Thursday, October 04, 2007

Semana Santa Filipinas: Preserving religious traditions on the web and beyond

In 2006, a pair of like-minded youngsters from America and the Philippines hooked up online to exchange information about their passion for religious arts and traditions. From this chance meeting, the two — Victor Ancheta, 18, a Filipino art student of Houston, Texas and Robby dela Vega, 20, also a student based in Meycauayan, Bulacan put up Flickr a cybergroup called Semana Santa Filipinas (SSF). The initial intent was to create a visual reference of our religious traditions from all parts of the country, with content contribution from members. Simple discussion threads were also appended to the photos, so that more information and opinions can be shared among members.

Just over a year after its creation, the SSF cyber group now counts over 1000 santo enthusiasts from all parts of the world as members, with over 8000 photos in its photo pool and over 700 topics in its discussion board. SSF today is the most informative, progressive and largest group on the web, using the members’ collective passion and knowledge to perpetuate, propagate, and increase the devotion to Philippine Lenten traditions, thus ensuring that these remain a permanent and significant part of Filipino culture everywhere in the world. Members include students, executives, housewives, lawyers, doctors, cultural advocates, writers, priests, educators and parish priest workers, all bound by a common love for santos and religious traditions.

The group’s most noteworthy undertaking is the Sponsor-a-Santo Program, in which members pool their resources to give a devotional santo to a fellow member who may be financially challenged to own one, or to an indigent parish in need of images for veneration. For Philippine-based members, there are also the SSF heritage tours to look forward to. Recently, Mr. Conrado Escudero hosted an exclusive tour of Villa Escudero for Semana Santa Filipinas members, highlighted by a museum and church visits as well as a discussion of the current state of our devotional practices.

With a growing membership and an increased interest in the group’s advocacies, it had become imperative to organize a Semana Santa Realworld, a group of members dedicated to planning, actualizing and implementing projects in the real world. SSF RealWorld hopes to continue the photo documentation of local Philippine Lenten traditions (religious imageries, processions, vanishing arts and crafts) as well as the Sponsor-a-Santo Program, now on its 2nd year. Projects such as the Pilgrim Santo, outreach programs to benefit indigent parishes, heritage church tours of Pampanga and Pangasinan, santo exhibits and convention, book and CD projects are in the drawing board. And more are in the offing.

SSF has truly become a visual showcase of Filipino’s faith and unique religious traditions. Not a bad legacy from two youngsters who made it all happen just over a year ago.

To join Semana Santa Filipinas, please check

Related entries
Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches

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.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sarangani: Old houses and powder-white sand beaches in Glan, Sarangani

The next day, we drove to Glan, one of the southernmost municipalities of the island of Mindanao (Jose Abad Santos, Davao del Sur seems to edge it out by a few meters). In the town proper, we checked out the old houses which are mentioned in the DOT website. They have intricate wood designs but sadly, most if not all, have been neglected. The local government should do something about it since old houses in Mindanao are quite rare nowadays.

We then proceeded to Barangay Gumasa further down south to check the powder-white sand beach. Yes, you read it right, powder-white sand. It could be the next Boracay if the local government plays its cards right.

After a few hours of swimming, we drove back to Gen San to catch our flight back to Manila. But we passed by the provincial capitol in Alabel first to meet some officials.

Back in Gen San, we had lunch at Nadie's Chicken Restaurant. Then after fixing our check-in luggage which was all fruits, we went to the airport. I had 26 kilos of fruits with me. Even if I paid for excess baggage, it still came out way cheaper! I got lansones and suha at PHP25 a kilo and mangosteen at PHP30 a kilo.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

South Cotabato: Dole's Club Kalsangi in Polomolok, South Cotabato and General Santos

Kalsangi is such a great place. The exclusive residential and golf club complex for Dole managers reminds me so much of the US, maybe because of its lay-out and architecture, open lawns, trees and cool climate. The whole place sits at the foot of majestic Mt. Matutum.

It was good the sun was out early in the morning so we checked out Mt. Matutum while the sky was still clear. We went around the Dole Plantation too.

Notice the Norfolk pines? They used to be Christmas tree supply for Dole's expat managers. But since most of the resident managers and supervisors are now locals, the trees are no longer cut down every Christmas and have grown tall.

After going to church, we visited the Trappistine Monastery (the sister monastery of the one in Guimaras) to buy some chocolate rhum balls and cookies, as well as Gibby's farm, also in Kalsangi.

Then is was lunch at the Dole's Club Kalsangi. It's very difficult to get inside since you need to know someone connected to Dole to gain access. I had a double burger, fries and salad.

After lunch, we brought Ryan to the airport then proceeded to Sarangani Highlands, a garden restaurant in Gen San with a great view of Sarangani Bay, for some drinks. The view and breeze was great!

We then visited the statue and burial place of Gen. Paulino Santos in front of city hall. What a disappointment. I was expecting more from a major city like Gen San. The city hall was an ugly nondescript building. The park in front of it, as well as the monument of Gen. Santos was obviously neglected. If they fix it, it could be a really great attraction. I was told that after all the years under the Acharons and Antoninos, Gen San is still not improving as fast as it should be. SM has had several ground-breaking ceremonies in the city but they always pull-out for some reason. Anyway, we checked out the P30M house of Manny Pacquiao too before proceeding to Alabel, Sarangani for dinner.
Related Posts with Thumbnails