Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yuletide Season in Ilocos

Another term for Christmas is Yuletide. It was derived from the Middle English term yol which refers to a pagan midwinter festival. It was later absorbed into and equated with the Christian festival of Christmas. It is the feast of the nativity of Jesus Christ. The season starts from the first night of the misa de gallo until after New Year.

A lantern parade was held in the capitol to signify the beginning of the celebration of the Christmastide in the province of Ilocos Norte. The different towns of the province participated in the parade of lanterns. These were made from indigenous materials available in their localities. They were all crafted creatively. It came in different forms and styles. There was even the lighthouse shape, stars, angels and others. All the lanterns were entered into a competition.

Prior to the parade, there was a choir competition being held. Then after it, a fashion show and contest was staged. To cap the celebration, a fireworks display was exhibited at the capitol that colorfully lit up the sky that brought excitement to the spectators.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Canonical Coronation of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc

I was informed by the people from the Diocese of Laoag that 29th Canonical Coronation Anniversary of the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc will be celebrated on December 8. It is the feast of the Immaculate Conception at the same time. This is an annual celebration. Together with my friends Mai and Fanny, we rushed to Badoc to witness this celebration.

We were able to catch up the mass celebrated by Bishop Sergio Utleg. Most members of the clergy were there gathered. We were surprised that many parishioners formed a long queue to make their offertory. There were lots of handcrafted bags and baskets which were offered. I was informed that each clergy member has around two bags to receive. They were so generous parishioners.

The highlight of the event was the coronation of the image of the La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc by the Hermana Mayor of the year Mrs Rhodalyn Prieto with Bishop Utleg assisted by other priests. A canonical coronation is an act of the Pope, duly expressed through a Papal bull, wherein the Catholic Church recognizes an image of the Virgin Mary. A Papal bull is letters patent or charter issued by a pope to authenticate an image. This is now the 29th year that La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc is being recognized. After the coronation, the people queued to kiss the image.

It was told that the image of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc is miraculous as well as the Santo Cristo Milagroso of the town of Sinait. According to old tales, boxes that contained the images of the Virgin Mary and the Crucified Christ drifted in the shores of Logo in Brgy. Dadalaquiten in the boundary of Sinait and Badoc. Each town had decided which statue to take. The people of Sinait chose the Marian image while Badoc wanted the crucifixion. Upon the order of their parish priests, men carried the respective images. Despite the number of men who helped to carry, the statues cannot be moved until they decided to exchange. And so the first miracle happened when Badoc was able to carry La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc while Sinait easily lifted the Santo Cristo Milagroso.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bacarra Domeless Tower

Bacarra is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Ilocos Norte. It has 43 barangays with a population of around 32,000. It was founded in 1778 during the Spanish rule. In that span of 231 years, it was administered by more than 100 town executives either as gobernadorcillos, capitanes municipal, presidentes or mayors.

Justify FullThe landmark in this town and one of the famous tourist attractions of the province of Ilocos Norte is the Bacarra domeless belfry which is a part of the St. Andrew Church. It is also known as "the bowing acrobat tower of Southeast Asia." It was so ancient that this massive bell tower dates back to the 15th century. The third and top floors were lost during a powerful earthquake in the year 1913. The bell in it survived the earthquake and still hangs precariously on the tower's shattered dome.

We had photo ops at dusk time when we visited this impressive structure recently. The full moon appeared while a numerous bats flew out of the structure successively. This is an amazing sight that can be witnessed at 6 pm onwards.

Celebration of Bac-bacarra Festival

Together with my colleagues from The Ilocandia Photographic Society (TIPS), we went to cover the Bac-bacarra festival at the town of Bacarra on November 30. This is our first time to witness it being held in its hometown. We had a sneak preview of the said festival during the Ragrag-o celebration.

This celebration was started in the year 2005 as a revival and preservation of their cultural heritage. The legendary bac-bacarra is a freshwater fish abundant in the rivers of the town in the olden days. It is now extinct. The town’s name was derived from it. It was coined by a Spanish soldier who passed by. He asked the name of the place from a local who at that time was fishing. He did not understand his question and just answered bac-bacarra.

Fishing is the main industry in the town attributed to the presence of coastline and the Bacarra river where they get good catch of quality and high valued fish products. They owe the blessings they receive to their patron Saint Andrew the Fisherman. This celebration serves as a thanksgiving to the abundant fish catches. The highlight of the said event is the street dancing depicting the history of the town and fishing itself. In general it was not that exciting as compared to other festival celebrations because there were only nine groups of young boys and girls who participated.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Peek at Isic-isic

Upon the invitation of Mr. Dante Mabanag, my friend Fanny and I went to the mountain village of Isic-isic in the town of Vintar to get a peek of it and document the medical mission organized by the local Parish Council. Fr. Jojo Saturnino hosted us breakfast at the convent before we traveled.

Vintar is a 3rd class municipality of Ilocos Norte and composed of 34 barangays. It has a population of around 30,000. It used to be part of the town of Bacarra. Now its celebrating its centennial anniversary as the town of Vintar.

We boarded a dump truck joining people from San Nicolas Academy. Students and faculty members participated in the mission. Physicians and dentists from Laoag and Vintar joined together to help in the medical needs of the locals. The Redemptorist missionaries were also there. Isic-isic was their recent mission area. It was a one hour ride, where we crossed about eleven rivers. Picturesque sceneries can be seen here because of the presence of mountains and rivers.

It was my first time to Isic-isic but I have reached Tamdagan in the 90’s where we crossed rivers just the same. I enjoyed sightseeing on top of the truck. I saw some birds hovering around. The beautiful mountains were always on sight. The breeze was cool in the morning. There was also one waterfall you can peek at along the way. We have seen one hanging bridge. We passed by several places such as Barangobong, Dagupan, Esperenza and others. The only worry is that, it was so dusty along the way.

When we reached the site, there were many people waiting for us. Some people were busy cooking food and preparing for the mass. Fr. Dennis celebrated the mass. Then the mission was started. One by one queued up for their treatment. They were given medicines. Tooth extractions were done by the dentist volunteers. While busy on the mission, San Nicolas Academy hosted some games for the little children and gave away prizes.

It was tiring because of the long ride and bumpy road but it was fulfilling experience to see the beautiful sights and meet the warm people. Hope to come back here as they told me they have waterfalls to explore.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The San Agustin International Music Festival

Before arriving to Manila from Bicol, Bishop Utleg invited us to watch the 11th San Agustin International Music Festival. I went early to Intramuros for a walk and then had some photo ops. I attended the mass at San Agustin Church. While I was at the monastery, I accidentally bumped on to my friend Adalberto Rama who is staff member of the San Agustin Museum. He gave me a ticket to the concert.

A cocktail dinner was served at the garden. After eating, Kuya Dante arrived and we went inside the church. We took front seats. Bishop Utleg later arrived with his colleagues from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines. It was jampacked night of concert. Locals and foreigners alike were there to watch.

Fr. Pedro Galende, Director of the San Agustin Museum opened the concert by introducing the performers for the night. He presented Ana Aguado Rojo, Spanish organist who was born in the City of Palencia, Spain. She is an expert performer in the field of baroque repertory. She played the 18th Century Pipe Organ which is located at the mezzanine floor of the church. She rendered a wonderful performance of the great classic pieces. Then she was later joined in her performance by Ariel S. Sta. Ana, a Filipino clarinetist who is a two-time winner of the National Music Competitions for Young Artist (NAMCYA). They were projected on the big screen in front of the altar.

The second part of the program was another awesome performance rendered by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the batoon of Italian conductor Maestro Ruggero Barbieri. They were later joined by great choral groups, The UP Madrigal Singers, Coro, de Sta Cecilia, College of the Immaculate Conception Chorale, Coro Amino, and the Maryknoll Sanctuary Choir. Filipino soprano Maria Rachelle Gerodias, Italian alto Simona Forni, Italian tenor Gian Luca Pasolini, and Filipino baritone Andrew Fernando were featured in this highly remarkable concert. This was indeed a fantabulous concert where the best performers of the world performed together in one great venue.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

San Agustin Church: A World Heritage

Finally, San Agustin Church in Intramuros completed my visit to the four baroque churches in the Philippines known to be world heritage sites when we had a stopover in Manila. I have documented Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, Santa Maria Church in Ilocos Sur, and Miag-ao Church in Iloilo.

This is another treasure of the Philippines that truly showcases the magnificence of heritage buildings. The façade however was not that impressive. It was even criticized as lacking of grace and charm. It was plainly painted. The church’s main door was ornately carved. When I went inside, I saw the interior design. It was awesome. This is what made the church so beautiful. I attended the mass which was ongoing at one of the side chapels since the main altar in which the image of San Agustin is placed was readied for a concert performance on that night. After the mass, the monastery was opened to the public and I saw the old walls.

This church was built and completed in 1607 during the Spanish colonial period. The design was derived from the Augustinian Churches built in Mexico and its interior is a copycat of the Puebla Cathedral in Puebla Mexico. The interior is in the form of Latin cross. It has 14 side chapels and I saw the salient feature of the church when I looked up the ceiling and walls. That is the trompe-l’oeil mural. This French word is an art technique that creates optical illusion involving extremely realistic imagery. It literally means to trick or deceive the eye.

The church was declared in 1993 as UNESCO World Heritage Site and also declared as National Historical Landmark by the national government in 1976. This structure withstood several earthquakes that destroyed other Manila churches. The sturdiness is attributed to its elliptical foundation.

This church is a popular venue for weddings. Most prominent personalities and celebrities held their weddings here. Concerts are likewise are being held here such as the San Agustin International Music Festival every year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Walk to the Old Manila

I was surprised to discover and see a lot of attractions in the Old Manila. I took a jeepney ride from Tayuman going to Intramuros and we passed by Plaza Mexico which is really my first time to see it. It is where the trip of the galleon trade that took place from Acapulco to Manila. I alighted at the front gate and started a leisure walk around the area. It was like walking in the old time seeing those ancient buildings.

Intramuros is a walled city in Manila. It was built by the Spaniards in 16th century. It was considered as Manila itself during that era and the name literally means within the walls. This area was called Maynila before the Spaniards came. The name was derived from the name of a water plant nila. May nila means there is nila (here). It also called Maynilad because people not familiar with the plant would refer it to as nilad. This was ruled by datus and sultans. It was an ideal location for trading because of the Pasig River and Manila Bay. The indigenous Tagalog and Kapampangan tribes traded with merchants from China, India, Borneo, and Indonesia.

When the Spaniards came, this area was declared as the new capital of Spanish colony in the Philippines by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who became the governor general, on June 24, 1571. Intramuros was completed in 1606 and became the center of political, military and religious power of the Spanish. There were a lot of buildings put up on this site such as churches, schools and political offices.

I saw Fort Santiago, golf courses, the Palacio del Gobernador which is now the office of the Commision on Elections, the Manila Cathedral, Casa Manila, the San Agustin Church and many others. There were guards manning the area clad in the old uniform of guardya sibil. There were calesas available to take one around the area.

National Shrine of Mother Perpetual Help

Upon the invitation of Bro. Joel, Fr. Dennis and Mai of the Redemptorist Missionaries who were there at Baclaran at the time when we arrived from Bicol, we took our breakfast at the refectory. We were graciously hosted by the house rector, Fr. Frank. He spoke with us about our successful trek to Mount Bulusan. We happily related to him and to the redemptorist people our great experience of conquering the said volcano.

Manang Amie and I were led by Mai to the National Shrine of Mother Perpetual Help. This is popularly known as Baclaran Church which houses the miraculous icon, the most venerated Marian image known as Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This is one of the largest churches in the country with a Modern Romanesque style of architecture building. It was completed in December 1952. The building seats 2000 people but can accommodate as many as 11,000 people during mass.

Wednesday is known as Baclaran Day where devotees offer novenas. It was a Wednesday when the first Bacalaran Novena was held however the very first novena was held in Iloilo. We were told by Mai that people especially those who have wishes and prayers knock the tabernacle and we also did it. We were also informed that Pope John Paul II celebrated mass when he had transit to Manila and dined at the same refectory where we had our breakfast

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Daraga Church: A Historical Treasure

As we got a glimpse of the Mayon Volcano, we were able to enjoy also the beautiful sight of the Daraga Church. Just the facade alone is so wonderful. Nuestra Señora de la Porteria is the patron saint of the Daraga Church. It was the title given to Blessed Virgin Mary who helped accomplish missions so that humanity can enter the kingdom of God. This church is also known as Our Lady of the Gate Church that houses the image.

This is a 17th century church with a baroque architectural design. It was built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1773 on top of a hill. The walls were made up of hardened volcanic rock. Some archeological relics of saints can be found here while rare religious seals were engraved on volcanic rocks in the façade and the belfry.

Just last year, this church was recognized as national historical treasure as declared by the National Historical Institute. A historical marker was placed at the church during a simple ceremony.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Glimpse of Mayon Volcano

On our way back to Manila, we dropped by at Daraga, Albay to get a glimpse of the lovely Mayon Volcano. There is a viewing deck located at the side of the old Daraga church. We were awed by its beauty. It nearly has a perfect cone shape. This was my second time to see it but the first time was at the Cagsawa Ruins on its anterior side.

The name Mayon was taken from Magayon meaning beauteous while Daraga means maiden or woman. The legend tells us that in the beginning of time that Philippines was not yet separated by wide stretch of water to the mainland Asia, there were no high mountains nor volcanoes in the place known as Kabikolan. This region was inhabited by a group of people composed of beautiful women and sturdy warriors. They were not allowed to marry people of other regions.

The most attractive and the modest lady from this place was Daragang Magayon, daughter of Tiong Makusog. Paratuga was the avid suitor of the lady but she refused his love. She fell in love to someone from the other region by the name of Panganoron who saved her life from the river when she was drowning while taking a bath. They both deeply inlove with each other but Paratuga learned of this and he abducted her father to force her marry him.

In the midst of the wedding, Panganoron and his group came to stop it until they battle and shed blood, Magayon was not even spared. All three of them died. Magayon was burried by his father beside the sea with all his wealth including the gifts of pearl and gold by Paratuga.

The people were surprised after a week that the grave mound of Magayon slowly rose into a hill and that formed Mount Mayon. Most of the time it is covered by clouds believed to be Panganoron visiting and kissing her. The spirit of Paratuga believed to be the cause of eruption of the volcano with all the stones representing as pearls coming out.

Mayon Volcano is the main landmark of Albay province. It is the symbol most associated with the province. This is one of the active stratovolcano in the Philippines. It is located 15km northwest of the capital Legazpi City. As of this writing, alert level 2 is in force due to its activities on June and July 2009. It has erupted 49 times in the past 400 years that makes itself as the most active among the active volcanoes in the Philippines. Mayon is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Its nearly perfect cone shape was formed by pyroclastic and lava flows.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Balay Buhay sa Uma

After coming down from Mount Bulusan, we stopped at Balay Buhay sa Uma resort located in Barangay San Roque. We were amazed to see this farm because you will walk under a thoroughfare with beehives hanging over. They are actually stingless bees that are grown here. The main house has a fish pond on its side. At the back of the house is the view of the Mount Bulusan. Several plants and flowers can be seen here.

At the garden, I saw a hose and instantly grabbed it to take a shower. I was like a child who played around with the water. Kuya Dante and Kuya Ike joined me. It was a refreshing feeling to be washed off of the mud and dirt from the trail.

After a while, they served our sumptous meal consisted of grilled fish, laing, native chicken tinola, ampalaya salad. We were served with a dessert of yam cooked in coconut milk called kinaluko with the aromatic tarragon tea. It was a big respite from the exhaustion from the trek.

Alimatek 101

Alimatek, alimanawang, limatek or linta is a small leech usually has a measurement of 1-3 cms. long. This is a haemophagic parasitic mountain leech under the class Hirudinea. It is a carnivorous or bloodsucking freshwater annelid worm that has typically a flattened lanceolate segmented body with a sucker at each end. It usually comes in black or brown colors.

On our climb to Mount Bulusan, most of us became victims of this leech locally called alimatek. I for one had a share of this kind. Several alimatek got into my skin while trekking. It was raining frequently during our ascent, so it was expected that they cling into the ends of the leaves of trees. We were advised to push aside the leaves to rid them. However, even how carefully you avoid them they still cleverly get into our boots and make way to the exposed skin of our bodies.

In fact, two people from our group were serious victims of this alimatek. They penetrated into their eyes. Physician Tina and guide Alvin suffered from the discomfort in their eyes caused by this creature. They both felt itchy. They just let it stayed in their eyes for a while but they could not stand it overnight because it will suck blood so I watched the removal of the alimatek from the eye of Alvin. They used hair forcep or tweezer. Initial attempt failed because its body was slimy and one end sucked strongly in the eyeball. They have thought of irritating it by putting soap. Then it was successfully removed at the second attempt.

In the case of Tina I helped in the removal by rubbing soap in the leech with the use of a cotton bud. Joel pinched it with the tweezer while Kuya Ike assisted us. So we were successful and she was relieved.

Alimatek should not be scared of if it landed in your body because they just bite and suck a little of blood. Most of the time, you won’t even notice or feel them. But a spray of alcohol would dislodge or disengage them. Never ever pull them off by force because their suckers might be left attached to the skin better yet just leave it until it falls.

Beautiful Lake Bulusan

Lake Bulusan is the heart of the Bulusan Volcano National Park in Sorsogon. It is located upon the slopes of the volcano with an elevation of 2,084 feet with a circumference of 2,006 meters. This volcano is formed by a tectonic damming and also said to be crater of a volcano. It also shares an interesting local folk legend with a tragic love story of Bulusan and Agingay.

From Irosin, we dropped by to see this beautiful lake before we went up the volcano. We entered a big gate and registered there. There is a concrete pathway rimming the mountain lake. We took a leisurely walk around it. It was so serene. It was definitely a beautiful sight. We saw some kayaks on the side. There was a boatman who was fishing in the area. After our photo ops we headed to San Roque.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Great Climb to Mount Bulusan

Mount Bulusan is the fourth most active volcano in the Philippines after Mayon, Taal and Pinatubo. It is located in the province of Sorsogon in the Bicol region. It is classified as a stratovolcano composed of many layers of hardened lava, tephra and volcanic ash. This kind of volcano produces viscous lava that it easily cools off and hardens before spreading far.

This tall, conical volcano has an elevation of 1565 meters above sea level and a base diameter of 15km. It has four craters that include the Blackbird Lake.

After a quick visit to the beautiful Lake Bulusan, we headed to Barangay San Roque to register. We paid 20 pesos each. It rained hard for a short while but when it stopped, Bishop Utleg offered a prayer for our safe trek. Our group has the objective of exploring mountains to appreciate the beauty of nature, to be conscious of their existence for a balanced ecosystem and to promote the protection of the environment.

We were accompanied by guides and porters led by Noel from the local government unit. We started hiking for more than five hours. It was a tiring hike since it was slippery. Along the way, it was raining. We walked to some rice fields passing through the rainforest. We have seen ancient and moss-covered trees and the giant ferns. Rare wild flowers and orchids were also seen by our group. Some alimatek got on to my skin but alertly removed them by splashing alcohol. There was heavy fog up further. We have to take breaks in between to take water, trek food and lunch. We arrived at a place close to the Lake Agingay. It was rocky with dead trees standing and some driftwoods in the midst.

We camped on the place we found. We set up our tents. A dome tent was lent to me by the bishop. We helped each other assembled our tents and placed close to each other. Joel cooked pinakbet for our dinner. We ate supper then retired early. It was raining at night and my tent was dripping. I heard some of my neighbors drain and dry their tents because they got flooded. We managed to get some good sleep despite the rain.

In the morning, we took our breakfast then we started our assault to the peak early at 8am. We passed through the forest then stiff mountains with dried as well as green cogon grasses. It was a wet trail. It was so windy and foggy then it rained several times. After almost four hours, we slowly have seen the summit. We became excited. There were rocks and stones. We began to smell sulfur. At last, we made it to the summit. We have seen the crater lake down beneath. It was such a fulfilling experience to have conquered the Bulusan Volcano.

After photo ops, we rested as we took our lunch. Then we climbed down and it took us about three hours. It is also challenging to make the descent. But we enjoyed the sliding along the trails. It rained cats and dogs when we reached Lake Agingay. We splashed our selves with water to cleanse our muddy pants and shoes.

Manang Amie and Dr Tina cooked our dinner. We had some good talk while we wait for our food to cook. We had supper then retired early.

Then the following morning we broke camp. We started to hike again. We spent four and half hours going back. Before reaching San Roque, there were farmers picking young coconuts with their long stick. We bought a few of the coconuts and sipped the juice. It was a refreshing treat after a long and tiring hike.

Another surprise was a superb lunch served at Balay Buhay sa Uma resort. I took a shower with the hose in its garden. Manong Ike and Manong Dante later joined me. We rushed and packed our things at San Mateo Resort as we headed north.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From Ilocandia to Bicolandia

Immediately after the celebration of Christ the King, our mountaineering group headed by Bishop Sergio Utleg traveled from Ilocos Norte to Sorsogon to do a climb at Mount Bulusan. We rode a rented van and departed at 9pm with Dante Mabanag, Amelia Corpuz, Ike Castillo, Joel Faizan with Paz mechanic cum driver.

We arrived 6am in Manila and picked up Butch Estavillo and Dr. Tina Ancheta who came from Isabela. We took our breakfast at a fastfood and continued our trip. We passed by Laguna, Quezon where we took snack of young coconut, then we had lunch in Camarines Sur and reached Daraga, Albay where we picked up a friend of the bishop to lead our way to San Mateo Resort in Irosin, Sorsogon. It was a very long trip that took us nearly 24 hours on the road.

Bicol region or Bicolandia is located in the southern part of the Luzon Island. It is the seat of the diocese of Nueva Caceres of the Catholic religion. It is composed of several provinces. Sorsogon is one of them. It is the home of the popular pili nut. Its name originated from sosogon meaning to follow a trail, river or a route. When Spaniard conquistadores reached this peninsula of Bicol, they asked a native of the name of the place. Not understanding the Castillan language, he answered sosogon and pointed the direction of up-river. This province is a former part of Albay and became independent in 1894.

We were being served with sumptuous dinner. It consisted of Bicol’s specialty laing, pork sinigang, grilled fish, and native bananas. Then we plunged into the hot spring. It was a great treat after that gruelling road trip.

We had a restful night at the resort. Then in the morning, we started our day with a hearty breakfast and packed our things as we headed to visit the lovely Lake Bulusan. We proceeded to our jump off point at Barangay San Roque. It was there where we started a great adventure.

Christ the King Celebration

A solemn celebration of the feast of Christ the King was held on November 22 in the province of Ilocos Norte. The venue of the event this year was at Brgy. Madiladig in Laoag City. It was attended by all the parishes in the province.

The Solemnity of Christ the King was established on March 11, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. This celebration was made in response to growing nationalism and secularism. Christ the King is the last holy Sunday of the liturgical calendar. This celebration commemorates the divine Kingship of Jesus Christ. He is being honored as the king of creation and the universe. This event is being simultaneously celebrated worldwide by the Christian faith. It usually falls on a Sunday between November 20 and 26 every year.

A long preparation was made by the host Divine Mercy Parish of Laoag City, Ilocos Norte headed by Fr. Tranqui in partnership with the Redemptorist Ilocos Mission Team headed by Bro. Joel and Fr. Dennis to realize a successful event. There were mini-Cristoreys that were held prior to the main event. In fact I was invited and had attended one of them. There was nine-day novena, masses, processions, benedictions, and many other religious activities.

The big venue was at purok Baldias at Madiladig where this is a part of the sand dunes. They prepared make-shift altar and large shed made of bamboo and its leaves. It was windy so it was not that hot. There was a royal entrance of the clergy with the Knights of Columbus acting as guards on the sides. One by one, the priests walked on the red carpet towards the stage. It was started with the singing of the theme song Cristo nga Ari sang by the parish choir and interpreted by young dancers from the same parish.

The mass was celebrated by Bishop Sergio Utleg. The very hightlight of the celebration was the general precession from Madiladig to Caoacan and back. The monstrance was paraded around held by the bishop alternated by other priests. They used the simple monstrance because it is light in weight. But I have seen the solar monstrance paraded during the mini-Cristorey which really looks heavy. Monstrance is the vessel used in the Roman Catholic Churches to display the consecrated Eucharistic Host. It comes from the Latin word monstrare meaning “to show” or synonymous to demonstrate, to show clearly. Monstrance is also known as ostensorium.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hawaiian Luau Night

While I was in the conference at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, my former classmates Aprille Lyn Paned with her baby Genesis and Salvador Vidal dropped by to pick me up. We warmly greeted each other. We have not seen each other since college. They viewed the photos I exhibited. I escaped from the conference to give way for our threesome reunion. They showed me around and took me to a Luau Night at the Paradise Cove.

They took me first for lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken and visited Ala Moana mall. Salvador shopped for me some macadamia chocolates and kona coffee at the Longs Drugstores. Then went to see Aprille’s hubby to endorse her baby and we later proceeded to Paradise Cove.

Luau is a Hawaiin feast. The concept of Luau and party are always synonymous. So in every occasion luau can be affixed with it such as graduation luaus, wedding luaus and birthday luaus. The term dates back in 1856 when it was used by Pacific Commercial Advertiser. It comes from the food always served that is young taro tops baked in coconut milk and octopus or chicken. The former name of the feast is called paina or ahaaina.

Aprille registered and paid the ticket at the gate office. It was around USD80 per person. We were welcomed with lei made of shells, then we were given welcome cocktail drinks. We roamed around first, then watched some ceremonies such as the Hukilau on the Beach and the audience participated in traditional Hawaiian fishing and the Royal Court Procession with Imu Ceremony. They demonstrated cooking Kalua pig which it had to be buried underground to cook it.

We ordered alcoholic drinks and I had Hawaiian Blue. A buffet dinner was served consisted of Hawaiin food such as Kalua roast pig, poke ahi, poi and other continental food. While having our dinner, the Polynesian cultural show was started. We were given poncho before the show and that was for the rain.

It started to drizzle then it rained hard while the fire dance was ongoing. People cannot brave the rain so they ran for shelter. My enjoyment of watching the cultural performance was cut short by the rain. The people started to go home and we went home too. I dropped by at Aprille’s house where Mang Edna picked me up. It was a wonderful night sharing with my two long lost friends.

Gameng Photo Exhibit a Big Success in Hawaii

The photo exhibit entitled Gameng: Ilocos Treasure Goes to Hawaii presented by The Ilocandia Photographic Society (TIPS) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, USA during the 4th Nakem International Conference was a big success.

At the opening ceremony, I presented to the delegation the video sneak preview of the exhibit and most of them were amazed to see the beautiful photos from Ilocandia. The collection of photos exhibited were representative of Ilocandia’s natural wonders and the rich Ilocano cultures and traditions.

The photo exhibit was viewed by the conference delegation, administration, staff and students of the University of Hawaii. Consul General Leoncio Cardenas had viewed the photos as well and was attracted to the photos. He bought two photos from the exhibit. Besides the praises to the photo exhibit, 50% of the photos displayed were sold out.

Nakem Conference at the University of Hawaii

The 4th Nakem International Conference was held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Art Auditorium and Campus Center Ballroom with the theme Dap-ayan: Sharing and Understanding Ethnolinguistic Worlds Towards Cultural Pluralism.

During the opening reception, I was accompanied by my host Mr. Juny La Putt and introduced me to his friend Dr. Federico Magdalena, a professor from the same university. I met the different delegates from the Philippines, USA, Australia and Hawaii. I have seen Dr. Ariel Agcaoili, Executive Director of the conference, Dr. Patricia Brown, President of the Filipino American Historical Society of Hawaii, Dr. Miriam Pascua and Dr. Alegria Visaya of Ilocos Norte. I met again Golden Miss Teen Hawaii-Filipina Alyssa who graced the event with her mom Mrs Agnes Reyes.

National anthems of USA and the Philippines in Ilocano version were sang during the opening. Welcome remarks were delivered by key personalities. It was followed by poetry reading, folk dance from Hawaii and Philippines, classical Ilokano songs, and three Ilocano books were launched during the program.

On the second day, I put up the photo exhibit entitled Gameng: Ilocos Treasure Goes to Hawaii. Several Ilocano personalities’ lives such as that of Jose Burgos, Gregorio Aglipay, Isabelo de los Reyes, and Jose Maria Sison were discussed. Various papers on Ilocano culture were presented. There was a student volunteer by the name Valerie who came up to me and asked me if I am Edwin Antonio of Treasures of Ilocandia and I said, "Yes! And why?" She excitedly responded by saying, "Manong, we've been using your blog on our presentations in class." I was elated by what she said and even their Professor Julius Soria confirmed this. The university actually offers a program on Bachelor of Arts major in Ilocano Studies.

On the third day, I presented a paper entitled Ragrag-o: The Festivals of Ilokandia where I showcased all the festivals I covered in Ilocos Norte as well as in Ilocos Sur.

Going Around Oahu

After coming from Maui, I called up Mr. Juny La Putt on his phone as per his instruction, so that he could pick me up at the airport. I met Sir Juny on the internet a few weeks before I traveled to Honolulu through his website, Hawaiian webmaster. He is so very kind. Even not knowing me that well, he welcomed me in his home.

After meeting him at the airport, he took me straight to his house in Ewa Beach and showed me my room and the different corners of the house. He instructed me on how to open the internet, how to use the coffee maker, even lent me his magic jack to call my friends in the US and Canada and even gave me the house keys. He lives in an apartment with his wife Nena, who works as a nurse.

I was left alone in the house. I had a restful night. The following morning, my host took me for breakfast at McDonalds and later brought me around Oahu. He described to me the Oahu island. It is composed of two sections, the Windward (the higher side) which is the greener part and that it always rains there. The lower side called Leeward is brown and dry.

Oahu is known as The Gathering Place. It is the most populous island in the State of Hawaii and the third largest in Hawaiian islands with a total land area of 596.7 square miles. Honolulu as the state capital is located in its southeast coast. Waipahu is a former sugar plantation town in Oahu where many Ilocanos reside. I have seen every home waving the Ilocano flag called horseradish, malunggay plant or moringa tree as they say. Ilocano migration in Hawaii is attributed to the Sacadas who worked in the sugar and pineapple plantation.

Our first stop was a visit to the National Cemetery of the Pacific which serves as a memorial to the men and women who worked in the US Armed Forces. It is where I have seen the Philippine map and Leyte in which the country was involved in the World War II. A rock from the Malinta Tunnel was brought by President Arroyo to serve as a memorial to the partnership of US and Philippines. This cemetery is located in the Punchbowl Crater where there was a deck where you can view the Pacific Ocean and the Honolulu skyline and the volcanic tuff cone called Diamond Head. It was a spectacular sight.

Later, we went to the Philippine Consulate and visited his friend Consul Lolita Capco. I was introduced to her and had a little chat. Then, we proceeded to the Nuuanu Pali State Park or the Pali Lookout where I have seen the panoramic views of the green hills and mountains especially the Koolau Range.

We headed next to the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park which features the replica of 12th century Japanese Buddhist temple in Kyoto called Byodo-In Temple. We walked through the entrance bridge and I rang the peace bell before paying my respect to the image of Buddha. Aside from Filipinos, Japanese people have a big population also in Hawaii.

The highlight of the day was a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial located at the Pearl Harbor. They gave out free tickets to watch a documentary film about USS Arizona and a ferry ride to the main site of the resting place of the 1,102 sailors who were killed during the Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 by Japanese Imperial forces. This led to the involvement of US in World War II. This was a very educational trip to the site since I learned a lot from the past of America.

We dropped by at Iolani Palace, the official residence of two monarchs of Hawaiian Kingdom. It was built by King Kalakaua in 1882. At its opposite side was the Aliiolani Hale, the home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court, where the gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great was erected in front of the courtyard.

To cap the day, we relaxed at the Ala Moana Beach Park where we watched the sun sets. On the following day we visited the PT Clinic of his friend, Janice Magdalena. I was also brought to his apartment and stayed there since its nearer to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the venue of my conference. He sent me off and even joined me at the opening ceremony.

I am so very lucky to have met Mr. Juny. He is a retired military man and a professor. These days, it is very rare that you meet a person who is trusting. I learned from him that he also went through traveling finding some generous hosts and foster families. My sincere gratitude goes to him for this wonderful homestay.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nature Tripping in Maui

On my second day in Hawaii, Mang Edna sent me off to the airport for my early morning flight to Kahului, island of Maui. It was only a 30-minute flight via Hawaiian airlines. My host was referred by my friend Fanny. Manong Billy Jose is her father. I was instructed to wait for him at the lobby. She gave me the plate number of his car which is colored green. When I saw this, I just waved my hand and boarded the car. We greeted each other. He treated me for breakfast at Zippys and later dropped by at his workplace which caters food to various airlines in America.

Maui is an island of the state of Hawaii which is the second largest in terms of size with an area of 727.2 square miles. It is called Valley Isle attributed to the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes. The popular term Maui and Son traced back from the legendary discovery of the Hawaiian island, a Polynesian navigator, Hawaiʻiloa. He named the island after his son’s name.

Starting from the airport alone I felt that the air in Maui was so gentle, breezy and cool compared to that of Honolulu. I enjoyed my joyride. It’s so green in this island. There were lots of golf courses. We began roaming around the island with a visit to Paia located on Maui’s North Shore where we have seen the beautiful white sand beaches. Surfing on long boards were plenty on this area. We were lucky to have seen a monk seal resting and moving in the sand. It was cordoned for safety. Then our next stop was at Naska where we watched several people assemble and do kite boarding. On the other side was windsurfing. While enjoying the beach sports, we ate our packed lunch bought from the resto.

We moved to Central Maui where we visited Maalaea Harbor. This hosts marina where cruise ships and pleasure boats dock here. This is also an excellent site for surfing and windsurfing. It is also an ideal walking beach. We concluded our day with our visit to Kaanapali, a small town located in the western shore of Maui close to Lanai. Mang Billy shopped for me some clothes to wear and even jacket to use. Another perk was the Aloha money.

I was taken home and introduced to his family starting from his parents who were so amiable and began to talk to me. I met also his brothers and especially his daughter Charise. We dined together for supper and we had a bottle of beer and later had sing- along. We retired early and rose up wee hours of the morning.

At 4:30am, we rushed to the Haleakala National Park to see the beautiful sunrise and of course the crater. It has an elevation of 10,000 feet. I was surprised to see that there were already many people waiting. It felt freezing cold up there. I keept my hands inside my pocket to ward off the freezing chill. It was a wonderful sight.

We droved down the scenic 53-mile Hana highway with all that lush rainforest following the northeast coastline. It is one of the most beautiful drives of the world. There were sharp curves that limits you to only 15 mph speed limit. We ended up to Waianapanapa State Beach, a black sand beach.

We stopped by at the Garden of Eden where we saw several plants and flowers. There were birds here. We bought our pack lunch from Queen Kahuumano Center where Charise works. We proceeded to Iao Valley where we saw the Heritage Parks composed of many styles of home. including bahay kubo. We have seen the striking Iao Valley needlle, a 2,250 feet rock pinnacle.

The island of Maui is simply the best in terms of nature tripping. Fabulous sights and great people I have seen. We went home to rest and had video conference with his wife and children Fanny and Kevin and friend Mai. Afterwards, they sent me off to the airport bound for Honolulu. I thanked him and his family for that unforgettable moments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Aloha Experience

I thought it was a just a short trip flying from Manila to Honolulu but it was a long haul flight. It was 10 hours. Aside from getting the lowest promo fare, I had so much comfort in flying the Philippine Airlines because of good service and I was able to lie down and sleep on a row of four vacant seats at the back near the galley.

Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America and the only state composed of island chain. It is composed of eight main islands namely, Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui, and Hawai’i. It was a former kingdom from 1810 to 1893 until when resident American businessmen overthrown the monarchy and later became an independent republic. It was annexed to US as territory and became its state in 1959.

Upon arrival at the airport I saw many well-wishers armed with different types of leis or garlands waiting for their guests. I waited for a while for my hosts to arrive. Suddenly they showed up. Manang Edna Tamayo and sister Mary Ann greeted me with a lei. I was amazed by the warm welcome. She drove the car to a place where we met up with Manang Agnes Reyes to deliver packages for her. Upon handing out the package to her she gave me an envelope and that was Aloha money, as they say.

Manang Edna took me at once for shopping to an outlet. She asked me to pick something I like. I chose a T-shirt and she paid it for me. Again I was surprised. Later, she took me to her house where some guests from Maui were waiting for her. I was introduced to them and had talks. I met also her children Eric, Patrick and Kaycee. Before her guests left, they shook my hands with some cash and that was Aloha money. Wow, it was really surprising.

With her hubby Manong Primo, they took me out for lunch at a Chinese resto. They served a big pack of lunch where you get to choose a combination of viands. Sodas were of great sizes too. Later, we went to the office of Mang Edna for her to work a bit because her desk was piled up with papers as she just arrived from vacation in the Philippines.

Manong Ben Pulido, president of the Kalayaan Philippines group of Ilocanos in Hawaii with her daughters Vanessa and Raizza dropped by to get their pawit or package from me. I was introduced to him and upon getting it, he handed me some cash. I was so much delighted by their generosity. I started counting my collection when we went home.

We were invited to attend the Kimona Ball of the Filipino Business Women in Hawaii at the Ala Moana Hotel. I was lucky that Mang Ben informed the emcee to announce the photo exhibit I am holding at the University of Hawaii. I met the daughter of Mang Agnes, Alyssa, reigning Golden Miss Teen Hawaii-Filipina 2009. I met many people. There was also one person who gave me Aloha money.

Later we met up with Mary Ann and friends Tess, Rely, Lorie, Vi, Chil, Kenny, and Edita at Sorabowl where we had dinner. They took me to Club 939 for some adult entertainment and we ended our night out late with some hot noodles at Zippys and retired at the house of Edita.

A big surprise given to me was when they tendered an Aloha party for me at the family house of my host in one of my nights in Oahu. Aside from the Filipino food, they prepared ocean salad and poke ahi. Mang Edna arranged the party with Mary Ann celebrating her birthday too. Most of the relatives and friends gave me each an envelope containing Aloha money.

On my last night, Mang Ben threw a farewell dinner for me at the Aloha Tower Marketplace where we had a buffet of seafood. I love that Snow Russian crabs and lobsters. Together with Mang Ed and Mang Agnes, we proceeded to Walmart. Each of them shopped for me boxes of Macadamia chocolates, souvenir shirts and whatnot to take home.

When Mang Edna sent me off to the airport, she handed some more cash gift. I sincerely conveyed to her my utmost appreciation for her kindness in making my Aloha experience a great memory and a treasure to cherish for lifetime.