Showing posts with label heritage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heritage. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

On Visita Iglesia and overlooked churches

It is now the Holy Week and many people are likely to go on a Visita Iglesia this Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Visita Iglesia literally translates into 'church visit' and is an annual tradition for many and entails going to seven (usually) churches where people pray; often a novena on the stations of the cross (remembering the passion of Jesus Christ).

In recent years, this has become somewhat a touristy thing and many people from Metro Manila now roam around nearby provinces targeting the old churches in these area. The result can be traffic congestion in places where there usually is less traffic due to the sudden increase in the number of private vehicles generated by churches.

Metro Manila doesn't lack for old churches and among those that will probably be included in a Visita Iglesia list would be the following:
- Malate Church
- Manila Cathedral
- San Agustin Church
- Baclaran (Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help)
- Quiapo Church (Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene)
- Sto. Domingo Church
- Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine

And there are many more including those in Marikina, Las Pinas and Malabon that are often not considered; overlooked by those who go for the "major" churches for their Visita Iglesia. Taguig actually has an old church located in the old part of the town that's probably unknown to many outside of Taguig. We usually pass by the church as its along one of the alternative routes to get from C-6 to BGC. I personally have not been in this church but based on the information you can get about it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taguig_Church), it is definitely one to consider for Visita Iglesia.

The Church of St. Anne in the old center of Taguig is actually an Archdiocesan Shrine and founded in 1587.
There are many more around Metro Manila that should be in one's list for this Holy Week but I believe that people should be more focused on prayer even at a single church rather than go around like a tourist (taking selfies or posting about the experience). Perhaps among the sacrifices to be made here are minimizing taking photos and refraining from uploading 'at the moment/ atm' posts. Many people take it for granted that Visita Iglesia is supposed to be a pilgrimage where you renew your faith, and not a tourist experience where you indulge in food and drink.
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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Japanese woodblock prints

Having lived in Japan for a good part of my life, I have developed an appreciation of their culture. Among those that I find very interesting are woodblock prints. I prefer the ones depicting landscapes and seascapes but also like the ones showing typical life in old Japan. I have purchased and sent greeting cards featuring these prints. And so, when I found about a site featuring a collection of these prints, I curiously browsed the contents. Following is a nice website with a splendid open database of prints now available in electronic form:

Japanese woodblock prints

I thought this was a nice opening to the month of October and for autumn, which is just around the corner.
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Yakan Weaving Village, Zamboanga City

The trip to Zamboanga cannot be complete without getting souvenirs. On our first day there, we tried to go to the Yakan Weaving Village after we finished our meetings that day. We, however, did not look up the place ahead and at first could not figure why we couldn't get a tricycle to go there. As it turned out, the village was a bit far from the city center and one cannot conveniently just go there. Fortunately, the following day a friend took us to a quick tour of the city and that included a stop at the village.

Weaver creating a work of art
This is an example of a very intricate, complicated patterns woven by the Yakan. These are one of a kind and are understandably the more expensive items.
There are the more common weave designs but still difficult to make. I decided on this design, which was colorful, and perfect for our dining table. It ended up unfurled and displayed at our staircase. You can actually get half of the weave but given the significantly lower price of the item (compared to if you got them at a bazaar or trade fair), I got the whole item.
Other items you can purchase at the village as souvenirs are swords (kris), chests with pearl inlays, brass decors and wood carvings. There are antiques, too, but we opted not to take a look as we had limited time to purchase items before proceeding with our quick tour of the city.
The shops at the village provide excellent selections for customers. There are table runners, pillow covers, shawls, scarves, etc. of various sizes and designs. You can haggle prices but don't go so low as these are hand-made, authentic designs by a people who are proud of their work that you cannot get elsewhere just like weaves from other parts of Mindanao, the Visayas and the Cordilleras.
Here are more designs to choose from. One of my colleagues bought place mats for their dinner table. The lady bug pillow is not included in the items for sale. :)
I had a really difficult time choosing from among the items. I thanked the shopkeeper/owner for being patient with me.
Your budget is basically your limit if you come to the village to get some souvenirs. I promised to myself to return to Zamboanga soon and that is somewhat sure because of a couple of projects we are doing in the city. The next time would likely be with a few more friends in tow as some would like to just go there and enjoy the place.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Catholic Cemetery of Cabatuan, Iloilo

Nanay Nene was finally laid to rest last Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at the Cabatuan cemetery. The cemetery is located at the outskirts of the town but along the national highway that eventually leads to the next town of Sta. Barbara as well as the access road to the airport, which is on land within the jurisdiction of Cabatuan. The cemetery is centuries old and is easily identified by its distinctive main gate and mortuary chapel. I decided to post photos I took last Monday when I visited the cemetery to see the progress of preparations at our family tomb located beside the chapel. Nay Nene was to join her parents, other siblings and close relatives who had passed away years ago and Tatay and my cousin Manong Joam already made arrangements for her interment here. Meanwhile, a close nephew, Dexter, committed to improving the tomb in addition to works he already had done for the tombs bearing his parents, my cousins.

Mortuary chapel
Mortuary chapel wall and grills
Details on the mortuary chapel
Altar and crucifix
Main gate featuring a centuries old arch leading to the mortuary chapel
There was a time when a clear view of the chapel from the main gate was blocked by the tomb of the town's most prominent son, Tomas Confesor. He was a prominent senator during the Commonwealth and after the Second World War. That tomb was eventually moved to the town plaza.
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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Status symbols of many years past

I have always been amused about the plaques prominently displayed in front of old houses in the provinces. You don't usually see these in Metro Manila (there are old houses in Manila with the same plaques) and I haven't seen it in areas near Metro Manila. The plaques to me are from bygone days when the status symbol wasn't that you had a huge house or several cars. Back in the day and maybe at present to some people at least, the pride is in how many professionals each household or family has 'produced'. The more plaques mean more members of the family (e.g., children) who have finished college, attained degrees and perhaps passed the licensure exams. Thus, you see plaques proudly displayed outside indicating someone being an engineer, lawyer, doctor, nurse, accountant and other professions.

An old home along the Dagupan-Mangaldan-San Fabian road. The year when this house was made is displayed in front at the top - 1936.

Noticeable to passers-by below the second floor window are six plaques bearing the names of people who probably were or are part of the family who owns this home. Also indicated are their professions showing that there are, for example, engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. in the family.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lau Pa Sat

Singapore is famous for its hawker markets that also cater to the food cravings of Singaporeans and visitors/foreigners. These are where you can have good meals without hurting your wallets or pockets. There's a lot to choose from and among the hits are Chinese, Malay, Indian and of course, Singaporean food. Lau Pa Sat also has Italian, American, Japanese and even Filipino food so you have all the choices you can have so you can eat different every mealtime each day.

Lau Pa Sat was being renovated during the time we last went there before we came home in 2012. Since the food market was just across our hotel this time, we made sure to have at least a couple of meals here. We had meet-ups with friends and these were during mealtimes. It is nice to exchange stories while sharing meals with friends.

Sign at the corner of Robinson Road and Boon Tat Street

The building is a marvel to look at in the nighttime when the lights of Lau Pa Sat mix with those of the modern building surrounding it. This is a photo from across Cross Street when coming from the Raffles Place MRT Station
The section of Boon Tat Street across from Lau Pa Sat is closed to traffic at night to accommodate the crowds enjoying their outdoor meals consisting mainly of grilled food. Orders are facilitated by hawkers affiliated with the various barbecue stalls that set-up only during this time of day.
Inside the building, one is treated with many stalls offering various food and drinks. Impressive as well is the building itself with its well-preserved steel frame and high ceiling. The gigantic fans help keep the building well-ventilated.
Another view of the steel frames supporting the building. The people in orange shirts are staff who clear tables and clean up after customers. These 'aunties' and 'uncles' do a great job of making sure Lau Pa Sat is clean and tidy for all eating there.
Still another view of Lau Pa Sat's interior and stalls.
The contrast between old and new is very evident from this photo of Lau Pa Sat against the tall modern buildings of Singapore
The same street is open to traffic during the day

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sta. Fe Train Station, San Diego, CA

A highlight of my 'do-it-yourself' tour of San Diego, CA was the Sta. Fe Train Depot or Railway Station. The depot was celebrating is centennial and for me represented part of America's railway heritage being part of a railway line stretching along the US' Pacific coastline. Following are photos in and about the Sta. Fe depot.

The historic Sta. Fe Train Depot building as seen from the San Diego MTS trolley station.
Front of the train deport showing a fountain and the main doors to the station building.
Entrance to the building, which contains the ticket office and waiting room for passengers and well-wishers.
One is greeted by this splendid view of the building's interior evoking a time when trains ruled in land transportation. An information booth is seen at the right while the food kiosk is at the left. The ticket windows are further at the center.
A closer (brighter) look at the interior of Sta. Fe Rail Station showing the wooden seats and antique chandeliers. The ticket office is clearly seen in the photo.
The kiosk inside the station building provides sustenance to passengers, well-wishers and passers-by. Note, too, the mosaic designs on the columns of the building.
A closer look at the station's ceiling and chandeliers shown arches emanating from the columns to support the roof. Such features are of earthquake resistant structures in this earthquake-prone region and particularly in the State of California.
Non-motorized pedicab, the San Diego trolley and the Sta. Fe Station
I took some refreshments at the kiosk in the station. The hotdog sandwich was good and the coffee was strong. I took the trolley from the station to explore San Diego along its commuter train lines. More on San Diego's trains and stations in future posts.
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Picking in Tagaytay

The Clairvoyant spotted a house along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay road that sold antiques and other curiosities. We felt like we were in an episode of 'The Pickers' when we pulled along the road in front of the house. A woman emerged from the house to meet us and welcome us, inviting us to take a look at what they have. And they have a lot of stuff as can be seen upon entry to the house.

What could have been the sala or receiving area for guests is full of various items. The place was literally overflowing with stuff collected by the owners of the house from all over.
There were lots of Japanese dolls that seem to have been collected from many sources. I found that strange considering not so many people from the Philippines and particularly the surrounding areas of the house have gone to Japan. I suspect many dolls were brought from the second hand or 'surplus' shops that sold items from Japan.
What was supposed to be a kitchen was also full of stuff like candle holders, drinking glasses, framed old postcards, figurines, etc.
More items such as antique furniture like the chairs and tables in the photo are found in the rooms of the house. We notices a lot of old windows, probably recovered from old homes that were being demolished, and framed prints and paintings.
There were furniture sets and various framed items including what looked like souvenirs from trips in other ASEAN countries like Indonesia and Thailand. The wooden furniture were interesting because these were likely made from old hardwood and made by artisans now gone. You can probably have these restored to their old glory.
In addition to frames, there were also some interesting pieces like the dividers in this photo. The prints on the screens show images of what appears as royalty from China, Thailand or one of its neighbor countries, judging from what they are wearing.
Another looks at the walls show prints or reproductions of familiar paintings or photos. We suspect that while these prints or reproductions might have a little value due to their age, the frames would probably be the ones that are of significance partly because most appear to be of old wood.
There is what appears to be a bodega at the back of the house that is also full of various items including antique furniture, and furnishings and accessories.
Converted into a small table is this wooden slab that seems to be part of a desk dating back to when the Philippines was under the United States (Commonwealth period). The carving is obviously the seal of the US government. 
This is not your typical chair but actually an antique toilet. The pot is visible  through the hole in the seat.
I thought the prices indicated in most of the stuff were low especially with the antique furniture. Some likely had historical value so it would be worthwhile for someone on the hunt for authentic and valuable antiques to come with someone who knows these stuff. 

We picked up a couple of stuff, which I will feature in another post. We had ideas about some of the furniture we saw, which we thought could probably be restored. We know some people who could do that for us (we have a furniture suki in Taguig).
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Thursday, April 2, 2015

All roads lead to Antipolo - Alay Lakad routes and traffic schemes

I'm reposting here an article I wrote in another blog that I maintain. I thought it appropriate for the season and the Holy Week.

The Rizal Provincial Government and the Antipolo City Government recently posted traffic rerouting schemes on their Facebook pages. Lalawigan ng Rizal was the first to post schemes that affect traffic in at least 3 major local government jurisdictions – Antipolo, Cainta and Taytay. The schemes affect the two major corridors that basically lead to Antipolo’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (or Antipolo Cathedral to many) – the Ortigas Avenue corridor and the Marcos Highway-Sumulong Highway corridor. There are many major and minor routes connecting to these corridors and are clearly seen in the maps.

Within Antipolo, there are also re-routing schemes, which the Antipolo City Government posted along with a “clearer” re-posting of the maps from the Rizal FB page. The Antipolo FB page includes information/maps on the rerouting within the city center. These schemes will affect traffic circulation including public transport routes. Critical would be the permanent and temporary terminals and parking areas set-up around the city that should be able to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that are also expected to be used by people who won’t be walking or cycling.

What the maps basically say is that from 4:00 PM today, Maundy Thursday, to 6:00 AM tomorrow, Good Friday, the stretch from Cainta Junction to the Shrine will be closed to traffic. This is to allow the hundreds of thousands expected to make the trek to Antipolo to have the road for themselves. What the maps don’t say is that motorcycles and tricycles would likely be allowed, too. I can understand that motorcycles could easily squeeze into the throngs of people but then allowing tricycles to operate among the walkers and bikers would be risky given their drivers’ behavior. Add to this that they would be making a killing out of charging opportunistic fares.

Technically, the rerouting schemes don’t appear to be as well thought of as can be expected from the LGUs. Baka ito lang nakayanan ng staff o ng consultants nila, and surrender na agad ang Rizal and Antipolo with regards to the coming up with more options for people to travel to the Antipolo Shrine? Not all people can walk or cycle but are willing to and could take public transport for their pilgrimage. The maps themselves are a bit crude and the Province of Rizal and City of Antipolo could have done much better maps given the resources of these LGUs. There are open source tools now available as well as your basic software like PowerPoint or Photoshop (even Word!) that can be used to render good quality images to guide people making the Alay Lakad. This is a regular event and though it happens once a year then perhaps the LGUs could have better plans especially to transport people who cannot make the walk to Antipolo. The objective after all is to convey the masses to and from the shrine safely and efficiently – something a mass transport system can do whether via Marcos/Sumulong or Ortigas corridors.

One reminder to all doing the Alay Lakad: keep your garbage to yourselves if you cannot find a proper waste bin. Do not dispose of your waste along the route and make a dumpsite out of Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway or whatever roads you are taking! Kasalanan din po ang irresponsableng pagtatapon ng basura. While you might be forgiven for these “sins” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which many will likely take at the Cathedral), nature will have a way of getting back at you for your environmental travesty.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Preserving views - some thoughts on history and heritage

Much has been written about the Rizal Monument in Manila and the view of the monument being ruined by the construction of a high-rise condominium behind Rizal Park. While it is a very sensitive issue to many people especially those who are concerned with heritage conservation, some people tend to take the issue for granted; likely due to an ignorance or the utter lack of appreciation for history and heritage. So when I had the chance to take some photos of the monument I did so even though it was just a quick pass along Roxas Boulevard on board a vehicle.

A photo of the Rizal monument as we traveled along the northbound side of Roxas Boulevard
Another photo of the monument moments after the previous one and showing DMCI's Torre de Manila in the background
While the approval of the high rise condominium speaks volumes about how bad land use or zoning controls are not just in Manila but in many parts of the Philippines, it also says a lot about contractors, architects and planners in this country. Perhaps this is indicative of the times with people generally not giving a damn about history and heritage? Are people in general and professionals like architects and engineers in particular needing more education about history and heritage conservation?

I also chanced upon another view that was ruined by the same condominium. The same condo can clearly be seen in the background of what is an iconic view of Manila City Hall's clock tower. I don't have a photo of it yet but I will likely get one the next time I pass by the area. This is basically the same if not a worse case compared to the high rise condo behind Quezon City Hall, which for a long time remained unfinished due to many issues that hounded the developers. Have we learned our lessons from these experiences or shall the same mistakes be made once again elsewhere?
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

Our recent trip to Puerto Princesa also allowed us to go to the Underground River again. This was  my third time at this natural wonder that's been recognised as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature. Regardless of the "formal" recognition, it is definitely a wonder of nature and one that is really worth the time and effort to see or experience. Only a short part of the subterranean river is available for the regular tours. Our guide explained that you will need another permit to explore more parts of the river, and an even stricter permit, equipment and guides with higher qualifications to get to the least visited parts of the river. The latter areas are of interest to scientists including geologists and even archeologists and palaeontologists as fossils and cave paintings are supposed to have been found deeper into the mountains. Now that will be something for the more adventurous to try out! While I am curious about the other secrets of the underground river, I am quite satisfied with the experience of the regular tour.

Sign at the jump-off point - Sabang Wharf
Outriggers and their boatmen waiting for their turn to ferry visitors to the Underground River site 
Rock formation as we turn towards the the beaches of the national park where visitors will have to leave their boats to walk towards the river and to board a smaller boat (banca) to tour the river.
Once passengers are off-loaded, boats are maneuvered towards a mooring area. This is to keep the beaches clear for other boats to off-load their passengers.
Boats and their crew waiting for their passengers to return for the trip back to Sabang when we arrived at the national park.
Visitors arrive at the beaches with a backdrop of the impressive rock formations at the national park. 
Pristine waters and excellent weather made for a pleasant tour.
Another sign, this time recognising the national park as a conservation area under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Building housing comfort rooms at the park.
The staging area for tours of the river is a short trek from the beaches.
Visitors don safety vests and helmets for the tour. The helmets are pretty useful agains water and other droppings from above as you tour the caves.
A boatful of people enters the underground river as our boat follows.
Writings on the rocks by American troops who re-discovered the underground river and first explored it. I say "re-discovered" because Palawenos already knew about the river and regarded it as a mystical site. There are the only kinds of "graffiti" or vandalisms you will see aside from markers for explorers and scientists inside the caves. Fortunately, tourists have not left their own marks in the subterranean river.
The view of the staging area as we emerge from the underground river.
The river actually empties into the sea but that part of the park is basically off-limits to most visitors - part of the conservation efforts for the area.
We found that the number vessels (and visitors) have ballooned as we made our way back to our boat.
Another look at the boats that have accumulated since we arrived in the area shows just how many visitors come to see the underground river. There is supposed to be a limit in the number of visitors here (one reason why you need to get a permit in advance) but it seems like the local tourism office has allowed more than the limit and that this is happening on a regular basis. I just hope they are able to protect and maintain the national park.
As we set off to return to Sabang, I got a good shot of the rock formation that I have associated with a chess piece - the rook or tower.

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