Three Years of Togetherness

Back in April, I got a notification from WordPress informing me that I have been with this platform for three years now. Wow! I started blogging back in 2005 but it was more of a “dear diary” slash blow by blow account of all my travels and everything Kpop. Just imagine that I started in Multiply and graduated to Blogger and then jumpshipped to WordPress. My relationship with WP is better than ever. Hey, I got the WP app in smartphone!

Hestory. History.

Hestory, now a history. I was so addicted with kpop back then

Three years of maintaining this blog taught me to :

  1. Write about what you love. I don’t force myself to write something just for the sake. I feel that if I want to share something, it is straight from the heart. Right now, it is all about travels because sometimes, photos shared in Facebook or Instagram are not enough to describe what it feels like to have that first taste of cendol , the feel to be in one of the Turtle Islands or the feel to be with fellow tennis fans during the Sydney Open.

    Braving the summer heat for the Sydney Open at the Sydney Olympic Park

    Braving the summer heat for the Sydney Open at the Sydney Olympic Park

  2. Be open to suggestions. I am not your best in English blogger. I consult my besty if I what I wrote made sense. I am such a scatterbrain (most times sometimes) that my thoughts are all over. Good thing, I got my own personal editor. Cheers to you, Besty!
  3. KISS. I try to keep it short and simple because I might traumatise the reader. Similar to my albums in Facebook, I don’t load the photos (or ideas) in one go because this can scare the viewer/reader. As much as possible, I don’t use high falluting words (heck, my vocabulary is limited anyway. Those words from SAT reviewers went down the drain over the years).

I foresee that I will be writing more. Topics will be varied. Blurred photos will be less. Stories that will inspire. Definitely, posts that will not bore you to tears.

A Brand New Day

A Brand New Day

P.S. How timely that this is my 100th post! Yay!

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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.

The Purge : Chinese New Year Version

The other week was a long weekend. It was supposed to be a staycation or a quick road trip somewhere south or north of the city. Unfortunately, I am saving my travel funds for some bigtime travels in March with friends and another travel in the middle of the year. The 3-day weekend ended up being holed up in my condo.

Then, I decided to check out my stuff hidden behind those closed cabinets for a much needed “after Christmas” cleaning.  Letters, old notebooks, a draft of my college thesis, my beloved DVD sets featuring my favorite Korean actor, receipts /billing statements and scrapbook materials. I realized that I have amassed alot of stuff.

Before Emails.

Before Emails.

The Untouchables: My Hyeon Bin Collection

The Untouchables: My Hyeon Bin Collection

I was lucky that my bestfriend volunteered to arrange my files in the numerous clearbooks at home. Then, we saw the boxes. Letters and postcards sent by friends and family when email was still an idea of the future. Heck, I even saw the stamp collection of my bestfriend in one of the boxes.

The cleaning ended up with reading some notes and laughing at the biggest crush I had over an athlete. Hah, I am not talking about Rafa!

Updated wall

Updated wall

At the end of the day, the cabinet is neatly arranged. The frames on the wall are updated. The wires are tied up well. My tiny condo looks a tad bigger.

Not bad for the Lunar New Year celebration. A good time to kickstart the new year.

A reward for a job well done - new shoes for besty and me!

A reward for a job well done – new shoes for besty and me!

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.

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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.
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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.

Cooking Abroad

I don’t consider myself a good cook. I do dabble in experiments in the kitchen but my repertoire is limited to : long cut adobo, paella, Italian style spaghetti and torta patata. Baking, on the other hand, is a different thing.

Back in Australia, our dinners were different from what I am used to in Manila. For one, rice was not a regular except if we have Chinese. And I am talking about food, not the nationality. Cooking, traveling or not, definitely saves a lot of money.

Below are some of the food Boo and I whipped up (except for the prune bread which I baked very early in the morning in my first week there).

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I must say that preparing and cooking your own food bring a different satisfaction. Yes, there are more plates to wash but getting first hand lessons from someone is a happy bonding time. Much better than a fine dining date.

And washing the dishes is never a chore when someone got your back. I am lucky to have Boo who is very comfortable in the kitchen and  Dotty who ate all the excess food.

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