Showing posts with label Rizal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rizal. Show all posts

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Philippine festivals and other cultural celebrations

Philippine festivals or fiestas are among the most colorful in the world! I recently got to read the book "A Year of Festivals: A Guide to Having the Time of Your Life" published by Lonely Planet. It features the most unique festivals in the world. The first thing I did was to check how many Philippine festivals were featured.

There are five in the book, two of them in San Fernando, Pampanga! The five were the Feast of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo, Manila), Ati-Atihan (Kalibo, Aklan), San Pedro Cutud Crucifixion Rites (San Fernando, Pampanga), MassKara Festival (Bacolod, Negros Occidental) and the Giant Lantern Festival (San Fernando, Pampanga). There should have been more since the Philippines is known to be a country of colorful festivals!

That's what I've been saying about making sure festivals are unique. Festivals that cannot be found elsewhere are those which attract attention. With so many festivals and events flooding the Philippine fiesta calendar, I decided to pick my favorites from the crowd and came up with my own list of unique festivals worth visiting. Most definitely, these festivals have become iconic symbols of the towns and cities where they are held annually.

January 9 | Quiapo, Manila
On this day, the centuries-old image of the Black Nazarene is pulled through the streets of Quiapo by male devotees clad in maroon, in an intense mammoth procession. This has been a tradition for over two centuries and some people who have touched the Nazarene during the procession claim that they have been healed of their diseases.


Third weekend of January | Kalibo, Aklan
Held every January to commemorate the feast of the Santo Niño, many consider the Ati-Atihan Festival as the Mother of all Philippine Festivals. Among the wildest, if not the wildest of Philippine fiestas, revelers paint their faces with black soot and wear bright, outlandish costumes as they masquerade and dance in revelry around the streets of Kalibo to the beat of ambulant ethnic troubadours. This is the original street dance fiesta of the country and many of the later street dance festivals in honor of the Santo Niño were inspired by Ati-Atihan.

The origins of the festival are said to date back to the 13th century when a group of Malay datus fleeing Borneo purchased land from the local Ati people. This agreement was commemorated with a celebration, where the datus and their people painted themselves black to honor the Ati people. This was later converted into a religious celebration with the arrival of the Spanish.


Third weekend of January | Cebu City
The Sinulog Festival is one of the grandest, if not the grandest, and most colorful festivals in the Philippines. It is held in honor of the Santo Niño. Just like the other Santo Niño festivals, it features a street parade with participants in bright-colored costumes dancing to the rhythm of drums, trumpets, and native gongs. The day before the parade, a fluvial procession is held in the morning with the image of the Santo Niño carried on a boat from Mandaue City to Cebu City. In the afternoon, a more solemn and larger procession makes its way around Cebu City.


Fourth weekend of January | Iloilo City
Another Santo Niño festival, the Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival held the weekend after Sinulog and Ati-Atihan. The festival is also characterized by street dancing, frenetic stomping of feet to the beat of ambulant ethnic troubadours.

The festival saw its birth in the late 1960s but was just confined to a parish. It was in the 1977 when President Marcos ordered various regions to come up with festivals that would boost tourism that the Dinagyang as we know it today began to take shape. In fact, as a testament to how it has grown and evolved, Dinagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.

February | Baguio City
Panagbenga, or the Baguio Flower Festival, is month-long annual flower festival held in Baguio. The first one was organized in 1995. The next year, it was renamed Panagbenga, a Kankanaey term that means "a season of blossoming, a time for flowering." The highlight of this festival is the Floral Float Parade usually held during the last Sunday of February (or first Sunday of March).


April to May | Pakil, Laguna
The Turumba commemorates the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary with seven pistang lupi. The first pistang lupi is held on the Friday before Palm Sunday (the first of two feasts of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and the seventh is done on Pentecost Sunday. During these days, the image of the Nuestra Señora de Dolores de Turumba is borne on an anda and brought around the streets of Pakil in a procession amidst dancing. Other processions are also held aside from the seven pistang lupi, the last being on the third Sunday of September, the second feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin May.

The schedule for 2009 is Unang Lupi (Biyernes de Dolores, April 3), Ika-2 Lupi (Pistang Martes, April 14), Ika-3 Lupi (Pistang Biyatiko, April 20, 21 & 22), Ika-4 Lupi (Pistang Biyernes, May 1), Ika-5 Lupi (Pistang Linggo, May 10), Extra Lupi (Pistang Pakileña, May 12), Ika-6 Lupi (Pistang Pag-akyat, May 22), Ika-7 Lupi (Pistang Pagpanaog, May 31), Ahunan sa Ping-as (May 30), and Domingo de Dolores (September 20).

Good Friday | Marinduque
A pageant of wooden masks called morion, the Moriones Festival is celebrated in the towns of towns of Boac, Mogpog and Gasan. Men are colorfuly garbed and masked as Roman centurions. The festival culminates in the reenactment of the beheading of Longinus.

Good Friday | San Pedro Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga
The San Pedro Cutud Crucifixion Rites is arguably the cultural event most visited by foreign tourists. It's mentioned in almost every guide book about the Philippines. It's actually the center of bloody flagellation practices that happen in Pampanga every Holy Week. The very first crucifixion happened in 1962 as part of a passion play of the barangay. Ever since, more and more penitents followed suit and thus began a cultural practice that went beyond ordinary flagellation.


May 14 | Pulilan, Bulacan
An annual festival held the day before the feast of San Isidro Labrador, it features hundreds of decorated carabaos and colorful floats parading along the streets of Pulilan, a celebration for a bountiful harvest.

May 15 | Lucban, Quezon
An annual celebration to celebrate the feast of San Isidro Labrador and to usher in a bountiful harvest, homes in Lucban are decorated with the town's agricultural products. The most distinct of these decorations is the kiping, a brightly colored rice dough rolled into thin wafers and shaped like leaves. Other decorations include fruits, vegetables, grains and straw hats.

Also visit the Agawan sa Sariaya and Mayohan sa Tayabas the same afternoon in the neighboring towns. The highlight of Mayohan is the famous agawan ng suman in honor of San Isidro Labrador.


May 17 to 19 | Obando, Bulacan
A three-day festival where childless couples, praying that they bear children, do the pandango or "fertility dance" on the streets of Obando as a procession carrying the towns patrons Santa Clara, San Pascual Baylon and the Nuestra Senora de Salambao, makes its way around town.


June 24 | Aliaga, Nueva Ecija
To commemorate the feast of Saint John the Baptist, the people of Brgy. Bibiclat, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija, transform themselves into mud people or taong-putik. The ritual, called Pagsa-San Juan, begins at dawn when devotees wear dry banana leaves or vines, smear themselves with mud and walk the streets to ask for alms in the form of candles which are lit at the plaza.


June 24 | Balayan, Batangas
Another celebration to commemorate the feast of Saint John the Baptist, the town of Balayan parades dozens of lechon (roasted pigs) in outlandish costumes. Imagine roasted pigs wearing wigs, sunglasses, hats, and clothes! And just like in any fiesta for San Juan Bautista, expect to get wet!

June 28 to 30 | Apalit, Pampanga
A three-day fluvial festival, the Pampanga River comes alive with gaily decorated motorboats and colorful bancas during the feast of Saint Peter. At the center of the fluvial processions is a lavishly-decorated pagoda mounted on a barge that carries a centuries-old ivory image of Saint Peter which the locals call Apung Iru.

Third Saturday of September | Naga City, Camarines Sur
A festival honoring the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Patroness of the Bicol Region, on the last day of the celebrations, the image is returned to the Basilica in a fluvial procession along the Naga River. The procession is lit by thousands of candles from devotees in boats escorting the image.

Weekend nearest October 19 | Bacolod City
The MassKara Festival is held every October to celebrate the Charter Day of Bacolod City. The festival features carnivals, fairs, and a Mardi Gras-like street parade of costumed and masked dancers. It was first held in 1980 during a period of crisis. The local community decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city is the City of Smiles, in order to pull residents out of the gloomy atmosphere.

Second Sunday of October | Quezon City
The La Naval de Manila is a grand procession held in honor of the Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario (Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary) along the streets of Quezon City. Before the destruction of the grand churches of Intramuros during the liberation of Manila, this tradition was held in the walled city. The image is said to be the most lavish and most celebrated Marian image in the country, and is brought around preceded by carrozas of St. Joseph and various Dominican saints.

November 23 | Angono, Rizal
A festival held in honor of San Clemente, it's one big party around the streets of Angono with a loud, rambunctious, and wet & wild Mardi Gras-like parade (it's actually a procession). The procession culminates in a fluvial procession in the Laguna de Bay. Higantes are colorful paper mache giants measuring about ten to twelve feet in height.

Saturday before Christmas Eve | San Fernando, Pampanga
The date of this spectacular festival is a bit confusing but it's usually held the Saturday before Christmas Eve but not too close to it (so that would be sometime between December 15 to 21). The festival features close to a dozen 18-foot lanterns made by competing barangays of San Fernando. Each lantern is fitted with thousands of light bulbs that are controlled manually. The dynamic interplay of lights and color that precisely moves with the rhythm of music is unbelievable! It is because of these giant lanterns and the San Fernando lantern-making industry that the City of San Fernando has been dubbed the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines

Visita iglesia to our Philippine churches has been a part of our lives as Catholic Filipinos. Every Holy Thursday, we visit seven churches, some fourteen, as we reflect on Christ's passion and death. I've done a whole lot of articles on Holy Week including Holy Week practices in the Philippines, which discusses Holy Week practices you could witness if you're at the right place at the right time.

Anyway, below are even more articles I had previously written on Holy Week. I'll be in San Fernando again this Good Friday.

Holy Thursday
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday - In this article, I gave suggestions on churches to visit in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Quezon. I also suggested some popular routes including Pampanga Day Trip, Laguna de Bay Loop and the Mount Banahaw Loop.
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches - In this article, I focused on heritage churches, including those up north.
Visita iglesia to Metro Manila churches
- This is a fairly comprehensive list of heritage churches in Metro Manila which you can visit.
Visita iglesia to Makati City churches
Visita iglesia to Batangas churches
Visita iglesia to Pampanga churches
Visita iglesia around Laguna de Bay churches
Visita iglesia to Southern Cebu churches
Visita iglesia to Northern Cebu churches

Visita iglesia in Leyte and Southern Leyte

Visita iglesia to Western Pangasinan churches

Good Friday
Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga
Crucifixion rites held in San Pedro Cutud every Good Friday

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top day-trip destinations near Metro Manila

Here is a list of my favorite day-trip destinations near Metro Manila. With summer just around the corner, it's time to plan your trips!

Manila day trip - Anawangin Nagsasa Capones Zambales1. Beach hop in San Antonio, Zambales
Call them San Antonio's Big Five - Anawangin Cove, Camara Island, Capones Island, Nagsasa Cove, and Pundaquit! And you can reach all these great beaches from the jump-off point in Pundaquit. I most definitely enjoyed the surreal landscape of Anawangin. So remote it is that you need to hike several hours or take a pump boat to get to it. Nagsasa Cove is just as pristine!

Manila day trip - Taal Volcano2. Taal Volcano trek
You've always seen the Taal Volcano from Tagaytay City. Have you ever tried visiting the island itself and hike or ride a horse to the crater lake? This is a one day-trip option you can do together with a culinary tour of Tagaytay.

Manila day trip - Mount Pinatubo3. Mt. Pinatubo trek
All it takes is a drive to Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac to begin that breathtaking journey to Mount Pinatubo's crater lake. A one hour 4x4 ride, plus a one hour trek across some of the most unusual and unbelievable landscapes makes the journey there even more exciting. The crater lake of Mount Pinatubo is perfect for a swim especially when it is baby blue! It's easy to organize a visit through the Pinatubo Spa Town. And don't forget to get a massage after the trek!

Manila day trip - Corregidor4. Corregidor Island day-trip
As I mentioned, this is one of those day-trips taken for granted. Reliving the story of Corregidor is a very enriching experience. The Sun Cruises tour includes round-trip ferry transfers, buffet lunch and a guided tour around the island. You get to visit the various war memorials and the surviving gun batteries which formed part of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. You can also opt to stay for the night and explore the Malinta Tunnel in the evening and do a morning trek among the less-visited batteries the next day.

5. Road trip around Mount Banahaw
You've all heard about the Viaje del Sol route and the wonderful establishments along the way. But go the extra mile by completing the loop around Mt. Banahaw. Along the way, you can visit the seven lakes of San Pablo, Laguna. You'll pass by the grand Art Deco mansions of Sariaya and the magnificent churches of Tayabas and Majayjay, both National Cultural Treasures. Don't miss the Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan. Plus you can munch on Lucban's famous longaniza and pancit habhab. Slipper addicts will have a blast in Liliw, Laguna! You can stretch this trip another day by staying a night in Pagsanjan and doing the next suggested day-trip.

Manila day trip - Pagsanjan Falls6. Shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan
This one you should try at least once in your life. It was exciting and exhilarating. I personally enjoyed the raft ride that takes you right under the falls. So make sure you have extra clothes. The only catch is that the boatmen will pressure you to give hefty tips.

Manila day trip - Pampanga food7. Pampanga culinary adventure
You haven't been to Pampanga if you haven't savored its food, both local and international cuisine. San Fernando is home to Everybody's Cafe where everyday Kapampangan food is as exotic as it can get. Angeles City is the birthplace of sisig and make sure you taste the original at Aling Lucing's. At the Camalig, Kapampangan pizza is topped with longaniza, salted duck eggs, and pickle relish. And Fields Avenue near Clark brings you around the world with its international restaurants, my favorites being C' Italian Dining, Zapata's (Mexican), Subdelicious (American), Cottage Kitchen (Cajun/Creole), Red Sea (Lebanese), Hana-mi (Japanese)... the list is endless! Now obviously, you can't eat at all these places in one day since that would be gluttony! So why not stay another day?

8. Road trip around Laguna de Bay
We all know about the visita iglesia route which will take you to Pakil and Paete in Laguna, and Morong, Baras and Tanay in Rizal. But there's more! Make sure you also visit the heritage town of Pila, Laguna and stop over at Lumban to check out their wonderful pina cloth emroidery. Have you ever considered stopping over at Daranak and Batlag Falls in Tanay, Rizal? Well, you should! End the day with a sunset dinner high up on the ridge in Antipolo.

9. Intro dive in Batangas
Even if you don't have a license, you can still experience diving with the help of a dive master through an intro dive. And that's exactly what we did in Bauan, Batangas! It's a different world down there and all I could say is, "Wow!"

Manila day trip - Ipo Watershed10. Plant trees at the Ipo Watershed
Now this is travel with a cause. Just contact the UP Mountaineers to find out if you can join one of their reforestation trips to the Ipo Watershed. Any advocacy to preserve our cultural and natural heritage is close to my heart. Which is why we made a visit to the Ipo Watershed to support the advocacy of the UP Mountaineers to protect it!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rizal: Avilon Zoo in Rodriguez, Rizal

Avilon Zoo is the best zoo within the vicinity of Metro Manila. At 7.5 hectares, it's also the largest in the country. As Manila Zoo continues to deteriorate (what do you expect from a government zoo that lacks the proper funding for rehabilitation), it is these private endeavors that fill in for the need for quality recreational and educational facilities for Filipinos. Since it was a holiday last April 7, my family planned a visit to Avilon Zoo as soon as I arrived from Tablas.

Getting there was a bit confusing since there was a lack of visible directional signs from San Mateo. You had to proceed to the town proper of Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) and from there, you could ask around how to get to the zoo. The first directional sign I noticed was away from the National Highway where they should have been to help visitors locate the park.

We finally arrived at Avilon Zoo after passing through a dirt road. I expected the municipal government to have cemented this road long before given that Avilon was one of the town’s major attractions. We spent PHP208 each for entrance and it’s a good thing that they accept credit cards.

At the time of our visit, there were some parts of the zoo undergoing renovation in order to improve the facilities but overall, the design and theme was great. Mom said it reminded her of Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.

Check out the close encounters with the animals. I had a chance to interact with several birds of prey including an owl and an eagle, while Bettina got to ride on George the pony for a photo opportunity. They usually charge PHP50 for this. But the funny experience was with Camille the orangutan who was really playful. She would reach for your hand and if you would oblige, she would give you a hug, or in my case, climb up so you could carry her like a little kid.

The zoo has most of the animals that can usually be found in zoos, like lions, a tiger and other large cats, monkeys and other primates, and birds among many others. But it did not have a giraffe, zebra or elephant. But overall, the zoo is worth the visit especially if you have kids.

Avilon Zoo
The Avilon Montalban Zoological Park in San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal is usually open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can call them up to check their schedule.
+63 2 9418393
+63 2 9489866
+63 917 8995126

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rizal: Nemiranda and the Blanco Family Museum

After lunch, we visited the Nemiranda Art House which houses the Angono School of Arts. Of all the galleries we visited today, this is the one I've already been to during the Higantes Festival in 2006. In fact, we had a sumptuous fiesta lunch courtesy of the artist himself.

There were several paintings on display in his gallery. But one painting called Isang Kahig Isang Tuka struck me because of the powerful symbolisms used. It's a woman giving birth to her sixth child. Behind her on the left are her five other children holding cigarettes and garlands of sampaguita which they sell on the street. In front of them is a plate with a single piece of galunggong. Behind her on the right is her husband drinking. While beside here is the statue of the Sto. Nino and placed under it is an unused condom. Sad but true, this painting tells us about realities here in the Philippines don't you think?

Our last stop was the Blanco Family Museum. The family of Jose "Pitok" Blanco and his wife Loring is so unique because they and their children namely: Glenn, Noel, Michael, Joy, Jan, Gay and Peter Paul are all master painters in their own right. And they all follow the school of Realism, depicting subjects as they appear in everyday life.

Walking around the museum was a wonderful experience because of the beautiful images of the country and beyond which they have captured in their paintings. This is indeed a must visit for everyone.

I had to leave early since I had to catch my class. So I was not able to join the group when they visited what is probably the oldest existing artwork in the Philippines, the Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan. But since I've been there already, just check out my previous entry on it.

Part 1: Art gallery overload in Angono, Rizal
Part 2: Lunch at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant in Angono

Related entries
Viva San Clemente! Higantes of Angono, Rizal
Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines
Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, Rizal

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Rizal: Lunch at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant in Angono

As part of Havila's tour of the Angono area, we visited the Balaw-Balaw Folk Art Museum of the late Perdigon Vocalan for lunch. It's more known as the Balaw-Balaw Restaurant which serves both local specialties and exotic foods. For the brave, try ordering uok (larva of beetles that are found in coconut trees cooked as adobo or steamed in tamarind fruit and tomatoes just like escargot), nilasing na palaka (frogs marinated in wine and cooked as adobo), kamaru (a popular Kapampangan cricket dish), Soup No. 5 (cow butt and balls), bibingkang abnoy (aborted duck eggs cooked in banana leaves) or palos (freshwater eel cooked as adobo).

There are also unusual salads such as rose petal salad, rose petal tempura, bougainvillea salad, or crispy alagaw leaves (like crispy spinach or kangkong). But for today, they served us the traditional foods.

If you're a group, you might to their Minaluto which is a little of everything such as chicken and prok adobo, various seafoods and vegetables, steamed with a heaping mound of rice and served in a large bamboo container lined with banana leaves. Minaluto is another term for binalot or a meal with rice packed in banana leaves. It's a little over PHP1100++ if I remember it right.

Above and around the restaurant are paintings and sculptures of Vocalan, a lot of them! Indeed, the place was a feast for the eyes, mind and stomach.

Part 1: Art gallery overload in Angono, Rizal
Part 3: Nemiranda and the Blanco Family Museum

Related entries
Viva San Clemente! Higantes of Angono, Rizal
Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines
Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, Rizal

Monday, March 31, 2008

Rizal: Art gallery overload in Angono, Rizal

Angono, Rizal is indeed the Art Capital of the Philippines. It's actually the center of an artists haven which includes the neighboring towns of Binangonan and Morong, an area which abounds with art galleries, museums, shrines and studios.

We went around Angono today courtesy of Havila since they wanted to show us the wonderful and conducive environment their communities are built in. So after a brief tour of their various developments, we went to Angono.

Our first stop was the house of Carlos "Botong" Francisco, National Artist for Visual Arts, along Dona Aurora Street. When Botong was still alive, his house also served as his studio. In front of it is the gallery of its current occupant, his grandson Carlos "Totong" Francisco II named The Second Gallery.

Dona Aurora Street is actually famous for its concrete street murals, contemporary works by artists Charlie Anorico, Gerry Bantang and Ebong Pinpino depicting the different paintings of Botong Francisco. Almost every house has at least one mural. And we were lucky to chance upon Charlie Anorico working on a new mural.

At one end of Poblacion Itaas are the busts of the towns national artists namely Botong and Lucio San Pedro, National Artist for Music. At the opposite end, the notes of San Pedro's immortal lullaby Sa Ugoy ng Duyan are inscribed on the walls of one of the houses. Indeed, a walk through Dona Aurora Street in Pobalcion Itaas gives us a glimpse of Botong's paintings.

Part 2: Lunch at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant in Angono
Part 3: Nemiranda and the Blanco Family Museum

Related entries
Viva San Clemente! Higantes of Angono, Rizal
Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines
Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, Rizal

Monday, March 17, 2008

Visita iglesia to our heritage churches

As Holy Thursday draws near, Filipinos are planning their annual visita iglesia. I've always been asked what are some of the best heritage churches to visit in, around and close to Metro Manila. Here are my picks:

City of Manila - Manila Cathedral, San Agustin, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, San Sebastian, Malate and Sta. Ana
Metro Manila - Malabon, Concepcion (Malabon), San Pedro Makati, Guadalupe (Makati), San Francisco del Monte (QC), Pasig, Redemptorist Baclaran (Paranaque) and Las Pinas
Pampanga - Apalit, Bacolor, Betis, San Luis, San Fernando, Lubao, Angeles City, Sta. Rita and Minalin
Bulacan - Barasoain (Malolos), Malolos, San Rafael, Angat, San Miguel, Calumpit and Pulilan
Laguna - Pila, Longos (Kalayaan), Paete, Pakil, Mabitac, San Pablo, Nagcarlan, Majayjay and Luisiana
Rizal - Tanay, Baras, Morong and Boso-Boso (Antipolo)
Quezon - Lucban, Tayabas, Sariaya, Pagbilao, Atimonan and Gumaca
Batangas - Lipa Cathedral, Carmelite Convent (Lipa), San Jose, Immaculate Conception Basilica (Batangas City), Taal Basilica, Caysasay Shrine (Taal), San Juan, Balayan, Calaca and Ibaan
Cavite - Maragondon, Silang, Kawit, Tanza, Gen. Trias and Naic

For several churches in the nearby provinces, we can cluster them together into convenient routes. Here are my favorites:

Pampanga Day Trip
First stop would be the church in Apalit which is the silver dome you see from the North Luzon Expressway. To get there, exit at San Simon and backtrack towards the town of Apalit. From Apalit, you could choose to go to either San Luis or Minalin. San Luis is a bit far but worth the visit but Minalin is along the route. From both churches, the route is the same. Visit the San Fernando Cathedral, and the churches of Bacolor, Betis, Guagua and Lubao. If you still have time, you can visit Sta. Rita and Angeles City.

Laguna de Bay Loop
This is a straightforward route and you simply follow the National Highway along the towns of Laguna de Bay. You can start either in Laguna via the South Luzon Expressway or in Rizal if you go through the Antipolo side. The town churches to visit are Pila, Longos (Kalayaan), Paete, Pakil and Mabitac in Laguna; and Tanay, Baras, Morong and Boso-Boso (Antipolo) in Rizal. You should also drop by Antipolo. Although a new church, the Antipolo Cathedral houses the centuries-old image of the Nuestra Senora de Paz y Buen Viaje.

Mount Banahaw Loop
It's the Viaje del Sol route but not quite since it's a full loop of Mount Banahaw. You start in San Pablo followed by Nagcarlan and Majayjay in Laguna; Lucban, Tayabas and Sariaya in Quezon; and finally San Juan in Batangas

Related entries
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday
Pisamban... the churches of Pampanga
Visita iglesia aroung Laguna de Bay

Metro Manila and its old churches
Visita iglesia Bohol
Holy Week practices in the Philippines

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holy Week practices in the Philippines

Aside from being one of the most solemn religious events in the Philippines, Holy Week or Mahal na Araw is a colorful display of Philippine culture and religious fervor. Here are some cultural practices you should not miss:

Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday so we won't be able to witness these events again until next year. There were unique palm processions in Sta. Isabel in Malolos, Obando and Baliwag in Bulacan; as well as in Gasan, Marinduque. In Sta. Isabel, an image of the Humenta or Christ on a donkey joins the palm procession as women spread their tapis or traditional aprons as the priest walks by. In Gasan, the priest himself rides a real pony on the way to church.

Holy Wednesday
Many procession are held on this day. Check out the folk Baroque images in the Laguna towns of Pakil, Majayjay and Paete. In Paete, it is said that the images for the Catholic Wednesday and Aglipayan Thursday processions move and speak in archaic Tagalog. In Pampanga, some of the best heirloom carrozas are brought out in Betis, Sasmuan and San Fernando. Also check out the processions in Baliwag, Malolos, Barasoain (Malolos), San Pablo and Molo (Iloilo City).

Maundy Thursday
In churches around the country, the Mass of the Last Supper will be celebrated in the evening. After this Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is enshrined in an Altar of Repose or monumento, and churches remain open for the visita iglesia. But some people do the visita iglesia while the sun is out though in order to see the lavish colonial churches in daylight. I have an old post on visita iglesia suggestions at Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday. But I'll have another entry on churches to visit soon.

Around the country, the chanting of the pabasa continues. In San Fernando and Guagua, there are colorful puni or pabasa stations with a fiesta atmosphere. Also check out the cordero or Lamb of God rituals in Betis, Guagua, Pampanga and Morong, Rizal. A lamb sculpture made out of mashed potatoes or kamote (sweet potatoes) is the center of this practice.

Good Friday
There is so much to see on this day. There are public self-flagellations in many towns around the country. In San Fernando, Pampanga; Pulilan and Hagonoy, Bulacan; and Navotas, they use wooden slats attached to ropes to whip their backs. In Hermosa, Bataan; Sasmuan, Pampanga; and Pakil, Laguna, flagellants use chains. In Kalayaan, Laguna penitents wear fronds and flowers. While in Infanta, Quezon, penitents wear hoods embellished with flowers to invoke fertility.

In Magalang, Pampanga and other parts of Pampanga, penitents crawl on the ground or carry crosses made out of banana trunks. In San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, about a dozen penitents are nailed to wooden crosses after a traditional play called the Via Crusis. Check out the entry Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga to get detailed information on Good Friday practices in San Fernando.

The moriones, with men dressed as Roman soldiers, are held in General Luna, Quezon; Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro; and Boac and Gasan, Marinduque. The one in General Luna is said to be the oldest moriones event in the country. There is also amulet hunting and testing as well with shaman assemblies held such as those in Calabanga, Camarines Sur where hooded shamans pray at the Holy Bier at 5 a.m. In Pakil, Laguna, check out the Turumba procession of the Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba.

In the towns of Sta. Rita and Sasmuan in Pampanga; as well as Tayabas, Quezon and Boljoon, Cebu, the sermons on the Seven Last Words of Christ are followed by the Tinieblas, a theatrical ritual marking the death of Christ with the banging shut of the church doors, the wailing of women and the hammering of church roofs to symbolize thunder. The body of Christ is brought down from the cross by two men dressed as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. In Boljoon and Sta. Rita, they are assisted by people dressed as the Marys and St. John who all deposit the image on the lap of a woman designated to be Mother Mary. She wails loudly for several minutes. In Sasmuan, the town orchestra plays the Stabat Mater as a choir sings. This is followed by a public veneration of the image Christ's body or the Sto. Entierro.

Some of the most lavish processions of the Sto. Entierro are held in Lingayen, Pangasinan; San Fernando, and Guagua, Pampanga; Malolos and Baliwag, Bulacan; Binan and San Pablo, Laguna; and Argao and Carcar, Cebu. In Carcar and Sorsogon, Sorsogon, the Soledad procession is held late at night.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rizal: Hinulugang Taktak, Daranak and Batlag Falls

This afternoon, we visited three waterfalls in Rizal. This was a spur of the moment trip which my Pinoy Mountaineer partner Gideon Lasco had been egging me on to do. We tagged along my brod, Bikoy Villanueva and another hiking buddy, Sai Sicad. Their proximity to Metro Manila make them perfect for a day trip. In fact, we did it in one afternoon. We were going to visit Daranak Falls in Tanay, Rizal. But on the way, we saw the sign to Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo City and decided to stop over.

Since it had just rained (or was still raining in some parts) the flow of the water was quite strong. It was a great sight. Hinulugang Taktak was a favorite excursion place for pilgrims who visited the Nuestra Senora de Paz y Buen Viaje in Antipolo during the olden days, thus the folk song "Tayo na sa Antipolo." Sadly, there was a lot of garbage and the falls itself distinctly smelled like detergent. I could just imagine how many women were washing clothes upstream because indeed, it was detergent since soap suds were forming at the bottom of the falls flowing to the stream.

From Antipolo, it was a quick drive down to Tanay. Daranak Falls was the first waterfall I remember visiting. It was a grade 6 camping trip. There are actually two falls, the main one and a smaller, but equally forceful one beside it, which both emptied into a single pool.

I didn't know that just a few meters away from Daranak was another waterfall, the Batlag Falls. It was fantastic!

It was a five-minute hike up to get there. There were two major falls actually which cascaded down into their own their own catch basins. The smaller one on the left looked like a bridal veil. While the larger one on the right was wider. The water from both pools cascaded further down over rocks and roots of trees, flowing into the stream which flowed to Daranak.

I think this was the best of the three falls. It was a good thing we visited on a weekday since we had all the falls all to ourselves. More photos in Multiply.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Laguna & Rizal: Visita iglesia around Laguna de Bay churches

After our shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan with my guest from China, I decided to complete the Laguna de Bay loop with a visita iglesia. I have an older post on Laguna with details of some of the towns we visited and missed. First on the list was the town of Paete which is known for its woodcarving and paper mache industries. The Santiago Apostol Church has intricately carved retablos and centuries-old mural paintings of San Cristobal among other subjects.
From Paete, we went drove to the next town Pakil. The San Pedro de Alcantara has equally interesting retablos, santos and mural paintings.
It was quite a drive from Pakil to the next stop which was in the province of Rizal. Since the sun was going down fast, we were not able to pass by the town of Mabitac which according to travel guides has a church standing atop 126 stone steps. It was a pleasant drive seeing the green rice fields hit by the golden rays of the setting sun on either side of the road.
After the zigzag road up and down the highway boundary between Laguna and Rizal and a few more kilometers drive past the town of Pililla, we finally reach Tanay and easily found the San Ildefonso Church, a national cultural treasure.
It had been quite a while since I've seen this church and I was totally shocked that the main altar had been painted gold and silver just like in Argao. It's the good thing the priest spared the santos from this rampage of gold leaf but it was horrible since Tanay was known for its white retablo with aquamarine and gold details. I was told by Archt. Richard Bautista of the NCCA that they were able to stop the priest from wreaking havoc to the other retablos thanks to the strong opposition from the townsfolk.
According to the DOT, "The first Tanay Catholic Church made of nipa and bamboo was built in 1606. The current building made of locally quarried stone was completed in 1680. In 1783, it was reconstructed together with the convent. The church is an example of early Renaissance architecture. It has a four-storey octagonal tower, a façade of adobe blocks, relieved by columns and semicircular arched windows. Its podium is adorned by a niche with the statue of San Ildefonso de Toledo, the patron saint of the town."
From Tanay, we moved on to our last stop which was the San Geronimo Church in Morong. If we had more time, we would have passed by Baras but since it was getting dark, we rushed instead to Morong. The church has one of the more striking facades and is one of the more photographed churches of the Laguna loop. But sadly, the interior has already been renovated.
The first church was said to be built by Chinese craftsmen in 1615 as evidenced by the Chinese lions at the driveway entrance. It's current facade, a splendid example of Philippine Baroque, was completed between 1850 to 1853 to support the belfry built on top of it.
We completed the Laguna loop by passing through the towns of Cardona, Binangonan, Angono, Taytay, and Cainta (we were supposed to pass through Antipolo but since it was dark, I missed the turn) and finally reached Pasig City. Anyway, it was tiring day so I'm reserving today for rest.
Related entries

Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rizal: Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, Rizal

From Nemiranda, we were able to ask for directions to the petroglyphs. We were on the right track since the Angono Petroglyphs are inside the Eastridge Golf Club. So from his studio, it was a three-kilometer drive up and down a steep road. At the guard house, you simply say you're on your way to the petroglyphs. The site is close to the Antipolo entrance of the golf club. You had to enter through a tunnel cut into the hill to get to the other side where the petroglyphs are located.

The Angono Petroglyphs were discovered by Botong Francisco in 1965. Dating back to 3000 B.C., the 127 human and animal figures depicted are said to be the oldest works of art in the Philippines. They are actually at the boundary of Angono, Binangonan and Antipolo. I guess these art works really bolster the claim of the area as the center of art in the country. Neighboring Binangonan is host to the residence of national artist for painting Vicente Manansala (who was from Macabebe, Pampanga), which is a declared National Historical Landmark of the NHI.

Sadly, there are traces of vandalism near some of the figures. It just shows how some Filipinos value their heritage. These rock carvings are National Cultural Treasures and are under the care of the National Museum. In 1996, they were included in the World Monuments Watch as one of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.

I realized that the fact that there was no obvious signage to the place served as a temporary protection since only people who appreciate it go out of their way to look for it. If it was popularized without the proper security and all, some shallow-minded people might think it a novel idea to carve their names beside the petroglyphs! So I guess it's better that way for the meantime.

From there, we proceeded back down. Our last stop was the Catholic Cemetery to check out the final resting places of Botong Francisco and Lucio San Pedro. I laud the local community for regulary holding tributes for them there. The tombs are actually ordinary raised vaults and I feel that Angono, with its artists community could improve them and transform them into real monuments.

Anyway, that's it for now. Where am I off to next?

Part 1: Viva San Clemente! Higantes of Angono, Rizal
Part 2: Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines

Rizal: Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines

Since Angono was small anyway, we decided to try our luck and drove towards the hills since that would be the best place to look for them. We made a turn towards the Eastridge Golf and Country Club and saw a sign pointing to the Nemiranda Family Museum. Now this is something I wanted to see having heard of the artist from television features to newspaper and magazine articles.

The entrance fee to the museum was PHP30 but since it was fiesta, they let us in for free. And the great thing about our visit was we got to meet the artist himself! Normally, they also offer lunch for visitors at PHP150 per head if I'm not mistaken. But he kindly offered us and other visitors to partake of the lunch which was served since it was fiesta. The food was great!

We had a nice chat about his place and how Angono transformed itself into the Art Capital of the Philippines. There are so many art galleries in the town such as his, Blanco Family, Vicente Reyes, Orville DR Tiamson, Ang Nuno, etc. I also asked him about the higantes and its history. He also shared with us his experiences with Botong Francisco, how his father and Botong were very good friends and how he could have been the last artist to talk with Botong before he passed away since they chatted (Miranda was a junior college student then) on the morning the very day Botong died.

Part 1: Viva San Clemente! Higantes of Angono, Rizal
Part 3: Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, Rizal

Rizal: Viva San Clemente! Higantes of Angono, Rizal

Today, I finally got to visit the town of Angono, Rizal which is known as the Art Capital of the Philippines and the hometown of two national artists namely Carlos "Botong" V. Francisco for painting and Lucio D. San Pedro for music. Our purpose was to check out the annual Higantes Festival as well as the fluvial procession in honor of the town patron San Clemente held every November 23.

But what a way to start my day! Since on the way to Angono, I got to witness Philippine road courtesy at its worst! Despite the fact that it was still early in the morning, traffic was slow no thanks to the jeepneys who had virtually occupied all three lanes of the road to pick up passengers. Ironically, the shoulders and parking slots on the side of Sta. Lucia East for example was empty and available for use. If we phase out jeepneys from the streets and replace them with an efficient transport system, I could bet you we wouldn't have traffic since most of the grind is a result of undisciplined jeepney drivers and that is virtually all of them!

You had tricycles on the left as well as center lanes when these slow creatures should use the right lanes. In fact, the law does not allow them on national roads! They are being tolerated and yet they cruise along the busy metropolis streets as if there are no vehicles impatiently following behind them. You had vehicles creating their own counter-flows. Indeed, what a way to start my day!

But my excitement overtook my impatience and lack of sleep especially as we neared Angono. The access road to the town was blocked so we had to enter it through a side street. We were able to park in front of the town plaza. From there, it was a 1 kilometer walk to the church where the parade and procession was going to originate from. We arrived at the church just in time for the ending of the Mass and the beginning of the festivities in honor of San Clemente.

It was one big party on the streets of Angono as the loud and rambunctious mardi gras-like parade made its way around town. Of course, there were the higantes, which are colorful paper mache giants measuring about ten to twelve feet in height.

I heard that higantes used to be found in fiesta celebrations around the country. One story of its origin traces back the roots of this practice to the Spanish colonial period. Hacienda owners were wary of expenses and thus prohibited all celebrations except for one annual fiesta. To make the best of a gloomy situation, the townsfolk borrowed an art form imported from Mexico by Spanish friars and created larger-than-life caricatures of their Spanish landlords, a sly joke to get back at them.

As Angono-based painter Nemiranda recounts, there used to be only two or three higantes at the start of the procession. But because of the large number of artists, which at that time included Botong Francisco, Angono was not only able to maintain this practice. The town elevated it to an art form thanks to creativity of the many artists of the town who made their own versions of the higantes.

But I would learn that the higantes are just one aspect of this merrymaking. Following them was the procession proper. But this was quite an unusual procession led by altar boys in shorts and rowdy revelers following close behind. Expect to get wet since water is flying all over the place as participants chant "Tubig! Tubig!" asking the people around to throw water at them. Just pray that you don't get hit by a water gun of some wise guy who gets his supply of water from the canal along the street.

The bulk of the procession was composed of parehadoras, groups of young girls from every barangay, in colorful costumes, wearing wooden slippers (bakya), and each holding a wooden boat paddle (sagwan), marching together and stomping the ground in a uniform beat as they walked around town followed by a marching band.

And there were various groups of townsfolk in themed spoofs of pop culture icons. I wonder how Kris Aquino would react if she saw who spoofed her and the 26K. Haha! Towards the end of the procession were the andas bearing three images. The first was that of San Isidro Labrador. A little further back was that of the town patron San Clemente escorted by the Knights of St. Clement in red t-shirts. And at the end of the procession was the image of the Virgin Mary escorted by a bevy of young girls in white dresses. Bamboo pole-bars with hanging ornaments were installed along the route. These were raised by levers on either side as an image passed under it.

We met up again with the parade at the town plaza where it slowed down as louder chants of "Tubig! Tubig!" could be heard, with the crowd summoning the operators of a water truck from Manila Water to hose them down and drench them wet! Everyone wanted his or her share of the water as if it were manna from Heaven.

But the activities did not end there. The images still had to be brought to the banks of the Laguna de Bay where they would be enshrined in a floating pagoda for a fluvial procession. We decided to take a tricycle going there since it was still a distance away. The pagoda was a simple tent constructed from bamboo. As the last image was brought on board, the pagoda set sail.

We didn't finish the entire procession since we wanted to visit the Angono Petroglyphs. On the way back to the plaza, we saw the Blanco Family Museum but since we were on a tricycle, we couldn't stop.

We got my car and tried to ask around for the petroglyphs. Everyone we asked from the tricycle drivers, the traffic enforcers to the car wash attendants (my car was full of mud so I had it cleaned) had this puzzled look on their faces when we asked about the petroglyphs. Ordinary people in Angono do not know that they have a national cultural treasure in their town. And there were no signages along the main roads pointing to it either!

Part 2: Angono is the Art Capital of the Philippines
Part 3: Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, Rizal

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