Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bohol: Visita iglesia to Bohol's heritage churches

Bohol is probably the province with the most intact heritage churches. And it's perfect for a visita iglesia. Here are some of the Bohol churches I got to visit during my recent trip to the province.

Baclayon Church is both a National Cultural Treasure and a National Historical Landmark. It was in Baclayon that the Jesuits established the first Catholic mission in Bohol in 1596. It became a parish in 1717. The current coral stone church was constructed in 1727.

Alburquerque Church has interesting altar murals. Unfortunately, I was not able to enter the church during this trip. We also missed visiting the Loay Church, a National Historical Landmark, due to the rains.

Loboc Church is a National Cultural Treasure. The mission of Loboc was established in 1597 and became a parish, dedicated to San Pedro Apostol, in 1602. The present church, built on the foundations of an earlier church, was built from 1670 to 1734.

Loon Church was recently declared a National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark. The parish was established in 1753 under the patronage of the Nuestra Senora de la Luz. The current church was built from 1855 to 1864 after the previous church was damaged by a fire. The ceiling murals were done by Ray Francia in 1938.

Maribojoc Church is a National Cultural Treasure. It was established as a parish in 1767 and was placed under the patronage of the Santa Cruz. The current coral stone church dates back to 1852. Construction was completed in 1872. The ceiling murals were painted by Ray Francia in 1930.

Cortes Church is quite close to Tagbilaran but is often missed since it's not along the National Highway. But it's worth the visit if you have the time.

Tagbilaran Cathedral has a renovated facade, but the interior, particularly the retablos, are very much intact. It was one of the six parishes founded by the Jesuits in Bohol in 1595. The original church built by the Jesuits was burned in 1798. The current church was built by the Recollects from 1839 to 1855.

Dauis Church is another church close to Tagbilaran worth visiting. The Dauis Church Complex, which inludes the church, convent, watchtower and belfry, is a National Historical Landmark. It was separated from Baclayon and became an independent parish dedicated to the Nuestra Senora de Asuncion in 1697. The impressive murals inside the church are said to be works of both Ray Francia and Canuto Avila created from 1919 to 1923.

Off the beaten track are churches beyond the town of Loay. Lila Church has an interesting interior.

Dimiao Church is another intact church complex which I hope is declared soon. Beside it are the Ermita Ruins, a former church cemetery and chapel which was closed in 1844. The layout of the church is quite unique with the convento 'docked' behind it.

Valencia Church has an intact interior and a very interesting wooden floor.

The neighboring Garcia Hernandez Church has an intact retablo.

Jagna Church, although its facade is renovated, has an interesting interior with impressive ceiling murals and intact retablos.

Duero Church was a surprise. I didn't realize until I knocked on the walls that, except for the base and belfry, it was made almost entirely of wood. It also has an interesting interior and I hope this church also gets declared soon.

Too bad I was not able to make it to Anda or Talibon since I was told the churches there are interesting too. I'll reserve that for another trip. Here are more photos from the trip. For more visita iglesia itineraries, check out Visita iglesia to our heritage churches.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bataan: Visita iglesia to Bataan's heritage churches

Holy Week is just around the corner. And if you happen to be in Bataan, here are some interesting colonial churches you can check out if you plan to do a visita iglesia in the province.

Orion Church probably has the best-preserved retablo in the province of Bataan. The marker outside the church mentions that Orion became independent from Abucay in 1667. The church was damaged during the 1852 earthquake and repaired in 1854. Cayetano Arellano, the first Filipino chief justice is from Orion. Francisco Balagtas, author of Florante at Laura, also lived in the town from 1842 to 1862.

Pilar Church is another interesting church, a well-preserved adobe structure with its belfry located on top of the main facade.

Balanga became an independent parish in 1739. The Balanga Cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Balanga. Unfortunately, they layered the facade with new bricks thereby altering its character.

Abucay Church is a National Historical Landmark. According to the National Historical Commission, the spiritual ministration of Abucay was entrusted to the Dominicans in 1588. It is significant because a fierce battle between the Dutch invaders and the Kapampangan defenders was fought in the area surrounding the church on June 23, 1647. Nearly two hundred Kapampangans were put to death, and forty others, together with Spanish alcalde mayor and two Dominican priests, were taken prisoners to Batavia (Jakarta). The printing press of Tomas Pinpin operated in Abucay.

Samal Church seems to have the most-intact convento of all Bataan's churches. The parish was entrusted to the Dominicans in 1596. The church was destroyed during the Dutch Invasion and the Philippine Revolution. Dutch invaders attacked in April 1647. But the local garrison of Pampanga under the command of Alejo Aguas repelled the Dutch forces. The church and the convent were ruined during the invasion. In 1896, the church was burned by the Katipuneros to drive out their enemies in the convent. The church and convent was rebuilt in 1903.

For more visita iglesia itineraries, check out Visita iglesia to our heritage churches.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Pampanga: Holy Week practices and Mal a Aldo calendar

Pampanga is one of the provinces of the Philippines with really colorful (and at times bloody) Holy Week practices and rituals. It's quite close to Manila too. Which is why it's a good place to experience Holy Week, Mahal na Araw or Mal a Aldo.

Holy Wednesday
The highlight of the day would be the Holy Wednesday Processions. Several towns have very elaborate carrozas, particularly Bacolor, Sasmuan, Guagua, Santa Rita, Betis and San Fernando.

Holy Thursday
Pampanga is quite (in)famous for Holy Week flagellation. And this usually peaks on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There are other traditions including Dakit Cordero in Mabalacat (2:30 p.m.) and Santo Tomas (4 p.m.). and the Pasyon Serenata in Brgy. San Basilio, Santa Riat (8 p.m. to 12 midnight) and Sitio Maligaya in San Basilio (also 8 p.m. to 12 midnight).

Holy Thursday Dakit Cordero procession in Mabalacat, Pampanga
Holy Thursday is usually commemorated with the cordero ritual. In Morong, Rizal and previously in Betis, Pampanga, the Lamb of God was prepared for an afternoon procession, shaped out of mashed kamote (sweet potatoes) and potatoes. Unfortunately, Betis no longer does the tradition. But the town of Mabalacat still does.

Holy Week flagellation and penitents in Magalang, Pampanga
Pampanga is a hotbed for Holy Week flagellation and Lenten penitents. In Magalang, Pampanga, the barangay of San Agustin is where a lot of these Lenten penitents appear every Holy Thursday and especially Good Friday.

Holy Week spectacle at Pampang Road, Angeles City
Pampang Road in Angeles City is another convergence point of Holy Week penitents. It gets a bit rowdy and out of hand though!

Pasyon Serenata in San Basilio, Santa Rita, Pampanga
Pasyon Serenata is a variant of the pabasa, with two sets of accompanying singers and marching bands playing alternately in what is called a sagutan. The Pasyon Serenata is held in the evenings (usually 8 p.m. to 12 midnight) of Holy Thursday and Good Friday in two locations in Barangay San Basilio, Sta. Rita, Pampanga. One Pasyon Serenata is staged beside the San Basilio Chapel. While another one can be found in Maligaya Street.

Good Friday
On Good Friday, Pampanga's folk and elite traditions take center stage. During the day, the violent rituals that have made the province quite notorious all over the world, take place. These include crucifixions in San Pedro Cutud (San Fernando), San Juan (San Fernando), Santa Lucia (San Fernando), Pampang (Angeles City), San Agustin (Magalang) and Telepayung (Arayat). Penitents, particularly flagellants, move around the northern towns of Pampanga.

Accompanying the crucifixions are street plays on the passion of Christ in San Pedro Cutud (San Fernando) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Pampang (Angeles City) at 3 p.m.

There also used to be the Tinieblas in Betis and Bacolor, and the Tanggal which is still practiced in San Rafael, Macabebe, after the Siete Palabras.

In the evening, the elegant heirloom carrozas of Pampanga's old families are brought out. The best carrozas can be found in the town of Bacolor (5 to 7 p.m.). Other towns with noteworthy processions are San Fernando (6 to 8 p.m.), Santa Rita (7 to 9 p.m.), Sasmuan, Guagua and Betis.

After the processions, you could watch the second night of Pasyon Serenata in Brgy. San Basilio, Sta. Rita.

San Pedro Cutud passion play and crucifixions in San Fernando
The Via Crucis passion play and crucifixions are staged annually in San Pedro Cutud, City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Despite its popularity among tourists both local and foreign alike, the local government has been making an effort to preserve as much as the tradition as possible, and keep out to much commercialism from the passion play which is written in the vernacular Kapampangan language. At least 30 percent of the crowd at San Pedro Cutud were foreigners. And it could arguably be the event most visited by foreigners owing to the international media attention it gets every year.

Good Friday Santo Entierro procession in Bacolor, Pampanga
Indeed, the phoenix has risen from the ashes. I decided to watch the Good Friday Santo Entierro procession in Bacolor, Pampanga by chance since there was no Good Friday procession in Guagua last year due to ongoing road construction around the center of town. It was very encouraging that the Bacolor procession is back to its old grandeur.

Santo Entierro carrozas and Good Friday processions of Pampanga
Every Good Friday, the Santo Entierro or Apung Mamacalulu are brought out in grand carrozas called calandras for the Good Friday procession. Here are photos of some of the Santo Entierro carrozas or calandras of Pampanga. It's a work in progress so I'll be adding photos and descriptions as I receive them. Thanks to the Center for Kapampangan Studies for providing some of the photos including this one of the Guagua carroza being prepared for the Good Friday procession.

Pasyon Serenata in (Maligaya) San Basilio, Santa Rita, Pampanga
After the Good Friday processions, we returned to San Basilio, Sta. Rita, Pampanga to listen to the Pasyon Serenata. But this time, we proceeded to Maligaya Street which is also in San Basilio, which has its own Pasyon Serenata.

As I mentioned previously, the Pasyon Serenata is a variant of the pabasa, with two sets of accompanying singers and marching bands playing alternately in what is called a sagutan. It's held in the evenings (usually 8 p.m. to 12 midnight) of Holy Thursday and Good Friday in two locations in Barangay San Basilio, Sta. Rita, Pampanga.

Black Saturday
A Sabado de Gloria Ball with a rigodon de honor used to be held in the town of Sto. Tomas. But this is no longer organized.

Easter Sunday
Check out the Pusu-pusuan or Salubong in Minalin (4 a.m.), Sto. Tomas (5:30 a.m.) and Bacolor. Since it is the town fiesta of Sto. Tomas, they also have the Sagalas (8 a.m.) and Sabuaga Festival (2 p.m.). The Pakbung Hudas also happens in Minalin (9:30 a.m.) and Sto. Tomas (12 noon).

Salubong procession on Easter Sunday and the colorful pusu-puso
The Salubong is a Filipino tradition done early in the morning of Easter Sunday, wherein the images of the Risen Christ and Sorrowful Mother symbolically meet in a pre-dawn procession. While many parishes have moved it to late Saturday night for convenience, the real traditional Salubong happens right before dawn.

Easter Sunday Pakbung Hudas tradition in Minalin and Santo Tomas, Pampanga
Firecrackers on Easter Sunday! In the towns of Minalin and Sto. Tomas, the Pakbung Hudas (explosion of Judas) tradition is still held every Easter Sunday. We drove to Minalin to catch the Pakbung Hudas festivities at 9:30 a.m. and proceeded to Sto. Tomas to catch theirs at 12 noon.

Easter Sunday salubong, pusu-puso and sagalas of Santo Tomas
On Easter Sunday, the of Santo Tomas and Minalin are the center of activities in Pampanga. Aside from being Easter Sunday, it's also the town fiesta of Santo Tomas. The town celebrates its fiesta on Easter Sunday rather than on the July 3 feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle.

For information on Holy Week traditions in other provinces, check out Holy Week practices in the Philippines.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Quezon: Book now for the 2011 Ultimate Pahiyas Tour!

The next time the Pahiyas Festival will fall on a weekend will be in 2016. So it's time to hop over to Quezon and book a slot on the Ultimate Pahiyas Tour on May 15, 2011!

It's fiesta time this month of May and what a better way to drink, eat and be merry as we head south to explore charming Quezon province. It's the best time of the year as we join in the revelry and celebrate the feast of San Isidro de Labrador! First off to Sariaya, a charming little town known for its gracious colonial-period homes. We'll have breakfast, take a stroll and admire these lovely houses as we revel in its traditional Agawan Festival. Then, it's off to Lucban and the Pahiyas Festival where we'll feast our eyes over a smorgasbord of food, music, artistry and local color in one of country's most spectacular fiestas! Finally, on to San Pablo, Laguna to dine at the artsy Sulyap Gallery Cafe, a great way to cap-off our Southern Tagalog experience!

Tour fee is Php4,800 per person all inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner, entrance fees, and tourist bus transfers. For bookings, e-mail or contact my tokayo, Ivan ManDy (0917) 3291622. For the full schedule, check out the Ultimate Pahiyas Tour page on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Metro Manila: Restaurants at Robinsons Galleria Veranda

Robinsons Galleria recently opened Veranda, its newest restaurant strip which offers both al fresco and indoor sitting options for guests. I got to try some dishes from the different restaurants in Veranda together with other travel bloggers. Here's something to give you an idea of what to expect at Veranda.

Papa John's
Following its success in Malaysia, the Berjaya Group brought US-based pizza chain Papa John's to the Philippines. We got to try both the hand-tossed and thin crust large versions of Super Papa's (pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives / Php550), Chicken BBQ (Php530) and Fisherman's Catch (Php530).

Delicious Kitchen by Eat Well
Eat Well specializes in simple but delectable Cantonese food, some of which are unavailable at their two other branches in Metro Manila. I was craving for Xiao Long Pao (Php195) after my trip to Taiwan and its good the have it there. We also got to taste the Homemade Beancurd with Asparagus and Bailing Mushroom (Php235), Shrimp on Toast (Php330) and Mochi.

Johnny Rockets
An icon in the food-and-beverage landscape in the U.S., Johnny Rockets serves the same specialties here such as hamburgers, sandwiches, shakes and malts, and apple pie. The have jukeboxes on every table and the staff perform and entertain guests every 15 minutes. We got to try out The Original with Cheese (Php335), Chicken Club Sandwich (Php415) and Philly Cheese Steak (Php395).

La Creperie
La Creperie brings the French creperie experience to Manila with its authentic French galettes and crepes that span from sweet to savoury. Besides these gustatory delights, La Creperie also serves specialty beverages including TWG tea (the only place that serves it in the Philippines), its own line of hot chocolate or Chocolat Chaud and coffee. We got to try Le J.J. (ham, emmental and gruyere cheese, tomato, garlic and chili flakes / Php215), Nami (herbed cheese, fresh shitake mushroom and caramelized onion / Php225), and La Christine (fresh strawberries, homemade strawberry jam and whipped cream / Php145).

Owned by Chef Bruce Lim of Studio 23's Tablescape: Life on a Plate, Hyphy’s reinvents Filipino favorites with a decidedly San Francisco flourish. We got to try the Cobb Salad (classic chopped salad topped with tomatoes, bacon, chicken, olives and cheese / Php260), Bangus Steak (deboned milkfish marinated in grandma's special sauce and pan fried served with rice, buttered seasonal vegetables and atchara / Php210), Calamansi Tuyo Pasta (native dried salted fish sauteed in garlic oil and tossed in pasta topped with cheese and calamansi / Php130), and Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread which I remember vividly from my trip to San Francisco.

8 Spices
Serving Thai food with a Filipino spin, 8 Spices' bestsellers include Pandan Chicken, Bagoong Rice, Green Curry, Beef Rendang and a bevy of must-have desserts such as Thako and Thai Halo-Halo. We had Tom Yam Ruam Mid Thalay (Php380), Whole Fried Lapu-Lapu in 5 Kinds of Herbs or Pla Harod (Php510) and Pad Thai with Shrimp (Php285).

Giligan's Restaurant
Who doesn't know Giligan's. We tried out their popular Pork Sisig (Php168) and Giligan's Grilled Platter (inihaw na baboy, chicken BBQ, pusit and tuna belly / Php575)

To end the food trip, we had yogurt at Golden Spoon and coffee at Starbucks. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we weren't able to try Healthy Shabu-Shabu since it takes quite a while to prepare. Healthy Shabu-Shabu specializes in Japanese-style hot pot dishes.

The good thing about Veranda is that there's exclusive parking right in front of the restaurants. Check Veranda out on your next visit to Robinsons Galleria.
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