Category Archives: Cebu

Bedok Reservoir and other Lake Stories

Last month we were invited by some friends to eat “bulalo” in Lucky Plaza, the mecca of Filipino overseas workers here in Singapore. During weekends Filipinos, mostly domestic workers, congregate around the area.

We shared stories about our diversions. I told them I enjoy biking around the 4 kilometer shoreline of the Bedok Reservoir especially before the crack of dawn. During this time of the day the manmade lagoon provides spectacular scenes unlike anywhere else.

One of the older women there cautioned me that “it’s not safe”. She started telling me about the numerous “mysterious” deaths that has occurred in the lake. She used to live near the reservoir and claims to having sensed some “bad spirits” in it. I sat there in torment listening to her other supernatural stories but her story about unknown entities residing in lakes did not surprised me.

* * *

I recall this news of children drowning in Taal lake a few years ago. Curious was how the correspondents seem to link the deaths to the paranormal and not measures the local government failed to enact. Why would they assume that spirits are randomly taking lives in that placid lake?

My mother said Visayan folklore also attributes drowning deaths to mysterious sea vortex that abruptly appears from nowhere. They call it “Lilo” or “Liloan”. Some littoral towns carries this name to this day. I wonder if they were named after the fabled whirlpools.

When I was in Laoag, I read about the myth of its lake’s origin. According to local legend the lake was once a town called San Juan de Sagun; apparently an unforgiving god sunk it to teach the wicked townsfolk a lesson. The legend sounded biblical like Soddom and Gomorrah.

Fresh water lakes are remnants of catalytic natural catastrophes. I could imagine whatever creature had been left to struggle in it would ultimately adapt. It is possible that monsters people claimed to have seen in lakes are literally monstrous prehistoric animals.

Speaking of adaptation, the only known fresh water sardines, the tawilis, are from Taal Lake. These once sea dwelling fish learned how to live in fresh water conditions. Now that’s fascinating. One of my favorite history book about Batangas is “The Mysteries of Taal: A Philippine Volcano and Lake” by Thomas Hargrove. In the book he marveled how the lake, categorized as fresh water, appears to have sustained species intended only for the sea.

* * *

One of my favorite legend around Laguna de Ba’y is the one told by old timers of Pila-Pila in Binagonan.

The story goes that a gorgeous lady who had countless suitors decided to test them. She would make her husband the man who can erect a bridge from Pila-Pila to Los Banos’s main market. Because it was practically impossible all of the men back off except one—a fine-looking man who took on the task.

The following night, the barrio was awaken by loud activities. To their shock they found demons building the foundation of the bridge! Turns out that the man was the devil himself. The maiden then went to the church and took the cross from the altar and brought it to where the demons were busy setting up the foundation for her bridge. They all scampered but left the vestiges of their work there in Pila-Pila.

I’m sure those rock formation, called “Fuente del Diablo,” have some scientific explanation behind it but these stories are amusing. But what’s more fascinating is that some people believe in it.

* * *

While biking along the lake shore of Laguna de Ba’y in Muntinlupa two years ago I came across some local fishermen. They were casting their nets and were catching milkfish. What they catch they prepare for their families, any surplus they sell.

I asked these men if a bigger ship could still ply the lake. “You need to get rid of those private fish pens in the middle of the lake first,” they said with these big smiles on their faces. They told me that there’s potential for using the lake for transportation if our government is willing to invest in it. They should know because not only do they boat around it, they swim on it too.

But the fishermen also said that ships must be modest in size for a larger vessel would run into some shallow waters particularly during summer. They told me that the deepest depth of the lake is around 6 feet “mas o menus”. They got it right, LLDA classified the lake as a “shallow freshwater” with maximum depth of 2.8 meters.

* * *

Now going back to the Bedok Reservoir. It was recently the site of some of the water sports for the SEA games where held. Not far from it is the 30 hectare campus of the Temasek Polytechnic. It has the most idyllic site for a learning institution that I have ever seen.

The tree lined pathway of the Bedok Reservoir

I did check some online articles and found that some believe the reservoir is cursed, some say it’s haunted, others attribute its location as bad fengshui. But I’m of the opinion that these so called mysterious deaths are nothing more but coincidence. The lake’s so peaceful and attractive that troubled souls would naturally gravitate to it—to die? Maybe, we don’t know what really goes on the minds of those people who unexpectedly plunge in its still waters.

Also, the lake have a maximum depth of 18 feet. Extremely dangerous for someone who can’t swim. I could barely swim so I’m not thinking of dipping in its placid water anytime soon. I’m happy biking around it in a sunshiny picture-perfect Sunday.


I remember that church in Loay

Nothing could be more dispiriting to a heritage advocate than seeing centuries old churches turned into piles of rubble. I don’t know what to make out of this cataclysmal tremor. Maybe I was so used to seeing people dismantle historic religious structures that I never thought that God could take them away too.

Loay Church after the giant earthquake. The facade has completely collapsed under its own weight. Gone are the magnificent facade (Photo courtesy of http://www.gmanetwork.com/)

Internet has some unbelievable images of the earthquake’s aftermath. They’re still experiencing some strong tremors down there, so let’s continue praying for our Visayan countrymen. There are donation drives–let’s do some good work and help out.

I remember visiting the church of Loay back in 2009. Not as old as Baclayon and Loboc’s (completed around the 1820’s) but definitely unique in its architectural form—I’ve seen nothing like it in the region. The frontage is most interesting. Historian Benjamin Layug describes it having “an inner and an outer three-level portico-facade with semicircular arched main entrance at the first level, rectangular windows on the second level and a low triangular pediment topped by allegorical figures.”

Sadly, the church’s facade completely collapsed last Tuesday.

I can still recall the day I first saw the church of Loay. It rained the entire night (I was staying in Tagbilaran) so I hesitated to go out the next day. But I decided to go that cold morning–visiting Loay and the surrounding towns–all the way to Carmen. Looking back, if I chose not go that day I would’ve  regretted it for the rest of my life because some of the structures I saw then are no longer standing today.

Once in Loay I started walking aimlessly. I  had no clue where this church was. Then I saw this old lady walking alone. Walking so slowly. I thought it a good idea to follow her. Tailing this old lady led me to the steps of Loay’s Church of the Holy Trinity. She must’ve been coming to the church her whole life. I hope she gets to see it rise again.

I took this photo of Loay in 2009. The frontage has collapse because it is the only portion of the church not t supported by buttresses. Basing on the pictures I saw online, around 70% of the church is still in tact. Which gives hope to an eventual restoration.


My Lola & the Fighting Cañetes

I rarely post pictures of myself and family here but this time I would like to make an exception. This is the most recent photo I have with Lola Nene. Taken last year December. (L to R) Lola, Me, Samboy (my brother) & Aunt Norma

Last year when I visited my last surviving lola we spoke a lot about her memories growing up. She’s the youngest of more than a dozen siblings. I was reminded of her and our conversation when a few weeks ago, an Australian man I’m training with told me about his experience and facsination with “arnis”. I didn’t brought up the stories my Lola had told me because I know little about the history of arnis. Which is a shame really considering I’m related to the originators of this popular style of Filipino martial arts.

Lola Nene being the youngest was taken by her older sister when the war broke out. While her brothers joined the military. Aside from the sister who took her in (my fathers mother), she never got reunited with her other siblings again after the war. What’s sad was that she kept hearing stories about them but never got the chance to see them. She said another reason was that she never had the time to look for them because she had to raise her son alone after the untimely death of her husband (a Cabahug). Today her unico hijo, Uncle Boy, is a speechwriter and a long time professor in PUP.

She told me that one of her brother, Silvestre, was hired to become a top bodyguard of President Osmena. She thought that she’ll meet him in Cebu only to find out that the man moved to the US. Silvestre, along with his brothers, founded the “Doce Pares” style of escrima. She’s unsure if Ciriaco, the lone surviving member of “Doce Pares” (must be in his 90’s) is a cousin or a brothers. Yoling, the eldest, had long passed. He was the leader of the group until his death.

I guess with this post I’m just hoping that someone, a brother or the second generation of Cañetes here and abroad, would stumble across this and find that Lola remembers and thinks of them to this day and wonder, whatever happened to them fighting Cañetes.

Hong Kong
November 2012


The Town Church (La Iglesia del Pueblo)

Those of us educated in the old manner keep a very pond memory of the town church. This church symbolized our home, our small country, and recalled our childhood. Members of all social classes founded these temples and mansions, “stone by stone and story by story”, to serve as the religious and social center of those early communities. Around it rose residences and expanded townships, connecting in this  manner the material structure of the old civilization.

Alas, this tradition is disappearing, modern urbanization has come to our towns, changing their exterior aspect and destroying their pristine character. Instead of churches, what now rise are markets, schools, railroads stations, and round these modern hubs develop the new cities, founded on divergent bases.

“It’s now very changed,” we hear them say today who visit the provinces. And the assurances is: “You wouldn’t recognize it any more.” The houses of masonry, Spanish colonial in style, still surround the churches, like lifeless shells, full of damage, dust and damp; but new commercial sections with their modern constructions have formed round the market built of cement or the railroad station; and there’s an enormous plaza fronting the new school where boys and girls play in the afternoon classes… the women have established in the most populous district a puericulture center with the little hospital and maternity beds, I repeat that there has been a change.

Oslob Church. Taken 2009 after it caught a tragic fire that destroyed it. The reselient Oslobanon's has been working to rebuild this majestic church by the sea.

The fact is: when we travel the provinces today and begin visiting in each town the places once so familiar to us, an oh! Of admiration escapes our lips at the sight of so much change introduced in one of two decades. We notice that the tower of the old church is leaning, If not utterly ravaged; ruinous and full of moss is the belfry; the convent uncheerful and unpainted; and crumbling or fallen the garden walls which On the other hand, no other parts of the town have risen, as if by art of enchantment, scattered little cities, with their laughter, their charms, and their manifestations of modernity…

Progress is man approaching his Creator – I remember reading that in Alberdi. The difference is that yesterday we used  the churches, now we avail ourselves of other agencies…

From Teodoro M. Kalaw’s “Dietario Espiritual: 1926-1927”. Translated from the Spanish by Nick Joaquin.


Pardo – Cebu’s Fortress Iglesia

Pardo

My mother’s long time friend and trusted cabulig [she prefers this term over katulong] in her small food stall asked me how my Cebu experience was. I told her it was awesome. I haven’t visited the stall ever since I left for Cebu in ’09.

Nida’s from El Pardo, once a small coastal old Barrio of Ciudad de Cebu together with Talamban that are now residential districts of the progressive provincial capital. Its a 3 mile ride from the city. It has become crowded over the years as many people wanted to live near the city center.

My mother’s helper, like many others, decided to relocate here in Manila believing that luck awaits them. The move proves to be a wrong move. Her husband was jailed for estafa. I don’t know what happened to him. I’ll never  accept the excuse of “kahirapan” for involving oneself in criminal activities. But who am I to judge the hearts of man. This former security guy once save civilians from a “holdaper”. Sayang. How unfortunate that some souls are driven to commit crime because of utter poverty.

Our trusted cabulig is now raising her family alone, with four kids and just recently, a grandson, all living with her in a small house in the Makati slums. Believe it or not, they pay rent.

But its easy to criticize these provincianos for relocating here. We are not in their shoes. We’ll never understand the hopelessness that draws these souls here. Moving here in the capital is a move of desperation for many provincianos, they don’t have anything back home and what they’ll soon find out is that the standard of living here for them would be worst than where they came from.

Most of them that won’t make it – regrets once they realize there’s nothing behind the Manila glitter.

I remember very well the day I walked around Pardo, it was the summer of 2009, it was a hot and humid day. I was sweating like crazy. I had visited three other churches along the south hi-way and the church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva was the last stop.

Pardo’s church is an eccentric looking building that resembles more a battle tower than a traditional old Filipino church. Painted white, the church has a bas relief in front that illustrates a known Agustino symbol. Our old churches, like this one established as a visita of Sn. Nicolas, are simply more artful, elegant, lofty and resilient. We don’t build them like we used to.

But what’s even sadder these days is that what ever is left of our heritage is discarded like some dead snake skin! I was reading a feature in the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday about a chef who constructed a pleasant residence that many mistake to be an ancestral house, somewhere in Pampanga. He’s proud that he “sourced” his construction materials from a centuries old church being torn down!

Inside the Pardo Church

When I arrived there was an on going Primera Comunión. First communion back in the old days was an important milestone in the life of a Filipino Catholic family. Somehow it doesn’t feel like that anymore. Have we lost our religious traditions?

I stayed a little longer and took some pictures. The little girls were dressed in these pink dresses. They had these cute little wings attached at the the back of their bright outfits. The lil’ boys were more conventional, wearing collared shirts but I observed that some had hairs styled in very modern anime-sque fashion. Gone are the glossy brushed up hairs that was once the only fit hair-do for such occasions. But I thought the change, the strange hair styles and those angelique customers was fine. It was not like this when I had mine. Time has changed many of our old traditions.

One of its oldest resident priest is an uncle of a friend where I work. He said he’s admired, among family and wherever he’s assigned. This friend has got some interesting stories about this uncle priest but I would leave it at that. They say “humans will always fail; it is only God that never fails”J


Cutest Rizal Monument everrrr…

Even Rizal would've like this one!

I’ve been around the country  and I’ve yet to see a municipio or a city hall without a Rizal monument. Is there a law instructing all local government to have one?

I’ve seen some odd ones, some really old ones (early 1900’s), some neglected and some that doesn’t even look like the hero – but of course you assume its him.

One of my favorite is this one that stands in front of a remote municipio of San Fernando in Camotes Island. Not only does their monument really looks like the hero the monument and its environ is very well kept. Who ever maintains the small park deserves a job in Malacanan Palace!

Another detail that caught my attention was the color of the pedestal where the lifelike statue of Rizal stand. Did they picked green because of the meaning of the hero’s last name?


San Francisco de Asís of Naga (Cebu)

Strange to many the design and symbols of this church continues to mystify first time visitors (a group of local tourist can be seen here also taking pictures of the unique facade of the church).

One of the image that stuck in my mind during my trip in the southern portion of Cebu was this small but unique church that stand out among its natural surrounding. The church of San Francisco de Asís  of Naga is a wonderful discovery in what seems to be an endless treat to the eyes and soul for someone whose  mission was to see these buildings he consider endangered and threatened.

From the looks of whats inside, series of renovations and changes has covered much of the original design and material used but according to B.L. Layug, author of Philippine Churches, “the interior remain unchanged since it was built over a century ago”. The good author must have been referring to the altar and the surrounding structures inside. The facade however has maintained its original form. For this, we have the heavens to thank for.

The importance of the facade is its art and architecture. For an observer like me the meaning behind the church’s symbols provides something to think about. So rare that I think this could be the only one in existence. Definitely Mexican inspired but it had no distinct architectural style. While most of the churches from south to north can be easily classified this one is an exception.

My amateur observation is that the Padre Maranon, credited for establishing some of the most important churches in the island, together with Padre Aguirre and all the other missionaries envisioned something different for the community. Where they combining Mexican art with Filipino to make an impression?

Whatever it was we can only be thankful for it and wish that this unique church stays with us forever.

For a better look at the what the facade looks like up close [my handy digicam could not take a better shot] please visit a fellow blogger’s article about the church [here].


Bantayan Island

The Historic Bantayan Church

The best thing about Cebu is that you will never run out of places to go and things to experience. Its such a great place to live in . While I was there I worked during the weekdays and spent my weekends going around. If things work out for me I’ll probably retire there someday there’s so much to discover in this southern island for a history buff like me.

One such place that I got to visit last year is the northern island of Bantayan. From Cebu City, its about 3-4 hours. The bus ride is long but its all worth it as it offers travelers a look at the scenic northern towns of Cebu that not too many people get to see – its vast sugarfields, its magnificent coast and its communities and the old churches along the coastlines. The cheap bus ride (50 pesos for a 150-200 km of traveling!) terminates in Hagnaya port. In Hagnaya you have to ride a ship, one of those roro types (fare is around 150 bucks), to Sta. Fe Bantayan.

I usually don’t plan where to stay, which sounds dumb but I prefer to always look and shop around first. This doesn’t work all the time but I’ve been very fortunate so far. I did found a place in Bantayan, a hut actually, that’s pretty cool – un-airconditioned but less that a 100 meters from the beach so I was sure I would get a lot of fresh sea breeze. There’s no sense in getting expensive lodging since I really don’t spend a lot of time staying inside – most of the time I’m out the whole day only coming back to rest.

The island is a place of interest because it played a historical role in preventing the Moro’s to continue pillaging the Christian population in the northern portion of that province. It was Gobernador Corcuera who built most of the fortifications and watchtowers in the island. Known as “Bantayan sa Hari”, literally meaning watchtowers of the king, the island later became simply known as “Bantayan”. The significance of its development as a defense island  is that it gives us an idea of what people were like at that time. On  the one side, you have the invading Moros who rode the habagat to reach Cebu from the deep south – then you have natives who had converted to Catholicism, now fighting alongside the Spaniards. Its interesting that from these encounters the island had been given a unique role – the battles had left it with so many wonderful historical monuments and a strong Catholic tradition.

Receding tides forms an interesting landscape

I could just imagine what the Spaniards felt when they found out that they had to battle Muslims, their old adversaries, again in what they thought were fresh lands for their kingdom.  Most historical opinion are that the Moro’s visits were cases of piratical plunder, sacking coastal towns, capturing potential slaves as they leave. There are some scholars that suggest that the attacks were resistance against the Spanish presence, which in my view is highly unlikely. Whether the intention was to inflict injury or fight the invaders what is certain was that these were not the first battle between these nations as it seem more likely that the Moro’s had been slave raiding even before the Spaniards came. This is the reason why promised Spanish “protection” from these pirates appealed to the natives who were naturally awed by the Foreigners advanced weaponry and building techniques. Its fascinating that all the Spanish projects: like churches, bridges and administrative buildings were built to “impress and intimidate” the native people. That’s why we have to save what’s left because they don’t make them like they used to.

The Bantayan church is dedicated to Sts. Peter and Paul. It was founded sometime in 1580’s at that time it was part of the Archdiocese of Mexico (the one in the Americas not Pampangas). The missions built several churches in the same site due because of natural disasters and battles. The current church is said to be the fifth to be erected in the same site.  The island being subjected to countless battles with invading groups should explain why the walls are  possibly the thickest ever built in the province, seriously someone should measure them! Just looking at them and imagining the labor that went to making them gave me goosebumps.

“The interior of Bantayan church is worth highlighting. It is decorated with stone statuary just like the facade. Stone carvings of saints from the colonial period are not as common as wood carving. These stone statues make Bantayan’s interior valuable”, said the Jesuit historian Fr. Javellana.The bas reliefs are very intricate, it can be found inside and outside of the church. I’ve never seen anything like it and I suggest to those who visit the church to take a close look.

An old fashioned Filipino home blending well with its fast modernizing town

The house on the right belongs to the old Bantayanon family, the Escario's. Around the plaza are some very good examples of Hispanic inspired Filipino houses

There are two significant fort ruins in the islands, one is in Sta. Fe the other is in Madridejos. Its amazing how this isolated island was made into a military installation. Its also interesting that there are still quite a few old houses around the church and plaza. The old building where they show films are still around. Some houses are in their final stages of being discarded while most, surprisingly, are well kept. There are at least 20 which is high considering that old houses has been harder to maintain due to its cost and the unavailability of materials. The families that decided to keep their houses must be commended – these people are rare nowadays. One thing that I love the most about bahay na bato in the provinces is that the original builders never resorted to what was cheap (hindi tinipid ang materyales) which is probably the reason why their still around after all these years. These romantic houses, if your a history person, are worth seeing when you’re around the poblacion.

After a tiring day I then went on to forage for food – well, there’s no need really since at night time as there are lots of those buffet eat-all-you-can restos in Sta. Fe. I picked this one ran by a Portuguese fella who personally serves his customers with his son. His place is decorated by these shirts and jerseys (I assume donated by his customers). The food was great and price was cheap – not bad considering you can literally eat until you pass out (I think someone did or was he just drunk?). The grilled seafoods and all those Filipino dishes was overflowing. I think the Portuguese also serves some of his hometown cuisines but I was too busy eating to even notice. I also bought some dangit and pusit – its cheaper here compared to the popular dried fish market of Tabuan.

At night time the lights of the Negrense town of Escalante is visible from Santa Fe. The night time is good time to many people here especially the foreigners who go out and drink in the streets bars around the poblacion – some of these folks had decided to stay for good in Bantayan. I can’t blame them, its a great place. How I wish that I had more time when I visited. I retired for the night and woke up to a beautiful Bantayan sun rise – it was just an amazing feeling seeing it, a picture that would stay with you forever.

A scene that stays with you for a long time


A Picture of Mt. Kanlaon

 Mt. Kanlaon (Canlaon, Kan-laon) with a strange cloud  formation hanging on top of it. I took this photo at the port of Toledo just before the sun rose. It was a perfect day and we were headed back to Negros.

Tañon strait was so calm that one could mistake it as a lake at that time. The sea breeze was cold and fresh. The only sound I could hear was the crashing little waves and the motorized boats from the distance.

Kanlaon is one of the most active volcanoes in the country. It sits side by side with Mts. Silay and Mandalangan. It has a broad crater lake, I was told, I wonder what it looks like.

Canlaon the city is located at the foot of the volcano. It is considered the vegetable basket of the province. The high altitude and the rich earth produces the finest quality vegetables in Negros. My mother’s relatives in San Carlos made a living from buying vegetables here and selling them in their hometown back in the 40’s and 50’s.

It is also the home of a barrio named after Ninoy Aquino.


Cebu: My Nanay’s Short but Memorable Visit

Almost three hours of traveling – from Dumaguete to San Carlos. We rested at the San Carlos public market where my mother sold vegetables from Canlaon as a child. We then went to Toledo crossing the beautiful strait of Tanon.  The journey was fast but very rough. The waves were high and the commuter boat, small and crowded. In Toledo we rode a bus that took us to Cebu City.

It was extra special for my mother because it was her first time in Cebu, an island visible from where she grew up. “On a clear day I could see the smoke from its coal factories”, she said.

Toledo is the most developed among the western towns of Cebu. It has benefited from the cooper and coal mining. However, noticeable is the toll nature has taken from decades of mining.

The road from west to south traverse the mountain slopes. This provides scenic countryside beauty and horrific views of defaced mountains and lost forest.

The bus then exits in Naga and continues northwards to Cebu City. I love seeing the lively towns of San Fernando, Talisay and Minglanilla – even from inside the bus.

We went around the city; I took my mother to the usual places tourist visits in Cebu. The most important, at least for her, is seeing Sto. Nino de Cebu. It was the highlight of her Cebu trip, according to her.

After a tiring afternoon of walking, we went back to Toledo. The bus was being driven by a mad man – it swerved and was over speeding in angled and narrow high way. Somewhere in the middle of the trip, they had problems with the engine. They got it fixed but at this time it was already dark which made the ride really uncomfortable. I remember when I was still residing in Cebu, one of my colleagues warned me that the transportation in this part of the province is notorious for recklessness and accidents. And having traveled in the west side before, I could tell that not much has changed.

Back in Toledo we spent a night to get some deserved rest. The ferry ride back to San Carlos departs at 6 in the morning.

Oct 2010


San Vicente Ferrer in Mamatid and Pitalo

Pitalo Cebu

A friends post reminded me that Cinco de Abril was the feast of San Vicente Ferrer. We honor his memory with naming many towns after him, the exuberant fête during his feast day, but who is this so called “ángel del Apocalipsis” . I started reading about him when I read an article about a strange relic that is deposited in St Vincent Ferrer Church, in Manhattan Nueva York. Believe it or not, the relic was a finger belonging to the Spanish Saint. How it was acquired, the people of that Church won’t tell. You see icons and pictures of this man with a bible on his left hand and other hand, raised to the sky, his index finger pointing to the Heavens – well, one of those finger is there in New York, placed inside a reliquary.

The elevated pedestal behind the altar of Mamatid's church where one can make the "mano" (touching of the venerated images' cloth)

The interior of Mamatid Shrine.

In Cabuyao, San Vicente is a popular devotion, partly because parts of Laguna was Dominicano country before it was ceded to the other Friar orders. They were the ones who spread the devotion to the Dominican preacher, considered by many as one the most influential evangelist of all time. The Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in Mamatid was recently declared a Diocesan Shrine because of its popularity among the faithful, in and outside the Cabuyao town. When I was there last year, I met some people, dressed in maroon tees; they help keep the place spotless and safe. They call themselves the Caballeros of San Vicente, men who dedicated their lives for their Saint and Parish. I was assisted by one of them to go at the back of the retablo, where there is a small opening, just enough space so you can put your hands in and touch the clothe of the image of San Vicente, which is almost  the same size as that of Sto. Niño de Cebu. The Caballero said that during special holidays people would line up by the hundreds to lay a hand on the old icon. The entry then gets bolted when there’s no one to look after the antique icon.

The Times' reports on the relic of St. Vincent inside the beautiful Manhattan Church of St. Vincent.

In Cebu, I came across this charming century old chapel of Pitalo in San Fernando Cebu, dedicated to San Vicente. A local in his blog writes:

It houses a late 19th century wooden image, about 2ft tall, that many people claim to be miraculous, this writer including.

St. Vincent Ferrer is feted thrice annualy in this chapel: In February, to commemorate the Miracle of the Blood, when the villagers were spared from sure death brought about by an endemic cholera plague; on his official feast day on April 5 (usually moved to the Second Monday after Easter Sunday, just like in the saint’s hometown of Valencia, Spain); and in July for the Miracle of the Light, when, even without being connected to the generator, and even when the generator was not running, the chapel lights were mysteriously lit for about five hours. This event was witnessed by so many people.

The ceiling paintings on tin sheets were executed by the famed Cebuano duo church painters, the self-taught religious painters Raymundo Francia and Canuto Avila.

They claim that theirs is a miraculous image that it watches over them at all time.Ironically, a security guard watches over the adored image of San Vicente because of thievery. Cebu has one of the highest number of religious art being stolen. This has prompted the Cardinal to offer all parishes, those who fear that their relics are in danger of being stolen, the safety of the Diocese museum in Cebu City for safe keeping.

While the Saint was still alive, there were countless of miracles attributed to him. Does this also explain why images and icons of this Dominican Saint are often reported to possess miraculous healing powers?

* Pitalo article by Louie Nacorda


Cebu hermosa!

Cebu hermosa!

While I was in Cebu, I submitted an entry for a photo contest, using my now defunct point and shoot sony digicam! There were a lot of people that joined, as it is the case here in Manila, there are many photography enthusiast in Cebu. My concept was promoting the province not through the eyes of a local but from someone who was from the outside. Even if I have relatives in Cebu, I grew up in Manila and this is my first time here in the Queen City. The contest was modest. No big prizes to be won. It aims to promote awareness among its workers of the beauty that the province possess. Aside from photographs, the poster must contain a title and a caption that should explain why Cebu is a place that must be visited. Instead of quoting from someone, I created a draft poem and I had my friend Pepe finish and translate in Spanish. I then included the Spanish poem in my little project.

En la hermosura de las playas
En las gorjeas de los pájaros
Cantando a las iglesias —
Fachadas de un pasado lindo
He encontrado una isla más vieja
Que el capitolio de nacimiento.
Me has robado el corazón
El pensamiento y el sueño,
Has despertado completamente
la mente que falta la comprensión
Y apreciación hacia la historia verdadera
De las cosas que has inculcado al viajero en mi.
¡Gracias, muchas gracias!
¡Patria de los misioneros!
¡Patria de los héroes y religiosos!
Nunca te olvidaré
Seguiré recordándote
Mientras sigo andando, soñando,
Nunca más estará vencido el sueño
Para alcanzarte una vez más
Y otra vez para acariciar la hermosura
de la patria chica que es tú
Sugbo


Mantayupan Falls

I was browsing pictures of the trips I had in Visayas and just realize that I have a terrible back (b)log! there are a lotta places that I haven’t posted here. So I would be trying to put some of them here together with the most recent trips (Luzon). Though I don’t consider the site a “travel” blog (pero parang ganun na rin) the goal is for the site to mainly focus on “Filipino” history, heritage conservation and at the same time promote  some of the lesser known locations that I feel deserves our attention.

I went to Barili August of this year searching for Cañete relatives but went back to my Cebu City apartment with more questions and no answers. I’m still trying to figure out how to connect some dots that I hope would reunite this branch of the family. Everybody is saying that it would be easy to find them because of their “Escrimador” fame but I guess they’re as elusive as their martial art. I’ll skip this for now, will write about this some other time, some other place.

For now, I’m posting the wonderful pictures I took from Barili’s famous Mantayupan falls.

Cebu's answer to Pagsanjan!

Picnics

Little falls...

In the jungle of Barili

I don’t know when was this place developed, in my opinion its good for the public but it could be bad for nature if things gets out of hand. Nothing wrong with people enjoying the natural wonder of Barili, its nice to see people cooking and grilling and drinking, its cool, as long as they clean up after they go. It was very nice to see families just enjoying food and talking. There are no Videoke (none yet) and electricity. The place closes around 6pm.

Not a lot people know that the only way you can go up to the falls before is through a cave (called ambakan), a ver small one, that can be found at the bottom stream. In the early 1900’s, they carved steps on some of the stones so Barili natives and out of town visitors can catch a glimpsed of the majestic falls. Swallows and bats can still be found the cave, a man who works there said that there are snakes in its crevices, they keep the bat population in check. I’m not really keen on finding if there are any!

There were no iron and concrete trails before, only this...

Maybe a geologist can help explain what this is?

Steep steps.

The concreting of the passages and the iron trails not only altered the natural course of the stream but the whole landscape. Well its already there and whether you agree with it or not, its impossible to reverse what has already been done. The waters must be channeled so it could be use for irrigation and power generation. I don’t want to oppose progress but  in the long run, there should be a program that would aim to preserve the natural beauty of Mantayupan Falls.

We have to think of the next generation. And this monkey.

Free this monkey!


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