Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year-End Scenes

* all lights and sound: firecrackers and horns
being sold in the marketplace in San Pablo City

As the New Year nears, we can only hear the buzz of people negotiating for food to be served on Media Noche and firecrackers to be exploded at the stroke of midnight. I made a brief side-trip to the market just to see the busyness of the place. Firecrackers, fruits, cakes, horns, bread. Practically everything associated with the celebration of the coming of the New Year.

* all tents: stalls of vendors in the marketplace;
the street in front of the city mall was practically occupied by them

* a fire truck in standby near the market just in case of any emergency

One thing that I have just observed is the relatively ‘safeness’ of the streets in our city hours before midnight. There were years before when it would be entirely impractical to go out even in the afternoon as explosions of firecrackers are already around. Perhaps people are saving them for the exact time of celebration, can no longer afford too much expense on lights and sounds of explosions. But in the end, we all differ in the manner through which we celebrate the New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rizal is in the Heart Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Words will flood again as Filipinos celebrate today Rizal Day, a commemoration of the martyrdom of Jose Rizal, physician, doctor, patriot, national hero. The air we’ll breathe will soon be saturated with the scent of flowers from the wreaths offered in different monuments and statues. Having read his works and studies parts of his life, Rizal indeed is worthy of all the honors still being given to him. As for me, Rizal is in the heart yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Food for the Trails: Enjoy Barrio Fiesta at Isdaan Floating-Resto Fun Park

The term ‘barrio fiesta’ evokes images of lavish food, merriment, and simple Filipino feasting. As development continues to eat up places in the country (to be turned into urban areas), it is always good to have places where we can enjoy the spirit of those rural feasts. One such place has been recently built, fortunately, in the province of Laguna. The Isdaan Floating-Resto Fun Park is situated on the wide plains on the boundary of the towns of Calauan and Bay. An ocular survey of the place would reveal to you that it covers a number of hectares.

* Isdaan welcomes you with its iconic big fish

* mermaid[?] statues with Hindu/Buddhist themes


* Boodle Fight; ang umayaw talo!

* San Kilo Bridge

As one enter Isdaan, you’ll be greeted by huge (and I mean huge) statues of what look like mermaids decorated in Hindu and/Buddhist motifs and big fishes as well. Designed not to intimidate, such artworks would only compel you to go inside and discover more of that curious place.

* more mermaids[?]

* big Buddha; you ring the bell behind it and make as wish

* big fish!

* statues you’ll see as you go the comfort rooms

* ladies for inspiration or are they the Furies?;
you’ll see them as you go out of the bathrooms
* Spiderman up on the roof
* cracked (dinosaur?) eggs

* Brontosauruses

Isdaan is composed of what look like different restaurants (although they all have essentially the same menu being offered to customers). They have area for Tacsipayo where you can vent out your anger or frustration with anyone by breaking kitchen wares there as you shout ‘Tacsiyapo.’ Please note however that there are fees for it. The place has other ‘pakulo’ like the San Kilo Bridge where you can win one kilo of fish (to be cooked depending on your choice of dish) by crossing a small ledge/bridge surrounded by six-feet-deep water. There are still other features like that and one can enjoy them by roaming the place.

* cottage number 33!

* isang bilaong fried sea foods!

* fried crab, woo!

* tacsiyapong gulay!

* revisit to Isdaan

* little calderos where the rice is cooked

The most eye-catching in the place are the statues (or are they sculptures?) ranging from Jurassic Period dinosaurs to Disney cartoon characters to famous politicians, most of them life size. They essentially make the place alive as you would probably spend a good deal of time in the place looking at each and every one of them and taking pictures of/with them too.

* a lady dancer
* young people doing an ethnic dance

* kid acrobats

* acrobat trio!

* Isdaan’s buco king

* Mama Chit: Ina ng Barrio Fiesta

And define a wide-ranging menu! I took the liberty of documenting their menu and visitors can choose among their specialties on vegetables, fresh fruits, bakahan at manukan, energy drinks, pork, Japanese dishes, soups, pancit, fishes and other sea foods. You’ll be given a large menu where you can freely choose your food and drinks combinations. And as you eat, you will be treated (if you came in at the right time in the evening) with cultural presentations – ethnic dances, folk dances, acrobats, among others – all organized for the visitors to have fun!

* Trailer Pransis strikes for a pose

* pose with co-workers (and bosses)

Isdaan Floating-Resto Fun Park is located in Hanggan, Calauan, Laguna and they also have a branch in Gerona, Tarlac. A future Isdaan is currently being prepared in Talavera, Nueva Ecija. For reservations please contact the number 0932-4117793.

[How to go to Isdaan Floating-Resto Fun Park: From Manila and Calamba City area, one can simply hail a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna (buses are Green Star, HM, and DLTB) and ask the conductor to drop you off at Isdaan; it is just along the highway. Alternatively for those coming from Calamba, you can board a jeepney bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna too.]

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Supreme Buses Now Have Their Rival

Supreme Buses, which ply the roads connecting Lucena City in Quezon and Batangas City, is now up for a competition. It caught me by surprise too, seeing a P&O Transportation Bus in Candelaria Sambat bound for Batangas City as I have never thought that any bus line would come and share that travel route. One thing that could possibly come out of this budding rivalry is the eventual upgrade of the buses of Supreme and/or additional buses on the part of P&O. As for the passengers, there would be more buses for their convenience on those parts. Cheers!

A Day in Candelaria, Quezon

* my dream house in Candelaria just had its roof makeover;
it’s obvious that renovations are underway;
I still wish I could buy this house

* the Narra Tree which President Manuel Quezon planted many years before

Christmas vacation allows those in the academe ample time to do travel escapades to different places, be it here in the country or abroad. As for those like me who are in a tight budget, visits to neighboring cities or provinces are enough. A day visit to the town of Candelaria, Quezon (where some Emralino clans are based) proved to be fulfilling, seeing again those familiar streets and structures. A change of ‘atmosphere’, however brief, is relaxing too. Different sights, different random sounds and noises at least for a day. The night in the town is soothing also, with those chilly winds touching you as you walk through the town streets.

* the St. John the Baptist church facade at night

* a night mass in Candelaria

* simple lights in the Quezon tree

As with other places that I have visited so far, there are those elusive sites that I am yet to discover on my own. The Del Valle Tower in Candelaria is a place there I am yet to see and marvel at.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A.G. Saño’s Dolphin Art Work at U.P. Rural High School

Dolphin Crusader A.G. Saño has found his way to Laguna and made an artwork of his dolphins along the fence of U.P. Rural High School in Barangay Paciano Rizal (Mainit), Bay, Laguna. I am just within the neighbourhood on work days but it took some time before I was able to understand that it was his work. The dolphins should have been a giveaway.

There may be no seas near the Laguna area but awareness on this kind of advocacy should be widely disseminated, especially among young people. This is not only to promote dolphin advocacies but also to instil the fire to promote a worthwhile cause on our own.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Food for the Trails: Puto Bungbong

One bonus during the so-called Christmas season is the ease in which one could walk the city streets. Barring the possibility of getting mugged, you get to have other people too wandering the streets under the cold December night, sifting through the labyrinth of food stores and food stalls around.

One delicacy which sprouted on the perimeters of churches either at night or in the early morning is the puto bungbong. A food which falls under the category of rice delicacies, puto bungbong is more prominent during the December nights before Christmas Day as it has become part of the traditional Filipino food (alongside bibingka, among others) being sold and eaten during Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo.

One night when my sister and I decided to do food tripping, I treated myself with puto bungbong. Freshly baked from that little cooking machine, it was wrapped in banana leaves and topped with margarine. A hot food for a cold night. Puto bungbong will surely be missed but I think puto bungbong vendors are just around, all year round.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunset in Downtown Calamba City

Despite human attempts to revolutionize our form of living and to create new structures that would define the level of our knowledge and skills, nature still rules supreme. One time as I trudge through a downtown street of Calamba City, Laguna breathing in the late afternoon smoke and dust, I chanced upon this view of the sunset. Beyond those people crossing the recently-made foot bridge the sky bleeds red, signalling the coming of the night. With all the work and busyness of the day, we tend to forget the soothing abilities of nature. One look at the vivid colors of the sunset and I am reminded how good it is to live despite all the hardships and problems. More than this thought, one realizes too that we do not have to travel far to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Tragedy That Was the Revolution, The Tragedy that Was Andres Bonifacio: A Short Book Review

Adrian Cristobal’s “The Tragedy of the Revolution” immediately begs the question: what was the tragedy all about? More than being a mere object of curiosity, the book starts out with the assertion that Andres Bonifacio was the heart of the Revolution (the Revolution being the 1896 revolution against the Spanish colonial government in the Philippine Islands) and that Andres Bonifacio is the Revolution. It seemed that what eventually happened to Andres Bonifacio was also the fate of the Revolution.

In six concise essays which formed the bulk of the book, Cristobal set to unravel details (however scant and fragmentary) of Bonifacio’s life starting from his childhood to his life as a leader of the secret society KKK or Katipunan. What is surprising is that most of the details elaborated in the book are not seen in our traditional Philippine history books. These certainly made the reading from one chapter to another engaging.

The tragedy from my reader’s viewpoint started in the form of small friction between the two widely known councils of the Katipunan, Magdiwang and Magdalo. Such friction inevitably grew into internal political differences culminating in the fracas in the Tejeros Convention. It must have been the start of Bonifacio’s falling out with the Katipuneros under Magdalo. But Cristobal retraced other accounts and laid down the fact that differences went back earlier than the Tejeros assembly.

Somehow it must have been Bonifacio’s destiny to be the embodiment of the Revolution’s tragedy, but that makes him more deserving of honor from us, his descendants. It may have been simply part of the ‘politics’ during the time of the Revolution but we must see through it and give what is due to the Katipunan’s founding father.

Rereading of Cristobal’s book would be good before Bonifacio Day in order for one to be reminded of the details and worth of the Supremo’s life and achievements as a Filipino fighter and hero.

Reference: Cristobal, Adrian E. The Tragedy of the Revolution. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2005.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back Trails is Two Years Old!

Back Trails started out in 2009 as a pet project in my desire to share photos taken during some of my travel escapades. Eventually, it grew to become a travel / history / culture blog which I claimed, on this blog’s first year, to have been accomplished. Well, to a certain extent. Much more can still be done here.

Back Trails was not established primarily to have a healthy traffic or to be part of any blog awards. They may soon prove to be good prizes but I still want to pursue my desire to share and discuss things about travelling and Philippine history. I may be faring well today but I hope to extend the scope of these blog post-discussions. Travels to farther places in the Philippines, travels abroad (cross fingers), discussions with travelers and people. These and more can still be included in this simple blog. But the two years of existence of Back Trails is enough motivation for me to continue this for as long as the passion for history, travel, and writing is still alive in me.

More to come in Back Trails!

U.P. Los Baños Christmas Decorations for 2011

* UPLB Christmas Tree in vivid yellow lights

* Belen at Carabao Park

The setting-up of Christmas decorations in U.P. Los Baños (UPLB) is one of the anticipated events in December in the campus primarily because of the pomp accorded to the ceremony to mark the start of the Christmas celebration there. More than anything else, the Christmas Tree being erected each year just beside the UPLB Administration building is the most prominent feature of the Christmas decorations in the campus. Standing several feet high, it is actually higher than the Administration building itself. The Tree is decked with different decors and its lighting is superb, especially when viewed at night. I’ve seen each day how a crew of workers prepare the ‘spine’ of the tree and eventually put up the decors around it.

* closer views of the Belen

* Santa Claus in UPLB?

Then there is also the Nativity scene found as one enters the Carabao Park (also outside the Administration building). The materials used in this decor, as I have read it from an invitation, were from the tree trunks downed by the typhoon Milenyo several years ago. UPLB then commissioned workers (natives up north if I am not mistaken) to work on the sculptures. Aside from these, the other decors are mostly Western themed. I guess we cannot easily escape that colonial mentality in the near future, at least not yet.

These UPLB Christmas decors provide a place for friends to lounge for a while and for families to take a breather. (I haven’t found such occasion yet. Hopefully in the future.)