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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cebu: Oslob Church gutted by fire

It was depressing news for me. The 178-year old Oslob Church was destroyed by a fire which hit at dawn today. The church was was a very important element out the Southern Heritage Trail of Cebu. A landmark of the town, it was one of the few churches with an intact clay tile roof convento.

This incident highlighted two things. The first and most obvious is that fire fighters in these remoter parts of the country are ill-equipped and not prepared. Imagine, the fire station was just 50 meters away. But fire fighters and residents had to push the fire truck to the church! Second, it shows the importance and need for architectural documentation for all our heritage sites. In cases like these, if the site was documented, we could easily refer to the diagrams to restore the church.

The Archdiocese of Cebu plans to rebuild the church within the year. I hope that they restore the church to its original form, just as other countries do when their heritage sites are gutted by fire.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Manila: World Pyrolympics 2008 postponed again!

This was supposed to be my first time to watch the World Pyrolympics. I was sure people will be scrambling for tickets. And I also did not want to endure hours and hours of jammed up traffic or looking for a parking spot. Also imagine the crowds and the race to get a decent view of the fireworks display. No way! So I was all set to watch it on a dinner cruise around Manila Bay. But the World Pyrolympics 2008 was postponed again to May! And it sucks big time since it's the nth time they moved it! Since I'll be out in May, I'll have to wait until next year.

Here is the new schedule. The organizers said the dates are already sure since they will be selling tickets next week:
May 3 China and Germany
May 10 Japan and Canada
May 17 Italy and Venezuela
May 24 France and Korea
May 31 Australia and Philippines

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pampanga: Crucifixion rites held in San Pedro Cutud every Good Friday

Just like last year, I found myself in San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando, Pampanga today to witness the Via Crucis, a Kapampangan passion play which has been the heart of the annual crucifixions here in the city, which is more popularly know as the San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites.

As the crucifixions are highlighted, many fail to recognize that they are part of an old cultural tradition of the barangay, a passion play written in the vernacular, which has been passed on from generation to generation. In fact, it's already in the third generation of the Navarro clan.

I was pleasantly surprised that vehicles are now allowed to enter San Pedro Cutud. And it was even more pleasant when I saw that there was ample parking at the site. In previous years, it was a long 2 kilometer walk from the gate of the barangay under the heat of the scorching summer sun.

While waiting for the Via Crucis to arrive, flagellants would climb the hill and pay homage at the foot of the cross ending their annual Lenten sacrifice or panata. Most of the time, silence envelopes the crowd as the bloodied penitents make their way up, giving them time to be "alone" with God. But while most encounters are solemn, there are some under the influence of alcohol (it is said that they down a bottle of beer to speed up the circulation of blood), and a rare few who make a scene up the hill thus eliciting laughter from the crowd to the dismay of local officials who have them escorted down immediately.

This year, the Via Crucis started late. The play arrived close to 2 p.m. And by that time, we had been under the sun for over three hours! It was good though that they were able to keep non-cast members off the hill this time around. The scores of barangay tanod and alalay (assistants) who usually joined the cast up the hill were asked to get down. While some of the stubborn foreign media who would usually force their way up, though they were able to slip into the restricted area, were kept at the middle level, away from the top of the hill.

Before I left, I was told that there were fourteen penitents who were going to be nailed to the cross this year, including two women. But a news article reported nineteen! Anyway, I left at about 3 p.m. for my annual visit to relatives. Since Good Friday is one of those events when San Fernando old families gather (usually to prepare their carroza for the elegant Good Friday procession in the evening), kitchens are busy preparing the best Lenten dishes. We wouldn't want to miss that!

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

Related article
Holy Week reflections on culture
This is a must read for tourists who visit areas with penitents. It's simple conduct we must remember. As Robbie Tantingco writes, "What our penitents do is a very personal and sacred act, and we should protect them from media who sensationalize, and tourists who trivialize, this act... Tourists should be treated as, well, tourists, to be accorded the usual courtesy and hospitality and given the necessary amenities. But tourists should not be allowed to distract or interact with the penitents; they should merely watch and observe, with as much distance from, and reverence for, the penitents as possible."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bataan: Adopting a sea turtle at the Pawikan Conservation Center

For the longest time, I had been wanting to adopt a pawikan or sea turtle. It took quite a while for me to find the contact number of the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan. And when I finally did, they said there were no pawikan scheduled to hatch yesterday. But they also told me that if it was warm and sunny, some of the turtles would hatch earlier than expected.

Since it's quite far, and I didn't want to risk disappointment, I decided to watch the longest Holy Week procession in the country in Baliuag, Bulacan in the evening. But I got a surprise text yesterday morning from the Pawikan Center saying that sea turtles had just hatched the night before and were ready for adoption. Since it's difficult to time a visit when there are hatchlings, I decided to rush there no questions asked.

We passed by the newly-opened SCTEx on the way to Subic. It's undoubtedly the most scenic highway in the country. After lunch at Meat Plus Cafe in Subic, we drove down to the Pawikan Center in Morong which was about an hour away.

When we got there, were met by Ate Nida who showed us around. The unhatched eggs were buried under the sand in an enclosed area. As soon as the pawikan deposit their eggs on the beach, volunteers collect them and transfer and rebury them in a secure area in the center for incubation.

They brought out the container with the little pawikan ready for release to the sea. And I got to pet some of them while waiting for the afternoon sun to cool down before releasing them. The best time to release the hatchlings are early in the morning or late in the afternoon so as not to stress them out too much with the heat. The adoption cost is PHP200 per turtle and you get a t-shirt as proof that you've adopted.

Anyway, we almost didn't make it back to the SCTEx in time. Since it's on trial stage, they close it at 5:30 p.m. But it's a good thing they still let us in since the sunset amidst the mountains was just surreal.

I tried to catch the Baliwag procession but got stuck in Pulilan and decided to turn back. So I guess I'll have to wait again for next year since I'll be in San Fernando this Good Friday.

Pawikan Conservation Center
+63 928 7185721 (Ate Nida)
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