Bread for the journey/An artist named Milan
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2014 - 12:00am

Our media group concluded our Turkey trip with a cruise in a small yacht sailing along the Bosphorous sea in Istanbul,  passing a  garden wedding party attended by apparently  well-heeled guests in glittering gowns and tuxedoes,  5-star hotels and palaces on the river banks. For dinner, we had broiled sea bass, salad greens and champagne.

During the past  five days we visited ruins and entered caves and waxed romantic in places of  what is considered by many to be the best tourist area on the world map.

Our last visitations were at historical sites in Cappadocia. Cappadocia is a province in the Central  Anatolia region of Turkey. The earliest record of the name of Cappadocia dates from the late 6th century BC, its name then being Katpatuka, which means “the land, country of beautiful horses.” The Internet tells us that Cappadocia is mentioned in the book of Acts 2:9. The Cappadocians were named as one group hearing the Gospel account from Galileans in their own language on the day of Pentecost, shortly after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:5 suggests that the Cappodicians then were “God-fearing Jews.”

Now fast forward to Aug. 30, 2014.  The capital of Cappadocia is Nevisehir, but we visited a widely known popular tourist spot, Gerome.

At the “Open Air Museum” in Gerome are caves carved into sandstone hills that house a monastery and churches named “Sandal Church,” “Buckle Church, and “Snake Church.” These churches were painfully chiselled by early Christians fleeing and hiding from Roman persecution, creating tunnels and living spaces and chapels, and blocking openings with stones to keep out persecutors.

On ceilings and walls are rough ochre drawings and elaborate colorful frescos  of scenes of the Nativity, the Passion and Death of Christ, the Resurrection, and icons of Jesus, most of which are eroded, but are still recognizable,  by time.

We then moved on to another site, to marvel at “fairy towers” formed by lava spewed by volcanoes lasting for two million years. Records describe a soft tuff layer formed 1500m in thickness, by the issuing lavas in the valley surrounded by mountains. The rivers, floodwater running down the hillsides of valleys and strong winds eroded the geological formations consisting of tuff on the plateau formed with tuff layers, thus creating bizarre shapes called “Fairy Chimneys.” The formations we saw in “Imagination Valley” were those of mushrooms, phallus-shaped columns, seeming kissing figures, a camel, and  men huddled in conversation.

Gerome’s landscape was so  full of formations one wonders, was it God who caused  them, was it volcanic eruptions?  Yet, we know, God is in heavens, all’s right with the world.

We then  viewed Pigeon Valley, cliffs on whose hillsides were tiny holes serving as nests for pigeons whose leavings were collected to serve as fertilizers.

The beautiful sight of cliffs  of Pigeon Valley was what challenged former minister of tourism and health Bulent Akarcali and his wife Monique to build their quaint hotel, Taskonaklar, or Rocky Place. It  was where we spent two nights,  each one separately enjoying ancient-like décor, and the beauty of sunsets from the  garden.

Our view of Cappadocia from the air  would have been complete had our planned balloon ride not been cancelled due to strong winds.

Aside from the breath-taking sight of ruins and caves and our imaginations of Gerome’s past stirred by able tourist guides, we devoured lamb cooked in different ways, Turkish delights, baklava, ice cream served so imaginatively different at Mado’s, and  sipped endlessly coffee and tea.

The endless array of pastries and large and small bread at hotels and countryside cafes  plus the  marvelous sightseeing experience were more than enough  bread for our journey back home – and for another journey to Turkey.

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“The guy is a phenomenon  a one-of-a-kind in the music arena who invests his performance with an infectious intensity and consummate artistry so mesmerizing as to compel undivided attention from the audience.” That was veteran public relations expert and political strategist Reli German gushing about the performance of singer-songwriter and guitar-playing vocalist Hammilan Pavoreal.?Reli says that the man is strikingly humble, his calling card simply bearing the name “Milan,” (sans the family name) to denote his identity. The card bears the word “artist” printed in very small font below the name. And not inappropriately, because he really is an artist, Reli asserts.

Reli was at the Aruba Bar and Restaurant at the MetroWalk on Meralco Avenue one Wednesday evening last month. Together with his wife Bunny and his associate in PR, Nilo Barberan, they witnessed the 37-year-old singer’s pulse-pounding performance that went almost non-stop for a solid two hours, and, in Nilo’s words, “a virtual portrayal of life in the breadth, variety and depth of emotions displayed.” They were very much impressed with the versatility and the unique style of Milan. They were one in wondering where Milan drew his enormous reserve of energy, considering that at 5’5” with a very lean physique, he is able to dish out a sizzling, electrifying performance. After going through three sets of heart-thumping musical action, Bunny was amazed that Milan did not simply crumple down limp and exhausted.?

Another Milan fan, Osang Obilla who caught his performance at Rannie Raymundo’s Primos Lounge on Shaw Boulevard near EDSA avers that Milan in action is a virtual study in kinetics, where every movement of his body and every change in facial expression strive to be in harmony with the beat of his songs and of the music of his back-up band.?She describes Milan’s performance thus: “One moment you see him jumping energetically up and down, joyfully prancing about, like a child gifted with a new toy. Then he pirouettes like a ballet dancer, or assumes a crane-like karate pose. He then leaps forward, microphone stand in hand as he belts out a lively number. At times he goes down on his knees, raising both his face and arms heavenward as if in supplication to the gods that inhabit the world of the artist.” Ladies in the crowd are  pleasantly startled when Milan leaps on top of their table, bending down to sing to them. “He then jumps on a vacant chair in the next table, one foot on the seat and the other foot atop the back rest, also singing to the ladies in the group. I half-expected him to keel over and crash down the floor, but rather incredibly, he maintained his balance and finished his song,” Osang says.?It turns out that Milan is from Naga City in Camarines Sur, the province of the iconic Nora Aunor.?Himself a Bicolano from Sorsogon, Nilo said he wished Milan had sang some Bicol songs, like the soulful Sarong Banggui, or the cheerfully melodious Punay. He confesses to have been awed by Milan’s musical prowess and ability to showcase a wide range of emotions that seem to break out from the very core of his being, with his bodily movements in complete sync with the rhythm of an artist’s soul.? Nilo says that at the very least, Milan’s agility and high-energy performance was as pungent as the region’s beloved dish of Bicol Express. Reli says Milan should be tagged “The Multi-Vitamin Man,” pointing out that during an instrumental break in one of his songs, Milan dropped to the floor and did 14 push-ups.  “Son of a gun!” Reli exclaims.  

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