Thursday, September 22, 2016

My heart went out to this street dog

The other night during my customary evening walk with my own dog, this street urchin followed us. I was a little worried, not sure if it was a rabid one. But I kinda figured out that it wasn't by just looking at him wagging his tail. I also figured he was attracted to my dog, Lougee, who is female. 

Now last Wednesday night, I went out to buy something when I noticed the dog following me. Maybe it could smell the scent of my dog on me. Taking a closer look, I noticed it had some wounds on it. Not sure how he got that. He was also malnourished. I bade it to follow me. And quickly brought out some dog food and water. He wolfed down everything (I gave it a pouch of pedigree and some other treats Lougee likes) and nearly finished the bowl of ice cold water. 

After which it lay down content.

This dog didn't seem to be a nasty one that would bite people (of course, I was being careful as well). I could sense it was friendly. I didn't get too overly close when giving it food. My dog is well behaved and doesn't jump up or snap at you when you hand it food. She patiently waits for it or will even eat it off my hand.

In someways, this dog was like that.

I have this soft spot for people and animals in need. Wish I had a lot of dough to help them out. 

I told my kids that if I am not around to check outside at night if this stray dog is there and to feed it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

At Taco Vengo!

I love Tacos! I think they are one of the world's best food creations (along with pizza). Now, I am very particular about tacos. You'd think that it's something easy to slap together and it is. But taste and quality -- that isn't easy. It takes the right kind of heating taco shells and prepping the ingredients.

And that brings me to Taco Vengo! a designer type of taco that is very flavorful and mouth-watering. The old retso is located along United Street in Kapitolyo, Pasig but by September 28 are moving to Williams street a few blocks away.

The taco above is the Pork Belly Taco. I know, right? Veggies, egg! A brilliant concoction. I could eat a bunch of these! 

This is the Lamb Taco and it's good!

Nachos with cheese! Love this. It's sinful though.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

La Lucha Libre! A cool and offbeat site in Paris!

I could live right in the Latin Quarter of Paris (St. Genevieve). Lots of cool shops and restos with a variety of food. Along Rue de la Montage are three restos -- two Tibetan and this - La Lucha Libre. 

Years ago I collected a comic that was re-published by Image Comics titled, "Lucha Libre". Incredibly, it was a French comic book. The cool thing was it was set in East Los Angeles. Being a fan of those comics, I just had to check out this restaurant.

I've been to a Mexican Luchadore wrestling match in Mexico and this took me back to 2003. Like some places in Mexico City, there's a bar with a small ring (not the regulation size wrestling ring). The "fight" area is small and they can accommodate about 40-50 people so it's first come, first served in terms of tickets. 

If you've been to the Cavern in Liverpool, the section where the band performs, it's like that. So the "fights" but not the all-out type with aerial action. It's good entertainment though. Heard they even have sumo wrestling! 

The wrestling is every first and third Friday of the month (got to go on the third Friday so lucky me!). Sumo stuff is everyday If I am not mistaken.

Food's all right (a little expensive though if you compare of say the local McDonald's where you will spend about & euros; here it's 5 and up with the burgers fetching for more than 10 euros). Me? I just got some chicken wings and a mojito. Under 15 Euros.

Service is all right. Just don't expect the wait staff to be warm and friendly. 

If pro wrestling is your thing you'll get a kick out of it.

I did!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Have you seen my missing dog?

Have you seen my missing dog? 
by rick olivares

Do you know what it is like when your beloved pet dog goes missing? 

For Jennette Pe and her beloved dog Kimberly, a crossbreed between a Japanese Spitz and mongrel, it was a 17-day ordeal where the owner endured sleepless nights and long hours combing the streets and alleyways of San Juan even in the unholiest of hours.

For as long as she has lived, JP, as Jennette likes to be called, has been surrounded by dogs. “I grew up in a house where we had pet dogs all the time,” she recounted. “At one time, I even had more than 20 dogs at home!”  

Only after the daily or even the monthly pooch budget began to strain her purse did she cut down on the number of her pets. “Being unattached is a painful lesson to learn,” she dryly noted.

Late in the evening of May 19, Kimberly, who had turned 42 years old (in dog years) last April 1st, snuck out as at the back gate when it was left momentarily open. However, it was only the following day that it was discovered that Kimberly was missing. Compounding matters was that other members of the household not informing JP immediately of her pet’s disappearance.

It was only when JP got home from work in the early hours of the morning when she learned of the bad news.  Distraught, she immediately went out to look for her dog.  JP combed the streets up to the Puregold Supermarket along N. Domingo Street (she lives near the Aquinas School and Dominican College area). “There was hardly anyone outside but that didn’t stop me from looking,” she shared while recounting the rising fear in her gut.  “My poor dog was gone and I felt so sad, helpless… unhappy."

The following day, JP went to the nearby Barangay Hall where the tanods recommended that she come out with a flyer to aid her in her search.  The flyer put her in touch with many concerned dog owners including one who physically joined her in her search.  She offered a small reward for any lead for her missing pet.

For days on end, JP, Joy, and even her brothers joined her search for the missing dog to no avail.  “During the first few days, my hopes were high that I’d see Kimberly on the streets.  But as the days went on, there was this sickening empty feeling inside of me.  For the first time in my life, I knew the name of every street in San Juan.  I went back and forth until I became so familiar with the neighborhood.” 

If her missing pet wasn’t serious business, JP would have laughed at the thought of knowing the city streets like the back of her hand.

"I blamed myself,” she flagellated herself during moments of quiet introspection. “I slept very lightly.  I’d wake up as soon as my phone rang or received a text.  I was searching for any sign. Anything.  For a so-called dog-owner, I had become complacent.  I have been so busy with work that I never got to walk her.  Walking her around the neighborhood would have familiarized her with the surrounding area.  And Kimberly didn’t even have a dog tag."

Then the recriminations gave way to morbid thoughts.  “Did she get rained on (there were consecutive days when the rain fell hard)?  Did she eat at all?  Where was she drinking water?  I wondered if my dog had been slaughtered for food.  I also thought that someone might have picked her up and now took her for their own pet.  Or even worse, she could have been attacked by packs of stray dogs or even run over by a car.”

As it was, the street was a curious, inviting, strange yet deadly new world for Kimberly.

Later, word filtered back from some street urchins that a dog that matched the animal on the flyer was run over somewhere along Kalentong.  Some street kids, without care to themselves, lifted the dog to safety.  The dog was hurt but thankfully, the injury wasn’t fatal.  It soon picked itself up and left under her own power.

JP once more took to the streets with her house helper but still no luck.

As the days dragged on, there were numerous sightings here and there. And she took every text sighting of her dog seriously even if she never saw a glimpse of Kimberly.  Eventually, her brothers got tired of the search and even chided her for paying off an anonymous tip that didn’t amount to any thing.

“Seventeen days had passed, that’s a long time. But I never gave up hope.”

Kimberly's "odyssey"
On the evening of the 4th of June, JP received another text message from someone who said he took in a stray dog for three days only to see it runaway at the first opportunity.  But he knew where the dog had sought refuge — near the BDO bank along Shaw Boulevard and Kalentong.  JP was still at work so she begged her brother to accompany Joy, her house helper who had also spent an inordinate amount of time searching for the pet, to the site where the dog had supposedly sought shelter.

Her brother was a little upset because they had acted on every tip they’ve received and turned up nothing.  

Furthermore, it was almost midnight and he should be hitting the sack instead of searching for a dog that in all likelihood was gone.

When they got to the area, the person who texted the tip to JP pointed to the car where the dog sought refuge.  Joy looked underneath and did see the shape of a dog.  When she called out, "Kimberly!” the dog reacted.  “My heart jumped,” recalled Joy.  “I knew this was Kimberly.” 

She called JP’s brother, Joseph, who was at the wheel of the car. Jennette’s brother  Joseph alighted and called out to the dog.  Kimberly ran towards him Joseph — confirming that it was indeed the missing pet. Yet, strangely, the dog ran back underneath the car.  With the help of some locals, they managed to pull the dog out.

JP then received that phone call she had been waiting for 17 days now. Kimberly, lost and missing, was now found! As soon as she got home, she ran to her dog, emaciated from the lack of food and water, and clearly traumatized from her ordeal. The pet owner hugged, kissed, and held on tight to her pet for dear life.

Kimberly was found a good 1,600 meters — about a 20 minute walk away but across winding roads -- from where Jennette lived. 

It took a few days, and a couple of visits to the animal doctor to clean her wounds and to ease her way back to her normal world.  “She’s still a little traumatized from what she went through,” said JP.  “But she’s getting better. After this, I hope for a joyful reunion of all missing pets with their owners as what happened to me and my dog Kimberly.  I am touched by the kindness of strangers who offered prayers and went out of their way to find my dog.  I am very grateful. Not many people get second chances with their missing pets.  I am going to make the most of this. " 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Commemorative coins from the Allied Landings of Normandy during WWII

Commemorative coins I got from Normandy in 2015. Posting this on the 72nd Anniversary of the Allied Landings of Hitler's Fortress Europe this June 6, 2016.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bilibid inmate’s art helps support his family

Author’s note before reading: This article isn’t to substantiate anyone’s innocence. Nor is it written to elicit sympathy. This is about art and a man’s coming to terms with his fate in life.

Bilibid inmate’s art helps support his family
by rick olivares

One of the many classrooms of the Alternative Learning System at the New Bilibid Prison is used for electrical class and the art department. On the wall are a couple of dozen impressive paintings of different themes ranging from landscape to religious imagery to people.

In one corner of the room sits Ariel Cabiluna who’s busy at work. None of his works are on display. “They go real fast,” shared one inmate who goes by the name of Boyet. “That’s how in demand Ariel’s works are."

Cabiluna is currently working on a portrait for the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM), a Belgian-based Catholic mission that has been serving in the Philippines for several decades now. The portrait features over two dozen of its members. The likenesses and detail is incredible. More so when you realize that the technique that Cabiluna uses is rather uncommon. It’s called pyrography, the art of illustration or design using burn marks created by soldering pens. 

The 40-year old from Talisay City, Cebu, has been working on the portrait for over a month now. It has been time consuming because of the number of people and his attention to detail. When done in a few days’ time, it should fetch for several tens of thousands of pesos. “That should help my family pay for the bills and their needs for a little bit of time,” hoped Cabiluna in the vernacular.

The Cebuano is one of the more celebrated inmates at the Maximum Security Compound of the New Bilibid, not for crime that he vehemently denies to this day (I spoke with 15 inmates and everyone admitted to their crime; Cabiluna is the only one who maintains his innocence), but because of his art. The restorative justice program of the Bureau of Corrections provides inmates a means to earn a living and to support their families outside.

Cabiluna’s claim to “fame” was during the visit of Pope Francis when he created an impressive likeness of the Holy See using pyrography. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle received the work of art from Cabiluna on behalf of the Pope. Since then, Cabiluna has created other portraits of other notable people including President Benigno Aquino III and Bro. Armin Luistro, the Secretary of the Department of Education among others. 

“When I was still free, I used to drive tricycles or work as a conductor in a jeep,” recounted Ariel. “I used to sketch but I never took it seriously.”

When he was jailed, Cabiluna admitted that in those first few months, his mind was a mess. “My thoughts were constantly about death and I wished I would die. I didn’t know how to get through one day to the next. While walking around the compound, I met a man named Jesus Negro (since transferred to a medium security facility) who was engaged in wood burn art. I was fascinated and asked if he could teach me the craft. Jesus took me under his wing and I soaked in everything he taught me."

It took Ariel five months to learn pyrography. And the skill later greatly helped him care for his family. It is while in jail that he married his girlfriend from Cebu with whom he later had a daughter named Ariana Mariz. The separation tears at his heart but he’s learned to cope after being in Bilibid for almost two decades now.  And through his art, Cabiluna is able to support his daughter’s schooling and her needs."

“When I think about it, if I was outside, I am not sure how being a tricycle driver or conductor can support my family or even send my daughter to school. It’s really ironic when you think about that in here, I learned something that really helps us. It’s a painful trade off. But you learn to cope."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

An afternoon at Single Origin

I had lunch with my friend Raj at Bonifacio High Street. The resto we were looking for, Beso, had closed down. So we chose Single Origin that was the one really busy resto in this side of BGC. 

I had a BLT salad and a vanilla latte for lunch while Raj had a salad of his own. 

Single Origin -- what a weird name though -- has that homey feel. It's spacious and with very good seating that has two areas -- the air-conditioned inside and the outdoor for smokers. Because of the humid weather, it's best to stay indoors although it cooled down towards the late afternoon. It's funny because what was supposed to be just lunch took six hours and 30 minutes! Yep. We were gabbing all afternoon long so that meant ordering a breakfast dough pizza. Anything with arugula I will eat!

The food was good. At least for what we ordered. The service was excellent. The wait staff was quite attentive and very speedy in their service. Having worked in a New York City restaurant where service is king, I can really appreciate that. 

One thing we noticed was that all throughout the afternoon, there was a steady stream of diners. Like I said earlier, it was the one restaurant in this area that was very busy. A crowd must mean something, right?

Price-wise. Expect that you'll spend a minimum of PhP 350 for one meal and a drink. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Raissa Robles launches “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again” at UP

Raissa Robles launches “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again” at UP
by rick olivares

After a false start with a delayed book launch at the Ateneo De Manila University last March 28 due to a bomb threat, journalist and political blogger Raissa Robles’ book, “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again” was finally unveiled to the public at the Balay Kalinaw inside the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City last Monday, April 4.

A crowd of about a hundred people attended the launch of the 268-page book that is a brief illustrated history of the late former president Ferdinand Marcos’ regime that was beset with human rights violations and corruption. The author, with the aid of husband, Alan who served as editor, made use of books, documents, and official records and transcripts with many key players during those years all the way to the post-1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that overthrew the dictator.

“When I was doing this, I didn’t think it would be a timely project since the late president Marcos’ son, Bongbong, is running for the vice presidency,” said Robles in an interview with “This is but one means of correcting the revisionist history that is going around where people are saying that the Marcos years were a golden age for the Filipino people.”

“I was able to interview all the past Philippine presidents about this issue, former military men, as well as victims and survivors of human rights abuses. It is about as thorough as one can be.”

Robles laboriously and in great detail wrote about the rise of Marcos to the Martial Law years to the ills of the New Society all the way to its end during the People Power Revolution. “It is a timely book as well since it is published on the 30th year after the 1986 Revolution,” pointed out the author. 

Aside from Robles, the book launch prominently featured engineer and social activist Roberto “Obet” Verzola, human rights lawyer and Senator Rene Saguisag, noted writer, poet, journalist, and screenwriter Pete Lacaba, writer-director Bonifacio Ilagan, and Dean Ronald Mendoza of the Ateneo School of Government. Verzola, Lacaba, and Ilagan spoke about their being detained and tortured by agents of the Marcos regime that brooked no dissent no matter how little.

Other prominent people who attended included former Chairman of the Commission on Elections Christian Monsod, political journalist Belinda Olivares-Cunanan, and Cecile Guidote Alvarez, the wife of former Senator Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez who along with her husband fled the Philippines soon after Martial Law was declared. Chito Gascon, former UP Student Council head and current Chair of the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines, was also in attendance.

“It is sad that today’s generation doesn’t know what happened during those dark years,” shared Saguisag who at the height of Martial Law formed the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity, Nationalism, Inc. that represented the victims of human rights abuse. “I think many quarters failed to communicate that and this is the result. This book by Raissa is a good one to use in teaching today’s generation about what transpired. Or else, as the philosopher George Santayana once said, ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’” 

Robles bared that she personally gave a copy of the book to several of the VP aspirants by going to the Senate. “I gave copies of the book to Senators Alan Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Antonio Trillanes, and Bongbong Marcos. The only person I was unable to give a copy was to Leni Robredo. And yes, I have signed forms that the Senators received the books.”


A limited “Collector’s Edition” of Marcos Martial Law: Never Again in coffee table-sized book form is available for P2,500 each. 

A “Student Edition” – a black and white version, soft cover edition of the exact same book will be out shortly. For more details and inquiries, please go to

Monday, April 4, 2016

At the Marcos Martial Law Never Again book launch

I was in third year high school when Ninoy Aquino was murdered on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport. That heinous act plunged the country into a dark and dangerous time. I was previously aware of the Marcos dictatorship and its evils. I saw the press censorship. Saw some arrests and those caught breaking the midnight curfew. Rumours swirled of murders, disappearances, and other atrocities. Then brave newspapers began to publish the stories that were surpressed. There was even that Playboy article featuring Imelda Marcos that was banned by the government although copies made their way to people. I began to get involved, first with NAMFREL during the Batasang Pambansa Elections of 1984 and took to the streets afterwards joining rallies and demonstrations. By late 1985, I was heading the Ateneo and UP chapter of the Cory Aquino for President Movement. I was in EDSA during all those turbulent days in late February that led to the fall of the dictatorship. The governments that came after that were troubled, divided, and even ineffective. There have been gains, of course, lots, but somewhere along the way, in some ways, things got worse. 

What I cannot take and will not do so is the revisionist history going on saying that the Marcos years were a golden age. NO. THEY WEREN'T. They were filled and fraught with lies, deception, murder, and greed. Many of today's problems began during those years. It is sad to see many people think that those years were good.

I am most glad that Raissa Robles published Marcos Martial Law: Never Again. It is something that should remind the generations before but inform today's millennials about the horrors of that era and while it is foolhardy and dangerous to think that Marcos' scion is the cure for our ills. The book is hardly the solution. There are others ways of disseminating the information. It does help. Boldly. 

I attended the book launch at Balay Kalinaw in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. I had the booked signed by Raissa Robles and attended the program; participating in the Q&A portion where I asked questions that weren't answered and offered ideas on what should be done.

By the program's start, the hall was packed (although there were under a hundred people in attendance).
Noel Cabangon was on hand to sing "Bayan Ko".

The great Senator Rene Saguisag was on hand to lend his thoughts and share some war stories of those dark days.

With some fellow street parliamentarians of the 1980s -- Christine Carlos and Chito Gascon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes

Looking forward to re-read the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Haven't read them since I was in high school so this will be a sort of homecoming.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Celebrating my dad's 74th birthday at the Tipsy Pig

At the Tipsy Pig at Capital Commons in Pasig City to celebrate my dad's 74th birthday!

I love baked mussels! My mom and grandmom used to bake this all the time and I'd eat panfuls of them! So every time I go to the Tipsy Pig, I order this! This one has some cheese and spring onions on them that greatly add to the flavor. 

The pork belly is sinful for someone like me with high blood pressure! So I made sure I didn't eat much and had something to wash it down like wine!

The grilled chicken ceasar was a disappointment! Too dry. Not enough flavor and the chicken wasn't grilled enough. 

With my dad! 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A walk through history: the Armed Forces of the Philippines Museum

A walk through history: the AFP Museum
by rick olivares

I rectified an error. I visited the Armed Forces of the Philippines Museum in Camp Aguinaldo. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago when I wondered if we had our own military museum. I’ve been to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, the Valley Forge National Historic Park in Pennsylvania, the Musee d’la Armee in Paris, and the Imperial War Museum in London.

Locally, I’ve been to the museum at Corregidor and the Aguinaldo shrine in Kawit, Cavite. So when I called Colonel Alfred Burgos of the Philippine Army to inquire if we had a military museum, imagine my surprise and elation upon learning we had not one but three — the AFP Museum, the Army Museum at Fort Bonifacio, and the Air Force Museum close to Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The AFP Museum will be celebrating its 20th year in November of this year. Located also in the same complex as the AFP Theater, the museum consists of two floors and the adjacent Kagitingan Park. The first floor is a run through the various eras of the development of the Philippine military while the upper floor exhibits displays on the four branches of the armed forces. Kagitingan Park is where one can find mothballed military vehicles and weapons dating from the post-World War II years to recent times.

Here are a few features that I liked from my visit:

The two letters of Mabini to Aguinaldo
The Sublime Paralytic, Apolinario Mabini, served as legal adviser and as Prime Minister to Aguinaldo. During the Philippine-American War, a pair of letters written by Mabini to Aguinaldo tell of the temperamental and controversial General Antonio Luna.

The first was dated February 28, 1899 where he related that Luna had renounced his position of Director of War Operations because Aguinaldo failed to penalize errant officials who refused to obey him.

The second, written a few days later on March 6, reported the abusive manner Luna where he issued a circular stating that he would execute anyone who refused to obey his orders. Mabini also disclosed that Luna had indeed shot someone in Bocaue, Bulacan without a hearing. 

It should be noted that three months later, on the 5th of March, Luna and an aide would be assassinated in Cabanatuan. 

There are also handwritten letters by Katipunan General Tomas Mascardo from requisitioning supplies to a request for a military burial for a fallen comrade.

The picture of Gregorio del Pilar and his men.
It is a powerful picture where the boy general and his men, grim looks and all, posed for a photo. The picture doesn’t have a caption that says where the picture was taken. Were these men the ones he took up with him to Tirad Pass? And in the lower right of the photo is a young boy with a rifle. Was he the troop mascot? Or back then did we also employ boy soldiers?

If only dead men could tell their tales.

The Wall of Heroes.
On this wall are the pictures and stories of 40 men all who were awarded the Medal of Valor for bravery of the highest order. Among the decorated men are Lt. Commander Jesus Villamor who during the initial Japanese attack on the Philippines went up to the skies and shot down an enemy fighter despite the overwhelming odds.

There are the stories of men like marine private Nestor Acero, army captain Hilario Estrella, and Lt. Bartolome Bacarro to name a few who fought overwhelming odds to save fellow soldiers or to fight their way out of ambushes. Some like Army private Ian Paquit paid the ultimate sacrifice and were awarded posthumously. 

The one controversial addition here is the late former president Ferdinand Marcos. If you look at his medals he is more bemedalled than even American hero Audie Murphy. The controversy began when the strongman’s former army commanders said that he never participated in those encounters or battles for which he was supposedly awarded a medal.  Furthermore, American researchers also found no mention of his name in any orders of battle.

Remember Erlinda and the British Bren Gun Carrier.
During the Battle of Bataan, United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) units commandeered the British vehicle bound for Hong Kong when war broke out in the Philippines. The slogan of “Remember Erlinda” spurred on defenders after a Filipina woman named “Erlinda” was murdered and raped by invading Japanese soldiers.

The particular exhibit depicts USAFFE soldiers in positions of hardship while even using their helmets to cook food and rice. The slogan is scrawled in the carrier. 

The Battling Bastards of Bataan
A whole wall is dedicated to the USAFFE men who held off the Japanese long enough to upset their timetable for the conquest of East Asia. 

Original wartime newspapers.
There are several newspapers all throughout the museum from the Mulig Pagsilag newspaper that reported on the 13th anniversary celebration of the death of Jose Rizal to the pro-Japanese propaganda newspaper The Sunday Tribune that recounted the various military disasters of the allies to the Sun Telegraph that announced the end of World War II following Japan’s surrender. 

What I wish the museum curator would add are interactive exhibits that also make use of video, sound effects or sound bytes from key people in history. Maybe even the playing of war documentaries pertinent to our history. It is an incredible walk through history but I wish there's more. The museum could use more material on the revolts against Spanish rule and the Katipunan. 

It might not be as impressive as the exhibits in other war museums that I’ve been to in the United States or Europe but I had a great time at the AFP Museum. It was a most enjoyable and made me feel proud of my country.

The AFP Museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 9am-6pm. Entrance is free. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fascinating exhibits at the Imperial War Museum in London

Fascinating exhibits at the Imperial War Museum in London
by rick olivares

Last week, I visited the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London. As a military buff who enjoys traveling to famous battlefields or even museums, this was a treat to see relics, memorabilia, and grisly reminders of why war is hell.

The IWM in Southwark, South London (there are two other IWM in England) that opened in 1936 today features exhibits from World War I up to modern day conflicts and when we say today that means the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as diseases such as the Ebola virus.

Here are some of my favorite exhibits from that trip.

A Family During Wartime.
This exhibit occupies a huge hall and features a replica of the home of the Allpress family that lived in London during the blitz. Like every family living in England, life changed the moment Britain went to war with Germany. The Allpress family endured rationing, blackouts, and air raids. 

What got to me was the bomb shelter where they hid themselves. It is small. No larger than a small bus stop with a bench and some pillows for relative comfort. The thin corrugated metal sheets didn’t provide much protection in the basement. I wondered how Britons dealt with fear and claustrophobia. 

The replica of the home may be quaint and the photos on the wall of people long gone may have them smiling. But I truly wonder what it was like because their smiling visages do not begin to tell the whole story when the air raid sirens screamed and the bombs whistled from high above. Chilling.

The Spitfire is in the back while the V1 rocket is in front

The Mark 1 Spitfire. 
This actual Spitfire on display was assigned to the No. 609 West Riding Squadron stationed at Middle Wallop in Hampshire in July of 1940. It fought during the Battle of Britain and was flown by 13 different pilots and tallied eight German aircraft destroyed or damaged.

As a kid, there were these paper models that were sold to us kids of various fighter aircraft. The Spitfire, then as it is now, remains a favorite. To see that particular fighter suspended from the ceiling of the IWM was fascinating. It was like it was flying off to defend the Sceptered Isle.

What is a fishing boat doing in a war museum?

Easy. Tamzine, a fishing boat, took part in the historic evacuations at Dunkirk, France that saved thousands and thousands of British and French soldiers from annihilation. The small boat was constructed in 1937 and preserved. In 1965, the boat took part in a reenactment of the crossing from southern France to the English channel. It has since them found a place in the museum.

I wonder about the men who were aboard this boat. Did they survive the war? What lives did they lead after the war?

The car bomb
This is one of the modern exhibits and shares a slice of life in dangerous Iraq today. A car bomb exploded in Baghdad on March 5, 2007, killing 38 people. The car was destroyed by a bomb and was later preserved by English artist Jeremy Deller.

The rusting and mangled carcass of this car is powerful and frightening. 

The wreck of the Zero fighter
The Japanese Mitsubishi Zero was discovered in the Pacific 30 years after the end of World War II in the island of Taroa. This is one of three Japanese fighter wrecks recovered by American businessman John Sterling who has this fascination for studying and preserving wartime planes. Taroa was never invaded by the Allied Forces during the war and was largely ignored until the latter stages of the war. It is believed that the Zeros assigned to this atoll were those that shot down the aircraft of Lt. Louis Zamperini who story is told in the book and film titled, “Unbroken."

The Harrier Jump Jet GR9zD4651.
This is the first of the London exhibit that featured a war machine that fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was also assigned for a time to the US Marine Corps and launched off the deck of HMS Invincible. Always like the Harrier for its vertical take off. First time for me to see one up close although it was hanging from the ceiling of the IWM.

The German V2 rocket
Between September of 1944 and March 1945, 1,054 V2 rockets hit Britain. This particular rocket, the world’s first ballistic missile, was recovered by British Army Corps of Engineers in Neinburg, Germany during the closing stages of World War II. Apart from the V2’s destructive capabilities, its invention also paved the way for developments into space travel.

The Lancaster
The Avro 683 Mark 1 Lancaster was a British bomber. This particular model featuring the foreward fuselage was nicknamed “Old Fred” and was assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force based at Bottesford, Lincolnshire between May and November of 1943. It took part in 49 bombing sorties across Europe. 

There are many more things to see in the museum that is stretched across three floors. But these ones are my favorites.