Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Los Baños Bath, Literally


As I was rummaging through my files one sleepless night, I chanced upon this photo buried among my saved pictures.

This public bath (or is it just a foot bath?) is found at the Paciano Rizal Park at Los Baños–Bayan.
I miss sitting there in the park just beside the lake, watching the sunset.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Circuiting Manila 8: De La Salle University

* the Don Enrique Yuchengco Hall

* the university’s amphitheater

* view of St. Joseph and Velasco Halls

This one I found among my files. I have visited La Salle twice: first when I had to make an oral presentation of our research (it was a harrowing experience), and second when I had to obtain microscope images of the samples for my thesis. My impression of the university was it is a school for the rich and showbiz personalities.

As to its roots, it was established in 1911 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools but we call them La Sallian Brothers. The first campus was found in Paco, Manila. It was only in 1921 that they decided to move to Taft Avenue due to space considerations.

* one of the thought-provoking view that can be seen from the inside, an evidence that disparity still exists

* a view of one of the rooms in La Salle

* a lobby facing Taft Avenue

* Trailer Pransis, anxious for the coming oral presentation

Although their elaborate ID system for visitors gave me a headache, I enjoyed obtaining the ID pass for all the university’s gates. Some of the fine discoveries inside were the Green Archer statue and their solar-powered car. Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Walk through Sta. Cruz, Laguna

* a simple monument (probably for a prominent person from Sta. Cruz) found as one enter the town proper of Sta. Cruz

* the usual words of celebration found in almost all parts of Laguna

* a marker commemorating the bravery of the guerillas of Sta. Cruz who fought during World War II

* a view of the town park: simple yet relaxing, especially if you take a breather there at sunset

* a towering monument of Jose Rizal, one that identical to the monument found in Nagcarlan, Laguna

Sta. Cruz shows that a capital does not necessarily have to be literally in the center of a town or city or to be the hub of all economic activities. True, Sta. Cruz now has all the establishments it needs to thrive but at first glance, it would seem that its distance (as compared to Calamaba for instance) is a turn-off to business ventures. But it has held the title of Laguna’s capital and despite the distance it is a fast developing town. I wonder if there is already a move to elevate it to a city.

Another good thing about the town, similar to the towns after Bay (that is, Victoria and Pila), is that it was able to maintain the town atmosphere. In common language, the bayan feel. I don’t know if a chance reader can relate to it. You try to take a short rest at the town’s park around sunset and you’ll get a blast of a relaxing view: small stalls selling merienda; children playing on the ground; and the beautiful sky turning into crimson as the sun sets in the west. Jeepneys are present on one side of the town center but for me, they are not as bothersome as the jeepneys in Calamba, Los Baños, or San Pablo. Someone may chance upon this entry and contradict this observation, but I can counter that how you see a town or any other place is something that is personal in nature. Kanya-kanya ‘yan.

* one thing I find lovely about the shops in Sta. Cruz: the display windows!

* one of the many stores in the town market selling native products; it seems that the town is specializing in such products

* a night scene at a busy street in Sta. Cruz

* an arc put up at a bridge that traverses the Sta. Cruz river

* I would concede that this shot is not so informative, but the view of the Sta. Cruz river the night we visited it was simply overwhelming

At the park is a marker saying that it was the place where Wha–Chi guerillas (Philippine-Chinese Anti-Japanese Guerilla Force) fought against the Japanese that led to the liberation of the town on January 26, 1945. The town church where the Japanese confined themselves was successfully captured through the combined forces of the HUKBALAHAP and Hunter’s ROTC.

As I have said earlier, a revisit to Sta. Cruz is necessary. I am yet to allot time for full-blown trips to places in the country which shall primarily deal on walking through streets and digging into details of churches and old houses and structures and (hopefully) spending a few days in the places we are to visit.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Houses and Structures in Sta. Cruz, Laguna

* definitely a once magnificent house; found just across Sta. Cruz church

* a detail of the mansion showing its decaying state

* a larger view of the mansion,
showing a staircase that cou
ld have been magnificent in its heyday

* I am still in the belief that this is an old public toilet as this one is found just along a street!

* one compact, old house; much like the ones found along the main road in Pila, Laguna town proper

The seeming distance of Sta. Cruz, Laguna from the towns of busy industries such as Calamba or Sta. Rosa is not a disadvantage at all. After all, it has kept its identity as the province’s capital since 1885 and is not lagging behind the other progressing towns and cities in Laguna.

* might have been a magnificent house; this one now houses the Provincial Disaster Operation Center, PDCC-Laguna

* a closer look at the balcony of the mansion

* the Sta. Cruz Town Hall; from its general appearance, it must have been constructed during or around the American period, much like the old San Pablo City Hall; too bad I was not able to find a note about it

* Colum-what?: Columbia? Columbus? It seems to me like a former theater

* the Resilient Wall: this might have been part of a once big house, found along a street going to the market place; I wonder if the house was destroyed during WWII

During our visit to this town capital, I suddenly got lost in thought, thinking at that time that I was in Lucena. It was because of the crisscrossing streets which are laid-out in a large land area. If I may venture to speculate, it was this spread-out street outlines that helped the old houses survived. Unlike in San Pablo City, where a main street, called by the a war veteran I have interviewed as Avenida Rizal, served as a pool for building the elegant houses. No such houses survive today probably because of the fire of 1938 or of the need to build business establishments along the avenue. I cannot identify one such main street in Sta. Cruz, and so the mansions are dispersed.

* a breath-taking view of a mansion along the Sta. Cruz river, the place is named Villa Valenzuela

* the lights of the restaurant that now houses the villa gives it a different feeling to me; should have made them a little more fitting, lamps should do the trick

* a detail of a window in the villa

I would leave out for now the historical details, as in reality we went there to do some unplanned shopping. I have searched the internet for some details but I feel that it would betray the aims of Back Trails to repost them. I have mentioned anyway a plan to revisit the town. Much more can still be learned about its past. I hope that by that time I shall be able to share more here.

[How to go to Sta. Cruz, Laguna: If you're from Manila, simply look for buses bound for Sta. Cruz via Calamba and College. There are bus stations along EDSA and near the Gil Puyat LRT Station.]

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sta. Cruz, Laguna Church

* a first view of the church

* the entrance

* a side chapel found just as you enter the church

* a black angel that holds water for blessing

Other than knowing that the Sta. Cruz Church in Laguna is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion and that it was destroyed during the Second World War, nothing informative can be said here for now as our pictures failed to capture the details displayed on the marker outside. This was similar to the marker placed at the Bay (Ba’i), Laguna Church, which was too high to be read. A revisit to Sta. Cruz, at least, would not be difficult.

The whole of the church is certainly recently constructed. But the outside features are an attempt to put back in what could have been its former appearance. A design outside even has a carving with the year 1745, a year most probably significant to the place. Now I am regretting for relying too much on pictures for data.

* a view of the altar and some pews; in front are elders holding a meeting

* Trailer Pransis below the Cross

* a lone beggar on the patio

* a closer look at a design on the church’s exterior

Like other churches around the Laguna area, it is strategically located, with the mansions of the rich in the past erected around it. Indeed, religion was beautifully and cleverly entrenched in the Filipino communities. Thinking about it just now, religion (especially the Catholicism brought by the Spaniards) sets itself architecturally to give the devotees the serenity needed for their beliefs, and also gives them an accessible place (the center of the town as always) so that many can come and open their hearts to God. This is not all new; this fact may have been taught to us at some point in our history classes. But it feels good to be reminded of some details of our past and get reconnected to them again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Revisiting (San Sebastian) Lipa Cathedral

* Trailer Pransis at the Lipa Plaza Independencia

* the façade of the Lipa Cathedral

* entrance to an inner patio

* Patio San Sebastian

* a photo of the bishop’s residence before it was destroyed during World War II

* an old photo of the seminarians in Lipa

Hardcore presentation of names, dates, and places tends to dilute the essence of what I want Back Trails to be. But owing to time limitations, one hopes to make the best out of them. But I am not saying that such approach is not working. For me, one important ingredient should always be present: the thoughts of the would-be Trailer. Sharing things here at Back Trails is a way of seeing the way I grow stronger with regards to my affinity to our Philippine history. Well, enough of these rants. The whole point of it is that I shall be resorting to more pictures on this Lipa entry, as the visit to this busy city in Batangas was a hasty one.
I literally discovered the Lipa Cathedral. Using the last of my OJT allowance I toured the town of Sto. Tomas, and the cities Tanauan and Lipa. But this was back in 2008 and I still have not conceived of Back Trails. A year later, I went back to the cathedral on a more festive atmosphere, the day being Palm Sunday where I was engulfed in a sea of palm leaves.

* a carving on the main door of the church; although it looks exquisite, they are actually recently made

* view of the baptistry

* the long line of pews

* stairway to the bell tower perhaps?; the shot could have been more dramatic if not for our camera’s resolution

* Jesus loves you, Yesukristo loves you! (line from a song by P.O.D.)

The church is as historical as the place where it is nowfound. It began functioning under the administration of the Augustinians from 1605 until the end of nineteenth century. It was originally found on the shores of Bombon Lake, but the eruption of the Taal Volcano in 1754 destroyed it. It should be noticed that it was the Augustinians too who built the early church in Bay, Laguna along the shores of Laguna de Bay. I am beginning to wonder if they are somehow attracted to bodies of water.
The 1754 eruption prompted the church’s relocation on its present place. The church rebuilding was done under the supervision of Reverend Benito Varas O.S.A. He also became the parish priest from 1865 to 1894. A few years later, on April 10, 1910, Pope Pius X created the Diocese of Lipa. Besides religious affairs, the Augustinians also promoted the cultivation of cacao and coffee. It can be surmised that the lands in Lipa at that time was vast and were a good choice for some agricultural activities.

I shall stop here for now and shall attempt later to dig in to some names and events concerning Lipa. And as I write these tonight, I am now entertaining the possibility of digging in to the priests’ names I have mentioned here in Back Trails and hopefully uncover some details that would give more understanding on their relationships to the places and people they have administered. For now, I hope you would enjoy the views of the interior of the church.

* one of the huge passageways inside which I really want to have in my future house

* the imposing retablo* part of the church’s organ

* view of the dome from the inside

* the Mater Dolorosa

And before I forget, I want to share an unusual event that I experience inside. As I was taking pictures of the place, someone approach and asked me if I could help her to fulfill her wishes to go to a place which, although I forgot the exact name, pertained to a shrine or a devotee’s place. The woman kept following me and it sort of annoyed. She did not look like a beggar and I could discern that she was not trying to hoodwink me or anything like that. What we did it end (we gave her some money) did not really satisfied our curiosity about her. In less than two minutes after getting a small bill from us, she walked out of the church to go the place she mentioned. I can still remember her full name but I rather not mention it here, as it may prove unhealthy for her image if someone would see her name here.