Category Archives: Paranaque

Baclaran Day

p_20160305_144650I grew up seeing the hectic streets of Baclaran and its modern Romanesque church. I was too young to understand then why my mother would kneel, pray, and move, while kneeling, towards the altar. You still see a few devotees doing this today.

My Aunt’s ritual was different and less taxing. After mass and novena, we ate lechon (rumored to be “double-dead” swines!). These carenderias along Redemptorist Road has long been replaced by stalls vending anything from dress to herbal remedies.

Baclaran church is open 24 hours a day. Imagine the upkeep and the bills the Redemptorist fathers have to settle! But they have plenty of resources.When they recently asked financial support for a campaneria many came forward. One of them, Kris Aquino. It remains the biggest Marian shrine in the country. Everybody avoids Wednesday, Novena time, especially if the trip would pass by the area.

Baclaran church was designed by Don Cesar Homero Concio of Pateros. His version, completed in 1958, was the third building on the site. Concio also drew the plan for the Protestant Church of the Risen Lord in UP. In my view, the Insular Life Building in Makati is his second best work. Unfortunately this building was redesigned in 2005.p_20160305_144907

The Concios still maintains their ancestral house in Pateros. Perhaps the only significant bahay-na-bato in the smallest municipality of metro-Manila.

Before the Redemptorists moved to Baclaran they had a smaller church in Malate. When they transferred to Parañaque, Don Manuel M. de Ynchausti and Ana Belen, his wife, requested that the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help be placed in the center of the graceful altar they donated.

If it were not for the Ynchaustis, Baclaran would have been different from what it is now. We probably would see popular devotion to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus instead. The founding Redemptorist, Fr. Drogan, was a devotee. One could still see a simple monument of the saint surrounded by “love locks” (no one’s sure how this trend started, inspired by  Paris most likely) courtesy of visiting lovers.

I’ve always been fascinated by the 19th and early 20th Ynchaustis. In the 1800’s they were commissioned to build Puente Colgante (also called Puente de Claveria), the first hanging steel bridge in Asia in the mid 1800’s. Described by the great Nick Joaquin as the unparalleled bridge in Asia it was dismantled and replaced by the art deco Quezon Bridge in 1939.p_20160305_145408

The 19th century Ynchaustis donated vast lands to religious and social causes. The only company I remember that at least had their name was YCO floorwax (YCO is the abbreviation of Ynchausti y Compañia). We use to wax the red wooden floors of our elementary school. We would later use “bunot” to polish the flooring.

The now saint, Pope John Paul II held masses in this church when he was still archbishop. He came back in 1981, then as Pope, and blessed the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Here in Singapore, devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help is popular among local Catholics. Since they’re a former English colony, they use “Succour” instead of “Help”. The church of St. Alphonsus is currently undergoing redevelopment and expansion. It is situated in Thompson Road and it was of no surprise to find many Filipinos in attendance during masses. There’s even regular Tagalog mass schedule. The Redemptorists came in this island in the 1930’s. The train station (MRT) that serves the area is aptly called “Novena”.


Filipino Made Backpacks

One of my favorite accessory when I travel is my Blazing Products belt bag. I bought it in 2004. It’s no Jansport but it sure is good if not better. I had two imported backpacks but this locally made belt bag, which I use far more often, managed to outlive them all.

Yesterday, I saw some Deuter belt bags on sale. During Chinese New Year there are many of these marked down sales here. I thought of buying but doing so meant using my old black belt bag less. No. I can’t do that to my 9 year old bag!

My bike with my old black belt bag tied on its handle bar. Cory and Ninoy’s grave site. Circa 2009.

I have no idea if Blazing Products still make bags. I can’t find them online. Did they went under? Now, that would be a shame. We Filipinos have this inexplicable, often extreme, affinity with imported products. Local products, even those possessing excellent quality, rarely gets support. Blazing Products are good reliable bags. I had a Bobcat backpack in high school. In my elementary years, it was the Khumbela bag. Remember them?

A former American boss found it amazing that Northface products are doing well in the country. I explained to him that we have good bags but local consumers would go for brand (the “estaytside” mentality). Even if that means paying triple the price.

While I was in Germany, I came across a couple of backpackers and one of them was carrying a Sandugo backpack. They were Swedes exploring the German country. The guy said he bought his from a shopping mall in Manila. They needed an extra bag and found a “bargain with very good make” in Sandugo. I have a Sandugo 40L bag (a different model from the one that guy was carrying) that I bought in 2008. I don’t do a lot of mountaineering, I just find them perfectly suitable for long trips and they’re not expensive at all. I sometimes check this bag in during flights because when its packed, it’s too bulky to hand carry. So it;’s taking some abuse from airport luggage handlers. It’s still in one piece, so that’s a good sign.

I’m not being paid to say these things but I feel that we have great bag makers and they deserve support from travelers like me who happens to have some presence on line. I want to do my part in putting them out there. I’ve been a fan of these Filipino companies for a long time and I would be happy to convince even one person to buy go try their products.


Fight for Parañaque’s Bird Sanctuary

Another commercial complex. Shops, restos, parking lots and supermarkets. That’s what investors intend to build in the last bird sanctuary in metro-manila. In 2007 President Arroyo banned all activities that could threaten the sanctuary. Now under this current president, a government agency is planning to carry out a project that would reclaim land for commercial use.

Its going to happen If we don’t make noise we make it too easy for them. I hope that all those who blogs or contribute to websites writes something about this crazy proposal. We’re up against people that worships money here. In a corrupted society money speaks the loudest. The rich and their capital controls everything. We allow this condition to prevail, we’re finished. Destruction of our natural and historical heritage are the last symptoms of our pending extinction as Filipinos. First, we lose our identity, then our country.

The fight to save this bird sanctuary is symbolic of a larger conflict in our society. The raging battle between conservation and commercial exploitation of our environment. The removal of this sanctuary is no different from the mining operations in the country that destroy everything in its path. Those who argue for mining are twisted human beings whose only concern with lining their pockets with money.

A satellite photo of the sanctuary (with red borders) courtesy of wikimapia

There are some private groups however that are giving it all and doing it all to save the sanctuary. They don’t get paid but they organize activities for the benefit of the area. A lot of these groups are very active on the social web banging the drums. Of course, these NGO’s know that they can’t do it alone but at least they’re trying.

The other argument is that the bird sanctuary post a danger to airplanes that takes off and land in NAIA. There were a few that had actually been damaged I heard but this does not mean that the sanctuary is to be blamed. Bird strikes are common occurrences even in airports located in cities. The NAIA bird strike incidents must be studied and effective responses be formulated. So far, I haven’t read a conclusive research on the potential threat the sanctuary poses.


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