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!


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."

Canada et پاکستان

Ok, so tonight I'll let myself get carried away: I'll post this second pair of covers.

This first cover, my second or third from Pakistan, gives us a glimpse of Pakistan. The block of four, as you can see, has the theme Visit Pakistan 2006 and shows a series of mountain-lake landscapes, which are among the most scenic areas of the country. Clockwise from the upper left that are Henna Lake, Lake Payee, Lake Dudi Pat Sar, and Lake Saiful Maluk.

Henna Lake nestles in the hills, ten kilometres (six miles) east of Quetta, a startling turquoise pool within bare brown surroundings. There is a lakeside restaurant with picnic tables shaded by pine trees. At one end, the irrigation dam rises out of the depths like battlements of a fort. It is very attractive for holidaymakers, and is crowded with hikers and campers on holidays. You can hire a boat and paddle on the lake and around the island in the middle.

Dudiptsar lake or Dudipat Lake is a beautiful lake encircled by snow clad peaks. The lake lies in the extreme north of Kaghan Valley and is about a four-hour drive from the chief town Naran. The word "dudi" means white and "sar" means lake. This name has been given to the lake because of the white color of snow at surrounding peaks.

Lake Saifal Maluk has water that is clear with a slight green tone. The clarity of the water comes from the multiple glaciers all around the high basin feeding the lake which provides a good scenery. It is speculated that an underground river empties into the lake; which is why its depth is unknown. A fairy tale called Saiful Muluk, written by the famous sufi poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, is associated with the lake and discusses a prince who fell in love with a fairy princess. The impact of the lake beauty is of such extent that people believe that fairies come down to the lake whenever there is a full moon.

Lake Payee probably isn't that popular as much hasn't been said about it.

Moving on to the other two stamps, let's start with the lower one. It celebrates the Platinum Jubilee (or 75th year) of the Karachi City Council KMC Building. The Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) Building is one of the many historic buildings located at M. A. Jinnah road and has evolved an iconic status as one of the landmark structures of Karachi. The foundation stone for the KMC Building was laid in 1927, construction was completed in 1930, followed by the inauguration in 1932.

The City District Government of Karachi decided to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the building on 07 Jan 07. On this occasion, the building went through a massive renovation project which included repairing of the clock tower. Events are organized around the theme of "Hamara Karachi Festival 2007." They include Mushaira, Exhibitions, Cultural, and social activities.

The last stamp, the upper one, commemorates the 21st International Congress of Ophthalmologists held in Islamabad in 2007. Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine which deals with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways, including the eye, brain, and areas surrounding the eye, such as the lacrimal system and eyelids.

The stamps were franked at Islamabad on 21 May 08 and, again, the "Registered" postmark was used.

Up next we have a home-made 2008 Olympics cover from Canada sent on 08.08.08, the first day of the Olympics, if you recall. The cover bears two of the single stamps that were issued by Canada Post in July. The stamp celebrates Canada's participation in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad and recognizes the more than 340 athletes who proudly represented Canada in Beijing. I find the design pretty neat, one of those contemporary pieces that give off a feeling of motion even though the picture is obviously not moving. I like the design very much, but I must say it took me a while to figure out that the athlete was holding up a Canadian flag.

This is the back of the cover, where we have some more stamps for additional postage. As you can see, the post office here in the Philippines ravaged the back of the cover again with those terrible pen scribbles! Why is the post office doing this? Can't they tell that the cover is for collection? It angers me when I see this scribbling on the covers I receive.

Also, I was just wondering about the postmark used. I was just wondering if it is a special personal postmark that the sender can use if he obtains a permit (just like in the States: "Mailer's Postmark")? I ask because I am used to postmarks that. although also large and rectangular, bear the Canada Post logo. This one does not. Does anyone have any information on this?


Here is a nice pair of FDCs from Poland sent from Andrzej Bek, my philatelic contact in Poland. I actually received it about 3 months ago in August, but I only got to posting it now. In fact, there are many covers that I was never able to post because their scans were sorted into some obscure folder that I have virtually no recollection of ever creating and were then set aside in some corner of my hard drive that I rarely visit. It was only yesterday that I found out about these covers MIA. hahaha

So I guess I will be "way behind schedule" again since I plan on posting these before I do the ones I recently received. I plan on posting daily starting today, so it won't take too long till I get back on track - hopefully.

Moving on, this first FDC is #18 in a series called "Polish Towns and Cities" and celebrates 900 years of history of Racibórz, which was first mentioned in the Chronicles and Deeds of the Dukes or Princes of the Poles by Gallus Anonymous.

Racibórz is a town in southern Poland. In the Middle Ages, its vicinity to numerous trade routes helped develop it into a venue for craftsmanship as well as the host to the largest granary in the region. Over the centuries, it was inhabited largely my Germans, and this resulted in the Germanization of the area. Today this small town is home to about 60,000 inhabitants.

The stamps design shows some landmarks and symbols of the town, the first being the renaissance tower (built around 1574). The second is the late-baroque column that appears to be in the foreground. This was erected between 1725 and 1727 to give thanks to Mary for the end of the epidemic of 1715. Miraculously, the column survived WWII, which is a wonder since all the tenement buildings that surrounded the square on which it stood were all destroyed.

The FDC cachet depicts the Chapel of Thomas Beckett dating back to the end of the 13th century. The FDC was issued on 01 July 08 and some other stamps were added onto the cover for postage and were cancelled two weeks later, on 15 July.

This second FDC shows Sanctuaries of St. Mary, in this case St. Mary of the snow. This sanctuary, found near the major peak of Igliczna mountain, is for St. Mary Mother of God, the Cause of Our Joy "Mary of the Snow". The pilgrims come here to attend the wooden figure of St. Mary with Holy Child - a folk copy of St. Mary's figure from the Mariazell sanctuary in Austria. The figure had been brought in here in 1750 by Christopher Veit from Wilkanów village, as the changing national borders made the direct pilgrimage Mariazell sanctuary almost impossible for the local people. In 1777 the first case of miraculous healing had been documented, followed then by many others. The chapel soon proved to be too small for the ever-growing hosts of pilgrims and the new church had to be erected, consecrated in 1782.

The stamp shows the venerated idol and the FDC presents its domain. The FDC was released on 21 June and, again, extra stamps were added for postage and also franked on 15 July.

I'm Back!

Hello again! Did you miss me? Hahaha

Well, I spent the last four weeks on a vacation; went to Beijing and Shanghai in China and also a few tourist areas in the Luzon area, namely Puerto Galera and Tagytay. I must say that I was very busy during this time, hopping from place to place - one day, I'd be in a plane, the next in a train, and then the next on a boat! Whew! But it was really fun and exciting and at least a change from the grueling everyday cycle that I had gotten used to before my little break.

Anyway, my favorite part about being gone for a while is coming home to find wonderful surprises waiting for me in my mailbox! Four weeks' worth of mail is quite a handful and I literally had to ask for a plastic bag lest I drop any letters on the way home. There were many interesting finds in the small pile that I found in the mailbox, and I will share them with you little by little in my upcoming posts. It's very exciting, don't you agree? Hehehe

Hope you enjoy!

Here is an FDC that I picked up during my China trip. I bought it at the Beijing Capital Airport, Terminal 2. China Post has a neat little branch there to cater to the tourist rushing to send out last-minute postcards from his trip as well as philatelist itching to get his hands on some nice philatelic souvenirs. I was a bit of both, I must admit.

Thankfully, they had the FDC shown above available (they didn't have it at the Shanghai Postal Museum when I visited - or did the postal clerk just not understand what I was asking for?). I of course jumped at the opportunity to get one of these airport FDCs that I've been wanting to have since they were released on 28 Sept! Unfortunately, they only had two left so I wasn't able to buy any for my exchange partners. The other issues were not very interesting or expensive to the point of exploitation, so I didn't feel like buying them for me or for anyone else.

One thing that bothered me was that the clerk at the post office seemed to have overpriced me because, to the best of my knowledge, a regular airmail letter to the Philippines from China costs only RMB 4.50 (roughly USD 0.65), but the clerk insisted I pay RMB 8.50 (almost twice what I should have) and said that the stamps already on the cover could no longer be used for postage. I don't know if it's only because I got used to the Philippine system where the postage on the FDC is still valid, but I was under the impression that I could still use these stamps already on the cover for postage! Unfortunately, the clerk said I couldn't. Is anyone familiar with the Chinese postal system's regulations on such things?

To add to the confusion, the clerk spoke very very limited English, which I find surprising since he was working at the international terminal of an airport! I didn't want to argue with the guy, especially since he didn't seem to understand me, and I really wanted a Beijing Capital Airport postmark to be chopped onto my cover, so I just gave in and paid up. As you can see from the scan, at least I got what I wanted!

At any rate, a little bit more about the cover and the stamps:

The stamps show the three busiest airports in China based on number of passengers handled: Beijing Capital International Airport (first), Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (second), and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (third).

Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场) is the one on the left hand side. In 2007, it served 53,583,664 passengers, and became the 9th busiest airport in the world. There are three terminals. Terminal 1, the oldest (1980) handles domestic flights, except for HK and Macau and Taiwan; terminal 2 (1999) handles the international flights of China Eastern, China Southern, and Skyteam members; and terminal 3 (2008) handles all Air China, One World, and One Alliance international flights as well as other domestic and international departures. Terminal 3 is the second largest terminal building in the world, second only to the new terminal at Dubai International Airport, and is larger than London Heathrow's five terminal buildings combined. It was opened earlier this year, just in time for the Olympics.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (广州白云国际机场) is the one on the lower right. In 2007, it served 30,958,467 passengers. The current airport was opened in 2004 to replace the old, dilapidated airport with the same name. "Baiyun" (白雲) means "white clouds" in Chinese, and refers to Mt. Baiyun (Baiyunshan) near the location of the former airport. The airport is also referred to as "New Baiyun" to distinguish it from the previous version, but this is not a part of the official name.

Shanghai Pudong Inernational Airport (上海浦东国际机场) is the one on the upper right. As the third busiest in 2007 in terms of passenger traffic, it served 28,920,432 passengers last year. It opened in 1999 and a new terminal was added in March of this year. The name "Pudong" refers to the district in which the airport is located. The term Pudong is derived from "Pu" (from Huangpu river, which divides Shanghai into East and West) and "Dong" (which means East in Mandarin), so literally "Pudong" means "East of the Huangpu River."

As for the other stamps, the two RMB 0.80 stamps on the lower right hand corner along with the one RMB 1.50 stamp on the far left are probably part of the same set, which seems to celebrate earth (and/or the world or land - that would explain the green) and water. Unfortunately, I cannot read Chinese so all I can do is guess.

The RMB 1.20 stamp with birds is part of a definitive set and the larger, square RMB 1.20 stamp features Chinese traditional paintings.

Like I mentioned earlier, the cover was franked at the Beijing Capital Airport on 26 Oct 08, which was a Sunday, I might add!