Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Various Faces of the Holy Child in Ati-Atihan 2015

Undulating neon colors. Earth-shaking chants and drumbeats. Spontaneous dance steps. This, indeed, is Ati-Atihan. But the “mother of all festivities in the Philippines” is more than just a vibrant celebration. Above everything else, Ati-Atihan, is about glorifying the Sto. Nino. I joined the celebration of Ati-Atihan 2015, specifically, the Sunday morning mass and the “sadsad” that happened after. During the homily, the bishop emphasized the inspiration that the Sto. Nino brings to us. His Holiness, Pope Francis, love children because, like the Holy Child, they (should) give hope. And whenever we pray, we should say: "Sto. Nino, bendisyunan ninyo kami" (Holy Child, bless us.)

A selfie with an "Ati" in colorful neon costume!

Creatively done costumes. I was impressed!

I, myself, had witnessed a powerful scene back in 2010, when our community in Malabon was razed by fire – an old woman tightly embracing her Sto. Nino statue, the only “property” she was able to save. This was the subject of the poem that I wrote and was published in CCP Ani Journal, three years ago. Thus, while dancing with the crowd, I took photos of various images of the Holy Child, during the “sadsad”. Filipinos just love dressing up their Ninos! The costumes usually reflect the owners' trades or hobbies; sometimes, they just wanted to adorn their Sto. Ninos, just because. Here are some of them.

Sto. Nino in white dress and red cape.
 The chipped off face brought the drama.

Sto. Nino in red, little boy shirt and shorts.
I love the smile of the owner, it's as if its his kid!

Sto. Nino in Mickey Mouse shirt.
The Holy Child was this old man's grandson.

Sto. Nino in a costume made of native materials 

Brown Sto. Nino with necklace

Sto. Nino with green bonnet

Sto. Nino wearing the same costume as the one holding him!

Sto. Nino in stripes!

There are no big or small Sto. Nino...

...and it didn't matter who holds him.

One of the best, indeed!
An old man in a Sto. Nino costume!

Sto. Nino de Mil Almas

Festivals like Ati-Atihan will always be here. I just hope that we do not forget the essence of these celebrations. I will be traveling the Philippines to witness these events. Gala pa more!

Crazy,Overnight Baguio Adventure

Unplanned trips are better, because they often materialize ("yung mga di planado, yun ang natutuloy"), said my best friend Herbert. I wasn’t sure if that’s a good idea, though. Hahaha. By unplanned means not buying tickets in advance, or not anticipating that everyone else flocks to where you are going. Could be a problem, indeed! And I am talking about our Baguio trip. But, unplanned as it was, we were still able to enjoy our overnight stay in the Summer Capital of the Philippines, last January 15-16, 2015.

Uhm, what could one do for an overnight stay in Baguio?! There’s much to do. Really! Let me share with you our crazy adventure.

January 15

Karen and Aris, her boyfriend, were already in Baguio a day prior to our trip. I told my other best friends Rhose, Harold, and Herbert to go to our house in Valenzuela first and have their lunch there as it’s their god daughter’s (my niece’s) 10th month birthday. We left our house by 1pm and took a cab to Cubao. Matt, Harold's friend, joined us. As soon as we alighted the cab, we were overwhelmed by the number of people waiting for the Baguio-bound buses! And much to our disappointment, all tickets were sold out! Waaahhh!

What to do?! Of course, we had to think of an alternative. Thus, we decided to take the bus (First Solid North) going to Dau. From there, we would just transfer to another bus going to Baguio. And we followed the plan. From Dau, we transferred to Genesis bus, and after 8 hours and a number of stops, around 10pm, we reached Baguio! Yey!

We rode a taxi to our hotel, Ina’s Mansion, which was just a few meters from Burnham Park. Karen reserved the family room with 2 bedrooms, a sala, kitchen, toilet and bath, and a balcony for Php 2,700/night. Not bad! After freshening up, we started our adventure!

Ina's Mansion with Herbert at the foreground

First, we had our humble, and “tipid” dinner at the bus terminal at the foot of SM Baguio. The Special Mami (with beef, egg, and siomai) worth Php 60 was really a good buy!

Special Beef Mami with Egg and Siomai for Php 60/bowl

Then, we walked to Burnham and shopped at the night market! I bought a yellow sweater for my niece, while Karen and Harold bought rubber shoes! And, oh, Bert, Harold, and I bought beanies (not bonnets, mind you!)

Trying on various beanies and hats

We also had some bites of street foods, including siomai, hotdogs, and chicharon bulaklak. But the best among these was the binatog with milk!

Street food galore!

Food pa more!

Lastly, we bought coffee at the nearby SanMig Food Ave., before going home, and finally calling it a night.

Coffee to cap off the night!

January 16

We woke up early “para makarami” (so we could accomplish many things). To ensure that our bodies were warmed up for the entire day, we walked to Burnham Park and participated in Zumba! What made this Zumba dance fun was that they were playing new songs, such as Bang! Bang! By the way, it’s my first time to do Zumba! I realized, I missed dancing!


After exercising, we had our breakfast at a nearby restaurant, Kamayan sa Ganza. The food was so-so, though.

Breakfast at Kamayan sa Ganza

Then, we returned to our hotel to take a bath and change clothes. By 9am, we were all ready! Our rented Adventure (for Php 2,500 for the whole day) was already waiting for us.

La Presa

Because of the hit teleserye Forevermore, Sitio La Presa in Benguet has become a destination. But hey, going there was really a challenge! Indeed, its monicker “la parusa” was very apt! In fairness, it’s still a good spot for picture-taking – we had to pay the price of a good photograph!

View from 10,000 meters above sea level

We were so excited to visit Sitio La Presa...

...because of the beautiful view...

...that could only be seen from above...
...Oh, Sitio La Presa...

...why the Parusa, La Presa?

Lion Head

The first time I went to Baguio in 2013, I wasn’t able to visit this popular monument. Glad I had my photos taken with my best friends this time!

Head of the Lion

View of the ZigZag Road (at Kennon Road)

Our driver insisted that we see the top view of the ZigZag Road. And so we did.

Rhose, drama pa more!

Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Campus

One thing that I liked about the PMA Campus was its cleanliness and orderliness, an environment befitting the disciplined and structured (future) defenders of our country!

Pedestrian Crossing at the PMA Campus

Good Shepherd

Karen and Aris bought their pasalubong at Good Shepherd. I bought mine (Ube Jam and Chocolate Flakes) outside the famous establishment because I did not have the patience lining up! There were just way too many people buying pasalubong! Again, everyone’s in Baguio!

We did not go inside Mines View because everyone had been there before. Also, we needed to go back to the terminal to purchase tickets for buses bound to Manila that night. (It’s actually me that needed to go, since I had to report to office by 8:30am).

--- but the effort to be at the bus terminal at the earliest time possible was put to waste because of heavy…TRAFFFICCC!!! ---

When we checked for available trip tickets from Victory Liner, we were shocked to see a déjà vu! It’s the January 15, 2015 Cubao scene again! To cut the long story short, we decided to take another bus, an Avenida (instead of Cubao)-bound bus. We just ate siomai, siopao, and congee inside the bus. We left at 8:15pm and reached Balintawak at 1:30am, January 17.

Yes, we wanted it that way. Haha. Gala pa more!

Punta sa Pinto: A Trip at Pinto Art Museum

My weekend getaway with my college buddies Adrian, Ron, and Joan, appreciating contemporary Filipino artworks last January 11, 2015 proved to be a mind-stimulating (and tiring) exercise. But for Php 100 entrance fee, a whole-day visit at Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo City regaling at the paintings and sculptures was really worth it! Personally, I would like to pay a visit again to get some inspiration for my poetry as the museum is very accessible from Metro Manila.

(Directions for commuters: Ride a jeepney going to Antipolo, alight at Ynares Center, and ride a tricycle going to Pinto Museum).

The facade of Pinto Museum

LIRA, my poetry organization, has been doing workshops in Pinto Museum lately. But during our time, that’s in 2010, we were not able to hold any of our workshops there. In this blog entry, I would be identifying the five artworks that caught my attention, and that could possibly be a subject of my poetry. There were a lot and the photos of these are in my Facebook album. Some of the activities and side trips that we did would be included in this article, as well.

My Five Picks

1. "Lolong and Loleng" (Demetrio Dela Cruz, Stitched End Oil on Canvas, 2012) - It shows a pair of shoes made of crocodile skin inside a shoebox. And on the shoebox cover, is the evolution of man. The "final man" is shown wearing the shoes.

"Lolong and Loleng"

2. "Panalo" (Ferdie Montemayor, Acrylic on Canvas, 2012) - At first, it looks like an abstract artwork. But it's actually a triathlon!

3. "Karnabal" (Various artists of Salingpusa, Acrylic on Canvas, 1992) - This gigantic painting depicts Philippine society as a "carnival" with magicians, and all.

4. "Forest" (Antonio Leano, Installation, 2012) - I was amazed with the room dedicated to this bamboo installation, complete with sound effects!


5. "Burning Bay" (Elmer Borlongan, Acrylic on Canvas, 1992) - It's just powerful.

Burning Bay

There were other artworks that I liked because of the media that were used and their messages, as well. One really needs to pay a visit at Pinto.

Other Happenings

During our visit, the members of Ballet Philippines were having their body-bending photoshoot (you would hear one of the more dominant members saying, “push mo pa!”)

My friends Adrian, Ron, and Joan enjoyed watching the shoot! Push mo pa!

Because there were a lot of people that visited the museum that day, the Pinto Café (being operated by Bizu) was jampacked! So, we weren’t able to eat there. Instead, we had our lunch at Don Day, an eat-all-you-can restaurant, serving not only Korean cuisine, but Filipino and Chinese cuisine, as well!

Pinto Cafe

Don Day!

One of the artists of Karnabal, Andy Orencio, served as a tour guide to the visitors in the afternoon! We listened to his passionate explanation of the artworks in Gallery 1 (by the way, Pinto Art Museum has 5 amazing galleries!)

Mr. Andy Orencio, tour guide, and one of the painters of "Karnabal"

Side Trips

After our trip to Pinto Art Museum, we dropped by Antipolo Church. We also bought suman!

Facade of the Antipolo Church

And capping off our Sunday escapade was the visit at the infamous Hinulugang Taktak! Finally, I was able to see the falls immortalized in the song “Tayo na sa Antipolo!” It was foamy, though, because of pollution. However, we were not allowed to go down and see the falls up close.

Hinulugang Taktak

I would love to do this again! Gala pa more!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Throwback Travels VI: Galeros y Galeras in Puerto Galera (January 2013)

Nearly two years ago, in January 2013, I had probably the best month of my life. Since I was granted a month of study leave by my employer so that I could contemplate on what I really wanted to do with my career, I was able to enjoy my time with my family and my friends. I went to Baguio with family and few days later, had a vacation in Puerto Galera since one of my best friends, Cez, arrived from Canada after two years! This blog will recount some of the memories that I can recall from our stay in Puerto Galera from January 25 to 27, 2013. (Pardon me, this blog should’ve been written immediately after the trip, but since I was too busy, I wasn’t able to come up with a decent article. Thus, I will just be enumerating the highlights of our trip.)

  •    We  were all sleepy going to Puerto Galera because we fetched Cez from the airport, went straight to their home (where Tita Susan, Cez’s mom had prepared sumptuous feast for arrival of The Queen), and waited for 3 hours before traveling to the Port of Batangas. When we embarked the ferry that would transport us from Batangas to Calapan, we were not advised to wear the life vests. Instead, the vests were piled up at the center of the vessel and were surrounded by the passengers (most were Koreans). Since it would be a 2-hour trip, we decided to share Cez’s sosy pasalubong, brandy-filled chocolates (tamang panglasing sa mga taong puyat!) Almost half-way to our destination, an unexpected twist happened – our ferry suddenly stopped! After a while, we could smell the odor of burnt rubber. Apparently a wire was burned that caused the motor to stop from functioning! I told my buddies to keep calm (while I was already wrapping my things and putting them in plastic bags, just to be ready!). Indeed, it was not a good time to panic since we were not wearing our life vests and if one started to pull a vest from the heap, a stampede might ensue. Worse, our vessel could sink (I remember the story of my former officemate who experienced sinking of their ferry on the way to Puerto Galera)! Good thing, another ferry came to rescue us (I was praying the whole time!)
    Fab 5+1 group shot before boarding!
The boat that came to our rescue. Thank you, Lord!

  •            We stayed in Hollywood Beach Resort Hotel, a pretty awesome hotel that’s some 10-minute walk from White Beach. It boasts of above-average amenities such as swimming pool with shower, a billiards and videoke place, and a restaurant, among others. In other words, it’s a place worth posting on Facebook if you just wanted to brag about what you could afford (just kidding!)
Hollywood Resort...

...has a pool..
...and very relaxing rooms!
  • ·         After sleeping for a couple of hours, we had our Top Model pictorial in the afternoon. Cez, Karen, and Rhose were hot babes oozing with sex appeal; meanwhile I was not proud of how I looked back then. My multiple chins always stole the scene, pasaway! Aside from the pictorial, we also played beach volleyball (we rented the ball for an hour) and ate green mango. Cez missed that fruit, for sure.

The girls were exhausted after our volleyball game
  • ·         On our first night, we dressed up and got ready to party! We ordered for the famous Mindoro Sling which we tried to drink without using our hands. Yes, we used our mouth to pour the liquid into our throats! Harold was the best, no doubt. We watched fire dancers doing their tricks, walked along the shoreline hunting for possible lovers doing their things, and of course, attempted to party. Why attempted? Well, they had this barangay ordinance mandating each establishment to stop playing loud, party music by midnight. What a great way to end the night!
Karen, Cez, and Bert
Rhose, myself, and Harold
A fire dancer showcasing his stunts

  • ·            In the morning of our second day, we went island hopping, caving, and snorkeling! This probably was the best part of the trip for me as it was my first time to snorkel and see the beauty under the sea! We fed the fish with bread, enjoyed the colors of the corals and fishes, and of course had our photos taken by our guide!


Fab 5+1 was in Puerto Galera! Woohoo!

  • ·         We bought our souvenir shirt after having our lunch. Karen needed to go home because she had a previous commitment with her boyfriend’s mother. When we asked about the boat leaving for Batangas, we were told that it had left already. Attacked by her usual “maldita tantrums”, Karen childishly asked: “Paano ako? Ate, paano ako?” Thank God, Harold was from Mindoro. He called up his parents to meet with Karen and accompany her to the Port of Calapan where she would be boarding SuperCat, alone.
Lunch prior to Karen's tantrums
Whos' the prettiest, huh?!
  • ·         On our second night, Cez wore her evening gown, as if she would be attending the Oscars! Hahaha. (Mind you, it could sweep all the sand off the shore!) We drank, danced until midnight, and went to our hotel after. Before we slept, we had heart-to-heart talks. That was the part that made me love my friends more.
Second night party, minus Karen

Wacky poses and heart-to-heart talks in bed
  • ·         In the morning of our third day, Harold’s parents and two siblings (they are 9) went to our hotel and brought food! We devoured all the grilled liempo that they brought!
Grilled liempo courtesy of Harold's family! Sarap!

  • ·         We wore the shirts that we bought on our way home. And we carried with us all the stories of friendship that we would cherish forever.
Masaya ang barkada sa Puerto Galera!

Cez would be coming home again in 2015. We would go to either Boracay or Palawan. I am very excited to spend time with my best friends, again. Truly, happiness it’s not about the place, but the people you are with.