Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oriental Mindoro Tours: Naujan, Oriental Mindoro

Our trip to Naujan was one great escape. During those times we were not really allowed to wander outside the borders of Calapan. To find oneself far from your house in the night in the island poses one big problem – not many public transport is available. And thus the trek to Naujan had this element of real adventure and risk which I actually enjoyed reminiscing up to now.

* a view of a river towards Naujan; I wonder if this is connected with our main task that day: to find Lake Naujan

* burning stuff after what looked like a harvest session

* beautiful skies, beautiful fields in the afternoon

* a local party(?) in which, it seemed, almost all the villagers were present

* the mighty beast of burden

I do not exactly remember how one could get there. I recall that we boarded a jeep and we were the last ones to drop off close to the town center, that’s all. It was not that far for if we would check on its history (which I would omit here for I have just read about it on the internet; you could check that out yourself, chance reader), there has been a time when Naujan has been actually a part of Calapan. There has been a dispute over the jurisdiction of some agricultural lands and Naujan won most of it. Thus the presence of the vast rice fields we saw on the way to the place.

* Naujan plaza with a monument for the Katipunan

* a big, old tree beside the town church

The town itself looks like a classic town of Spanish times - a school on one side, then the church on the other, and the plaza at the center. But certainly, the big houses that still stand there make testament to the culture and life that once existed there. I was really overwhelmed by those houses, as if they have just been weathered, and could have stand in more grandeur if not for that inevitable deterioration.

But the elementary school there certainly is not contemporary, for it is in the style that must have been made after Second World War II through the help of the Americans. And the Naujan Academy has in its seal the year 1945, which says the age of their existence in the town.

* a curious tower that we were not able to reach

* a huge, old house

* this house closely resembles the house that my grandfather used to have

It would have been more fulfilling if I was more conscious of the place, taking notes of the important details and info. But we were of course more focused into picture taking and food tripping. One first-time eat is Sampaine (or Sampine as the Batangeños call it), which we found on a local carinderia. The dish was certainly hot; being goat meat, but not all was meat! Almost half of it was just fat. And as a self-proclaimed health conscious at that time, I contented myself with scraping its sauce or juice.

*this houses is a beauty

* nice one

* this house certainly have been majestic when it was first built

Now here’s the adventure part I have alluded to earlier. We decided to go back to our place a little late. We went to the market to look for any vehicle that could take us to Kurba (or Curve), a place which was connected to the main highway, which leads to main Calapan City. But apparently, not so many people there go outside around sunset. So we found ourselves anxiously waiting in the outskirts of the town for any vehicle, private or public, that could just bring us to Kurba.

* a great eat! sampaine, a goat dish

* the Naujan public market

There was a woman (yes, I think it was a woman as far as I can remember) on the way to her home. But her place would not reach or pass by Kurba and so the driver of tricycle refused to bring us there. Only much later that one tricycle driver finally agreed to take us there.

With another session of long waiting, a service van from Roxas, Oriental Mindoro ound for the Calapan accommodated us and brought us back to Calapan. What a day indeed!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oriental Mindoro Tours: Calapan City

* a river in Calapan; leads out to the sea perhaps

* another shot of the river, yet another victim of pollution

One thing that I have always observed in coming to Calapan is the simplicity of things. But this should not be associated with, nor be used to replace the notion of, backwardness. Their life is interesting in their own respect. Anyway, the first things that should greet you upon arriving by RO-RO ship or the ever-speedy SuperCat are the noises in the busy pier and the sea air – rich in salt aroma and fish smell. A short ride on a tricycle would bring you the main place, Calapan.

Despite having missed back then the opportunity to dig in the city’s past (it was too late when I decided to head for their library), I nevertheless enjoyed the scattered old houses that give you at least a glimpse of what the place looked like before.

The biggest find I had was the former Mindoro High School, now Jose J. Leido Jr. Memorial National High School (LEMNAHIS). This is where, as accounts say, NVM Gonzalez took up his formative studies when he was young. Parts of the school probably destroyed by the Second World War, there is a plate in their main building stating America’s aid to the restoration of the school through the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946. Their library looks the same as all the other school buildings that were built through the help of the foreigners (read the Americans) after WWII. When we made our visit, there were rooms that were unusable because of the onslaught of the typhoon Milenyo (2006) at that time.

* open grounds of LEMNAHIS

* JJ library

* inside Calapan church (forgot the name); I wonder if those are bamboo pipe organ?

* the church facade

* an entrance to an abandoned building; too bad there were no markings that may at least identify the structure

* house

* old balcony

* as always… informal settlers

* downtown Calapan

* beats the Rizal Shrine’s exterior color

Night winds are particularly severe especially during the Christmas season, but one would definitely enjoy the nights which have always been packed with many adventures – finding a beautiful stray pet dog, meeting new people in the middle of the street at night, takutan moments, among other.

I can still remember one time when I had to spend the night with a team of barangay tanod [patrols] and share with them the night full of stories, gossips, pandesal [literally, bread of salt]. Those were pure camaraderie born in the night. I could very well say right now that,good things are not always confined to the metropolis. For although Calapan is already a city, it is still characterized by the provincial beauty that you cannot, in any way, understand unless you get to experience it. Do you think that there is such a thing as falling in love with a city?

* a visit to the seashore; I just do not remember the name of the place

* my old cellphone; almost got lost on the way to this place; good things the tricycle driver returned it to us

* makeshift stair/walk to the seashore; partly destroyed by typhoon Milenyo

* lobby of a hotel, don’t recall the name, sorry

* big eat at Hungry Kings Restaurant in Calapan

Note: There have been many instances when a visit to Calapan was made; thus the photographs shown in this entry do not, in any way, been arranged chronologically, instead they have been random choices from the files I have in hand. Nevertheless, it is a hope that it would be a help, and a pleasure as well, to those who would chance upon this entry.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oriental Mindoro Tours: Contest Winner!

* Trailer Pransis receiving the cash prize; I really look thin here – of course, those were the smoke times; Photo: from the Insights Café website

* a view of a part of Insights Café as viewed from the second floor of the place

I hope it would not look bad if I start things off with a petty show-off.

Anyway, there was this essay writing contest before, an obvious promotional activity of Insights Café in Calapan. The theme was about a Calapeño role model. Since I am no hardcore Calapan resident, I naturally chose a transient Calapeño, none other than maestro NVM Gonzalez.

In my essay (which, some of my friends said in jest, was probably one of the few entries entered in the contest; that I won meant to them that only a few participated) I emphasized on the importance of NVM’s stay in Calapan, believing that it was constructive in the formation of his style of depicting simple (Filipino) life settings in his works. Whether my hypothesis worked or not, I was given some cash (which paid, in part, my school fees!) and a few free food and drinks at their café.

There were three winners and you can read the essays at the Insights Cafe Web Site:

Oriental Mindoro Tours: An Introduction

* sand message done on a seashore somewhere in Calapan City

The island is a treasure land, with so many things to learn and discover – the names of the places, old stories and tales alike, the beautiful sceneries, among many others.
  History tells us of the various results of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, among them the continued industry of ship building. Some of the names in Mindoro which have managed to remain through the years are directly related to this. There is Calapan which, if pronounced without the present city in mind, would definitely give us a general idea of ‘collection’, in particular the preparation of the logs to be used for constructions of the ships. Naujan, on the other hand, was where the naos or galleons were actually built. The name Puerto Galera is a giveaway already: this is the place where the newly-built ships were kept or moored.
We also have an account that a certain business trip was made by Emilio Aguinaldo in Mindoro (to where, accounts do not tell us), after which he was elected capitan municipal of Kawit (or Cavite el Viejo, as it was call then) in 1894.
Allow me to reminisce my stays and tours in Mindoro Oriental.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

U.P. Los Baños: Places and Places II

[The second installment to my UPLB series here.]

* early morning at Freedom Park; photo: a shot by a classmate
from Baker Hall during our P.I. (Philippine Institutions) 100 class day trip

* sunset at Freedom Park

UPLB Freedom Park 
I have mentioned Freedom Park in passing in an earlier entry. But the place is not just a wide expanse of grass area chosen to be the venue for sport and exhibition events.

It must be recalled that what is now UPLB used to be a vast farmland at the foot of Mount Maquiling. I have read somewhere about the formation of the UP College of Agriculture but I do not exactly remember the context in choosing the farmland. The point to be remembered here is that it was all with the support of the Americans. The first few staff were foreigners, as well as the first dean of the college.
Second World War came and Baker Hall became a prison camp of the captured American and Filipino soldiers. Parts of Freedom Park were used to install some of the barracks of those prisoners.
As of this writing, I have just realized that the arc beyond the Animal Husbandry arc was the place where most of the barracks and some important installations of the Japanese were located. This is the direction towards DTRI. (Got to explore these places before activities and commitments bury me this year.)
* Mulawin Creek

Mulawin Creek
Yes, I think Mulawin Creek extends to this place. The picture here was taken from the bridge they call the Never-Ending Bridge. I once heard a short horror-comedy tale about a certain woman-ghost who appears in the place at night time and a certain driver (which I tirelessly recounted in my numerous sleepovers in many apartments and boarding houses in Los Baños).
* shot of the bridge, although not quite discernible; just behind the second car
is the building of the Chemical Engineering Department of the College
of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology (CEAT)
  By The Seniors’ Social Garden

The place is particularly interesting. Besides being an annual venue for certain flower festivals (or fairs?), somewhere near the place was a bamboo bridge that led to the back of Baker Hall. The existence of this particular bridge was noted during the Second World War and it was probably used by the Japanese and/or the Americans and Filipinos during those times.

* silhouette of the College of Human Ecology Entrance (CHE);
I was more interested in the moon when this was taken


Department or College? I do not know. But what is certain is that it has been standing since the formative years of the UPCA. I saw a photograph of what looked like an American family with this building in the background. The present building of the College of Human Ecology has an unusual design in front, an image of a grasshopper and it has been known that it used to house Entomology (College or Department? Let’s see.)

* Trailer Pransis, posing as in pseudo-meditation inside the Thai Temple

Thai Temple

The Thai Temple is found near the D.L. Umali Hall and a frequent venue for org orientations and semi-finals, meetings, among others. I do not know if one has to go and inform the CBS-UPLB or the infamous tsaleko boys and/or the UPF if people shall be using it.
* the resurrecting Math Building

Math Building 
This old building, which fortunately has been undergoing gradual refurnishing and renovations, has always been a topic of a joke of an org-mate: a single matchstick could burn the place.
Yes, it used to be rickety but I believe that it could still withstand weather changes and mutilations. The place used to be the UP Rural High School until it was transferred to Barangay Paciano Rizal, Bay, Laguna.
* the road that connects Math Building to the Physical Science Building

Dirt Road

Thinking about it now, I am not so sure if what is called ‘dirt road’ extends up to the rugged path in front of the Nutrition Department, just behind the Chemistry Wing. I used to look at the place as a mere short cut, but it seems now that it is already major thoroughfare for both vehicles and students.
* the Student Union Building in the afternoon
 Student Union Building Canteen
  Food there used to be very expensive during my high school days and the place then was somewhat desolate. We used to go there as it was the venue of the UPLB DeMolay Club’s poster making contest. Now it has many stalls catering to many different foods. And a 7-11 Store is about to open here in the coming months.

* Pili Drive; Mount Maquiling can be seen in the background

Pili Drive
Pili Drive stretches from UPLB to IRRI. It was the scene of an isolated car accident before and home to many stories of horror and ghosts.

I remember walking through it one night after our OJT Night in IRRI. It was creepy of course for the shadows and the leaves moved with the night wind which certainly played to my imagination. But I braved all of it, for I was with two lady co-trainees in the Institute. I can still recall that I was scaring them until one of them finally got pissed off with me. I did not know that she has a mortal fear of the dark! We three had an awkward farewell but it was nevertheless a nice experience, walking in the dark. For reasons I cannot explain, I really like walking in the night with the night lights from the skies as the only illuminations. (See my other blog for some of my musings about it.)
* a mask for sale at Galleria Etnika
  Galleria Etnika 
Once found near Agapita Plaza, Galleria Etnika is now near BPI Family Savings Bank in Lopez Avenue. There are many things to be seen and bought here, ranging from costumes to ethnic music. I always remember the shop for its witty shirts they put in their display window.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gateway to Quezon: Tiaong, Quezon

* Bantayan [fortress?] – entry point to the towns of San Antonio, Padre Garcia (Batangas) and beyond
* an abandoned house; I wish I could own this thing, for free or through purchase

* one of the gates of Tiaong Elementary School* the famous balete tree on the equally famous curve (kurba) in the poblacion

For me the town of Tiaong is best remembered for having Claro M. Recto as its son. He was born on February 8, 1890. He headed the 1934 Philippine Constitutional Convention and was the one who wrote the bill which made Rizal’s two novels a compulsory reading in all colleges and universities in the country. But of course, these are all from the books and I was unfortunate not to be able to hunt down any thing related to Recto there. I was wondering if he ever attended the elementary school there in the poblacion.

* a house on the street leading to the town church* inside the St. John the Baptist church
* the church outside; if I am not mistaken, the style has resembles
the one found in Villa Escudero

* the spot where Congressman Jun Punzalan was killed

* a small monument in memory of Brid.Gen. Vicente Umali,
one of the founders of the President Quezon’s Own Guerilla
or PQOG during the Second World War

And I think Tiaong gives of a preview of the vast ‘historical look back’ that one would encounter in Quezon. Beyond it lies Candelaria and Sariaya which still have those huge houses from (I suppose) the pre-World War II times.
I have mentioned in an earlier entry about a conference I attended in which a paper presentation dealt with names and words whose meanings have changed over time. There was a mention of Tiaong and it has a somewhat nasty (I hope this word is not an exaggeration) connotation. I do not wish to do an ad lib here (I missed putting it in my notes) thus I skip putting here the general idea of the meaning. Anyway, I wish someone out there, a chance reader perhaps, could share his or her knowledge about the name and its possible origin/s.