Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dr. Jose Rizal: A great martyr at 150 years

We had fun photo shoot with my group The Ilocandia Photographic Society (TIPS) entitled Dancers Among Us on June 19, 2011, the 150th birth anniversary of the great martyr Dr. Jose Rizal.

As a tribute to the great national hero of the Philippines, I asked our model dancers to pose infront of the bust of Rizal located at the Ilocos Norte Capitol. They posed with a praising act. It is but proper to praise the patriotic deeds of this hero. He was an instrument in liberating the country from the oppresion of the Spanish forces during the colonization of the country.

José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda is the complete name of the national hero of the Philippines. He is a foremost Filipino patriot who championed the reform of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. He wrote two great novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo which were subversive to the Spanish regime and that these books incite rebellion. This was the heroic act and paved way for claiming freedom from the Spaniards. Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 and was executed on December 30, 1896 at 35 years old at Bagumbayan, Manila that caused the Philippine Revolution.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

TIPS holds Retrato Photo Exhibition

The Ilocandia Photographic Society (TIPS) held a photography exhibit entitled Retrato.

The said exhibit featured the lovely images of the Ilocandia's treasured heritage, culture and landscape. It was launched on May 27, 2011 and lasted until May 29, 2011 at St. Nicks Function Hall in the town of San Nicolas Ilocos Norte.

This exhibit was held in time for the TMI (Timpuyog Dagiti Mannurat Iti Iluko) Iluko Literary International Conference 2011 which was attended by delegates from Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, California, Canada, Australia and Hawaii especially University of Hawaii.

The exhibit was formally opened by Dr. Dedicacion Agatep-Reyes, wife of the Iluko literary icon Dr. Godofredo Reyes and Mr. Peter Julian, Bukaneg awardee. They opened it by unique way of untying the riboon.

Dr Edwin V. Antonio, president of The Ilocandia Photographic Society was there to introduce the photo exhibit and his group TIPS to the delegation. They were amazed to see the photographs printed on canvas. They appreciated very much the show and some of the prints were sold on the very first day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Volunteering at Missionaries of Charity

To make a difference in celebrating my birthday this year, I called up Missionaries of Charity in Tayuman, Manila and was able to talk to Sister Gloriosia, a Korean nun who is based in the said center. She told me that I can celebrate birthday with the children by bringing food for them.

Many people come to the institution to celebrate their birthday with the resident children. There was a total of 75 children, abandoned and physically challenged individuals. 35 of them are able to eat solid food so I brought pansit and juice drinks for them and donated some frozen chicken and eggs for the preparation of soft food such as arrozcaldo or porridge for the rest of them.

I saw some people come by, visiting the children. Some of them are already familiar and close with the children. They began to feed the children at 4pm for their dinner. The children, nuns and house parents help each other arrange their chairs and tables.

Then I was tasked to feed one of them, a cerebral palsy patient but did not like me because she was shy. Then I was turned to another and that was Meremel, a CP patient also who enjoyed my company who just ate nicely when I fed her. She also played with me and laughed. Prior to this, Angel was so sweet that she asked me to carry her.

After the feeding, the house parents took them to the bath room for them to take shower. After that, they were all placed in a crib and were dashed with baby powder and donned clean clothes. They kept on playing and even bully each other. Some would also somersault in the bed. Some of them are naughty but all of them are basically sweet that they embrace and kiss a volunteer. I was really touched and moved by the childrens’ conditions. The abandoned children were actively moving but the rest are confined in the bed.

According to Blessed Mother Teresa, the founder of Missionaries of Charity, the very qualification of a volunteer is “Hearts to love and hands to serve.” Immersion in this charitable institution is another experience of a lifetime.

Tour of Hope in Ilocos Norte

The Tour of Hope 2011 was held on May 28 to June 1, 2011 enjoining dedicated cyclists to go on tour from Manila to Laoag City with the theme 500: Going the Xtra Mile Against Cervical Cancer.

This project had the objective to raise funds for the cervical prevention vaccination drives and seminars.

This cycling journey took 500 kms. in 5 days with stopovers in Tarlac City, San Fernando City of La Union, Heritage City of Vigan, and Laoag City. It had the aim of vaccinating 500 women during the tour. Vaccination of women in Laoag City took place at the basketball court of the city hall.

On the last leg of the tour, the bikers started from the Ilocos Norte Convention Center in Paoay to Paoay Church, Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Batac City and to Laoag City.

The tour was joined in by biker celebrities Anthony Pangilinan, Commisioner Gregorio Larazabal, Rovilson Fernandez, Will Devaughn, Richie Hardin, Richard Herrera, Janna Victoria, David Charlton and Abbygale Arenas-de Leon, president of Bravehearts, a non-profit organization dedicated to cervical cancer prevention.

Bravehearts organized this project in partnership with Team David’s Salon and GlaxoSmithKline. The participating celebrities lent their star power to draw attention to a good cause.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sarrat Church and the Guillotine Room

The town of Sarrat in Ilocos Norte is noted as the birthplace of Ferdinand Marcos, the 10th president of the Philippines. It is a 4th class municipality with an area of 57.39 sq. km. This town is crossed and cut into two by the Padsan River. There is the north and south Sarrat. Now it is joined by a bridge called Sarrat bridge which was recently opened and inaugurated on January 2010.

Cabayugan was the former name given to this humble place by the village chieftain Bang’at who was married to Sarrah. This was during the pre-Spanish period in the 16th century. The names of the couple were contracted forming Sarrat which was coined by their son Garo.

However, after the colonization by the Spaniards they renamed the place as San Miguel and it became a town in September 29. 1724. Until 1916, two notable legistlators eventually authored a bill changing it from San Miguel to Sarrat.

The very landmark of this town is the Santa Monica Church formerly called the San Miguel Church. It is a red-brick church made in a neo-classical style with a belfry on its right side and a convent on its left side forming the complex. It is considered to be an important cultural property by the National Museum because of its rich heritage and intricate details of architecture. .

This is considered to be the largest church in the entire province of Ilocos Norte and was the setting of the grand wedding considered as wedding of the century of Gregorio Araneta and former presidential daughter Irene Marcos in the year 1983.

This year, it became a witness to the historical event Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Laoag where a Eucharistic Mass celebrated in its midst. A blessing of its door considered as Jubilee door and the inauguration of the Museo Diocesano de Laoag was held this month. I was lucky to be part of the celebration.

The museum was awesome on its new form. The artifacts were displayed on glass, antique images and icons were shown and old photographs were exhibited. It was really nice.

I looked for the guillotine room in the convento but I couldn’t find it. I had asked some people and told me that they covered this beheading chamber or garrote with a wall. This structure affects the image of the church according to them.

I have seen this garrote in November 2007 when writers Rene Guatlo, Danton Remoto and Jessica Zafra invited me to join them visit this chuch. I had the chance to take a photo of this and happy to show it here. Hoping that the photos posted on this blog would not be used without the permission from this author.

Personally, I am not in favor for hiding this structure for this is a part of history. It gives more color to the rich heritage of the church and would be considered a good learning experience for the next generation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Laoag

The celebration of the 50 years anniversary of the Diocese of Laoag held in the town of Sarrat was a solemn occasion at the same time a historic event.

On June 5, 1961, the Diocese of Laoag was created comprising the civil province of Ilocos Norte and Laoag City as its capital. It was canonically erected on July 26, 1961.

It is one of the Ecclesiatical Territories of the Philippines which is called Dioecesis Laoagensis in Latin and a Suffragan of Nueva Segovia. The titular patron is St. William, the Hermit and the secondary patron is La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, Cause of Our Joy.

There was a blessing of the Jubilee Door at Sta Monica Church in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. Archbishop of Cotabato Most Rev Orlando Quevedo did the Eucharistic celebration. He is a Saratteno who introduced himself in Ilocano before he celebrated the mass.

I saw several bishops in attendance. Of course Bishop Sergio Utleg, the jubilee bishop was there. Bishop Edmundo Abaya, third residential bishop of the diocese was also there.

I have seen Bishop Socrates Villegas of the Diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, Bishop Jacinto Jose of the Diocese of Urdaneta, Bishop Ernesto Salgado and other bishops not known to me. The priests of the 22 parishes in the diocese were all there. Mrs Imelda Marcos also attended the program.

The highlight of the event is the blessing of the Diocesan Museum at the convent. It was a nice venue showcasing the precious artifacts of the church. I saw old framed photographs, dilapidated bells, antique images and many others.

In the afternoon, the Jubilee Pageantry showcasing dances was held infront of the capitol. On the day itself of the Jubilee, Bishop Utleg celebrated the jubilee mass at the cathedral. It was followed by a solemn procession. In the everning a musical play entitled Suray ti Pammati was held at the carpark area of the cathedral.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Healing Shrine of Kamay ni Hesus

While I was attending the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban town in Quezon, I heard that Kamay ni Hesus is one of the spots to visit in town. It was a popular pilgrimage site since they recommend this place to tourists to see.

So at almost 11 o’clock in the morning, I went to this church despite the heat of the sun. I saw a lot of tourists coming in and going out. I saw the church and of course the very prominent statue of Jesus Christ at 50 feet in length. It is considered to be the third biggest in the world.

The shrine is located in the Barangay Tinanman close to Mount Banahaw. On my entry, I went straigt to climb the 292-steps hill while I saw life size figures depicting the 14 Stations of the Cross.

The church here conducts several masses and are being celebrated by the healing priest Fr. Joey Faller.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Parikitan Fashion in Pahiyas

During the highlight of the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban just right after touring the houses in the pahiyas route, I saw a parade of beauties. These are gorgeous ladies who are genuinely Quezonian. Most of them were candidates to the Mutya ng Lucban.

I was stunned to see the first batch of beautiful women in their long gowns. Then another batch of ladies came in with their respective escorts. Some of the men wore barong Tagalog. The couples used a custom-made small umbrellas.

This time I was even more stunned because I saw them wearing unique gowns. These were made of indigenous materials such as bamboos, sawali, anahaw, local cloth, flower decors, abaca, banana fibers and coconut materials.

They actually have the Parikitan Competition as part of the celebration of the Pahiyas Festival which recognizes the art and designs by local couturiers. It was really impressive to highlight this kind of fashion.

Its also a way to promote the use of natural products. It was so amazing to note that Lucban advocates for a clean environment and they implement the use of paper bags in the market and they do not use straw in the bottled softdrinks. This is such a commendable advocacy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Native Delicacies of Lucban

Aside from being the home of mountains and springs rich in bountiful agricultural harvests, Lucban town boasts also of its native delicacies.

Starting off from the pansit habhab which I ate upon arrival which is so enjoyable to eat. It is the most popular food in this town. It is a noodle just placed on a small banana leaf. This is something unique. Eating noodles without any fork or chopsticks but directly licked or slurped by mouth. Pansit habhab costs only 10 pesos or sometimes its 7 pesos.

There were many stalls that sell pasalubong. One of the best sold items is the Lucban longganiza. It is a mixture of meat, garlic and sugar. The taste is so good perfect for sinangag na kanin, fried egg and suka plus coffee. This lonnganiza is smaller in size compared to the Ilocos or Pampanga longganizas.

There are other items sold for pasalubong such as the broas, apas, torones , tamales and many others. I bought urraro that looks like puto seko. It tastes good. Ube candies are also good. It is cheaper to buy at the market with 5pesos difference than outside.

Kiping is a rice wafer prepared months or weeks before the festival. Its not just a decoration but it can be eaten. It is fried or grilled. It’s like kropek or cracker that is crunchy but no taste.

Banana is abundant in Lucban. I have seen a unique color of banana which is reddish pink and they call it reynes. It was displayed during the Pahiyas. What is common that I saw on the streets is the grilling of bananas. I tried it which costs only 5 pesos and it tastes so good. Simply delicious, firm to the bite and naturally sweet. No fancy sugar just like banana qeue.

Suman is famous also in the Tagalog region. It is usually wrapped in banana leaf or coconut leaf. This is perfectly matched with ripe mango or tsokolate or simply sugar. My host Tita Rosy Babista served me with this and gave me some to take home. I remember she also made embutido, dinuguan and hardinira.

My Lucban trip was another food adventure.