Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saint Joseph Shrine, Quezon City

* a place for the devout

* chapel of the saints

* the stairs going up the church

It is pretty rare that I go to a place of worship (regardless of religion) to reflect. Most often, I do a visit to marvel at the architecture and the religious artifacts inside the churches. But somehow our accidental visit to Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Joseph (St. Joseph Shrine) Quezon City broke that habit.

We were actually on our way to 70’s Bistro to attend the book launch of a poetry anthology when we stumbled upon this church. A loudspeaker was blaring prayers on the street and it was only but natural to look for a church. I knew it was a church. We entered an entrance and came upon what I believed was the chapel of the saints. Adjacent to it was another chapel but I was sure that the prayers were not coming from of the place.
Temporarily defeated, I decided to proceed to 70’s Bistro but looked up to find stairs leading to another part of the place. It was there that we found the church.

* view of the aisle from the stairs

* the windows

* general view of the church

* a painting on the entrance of the church depicting a religious tradition of the Filipinos

There was already that attraction to the place for despite its location (along a very very busy thoroughfare), you can still reflect, as the noises from the outside are literally cut off by the serene atmosphere and the stained glass windows. It was established on November 23, 1951. The Feast Day of St. Joseph is on March 19.

The schedule of masses are: Monday-Saturday: 5:30 am, 6:15 am, 7:00 am, 7:45 am, 12:00 nn, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm | Sundays: 5:00 am, 6:00 am, 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:30 nn, 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:00 pm 6:30 pm, 8:00 pm.

[How to go to Saint Joseph Shrine: If you come from EDSA-Cubao, on the area of the Araneta Coliseum, you can take the LRT and drop off at Anonas Station. The church is just a few steps away from it.]

Of LRTs and MRTs


* the place where LRT and MRT ‘meets’: the EDSA Station

* MRT tracks and platform

* Trailer Pransis imagining himself standing on platform 9 3/4 and waiting for the Hogwarts Express

For reasons that I cannot fully explain, there is this exhilaration I feel whenever I find myself pulled by speed. LRTs and MRTs have it, especially if you are just trying to balance yourself while standing and not holding on to any support bars. Perhaps losing yourself in speed somehow dissolves low feelings within. But on the up side, I don’t know, there seems to glow inside me when waiting for the transits, much like anticipating mails.

Forgive me for some random thoughts. I find it therapeutic.

Circuiting Manila 7: A Walk Through Manila

I shall end this Manila series with a view of some of the places we’ve literally walked through during our several Manila trips. Again, this is by no means exhaustive, given the present constraints (money, time, the usual things). There is still that plan to walk through Roxas Boulevard, to visit the schools along Taft Avenue, the National Museum, the Manila City Hall, Paco area, Sta. Ana area, Tondo, there are loads of them. Travel (on my definition) seems to me more and more of an activity that is truly non-exhaustive. It is somehow defined on the way you pick up those things that you find relevant, which for my case would mostly concern history. And again I would confess that I am still on the learning period.

* a calesa, one of the many that ply the streets of Manila; they can be hired for at least a hundred pesos I think

* a marker for the Seafarer’s Center

* the Seafarer’s Photo Studio which we had to visit for the required 1 x 1 photo before entering the National Library of the Philippines

* Trailer Pransis, a future seafarer?, let’s see

From a short note on the Seafarer’s Center marker: The center w
as made as part of the “Buhayin Ang Maynila” Program by the local government of Manila to mainly serve the needs of the Filipino seafarers. The center is equipped with many amenities for the seafarers waiting for their sea trips. The marker was installed on December 22, 2009.

* a building of the Court of Appeals; the guards there were generous enough to allow me to enter, at least for a few steps, within the premises; too bad this shot was not so good

* a snapshot of the Court of Appeals Centennial Building

* the famed Solidaridad Book Shop

* an old house not too far from Robinson’s Ermita

* one old mansion or building on T.M. Kalaw Street, close to Roxas Boulevard; notice the nets covering it: a building adjacent too is currently being built

* one big statue of a charging warrior on a park in front of the Malate Church; I had initially though this to be Lapu-Lapu but it turned out that this is Rajah Sulayman, once leader of the pre-Hispanic Manila

Random Sights

It is good to lose yourself sometimes literally and just enjoy the places that you see. Photos below were taken while lost in a labyrinth of streets in Manila searching for an exit to the nearest LRT station.

* San Andres Sports Complex

* part of the San Andres market

* Paz Building!, found near the Quirino Ave. LRT Station

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Circuiting Manila 6: Manila Bay, Continued

* the end part of the US Embassy in Roxas Boulevard; at least I was able to do that, for during earlier trips the guards at the main gate would not allow us to take pictures of the front

* a portion of Bay Walk with the area of CCP in the background

* Trailer Pransis contemplating (hope you, chance reader, would not notice my already-bulging stomach)

* a fine view: the boulevard with the palm trees

* found along the way, a statue of Jose P. Laurel, looking furious over something

Just thinking Manila Bay right now, I am thinking of walking the length of Roxas Boulevard, from the are of the Cultural Center of the Philippines up to North Harbor, just to take in all of the many different objects of interest, historical or not. These retail entries on Manila Bay are becoming unhealthy; the thoughts get fragmented to some extent. But the retail trips to Manila are always good, of course!

[How to go Roxas Boulevard: I would admit that I know nothing of any public transport that traverses the boulevard but you can hail a taxi from Taft Avenue to get you there, which I have done a number of times already. Hope you won’t get stuck in traffic.]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Circuiting Manila 5: National Library of the Philippines

* the entrance to the NLP building

* Trailer Pransis waiting in line to register himself on the list of library patrons

* a view of the Filipiniana section reading area

* Trailer Pransis happily reading For the Love of Freedom, an account of World War II experience by a fellow San Pableño, Juan B. Hernandez

* The guerilla leaders in San Pablo during World War II; (center) Juan “Cayacas” Eseo and his wife, (clockwise, from upper left) Pedro Peres, Gertrudo San Pedro, Romeo Maghirang and Arsenio Escudero

At some points in time, I begun to look back on the reasons why I chose to imposed on myself a work that is not entirely profitable (in the sense that no sure money can get to me) and time-consuming (there is simply no other term to describe it but that). Perhaps those things only happen when I get stuck into some setbacks but I nevertheless go on. This ‘work’, as I have finally decided upon after several considerations, shall be shared here at Back Trails in due time. Whether any living mortal would take time to read upon them (or even this entry!) or not, it does not matter much. Writing about things about the past, however shallow or trivial at times, is a pleasure in itself. Especially from this work I am doing now. Anyway, this introduction is now rather long so I’ll stop at that.

The point of the brief narration above is that the visit to the National Library of he Philippines (NLP) was connected with that work. I badly needed some materials that are found there. I hope not to isolate our city library, but the materials there are rather lacking, especially those that concern our city. Most of the history books there concern Ferdinand Marcos. Thus to NLP we traveled, filled with anticipation of the books to be devoured.But not before paying some fees and running to and fro the OPAC and the staff to bring details of the book we wanted. To a large extent, I was culture-shocked for the process of borrowing books was rather tedious that I immediately missed my beloved UPLB Library. I think they should consider revising those elaborate writings on those paper pieces. Security on the part of NLP should be enforced in exchange for that, if they are really protecting the books. Two books at a time are alright, but to a potential researcher, one has to live near NLP to fully pour over his or her much-needed books. But I can say that the Filipiniana section is a treasure! Owing to a time-bound schedule in Manila, I was not able to exhaust that four-hour time I allotted for NLP. That was the prize of coming late.

* personal belongings of Lope K. Santos in exhibit at the Filipiniana section

* personal belongings of Amado V. Hernandez

* more personal belongings of Amado V. Hernandez

* the typewriter of Amado V. Hernandez!

* and his electric fan! where I got the inspiration to a short poem about electric fans

As to its historical background, a short read is a journey back to its life of continued survival. It began as part of the American Circulating Library that was established in 1900 and later turned over to the government a year later. It became a part of the Education Department in 1905. Through Batas Blg. 1935 of the Philippine Assembly (in 1908), all books from town libraries were collected and put up to form the National Library (1928).

War came and displaced the library. Parts of the collection were transferred to the University of the Philippines and the other more important documents to the Philippine Normal School (now a university). There were some breath-taking moments when the books had to be concealed on the underground of the Manila City Hall but since I have only read about it on the internet and not obtained from our visit to NLP, the chance reader better find that for himself on the net.

More than displacing the library during WWII, the return of the Americans to finally push the Japanese out of the country proved to be a disaster to it. A large portion of the collection was destroyed in 1945. What was left was put up for the Bureau of Public Libraries. It was only in 1984 that the name National Library was used again.

As a final thought, I think NLP should not be just limited to students or researchers. The way we exhibit enthusiasm in going to malls should be shown also for NLP, perhaps more than that NHCP chairman Ambeth Ocampo admitted it himself on one of his Inquirer articles that we are generally a non-reading nation. If this cannot be overturned in the near future, at least for those who know the difference that it would make to be ‘at one’ with the world of books, we should not cease to show it to others.

[How to go to NLP: From Gil Puyat LRT Station, board the LRT and drop off at Unied Nations (UN) Avenue Station. The place is close to T.M. Kalaw Street. Just walk through this street towards Manila Bay and you’ll find NLP eventually. The place is sandwiched between the National Historical Institute or NHCP and the Seafarers Center.]

Circuiting Manila 4: Philippine General Hospital

* a recently-shot close up of the center façade of PGH

* a peek inside the lobby

Our visit to PGH (and eventual passing through UPM) was initially to attend a program on some exhibits concerning the Morong 43. But since we never got to that elusive Elevator Lobby, we took the chance to take a few shots of the place and dig in a bit about the place.

UP Manila (UPM), as all UP constituents know, is the oldest UP campus of the system, established in 1908. Its precursor was the Philippine Medical School established three years earlier. It is found at Ermita, Manila.

Philippine General Hospital, or PGH, meanwhile, is at present under UPM but traces its roots from Kautusan Bilang 1688 of the Philippine Commission as a division of the Department of Education in 1907. On December 8, 1908, then Dean C. Worcester laid the cornerstones of the building. It was finished not more than a year later: November 30, 1909. It was later opened to the public on September 1, 1910 and formally inaugurated nine days later, September 10.

* chande-chandelier!

* the second UP Manila Oblation

* a sculpture that I failed to know the name; found in front of the Calderon Hall, seen en route to Robinsons Ermita

The hospital then went under many different agencies: Interior Dept., 1915; Public Education Dept., 1933; and Office of the President, 1939. During the Japanese Occupation, it was placed back under the Public Education Department. In 1945, it was transferred under the Philippine Civil Affairs Unit. It was finally put under UPM through Presidential Decree 94. Repairs and improvements have been ongoing since 1947 until 1990.

In celebration of the 100 years of existence of UP, a second UP Manila Oblation was placed just in front of the main building of PGH on June 18, 2008 (the first one is found in front of the Rizal Hall of UPM). Although the base of the work is still Guillermo Tolentino’s Oblation, Grace “Gigi” Javiewr Alfonso did some additional works to come up with this paticular UP Manila Oblation.

Although I cannot say that the place is an ideal place for ‘exercising’ being tourist (I mean, it is a hospital in the first place), it is good to know at least a few important history tidbits about UP, which is after all my alma mater.

[How to go to PGH: From ‘LRT’, which is the Gil Puyat LRT Station, take the LRT and drop off at Pedro Gil Station. A short walk would bring you to PGH. On the same block you’ll find UPM.]

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rural Life at Rosario, Batangas

* Trailer Pransis trying to be funny inside a jeep en route to Rosario

* a newfound friend, Kuya Joel, who we accompanied for his dental clinic visit

* the church at Barangay Alupay

A short vacation will always be a welcome opportunity to anyone. More than just an escape, a retreat (read: rest and relaxation) is what I conceive of vacations.

Thus a recent return to Rosario, Batangas to share time with some intimates proved to be yet another ‘opening up’ experience. I daresay that the passage of time is always lost
in the still air of that particular village I went to. The environ is thick with the scent of a mixture of fresh and dying leaves of plants and trees together with the smell typical of farmlands. You might also just want to lay down on a duyan placed under a convenient shade. And lose yourself as you think of virtually nothing and do nothing except to gape up the cloudless sky. Finally, one can forgive the ever sultry surroundings.

Dusk fills you with rich imaginings as darkness falls into the
plantations and the tall coconut trees. You are out of place without Gin running through your veins; lives will come and go in this place but barikan (drinking sessions) will stay.

* one of the often mentioned eatery – Ka Loring Eatery; serves a famous and delicious lomi, so they say

* the super duper special lomi; one waitress was particularly amiable as she exchanged more-than-just-simple greetings, hehe

* a view of a grassland; in the background, one of the many mountains scattered in the province of Batangas

* a rural road but a concrete one; yes, concrete finally after many delays in this road construction project

There was something intimate in seeing one particular family in my visit, with all those children gathering around their mother for supper, the supper being offered willingly to us ‘barikeños’. A radio can be heard from inside the house. Outside, we share lives and stories through a small shot glass as if it was our mouthpiece.

At a celebration, everything is communal: cigarettes, matches, alcohol, pulutan, water, microphone (for the videoke), stories, tales, bragging, even spit and breath. This merrymaking is their absolute life, for this brings them joy after the hard work during the day. Work in morning, alcohol in the evening. It would be an insult to lay judgment to them for between a city life and a rural life there are many differences. They have derived meaning for their lives in their decidedly simple living.

As days passed by, I got to realize more and more than I am yet to know many things – about the leaves of madre cacao, about the delicious food lying just beneath the streams, about rural beliefs and myths, about moving through the dark, and many other things. Setting aside the pressure that I am definitely in need of work and money, living in that place richly surrounded by greeneries is far better than the indifferent steel and concrete buildings in the city. After all, we all trace our roots to nature – the grounds, the flora, and the fauna. Although we shall be perpetually bound by ‘metropolitan’ activities, it is always good to go back and reconnect with our own family: nature.

Post-note: See an earlier entry about Rosario, Batangas here.

[How to go to Rosario, Batangas: 1) From Manila: board a bus bound for Lucena, Quezon and drop off at ‘Sambat ng Candelaria’ (in Quezon). Then you have to wait for the classic Supreme Buses bound for Batangas and board one. You will pass by the town of Rosario along the way. 2) From Batangas area: you will have to reach Lipa City first. From there, either at Robinsons Lipa or at the town proper, you will have to ride a jeep bound for San Juan, Batangas. You will pass by the town of Rosario along the way.]