Monday, June 30, 2008

World of Weddings

June is the popular month for wedding celebrations. It is but fitting to make an entry in this blog about weddings this June. There is a high frequency of weddings that take place in the said month. The June bride term has originated from this June wedding. In the Philippines, they believe that its the perfect time for marriage due to its cool temperature brought about by the rainy season ready for eventual honeymoon . Rain would also mean a blessing. For the rest of the world its summer time so its the joyous time to celebrate unions.

I am presenting some of the wedding ceremonies I have seen and witnessed in the last four years.

Malay Wedding in Singapore

In August 2005, I have witnessed the very first foreign wedding to which my Filipino friend Raja married his Singaporean girlfriend Linda. It was a long celebration that took one week including the preparations. The ceremony took two days. They had the dowry offering and the main ceremony. There were so many guests who came to celebrate the occassion. They had a never-ending pictorials with guests yet several changes of wedding costumes was observed.

Another Singaporean marriage was held on December 2007 where my friends Farih and Janah invited me over to witness their union. Its basically the same thing with traditional Malay wedding where they change costumes several times. The couple exhanged several luxurius gifts with each other. There were watches, ipods, cellphones, shoes, bags and many others each placed on transparent boxes or pillows with decorations. It was a two-day ceremony. It was fascinating to see the theme of their wedding on the last night since they wore English Renaissance costumes in a dramatic entrance. The couple looked like a king and queen.

Traditional Wedding in South Korea

A reenactment of traditional wedding in Seoul was held during my attendance to a world convention on June 2007. The couple had to vow to each other. The groom offered a duck which is a symbol of long and happy marriage. After the ceremony the couple walked around and guest showered them with rice as sign of prosperity. Traditionally, the groom traveled by horse to the bride’s house and the ceremony usually held in the bride’s backyard or house. The couple wears the formal court costumes. I have seen the bride to sport round red mark on her cheeks. The bride wore hanbok with sash and crown.

Filipino Wedding

In February 2006, my friends Nona and Dep got married at a Catholic Church in the Philippines. A catholic priest officiated the ceremony. Since the groom is in military service, they turned up the union into a military wedding. A set of royal guards were there to assist the couple. During the entrance, the bride and groom were received by the guards by raising their swords fronting each other while the couple marched through the altar. The same thing was conducted after the ceremony just before letting them pass, the groom was asked by the head of the guards of his promise to his bride by shouting it then finally kissed and carried the bride to the reception area.

Cambodian Wedding

Accidentally, I have seen this wedding ceremony in Phnom Pehn when I was walking around. This ceremoncy was only a part of the wedding. This is the fruit counting ceremony where children offered a certain number of fruits. Parents of both parties were present in the ceremony.

Same Sex Marriage in Holland

After meeting a Dutch couple in Laoag City during their vacation, I was just surprised to know from them that they married each other and saw their wedding photo in Facebook. They just got married immediately after their backpacking in the Philippines. Its a very controversial marriage since only few countries in the world allow legal marriage of gay couples. In the Netherlands, same sex marriage is legal.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seoul Searching Tour

Its exactly a year ago when I went to South Korea. I attended the 4th World Congress of International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. We landed in the Incheon International Airport aboard Philippine Airlines flight. I was picked up by my friend Orlan and stayed at his place in Bucheon for overnight and met Jimboy and the rest of the guys. They prepared and served me dinner with Korean foods using the stainless steel utensils including the chopsticks.

The following day Orlan sent me off to the subway and searched my way to Seoul. From the station I took a taxi to COEX convention hall. It was good that I found my way. The opening ceremony just started when I arrived. A fashion show was staged. I met participants from different countries and from the Philippines. I joined the group of Drs. Alipio, Martinez, Barredo, Barba, Flores, Lim and others.

I was able to visit the Korean Folk Village, Dongdaenum Market, Doota Mall and other interesting places. I was able to don the hanbook, the traditional Korean costume and witnessed a traditional Korean wedding.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Batac’s Empanada Festival

The 1st Batac Charter Day was celebrated today. It has been a year since it became a city. It is the second town of the province of Ilocos Norte to rise as a city. In celebration of its anniversary, they featured the Empanada Festival showcasing and promoting the very popular traditional fastfood that is empanada.

There was a dance parade participated in by locals both young and old alike. There was a long line of participants dancing in the uniform music of Empanada. The music was piped in along the streets. It was followed by street dancing where different stages of preparing an empanada were depicted through dances.

It was started from the planting of rice (panag-raep iti pagay), harvesting rice (panag-ani iti pagay), planting, harvesting and cooking of mongo beans (panagluto iti balatong), grating papaya (panag-gadgad iti papaya), eggs catching (panag-ala iti itlog), sausage making (panag-aramid iti longganisa), preparing rice dough (panag-aramid iti belaay), cooking empanada (panagluto iti empanada), and enjoying eating empanada (panangan iti empanada). This part of the program was participated in by college students and youth groups.

There was a float displayed carrying empanada makers led byManang Glory who has been in the industry for a long time and can be called the queen of empanada. She appeared and was interviewed in various television shows and papers.

There was snack break. I was lucky to be served with a free empanada and a drink when I joined a group of baranggay officials at the riverbank empanadahan. What a way to savor empanada on its festivities.

A mass was celebrated later. Followed by a dance showdown presenting the same stages of empanada making. Prior to this was some speeches delivered by the guest of honor, mayor and the governor. The multitude of spectators and guests were taught by choreographers on how to do the empanada dance. There was also an empanada making contest among the lady political leaders and empanada eating contest among the male political leaders. Winner in each category was given a one year free of charge good for 3 persons empanada to any of the vendors.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lovely Saud Beach

Saud Beach can be found in the town of Pagudpud. Many beach resorts can be found here but Saud Beach stands out since it has white sand and a panoramic view including the visibility of the Bangui windmills on the other shore. There are many coconut trees in this area. By the way Saud is a baranggay and Saud Beach Resort is a private resort that accepts accommodation reservations and has a restaurant to serve clients.

I have seen this beautiful beach once again when I joined the group of the University of Michigan students who are undergoing an intercultural experience program in the country. They were amazed by the wonderful sights but noticed that the shore was short. To get in here, just take a bus from Laoag City that costs Php75-90 or if coming from Manila, Florida Bus travels directly to Pagudpud then take a tricycle.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

University of Michigan visits Ilocos

Some 15 students from diverse courses led by Dr Gianna Rodriguez a faculty member of the College of Medicine of the University of Michigan in the United States of America visited Ilocos under the program Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) which aims to develop new and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. The group’s subject was Rehabilitation in Philippine Communities. They were scheduled to visit Rizal Province, Ilocos Norte, Baguio, and Boracay from June 8 to July 05, 2008.

The group arrived on Friday June 13 and was billeted at the Sitio Remedios Resort in Currimao. They were awed by the beauty of the villas and the tranquility of the place as they were showed around by Dr. Cuanang and later hosted them for dinner composed of Ilocano foods.

On Sunday, they visited Vigan City and had dinner at Sagwan Studio where they had the chance to don some Spanish and Filipino costumes captured in sepia photos.

On Monday, they visited the provincial capitol to pay a courtesy call to the Governor but he was out of town. They were instead received by the senior officer Gertrudis Ruiz and tourism officer Rene Guatlo. A group from the delegation delivered a talk regarding Community Based Rehabilitation and later visited the Governor Roque Ablan Memorial Hospital (Provincial Hospital).

On Tuesday, they visited our clinic Laoag Rehabilitation Station to interview some of our patients. They asked the conditions of the patients with disabilities and how they cope up with such. After conducting interviews, I toured them to Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel. They were amazed of the resort’s ambiance and enjoyed the animals at the mini-zoo.
We all had lunch of beef and chicken at Saramsam Café and local desert of rice balls in molasses, fried sweet potatoes and bananas and fresh pineapples and watermelon.

After the sumptous lunch, we went to visit Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital in Batac City. They interviewed outpatients undergoing physical therapy at the rehab department and the rest did the same thing to the inpatients in the wards. I facilitated the interview of a certain group.
Helen, the Chinese-American delegate and I for one were amazed to see a poster inside the charity ward that says indigent patients can apply for pay in kind (PIK) payment scheme in the form of agricultural products or seafoods or personnel service rendered (PSR) which means the patient’s relative can pay by working at the hospital and paid 25 per hour. This is a good innovation. Olga and Liz interviewed a 32 year old lady with muscular dystrophy.

On Wednesday, Dr. Alipio, Mr. Guatlo and I joined them to Pagudpud. The group was welcomed by the Barangay Health Workers (BHW) by singing Ilocano songs. They divided themselves into three and each station was rotated on by the health workers. A talk on Community Based Rehab was delivered and challenged the group of health workers to accept the concept to help their patients with disabilities become independent. There was a dialogue among the delegates and health workers. We had lunch at Saud Beach Resort where a menu of fish was served. They were impressed by the white sand beach. Later, we went on home visits to people with disabilities where they met people with leprosy and chronic arthritis. On the way home to Currimao, we dropped by at the Burgos Lighthouse.

On Thursday, they spent the whole time in Sitio Remedios to consolidate their findings. And on Friday, they headed to Baguio City.
(Names of the delegates: Helen, Mary, Shaomani, Jonathan, Rosemary, Olga, Liz, Briana, Lisa, Kira, Erin, James, Avril, Courtney, Amber, Sarah)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Paoay Church: A World Heritage

Yesterday, before I went to see my patient I dropped by at the Paoay Church to document it. I often see this building since I move around this area. Looking like an exotic Javanese temple, the structure is so magnificent attributed to its antiquity and the supporting buttresses considerably extending out from the exterior walls that give a 3 dimensional visual experience.

The Church of San Agustin was constructed in 1694 and completed in 1710 which employed architectural design or features from Latin America with Spanish influence of course since they were former colonies. This is another baroque church in the Philippines which was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. It has survived two major earthquakes in the past. Its sturdiness is attributed to the component materials used such as the bricks and coral stones plus the stucco comprising of sand and lime with sugarcane juice boiled with mango leaves, leather and rice straw.

Situated on the right side is the belltower that complements the church giving that picture perfect combination. Inside, it was said that the original ceiling was painted with the scene similar to that of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel but now you can only see the corrugated roof sheets. From among the four baroque churches, Paoay Church’s interior is bare and empty.

Did you know that the church façade highlighted the beauties or the candidates of the Miss Earth in 2004 since it was used as the venue for its pre-pageant presentation? It looked so wonderful since it was dramatically lighted up.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Miagao Church: A World Heritage

I was fortunate to have seen another world heritage that is the Miagao Church last January when I went to Iloilo. I went with my friend Vinnie to Miagao since he teaches at UP Miagao. We took the public bus that took us one hour to the church.

One of the four earthquake baroque churches in the Philippines is the Church of Santo Tomas de Villanueva in the town of Miagao, Iloilo. This was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in the year 1993. It has an amazing structure that stood the test of time. It was built in 1787 and later damaged by fire and earthquake and restored in the 1960s. It has two belfries and there were intricate designs on the façade. It was decorated with the sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child amidst coconut, papaya and guava shrubs. The design exudes a native touch making the church truly a “Philippine Church.”

Friday, June 13, 2008

Santa Maria Church: A World Heritage

Last weekend, I really forced myself to drop by at the town of Santa Maria in Ilocos Sur since I am on my way home to Pangasinan. In the said town you can find the world heritage church called Nuestra Senora dela Asuncion. This is my first time to visit the Church of the Assumption but I passed by here a couple of times already.

This was built on top of a hill giving the visitors a panoramic view of the whole town. There were 82 steps of stairway I took before reaching the top. Santa Maria Church was designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1982 and inscribed in 1993 at UNESCO World Heritage List. This was built in 1769 while the belfry in 1810. The redness of the exposed bricks gives beauty to the façade.

I was so fortunate to have the chance to climb the belfry since I saw some people entered its gate and I rushed to go up too. They were members of the Integral Youth Ministry headed by Charity who were assigned to ring the bell to signal a funeral service. There were lots of bats and dongs inside. The wooden ladders were not that good. Each window has a bell but the primary bell was hanging at the center portion of the tower. The sound of the bell was so deafening and I was asked to cover my ear. I also went at the back of the church then later went inside and saw the image of the Virgin Mary being enshrined at the altar.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Philippine Independence Day

Today marks the 110th year of the Philippine Independence and it’s truly a liberation of our nation from foreign forces and colonization. Philippines has been the first country in Southeast Asia to gain its full independence so it’s a must for us Filipinos to celebrate our freedom and commemorate all the struggles that our forefathers and heroes had fought for.

All of the government offices throughout the country had their Independence Day Rites this morning with singing of the Philippine National Anthem and raising of the Philippine flag. President Arroyo led the Independence Day Celebration at the Rizal Park in Quirino Grandstand with the unveiling of the Philippine Flag Marker.

The title of the Philippine national anthem is “Lupang Hinirang,” and here is the Ilocano translation:

Imnas nga ili
Baggek iti dumaya
'Toy ay-ayatmi
Ti sagutmi kenka
Daga't kinasudi
Indayon ti nakired
Iti mangdadael
Haanka pailuges
Kadagiti tangatang ken ulep
Bambantay ken baybay
Addan dayag ti daniw ken dayyeng
Ti napateg a wayam
Ti raniag ta wagaywaymo
Ket balligi a nasileng
Ti init ken dag'ti bitbituenna
Dinto pulos aglidem
Nakaliblibnos unay a daga't ayat
Daytoy biag, langit dita dennam
Ngem no ti dayawmo't inda dadaesen
Ingga't tanem, sumalakankam

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

12 Days of Amazing Indochina

This is my travel story to Indochina which was featured in the Travel and Tourism section of the Manila Bulletin on June 01, 2008. I am posting it here for anyone who missed to read it and added some more photos.

By the way, I dropped by to see the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program International General Assembly in Siem Reap in this journey and joined the celebration of our batch's 5 years anniversary. I made some side trips to visit other friends in KL, Phnom Pehn and Vientianne. I lived again with my foster families in Saigon, Bangkok and KL. This was on April 25-May 06, 2007.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Celebration of Flowers of May


Flowers of May or popularly known as Flores De Mayo is a festival for the Catholic faith as well as for the Aglipayan. This is held in honor of Virgin Mary. The highlight of the festival is the Santa Cruzan. It is a parade usually held on the 31st of May in honor of Reyna Elena, the legendary founder of the cross escorted by her son Constantine. Santa Cruzan is composed of sagala, a colorful religious-historical parade of beauties representing different virtues.

The celebration commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena (Reyna Elena) and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine. After the Holy Cross was found in Jerusalem and brought back to Rome, there was a joyful celebration for thanksgiving.

I was able to witness the coronation of the sagala at St William’s Cathedral in Laoag, later at the Aglipayan Church and the procession of sagala of Brgy 7-A in Rizal St. There was a music beat of rondalla and people carries lighted candles.