Friday, October 31, 2008

Tumba: A Halloween Tradition of Paoay

Tumba is a cultural tradition of the town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte. It is a halloween activity which usually take place on the first of November. This is their own way of paying tribute to the spirits of the dead. Last year, I, my friends and some guests from Manila witnessed this celebration.
Tumba refers to catafalque. It is a raised bier or platform that is used as support to casket or coffin or body of the deceased during a funeral service. This is often movable. It may also refer to a tomb or altar. In this town, they put the umras or offerings in the tumba.

Every baranggay prepares its own exhibit wherein they decorate a house that would look creepy and eerie. They display some food offerings and whatnot on a table wrapped in a white linen. There were some flowers and candles. The scariest thing I’ve seen was the very old big house in the dark wherein its only lighted up by candles and a small torch. Going inside would really make you feel strange, as if there were some spirits roaming around. The teen visitors were even shouting because of scare.

The entries compete for a prize since a group of judges would go around and rate them accordingly based on its creativity and maybe the impact of horrifying ambience.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bannatiran Song

Last Sunday night, the Tawid Cultural Troupe went to Brgy 6 San Nicolas to render necrological services to the wake of Mrs. Bernardo, one of the sponsors of the group in Hawaii in one of its performances in the past. She was a relative of our leader Mrs. Raval.

We performed several songs that include the song Bannatiran. It refers to a mythical bird. The lyrics of the song is as follows:

Bannatiran ta dutdot mo’t kalilibnusan
Ta panggep mo dika putuluyan
Suminakan sadinno aya’t papanam
Sadino Bannatiran, ania a kayo’t inka pagdisuan

Ania nga sabong ti kayat mo Bannatiran
Ta uray no awan pilit nga inka isapulan
Ta sika ti sarming a paganninawan
Iti raniag da init ken bulan (repeat stanza)

Iti kayo nga agsabong ken ayat panawam man
Ay babawyem to’t kamaudianan
No ni liday ti matumpungam

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shirakawa-go: A World Heritage

Located in the prefecture of Gifu in Japan is the declared UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go Village. It is a small traditional village showcasing a style of buildings called gassho-zukuri or Gassho style houses. The village has an estimated population of 1, 933 with a total area of 356.55 km2.

This town is so quaint and peaceful. Very traditional that it used indigenous materials. There was no single nail being used. Beams of the roofing were tied with fiber ropes. The atmosphere was so cool and very green when we visited the site on October 2007. I was with Renaissance group from which we were given lectures on the conservation and preservation of the village and the traditional houses.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Fast and Furious Shinkansen

On our way to the prefecture of Nagano, we took the E2 Series Shinkansen. We moved as a group with our luggages and so the one in charge to our group bought the tickets for all of us. We moved quickly at the station to catch up the train. The schedule was just so punctual that you cannot simply afford to miss it.

Shinkansen literally means new trunk line but it is popularly known inside and outside of Japan to be the whole system of the trains.

It was an exciting experience to ride the bullet train of Japan that runs in a maximum speed of 260km/h or 163 mph specifically for the Nagano Shinkansen. Just imagine that speed. It was so fast and furious. These new trains were built between 1995 and 2005 and there were about 8 or 10 cars per trainset and has a capacity of 630 and 815 respectively. The Nagano Shinkansen has 8-car sets. The body is made of aluminum and has a car length of 25000mm and width 3380mm.

The seats were just so comfortable. I sat beside my Costa Rican friend Maria. We had a nice view of the sceneries along the way. The running was so smooth that you will simply enjoy the ride and might fall to sleep.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Takayama Festival

Takayama Festival is one of Japan’s three most beautiful festivals. It is being held twice a year, one in spring and one in autumn. It is being held on two days. Fortunately, our group had witnessed this festival during the autumn in the month of October. The Autumn Festival is formerly called Hachiman Festival in honor of the Hachiman Shrine.

There was a display of festival floats on the streets during daytime in the old town and several of the floats have the karakuri performance by mechanical dolls dancing and moving. We had witnessed the Mikoshi procession where the portable shrine that contains the Shinto deity was carried around and it’s the only time of the year that is being brought out.

The highlight of the festivities is the Evening Festival where the floats were pulled through the streets being lighted up. This celebration in Takayama City in Gifu prefecture of Japan is truly entertaining and that it attracts many visitors from all over the world.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Renaissance Program of Japan

October is a memorable month for me since for two consecutive years I was able to visit and enjoy Japan. I was selected as Philippine Delegate in 2005 and in 2006 I was chosen by the Cabinet Office of Japan as planning committee member and panelist to the 21st Century Renaissance Youth Leaders Invitation Program (REN).

It was such an amazing experience. I met wonderful people from different countries who eventually became my friends. Gaining friends from countries in various continents of the world truly make it a big treasure. I learned to appreciate much more the Japanese culture for the second and third time. I was exposed to the various non-profit organizations in Japan and being introduced to different social contribution activities from which the people were involved in and how do they work harmoniously meeting their organization’s objectives. Aside from Tokyo, I was able to visit prefectures of Fukushima, Gifu and Nagano.

In this program we had formal opening ceremonies attended by representatives of the Cabinet Office, the staff of Center for Youth Exchange, and the International Youth Exchange Organization followed by a short lecture of panelists then to a welcome reception. Intensive discussions among the delegates were undertaken and lectures of resource speakers were heard. There were institutional visits made followed up by a local program in distant prefectures that included a homestay to a Japanese family. Concluding the program was a global forum.

As one of the panelists, joining Australia, Mexico, Singapore and Japan, I discussed the international volunteer organization called Volunteer Services Overseas or VSO Bahaginan. I shared the objectives of the organization, the participation of Filipinos and the mechanism of the deployment of volunteers to the different target sites, the poor countries.

After 6 years of successfully offering this program, the Cabinet Office decided to end it to give way for new exciting programs. In the first year, they sponsored 160 delegates from 37 countries followed by 78 delegates from 20 countries on succeeding years and in the last two years were 40 delegates from 20 countries.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nature at its Best at Ayoyo Beach

I just discovered another wonder of nature in Ilocos Norte yesterday when I went with Drs. Rey and Icy to Pagudpud for a nature tripping. It is the Ayoyo Beach situated in Brgy. Caparispisan Sitio Ayoyo of the said town. It has a distance of 12 kms from the town hall and its around 25 minutes drive to it. On the road we passed by Saud Beach, Polaris Beach and Casa Teresita Resorts. There was a stretch of pine tree plantation along the way and as we approached the site, on top of a hill a wonderful sight of the beach amazed me.

We stopped near the creek as we crossed over it by a suspension makeshift bridge made of two cylindrical iron tubes with a bamboo gutter. Then trek to the beach front. The water in the creek comes from a spring from the mountains that flows down to the beach. There were coral rocks that lets you enjoy the beach water on a knee deep. I did not hesitate to take a dip at once at the pristine water. Truly it was so refreshing. A cave was also present to enjoy and shield you against the sun.

This place is indeed secluded and very private since there were not much people around, only a couple of fishermen. You can even swim in the nude. This site is unexplored and unexploited and that one can truly commune with nature. Ayoyo Beach is simply nature at its best.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Laoag’s Night Market by the Riverside

It was Friday night last night and I trooped to the riverside to see the night market for the first time on its new location. Previously, the location was at the Bonifacio St. infront of the Sinking Bell Tower. It had a legal problem so they transferred temporarily at the east side of the public market or Abadilla St. and now permanently to the riverside. From the bridge, one can view the stalls lined up on the stretch of the riverside street.

Holiday season is fast approaching and that shopping gradually done ahead of time so people shop here for various items and products they need. It ranges from RTW’s, pillows, curtains, hardware items, slippers, christmas decorations, DVD’s, CD’s and a whole lot more.

The night market is open during Wednesdays and Fridays that starts at 7pm and closes at past 10pm. This is open all year round and it started in the year 2004. Some local tourists dropped by here to shop for some items and souvenirs. This is being managed by the local government.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Newest Airport Terminal in Manila

The most controversial terminal in the airport complex of Manila has finally been put to operation on July 22, 2008 after several delays of its opening. It is one of the most controversial government projects since there were legal battles and red tape involved especially international arbitration cases that resulted from the mismanagement of the project.

Despite the controversy, wow, we are still proud to say that we have now a big and spacious airport to accommodate growing number of international and local tourists in the Philippines. This Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 or NAIA 3 is situated in Villamor Air Base built on 63.5-hectare lot. It has 182,500 m2 of total floor area and 1.2 kilometers in length. It is capable of servicing 33,000 passengers daily at peak or 6,000 passengers per hour.

I was able to experience this newest airport when I took my flight from Laoag to Manila in August and Hong Kong to Manila on September via Cebu Pacific airline flights. It has a wide airstrip. We had to take the bus to get to the terminal building the first time. Second time, a tube was provided. Most of the flights of the said airline will be flying and landing in this airport. A public bus or van found in front of the airport is scheduled almost every now and then to take passengers to terminal 2 to terminal 1 to MRT Pasay then back to terminal 3. A minimal fee of Php 20 is collected per passenger.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Spanish Program on Air in Ilocos

I was surprised to read on newspaper last month that a Spanish radio program was launched in Laoag City. This was entitled “Filipinas, ahora mismo,” a 60-minute cultural magazine program being aired over DWFB Radyo ng Bayan at the frequency of AM 946khz from 7-8pm Mondays to Fridays. Due to similarities of local culture to Spain, the historical ties with her more than 300 years ago and the aim to link Ilocano listeners who could speak and understand Spanish language prompted a media outfit to produce this program.

The radio show features Spanish language, culinary arts, cinema reviews and music favorites in Spain. This was a joint venture between the government’s Bureau of Broadcast Services and the Associacion de la Prensa de Cadiz (APC) of Andalucia, Spain. I was told by a staff member of the radio station that this is a pre-produced show. You hear the same radio show conducted in Quezon City, Zamboanga and other regional radio stations. This is being presented by the project coordinator Christine Rabago and Bon Vibar, program host as shown on the photo.I had the chance to tune in to the later part of the program today and I enjoyed the fast beat Spanish music but I think I have to study the language to appreciate it more. While listening to the show, I felt like I was in Spain or Latin America. Muchas gracias mi amigos!