To my cover-exchanging friends, please try as much as possible to
as these give a more personal touch to the cover
the Philippine postal service damages the cover with scribbling that highly devalues the aesthetic value of the cover, which is what I am after
or at least same themes when sending covers, but it is okay if this is not possible or if this would be expensive, and
not too small, but maybe around 4"x6" or something like that; big envelopes are not very attractive unless they have many stamps.
Thank you!


Happy Holidays

Ellan Vannin

The Isle of Man, or Mann, is a self-governing Crown dependency, located in the Irish Sea at the geographical center of the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Crown is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. The island is not part of the United Kingdom, but foreign relations, defense, and ultimate good-governance of the Isle of Man are the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom.

The island became a Celtic-Norse community in 979. This has left a legacy ranging from the Tynwald parliament to many local place names. After a period of alternating rule by the kings of England and Scotland, the Manx came under the feudal over-lordship of the English Crown. The lordship revested to the British Crown in 1764 but the island never became part of the United Kingdom and retained its status as an internally self-governing jurisdiction.

Tynwald, the island's parliament, was nominally founded in AD 979. It is arguably the oldest continuous parliament in the world. The annual ceremonial meeting in July on Tynwald Day, the island's national day, continues to be held at Tynwald Hill, where titles are announced and a brief description of the new laws enacted by Tynwald during the previous year is given.

The origin of the name Isle of Man is unclear. In the Manx Gaelic language the Isle of Man is known as Ellan Vannin, where ellan is a Gaelic word meaning 'island'. The earliest form of 'Man' is Manu or Mana giving the genitive name Manann leading to the word Mannin, to which a 'h' is added when used after the feminine word Ellan, giving Mhannin. As 'mh' is pronounced like a 'v' in Goidelic languages, in modern Manx the name becomes Ellan Vannin. Mannin is the genitive of Mannan, an alternate form of the name of the mythical Manannán mac Lir.

During the period of Julius Caesar as proconsul and his visit to Britain during 55 and 54 BC Caesar referred to the Isle of Man in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico to 'an island called Mona which lies midway across the sea separating Britain from Ireland.'

For centuries, the island's symbol has been its ancient triskelion, a device similar to Sicily's Trinacria: three bent legs, each with a spur, joined at the thigh. The Manx triskelion does not appear to have an official definition; government publications, currency, flags, the tourist authority and others all use different variants. Most, but not all, preserve rotational symmetry, some running clockwise, others anti-clockwise. Some have the uppermost thigh at 12:00, others at 11:30 or 10:00, etc. Some have the knee bent at 90°, some at 60°, some at closer to 120°. Also the degree of ornamentation of the leg wear and spur vary considerably.

The three legs relate directly to the island's motto (adopted late in the symbol's history): Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, traditionally translated from Latin as 'Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand', or 'Whichever way you throw it, it will stand'.

The origin of the 'Three Legs of Man' (as they are usually called) is explained in the Manx legend that Manannan repelled an invasion by transforming into the three legs and rolling down the hill and defeating the invaders.


საქართველო (Sakartvelo)

Georgia is a transcontinental country in the Caucasus region, situated at the dividing line between Europe and Asia. Georgia is bordered by the Russian Federation to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia to the south, and Turkey to the southwest. It covers a territory of 69,700 km²; its population, excluding Abkhazia and South Ossetia (called the Tskhinvali region by Georgians), is 4.4 million, with nearly 84% ethnic Georgians.

The history of Georgia can be traced back to the ancient Kingdom of Colchis and Iberia, and it was one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as an official religion early in the 4th century. At the beginning of the 19th century Georgia became part of Russian Empire. After a brief period of independence following the Russian Revolution of 1917 Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922.

Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). According to legend, the ancestor of the was Kartlos, the great grandson of the Kartvelian peopleBiblical Japheth.

The native Georgian name for the country is Sakartvelo (საქართველო). The word consists of two parts. Its root, kartvel-i (ქართველ-ი), specifies an inhabitant of the core central-eastern Georgian region of Kartli – Iberia of the Classical and Byzantine sources. By the early 9th century, the meaning of "Kartli" was expanded to other areas of medieval Georgia held together by religion, culture, and language. The Georgian circumfix sa-X-o is a standard geographic construction designating "the area where X dwell", where X is an ethnonym. (For another example, the Mingrelian minority in Georgia lives in Samegrelo.) The term Sakartvelo came to signify the all-Georgian cultural and political unity early in the 11th century and firmly entered regular official usage in the 13th century.

Ancient Greeks (Strabo, Herodotus, Plutarch, Homer, etc.) and Romans (Titus Livius, Cornelius Tacitus, etc.) referred to early eastern Georgians as Iberians (Iberoi in some Greek sources) and western Georgians as Colchians.

The origin of the name Georgia is still disputed and has been explained in the following ways:

  1. Linking it semantically to Greek and Latin roots (Greek: γεωργία, transliterated geōrgía, "agriculture", γεωργός, geōrgós, "tiller of the land", and γεωργικός, geōrgikós, Latin: georgicus, "agricultural").
  2. The country took its name from that of Saint George, itself a derivative of the aforementioned Greek root. Or, at the very least, the popularity of the cult of Saint George in Georgia influenced the spread of the term.
  3. Under various Persian empires (536 BCE-CE 638), Georgians were called Gurjhān (Gurzhan/Gurjan), or "Gurj/Gurzh people." The early Islamic/Arabic sources spelled the name Kurz/Gurz and the country Gurjistan (see Baladhuri, Tabari, Jayhani, Istakhri, Ibn Hawqal, etc.). The contemporary Russian name for the country, "Gruziya," is similar. This also could evolve or at least contribute to the later name of Georgia.

The terms Georgia and Georgians appeared in Western Europe in numerous medieval annals including that of Crusaders and later in the official documents and letters of the Florentine de’Medici family. Jacques de Vitry and English traveler, Sir John Mandeville, stated that Georgians are called Georgian because they especially revere and worship Saint George. Notably, the country recently adopted the five-cross flag, featuring the Saint George's Cross; it has been argued that the flag was used in Georgia since the 5th century.

Modern Georgian states have used differing names in different periods. The first modern Georgian state proclaimed on May 26, 1918 adopted the name “Democratic Republic of Georgia”. As part of the USSR from February 25, 1921, the country was called the “Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic”. When Georgia broke from the USSR on December 25, 1991, it adopted the name “Republic of Georgia”. Since it adopted its present constitution on August 24, 1995, the official name of the country is simply “Georgia”.

On August 8, 2008, the day of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony and while most political leaders were in Beijing for the said event, Georgia engaged in an armed conflict with Russia and separatist groups from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In the aftermath of the conflict Russia recognized Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, but the West insists that they are still part of Georgia. On August 28, 2008, the Parliament of Georgia passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia "Russian-occupied territories".

Here's a chart of the funny-looking Georgian alphabet, which I honestly thought looked like alien writing the first time I saw it. Apparently, the set above is not the only one; there are two other set of alphabets that don't look remotely anything like the one above but share the same letter names and sounds! And, what makes this more weird is that these three alphabets can be used interchangeably, so do you need to know all three alphabets to read Georgian? How confusing that would be!


Merci beaucoup, M. Cotard!

Thanks to Eric Contesse for this very beautiful cover on my favorite topic sent from the 62nd Salon Phialtelique d'Automne held in Paris from 6 to 9 November.

Below is an excerpt taken from Eric's blog; I'll let his own words explain as they are very good:
The State of Israel (and Israel Postal administration) was this Stamp Exhibition's special guest to celebrate the 60 years of diplomatic relations between France and Israel.

To commemorate this event, the French and Israel Posts have issued in preview sale on November 6, two joint stamps dedicated to the 60 years of first postal flight between the two countries, between Haifa and Paris specifically.

These two stamps are on the left on the cover below. The € 0.55 (domestic priority mail) stamp illustrates the Haifa's departure of the Air France DC 3 on June 11 1948 and the € 0.85 (worldwide priority mail, including Israel) one illustrates its arrival in Paris on June 12 1948, after stopovers in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Nice.

The view of the city of Haifa is a contemporary's one because we can see the modern "Sail Tower" skyscraper, built on the seafront from 1999. The Shrine of the Báb with its golden dome, part of the Bahá'í World Center, is also represented on this stamp's foreground. This Shrine is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List since July 2008.

The two stamps also reproduce a letter of June 9 1948 that was carried during this first postal flight. This letter is stamped with three "Doar Ivri" stamps from the 1st Israel stamp issue and includes the purple label (type I) "Premier vol Etat d'Israël-France" ("First flight State of Israel-France") from Haifa.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso, also known by its short-form name Burkina, is a landlocked nation in West Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the south east, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the south west. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, it was renamed on August 4, 1984, by President Thomas Sankara to mean "the land of upright people" in Moré and Dioula, the major native languages of the country. Literally, "Burkina" may be translated, "men of integrity," from the Moré language, and "Faso" means "father's house" in Dioula. The inhabitants of Burkina Faso are known as Burkinabé.

Burkina Faso's capital is Ouagadougou. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the country underwent many governmental changes until arriving at its current form, a semi-presidential republic.


Belgie - Belgique

Црна Гора



Ecuador, which takes its name from its position on 0 degrees latitude, is one of two countries in South America that does not share a border with Brazil. It is bordered by Colombia on the north, by Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Galapagos Islands, renown for its beautiful geography and vast endemic biodiversity as well as its ties to Darwin's Theory of Evolution, is a province of Ecuador.

Ecuador's capital, Quito, is known as the "Luz de America" or "Light of America" because it was here that the first declaration of independence from Spain was proclaimed and so it was viewed as an inspiration for the rest of South America. The largest city is Guayaquil, a port city that serves as the main center for trade and business. The two cities can be compared to Beijing and Shanghai in China in that Quito, like Beijing is the historical and cultural capital, while Guayaquil, like Shanghai, is the business capital.

In line with this, a means of transportation was necessary to connect the two cities. This is where the Guayaquil-Quito railroad (Ferrocarril Guayaquil-Quito), whose centennary is celebrated by the stamp on the front of the envelope (issued 23 June 08), steps into the picture.

Several plans and attempts were made to build the railway from Guayaquil to Quito, since 1860 until 1874, when the first locomotive reached Milagro. But it was only by 1895 that contacts were made with North American technicians Archer Harman and Edward Morely, representatives of an American company interested in the building of the "most difficult railway in the world" as it was called at that time. An agreement was reached, and "The Guayaquil and Quito Railway Company" started the construction in 1899.

The tracks finally reached a huge obstacle - an almost perpendicular wall of rock - called the "Devil´s Nose". Many lives were shed in the building of what until now is called a masterpiece of railway engineering: a zig-zag carved out of the rock, which allows the train, by advancing and backing up, to reach the necessary height to the town of Alausí. The train finally reached Alausí by September 1902 and Riobamba by July 1905.

From this point on, the construction was easier. The highest point of the route - Urbina at 3604 meters - was reached by the end of 1905 and finally on June 25, 1908 the train made its triumphal entrance to Quito and was received by arches of palms, laurel and flowers, bells tolling banquetes, dances and popular festivities that lasted four days.

Also a bit related - albeit remotely - to this issue about the railroad is the issue shown on the back, which is about using eco-friendly electricity. (Trains, like the one shown in the picture above, use coal and other fuels that pollute the air.)

At first it seems that this issue, released 18 Mar 08, celebrates biodiversity or endangered wildlife since it shows animals and has the word "Galapagos" on the stamp, but it is actually devoted to promoting a clean energy source, in this case turbine-produced electricity.

This theme is especially not evident from the 3 stamps on the cover's reverse because the set lacks one stamp (the one that actually shows the turbines). The reason for the word "Galapagos" is that the turbines are located on San Cristobal Island, which is in the Galapagos Islands. Apparently, the plant was set up there to reduce the amount of electricity produced through diesel combustion, which harms the environment, and also harms the biodiversity on the islands. Operations of the plant began on 01 October. More about the project here.

Also, you may notice that the face values of the stamps are in US Dollars! The US Dollar has been used in Ecuador since 2000 in order to address Ecuador's economic crisis at the time. The formal adoption of the dollar as currency in January 2000, as opposed to merely pegging the Ecuadorian sucre to the dollar as Argentina had done, theoretically meant that the benefits of seigniorage would accrue to the U.S. economy.

Seigniorage is the net revenue derived from the issuing of currency. Seigniorage derived from coins arises from the difference between the face value of a coin and the cost of producing, distributing and eventually retiring it from circulation. Seigniorage derived from notes is the difference between the interest earned on securities acquired in exchange for bank notes and the costs of producing and distributing those bank notes. Seigniorage is an important source of revenue for some national banks. According to some reports, currently over half the revenue of the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is in seigniorage.



Aqui hay una aerograma cubana con tema de Che Guevara.

Che Guevara is a world-renown figure when it comes to the fight for independence and has been synonymous with "fight for a cause" movements.

A Latin American revolutionary leader, he rejected both capitalism and orthodox Soviet communism. Guevara lived an adventurous life. Guevara's tragic early death in Bolivia (by execution, although the government at the time said he died in battle) created a legend that still lives. He once said that "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love", but he also wrote influential works of guerrilla warfare.

One of his more famous quotes, which is printed in the design of the Aerogramme, reads:
Porque esta gran humanidad ha dicho: «¡Basta!»
y ha echado a andar. Y su marcha de gigantes, ya no se detendrá
(Because this great humanity has said: “That is enough,” and has been urged to move. And its march of giants will no longer pause.)

Unfortunately, and much to my dismay, the aerogramme was not cancelled. However, it is nice to receive Che Guevara memorabilia that actually comes from Cuba!



Here we have two covers from Sweden.

The first bears part of a souvenir sheet dedicated to Ingmar Bergman.

Ernst Ingmar Bergman (14 July 1918 – 30 July 2007) was a Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. He depicted bleakness and despair as well as comedy and hope in his explorations of the human condition. He is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of modern cinema.

He directed 62 films, most of which he also wrote, and directed over 170 plays. Some of his internationally known favorite actors were Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, and Max von Sydow. Most of his films were set in the landscape of his native Sweden, and major themes were often bleak, dealing with death, illness, betrayal, and insanity.

Bergman was active for more than 60 years, but his career was seriously threatened in 1976 when he suspended a number of pending productions, closed his studios, and went into self-imposed exile in Germany for eight years following a botched criminal investigation for alleged income tax evasion.

An interesting to note about Bergman is that he was married five times, was involved with three women other than those he married, and acknowledges nine children to be his own! What a playboy, eh?

Sadly, the entire S/S can't fit onto a small envelope so the sender had to resort to clipping it! The entire sheet is shown below. Notice that only the stamp is engraved. Ingenuity or cost-cutting?

Here is another great cover, this time showing one of my favorite themes: aviation! The se-tenant set is actually part of a booklet entitled Postflyg (Postal Flight) issued 8 Sept 1972 and features the Douglas DC3, the Junkers F13, the Junkers JU 52, and the Friedrichshafen FF .49. Curiously, the designs for the Junkers F13 and the Douglas DC3 were repeated and the Junkers JU 52 and the Friedrichshafen were shown only once.... Why is that?

The leftmost stamp on the bottom shows chocolate, perhaps issued for the 2007 CEPT, which had the theme of gastronomy. The other stamp is part of a 4v set dedicated to angling, more commonly known as fishing.

Just a little side note: this angling set brought back some childhood memories. Seeing all the children going fishing reminded me of my childhood days when my parents and I would go to different lakes all over the state, from North to South, just to fish. Fishing actually made up a large portion of my childhood - or at least the portion of it that I remember. It wasn't that we needed to fish or that most people where I lived fish; it was just my father's hobby. Honestly, I didn't like to fish very much and only enjoyed it when I'd catch a fish right away! But that's not how it's done, according to most anglers. Patience is of utmost importance when you go fishing, they say. No wonder I never found interest in the hobby! Philately is truly my one and only! :-)


Here's another post about Chinese airports. I just can't enough of this issue! Hahaha. Maybe it's because I was in two of the three airports almost right after the stamps were issued! Anyway, here is another FDC (the same kind as my previous post), but sent by an exchange partner. And here are also some maxicards for this issue. I wonder if these maxicards were really postmarked at the respective airports.... The cancels seem so perfect and uniform! Nonetheless, these are undeniably cherished additions to my specialty collection of airplane stamps!


España - Portugal Joint Issue

Below are two covers bearing stamps of the joint issue between Spain and Portugal issued on 14 Sep 06. The stamps from both countries show Iberian bridges and are identical in design; they differ only in the order of the coats of arms on the sides and in the naming of the bridges (each country has its own name for the same bridge) and, of course, the language used.

The modern bridge is the Puente internacional de Ayamonte (Huelva) over the Guadiana River, which was completed in 1991, and the older bridge is the Puente de Alcantara over the Tajo River in Caceres, which is dated around 105 AD.

Sadly, my Portugal set isn't complete. Is there any cover collector in Portugal willing to swap covers using this set?

Jakarta Stamp Exhibition

Thanks to my friend Juned from Bogor, Indonesia, I have the pleasure of adding these 6 beautiful covers to my collection!

They were sent from the 22nd Asian International Stamp Exhibition held recently in Jakarta. The exhibition had the theme "Philately: a Bridge to Friendship among Men."

The covers each bear one of the six souvenir sheets that showcase Indonesian culture and history, which are among my favorite themes! Of course, my favorites are the last two, which have the theme of stamp on stamp and aviation! I also love the sheet showing the Stamp Museum. In fact, I love all of them! I especially like the way the souvenir sheets were laid out and designed.

A million thanks again to Juned!


대한민국, Россия, and Filipinas

Here is what some may consider a heavily WW2-themed cover as all the stamps, save for the two bird definitives at the left edge, celebrate an event that took place in the Philippines during WW2.

One of the stamps shows the liberation of Los Banos. The raid at Los Baños in the Philippines on 23 February 1945, by a combined U.S. Army Airborne and Filipino guerrilla task force, which resulted in the liberation of 2,147 Allied civilian and military internees from an agricultural school campus turned Japanese internment camp, was celebrated as one of the most successful rescue operations in modern military history. It was the second precisely-executed raid by combined U.S.-Filipino forces within a month, following on the heels of the Raid at Cabanatuan at Luzon on January 30, in which 513 Allied military POWs had been rescued.

The Liberation of Cabanatuan is also shown on one of the stamps. The Raid at Cabanatuan in the Philippines on 30 January 1945 by US Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas resulted in the liberation of 511 prisoners of war (POWs) from a Japanese POW camp near Cabanatuan and was a celebrated historic achievement involving Allied special forces during World War II.

Edward Dmytryk's 1945 film Back to Bataan starring John Wayne opens by retelling the story of the raid on the Cabanatuan POW camp. The raid was recreated, with great attention to historical accuracy, in the 2005 John Dahl film The Great Raid.

The other stamps celebrate the liberation of other places in the Philippines, such as UST, which I discussed in an earlier post.

Below are two other covers.

Portugal and Helvetia

On this we have a beautiful mini sheet issued to commemorate Stamp Day 2007. Featured on the min sheet is Einsiedeln. Virtually no other Swiss town with a population of about 13,000 is so well known in other countries as Einsiedeln in Canton Schwyz, whose main claims to fame are its Benedictine abbey and more than a thousand years of cultural history.

Einsiedeln is the most frequently visited place of pilgrimage in Switzerland. Every year, more than a hundred thousand pilgrims and visitors make their way to the Abbey, Switzerland's most significant Baroque building, with its "Chapel of Grace" and the famous Black Madonna, which is depicted on the foreground of the miniature sheet.

Einsiedeln is closely bound up with the life of Saint Meinrad. In 835, Saint Meinrad is said to have built a hermitage and chapel on the site in the Abbey where the Chapel of Grace now stands in order to serve God, thus giving Einsiedeln its name (in English, "Einsiedler" means "hermit").

The Benedictine abbey, which is shown in the full in the background, was founded in 934, and the present Baroque monastery was built between 1674 and 1735 in three stages. The Asam brothers created the frescoes and stucco work inside the Abbey, and the Benedictine Abbey contains Switzerland's largest ceiling fresco.

The other stamp on the cover shows a simple diagram of a football/soccer field. Like many other Europeans, the Swiss are big fans of football and the national team or 'Nati' is widely supported. Switzerland's most well known football clubs include Grasshoppers Zurich, Servette FC and FC Basel. Switzerland was also the joint venue with Austria in the Euro 2008 football tournament, although the Swiss team dropped out before the Quarter Finals.

The four stamps shown here are part of a set of 5v entitled Important Figures in Portuguese Culture. The set celebrates either the 100th or 150th birth anniversary of certain figures that have made their contribution to Portuguese society.

Jose Relvas (Birth Sequicententennial).
A historic republican, it was him who proclaimed the republic in the balcony of Municipal Chamber of Lisbon, in 5 October 1910. He was the 2nd Minister of Finances during the Provisional Government, led by Teófilo Braga, from October 12, 1910 to September 3, 1911. After that, he served as minister (ambassador) of Portugal in Madrid, from 1911 to 1914. He was President of the Ministry (103rd Prime Minister), from January 27 to March 30, 1919, in one of the many short lived governments of the Portuguese First Republic. His house in Alpiarça is now the House-museum of Patudos, where his art collection is exhibited.

Manoel Cândido Pinto de Oliveira, GCSE (Birth Centenary). He was born December 12, 1908, and is 99 years old. He is a Portuguese film director born in Cedofeita, Porto. He is frequently cited as the oldest active film director in the world and began his career in 1931 with Douro, a documentary. It is interesting to note that 100 years did not yet pass since his birth when this set was issued on 18 April 2008.

Ricardo Jorge (birth centenary). An eminent Portuguese hygienist and medical historian who was born on May 22, 1858, at Oporto, where he received his medical education and carried out some important work on plague in partnership with Dr. Camara Pestana. He afterwards went to Lisbon, where he was appointed director-general of public health and professor of hygiene.

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (Birth Centenary). Vieira da Silva was a Portuguese-French abstractionist painter. She was born on June 13, 1908 in Lisbon. At the age of eleven she had began seriously studying drawing and painting at that city's Academia de Belas-Artes. By 1930 Vieira da Silva was exhibiting her paintings in Paris. After a brief sojourn back in Lisbon and a period spent in Brazil during World War II (1940-1947), Vieira da Silva lived and worked in Paris the rest of her life. She adopted french citizenship in 1956. Vieira da Silva received the French government's Grand Prix National des Arts in 1966, the first woman so honored. She was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1979.

The last stamp on the cover is one of 2 designs issued by CTT Portugal for the Azores in celebration of 100 years of scouting.

I find it rather odd that the sender did not complete the set yet affixed two of the Vieira da Silva stamps. I am nevertheless still very thankful for this wonderful cover. Also, the nice, large "Express Mail" sticker is very attractive, although ineffective with the postal system since the mail didn't undergo express handling judging from the date of posting and the date of receipt.

Filipinas at 澳門

Here is a neat cover from Macau with some nice, large postmarks and stamps with interesting topics. The ATM on the left has the theme of saving energy and was put into circulation in 2007. The two stamps to the right, whose designs are in my opinion a bit too loud, are part of a 4v set issued in 2001 to celebrate the religious diversity of the small island territory.

Most Chinese in Macau are profoundly influenced by their own tradition and culture, of which Chinese folk religion, that includes the faiths of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, forms an integral part. Macau has a sizable Christian community; Roman Catholics and Protestants constitute 7% and 2% of the population respectively. In addition, 17% of the population follows distilled original Mahayana Buddhism.

The religious diversity in Macau is also evidenced by its most famous landmarks: A- Ma temple (for which it has been said the name "Macau" came from: A-Ma-Gao became Macau) and the ruins of Igreja
São Paulo (the facade of the church built in 1602 that has been known at the landmark of Macau).

This second cover from the Philippines also has interesting stamps, but very disappointing postmarks, although, since much cannot be expected from PhilPost, I am used to that. The stamps make up for the low quality postmarks. Notice the two commemoratives from the mid-90s related to the theme of postal service.

The stamp on top shows an illustration of trainees at the Asian-Pacific Postal Training Center in Bangkok, Thailand, and celebrates its 25th year. I assume this is the venue where member countries of the Asia-Pacific Postal Union (
APPU). I find it funny that such a center was built since I think postal service is a rather self-explanatory job, but maybe there is more to mail than postmarking, sorting, and delivering.

The stamp on the bottom was issued for National Stamp Collecting Month (November) 1995 and, like other issues in the series, exhibits works of great achievers in Philippine art. This particular stamp, part of a set, shows "Serenade" (Tagalog: "Harana") by Carlos Francisco.

Francisco was a most distinguished practitioner of mural painting for many decades and best known for his historical pieces. He was one of the first Filipino modernists who broke from Fernando Amorsolo's romanticism of Philippine scenes. He was given the highest recognition, the title National Artist of the Philippines - Visual Arts posthumously in 1973.

The stamp on the far left, next to the four P1 bird definitives, is part of a set that celebrates the liberation of certain parts of the Philippines after the Japanese, who occupied the islands, left in 1945. This stamps shows the liberation of UST, one of the oldest universities in the Philippines (founded 26 April 1611). It shows the "Arch of the Centuries," which is a landmark of the school.

The Arch of the Centuries was originally erected in 1611 at Intramuros, where UST was originally found. When the University transferred to its present location at Sampaloc, the Arch was also carried piece-by-piece and was re-erected at the front of the main vehicular entrance of the University. The original Arch which faces the Main Building was the main doorway to the university building before it was destroyed during World War II when it was at Intramuros. A newer arch, which is a reconstruction of the original arch, faces España Boulevard. The inscription on the arch says "Gateway to the history of the finest breed of Filipinos," a reference to the numerous alumni who have made an impact in Philippine history.
There is an old superstition that while studying at the University, you must never pass through the Arch until your graduation. If done so, an event will happen that will not allow you to graduate at the school.


Here is my first cover from Mauritania!

A little bit on this little-known African nation before I continue:

Mauritania (Arabic: موريتانيا‎ Mūrītāniyā and French: Mauritanie) is situated in northwest Africa with about 350 mi (592 km) of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Morocco on the north, Algeria and Mali on the east, and Senegal on the south. The country is mostly desert, with the exception of the fertile Senegal River valley in the south and grazing land in the north.

It has, since it liberation from France in 1960, had its share of political and ethnic strife and has suffered as a result of opposing parties' conflicting interests. In the late 1960s, the government sought to make Arab culture dominant in the country after the French occupation, which Gallicized much of Mauritanian society. Racial and ethnic tensions between Moors, Arabs, Berbers, and blacks were also frequent.

The nation chose its first democratically elected president only in 2007 after years of authoritarian rule and rigged elections. However, this president was overthrown in July 2008, just a over a year after his installment, by a bloodless military coup. Ironically, some of the generals that helped him gain power three years earlier had turned a cheek and were also involved in this coup.

Now, on to the stamps:

Sadly, the scan came out pretty bad since you cannot really see the perfs of the stamps and the postmarks are not very very clear (although they aren't really clear on the actual cover anyway). However, don;t feel shortchanged as you're not really missing out on much since the stamps are of the exact same design, only different denominations and different color schemes for the borders.

The two stamps on the cover celebrate the second chapter of the World Summit on the Information Society held in Tunis in 2005. The first half of the summit was help in Geneva in 2003. Among the issues brought up at these seminars was the ownership or rights over the Internet, which was as of that time (and I think still is) largely controlled by the United States. Talks on the distribution of control over the Internet were held, but suggestions were rejected by the United States. Other outcomes of the meet were (1) the declaration that 17 May be World Telecommunication Day and (2) the setting of a goal to have 50% of the world online and with access to computer technology by 2015, an (3) forums on the narrowing of the "digital divide" between developed an developing countries.

Anyhoo, notice that the postage adds up to 470 UM, or 470 Ouguiya, which is about USD 1.90! Quite expensive for postage, eh? I have heard from some contacts in Europe that their postage was costly; I wonder what Mauritanians have to say about postage rate hikes! -- Or was the sender just kind enough to send the entire set? I really wouldn't know since no info is available online.....

France et Indonesia

Back again! Was quite busy last week so wasn't able to reach my goal of one post per day.... :-( Anyway, here's my next post!

Here is a very nice cover from France with three wonderful stamps on the theme of architecture, one of my favorites! And, plus, they're all engraved! Unfortunately, the scan I have of the cover does the engraving no justice so here are some more detailed scans for your viewing pleasure:

I prefer engraved stamps the most because of their high-precision details. If you take a magnifying glass and pay close enough attention, you can see each individual dot! Amazing - truly amazing!

Also, for some reason, I like the postmark used very much, although I know it is the common postmark used in France. I like the box-like quality of the lettering and numbers. If I'm not mistaken, it's been the same since the fifties or sixties!

This second cover, from Indonesia, contains two issues: the two round stamps to the right are part of a set of 5 stamps issued 6 May 06 to commemorate the 2006 FIFA Games held in Germany. The set of 3 to the right, as advertised by the title of the sheet, is dedicated to Special Needs Education.

Football is a beautiful game that is so easy to play and understand. Played by over 250 million men, women, boys, and girls around the world, it is a game for all. It can be played anywhere, any time. Quite simply, it is the world's most favourable sport on earth.

The world football federation FIFA carries the duty to lead the football community in the development and protection of the game itself in all its glory forms.

FIFA was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904 by the delegates of seven European countries, namely Belgie, Danmark, France, Nederland, Espana, Svergie, and Helvetia. In 1932, it moved its headquarters to Zurich, Helvetia, and has been there ever since.

One of FIFA's missions is to ensure that the good image of football is always maintained throughout the world. Special attention is paid to promoting tair play, with a worldwide campaign aimed at education and ethical values, including the fight against racism and corruption in football.

The 2006 FIFA World Cup was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which won the right to host the event in July 2000. Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six populated continents participated in the qualification process which began in September 2003. Thirty-one teams qualified from this process, along with the host nation, Germany, for the finals tournament.

The tournament was won by Italy, who claimed its fourth World Cup title. It defeated France 5–3 in a penalty shootout in the final, after extra time had finished in a 1–1 draw. Germany defeated Portugal 3–1 to finish third.

The 2006 World Cup stands as one of the most watched events in television history, garnering an estimated 26.29 billion non-unique viewers, compiled over the course of the tournament. The finale attracted an estimated audience of 715.1 million people.

Notice the unique punched-out design of the stamps evident in the stamp on the right. All stamps have this special feature and showing players in different positions.

As for the Special Needs Education stamps, I was not able to find any information on the topic in English, but I guess it's self-explanatory. The three stamps show special needs education, specifically in sports, music, and social service (I assume the boy scout stands for social service and personal development?). Do note, however, that Special Needs Educations differs from Special Education in that it does not necessarily deal with students with mental disabilities. Special Needs Education is for students with physical differences or incapability while Special Education is for mentally impaired students.

It is interesting to see that there is a rise in awareness (and perhaps acceptance?) among Asian societies with regard to disabilities. I recall an issue from PhilPost in 2006 celebrating the 2006 Paralympic Games and other such issues issued by Asian countries. It's comforting to know that, little-by-little, acceptance is gaining ground in the harsh societies of the East.

Malaysia, 中國, and 대한민국

The Korean Government declared 2007 as the Year of Biology in hopes of stimulating interest in the basic life science among the Korean people. It launched many events such as the "BioFestival" scheduled to be held nationwide, a "Special International Exhibition on Biotechnology and DNA/Mutation," "Biology Merges with Culture," conferences, symposiums, and lectures aimed at general public, and others. In this light, Korea Post also played its role by issuing an S/S seen in the cover below.

The S/S, issued 19 March 07, shows, in silhouette, chromosome and DNA, together with a sunflower, green frog, brown-banded butterflyfish and stag beetle. Appearing on the background of the small sheet to show animal lineage (origin and evolutionary process) are paramecium and euglena, hydra, squid, earthworm, butterfly, starfish, fish, salamander, turtle, crane, eagle, Jindo-dog, and the human being.

As we all should know, biotechnology such as medicine and, most recently, GMOs and cloning are all possible because of this discipline and, as such, it is just right that we devote more time and effort into developing it so that it can help us help each other.

This next cover sent from China actually took a very long time to get here! I noticed that the stamps were chopped on 13 April and the cover arrived 10 June! Perhaps the sender decided to send it via surface mail? But the postage on the cover amounts to RMB 3.5 and regular air mail costs only RMB 4.5. So I wonder if it was worth a wait of two months just to save RMB 1 (USD 0.15)?

Anyway, like I said in my previous post, I cannot understand Chinese so I really have no information regarding these stamps. The most striking of the three for me is the middle one, which I take celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China and the world's largest political party. Its paramount position as the supreme political authority in China, while not a governing body recognized by China's constitution, is realized as the supreme power through control of all state apparatus and of the legislative process. The CCP was founded in 1921, and came to rule all of mainland China after defeating its rival the Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War. The party's 70 million members constitute 5.5% of the total population of mainland China.

The other stamps, the one to the left, most probably illustrates the ushering in and/or celebration of the coming of the year 2000. The children seem to be doing the new year dragon dance iconic of the Chinese new year. Perhaps this stamp shows a piece that won a contest for youth drawing?

The stamp to the right depicts something about Chinese culture - exactly what I do not know.

This last cover is an FDC of the St. John Ambulance in Malaysia Centenary. The St. John Ambulance, better known as "St. John," carries a name synonymous with First Aid and other humanitarian services in Malaysia as well as all over the world. As the leading First Aid organization in Malaysia since 1908, the St. John Ambulance of Malaysia (SJAM) has been rendering First Aid and Home Nursing services to the needy in almost all public and private events throughout the country.

To celebrate 100 years of this organization's presence in the Malay peninsula, Pos Malaysia issued a 3v set in 2007.

The set show picture of the ambulance in action. The 30-sen stamp shows the Emergency Ambulance Service vehicle; the 50-sen stamp shows a demonstration of First Aid; and the 1 Ringgit stamp shows an attempt at Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR (the stamps says, "Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, which is wrong because Cardiopulmonary is one word).

Speaking of words, an interesting piece of trivia to know is that the word "Ambulance" finds its roots from the French "(hôpital) ambulant," which literally means "walking hospital."