I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

15 November, 2013

Body in Sta. Rosa; Spirit--mind, heart in the Visayas

     Been pausing, avoiding blogging or thinking of this town for awhile...just as many of us are, to do our own little thing for those who are suffering from the super typhoon...

   ...also just grabbed "emergency blankets" from True Value, at 30% off...no survival kit in order for my household...just a whistle always in my purse, and now, without a thought, the blanket...they're those mylar (space-balloon) materials, which pack very lightly and tiny, yet protect the body by keeping heat in, water off...dad said go ahead, get your own, none for him.  He could not imagine what I would need it for. I know I used one over a decade ago in a tent on a mountain.  But yes, it's one of those things I hope I will never need.  When dad asked me what for, I thought, well, what for indeed? It's hot here.

     I do not know what contingency plans are in this city for such a catastrophe.

     In the time between the Bohol earthquake and before Typhoon Yolanda was even whispered about...an expatriate neighbor asked me: "Do you know what you're going to do or where you would go if a big earthquake happened here?"

     Her question drew a blank.

     Her family is visiting Bohol again from Europe this Christmas.  "It could happen anywhere!", she said in reply to another expat who questioned if they were not fearful.  She reminded us of the flooding that had just occured in her first world country.

     She is right.  We are away from the Laguna Bay, but we are all within the "Pacific Ring of Fire".  We have the Taal volcano and Mt. Makiling. There are fault lines around us...and as Bohol taught us, there are fault lines yet to be discovered. It can happen anywhere, natural disasters.

     What worries me is the response.

08 November, 2013

Philippine Wild Ducks

     ...are not found in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. But part of Nuvali is...and where I'm heading is this---it is disturbing to see a young architect's photos of herself in action and proudly displaying endemic wild ducks she and her father shot...the connection is this...she as an architect has posted/tweeted about admiring Nuvali and going into so-called sustainable, green, architecture.  Do you see the disturbing connection?

     I am almost sure she is not the only one whose proclamations about environmental stewardship contradict their actions.  I myself cannot claim living completely green.  But the concern is...how sincere and how real are other "developers" really.  How can one of them truly admire and believe in Nuvali's thrust (including a bird sanctuary); yet act against it? In a most cruel, deliberate manner--shooting birds. Wild, protected, species.

     Not even going into how the father is an old politician. Interesting how his actions should be a surprise. I expect nothing honorable from him, what with his personal lifestyle, his relationships, his offspring.  Sadly, reading about their wild duck hunt on GMA news only feels desperate---that he will still "get away with it", you know?  And although there is outrage, we are not seeing the outrage of the sort that has people charging at him on the streets.  His image belongs to that old "guns, goons and gold" generation; few people of her generation realize this anymore.  Thank goodness for the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and also Howie Severino of GMA network.

    Well, maybe justice will be served in the next life. or now...who knows. I mean, she also is an aviatrix, for one thing (I actually admire her achievements in both fields, especially in her ability to fly;  so sayang in the light of the hunting and bragging about it, though). Ever heard of a bird strike?  Then there might be bird flu. Mother Earth's vengeance, you know?


07 November, 2013

Exiting Fort Sto. Domingo

   Kid's (bouncy) eye view of almost seeing the exit of Ms. Napoles from Fort Sto. Domingo for her Senate date this morning.  Traffic along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway was probably not disrupted.  Network cameras scramble on the left side of the road perpendicular to the entrance road.  

   The only new changes in the area ever since her presence are the new, styled and uniform "white corn for sale" signs on the road...seemingly sponsored; and Crown Asia Valenza's Christmas tree and animated display.  

   How undisturbed this barangay is; it's nice this way.

  I don't mean to sound shallow or make light of current events.  I'm just as outraged, upset and frustrated as most Filipinos.  She has angered me, the senators involved have disappointed and angered from way back.  I feel sorry for the Education Secretary, Bro. Armin, whose efforts at managing the DepEd budget were lauded recently.  I weep for him and all our children. He has had to make do and build classrooms with the help of private companies.  The situation is still dire.  How do students make sense of this deprivation?  With today's circus, we are deluded into thinking we are getting educated on legal processes.  What exactly, what are we really teaching the children?

Pediatric Dentist Nearby

     I started this blog with the initial idea of including a directory of services around the area gathered as I began living here.  Let's go back to that sort of post for a while...

     Again, as with most of my "commercials" here, I have no relation to this company other than having been a satisfied client.  I post when I want to about them, not for anything but to share info about their existence.  I would be happy to actually run a paid directory service, well, maybe I should look into it. For now, here are my opinions on certain services.

This here's my kid's first baby tooth to fall off
       Among the baby care things I read while pregnant was care of teeth even BEFORE they appear.  I remember that among the very good things about breast milk is its protection of future teeth---breastfeeding doesn't at all contribute to tooth decay in the way formula milk delivered with bottles and nipples does.  A neighbor gave my four month old baby a baptismal present which included her first tootbrush--a silicon, extremely soft bristled "brush" worn on a finger.  It was a practical gift I used diligently once my baby's teeth came out.  Apparently the bottom front ones are usually first, and the above first tooth to come off was indeed from the bottom.

      What I did not follow, however, was the advice to take your child to the dentist at about a year old or even as early as the first tooth comes out.  I just made sure to give her lots of water, and to continue the brushing especially after her first solid food.

      By two years old, I decided I had to finally take her to the dentist.  I remember hearing Dr. Georgia at the first Expo Mom in Rockwell right before I gave birth.  She echoed what was in the books---the need to take good care of the baby teeth; that damage or decayed baby teeth actually will carry over to the permanent ones, giving adult teeth problems in the future.  I also wanted a check that everything was alright.  Although the truth is that we as adults have not been going on regular dental check-ups or cleaning, I was determined to give the kid a good start.

     One of the concerns was to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the child.  This meant a clinic close enough, at a schedule that worked with with the 2 1/2 year old's nap schedule, and a dentist who specialized in the little ones.

      So we went to Dr. Georgia's clinic in Alabang.  Yes, her fees are probably on the more expensive side.  BUT, with all the education I get from her even during the 15 minutes my child is on her chair, I feel it is worth it.  She is obviously passionate about her work, and eager to educate.  Sure, her play area, her play house is a main attraction for the kid...but really, she LIKES the dentist herself. She dislikes the flouride paste, but seems to forget it because it is the kid who BEGS me to take her to the dentist.  Yes she BEGS!  So without further ado, here is the clinic responsible for making my child actually find dental check-ups rewarding: (Oh, and the kid's teeth are still in good shape, no cavities)



29 October, 2013

Manila, Manila

Manila City Hall Clock tower as seen from a building on UN Avenue
 I take it back---I do miss Manila after all. Not this Manila around the City Hall with squalor included...

but this Manila Bay...smell (or stench) and all.
40 years of life in Sangley Point Cavite, Las Pinas, Pasay, and Paranaque plus a strong olfactory sense combine to base my life's memories in this west area. Memories triggered by...this bay's air.

Dragon boat training
Manila Bay; Cavite on the horizon

     I've raved about Santa Rosa, Laguna, and claim not to miss Manila. It is true, I, and as I found out, other friends who have relocated, do not feel the need to go to METRO Manila.
Inside Fort Santiago
      Old Manila, I did not realize I missed. Until a return to Fort Santiago and the walls of Intramuros this week.  From a childhood of picnics with family in the grounds of the Cultural Center by the water, getting there by walking on Taft Avenue; to my twenties when I would go to the Fort on spontaneous drives, through weddings, events, tours...Intramuros is my Manila.  The random trips in my twenties were actually whenever I felt down and in need of solitude, a nearby escape.
    Strange that the history of dungeons, the captivity, colonial rule and martyrdom, were my refuge...and provided me a return to a feeling of ''freedom".   

     I still fantasize (albeit overly-romantically---life wasn't exactly easy especially if you were an Indio; it is always the toilet system in Casa Manila that reminds of how satisfied I am living in this century). Nick Joaquin's stories add fuel to this fantasy...

---anyway, as I was saying I still fantasize about how it would have been like...

    to reach Manila via the Pasig river the way Rizal did from Laguna.  

The grounds certainly look much prettier than my husband and I recall. We each have our own sentimental memories of visits as children with family, weddings, events and school tours...most of all, memories of ...dates with other people!

    Now my trips back to the old walled city have added memories...With a child experiencing it for the first   time..."everything old is new again".  It is joyful to hear such a young one exclaim "I love the Old Town!"  She named it such and it was she who begged to "go back to the Old Town".  It was nice hearing her beg to return to the bay "to see the sun set into the water".  Manila may be ugly, unplanned, and impoverished in parts. It is still my Manila. I'm still happy in Santa Rosa, but the familiarity of this old city, the knowledge (and stench, yike) of its streets in my blood make me. Maybe, in my forties, roots and the sense of belonging someplace have finally mattered more than ever.

12 October, 2013


     I guess I've sighed about this before...someday we will be able to post scent. For now I will have to skillfully describe it.  It's too difficult to do.

     Let me just say since October started, the air out here and especially in the hills of Puting Kahoy, Silang, has been pleasantly cool and breezy. Christmas-y if you will.  And now, outside there is again that woody (woodsy?) fragrance.  A young friend from Silang pointed out how dusk comes earlier...at around 5 p.m.  A few nights ago I saw the first star, bright above, and in the same evening stepped out and breathed this woody air.  It is thanks to the many trees around, I guess.  We had munia baby birds in September, and they've since flown the coop.  What is left is just some light rain since last night from Typhoon Santi. Not much in this part of Luzon. As usual it is Aurora, Quezon that is hit hard.  That eastern portion of the country is beautiful, raw, nature and I would love to visit.  However I would only visit it and Albay province in the summer, I guess. I am no intrepid surfer.

      So anyway, in this Southwestern portion we are not feeling the storm. We have this, freshly-bathed foliage.  This poinsettia has grown to four times its size since being transplanted in our garden back in April. I purchased it last Christmas from the amicable cancer-survivor Ms. Gloria at Solenad 2, Nuvali. She was there weekends, selling a large variety of potted herbs and dispensing friendly advice about diet and lifestyle. 
It was from her I bought pots of Ashitaba (Gynura Procumbens, actually) to give as gifts.  I came away with more, though. Inspiration.

   Last weekend I ran through that weekend market and she wasn't there. What was there was a lot of kakanin, fruit juice like buko, and rows and rows of grilling going on. The barbeque smelled so good, but somehow, I've not been craving for beef or pork meat in any form.  That's what there was plenty of there.  I even saw intestines on skewers (aren't those called isaw?). Those looked interesting, a Filipino delicacy.  I recall my nose not being too attracted to the ihaw scents enough to actually buy last year; and Ms. Gloria, a vegetarian, saying they didn't affect her at all.  Don't get me wrong I'm not saying I'm turned off by the smoky tent...there is corn as well, and I'm glad Filipino food is featured in there.  We need places that still showcase and sell Filipino culture especially here in the middle of the global/mostly American franchises. Otherwise, travelers would just be going "anywhere", wouldn't we. 

     Ah! Speaking of where this is going, I've gone everywhere and nowhere again. Time to just enjoy this air, and watch as the poinsettia leaves turn red.

17 September, 2013


It's the same cheap plastic colander the "ginger lily" or "Kamias" was in in my first post. That's just to follow "tradition"--like the kamias, a whole bag of Rambutan came also from a neighbor...whose tree has been giving an excess of the fruit!

     At no other time have I had so much rambutan...many fresh-picked and for free.  Well, maybe over a decade ago during a series of long stays in Thailand. There, rambutan is regular fare, along with papaya, pineapple, and other tropical fruits it seems.

     It is only this year that I realize how much there is in Santa Rosa, and even more so in Silang.  I am happy that my child has come to love this fruit so much, she asks to have it for snack time at school.  In fact, so many of her classmates love this. It was actually interesting for me to see one of her classmates open his food container, packed tight with the peeled rambutan. This is what snack time ought to look like! Not the processed, plastic packaged, additive, preservative, coloring-laden junk kids are now being discouraged (hopefully) to snack on.

   Inside, it is an oval shape, with a firm, smooth cloudy gelatin appearance. To open it, you squeeze the middle level of the skin (it looks prickly but those prickles are soft not sharp) with your thumb and forefinger, this should open crosswise. To eat it, you may nibble it in bits.  It doesn't matter if some of the seed's skin gets stuck in the flesh. If opened at the right stage---apparently when firm and maybe even slightly green sometimes--the flesh comes off the seed easily.  The seed resembles an almond.

     The rambutan has a mild flavor. Strange how in the past weeks since its abundance I have come to actually seek the taste, despite the almost-blandness.  That's it's beauty I guess, a mild, gentle, juicy flavor that provides refreshment. In my childhood I've mostly had tangy, tiny ones, often not fresh anymore. It was always a surprise to open one...I was never sure if it was still alright--plump and smooth--or rotting.  In the groceries the fruits turn black on the outside. These are not as great as the ones I saw for sale by the roadside today:

     Just as I've admired the following fruits' colors:  Avocado Green, Macopa pink (and green), Guava Pink, Kamias Green...I have a new addition: Rambutan Red.  The photo doesn't quite capture it...but the Rambutan's red at this fresh-picked stage is not deep. It's something I would describe as maybe coral-red...it would make a good lipstick shade, I think.

    Lanzones is also in season. When I got this Rambutan, Lanzones had run out.  

07 September, 2013

Enchanted Kingdom's 18 this year!

     Just have to make special mention of the staff at Enchanted Kingdom. As is expected of an "amusement park" or "theme park", they make the experiences pleasant. 

   Since it seems I have a leeeetel beet more readers lately, I will post this old feature from 2011 where apparently I already mentioned the staff's being nice.
The only difference is I mentioned the ride attendants were serious (as they have to be); that's not completely true, many were seriously focused on their jobs, yet were cheery enough to also greet children. 

   During last weekend's visit I noted that even in the evening, and on a Sunday, ride attendants were still alright.  Not that we expect anything less; just that it had been an extremely warm day.  I even noticed the approx 2 liter water jugs at each ride's station.  I hope that is enough for the attendants and gets refilled regularly. 

   Here is the past post.

     I just cannot believe it's been 18 years since we drove to the park's soft opening.  There are new rides, and although the entrance-only promo I mentioned in that post is no more,  the day pass includes those new rides. (There used to be separate fees for certain rides and attractions).  The park is also undergoing a facelift.

   This really is sort of a landmark destination in Sta. Rosa.   It's close enough to Metro Manila, and the shuttle service is convenient.  Last Sunday, we noted many balikbayan visitors. Some probably visiting OFWs (Overseas Foreign Workers) with their entire clan. 

    Visit in October...the anniversary month. There will be a fireworks competition. Of course it is enchanting during the Christmas season, with all the decorations.

02 September, 2013

Animal Encounters

     Be sure to catch this show with your children at Enchanted Kingdom, by the Jungle Outpost.   Isa Garchitorena's Wildlife Experience.  It's a good show, brief, engaging, with lots of impact...

     Mostly reptile photos as my photographer failed to take clear shots of the cute little owl and hedgehog!  You must absolutely go see them yourself.

     If by some fluke you have been following this blog, you would have gathered by now that we are into bird watching. However "educational" they are labeled, we stay away from "bird shows" and "exotic animal" shows where they keep the creatures caged in not so happy habitats.  I don't particularly enjoy seeing birds being made to pedal bikes or do such tricks, for example. It can be amusing to children, but teaches them nothing about preservation of the animals' natural behaviours and habitats.

    This company obviously aims to educate us about wildlife; and you can tell by listening to Isa that they really care (seriously they have the credentials...she is like our very own Jane Goodall).  It is really important how they stress that these are not to be kept as "pets" in the home or apartment.  That was one point in my video posted earlier--the iguana I saw in the laundry area of my apartment in Makati was surely an escaped pet...or a pet that was purposely let loose by its owner. 

    You gain respect for the creatures, which in turn makes you hopefully consider them each time you toss something in the trash or even choose what to eat :-O 

Enchanted View

    Yesterday, Sunday, was extremely hot.  This was taken last night at closing time, Enchanted Kingdom, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. 

   From up there, the city looks very peaceful.

   This is on the other side of the SLEX (South Luzon Expressway).  Here is the ferris wheel visible from the SLEX.

     I am typing at the stroke of midnight. It is now Monday, 2 September.  

31 August, 2013

Back in the Neighborhood

     Just realized reports said Janet Napoles lived in Binan, Laguna before.  So now she's simply going back to this province...

     So this is probably the photo our new helper saw on television last night.  No wonder she told me "but it is surrounded by tall grass"..after I told her that the fort is actually within the barangay sto. domingo also in our city; that this barangay is also full of residents, that the street to the entrance gate is actually surrounded by residents.  She had imagined it to be an isolated grassy area.


      There are those trees...very Silang-Sta. Rosa. 

    Maybe just my imagination, but sometime ago when I first heard the initials JLN,  I kept recalling seeing vehicles with JLN license plates. It must have been a regular sighting around here; I remember correcting myself, thinking JIL?  And yes, it is because I have a weird fascination or curiosity about license plate numbers.  This is rooted in my childhood when I would read license plate numbers on the drive to and from school. Plus of course sometimes they can be cryptic.  They can also get irritating, such as when they are composed of only the number 8 and happen to be luxurious; happen to be the latest model Hummer, Lexus or what not...happen to speed, weave, with blinking lights and a convoy of goons in lesser suv's.  Stand along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway on weekends and you will get to see all these.   Not that I do that. 

   Until recently I would notice all these license plates around here all the way to Tagaytay----plates with NBI, or PNP. And many times, these were the cars of Koreans.  How nice they are to celebrate with their police friends, with those commemorative license plates.

   Anyway, I don't have a point...except maybe when we see these luxury vehicles, with special plates and convoys that attract attention...I mean, really, many of them come from new wealth or wealth that is "ill-gotten". New wealth is not wrong.  I'm just saying, that it seems many of them are from government. Truly "old rich" do have more class and go about in simpler, unmarked vehicles.  Take the case of one of the handsome owners and developers of the "neighborhood"...you wouldn't know it but he used to get on his motorbike, stop for coffee in these parts...      


30 August, 2013

Welcome to the Neighborhood, Janet

   Sorry I cannot resist.

   Breaking news is, Janet Napoles is being transferred to Fort Sto. Domingo. Home of the Special Action Forces.  Here in wonderful Sta. Rosa.  The sweet corn mais vendors along Bgy. Sto Domingo's stretch of highway will make more than their usual weekend sales, I am certain of it.  Journalists get hungry too.

   It's the end of the month, and with good weather, there will surely be more commuters by tonight, and then back Sunday evening.  

   I hope they show aerial views of the place. Just curious.

   Here's a bit about the Fort... 


21 August, 2013

video for Green Lung Gone

Green Lung Gone

     In the half a year I spent traveling to and from Kuala Lumpur some eight years ago, I heard the term "green lungs" often.  KL's valley-location makes it vulnerable to polluted air hovering over it...and it seemed news features frequently reminded Malaysians of the importance of their "green lungs"--areas lush with trees and plants located in the city center and the surrounding suburbs.

   Back to my own reality from the KL stay, I grew increasingly obssessed with the pocket of green behind our rented apartment.  It was in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City. Years before I had tried to put an end to the burning of leaves that happened weekly in the garden directly behind us.  I phoned the seminary it belonged to, I reported the situation directly to the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) chairman, whose headquarters, ironically, were just across the compound, with EDSA between them.  I sent them an information booklet from the Mother Earth foundation to provide alternatives to the burning.  I began with friendly phone calls, and ended with angry pleas.    For a while, something happened, one of those efforts worked.

   Just perhaps two years before we moved out, I somehow found an ad selling the huge property next to the seminary.  I studied the ad and with the help of Google Earth, found that the property was actually the only existing green space of that size in the area.  It even had a small body of water.  It was most likely the habitat for all the creatures I observed.  I can't tell you how I wished I was a billionaire with money to spare for that tract of land.  I remember making a note to try and enter the skyscraper next to it to view the land from the air.  Obssessive, excessive, right.  It must have been the lack of oxygen.  I even played around with shooting wildlife---with cameras.


   Recently news also featured the squirrels in Dasmarinas and Forbes Villages in Makati, as well as birds that have been seen in such urban settings.  So it's not as if the wildlife is gone.  

   For that place, with excess funds, I wanted a sort of learning destination. I envisioned an urban garden-museum-school-whatever. A fantasy, really. I also just wanted those creatures to still have their home.  I also tried learning more about that area's past.  Were there residents along the banks, could we dig and find artifacts...the church at Guadalupe is supposed to have had steps leading all the way to the Pasig. What did that hill look like long ago? 

   Now I again find something about that property.  A condominium tower is being built (or is it finished) on it.  It was inevitable...sayang. Who am I to say this though, I'm no urban planner, no ecosystem expert.  

   This is a sentimental post for me.  I know it can sound insane.  I guess it's the lack of sunshine, the vitamin D deficiency...the gloom and sadness of the flooding and too much rain.


20 August, 2013

Fishing in Santa Rosa

     Just learned from a certified life saver that they drove towards Santa Rosa yesterday to check the road situation. Their chapter (from Silang) was not called to help this time. Apparently they did some rescuing in Marikina during Ondoy.  When she texted "GOD HELP THEM", I thought, oh dear...poor Santa Rosa...what happened.  I have not really seen pictures of the place. In the news there was video footage of Binan's floods, a clip of Binan's mayor doing inspections.  All I could imagine was perhaps news teams had difficulty even reaching Santa Rosa.

    My concern was calmed after life saver friend replied that what they saw was people happily fishing on the streets. That's the Filipino for you. Thank goodness (sometimes) for this attitude.  (An aside, this calls to mind what I found in my files recently...an essay I wrote for the university paper--that's 20+ years ago--about the Filipino's smiles in times of trouble).

    Unfortunately, I do not have any interesting photos to post with this post.  In my younger, childless years, I would have gone out during the lull to take photos.  In our former location in Makati, I did take photos of the flooding outside our home, similar to what this friend-i've-never-met-except-in-the-santa rosa-blogosphere has posted:


     Dear retiree friend, I was shocked too to see your photos.  I have not seen pics of Santa Rosa these past two days. Well, I have not actually searched online.  I did think of you all day yesterday, knowing you are in the bayan area. Shocked, yet relieved to see you are okay. Stay safe.
P.S. I am not a fan of Wagner; but the description coupled with "rain rage" is so apt, in my humble opinion, and would now like to put some of that music on.

   Now back to fishing in Santa Rosa streets...I wonder what the catch is.  I would like to know HOW they're catching the fish.  Mudfish, maybe.  How are the koi in Nuvali?  I've coincidentally sent my husband to shop for groceries, telling him to ignore the fresh seafood section, as prices are surely up owing to the constant rains.

19 August, 2013

Santa Rosa, Laguna state of calamity

     I've often said we are in a part of Santa Rosa that is largely unaffected by flooding from rains. We are higher and away from the Laguna de Bay. 

     As I type I am listening to the Mayor Arlene Arcillas speaking on the news about 15 of 18 barangays being submerged. It rained continuously since yesterday.  She says the town proper is submerged. 

     Binan, Laguna is also flooded.

     There was a report of a flash flood in the Southwoods exit on the SLEX (Southern Luzon Expressway).

     Anyway, friends, time to put together goods for donation. The Mayor is saying companies like San Miguel and Asia Brewery who have factories in the city are providing assistance.

     Okay the broadcaster is asking her where exactly she is located. I am curious too. Where is she?  "In the car""...she says. Okay mayor, where exactly is your car now?  Just wondering.

17 August, 2013

Annyeong Friday (refer to post in 2012)!

     Speaking of Koreans in Laguna...
a surprise upon my return home.  Another neighbor (on a another street), a handsome couple, came by with this 'bento' box.  Yum!

     It was their young daughter's birthday, they said, and they had prepared some lunch. They wanted us to have this set.  The cookies came in a cute loot bag.

     This handsome couple have been here less than a year. They are quite young, modern, and are expecting a second child very very soon.  We have not actually spent much time together, our daughters having played just a few times.  The woman's own mother has been in and out from Korea, and she is actually who brought us all together. All without speaking English. Play is its own language, and serves to forge links, after all.  And so does an exchange of food and treats!   Maraming Salamat neighbors!

Brazil in Binan

    Two years ago I  blogged about a palo china carpentry shop in Bgy. Platero, Binan, Laguna.  
 Yesterday I went on another shopping errand and didn't realize until a parade began that I was standing across that palo china shop.  This is right at the border of Binan and Tagapo Sta Rosa.

    As I arrived there were men, well not really men, you know, bodies painted in glittery gold, silver, yellow...large peacock, golden, auras attached to their behinds and stretching up and  out.  Carnival in Rio style, you can imagine.  They were sitting in front of the Banahaw Heals Spa, waiting.  They were not very many, just around a dozen or so, so I was confident I would not be caught in a jam.

    Anyway, as the band played, the shopkeeper told me it was actually the barangays fiesta day.  So this was a "Karakol"...the procession started and at first I saw children and adults at the lead, holding small Sto. Nino statues, waving them a la Cebu Sinulog.

     It was cheerful all around, as having the costumed ones is often a guaranteed fun and happy time.  The drum beats and music were also moving...but I asked aloud "why Gangnam style" in the beginning.

        Again, sorry to comment on my religion's practices...but really, here again is a sort of "young" and "animistic, childish" ritual of faith...I myself have a Sto. Nino image and am a devotee, but I don't get this kind of Rio-type parade coupled with outfitting the Christ-child's image in equally sparkly costumes and dancing around with it.  Well, just plain fun, I guess, and especially important for children, I suppose.  Other cultures have their seemingly quirky rituals. To each his own.  I like ati-atihan anyway.  For as long as the beat is our own...not Gangnam. Then again, somewhat apt considering the large Korean population in these parts!  

10 August, 2013

Vesper Service

     I am Catholic.  I am in Laguna.  I attended a worship service at the Philippine International Church of the Seventh Day Adventists in Silang, Cavite.  It was peaceful.  Very meditative, and especially as it was evening, like a long lullaby.  Musical, as many seem to know. They simply..sing...and it was new to me to hear, rather than applause at the end, a somber, low "Amen" by the congregation after each song.  

     The Adventists have what is called a 777 prayer at 7 pm, and we paused for it outside the church before the service.  The voice leading the prayer over the PA system was soothing. It was good meditation.  It was easy to be "in the presence of God" with a background of various creatures sounds. Crickets...unlike the usual cricket noises.  Forest sounds.

     This evening's service was led by their Handbell Choir.  There were also piano, strings and wind instruments.  I have been invited to attend service once in a while, to listen to the music hosts. Some days there is the organ, some a choral group.  

      It was not my plan to be publicizing my personal thoughts especially about my religion.  It's just that this experience comes after some disappointment over my own church's having changed the melodies of standard mass songs again.  I do not like the new melodies at all.  I cannot seem to learn them. Never caught on with the new Ama Namin melodies. I miss the old, original ones.  I mean, Manoling Francisco, SJ's melodies were lovely.  Why fix what to me is not broke.
We can assume why they have to change melodies...an effort to liven things up? To ''make new''?  Sad...because my own young child had just started enjoying what many young church-going children I know enjoy...the "Hossana" with all the sss-es in the song.  

      Anyway, I regret not having brought a proper video recorder for this one.  Even the audio does not capture the gentle tinkling of the bells. They come out rather shrill in parts. But here they are, the AUP Handbell choir, composed of Filipinos and students of other nationalities:

31 July, 2013

Shrouded in fog...Puting Kahoy, Silang, Cavite

11:00 a.m. After a heavy downpour brought by Typhoon Jolina over Calabarzon...thick fog and cool air in the hills of Puting Kahoy.

25 May, 2013

"Pray, Hope and Don't Worry"--St. Pio of Pietrelcina

    We happened to have something major to thank Padre Pio in particular for this month.  The thought of traveling from Sta. Rosa to the center in Libis was not exactly pleasant. Sure, it would be a part of the ''sacrifice" as in a true pilgrimage but seriously, I have been avoiding going north towards Metro Manila. I have never been to that center in Libis but I know that area enough to know I didn't really want to go, and on a Saturday. My husband has been there, and wanted to go today.  He too, knew what a "sacrifice" that would be.  There had to be an alternative.  For information about this Saint, please look him up.

    St. Pio's profile on Google showed me May 25 was his birthday! While his feast day, with big celebrations in shrines that honor him is on his death anniversary of September 23, I was almost sure May 25 would be a good day to visit anyway. And we did plan on actually visiting today, May 25, a Saturday. A fun coincidence.   An aside---I'd been trying to think about why May 25 seemed so significant, devotion-wise. It was only upon arriving home that I found it is also one of the feast days of the Saint I had been praying through (St. Pio is actually my husband's), St. Philomena. Her relics were found on May 25. 

   I also found, via the web, another shrine, more appealing being in our part of Luzon---a church, in barangay San Pedro, Sto. Tomas, Batangas.  

    Now I wanted to go, if only for the "easier" drive by Mt. Makiling and the surrounding hills.  I believe we can pray anywhere, that our devotion does not necessitate visiting such shrines.  Being able to is, for me, a bonus.  My faith also does not require me to stroke or kiss the statues of saints, although it is helpful to have their images in front of me, whether in sculptures or photos. I am content to pray and meditate at home in peace and quiet.  For the child, however, the images of the saint, and the idea of it being his birthday, were treats.  She later admonished us for forgetting to actually greet him a happy birthday!

     Anyway enough talk. Here are a few shots of the salakot -(native hat) roof, the many statues, the relics (they have 4 pieces, which make the crowd flow faster during healing masses).  Apparently this morning's Healing Liturgy saw the most number of attendees.  The Healing Liturgy is usually held on the 23rd of each month, except for May when it is held on the 25th.  The woman who approached us...a volunteer parishioner in charge of the place, told us the mass took long this morning as two recently-healed people passionately testified about their healing...and would not stop.

    She also repeatedly said to us, in Tagalog, "You will be back. You will not realize it you will just come back".  (More shades of "People will come", eh?). I only hope it's to pray in thanksgiving more than to ask for intercession in despair.

Belfry with a bell from Holland to ring for the first time in July this year.

    So go ahead, visit, "pray, hope and don't worry". It's worth the trip seeing the bamboo lining the altar (I love bamboo).  There are small canteens, a lomi  (noodle soup native to the area and to Lipa City, Batangas) house in bgy. San Miguel and San Vicente close to the shrine, but no big places in San Pedro and at the shrine itself. So even before these barangays, you might need to stop at the RSM Lutong Bahay in Calamba, have some Collette's Buko Pie, or eat at the usual fast food joints. There is a Shakey's at the junction or forks of Sto. Tomas and the highway toward Mabini and Malvar.