Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bee Day

* got to have nets for out protection

Just unearthed this photo from my files. A shot while I was being ‘attacked’ by stingless bees Trigona Biroi. Taken up the Forestry area at U.P. Los Baños.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Too Much Travel

…necessitates some sleep.

* Taken, without my knowledge, at Batangas City Park.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Escaping the Heat: Santiago II, San Pablo City

* a view of the river in Santiago II, San Pablo City

* a cropped photo (some of them have no underwear) of the kids bathing and playing in the river

* Trailer Pransis – half-sick (got an eye problem that time), half-hungry

We are at the closing end of the heat days of May yet I myself cannot deny that the heat is still at its peak. And so instead of doing the ‘usual’, my mother thought it better to put us to a semi-secluded place and escape a day of heat and sweat.

I don’t even know if the river we went to has a name. Found literally at border of our city, it snakes its way at the foot a mountain that separates our city from Lipa City, Batangas. I cannot say that it was as pristine as the waters we found a few years back in Pagsanjan, Laguna, where we actually got our drinking water. But for a number of reasons maybe, for economic ones or sheer practicality, the river, when got there, was a scene of laundry, bathing in the river, and utensil washing.

Local kids found it a convenient place to play on to, and indeed, they covered a portion of the river with their almost reckless plays. Afternoon was especially delightful as the shades and shadows of the trees covered the river. I was eventually persuaded to dip myself into the river, and spent the hours until before dusk talking to my mother and sister. My sister collected stones which is another add-up to my collection.

In a period when things get commercialized – education, amusement, recreation, and leisure, among other – such a river visit is one good reminder that we all are connected to nature, no matter how hard we try to distance ourselves from it. We have seen nature bring down its wrath, but just like in human nature, it is characterized at the same time by serenity, one that I experienced when I immersed myself into those river waters.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bahay Asinas, San Pablo City, Laguna

Tucked in a place with lush greeneries, fresh air, and relatively quiet neighborhood, Bahay Asinas is one house to behold. It would be quite surprising indeed for the first timer to see an ‘antique’ house in a small village in San Pablo, knowing that the city was consumed by fire in the early 20th century.

* a view of the house from the outside

* detail of the stairs, appropriately made concrete

* drawer with Kuya Mike’s relatives’ (I suppose) photos

* view of the dining area

But of course, the house is not native there, for owner Michael ‘Mike’ Asinas, obviously an antique enthusiast himself (I think ‘antiquarian’ is the word), has acquired the house from Lumban, Laguna.

* a religious item inside

* the display cabinet inside the house containing many different glasswares;
see antique bottles at the top

* close-up of a religious altar of some sort

He has set the interior as if to mimic a setting of one’s house in the past. His wedding photographs are enlarged and set to either black and white or sepia, with his ancestors’ photos displayed in some of the corners, and his furniture all set to add to the serene atmosphere of the place.
* some displays inside the house

* chandelier and some panes

* an old iron

Although it is a treat to visit the place and have a look on objects inside and around it, not all of them are for our eyes only, for Kuya Mike actually sells some of them. With regards to the pricing, conditions, among other, on should contact him instead.

* a balakatak, one used to scare things away; animals at the rice fields perhaps

* replica of a chair usually used by the cabeza de barangay

* the gang – some members of my university organization after an afternoon of get-together and big eat

Visitors are open, but by appointment only. Bahay Asinas can be found at Brgy. San Lucas 2, San Pablo City. From the city plaza, one can just hail a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to San Lucas 2 Putol. You can contact Kuya Mike at 0917-8819466 or 0923-808182. Or for the objects up for sale, you check out

[Acknowledgements: to Mr. Marlon Jaurigue and Ms. Lyka Magno from whom I obtained copies of the photos posted in here.]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inside the Walls: Intramuros, Manila

Perhaps, to say that Intramuros is the focal point of Manila during the Spanish times would be an understatement. Indeed so much have happened from within its imposing walls, more or less depicted today as it would have been prior to the damages brought about by the Second World War. It has one of the fortresses of world fame, several school campuses with its students being heroes of the revolution, and even our national hero.This particular Back Trail is not exhaustive, perhaps informative at best. For in looking back, this trip has just been a side-trip, having no other particular thing to do after a science conference. Let me leave out for the present the general details of Intramuros and bring on the ones about this trip of ours.

* the gate of Sta. Lucia

* a view of a portion of Intramuros showing the gate of Sta. Lucia

* I was wondering what the inscription was, for it seemed to me that it was quite unreadable, or is that the photo does not have good resolution?; I could only fill some of the letters: C-A-L-L-E-D?-S-O-R?-E?/R?-another letter-O?; I don’t know, maybe I’m just not exerting effort to figure this out, help chance reader!

Although we have been to Intramuros on numerous field trips during the elementary days, I do not remember anything at all from it (except perhaps the cell in which Rizal was imprisoned there). We enter the gate of Sta. Lucia which faces Manila Bay, found between, as the marker says, on the corner of the streets Real and Sta. Lucia. It was constructed in 1781 by an engineer by the name of Thomas Sanz, during the tenure of Governor Generals Basco and Vargas. It was destroyed during the Second World War and later restored.

* I remember my thoughts very clearly while I was walking by this particular door: that it was a good door with magnificent design, never knowing that it was actually part of San Agustin Church

* a shop of some sort just across the church of San Agustin

* Trailer Pransis looking up the façade of the church

First stop: the church of San Agustin. Marker says it is the oldest stone in the Philippines. Maybe indeed, for it was completed in the long-past year of 1607 and has been successively under the supervision of the Augustinians. What must have been open knowledge about this church was that it was spared from destruction during the wars of the early twentieth century. The remains of the well-known conquistadores such as Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and Juan de Salcedo (who explored parts of Laguna which facilitated their Christianization) lie inside the church.

* a detail on its front doors, took a particular liking to this one as it recalls to me the fictitious magician Merlin, (fusion of religious and not-so-religious concepts in a Catholic church?; let us see…quite interesting)

* one of the virgins inside

* the tombs inside the church itself

* a view of the interior of the church

* the patio in front of the church

* Plazuela de Sta. Isabel, Memorare Manila 1945; perhaps a remembrance of a plaza that once existed there?

A certain tale of pride is in order here, from the pages written by Teodoro Agoncillo. The baroque altar of the church was sculpted by a kababayan, a San Pableño, by the name of Juan de los Santos.

* a calesa which is commonly found roaming the streets of Manila, available for locals and tourists alike, but the fare is somewhat costly I believe

* the interior of the Manila Cathedral

* details on the door of the Manila Cathedral

* a view of Manila Cathedral from the outside; it can be observed that there was a capping ceremony of some sort for nurses when we took our visit

Next stop: Manila Cathedral. This one has not been quite lucky like San Agustin Church, despite the seeming proximity between the two. It was completely destroyed at close of the Second World War and has just been restored to its former structure. It might be recalled that one of the conditions Aguinaldo gave in exchange for some arrangements with the Spaniards concerning the Truce of Biyak-na-Bato was the singing of the Te Deum at the Manila Cathedral. The recently well known detail about this cathedral is perhaps the wake of Former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino there, something that is afforded only to the bishops of Manila.

Indeed, there are so many things to dig in within the walls of this place. It is a personal hope that a near-future revisit, and an all-out tour would be granted, if time and resources would permit it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Land on the South: The Houses in Lucena City, Quezon 2

* the house-cum-shop’s color may have a been a bit lost due to the intense afternoon sun; it’s actually green or avocado green (if that color exists)

* relatively a good-looking one, except that it’s starting to demand repair, as can be seen with that long slab of wood dangling from near the roof

* a not-so-old-one, found on a corner of Lucena’s busiest downtown streets

* hope that you get the outline of the house, despite the huge tarpaulins in front of it

* a building called Antigua; I was not able to determine if it’s a cinema or a huge restaurant or what as we were running to catch the that elusive Supreme Bus

The general idea that comes to one’s mind as one get to see the half-home, half-store/shop set-up of the houses in downtown Lucena is one of practicality. Indeed with such a busy town proper, with all those people – local and tourists alike – going to and fro through it all day, one cannot help but see its big potential for business-making. Huge hotels dot some of its streets actually. I have read somewhere that it is now an essentially independent city apart from Quezon. Although, again, I cannot fully attest to this, the economic set-up of the place, the land area, and population, is enough to qualify it as one metropolitan city.

* one big elegant house

* while on the run to find the jeep that would take us to the Supreme Bus Terminal, I could not help but look up to this house, partially concealed by the establishments in front of it

* a simple and beautiful abode

* there’s something attractive about this one, maybe the designs?

* not so decrepit at second look

* an imposing one, a school of some sort

But then, as can be usually found with places that head towards development and progress, pollution (I can’t say that I have breathed in pristine air there except perhaps during the night) and trash would be the place’s great challenge for today. In due time of course, along with all the places in the Philippines, I hope to witness reform and discipline (re?)established among us with regards to these problems.

Land on the South: Lucena City, Quezon 1

The sheer size of this city and its distance from the capital city of Manila are sufficient enough to treasure one’s visit to this place found in Quezon. Not that I am one of those who has to travel from the country’s capital just to see the city; I am just from the neighboring province of Laguna. Perhaps it’s the travel, no matter where you have come from. For the time consumed on road alone could be a big and satisfying trade-off for the view of the place, for the sceneries of the place.

* the bridge, under which a river flows – whose name I was not able to identify – connecting the city proper (that is, the market place and the modern establishments) with the part of the city where SM Lucena can be found

* a marker for the completion of a street in Lucena during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos

* a street mural spanning the street where the church is found

Without resorting to the ever helpful internet, I believe the name Oroquieta (I hope I got the spelling more or less right) has some intimate association with the place, as it was chosen as the name of the organization of UPLB students from Lucena. Indeed, as I go and proceed with this Back Trails enterprise, I see again and again the insufficiency of just being a mere traveler, a mere tourist to a place. To admit, I have been to this place for quite a number of times already yet I only found the occasion for a more meaningful ‘look’ at the city, its places, and people the last time I visited it. Perhaps my sentiments can be best expounded as an appendix to this two-part entry.

Size-wise, the city is big; a day is not enough to roam its streets. Even in earlier years, the city is already a tourist hub. I can still remember frequenting a place called Ocean’s Palace, which was their prized ‘mall’ at the time. Unfortunately the place was forced to be closed when an SM branch was erected at the city. If my memory still serves me right, onwards to a place called Cota, one can find a river and some wooden boats anchored, the styles of which are more or less native to the place. Definitely, a revisit to these places should be done. On the other side, towards the place called Iyam, a number of lodgings can be found where visitors can take their rest.

* the church of San Fernando

* inside the chapel of the saints, or is it the chapel of the virgins?

* a view of the interior of the church

* a tomb found outside the church

* the church tower

As to their church, I believe it’s one of the most important havens for examiners, especially teachers. I cannot fully attest to this, for I only have this general idea that the licensure examination for teachers for the regions and provinces around Lucena is done there yearly. I remember attending a mass there; most of the attendants were probably aspiring licensed teachers. The place was packed, and I do remember hearing the blessings of the priest for them. Shameful to admit but I was at the time amusing myself by memorizing the inscriptions on an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in a chapel adjacent to it.

The parish of San Fernando was established on March 1, 1881. A certain Father Mariano Granja was its first parish priest. The first church was built on May of the next year and was completed on July, 1884. It caught fire on May 24, 1887 and later renovated by November. It was only in 1950 that the Diocese of Lucena was established.

The church must have been an important place, especially for the upper class, as I still found some tombs, curiously outside the walls, as opposed to the ones I found in Pila.

* one heck of a mansion found as one approach the provincial capitol

* another big house, only this time it is a restaurant of some sort

House Preview

I can, I believe, make an admittedly weak argument connecting the houses and the church of a certain place. This has been my observation, anyway, from the Back Trails I have treaded so far.

Imagine a place in the Philippines, a pueblo perhaps, during the 19th century. And imagine in addition that it is a relatively wealthy and vibrant place, with enough industries (which meant enough sources of living for the people) and relatively vast plantations or lands (take for example Batangas, Negros, or Tarlac and neighboring provinces). Of course, the picture would not be complete without the usual media clase, the middle class that put on the spice, the color, the intrigue, of this time. And with their stature comes the usual regard for them, even in death.

So off to church go their body, where during those times the church itself is a power, an influence to behold. So the wealthy of the time find some nice little place inside (or outside) the church in which to lay to rest. To cut this monologue short, we would usually find crypts where there was (or is) a significant presence of the aristocrats, or wealthy, or whatever they may be called. On a final note, it goes to show that during the Spanish times, or even shortly after their period, wealth, social status, and the church (with all its complexities and influences) are interconnected.

* a haggard Trailer Pransis lounging outside the church grounds of the church of Lucena

This one last photo serves to pacify my annoyance over being doubted (it seemed to me) about my travels to the places I post here. I believe, this pattern of posting a picture of me at the end of each entry (although I do not wan to do so when I started this thing) would be a regular appearance here in Back Trails.