feng Sui masters have advised.

my 7-year-old pi yao (left) and my new pi yao (right) bracelets

Though I already have a Jade Pi Yao Bracelet, which I purchased in Hong Kong back in 2005, today I purchased another Pi Yao Bracelet.  This time it’s the Yellow Jasper type which I plan to wear all throughout this Year of the Dragon.  I plan to interchange the new one with my old as days passed by.  According to the ancient Feng Sui, I being a Dog is in direct conflict with Tai Sui, the ruling god of 2012.  Therefore, to appease and prevent me from clashing with the Grand Duke Jupiter (Tai Sui) I need to wear this Pi Yao Bracelet.

Moreover, according to Feng Sui not so inviting winds are headed towards those who were born in the Year of the Dog.  To impede this from happening according to Feng Sui, I need to carry with me at all times a Water Blue Rhinoceros keychain.  Along with the bracelet I bought the said keychain and immediately attached it to my keys!  Also, I purchased a Blue Elephant and Rhinoceros amulet and hanged it at the Northwest section of my unit.  To fully supplement this protection, my cellphone’s wallpaper now is a downloaded Blue Elephant & Rhinoceros keychain photo.

blue elephant & rhinoceros (hanged in the northwest section of my unit)

blue rhinoceros in my key chain

my cellphone's new wallpaper

What seems to be amazing with these trinkets that I just purchased is that it seems to be instantly taking its positive effect.  As soon as the short ceremony was done by the salesperson who sold me these items – placing the items in a brass bowl, hitting the bowl with a wooden pestle, asking me to place my hands to cover the bowl and wish 3 things, salesperson praying over and blowing onto the bowl – and brought these trinkets with me, I instantly seem to encounter positive occurrences.

On my way home, everyone who walks out of the mall where I purchased the trinkets were in a hurry.  There was a massive number of people waiting and hailing for a cab.  But as soon as I crossed the street and hailed one, the cab just stopped in front of me and let me it.  I say to myself that this could be a good sign.

While inside the taxi, the cab driver was suddenly signaled by a traffic enforcer to stop to give way to a long Chinese Street Parade.  I and the driver watched patiently enjoying the vibrant procession of colorful Dragon and Lion dances along with marching majorettes twirling their brightly colored flags.  Ironic as it may seem but I never felt the edginess and irritation of having to wait for the parade to finish.  I just sat inside the cab, watch the parade and thought to myself that the colorful procession may be a sign of good luck and a successful year.

Surprisingly, even though the parade has not fully passed by, the driver was able to maneuver his car and found a narrow alleyway to make a detour without crossing the parade to lead us and drive me back to my place of stay.  While riding the taxi on a detour, I thought to myself that the heavens must have conspired and this could be another good sign of positive things ahead this year.

When the taxi reached the building where I live, I paid him my fee and greet him Kung Hei Fat Choi while I get off his cab.  I entered the building and then rode the elevator to bring me to the floor of my unit.  I rode the elevator with a young girl who noticed my new bracelet and the green shirt I was wearing.  She uttered, “You’re wearing green! That’s a lucky color, the color of money.  I will wear green later tonight for the Chinese New Year.”  Then the elevator stopped and opened its doors for her to get off.  She greeted me Kung Hei Fat Choi with a smile while she gets out of the lift.  I smiled back and thought that this must be the third and last sign that the New Year ahead will be satisfyingly good…

Pero ika ng ng bruhildang Zenaida Seva tuwing umaga… “Hindi hawak ng mga bituin ang ating mga kapalaran.  Gabay lamang sila.  Meron tayong pri wil, gamitin natin ito.” Hmp!