December 30, 2009

Christmas in Malls.

     One of the Panama's tourist attractions are the Shopping Centers or Malls, especially in holidays. The video contains photos of the five biggest malls in the country in celebration of these holidays of the end of the year.

December 22, 2009

"Cats" in Panama.

     During December 16th, to 20th, 2009, the musical “Cats” was playing, an Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Musical Production that has been presenting for twenty-one years in England, Broadway and in many cities all around the world. The event was organized by INAC (National Institute of Culture) and Showpro, which brought the entire theatrical company: Columbia Artists Theatricals.

     The stage is the Anayansi Theater at the Atlapa Convention Center. The scenery is exactly what is designed for the musical, a city dump where the tribe of Jellicle Cats meet. The sound and light effects was impressive. The wardrobe was very "cat-like" and the voices of the different actors were masterful, as well as their flexibility for dance moves. The main lesson of the play: "A cat is not a dog." No, I’m kidding. You have to see the musical to reach your own conclusions.
     I couldn’t take many pictures because it was forbidden. By the way, the cat down this post is my cat Kitti. It's beautiful, isn’t it?

December 14, 2009

Christmas Village - Multicentro Mall.

    This year, Multicentro decorated an area of the mall with a Christmas village. As you can see on the video, the village has the width of the spiral staircase and some pieces have movement as well as lights.

December 12, 2009

Christmas Bazaars 2009.

     This year there were two Christmas bazaars in Panama City. One at the Andrés Bello Park in “Corregimiento de Bella Vista”, and the other at the Belisario Porras Park, organized by Mayín Correa, Panama’s province governor.
     The Governorate Building opened its doors to all Panamanians to visit the interior of the building, which was the first Presidential House. It was decorated with Christmas ornaments, a Christmas tree in the middle of the lobby and a giant “Nacimiento” on the first floor.

November 10, 2009

Real Estate in Panama, October 2009.

     Panama is a great place to live. It’s listed as one of the best countries in Latin America for American retirees. Among the incentives are: Foreigners, who buy new homes or apartments in Panama, are exempted from land tax payment for a period of 20 years; the exemption from income tax for abroad profits; and discounts for all services to retirees.
     Panama has private hospitals with sophisticated technology and also a Public Health System. There are also pharmacies with a wide range of medications available. One benefit is that some drugs doesn't need prescriptions, as in United States. Only those that are required to.
     It has the largest banking system in Latin America. Panama's currency is the Balboa, but the dollar is the legal tender paper money in the country. The relation of the dollar is 1:1 to Balboa.
     In Panama all the places are very close. There are shopping centers strategic located with all types of needed services. As a country with a free zone, items such as clothing and electronic appliances are cheaper than other countries. The distances from the city are very short. If you want to go to the beach, it only takes 1 hour to go to the closer one.
     Panama's climate is tropical. There are two seasons: a dry season and a rainy season. It isn’t a country with the presence of atmospheric phenomena such as hurricanes or tornadoes, and even less of earthquakes. That’s one of the reasons that Americans built the Panama Canal in this country.

November 07, 2009

Ricardo y Alberto Gaitán

     They were born in Panama City, Republic of Panama.
     Since the age of nine, they began to study piano and singing.
     In 1989, they formed with his father and six more members, the group "Impakto" performing tropical music in bars and parties.
     In 1997, Ricardo y Alberto represented Panama in the OTI’s Song Festival in Peru. Then, they began to be known in the Panamanian musical entertainment as “Gaitanes”. This year they launched their first musical album "Entrégate", with works of composers as Omar Alfano and other Panamanians.
     In 1999, they joined Crescent Moon Co., whose directors are Emilio and Gloria Estefan, where they developed as singers, songwriters and producers. They recorded their second album, "Ricardo y Alberto", which highlighted themes were “Taca Taca”, “Mi amor no es un favor” and “De que nos vale”.
     Among the musical projects in where they have participated, there’s one with Marc Anthony and the Spanish version of "You Sang to Me" (Muy Dentro de mí). This song was awarded with the BMI and ASCAP prizes for Best Song of the year. They were also nominated for "Premios Lo Nuestro" and "Premios Billboard a la Música Latina".
     In 2004, they received a Grammy, a Latin Grammy and a Latin Music Billoboard nominations, being the only producers of “Travesía”, disc of the composer and singer Víctor Manuelle.
     In 2006, they released their third album titled "Monte Adentro," dedicated to Panama and their parents.
     In 2008, Ricardo and Alberto won two Grammys, one for the production of "90 Millas" (Gloria Estefan’s disc) as "Best Traditional Tropical Album of the Year" and another for the song “Píntame de Colores” as “Best Tropical Song of the Year”, also played by Gloria Estefan. In those same categories they won the “Billboard Latin Music Awards 2008”.
     They have done several projects with other artists who include: Ricky Martin, Paulina Rubio, Jon Secada, Thalía, Fernando Villalona, La India, Jennifer Peña, MSM and many others.
     For the 10th Latin Grammy Awards 2009, celebrated on November 5th, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nevada they were nominated in 7 categories. Among them, it was the song “No vale la pena”, played by the Puerto Rican Isaac Delgado, as best tropical song.

October 30, 2009

Panama: Bridge of Life - Museum of Biodiversity.

     This is one of the most anticipated projects by Panamanians: The Museum of Biodiversity. It’s an architecture masterpiece, with a cost of $ 60 million, designed by the famous Frank Gehry, which will open in 2011. It will be located in a narrow land between the Panama Bay and the Panama Canal, known as the Amador’s Causeway. The site size is approximately 35,000 m2, from which close to 4,100 m2 will be occupied by the museum’s building, and the rest will be a landscaped park with trees and native aquatic plants of the country.

      The museum will be a journey to the past, where visitors relive the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, geologic event that separated the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Thus, as Frank Gehry, together with several collaborators from various scientific fields, professionals from different areas, and Panamanian academic institutions , have created a masterpiece on the natural and cultural diversity that has evolved in the Isthmus of Panama. In short: a fusion of science and art.

     The museum's mission is to provide an adventure of knowledge about the geological history and formation of the Isthmus of Panama three million years ago and the events that occurred in the global climate and sea to separate the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and land, the two continents together to form the bridge to the great American biotic exchange.
     The museum will feature eight galleries:
1. The Ramp of Life:  the origin, evolution and their classification.
2. Panamarama: ecosystems or  rich flora and fauna abodes visually presented through 14 screens.
3. The Isthmus’s formation: modeled sculpture of this unique geological event.
4. The encounter of Two Worlds: the animals’ migration from the North and South of the Americas after the formation of the land bridge that joined them.
5. Culture and Nature in the Isthmus: enclosure that collect human history in Panama and its interaction with the environment.
6. The Oceans Divided: two aquariums, one representing the Caribbean Sea and the other the Pacific Ocean products of the separation of the seas as the land barrier was erected between them.
7. The Interdependence Gallery: allegory and exhibitions whose contents express the interdependence of living organisms is an essential attribute for the preservation of life on the planet.
8. The Panama Gallery: exhibition will show visitors the location of our wealth: the seas and lands, ethnic groups, parks, recreation and entertainment places, museums, and other national offers.
     The responsible persons for the design of this magnificent museum are:

Architectural design by Frank Gehry.
      It is one of the world's most famous architects. He received the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the highest global recognition of architecture, and the National Medal of Arts.  Among his creations are the building of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, his most famous work, Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany, the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minn., the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California.

Museum Exhibitions by Bruce Mau Designs.
     They specialize in graphic design and collaborated with some of the leading architects, artists, writers, curators, academics, investors, businesses and institutions in various projects that are recognized internationally for creating innovative designs.

Botanic Park Design by Edwina von Gal.
     She’s a landscape designer and has done several commercial and residential projects in various parts of the world. She has received merit awards from the AIA and the ASLA, and Quill & Trowel Award of the Garden Writers Association of America in 1998.

    The museum's offices are on Amador Causeway, known as "Cause Way", Duplex 147. The telephone numbers are: (507) 314-1395 - (507) 314-1396. Here you could see the scale model of the ambitious project and more detailed information. And look who visited the offices of the museum when they were visiting Panama:  Mr. and Mrs. Smith ... Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.


     I leave you with a video that explains better what will be the Museum of Biodiversity, Panama and knowledge to the world.

October 29, 2009

Crossing The Panama Canal

   The Panama Canal is considered the eighth wonder of the world. Why? Can you imagine sailing a boat 26 meters above sea level? This video is a journey through the Panama Canal, starting from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. I found it on You Tube. Enjoy the landscape!

October 21, 2009

Panama: The path less traveled (3). Casco Antiguo.

     “El Casco Antiguo de la Ciudad de Panamá” (Panama City’s Old Town) is now Humanity’s Heritage, proclaimed by UNESCO. It’s the Panama City’s site that preserves the oldest buildings.  Its construction began, after pirates destroyed what is known today as “Panama La Vieja” (The Old Panama) in 1671.  During the military dictatorship, the buildings were neglected. But thanks to democracy that exists today in the country, governments have been invested in its reconstruction and maintenance for future generations.

October 20, 2009

"Fiesta Alrededor del Mundo 2009" - "Party Around the World 2009".

     Fiesta Alrededor del Mundo (“Party around the World”) is an event that takes place every year, where the participating countries, led by their embassies in Panama, are assigned to a stand where they sell food of their region to raise funds for charity. It had been so successful, that now they are selling handcrafts and other products from all countries. In addition, the stands are decorated with folk motifs of each country.
     Jack was there and you don’t know what I ate: first, I ate a German sausage with bread, you could add ketchup and mustard, but I decided to eat it without sauces and enjoy the taste of the sausage itself. It was good. Then in Mexico’s stand, I got some “nachos”. It was a dish of white corn tortillas, with a bean sauce and an avocado sauce, and white melted cheese above. You can’t imagine it... you had to be there.
     I kept going about the place and devoted myself to taking pictures of all the possible stands, but there were so many people who stopped in front of the stands. I went to the Chilean’s stand to get a Chilean chicken empanadas and a "mil hojas” (thousand leaves), Chilean desert which consists of nuts and caramel layers. You can see it, it’s in the photographs.
     I can say that almost all best known countries were there. I remember: United States, Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Holland, Ireland, Great Britain and many others.
     This event was organized by “Caravana de Asistencia Social” (Social Assistance Caravan), a nonprofit association composed of Diplomatic Corps and Consular ladies of Panama and Panamanian and foreigner residents ladies. The offices are located at 51th Street, Federico Boyd Ave., Edificio Pedreschi & Pedreschi and the phone number is (507) 223-6078.
     I can’t wait until the next Fiesta Alrededor del Mundo in 2010.

October 19, 2009

ATP's Museum of Biodiversity Ad.

This video is from the Panama’s Tourism Authority (ATP). I couldn’t get the English version, but I translated the content.

“Three million years ago, an isthmus emerged from the waters,
creating two oceans and joining a continent.
That strip of land is today the country with the most important biodiversity sample of the Americas.
That country is Panama, and only Panama
will be the home of the Biodiversity Museum,
designed by Frank Gehry.
A unique work in Latin America.
Panama, it will never leave you.”

October 16, 2009

Biodiversity Museum: Frank Gehry's architectural design.

In 2011, The Biodiversity Museum will be inaugurated, a Frank Gehry’s architectural design. But, who is Frank Gehry?  I leave you with these videos from You Tube.

October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 09.

     Today, I join with the voice of thousands of bloggers who write about the same issue on the same day: climate change.
     Panama, perhaps, is not one of the major environmental pollutants that contribute to the greenhouse effect, but it’s a country that does not escape the consequences that is hindering the surface of our planet because of pollution from stack industries. The greenhouse effect causes energy emitted by the earth escapes to space, causing cooling in the area and the death of many animals.
     Climate Change ... reminds me of Science classes in school, models and slides from my classmates. But the climate is changing faster. Panama is a country that does not often have tornadoes or hurricanes as the Caribean Islands or Florida, or the center of United States. But between 2008 and 2009, we regularly had the presence of these atmospheric phenomena, causing damage in populated areas, where zinc sheets rooftops released by high winds and trees falling with their roots. You can imagine what could cause a larger phenomenon in Panama, a country knowen for its abundant plant and animal biodiversity, and a lush tropical rainforest, a haven for all these species.
     I hope tomorrow, when I will be old, can still contemplate the wonders that I'm enjoying at this time in my country. I wish to convey my message to ANAM (National Environment Authority) and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, who are going to the meeting that will have all world leaders to discuss climate change in December 2009, make their voices heard to those countries that pollute highest percentage in the world. Be watchdogs on project performance and pollution reduction agreements that are done by the countries.
     I urge everyone to cooperate with environmental practices so that our children will inherit and enjoy the natural beauty that offers our planet today.


October 14, 2009

Margarita Henríquez

     Margarita Henríquez was born on April 17th, 1991, in La Villa de Los Santos, Los Santos province.
     She began her singing career with her father, Juancín Henriquez, and his typical music group.
     She won many prizes in folk song competitions in categories such as “saloma”, religious chant, “tamborito”, in the “Premios Zarate 2005” (Zarate Awards 2005). In the same year, she won "Proyecto Estrella 20-30”, a youth singing contest organized by the “Club Activo 20-30” of Panama, a non-profit organization.
     She was honored by her people as "Señorita 10 de Noviembre" in 2005, a patriotic celebration held at La Villa de Los Santos. Then, she joined MEDCOM, a local television network where she was co-host on a show called "Aires de Mi Tierra".
     Her greatest achievement was winning Latin American Idol 2008, a singing contest celebrated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, thanks to her talent and the support of all the Panamanian people. Each of Margarita’s interpretation was assessed by the jury as very good. We remember Jon Secada’s famous frase: "Bien canta'o, Margarita" (Well sung, Margarita). According to a local newspaper, Margarita won by 75.3% of the votes sent via cell phone to her competitor, María José Castillo from Costa Rica.
     Now Margarita has her first CD titled "Margarita" and has ambitious plans in the music industry. Good luck, Margarita!!!

October 11, 2009

Panama: The path less traveled (2).

     This video reminds me the Jurassic Park movie, where you could appreciate the beauty of the lush tropical rainforest. In Panama, there are protected areas called National Parks where tourists from all over the world make tours to get to know what really is a tropical rainforest: a place full of mystery, variety of exotic plants and abundant wildlife characteristic of the place. There are also many places where ecotourists can have an incredible adventure, and maybe visit places that have never been traveled.
     In Panama, there are ecotourism and extreme tourism agencies giving service to take people to these kinds of experiences and have contact with nature in its virgin state.

October 09, 2009

EXPOMANUALIDADES 2009: XVI Art and Craft Fair.

     It's amazing what human hands can create.
     In Atlapa Convention Center, from Oct 2 to Oct 4 2009, took place EXPOMANUALIDADES 2009, the XVI Art and Craft Fair. This exhibition brought together several companies that promote handcraft products, were was highlighted Aileen Art World Company as the event organizer.
     I was impressed by the stand of Fundación Laboral de Jóvenes y Adultos con Discapacidad", where handicap people create craft products and these are sold. In the first pictures you can appreciate their stand.
     There were other stands showing painted wood art with child themes, handmade dolls, jewelry, paintings, "origamis", wooden birdhouses, painted aluminum buckets with ecological designs, hand wovens in great variety, ceramics, and as an exception , ornamental plants and flowers. In short, everything that can be considered craft was there.
     The Panamanian art were also stand out over the handcraft: the famous "Molas", multicolored fabrics highlighting panamanian flora and fauna , created by the Kunas, one of our indians tribes; feathers and ceramic potteries painted in pretty colors that seemed to become alive.
     Food stands with a variety of dishes were at the back of the fair. I was able to try “siu mai” (4 pieces per order). You may wonder, what is "siu mai"? Well, it is a pork and mushroom dumpling that is served at Dim Sum (Chinese breakfast). But you can order "siu mai" at any time in Chinese fast food restaurants in Panama.
     Before leaving the fair, I could see a Panama’s folk dance group interpretation, which the audience loved it.

October 08, 2009

Going down to Panama

The following video is from the song Going Down to Panama, written and composed by Alex Robinson (Slim) and David Seitz (Shorty). You can visit their website:, where you can find other songs and cd’s inspired by their Panamanian roots.

October 07, 2009

Annie The Musical

     In “El Teatro en Círculo”, from 9 to 30 September 2009, Annie The Musical was on stage, book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin. This time, its production was conducted by Alida Gerbaud de Fábrega, direction by Bruce Quinn, and musical direction by Dino Nugent. I can tell you it was very good.
     The play is about an orphan named Annie who lived in an orphanage in New York. She shared, played, and also did all the building’s cleaning responsibilities with other orphans like her, led by Miss Hannigan, a evil woman in charge of the orphanage.
     On day, Annie had luck when Mr. Warbuck, a billionaire, decides to share with an orphan for a week at his home. In this way, Annie enters the life of this billionaire filling him with joy, like all who worked in Mr. Warbuck’s mansion, who considered the most important thing was making money.
     Finally, Annie is adopted by Mr. Warbuck, who falls in love with his assistant Grace Farrel, and spend together the best Christmas eve of their lives.
     Here I leave you with a photos video and original music from Annie The Musical in Panama. I hope you enjoy will.

October 06, 2009

Our National Costume and Fantasy Dresses: Winners on Beauty Peagents.

   National costumes are indicative of the culture and folklore of the origin of the place. In Panama, the national costume of Panamanian women is called “Pollera”.
   Panama has excelled in many international beauty pageants by the laborious work of their artisans, expressed in every “pollera” or fantasy dress culture, folklore and history.
   Thus in 1986, the Panamanian delegate at the Miss Universe Pageant, Gilda Garcia Lopez won Best National Costume Trophy with a “pollera”, embroidered in black thread and flowers design patterns. Then, other Panamanian hopefuls to the universal beauty medal, have chosen to wear the “pollera” on future editions, leaving Panama prideful with each pollera’s flying on the Miss Universe runway. They were: Lia Victoria Borrero, wearing a sewn (“zurcido”)and embroidered pollera in red shades, with orchids and butterflies designs; and Carolina Dementiev, wore a cross stitch embroidered pollera, in red and orange threads.
   Panama has been awarded in beauty events by the fantasy dresses that delegates have worn, similar to those that are made for carnival, in which exotic birds feathers dominate. The artisans are inspired by art, culture and traditions of Panama, as well as flora and fauna. Among the successes that have been obtained making these original designs have been: Miss Universe 2004 Best National Costume, a creation inspired on Indians’ gold art, called “Huacas”, designed by Rogelio Gonzalez; Miss Earth 2008 Best National Costume, costume inspired by the Guaymi Indians’ clothing and pottery designs paintings; in Miss Universe 2009, designer Randol Chin wins best national costume, with a design inspired by Portobelo’s Devils, worn by Diana Broce, Panamanian delegate on that event.
   Finally, Liseth Diaz wins Miss Continente Americano 2009 Best National Costume, wearing a design inspired by the Native Indian princess Anayansi, who helped Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, The South Sea discoverer, now Pacific Ocean. The confection was conducted by Rafael Morán and the gold pieces details were made by Jose Alberto Sosa.


September 24, 2009

Panama: The path less traveled (1).

   The following video takes place in Bocas del Toro’s Islands, one of the Panama’s nine provinces.
   Bocas del Toro differs from other provinces because most of the population lives on islands. The houses or residences, with Afro-Caribbean influenced architecture, are built over the Caribbean turquoise waters that bathe the coasts. Transport is by boat going from one dock to another, as shown in the video. The food of the place...Mmm! Yummi. Watch the video!

September 23, 2009

XIII Collectionists Fair

   It's amazing what people collect as hobby: some collect coins, others stamps, fans collect items of their idols, and the most eccentric people collect antiques or rare things.
   On August 27, 28, 29 and 30, The XIII Collectionists Fair took place in the Bellamar Hall at El Panama Hotel, organized by Banco Nacional de Panamá, Asociación Numismática de Panamá and Dirección General de Correos y Telégrafos. Among the exhibition were coins, paper money, Panamanian stamps and books, medals, memorabilia from all the world, as well as Panama Canal stuff.
   Entering the exhibition, you could see the collection of stamps. There were stamps commemorating the fourth centenary of Don Quijote and literary criticism, stamps dedicated to art, the first printed stamps of different countries, stamps dedicated to history personalities, stamps and sealed envelopes of the Third Reich or Nazi empire and Panama's first stamps. It was a journey through the history of Panamenian mail.
   Further back in the room was the Panamanian and world coins display, as well as the paper money exhibition, which protruded Disney dollars and dollars with printing errors. I could also see collections of thimbles, snowmen manufactured statues, Matchbox (miniature cars), patches and buttons of the Fuerzas Armadas de Panamá (Panama Armed Forces) from military dictatorship times, Coca-Cola promotional items, baseball cards, among many more. Ahh! And there is always some collection to Star Trek fans.

September 22, 2009

Irving Saladino

   He was born on January 23th, 1983 in the province of Colon, Panama. Despite the fact that he grew up in a province known for its danger and poverty, Irving Saladino began his passion in sports participating in 1,500 meters races, instilled by his brother David. After a short time, he decided to leave the competition because the track was far away from his home and because other personal factors.
   When he turned 13, a professor convinced him to return to training. So Irving Saladino started his career taking Ivan Pedroso as a role model. At this time, Ivan Pedroso was a Cuban athlete who began achieving world success in long jump.
   He participated in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, where he failed to qualify for the finals, primarily due to an injury suffered during training.
   His leap to fame was in 2006 when he won the silver medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow with a jump of 8.29 meters, only 1 cm of distance away from the winner, Ignisious Gaisah from Ghana.
   In the European Athletics Circuit, he has won five of the six tests that make up the Golden League. He won in Oslo, Rome, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin, as he was 2nd in Paris, just after Ignisious Gaisah, who had already defeated in the indoor world championship.
   In the 2007 World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan, Saladino makes history by achieving the gold medal with a jump of 8.57 meters.
   On May 24th, 2008, during the meeting in Hengelo (Netherlands) Irving jumped up to 8.73 meters breaking his own record and getting the seventh best long jump in history.
   On August 18th, 2008 in 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, Irving Saladino won the gold medal in long jump. He made a jump of 8.34 meters, surpassing South African Khotso Mokoena (8.24 meters) and Cuban Ibrahim Camejo (8.20 meters).
   It´s the first Panamanian athlete who has won an Olimpic gold medal, and the second Olympic medalist from Panama. He’s also the first Central American male athlete who has won a gold medal in the Olimpic Games.

September 19, 2009

Welcome to the Blog "Passport to Panama with Jack"

   I give you all a warm welcome to the blog "Passport to Panama with Jack".  This blog will run through Isthmus of Panama, a country full of riches and exhuberant culture, appearing in all its glory through photography and video.  Comments are meant to make you imagine you are with me through all possible places of the country, enjoying all the moment of the Panamanians' human warmth.
   "Passport to Panama with Jack" can be a guide for tourists who are visiting the country, inspiration for photography lovers, a world of dreams to hikers with challenges, a gateway to the country for foreing companies with the desire to settle here, and the eyes of those who want to see beyond the distance in search of new experiences and adventures.
   Give me your passport...grab your mouse...and prepare to discover a world you could never imagine, Panama.