Sunday, June 28, 2015

The colors of summer at Ayala Triangle Gardens

The rainy season may have already begunbut the summer bloom ain't over yet, at least in Ayala Triangle Gardens!

We chose this park mainly because of its numerous flame trees!

Ayala Triangle Gardens, commonly known as Ayala Triangle Park, is located at the heart of the Macati central business district. As the name suggests, it is triangular-shaped park located within Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue, and Paseo de Roxas. At two hectares, it is easily the largest landscaped urban park in the city which is filled with ornamental trees and tropical foliage.

Many people enter the park through Ayala Tower One's Philippine Stock Exchange plaza along Ayala Avenue.

No smoking, please.

During our brief summer stay in Macati City last year, we were able to visit Greenbelt Park, Washington Sycip Park, and Legazpi Active Park. Ironically, we were just a few meters away from the Ayala Triangle Gardens but we failed to visit it. That's why we decided not to miss it this year, especially since its flame trees were in full bloom.

The flame tree, locally known as caballero (also known as "árbol del fuego" in Spanish), is a summer ornamental tree, at least here in Filipinas. The first batch of fire trees was brought to our country by Jacobo Zóbel Zangróniz, the first Filipino-born Zóbel and great great grandfather of famous corporate brothers Jaime Augusto II and Fernando Zóbel de Ayala. It was planted along the sidewalks of major thoroughfares of his era. Today, it has scattered throughout the country. From April to June, many parts of Metro Manila are beautifully tainted by these trees' fiery colors.

Some people refer to the caballeros as fire trees. Ayala Triangle Gardens call these fire trees as well. But the name is incorrect because a fire tree is different from a flame tree. A fire tree is actually an evergreen shrub whose scientific name is Myrica faya. On the other hand, the scientific name for flame trees such as the ones we have all over Filipinas is Delonix regia. The caballero is our favorite summer tree because of its flame-colored flowers that we enjoy so much!

We gathered flame tree flowers and a couple of interestingly shaped twigs that were strewn all over the grass and brought them home to eat. Joke. We just brought them home as temporary eye candies for the kids.
But the Ayala Triangle Gardens are known not only for its flame trees. Here are the other trees we encountered inside the park:

Narra (Pterocarpus indicus) — the national tree of Filipinas. The hardwood is termite resistant and a bit rose-scented. It blooms with slightly fragrant yellow to orange-yellow colored flowers from February to June.

Krystal beautifully surrounded by fallen narra flowers.

Banabá (Lagerstroemia speciosa) — an ornamental plant mainly because of its violet-colored flowers which bloom from late May to July. The leaves of this tree can also be used as herbal tea.

Mómay and Junífera Clarita underneath a banabá tree.

Bignáy (Antidesma bunius— a fruit tree whose leaves, like those of the pandán plant (Pandanus amaryllifolius), can also be stewed with rice, though rarelyIts very small round fruits are borne in grape-like clusters. They are yellowish-green when immature and become bright-red to nearly black when ripe. We're not sure if the fruits are edible, but we had a fun time using them as pellets to throw at each other because their skin is as tough as pebbles (but no, they don't hurt as much).

We also saw hardwood molave trees (Vitex parviflora) near the restaurants which are now threatened by habitat loss. At least, those molaves we saw now have a safe habitat within the busy city.

The park can also provide its visitors with some lessons in local aviation history. Within its grounds (at the triangle's base, parallel to the Philippine Stock Exchange plaza) can be found the historic Nielson Tower, also known as the Manila International Air Terminal. Named after British businessman Laurie Reuben Nielson who established it in 1937, it was the country's first airport. Much of the park used to be an airstrip.

The main entrance to Nielson Tower is at its rear along Makati Avenue.

During World War II, the tower was seized by the Imperial Japanese Army. It suffered heavy damages at the close of the war in 1945. Airport operations continued right after but transferred three years later to Villamor Air Base in nearby Pásay City. The building was then used for various purposes throughout the decades and once housed the Filipinas Heritage Library (my favorite library). But thankfully, the heritage-conscious Zóbel de Ayala clan chose to retain its original architectural design. Since last year, Nielson Tower now functions as a first class restaurant called Blackbird, named after the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird aircraft, thus honoring the building's memory as an air terminal.

Restaurants are strategically located, on a spot where they cannot intrude the park's "green feel".

When we visited the park last June 11 to celebrate my wife's 39th birthday, a large part of it (the northern part surrounded by Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue) was fenced off. It turns out that the park was receiving a facelift. But we trust that Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI), the park's manager, will turn this one much prettier than before. After all, Ayala Corporation, of which ALI is a part of, has been known as the country's purveyor of social corporate responsibility since the Spanish times.

Ayala Land, Inc. promised a much better, more family-friendly Ayala Triangle Gardens that’s "actually bigger and more postcard-pretty" in the coming months.

"The Ayala Triangle Gardens is private property. The owner reserves the right to develop the same at any time and at its sole determination."

The earth-balling of various local trees was taking place during our visit.

Earth-balling of calumpit trees (Terminalia microcarpa Decne).

Good job!

We stayed at the park from morning till early afternoon and let our three boys run and roll around the grass, picking flame tree flowers and twigs to their hearts content. Krystal had time to relax on her own. Junífera Clarita, who was able to use her tram outdoors for the first time, tranquilly gazed at the flowering tree branches above her. And me and my wife had some quiet time on some tree-shaded bench while watching our kids enjoy and relax.

See more of the fun things we did at the park by clicking here. And don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook¡Hasta la vista!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Happy 444th birthday, dear Filipinas!

My other blogs, ALAS FILIPINAS and FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, seem to be in a very festive mood today.... again! Because today, June 24, is a very special day (at least for the likes of me). Today marks the 444th founding anniversary of our BELOVED and BEAUTIFUL homeland, FILIPINAS! And for this blogpost, we'd like to feature one of our country's most iconic tourist spots taken by a renowned travel photographer who needs no further intro...

El pintoresco Monte Mayón, el cono más perfecto del mundo, se encuentra al norte de la ciudad de Legazpi, provincia de Albay. Es uno de los lugares más conocidos en Filipinas. Yeyette y yo vamos a hacer nuestro mejor esfuerzo para traer a nuestros tres hijos y dos hijas en este lugar antes de que termine el año... si Dios quiere...

© George Tapan.

¡Feliz 444º aniversario a las islas bonitas de Filipinas!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Happy 39th birthday, Yeyette!

My beloved wife Yeyette is just one year shy before "experiencing life", whatever that means. Nevertheless, age is just a number. And she best exemplifies this.

Enjoying the sun on a bed of deep-green grass and lively fire tree flowers strewn about at the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

¡Feliz cumpleaños, mi amada mujer! Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made for the sake of our family. Please know that we always feel your love every single day. ¡Te amamos mucho!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Our blog now has 1,000 likes on Facebook!

Our family travel blog's Facebook page now has 1,000 likes! Awesome! Thank you so much for sticking with us! Hope to have you in one of our travels! ¡Vamos a viajar!

¡Enaltecer la familia para la gloria más alta de Dios!