Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sao Paulo, Brazil Impressions: Land of the Beautiful

Any Filipino's introduction to Brazil would have to be via its famous slippers called Havaianas, the Portuguese word for Hawaiians. How it is so called is unknown to me but I suspect the originator was thinking of the beach and that said product is a beach wear and what better way is it to represent the beach other than Hawaii? Brazil is more than that.  My personal knowledge of the country  far exceeds this footwear as I am familiar with the country's music - the samba and  the bossa nova.  When I  asked one of my acquaintances, Rafaella, for the difference of the two art forms, I was told that samba is popular and more dance-able while bossa nova is classic Brazilian music.  My introduction to this genre of music started during the 70's when I got interested with  that American form of music called jazz.  Jazz in its many forms. would include Latin jazz as its form and structure is the same as that American music. From Latin  jazz,  I got to know the famous group led by Sergio Mendez which further stretched to the more hardcore Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stanley Getz, Astrud Gilberto and my favorite guitarist, Joao Gilberto.  What attracted me most with bossa nova is that most of the songs utilize  the guitar as the main instrument.  The rhythm, the chord progressions and shapes are distinctly Brazilian. I envied those who  can  play it so well like Bong Penera of the Batucadas when  he was still based in the Philippines. Also, my first classical guitar piece was composed by a Brazilian, Heitor Villa-Lobos dubbed as the best known South American composer of the 20th century. Other than my fascination with Brazilian music and that footwear, my knowledge of its culture is practically nil.  My first impression of Brazil is that it is wild and dangerous that one should always watch one's back or get mugged at the very least.  Well, my hunches were correct but mostly in the wrong part, the popular Rio de Janeiro.  I went to a more peaceful place, Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo. located at the southeast region of Brazil is the most populated in the country and  having the largest GDP in Latin America,  is at the same time, the wealthiest state in Brazil,. Ranked as an alpha global city,  a city which is a primary node in the global economic network. Sao Paulo is very progressive that is easily felt with its infra structures, roads and bridges, trains and everything that modern man has access to.  With a topography the same as Baguio, hilly that one has to traverse the road with its ups and downs, the climate in Sao Paulo city while I was there was very cold.  It is replete with parks where people can relax and exercise, as part of these parks are exercise contraptions which anybody can use anytime of day.  The biggest park, the Ibirapuera Park has a land area of 158 hectares that include several museums and pavilions and has a recorded 14.4 million visits in 2017. There is a huge bicycle rental as one enters the park to help you see the various amenities as it  is so large one will have a hard time seeing the whole place by just walking.  The main features also include three giant fountains in a lake that is surrounded by vast picnic grounds. It is also quite common to have at least two football fields in some of the parks - football courts is to  basketball courts in the Philippines.

I would have to be honest.  The reason for my visit was twofold.  First, I would like to see a new country, experience a culture that is unknown to me but mostly because I wanted to see how my daughter is doing all by herself in a land so far away.  I know that while she is living now with her husband safely, I still wanted to see for myself how she is doing. I would like to make sure that she knows how to get along with her husband and most of all, her in-laws.  She had always been under the protection of the family and I wanted to see how she is getting along.  How does she keep the household, manage the bills, etc. In other words, does she know how to live outside the protection of mom and dad?  Luckily, she did. Her in-laws loved her and take her as their own. She, although has still a lot to learn, is beginning to run the house like her mom and that is a good thing.  So, after seeing that she is perfectly doing fine on her own, I started to look at another perspective - the Brazilian way of life.

My first impression of Sao Paulo is that it is a land of beautiful men and women.  It is very common to see beautiful people in the streets, trains and places where people congregate.  The people I met, for example, are very young and very beautiful.  The mixture of different races,  the greatest of which are Italians followed by Portuguese, Germans and Spaniards not to mention those of Afro lineage, probably brought a new breed of Brazilians accounting to their physical attributes. They have a beautiful physique which most of them develop through exercise. This probably explains the influx of Brazilian models particularly in Asian countries like China and the Philippines.  Most men and women are sporting at least three tattoos, an art form that has been a fad for quite a while.  What I liked about the people I met, those I have been acquainted to or even just met in the streets, are kind and very accommodating.  They are well-mannered and respectful of one another.

Brazilian cuisine is, while not strange, a little different.  A mixture of different influences, Brazilian food is a good variation from what I usually have. First and foremost, while I have the habit of eating three square meals a day, I noticed that Brazilians do not eat that much.  Their biggest meal would have to be lunch and would mostly only have some bread for dinner and would sometimes skip breakfast altogether.  Their favorite dish seem to be the feijioada, a mixture of beans and different stewed meat.  They love to eat beans and a good plate would be composed of either white or black beans at the bottom then topped with rice which they steam with garlic, onion and sometimes with some herbs - truly delightful.  Then they would layer this with meat and green salad laced with oil dressing. I always, shamefully.  had seconds every meal.  Angela, Kim's sogra (mother-in-law) is a very good cook that I enjoyed her dishes very much.  The main staple would have to be churrasco or grilled meat which the cook sends out to the guests right after it is done or it would be a little tough if overcooked or has gone cold.  One of my favorites was the coxinha or Brazilian chicken croquettes. It is very much like our empanadas.

I have mentioned that Brazilians love to stay physically sound.  They exercise a lot to maintain that whistle bait figure.  The main sport would have to be football. I was lucky that I arrived during the World cup held in Russia and I got to have a glimpse of that Brazilian spirit.  Every time the Brazil team had a game, the people were anxiously waiting for it to happen and even have fireworks early in the morning.  During game time and the team scored, fireworks would be heard. I would have had the best time of my life experiencing the glory of the Brazilian people had Brazil won the cup.  Fate was not in their favor when they lost to Belgium during the semi-finals. 

Sao Paulo is rich  in the arts that it can easily be a haven for artists.  There are a lot of museums, theater  halls and sculptures one can enjoy.  It is replete with nature that can inspire an artist to work. I, alone, in my more than a month stay, was able to produce about 21 watercolors. The country is replete with the arts in various forms.  From folk art to the classics, the country is beaming with art works as a result of migration making the country as a melting pot of different cultures combining it into a synthesis  of a rich culture.

If only I would be able to stay for a longer period of time, independent, knowledgeable of the language and have its entire culture known to me, I would welcome it. If only I were single and young!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Beco do Barman

As an artist, the best place I have been taken to in Brazil will have to be the Beco do Batman or the Batman's Alley found around the Rua Gonçalo Alfonso and Rua Madeiros de Albuquerque in the Via Madelena neighborhood.  The place started when a group of art students playfully painted Batman (hence the name) in one of the walls in the area during the 80's and it caught like wild fire transforming the place into one huge gallery of massive paintings done on walls making the place into what it is now - a tourist attraction.  I shall say no more and just let the pictures speak for themselves.  

The following pictures were taken in two museum located at the area

Sunday, August 19, 2018

People I met I

The beautiful Rafaella                                          Rafael and Sylvana                              

         Kim with Rafaella, Yuri and adorable Laura                       the very animated, Bernardo

                                                   Renan and Kim with Angela and Vova

People I met II

In my 42 day stay in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I have accumulated quite a number of pictures, thanks to my daughter Kim. Hence, I am posting these pictures in groups lest I clog them up in just one post.  Here goes:

                At the airport on my arrival

At the airport prior to departure for Manil  

Yuri and the beautiful  Vivian             With Yuri
The Maiate's                                                                       Tio Luis                                 

Renan's aunt, Tia Nancy                                          Duda                                   
       Paulo with whom I have the most                               Vova
          contact due to our common
          love for music