Foto Friday : Gamefishing

Foto Friday : Gamefishing

Almost 3 years since I first set foot in Siargao, this is the first time I have witnessed the game fishing competition.

To be honest, I am not such a fan unless the fish is laid out on the table, grilled. I have experienced fishing recently but it didn’t make me a convert. I realize, however, that it takes a lot of patience to get the perfect catch. Also, it takes a whole lot of respect for the marine ecosystem (aka care for the mangroves, have a close season, say no to illegal fishing gears).

If you happened to be in Siargao during this month, hop on to Pilar for another activity beyond the surfs.

To Visit the Churches (Visita Iglesia)

One of the activities to commemorate the Passion of Christ in the country is Visita Iglesia or Church Visit. In the Philippines, it dates back to the Spanish colonization in which Catholics visit seven churches to pray and meditate.

The tradition has its roots to the early years of the establishment of the Church, when there were 7 great basilicas in Rome that Christians would visit for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. (http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Visita_Iglesia)

I remember my first attempt doing this religious activity when I went to Antipolo (sans the long walk). I was quite surprised of the big crowd gathered in the church’s courtyard. It was a mix of tradition, family gathering, bonding and travel.

In this solemn week, I decided to list down the churches I have kneeled and prayed at during my trips. Which among these were you able to visit?

Parish Church of Villa de Arevalo

Parish Church of Villa de Arevalo

Located in Arevalo in the province of Iloilo, it houses the 3rd oldest Sto. Nino  in the country. The white facade reminds me of an old house.  Creepy as it may seem, the photo of my friends in front of the church looked like a rendition of the American Gothic painting.

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon

Every time I visit Bohol, I always drop by in one of the oldest church in the country to give thanks for the safe travel. I think that this is close to my heart since I was a member of Children of Mary group when I way in grade school.

It has a museum that houses church paraphernalia as old as the Church — including a “music room” with large song books. As the photo shows, I will always be fascinated with this elevated seat that reminds one of a royal watching an opera.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island

Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island

Aside from the white sand and secluded beaches in the island, this 5- hundred year old church located in the heart of the town is one of the island’s tourist draws.

Made of stones and corals, it is a cool refuge from the not so busy streets of the town proper. It also houses a simple museum that contains, among others, the order from the Vatican that the island is exempted from abstinence of meat during the Holy Week.

San Lorenzo Ruiz Church in Binondo

Minor Basilica of St.  Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lay of the Most Holy Rosary Parish  in Binondo

Located in the corner of Ongpin Street, it stands proud among the banks and fastfood restaurants.  It was build in the 1500s but was damaged over time with the bell tower as the only remaining original infrastructure.

I am always in awe with its altar in gold trimmings.

Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova or the Miagao Church

Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova or the Miagao Church

A trip to Iloilo is not complete without a visit in this famous landmark in this side of the province. I remember braving the rains of Typhoon Frank just to reach this church in Miagao.

According to exploreiloilo.com,

“The artistic facade of the Miagao Church is decorated with a relief sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child amidst coconut, papaya and guava shrubs. Like any other foreign influences, the architecture of many colonial churches has undergone the process of indigenization. This process is carried out by incorporating the prevailing Hispano-American and Medieval Spanish architecture with local as well as Muslim and Chinese touches….Supporting the facade are the twin belfries, one towering two-storeys and the other three-storeys high. The church’s simple interior is nevertheless highlighted by a striking gold-plated retablo.”

The Church of Saint Anne in Molo, Iloilo

The Church of Saint Anne in Molo, Iloilo

Still in Iloilo stands the red roofed Molo Church. Known for its Gothic architecture  that looks like a castle, it is one of the tourist attractions of the province. The interiors is made outstanding with the 5 pairs of pillars and statues of 16 women saints lining up to welcome churchgoers.

The Church of St. Augustine in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

The Church of St. Augustine in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

The giant “wings” or buttress of the church makes this landmark north of the country a must see for devotees and tourists alike. The baroque style architecture is mesmerizing that one can imagine walking the church grounds during 1700s. If studied closely, the “towers” on the roof look like small temples reminiscent of temples from the other parts of Southeast Asia.

Basilica Minore of Sto. Nino del Cebu

Basilica Minore of Sto. Nino del Cebu

The most visited church during Sinulog festival and beyond. The Basilica houses the oldest religious image in the country — the Sto. Nino or the image of Child Jesus.

I have never seen the Basilica replete of people given its  popularity among devotees and Filipinos. For the many instances I have been there, I always line up to view and “kiss” the image while saying a little prayer.

The Basilica is also a tourist destination. Nearby are the Magellan’s Cross, the fort, Parola, Gorordo Museum and the oldest street in the country- Colon. It is like a devotion that once in Cebu, go to Sto. Nino.

The Church

The Church

Among the many churches I have been to, this is I called The Church akin to Jamie Sullivan’s church in the book/movie A Walk to Remember.

The church located in the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Immaculate Heart Convent is a small church located in San Jose, Tagaytay. It is non descript with its plain looking architecture among the tall pine trees in the compound. The interiors, on the other hand, has some sort of a divider to separate the nuns from the common churchgoers which really attracted me.

It has been my church of worship when I spent my summer before college . Over the years that I have attended workshops and trainings in Tagaytay, the simple facade made me fall in love with it that it made me decide that it will be the church where I will tie the knot.

 

Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza in Zamboanga City

Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza in Zamboanga City

Fort Pilar, as what locals call, is like home to me. Every time I am in my birthplace, I always visit the place to light a candle and say a little prayer. Then, a visit to the national museum at the side.

Countless processions that I attended always end up in this religious landmark. First-time visitors are always brought here. Numerous candles have been lighted to give thanks or ask some favours.

Since this is a fort, it is an outdoor church with concrete pews. Early morning and late night churchgoers flock Fort Pilar (yes, we don’t call it a church) for their daily devotions.

After the siege, I don’t know what it looks now since I haven’t been home for more than a year. I do wish that the old birdhouses are still there, Pinang’s (women selling candles and prayer books) still trading their wares and the colourful popcorn and cotton candy makers still luring the kids.

Have a Holy Week, everyone.

Eye of the Storm

More than two months have passed but images can still bring chill to my being. The thought that I will just hold on to the strongest baluster  when the water will reach us in the 2nd floor is but a dim memory. A story I can tell over and over again,though.

What started as an ordinary field work became a race to Tacloban from Borongan on 7 November to be able to get the next available flight to Manila. Unfortunately, we were not that lucky. We decided to wait for the typhoon and fly out on Saturday. We bought some supplies and I do remember having coffee at a local cafe at Robinsons.

image

Night time came and winds were a bit strong. I managed to inform my boss that we were in a secured place. Morning arrived and at 5 AM, wind started to howl. I greeted ny best friend a happy birthday and had breakfast.

At 7AM, while my door was being slammed and the glass door in the brink of being pulled out by the strong wind, I peeked from the bathroom window and saw cars floating. I decided to go to my officemate’s room at the 3rd floor. I was greeted by fellow transients trapped in the stairs landing because the roof in the upper floor was destroyed.

What followed was the longest 1 hour of my life. In between prayers, I was thinking how to secure what was left of my belongings (I gave away some of my clothes) and the best place I can hold on to when the water will continuously to rise.

As fast as the wind speed, Haiyan left with major destruction. It was the strongest typhoon. And when you’re in the middle of it, all you can think of are the lessons you try to impart to the communities- severe wind, storm surge and preparedness.

A walk to the airport a day after —before the clearing operations, was like a scene from a zombie movie. People in daze. Cars over each other. Dead bodies wrapped in makeshift bodybags. Houses destroyed.
image

After a walk of 12km in total to see the runway and C130 unloading goods, it was a ray of light. A long “walk to home”in my pajamas with people you don’t know. People that you share a bond with for experiencing the same harrowing event. I can’t fathom how those who were left behind were able to make it day by day. I only pray that after all these months, all will be well. It may take some time to rebuild the physical structures but I believe that the spirit of resilience will not falter among the affected people in the Visayas.

Tacloban will always remain special in my heart. May Haiyan be a lesson on the importance of preparedness not just before the storm but in the planning for the future with climate change in mind.

A Peek at Dinagyang 2014

Opening Salvo is Ilonggos’ call to  the technical or dry run of the Dinagyang street dancing. I was lucky to have glimpsed this local tradition a week before the actual Dinagyang Festival which is scheduled on 24-26 January 2014 here in Iloilo.

It is the province’s version of the Ati-atihan Festval celebrated in nearby Aklan. It is a local term for merry making which got its full recognition back in 1977. Prior to that, it is knows as Iloilo’s Ati-atihan. According to dinagyangsailoilo.com,

“Iloilo Ati-Atihan dates back to the year 1967 when a replica of the image of Señor Santo Niño was first brought from Cebu by the San Jose Parish in Iloilo City. The image, accompanied by devotees from Cebu, was enthusiastically received at the Mandurriao Airport by the people of Iloilo.

In 1969, the Ati-Atihan contest became a part of the cultural aspect of the celebration with only four tribes participating. Since then, the celebration has progressed into a more colorful and pompous affair that includes the participation of more tribes and groups…”

One of the tribes practicing for the actual street dancing.

One of the tribes practicing for the actual street dancing.

PhotoGrid_1390012289060

Of course, there were a lot of locals lining up the streets to see the practice. They were as excited as non residents like me trying to get a good “seat” at the hotel’s stairs. I actually didn’t end up at the stairs but near the drummers to see all the sways and swaggers the dancers were doing. I think my ear drums are no good after being near those real drums.

Youngest viewer

Youngest viewer

And this young man is as much as the participant and as well as the spectator.

PhotoGrid_1389943020399