Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Taking a Breather at San Antonio de Padua Church, Los Baños, Laguna

* a view of San Antonio de Padua from Robinson’s Town Mall, Los Baños

* the arched entrance;
the security guard was either checking out the pe
ople or half-attending the mass
* an image of Christ

As I have said many times before, Catholic churches (discounting the religious setting for which they were actually built) are really conducive for reflection and rest both for believers and non-believers. And so after experiencing Corregidor Island for a day, I thought it better to make a side-trip to San Antonio de Padua Church in Los Baños, Laguna.

The place is not new to me, having posted an earlier entry about the church. But then, new things crop up even in places you have visited before. I have initially planned to climb the bell tower but my plan did not push through. But nevertheless, some information came my way.

* a wooden cross

* the church’s retablo

* the people of Los Baños attending the mass

A marker noted the solemn dedication of Barangay Batong Malake in a Ritual Mass on September 1, 2010. This was done during the 20th anniversary of the canonical election of the Parish by the Most Reverend Leo M. Drona, SDB, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of San Pablo City. The said event was also attended by Reverend Father Reynaldo C. Hayag, parish priest, the Parish Pastoral Council, Parish Finance Committee, and other guest priests and religious. From the said marker, it can be inferred that the parish is already 20 years old. But with regards to the events or circumstances leading to the establishment of the said church, more can still be studied and researched.

Early Morning at Manila Bay

* a view of the Manila Bay; somewhere in the horizon is the SM Mall of Asia

* another view of thew Manila bay;
found on the right side is the Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant

* morning strollers at Manila Bay

I recently dug up a number of photos from my files and this entry shows a group of those photos. They were taken during a morning at Manila Bay before we toured Corregidor Island (see my Corregidor series here).

Isn’t it a wonder that people are still drawn to the sea? I think it is not just for its economic value (some people do make a living from fishing on the Manila Bay); the seaside is in fact captivating. It was said that Manila Bay is one of the finest natural harbors in the world and one can really enjoy a magnificent view of the sunset in this place.

* the reality of reclaimed areas – they are not permanent

* the bait in position!

* fishes sold at Manila Bay;
too bad I forgot the name of those fishes

* manga mangingisda – local fishermen

Joggers, families, tourists, etc. Each day the Bay side area is visited by these people. If one has time, one can start from the Coconut Palace near the Cultural Center of the Philippines and walk up to the North Harbor. There are lots of sites and structures to behold. And I am personally looking forward to this activity. A walk through the length Roxas Boulevard is definitely included in my priority tour list.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Traveling to the Past via “Friars in the Philippines”

In the absence of literal travels, reading materials are my travel alternatives. And last week, such travel came in the form of downloaded books about the Philippines thanks to Project Gutenberg (visit the website here). I was able to download several volumes of “The Philippine Islands” by Blair and Robertson along with “Friars in the Philippines.

Written by Rev. Ambrose Coleman, O.P. and published in 1899, the book elaborates on works of the religious orders in the country from their arrival with Magellan in 1521 up to the time of the “insurrection” in the late nineteenth century. Much of the later chapters deal with the defense of the religious orders against the accusations and the allegedly motivations of the insurrectos. I say that the discussions are subject for debate. But I shall not dwell on it; I was only able to read the book once. A thorough dissection of the contents must be done first before any opinion can be issued about them.

What I would like to discuss is the introduction part, where a short description of the structures built by the Spaniards were made.

“For Nature, bountiful there almost to prodigality, revelling in all the luxuriance of tropical vegetation, has always at hand, as a set-off to her gifts, terrible manifestations of her power. The seventeenth-century navigator, William Dampier, in his own quaint and amusing way, describes how the natives and the Spanish colonists of Manila strove to guard against the double danger of earthquakes and typhoons, and how they both failed ignominiously. THE SPANIARDS BUILT STRONG STONE HOUSES, but the earthquake made light of them, and shook them so violently that the terrified inmates would rush out of doors to save their lives; while THE NATIVES FROM THEIR FRAIL BAMBOO DWELLINGS, which were perched on high poles, placidly contemplated their discomfiture. All that the earthquake meant to them was a gentle swaying from side to side. But the Spaniards had their turn when the fierce typhoon blew, against which their thick walls were proof. Then, from the security of their houses, could they view, with a certain grim satisfaction, the huts of the natives swaying every minute more violently in the wind, till, one by one, they toppled over—each an indescribable HEAP OF POLES, MATS, HOUSEHOLD UTENSILS, AND HUMAN BEINGS."
(page 8; emphasis mine)

Such stone houses have become part of our cultural heritage. Their dwindling numbers have made their preservation more important today. The construction of churches in the same manner may have been done for the same purpose together with the aim of making them imposing to project an image of awe and power.

If the horrors of World War II have not touched the country especially the period of liberation in 1945, much of the structures from the Spanish and American era may have been preserved. Those that survived must be treasured. Seeing them is like travelling to the past, like being in the Spanish and American periods yourself.

The Cathedral, Then and Now

First stop is the Cathedral in Lipa (see my earlier entry about it by clicking here). The eruption of Taal Volcano in 1754 forced the relocation of the Lipa Parish to the church’s present site. The cathedral was built from 1865 to 1894. Shown above is the depiction of the cathedral from Coleman’s book, but it was not indicated when the image was made. A photo is shown next, shot using a relatively cheap cell phone last year. No substantial renovations were made, at least on the exterior. You visit Lipa Cathedral, you are almost back in the past.

But I have misgivings regarding this. For during the return of the American forces in 1945 to drive the Japanese out of the Philippines, the whole of Lipa was literally destroyed by American air and artillery bombardments. I don’t think they have exempted the cathedral. Perhaps the best thing I could do is to revisit the cathedral and make some inquiries.

Retracing the Street

Next is a retracing activity. Shown above is another depiction from Coleman’s book, this time of a Street in Manila. The diminishing radius of the church tower in the background made me suspect that it was Santa Cruz Church. Upon making a Google Map search, the street orientation from the book makes it more likely the present-day Dasmariñas. As I am not a resident of Manila, I cannot fully vouch for this amateur investigation.

Follow the Clue

This last part is more of a future challenge. The caption of the photo found above says “Tagalocs [corrected already as ‘Tagalogs’] planting rice to the sound of music.” The planters and the musicians are definitely natives and they could have been found anywhere in the southern parts of Luzon. But the mountains can be taken as clues to find where this rice field is found. This may seem a bit too childish but I take delight in finding out little details such as this.

I still have a number of downloaded books at hand and I hope I can still find the occasion to read them despite the growing number of self-imposed works and deadlines. Let us celebrate our rich past!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Ever-Relevant Jose Rizal

A hundred and fifty years ago, a boy was born in a town called a stove and a jar. His life from there until the time he took the fatal bullet(s) from the muskets in his execution is still thriving up to this present time. A life that has become a strong motto stella for the Filipinos. A life whose activities paved the way for the societal changes in the late nineteenth century. A life that proves to be still relevant to those who continue to seek and hope to make changes in our malleable and fragile society.

Rizal has made his life relevant for the country and its future. And I wish that such thought would prevail as we join in today’s celebrations. We may not be able to reach Rizal’s stature as a rallying cry for most of the people, but we can from this moment be able to start and do our own part to serve and be relevant for the country.

Rizal indeed was and is a hero. We might as well follow his footsteps.

Ipinagbubunyi ka ng sambayanang Pilipino Gat Rizal!

* this blog entry also appears in Viole(n)t Mugs blog

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Lesson on Adventure from Reepicheep

This may be a little off-track since I deal more about history and travel here in Back Trails. But I think that the core of the lesson can be easily related to travel.

I just acquired recently my second book of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And as the writing of C.S. Lewis was smooth flowing and easy to read, I chose to carry the book with me as I made some travels between two provinces. (As a side note, I think that the book version of the Dawn Treader is more exciting than the film adaptation. Obviously they crafted the script to capture a wider audience.)

Anyway, Reepicheep seemed to have a number of lines in the Dawn Treader. And in many instances he has shared some thoughts that pierced through the passivity in my travel endeavors. When some of his companions in the Dawn Treader hesitated to go through some place, he would speak to show them what they would most likely miss out if they turn their back on what lies ahead.

When Dawn Treader’s captain Drinian and Edmund Pevensie expressed their apprehension in going through the Dark Island, Reepicheep replied:

“If I were addressing peasants or slaves...I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”

On another instance, Edmund and his cousin Eustace Scrubb went against the idea of staying in Aslan’s Table. When Eustace questioned about Reepicheep’s plan to stay, Reepicheep replied:

Because…this is a very great adventure, and no longer seems to me so great as that of knowing when I get back to Narnia that I left a mystery behind me through fear.

Those statements really struck me. When I travel to places, there are many things to behold – houses, churches, ruins, even people. But why do I have to be shy to ask questions to people, to explore the dark crevices of the old churches, or even to survey creepy and rickety houses? The adventures lay ahead in every travel and why would we shy away from all of them? I have just realized that there is already that fulfillment when you embark into an adventure. Whether you will discover something or not is another thing. The point is one chose to experience adventure without any reservations.

The words of the Valiant Mouse indeed inspired me to make the most out of each of my travels. Again, it does not matter whether one travel near or far. It is the thrill of the travels – the adventures! – plus the things discovered or learned that matter the most.

Photo Credit:
Lewis, C.S. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: HarperTrophy, 1994.
Quote 1 from p. 179, Quote 2 from p. 197.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stop Over at the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Our escapade began at Gil Puyat LRT Station where we started walking until we reached the Manila World Trade Center then turned right to the Manila Bay area. The heat of the early morning in Manila was more than enough to extinguish the strength of Laguna travelers and so we opted to make a short rest at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

* the Cultural Center of the Philippines with the wide lawn fronting it

* a closer look at the Cultural Center of the Philippines

* side walk up the Cultural Center of the Philippines;
I see this as a good place to do downhill on sk

* the façade of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

* Trailer Pransis striking another serious pose;
heat plus thirst are the best ingredients for such a pose

* the wave-like pillar ceiling supports of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

* a close-up view of CCP’s exterior

* CCP fountain at the front

* another view of the fountain

The Cultural Center of the Philippines or CCP for short was created in 1966 through the issuance of Executive Order No. 30 by then President Ferdinand Marcos. Its formal inauguration however happened on September 8, 1969 along with a three-month-long inaugural fest. The inauguration was attended by then California Governor Ronald Reagan and his wife to represent US President Richard Nixon.

Today it is affiliated with the Office of the President and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (in connection with policies and programs). CCP is in fact one big complex, composed of different areas for performances (most notably the Tanghalang Pambansa or the CCP Main Building, the one we usually see in photos), exhibit halls, and other satellite venues. There is also the CCP Museum or Museo ng Kalinangang Pilipino which opened in 1988.

Digging into all these information, I see that I still have a lot to see at CCP aside from its Main Building. And the place must be more than an art haven, as its scope goes beyond the visual arts. Dance, music, plays, etc. Let us all discover CCP!

* World Trade Center in Manila

* a white-breasted sea eagle

* another bird we saw resting over a concrete

* a tower from Star City as seen from the grounds of CCP

* "Go Navy! Fleet Marine Team"; a billboard of the Philippine Navy

* Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas o BSP found just across CCP

Other Sights Around CCP

The photos above are some of the sights one can behold as one approach or look around CCP. Actually, this reclaimed part of the Manila Bay has many areas that you can visit. Hopefully next time, armed with a fully owned camera, I would be able to roam the place and snap photos!

[How to go to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP): From the Gil Puyat LRT Station, the fastest way to reach CCP is to hail a taxi. But do not engage in any pre-arranged fare price. I did this for a number of times before I realized that it was too costly. Aside from that, I actually do not know any public vehicle route that would pass by CCP.]

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nourishing Our Philippine Independence

This day undoubtedly will be filled again with speeches, applauses, and scents of wreaths. It is our 113th year of independence and we should be thankful that we reached this far. However, I think we should all go beyond the predictable speeches and pomp accorded to this day. I believe we should look forward and think how we can further sustain our independence.

Look around. We have right now an unhampered access to the internet, something that is possible in other countries. On the internet, we have different platforms to express our views, share stories, even engage in discourse in practically anything under the sun – the wars in the Middle East, the power expansion of those who see their nations as superpowers, love, scandals, showbiz rumors, you name it. We also have all sorts of fashion for both men and women – clothing, shoes, and bags to satisfy the people’s cravings. We have newspapers. We have the right to vote. We have a country we can proudly say our own. We have a national language. All these things – both the serious and the fad – trace their roots in the bloody years of the Revolution, when the so-called indios, fired by a budding concept of a nation, rose against foreign rulers, the Spaniards. Of course there came the Americans along with their glorified Manifest Destiny and the Japanese and their vision of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. But it is only fitting to celebrate our independence on June 12. For it marks a celebration of our release from bondage to the Spaniards, and of our release from an archipelagic comatose to finally realize that we can build a country of our own.

We should also go beyond the Propagandists in Spain (Marcelo del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Jose Rizal, etc.), the Katipunan (Andres Bonifcaio, Emilio Jacinto, etc.) and the others (Emilio Aguinaldo, Gregorio del Pilar, etc.). The big names in history were not the only ones who committed to the cause of obtaining our freedom. There are many others, nameless fighters who fought with the most primitive of weapons compared to the weaponries of the Spaniards, and they all should be honored together with the celebration of our Independence. They must be honored not only on National Heroes Day. Their blood was shed for us to have this Independence Day. To all unnamed warriors of the revolution we owe our present freedom, our present independence.

In the end, perhaps I have been quite unclear as to what my point is. But I say this: much of what we enjoy today was paid through the bloody battles of the past. We should be grateful to them (the revolutionaries) even at least for this day. Today’s celebration must not be only festive in nature. It should also be grateful, thankful. Independence came at a price. Our forefathers did that for their progenies. It is our turn to make the necessary payments and sacrifices to extend this independence for future generations. After all we are all benefitting from it.

Patuloy na itaguyod at pahalagahan ang ating kalayaan. Ipagbunyi ang ating kalayaan!

*This entry also appears at Viole(n)t Mugs Blog

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Remembering the TV Programs Bayani and Pahina

The much publicized 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations for Dr. Jose Rizal recalls to my mind two defunct TV programs of ABS-CBN Channel 2: Bayani and Pahina.

Bayani is a classic for me. I essentially grew up watching its different episodes. One could not help but relate to the excitement of Noli and Ana who were able to visit different time periods in our country’s history and witness the lives and works of our country’s heroes. Perhaps it was from this show that I got this habit of bringing back souvenirs from my travels and tours (and I say that my collected souvenirs can be considered rare). Too bad I cannot remember the name of the old lady played Caridad Sanchez who they called Lola. She was one of the main characters in the TV program, lived in cave, and served as the custodian of the materials brought by Noli and Ana.
The theme of Pahina is closely related to Bayani, being related to literature. For me, history and literature go together. To some extent, they share the same characteristics. With another old person to guide the main character, Bart goes to explore and understand Philippine literature alongside her relationship with Mithi (incidentally, Mithi is also the name of a Filipino/Literature textbook series for high school students which we used during our high school days). Perhaps one of the best episodes was about the Jose F. Lacaba’s poem “Ang Mga Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Juan dela Cruz.”

I learned from online searches that some of the episodes are already in DVD formats. But then I think they should be revived or if it is not possible, similar programs should be launched again. The new show Amaya seem promising but we are yet to see how it will be received by the viewing public. Such programs would not only ‘reconnect’ the current generation to out culture, heritage, and traditions, they will also fight off the creeping foreign culture that dominates most of the prime times in TV. Foreign cartoons and shows are not bad per se, but I think it would do us good in the long run if we appreciate first what we have in the country. To lose interest in our culture, heritage, and traditions is to lose our identity as a nation eventually. This may be debatable but that is another story.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Santa Cruz, Manila Church and Santa Cruz District

A visit to the Carriedo Fountain would naturally lead you to Santa Cruz Church. Online readings revealed to me that the church is actually situated within Plaza Lacson while the Carriedo Fountain is located within Plaza de Santa Cruz. A note outside the church says that on the surrounding plaza, Manila was returned by the British (after the brief British invasion) to Simon de Anda y Salazar in 1764. So that would be in Plaza Lacson.

* the façade of the Santa Cruz Church

* another look at the church’s façade

* the church’s bell tower; notice the diminishing radius of each of the tower’s level

* the side wall of the church; notice the big buttresses at the far end of the photo

* the church within – the marble retablo

* wall supports; not as elaborate unlike in other churches

* candle stands found as one enters the church

As to its origins, it was constructed and overseen by the Jesuits until 1768 when the Jesuits were expelled from the archipelago. Dominicans then took over the administration of the church. Adjacent to the church was the Jesuit College of San Ildefonso. It was founded on January 9, 1724 by Alfonso Fajardo dela Tenza. The Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar) is the patroness of the church. The confraternity named after the patroness was founded canonically on 1743.

During the liberation of Manila in 1945, the church was heavily damaged. Benito Legarda Jr.’s book, Occupation: The Later Years, shows a photo of the destroyed church. So Wikipedia’s entry on Santa Cruz, Manila needs some revision for the article implies that the church along with other buildings was spared from destruction after the Japanese, aware of the coming attack of the Americans, abandoned the area.

* another candle stand, this one is found on a side chapel

* silhouette and stained-glass window

* prayers and hopes written for the saints

* La Pieta; found inside a side chapel

* a cross composed of small carvings, most likely of the Stations of the Cross
or scenes during Jesus’ ministry

* Jesus after the crucifixion

* Jesus bearing his cross, this photo evokes an atmosphere of reflection

Regarding the district of Manila, I found a short note about the place in Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin’s version of Noli Me Tangere. It was said that Santa Cruz was the cradle of the first Manila artist – jewelers, sculptors, engravers, painters, musicians, goldsmiths, aesthetes, lyricists, among others. I could only imagine what Santa Cruz looked like at that time. It must have impressive to see those shops on every street. Another note said that the different images of saints paraded in the provinces mostly came from Santa Cruz. The place was more than a hub for artists; it was an artist’s paradise. Today of course the district’s streets are always busy and noisy and one has to invoke a little imagination to appreciate the beauty that once dwelt (or perhaps still dwells) within Santa Cruz.

Agoncillo, Teodoro A. History of the Filipino People. 8th Ed. GAROTECH Publishing, 1990.
Rizal, Jose. Noli Me Tangere. Translated by Ma. Soledad Lacson-Locsin. Edited by Raul L. Locsin. Bookmark, 1996.

[How to go to Santa Cruz Church, Manila: From Gil Puyat LRT Station, you can ride the LRT and drop off at Carriedo LRT Station. A short walk from the station would bring you to Sta. Cruz Church.]