Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saint Mark Chapel in UP Los Baños

The next two to three posts are connected with the youth-related activity which I joined sometime in late December 2011. Being youth-organized and youth-oriented, tours were necessary to ‘distract’ those young minds (am I still included here?) and gather thoughts in a different environment. In no particular order I’ll start with the Saint Mark Chapel along the slopes of Mount Maquiling in U.P. Los Baños.

    * first view of Saint Mark Chapel
St. Mark Chapel is different: 1) first, because of its architecture, having no walls with just a central tower-like structure serving as the chapel roof and as base of the huge cross erected for this place of peace and worship, and 2) it is situated within the greeneries of Mount Maquiling; a simple visit to the place may prove a devotion already.

* the chapel’s feature cross

 * Saint Mark   

* our activity speaker; too bad I forgot his name

* one of the many huge trees decking the chapel area

We went there not to take picture actually (although we were able to do so briefly after our activity) but to do reflection of and on God (emphasis on the capital G is given here). Without covering the fact that I have now my own religion discontent, I nevertheless tried to recall my times as a neophyte in my religious denomination, its ups and downs, and a few personal recollections. An interpretative dance was also presented which aided in setting up the mood of the activity. Aside from that, the activity organizers brought in a speaker / minister who gave us a short message. If I ever experienced any calm periods in my recent (and tumultuous) life, that would be one of them. I remember discussing my thoughts but I saw them as incoherent.

Some said during our visit that Saint Mark Chapel has been used as set for film shootings. I say the place looks good too for a private wedding.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Boat Ride in Laguna de Bay from Los Baños, Laguna

Another unplanned travel. And this time it took us into Laguna de Bay itself. The rented boat from Los Baños, Laguna was a discovery for us. Let's have the details later. Let me share first the experience of riding a boat in Laguna de Bay.

Laguna de Bay View from Victoria, Laguna

An unplanned travel brought us to Victoria, Laguna, home to famous poultry products. But that can be discussed in a future blog post. For now let me share a view of the scenic Laguna de Bay from the shores of Victoria. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Makipamuhay XVII: Immersion in Cabuoan, Santa Maria, Laguna (Part 3)

* our last Cabuoan breakfast

The last day of the immersion was, in truth, a mixture of happiness and sadness; happy because we are now through with the long-prepared activity and sad because it proved that a three-day was not enough. As we would learn later in the afternoon, a familial bond was already forged amongst the student-immersionists and the families in Cabuoan.


* one full, cold bath

Finally, we had one long cold bath in one of the pumped water sources in Cabuoan. I don’t know what exactly it meant but I found myself at peace drenched in water while watching those wide fields just in front of us. Perhaps it gave to me this thought there are many things that the metropolis cannot give even at this modern times. Peace. The gay morning scenes. Cool winds.

* sa piling ni Halina (photo by teammate Nathan)

We did our last check on the student-immersionists and came across the grave of the once daring actress Halina Perez. I remember hearing the news about her death several years ago. It turned out that was her screen name only for her real name was Vanessa Mae-Ann Uri.


* our Makipamuhay farewell program

Our farewell program was literally filled with tears as both students and foster families shed tears, knowing that their new ‘families’ had to be in indefinite hiatus. There was a general invitation to come back on the village fiesta but I cannot know if some of the students actually returned. It was touching to see male students opening their hearts out, something that is not commonly seen nowadays. I knew it was not for anything else (for good evaluation results, etc.) but it was a show of real appreciation of the kindness shown to them by the people of Cabuoan. Even as we traveled back home, a camaraderie was still forged. Who can forget Ate Len-Len who was honest enough to tell us of her needs? It felt good to know that you were able to help someone.

* lending a helping hand to Ate Len-Len; shot as we left Cabuoan

And so in the end I see immersions as reality respites for us. It enables us to actually make an inner check on ourselves, how much we are valuing our life and the things around us by putting us under fire, under a test, a test of living, a living that is most like totally different from what we have. In a way this gives us a view of the social gap in terms of economic standing that still persists today. But it also gives us the opportunity to design our own programs to respond to societal problems. Honestly, I still want to go back there and experience Cabuoan again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Makipamuhay XVII: Immersion in Cabuoan, Santa Maria, Laguna (Part 2)

 * view of a mountain from Cabuoan grounds

* morning clean-up!

* a mapping of Cabuoan

The second day of the immersion required us to get water early since water supply is out for most of the day and to do early check on the student-immersionists. The students, on the other hand, were either doing the usual chores in their respective ‘homes’ or participating in the barangay clean-up near the elementary school in Cabuoan.

 * Cabuoan children having fun!

The preset day activity included free time (read fun time) for the village children where they were allowed to play and a mapping of the Cabuoan area with the help of the village elders. These did not consume the morning hours so we were able to roam again Cabuoan and get acquainted with different families. I say here again that the people there are hospitable. Most of the families we passed through offered us food.

 * Faith’s eye

 * student-immersionists prepping up!

The rest of the afternoon was set aside for a longish preparation for the evening event – a big program of sort which involved most of the people in Cabuoan. By tradition, this is the part of the immersion to be organized solely by the student-immersionists. So we acted as the students’ runners. We did the purchasing of the ingredients for their evening snack and made the necessary arrangements for us to have mono-block chairs, sound system, and lights (the lights were obtained last actually; it was already dark when we were able to borrow one).

 * free food, free food, free food

* the evening program and the evening chow

Since the students hosted the program we facilitators stayed in the periphery of the activity area, breathing in the cold night air and eating junk food. What I did enjoy was the sight of the sopas in paper bowls and orange juice lined to be given to the Cabuoan people.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer

* view from the dark: approaching the Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer
Ash Wednesday reminds me not only of the upcoming Lenten season but also of the coming summer. It has been a year, one sultry summer night, when we visited the Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer in Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna.
* the main door

* lights up the ceiling
* holy water holder

When we made the visit, this church has all the look of a recently refurbished one. Perhaps this was because of the recent decree which made the Parish of San Vicente Ferrer officially Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer. The consecration and dedication was held on March 26, 2010 and was presided by Bishop Leo Drona. Structure-wise I think it is enough for the residents in and around the area of Mamatid.
* the parishioners during a mass

* sampaguita vendors outside

* candles in the dark

[How to go to the Diocesan Shrine of San Vicente Ferrer: One can make Calamba Crossing as his or her starting point. You can board jeepneys bound for Cabuyao (or San Pedro provided that they will pass through Cabuyao) and drop off at Mamatid junction. From there you have two choices: either you walk up to the church (which may take 10-15 minutes) or hail a tricycle which will take you there in a few minutes.]

Makipamuhay XVII: Immersion in Cabuoan, Santa Maria, Laguna (Part 1)

This is a long overdue work. In many instances I have skipped writing about this activity but I think our experiences there deserve recollection. Now, Makipamuhay XVII is an annual activity of the institution where I once worked and it involved immersing students in a community. And immersion here pertains to actual living with the community, doing what the people there do, eating what the people there eat, among others. For this particular year (that is, last year) we were assigned to Brgy. Cabuoan in the town of Santa Maria, Laguna.  

 * the first orientation/meeting of the student-immersionists  

  * religious items inside the village chapel

* morning check on the student-immersionists

 * an old water pump

     * a view of Cabuoan fields

The village of Cabuoan is situated past the town cemetery and this undeniably gives Cabuoan a different connotation. I have recently met a previous resident of Cabuoan and I shared to this person my experiences in their place. This acquaintance in return relayed that there came those times when Cabuoan was seen as a place where ‘salvage’ (specifically, the negative connotation of the word) is common. But nevertheless, this person was quick to note that the place is now relatively peaceful.

 * transmission lines crossing through Cabuoan

 * do-it-yourself wind vane


* bamboo ornaments

* flowers as walls

 * the mighty sili!

But when we first arrived in the place, there were no such thoughts within us for the people were generally amicable. It was a surprise actually to see that most of the invited families wanted students for ‘adoption.’ Unfortunately, we can only accommodate a limited number of families.

The first day of the immersion activity was spent in making ourselves literally at home in the village (although we actually ‘lodged’ in the village day care center), checking the status of the student-immersionists, and preparing for the next day’s activities.

* teammates for the immersion: Nathan, Faith, Susie, Chano

 * plant in the midst of the waters
 * free lunch!

  * afternoon orientation/meeting/sharing

* village children

What I particularly enjoyed was the visit to the town proper in the afternoon where I was able to see their church (see my post about Santa Maria church here). The visit of course was not a leisurely one for we had to shop for our food.

Later in the night, we started doing the night check on the student-immersionists (of course we wouldn’t want to find out some lost or ‘misplaced’ students in the village!). It was the first time that I visited a cemetery in the middle of the night, with only several barangay tanod and small flashlights as companions. During that cemetery traverse, we were able to see graves cracked open, bones in the open, and withered flowers all around us.

 * view of the mountain around Santa Maria;
shot en route to the town market

 * sign for the Yoyong and Dita’s Resort

* makeshift bridge

* afternoon check on the student-immersionists

Aside from the place of the dead almost getting to our nerves, we encountered highly territorial dogs ready to defend their masters’ houses and devour whatever or whoever comes in as a stranger. There was a poultry we passed by which have a small army of dogs for their security. Through that same poultry I was reminded that the night is not limited to sleeping. There workers were all active, doing their respective works as if the sky above them is not blanketed in darkness.

 * roaming group to make sure we are alright

 * night check on the student-immersionists

 * Pransis under the dark

* free arroz caldo for us night checkers courtesy of the barangay tanod team

To cap our night check, the team of barangay tanod who accompanied us treated us with arroz caldo. They got a chicken from a house we passed through and gladly turned that into a delicious midnight snack. The night chow was mixed with lengthy conversations and fun-filled TV watching. It turned out that those were not the only ones we were going to experience in Cabuoan.