Friday, March 25, 2011

The Menara KL and other Observation Towers on Stamps

I have never visited the Tower of Juche, nor am I planning to visit the place. I also have no desire to cross the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea, although I have contemplated the thought when I was there twice. But this tower interest me, because North Korea issued a stamp in the nineties with its flag and national anthem score featured on it. Various attempts to avail of this stamp was an exercise in futility. Until now, I still don't have the stamp, so I you have it, please email me or give me a call.

I have however recently visited four observation Towers- the Coit Tower in San Francisco, California, the Menara Tower in Kuala Lumpur, the Macau Tower in China and the N Seoul Tower in South Korea. The Coit Tower is located in Pioneer Hill in San Francisco, California and built in 1933 at the bequest of socialite Lilly Hitchcock Coit. The art deco tower, made of unpainted reinforced concrete, was designed by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard, with murals by 26 different artists and numerous assistants. Although it is also a monument to honor the firefighters of San Francisco, particularly the Knickerbocker Engine Company Number 5, the tower was not designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle.

The Kuala Lumpur Tower (officially known as Menara Kuala Lumpur; referred later as KL Tower) is a tall tower located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It took us one full minute to go from bottom to top in an elevator. Its construction was finished in 1995 and is used for communication purposes. It has an antenna that reaches 421 m (1,381 ft), which currently makes it the second tallest freestanding tower in the world. The roof of the pod is at 335 m (1,099 ft). The rest of the tower below has a stairwell and an elevator to reach the upper area, which also contains a revolving restaurant, providing diners a panoramic view of the city. Races are organized yearly where participants race up the stairs to the top. The tower also acts as the Islamic falak observatory to observe the crescent moon which marks the beginning of Muslim month of Ramadhan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah, to celebrate fasting month of Ramadhan, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha. The tower is the landmark of Kuala Lumpur with nearby Petronas Towers.

The Macau Tower, also known as Macau Sky Tower, is a tower located in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, now a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. The tower measures 338 m (1,109 ft) in height from ground level to the highest point. An observation deck with panoramic views, restaurants, theaters, shopping malls and the Skywalk X, a thrilling walking tour around the outer rim. It offers the best view of Macau and in recent years has been used for a variety of adventurous activities. At 233 meters, the Macau Tower's tethered "skyjump" and Bungee jump by world renowned AJ Hackett from the tower's outer rim, is the second highest commercial bungee jump in the world, after Vegas' Stratosphere skyjump at 260 meters . The tower was created by the architecture firm of Craig Craig Moller. The tower is one of the members of the World Federation of Great Towers. Besides being used for observation and entertainment, the tower is also used for telecommunications and broadcasting.

N Seoul Tower is a communication and observation tower located in Namsan Mountain, central Seoul, South Korea. Built in 1969, and opened to the public in 1980, the tower has been a symbol of Seoul and measures 236.7 m (777 ft) in height (from the base) and tops out at 479.7 m (1,574 ft) above sea level. It has also been known as the Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower. After the tower's original owner merged with the CJ Corporation, it was renamed the N Seoul Tower (official name CJ Seoul Tower). Many visitors ride the Namsan cable car up the mountain, and then walk to the tower. The tower features a gift shop and restaurants on the ground floor. Visitors may go up the tower for a fee. There are four observation decks (the 4th observation deck, which is the revolving restaurant, rotates at a rate of one revolution every 48 minutes), as well as gift shops and two restaurants. Most of the city of Seoul can be seen from the top. Close to N Seoul Tower is a second lattice transmission tower.

The miniature sheet above features the Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower issued in 1996.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The National Anthem of Malaysia

Before independence in 1957, each of the (then) eleven states of Malaysia had their own anthem (which they have retained to this day), but there was no unifying anthem for the whole country. When independence was approaching, Tunku Abdul Rahman, then the Chief Minister and Minister for Home Affairs (later Malaysia's first prime minister), led a committee to select a new anthem. Hundreds were recieved, but none were deemed suitable. Finally, the anthem for the Malaysian state of Perak was considered, and the melody, due to its "traditional flavour" was selected to be the melody for the new anthem.

In 1888 the Sultan of Perak was invited by Queen Victoria as a guest. When the Sultan's aide was asked what the anthem of Perak was, so that it could be played upon his formal arrival, the aide, not wanting to be embarrassed by saying that Perak did not have an anthem, perhaps giving the impression that his country was "backwards", proceeded to hum a favourite tune of his from the Seychelles, which is believed to have been composed by Pierre Jean Beranger. It was, therefore, from that moment on, the tune for the state anthem of Perak (and later Malaysia).

After an Indonesian opera performed it in Singapore (at the time, part of Malaysia), the tune became popular throughout all of Malaysia in the 1920s and 1930s as the love song "Terang Bulan" (Moonlight).Once the melody was selected, new lyrics had to be written for it. The panel of judges charged with selecting a new anthem wrote the lyrics, with Tunku Abdul Rahman leading the group. The anthem was entitled "Negara Ku" (My Country).

The stamp above features Jean Beranger, the anthem composer. Below is Abdul Rahman, the lyricist.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Malagasy Republic Anthem on Maximum Card

The first anthem of the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar), located in a book of national anthems from 1890, was used while Madagascar was a kingdom (known as Imerina), until the French protectorate began in 1896. The anthem mentions Queen Ranavalona; Ranavalona III was the last Queen of Madagascar, ruling from 1883 until the French colony was established (before her, from 1868-1883, was Ranavalona II); it is presumed that, if the anthem predates the rule of Ranavalona II and III, that the lyrics may have been altered to mention the current ruler's name (in much the same fashion as the Austro-Hungarian anthem was).

1. Andriamanitra ô!
Tahionao ny Mpanjakanay,
Dia Ranavalona:
Ho ela velona
Hifaly aminao.

2. Mahery Hianao
Dia aoka ho aminy anie
Ny hasoavanao,
Hampandroso any
Ny hamarinana.

3. Ampitoero nao
Ny fanjakan’ny taniny
Izay natolotrao
Ho tsara entiny
Izay vahoakany.

The music of the present national anthem of Madagascar was composed by Norbert Raharisoa, a music teacher and professor. The words were written by Pasteur Rahajason, a priest. It was first performed in the public when Madagascar was declared an autonomous republic within the Union Francaise. The parliament officially adopted the anthem on April 27,1959. Therefore Madagascar already had a national anthem when it achieved full independence on 26th June 1960.

Levi Celerio on Stamps

Levi Celerio was a Filipino composer and lyricist, born on April 30, 1910 in Tondo, Manila, Philippines. He received a free education to the Academy of Music in Manila and became the youngest affiliate of the Manila Symphony Orchestra. He was a creative songwriter, with more than 4,000 songs to his acclaim including Filipino folk, Christmas, and love songs that are popular pieces, which many consider to be immortal. Famous for being a lyricist, his songs treasure life; express nationalistic sentiments and complete grand philosophies. At one instance or another, no Filipino can miss the song or lyrics of Levi's Christmas songs namely Pasko na Naman, Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, and Misa de Gallo. He is probably best recognized for being a leaf-player, an achievement where he was place into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The stamp above features the composer Levi Celerio playing the violin. The stamp is one in a set of 4 honoring Filipino National Artists issued on November 11, 2010.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An outstanding public servant and World War II hero, Roque Ablan was born on August 9, 1906 in Laoag, Ilocos Norte to Victor Ablan and Raymunda Blanco. He obtained his Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1929 and Bachelor of Laws degree in 1930 from the University of the Philippines. That same year, he took the bar examinations, placing 9th among the successful examinees.

As a young lawyer, Ablan dedicated himself to helping the poor. In 1937 at age 31 he was elected governor of Ilocos Norte making him the youngest provincial executive of his time. The establishment of Ilocos Norte Provincial Hospital and the Philippine Normal School in Laoag were among his outstanding achievements. He also caused the beautification of the provincial capital, the revival of rural credit associations, and the organization of producers' cooperatives. Admired by the people, he was re-elected in 1941.

When World War II broke out, Ablan refused to cooperate with the Japanese. He left the provincial capitol in Laoag and transferred the seat of government to a remote barrio near the boundary of Ilocos Norte and Apayao. He contacted and enlisted the support of government officials, prominent citizens, and trainees and organized a guerrilla unit. In mid-January 1942, together with Lt. Feliciano Madamba, he organized the Ablan-Madamba Guerrilla Group of Northern Luzon. This group was involved in various skirmishes against the Japanese among them was a successful ambush of Japanese forces at Pampanniki, Solsona on 08 November 1942.

The Ablan-Madamba group was recognized by General Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Area Command which sent the submarine USS Stingray to contact Ablan and deliver arms and supplies for his resistance movement in August 1944.

The Ablan-Madamba guerrillas were a scourge of the Japanese who urged him to surrender and collaborate with them. Ablan was offered governorship of Ilocos Norte but he refused. .

Ablan was last seen following the battle of Bumitalag, Piddig on 5 February 1943. His heroic deeds have earned for him an honored place in the country's history.

Nick Joaquin on Stamps

Nick Joaquin was a Filipino writer, historian and journalist, best known for his short stories and novels. He was also one of the National Artists of the Philippines for Literature. After winning a Dominican Order-sponsored nationwide essay competition for La Naval de Manila, the University of Santo Tomas awarded Joaquín an honorary Associate in Arts (A.A.) and a scholarship to St. Albert's College, the Dominican monastery in Hong Kong. However, he dropped out after only a year. Upon his return to the Philippines, he joined the Philippines Free Press, starting as a proofreader. Soon this two-time dropout was being noticed for his poems, stories and plays, as well as his journalism under the pen name Quijano de Manila. His journalism was markedly both intellectual and provocative, an unknown genre in the Philippines at that time, raising the level of reportage in the country. Joaquín deeply admired José Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. Joaquín paid tribute to Rizal by way of books such as The Storyteller's New Medium - Rizal in Saga, The Complete Poems and Plays of Jose Rizal and A Question of Heroes: Essays in Criticism on Ten Key Figures of Philippine History. He also translated the hero's valedictory poem, "Land That I Love, Farewell!"

Fernando Poe Jr. on Stamps

Fernando Poe Jr. was a Filipino actor and cultural icon. From the 1950s, Poe played steadfast film heroes who fight for the common man, which won him respect and admiration. He did not complete high school but went on to win numerous awards and prizes as an actor and film director. During the latter part of his career, he ran an unsuccessful bid for President of the Philippines in the 2004 presidential election against the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was honored on May 24, 2006 as Philippine National Artist through Philippine Proclamation No. 1065. In 1965, he shared the lead in The Ravagers, a film depicting the United States and the Philippines working together against Japanese war time occupation. The film is considered one of the most influential Filipino films, and it helped establish Fernando Poe, Jr.'s status as a movie icon. Poe became an award-winning actor and garnered the most best actor awards at the FAMAS. Among the movies that received awards were Mga Alabok ng Lupa (1967), Asedillo (1971), Durugin si Totoy Bato, Umpisahan Mo, Tatapusin Ko (1983), and Muslim Magnum .357 (1987).

Carlos L. Quirino on Stamps

Carlos L. Quirino was a prominent historian and writer. He is a National Artist for Historical Literature. He was also the first Filipino correspondent for the United Press Institute. Quirino was one of the pioneers of the genre of historical literature in English. He was also renowned for his many biographies of important Filipinos. In particular, he is known for having written one of the earliest biographies in English of Jose Rizal, entitled, The Great Malayan. His books and articles covered and captured many aspects of Philippine history and culture. In 1997, President Fidel V. Ramos added historical literature as a new category in the National Artist Awards and Quirino was its first recipient. His path-breaking books on cartography, Philippine Cartography (1959) and Maps and Views of Old Maynila, are still considered as the best books on the subject. His other books include Quezon, Man of Destiny, Magsaysay of the Philippines, Lives of the Philippine Presidents, The History of Philippine Sugar Industry, Filipinos at War: The Fight for Freedom from Mactan to EDSA. He was the brains behind the monumental Filipiniana Book Guild, a 28-volume project dedicated to publishing classic Philippine books.

Leonor Orosa Goquingco on Stamps

Leonor Orosa Goquingco is a Filipino national artist in creative dance. She could play the piano, draw, design scenery and costumes, sculpt, act, direct, dance and choreograph. Her pen name was Cristina Luna and she was known as Trailblazer, Mother of Philippine Theater Dance and Dean of Filipino Performing Arts Critics. In 1939, Leonor was the only dancer sent on the first cultural mission to Japan, at the age of 19. She produced Circling the Globe (1939) and Dance Panorama in the same year. She created The Elements in 1940, the first ballet choreographed by a Filipino to commissioned music. She also created Sports during the same year, featuring cheerleaders, a tennis match and a basketball game. The first Philippine folkloric ballet, Trend: Return to the Native, was choreographed by Goquingco in 1941. After the Second World War, she organized the Philippine Ballet and brought the famous Filipino novel, Noli Me Tangere, to life. The Noli Dance Suite consisted of several dances. Maria Clara and the Leper, Salome and Elias, Sisa, Asalto for Maria Clara and The Gossips are some of the dances found in the Noli Dance Suite.

The stamp above features the dancer, Leonora Orosa Goquingco. The stamp is one in a set of 4 honoring Filipino National Artists issued on November 11, 2010.

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody and the Sri Lankan National Anthem

Fr. Marcelline Jayakody (June 3, 1902─January 15, 1998) was a well-known Sri Lankan Catholic priest, musician, lyricist, author, journalist and patriot, and an exponent of indigenous culture who, according to a former High Court Judge, directed the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka towards the mainstream of national life.

Fr. Jayakody served as the head priest in Duwa in 1939. Duwa is the Passion Play Village in Sri Lanka. A Passion Play is a religious drama of medieval origin dealing with the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Originally, the play used traditional puppets as actors for Duwa Passion play. Jayakody wrote original script for a Passion play influenced by Fr. Jacome Gonsalves and composed new hymns to the traditional "Pasan".

He is the first Catholic priest to win the "Ramon MagsaysayAward" considered the Asian Nobel Prize, (which carried along with it 20,000 US$, a Medal and a Citation) on 31st August, 1983 in Manila, Philippines. Fr. Jayakody also won the international OCIC (Catholic Film Office) and the International UNDA (Radio & Television Homage Awards) as well.

In 1949 Fr. Marcelline Jayakody was invited to train the choir for the song Namo Namo Matha for the 1st Independence commemoration as its composer Ananda Samarakone had gone abroad. Fr. Marcelline Jayakody rose to the occasion, trained the students of the Musaeus College and presented it to be acclaimed by all. There is no doubt that this wonderful performance paved the way to adopt ‘Namo Namo Matha’ as our national anthem.

Above is a stamp of Fr. Marcelline Jayakody playing the violin issued in 2005.