A Mother’s Day message

I have been lucky to be greeted Happy Mother’s Day TWO times in a  year, even THREE times depending on where we are at the time.

Why?  Because as a Filipina mother, I am greeted every second Sunday of May,  and if we are in France, H gives me the traditional Mother’s day bouquet on the 4th Sunday of May, and if we are in the UK on the 2nd Sunday of March, I also receive greetings from my British in-laws and friends.

Really…..to be accorded one Sunday of the year where my role as a Mother is recognized and celebrated is wonderful enough but to experience it  three Sundays in one year is too overwhelming.  I suppose this is the advantage of living in three different cultures, isn’t it?

So in time for this month’s observance of Mother’s Day, let me delve on the image of the mother and her child and  take this opportunity to greet all my mother-readers a very “Happy Mother’s  Day”!

As George Washington said:
My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.

 – o – o – o – o – o – o –

Thank you, mother…

For being the first one to  introduce me to our culture.  (Italy)

For accompanying me to my scooter rides.  Soon, I will be able to do it on my own. (Italy)

For introducing me to the  world of adventure.  (The Netherlands)

For guiding me to my first steps to the outside world. (Italy)

For giving me my first lessons in dressing up.  (Germany)

That despite your own physical limitations, you are painstakingly looking after me. (Switzerland)

For showing me that dreams can come true if I work hard for it.  (Monaco)

For showing me that travelling is equivalent to reading ten thousand books….(Chinese proverb).  (Italy)

saai_family2That living a humble life is not a barrier to finding  joy and fulfillment. (Philippines)

For your warmth and constant protection.  (France)


For taking me travelling around Europe on a boat, for a year.  It has made me wiser, made me appreciate the wisdom of hard work,  awakened my deep compassion to my fellowmen, made me overwhelming grateful to God for the beautiful world He has created for us, and  it has made our family closer, too.. (Greece)

Let’s go window shopping in Brussels!

What caught my eye while sightseeing in Brussels are the shop window displays!  From fashion to toys to gift items, food, souvenirs – so colourful, innovative,  often weird and  foolish!   I had a great time shooting almost nonstop because the shopkeepers didn’t care, they are probably used to shutter-crazed tourists like me!

These images are the goodies I brought from Brussels for your enjoyment.  As to the food which Belgium is famous for,  I shall delve  on them on my next post.  For now, let’s all enjoy window shopping!


Sherbet vintage!

Slim is beautiful…

 It reminds me of those European period dresses but this one has the  alternative tinge!

She’s wearing a painting but I love it!

Don’t throw your leftover fabrics, you can recycle them like Borsalino does!

A vintage shop with cool-looking mannequins!

Love the patchwork look!

Errr… looks like a typewriter bag!

Once again, Lush has succeeded in making soaps look like cakes!

No, it’s not the robot of Star Trek, it’s a rubbish bin by Vipp!

Perfect canine friend for the busy family – no maintenance!

Pastry jewelry

My dream glass chandelier – not too big, not too small!


Brussels is the capital of Art Nouveau, and having one of these books will satisfy my Belle Epoque yearnings, I think..

Scary or cute?….both!

This long beaked face reminds me of those Venetian masks which we see in souvenir shops.  Indeed it signifies the same thing –  the Plague Doctor mask!   In the 14th century, the black plague ravaged Europe killing nearly two-thirds of its population, so doctors had to protect themselves by wearing masks with long noses to avoid getting too close to the patients they are treating.

.Belgian houses may not look like these anymore but at least, you can choose to look at these souvenirs to remind you of old times gone by…

Pick your own chocolates, wow!

A perfect gift for myself!

For Gustav Klimt fanatics on a budget!

For cat lovers

Would grandma like this gift?  Who knows?

Street Photography: Brussels

After that fun-filled photo exploration of the Mannekin Pis, I went scouting for some street photography in Brussels.  My passion is still photographing people.  I love to capture their gestures, thoughts and emotions.  Sometimes I had to wait, with my finger already on the shutter, waiting for that decisive moment to come.  But sometimes I don’t always get the best shot because other people would be on the way, blocking my view.

I have been reading a lot of tips on Street Photography and the experts’ advice –  if you want a sensible eye to camera contact –  is to ask permission from the person you wish to photograph.  But it is always a difficult challenge, besides,  my adrenalin level pumps up just taking shots at random.

But going back to the experts’ advice, I wanted to challenge myself, doing  one bit of ‘asking-permission’ at a time, until I get used to it.

Today, I am proud to say that I made two hits!

Here they are:

Yes, she all too willingly posed for me –  so cute!

Nice to get these city workers pose for my camera!  It’s not that hard after all!

And the rest were all shot at random!   It takes a lot of courage but I am getting there!

Enjoy the rest of my stolen shots!


A waiter on smoke break

Never have I seen a floating man as popular as this than in Brussels!  Coins are dropping on his begging hat non-stop!

They tend to dress liberal and colourful in Brussels.  Here is a sample..

Free taste test and a pose!

“Mr….can you spare me some bread, please…”

“Hey birdie…are you lost?”

Breaking News!   Ernest Hemingway found sitting in a Brussels’ square!

Godiva chocolaterie’s publicity trick is to get their staff do the work at full view of passers-by.

Taking a souvenir shot inside the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.

The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, built in 1847, is the first truly monumental shopping mall in Begium.

Hey… we got nice shots!

It’s still winter in Brussels…

These two girls and a bird are watching the world go round…

– o – o – o – o –

Question:  How does one pose next to the statue of Charles Karel Buls and his dog?

The  statue, sitting in the fountain and reading one of the books he has written,  is in Agora Square.  It is a  memorial to him who was mayor of Brussels from 1881 to 1899.   He was responsible for the preservation and restoration of the many heritage buildings particularly the Grand Place which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A child’s pose

A smiling mom’s pose

A serious tourist’s pose

A moustache-mate pose

And a “how-I-adore-him!” pose

The Mannekin Pis – symbol of Belgium

If the Eiffel Tower is the icon of France, the statue of the pissing boy – the Mannekin Pis – is the symbol of Belgium.

Legend goes that he saved the city of Brussels from burning when he pissed on the fire that would have devastated the city.

– – – – –

I’m in Brussels for a couple of days and while H does his business call, I went exploring the Old Town and look what I found! The Mannekin Pis in all its forms, sizes and situations!  He is just about everywhere that you can’t help but notice his presence!

You probably saw him as well in some fountains in other countries of the world.

Look… he’s not even that big!

He has a big selection of costumes and his statue is dressed on special occasions, according to what that occasion would be.  You could get the idea from the above boxes of chocolates!

The Belgians have this humourous streak about their icon!

They use them mainly to attract customers!

So any tourist can have the chance to take him home as souvenir!

It’s a surefire way to attract attention.  Look at the number plate of this van..

Now this is getting too far, I thought…

Lace-making is a traditional Belgian craft, so put the two icons together and voila!


Alongside the waffle which is another Belgian symbol, you know you are truly in Belgium  when you see these.

But sometimes he just gets on the way…

A perfect gift for a wine connoisseur husband!


They come in different colours, too!

It means, No Entry!

Souvenir, souvenir…


Bread festival

Good thing about going to Paris at any day is that  there’s always something happening in the open air;  be it a film shoot, a street concert, a sports exhibition.  Just like few days ago when I went to Notre Dame Cathedral gardens to do a photoshoot of Spring flowers that I came across the big tent of La Fete du Pain (Bread Festival)  just in front of the Cathedral.

The 18th year celebration the Bread Festival is going on.  It’s taking place for nine days from 8th – 16th of May, 2013.

Saw these kids in bakers’ caps coming out of the tent .  They just finished a session of Breadbaking.

Inside, another group of kids, teens this time, just finished their own baking apprenticeship.

She has the makings of a baker who might one day win the Best French Baker Award!

And they are the masterbakers who have volunteered to pass on their craft …

A pastrymaker showing the techniques of apple tart making.

He meticulously rolls and cuts at perfect sizes each of these sausage rolls.  I wanted to ask him how long has he been doing this.

 Rolling a pastry is an art

And here are the baguettes!  A baguette is a symbol of France like the beret, the  Eiffel Tower or wine.

These bread and pastry vendors are doing brisk business.  Did you know that they have to take some training before they can serve behind the counter?  I have been to many boulangeries/patisseries all over France and they wrap bread, cakes and pastries exactly the same way!
This is the origin of bread –  the humble wheat!  The note says a bunch of seven ears of wheat brings good luck!  For only one euro, you can never go wrong!

Les pains campagnes (country bread) at their best…. and the noble boulangers taking a family photo for a job well done!