Archive for the 'churches' Category

10
Jun
14

JORDAN | ROAD TRIP X FOOD TRIP

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Similar to an impulse that travels from the brain to the spine and elsewhere, the decision to take my feet to one of the places in my bucket list happened spontaneously. Destination : Jordan.

My random online surfing during ungodly hours of the morning in mid-May of 2014 made me aware about His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land.  With only knowledge of its proximity to my current work place in Dubai -despite the lack of preparation, research and concrete game plan, I found myself with complete requirements to travel to Amman in less than a week. In retrospect, it was like the stars, the moon, and the entire universe conspired, so to speak. I believe it was utterly destined. Budget but decent hotels booked online, a travel-guide-driver to tour me around was recommended, a “No-Objection-Certificate” or NOC  was issued by my sponsor and my employer, visa stamped on my passport, return tickets via Fly Dubai purchased, a few Jordanian dinar bills secured, a courage to travel alone on a limited budget and yes, probably fate brought my feet to Jordan. I was weak to elude such once-in-a-lifetime-chance!

After immensely devouring Fly Dubai’s Chicken-Ala-Kiev and eagerly starting to read one of Khaled Hosseini’s bestsellers, “A Thousand Splendid Suns” that I still have yet to finish, and that almost-3-hour-flight, I arrived at Queen Alia International Airport at around half hour past 9PM, May 22, 2014, Thursday. Following quick airport proceedings, I finally met Hasan or Abu Malek, my friendly Jordanian travel-guide-par-excellence; I easily spotted him at the Arrival area, holding a white sheet of paper with my nickname on it, so classic just like in the movies! I loved it! :D

Hasan (whose contact details are listed below for your reference), drove me from the airport to my hotel in Amman. His casual but warm welcome greetings was followed by a string of suggestions about our itineraries to maximize my very first visit in his home country. I surrendered everything to him. My epic Jordanian road trip began the following morning.

MADABA

About less-than-hour-drive from Amman, we reached Madaba, the small and quaint city famous for its 6th century Mosaic-Map of Jerusalem and parts of the Holy Land.  A Greek Orthodox religious service was being held inside St. George’s Church when we arrived so tourists were asked to wait after 9:15AM for admission. Tickets were sold at the parish office for one (1) JOD or Jordanian dinar  (US $ 1.41). 

As faithfuls began to exit the church, I saw a few people inside unrolling the carpets. And lo and behold, the mosaic maps that were brilliantly laid on the floor were exposed!  Amazing how colorful stones from Madaba and neighboring cities were used to create stunning mosaic in the church’s floor and in framed masterpieces. The appreciation of such ancient art and historical artifacts transcends religion!

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To appreciate more of Madaba’s stone mosaic art, Hasan took me to Nebo’s Pearl, an impressive souvenir shop where such art pieces are being made by hand, not by merely ordinary craftsmen but physically challenged yet skillful and artistic individuals.

Buying from such shop would not only aid the artisans, but fractions of the purchase of some items go to church as well.

I bought a medium-sized-wooden-jewelry-box with a colorful stone mosaic of  Madaba’s Tree of Life inlaid on its top. Some small souvenir items like fridge magnets, rosaries, Holy Water from place of Christ’s Baptism and small purses for a few relatives and friends were also irresistible to pass up.

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LUNCH

Traveling is futile without sampling local dishes. I’m grateful that Hasan brought me to the best and most affordable food places in Jordan during our road trip. Even more thankful that I didn’t have to pay for his meals as he eats for free in all of those restaurants we went to!

I was never fond of eating lamb dishes unless it’s cooked well without leaving an after-taste. Luckily, my taste buds were treated to a few delicious lamb dishes I’ve ever sampled! I never found a single fault on everything we’ve feasted! Jordanian-Arabic food was that good!

I loved the Shish Kebab, the Oozie rice dish that was nicely seasoned,  the hummus dip, the local salads and everything that I paired with a small bottle of that smooth-tasting local red wine, appropriately called Mount Nebo.
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MOUNT NEBO

Time was never wasted with a local travel guide, like Hasan who knows how to maximize the day and perfected the art of tour-guiding in his own country for more than 20 years!  After my last sip of Mount Nebo red wine, I had the small bottle with half of its contents takeaway, and went our way to our next stop. Where else but Mount Nebo!

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Mount Nebo, or according to Hasan, Mount Siyagha, was mentioned in the bible and history books, as the site where Prophet Moses died.  I’m far from being religious but there were no words to describe the feeling of being in the same mountain where Moses had his last breath, to be inside the humble museum where relics from old churches are kept and displayed, and to see the church that’s being built in Moses’ memorial site.
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The Church currently under construction in memorial site of Moses.

Inside the museum…

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I shall be forever grateful for the chance to be at the sacred place where the late Pope JPII stood.
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DEAD SEA

Forty-five minutes after discovering Mount Nebo, I was in the passenger’s seat again of  Hasan’s car.  He drove me next to one of the densest bodies of the water in the world. The  Dead Sea.

“Right across Dead Sea, you can see that mountain range -that’s Jerusalem already.”  he said.

While there are five star-hotels to that popular beach, Hasan took me to a nicer and cheaper access where I paid 20 JOD.

Did I try to take a dip and float like everyone else at Dead Sea?

No.

Forgive me as I came not prepared  for Dead Sea. Without beach towels and slippers, I had to buy flip-flops at whopping 5 JOD just to bear the scorching temperature of sand under my feet.

But of course, for posterity’s sake, I didn’t leave Dead Sea without sampling that famous mud pack. So I paid 1 JOD and a local man selling that black mud applied it generously on my face (3 JOD for entire body).

 

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So while everybody’s floating at Dead Sea, I was cam-whoring with my ear-to-ear-smile with that mud all over my face! It was itchy and a stinging sensation was really irritating, I had to rush to the shower area and removed it immediately. Ugh! The things you do for facebook, instagram, twitter and this blog! :P
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According to Hasan, since rain in Jordan is scarce, Dead Sea has been reduced to a meter every year and sadly, they predicted that in the next hundred years or God-forbid even sooner, Dead Sea may become extinct.

FROM DEAD SEA  EN ROUTE  TO  KERAK CASTLE

Moving on with our road trip, the next simple things and fascinating places that stimulated me were groups of sheep and goat, a spectacular coastline of salt, potash and whatnot, breathtaking mountainous view, and stone statues atop a mountain that according to Hasan, were naturally formed that depict the spot of what has been believed to be Sodom and Gomorrah.

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Sodom and Gomorrah stone statues.

A quick glance at Wiki, I read about  Sodom and Gomorrah as“The plain, which corresponds to the area just north of the modern-day Dead Sea, was compared to the garden of Eden[Gen.13:10] as being a land well-watered and green, suitable for grazing livestock.”

BELOW SEA LEVEL,

AT SEA LEVEL,

ABOVE SEA LEVEL

“The world’s lowest roads, Highway 90, run along the Israeli and West Bank shores of the Dead Sea, along with Highway 65 on the Jordanian side, at 393 m (1,289 ft) below sea level.” – Wiki

With this day-long road trip from almost North of Jordan, to its Southern part in Petra, we passed along the areas below sea level, at sea level and above sea level where indubitably, temperature and humidity vary.

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At Sea Level.  I had to ask Hasan for a quick photo-op!

As we reached sea level, we then drove to ascend to Kerak Castle, situated 960 meters above sea level.

KERAK,  JORDAN

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KERAK  CASTLE

Strategically built at 960 meters above sea level, Kerak Castle consists of numerous chambers, mosques, bedrooms, dining rooms that served military crusaders well during the ancient times. What remains now appears to be a fusion of West European, Byzantine, and Arabian architectures standing at its magnificence over looking the valleys.

The 1 JOD-entrance fee included a quick guided-tour inside Kerak Castle. It was dark inside, with only small flashlight from the local guide, and there’s almost nothing but caves and chambers, reminiscent of its historic past. In contrast, the view outside atop the mountain was breathtaking!

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SHOBAK  CASTLE

From one castle to another, Hasan drove me over the desert and mountainous roads of Kerak to Shobak Castle. A deserted crusader castle perched at 1300 meters above sea level.

And just as accurately as he calculated, we reached Shobak Castle few minutes before 6PM when sundown was seen at its full glory!  My photo could not do justice to the beauty of the mountains in Shobak Castle at that hour. I was told that during winter season, everything’s covered with snow and tranquility.

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PETRA

The last stop where we retired for the day was no less but in Petra, Jordan. I checked in at my reserved hotel while Hasan stayed with his friends’ place in Petra. Prior to that, he took me to another must-try local-eatery where Bukhara rice is offered. We ordered it, plus shish kebab (not on photo), hummus, salad and Arabic bread.

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The following  morning was spent remarkably in one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, probably the other reason why I went to Jordan. My blog post about my incredible experience in Petra here : http://docgelo.com/2014/05/29/petra-jordan-remarkable-steps-and-unforgettable-memories/

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Widest smile of astonishment that he set foot in Petra, Jordan! I big tick off from my bucket list!

With Hasan’s helpful advice to leave Petra at 11AM for us to reach Amman before the 4PM-6PM Holy Mass by Pope Francis at Amman International Stadium (set last 24th May 2014), we were on the roads for that almost 4-hour-drive early as scheduled. We made an almost 1-hour-stop at one of his favorites where he made me eat Jordan’s traditional dish called, Mansaf!

MANSAF, JORDANIAN TRADITIONAL DISH

It may sound overly ridiculous but I couldn’t imagine myself leaving Jordan without sampling its very own National dish. It was like watching Maleficent without knowing it stars Angelina Jolie!

A lamb dish cooked in sauce of fermented dried yoghurt served with rice and yoghurt sauce; Mansaf’s delicious! The lamb shank was very fork-tender with no unpleasant after-taste, the yoghurt sauce was not tangy and was just right. The rice was perfectly flavored; quite different from Biryani or other rice dishes I’ve had.

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Mansaf. Jordan’s National dish.
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With Hasan or Abu Malek. My newly found friend in Jordan! Shukran, Hasan! :D

After our hearty Mansaf-lunch, at the very same handsome restaurant, I managed to freshen up and changed into crisp clothes and got ready for High Mass at Amman International Stadium.

As we exited the highway and reached the capital city of Jordan, I was not in myself, probably out of severe excitement and incredible disbelief, when I asked Hasan what country does those flags displayed across Jordan’s, posted at poles along the roads represent.

“Vatican’s.”

“Oh yeah! The Pope’s here! I went here for that event, hahaha! Those yellow and white flags are of Vatican, of course! Silly me!” –Major face-palm moment! Toinks!

Hasan had to drop me off a few meters away from the stadium as roads were closed to traffic because of absolute security for the Pope.  We even saw together the helicopter descending from the sky; must be the Pope, we thought and numerous tourist buses and policemen scattered on the streets. He left me and I agreed to be pick up at 5:30PM, just timely for our dinner together and to catch my 11:45PM flight back to Dubai.

After walking several meters to the gates of Amman International Stadium, I asked the presumably Head of security or one of those in authorities.

“Hi Sir, Is this the gate to Pope Francis’ Holy Mass?”

“Yes, but you are 5 minutes late. The gates are closed.”

“How come? The Mass is scheduled at 4PM-6PM as posted on the website.”

“Yes, it closed at 3:10PM. It’s already 3:15PM. You were 5 minute-late.”

“Sir, I came a long way from Dubai for this.”

“Doesn’t matter. The gates are closed.”

End of story.
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There are more places in Jordan I’ve not seen, there are many other things to experience, I left that same night with unfinished business. Some other time, Jordan! See you again, soon!

I may not have seen the Pope up close in Amman, but I came back to Dubai enriched with new experiences I learned from my brief but memorable trip to Jordan. I may not have attended His Holiness’ High Mass in Jordan, but I’ve seen more of God’s creations and for that I’ll be thankful forever!

 

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*You may contact my ever friendly and trustworthy travel-guide-driver who became my friend-somewhat-like-a-family in Jordan through his facebook page : Hasan Bani Naser or Abu Malek. Please tell him, the Filipino Travel-Food Blogger, Gelo or whom he called, Abu Gabby referred you to him. Many thanks! https://www.facebook.com/hasan.mharebbaninaser?fref=ts

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31
Jan
14

INTRAMUROS, MANILA | SAN AGUSTIN MUSEUM

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I’ve been going to San Agustin Church within the historic and cobblestone streets of Intramuros, Manila since my wonder years. My parents used to take me and my siblings to 30 churches every Holy Week back then, and their list included San Agustin Church. But it took more than 30 years before I set foot in its museum.

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One sunny afternoon, I had an urge to revisit  Quiapo and headed to Intramuros with the intent to experience San Agustin Museum. It was my first time to see the church with its old peach paint removed. I wasted no time and asked one of the bystanders of the museum’s location, and to my surprise, the entrance was just a few steps from the right side of the main church door. I know no reason why my parents didn’t bring us inside San Agustin Museum; I haven’t inquired but it’s no longer important for the time already came for me to discover and explore the museum myself.

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With only PhP 100 current admission rate for adult (PhP 80 for senior citizens, and almost half the cost for students with IDs),  every centavo was worth it!

I don’t know about you but I know some people don’t entertain the idea of going to museum. Perhaps, they’re not fascinated with history, heritage, arts and things of the past, or totally not interested with some places without life. Unlike them, I am easily drawn to anything significant; or anything of my interest. Probably, it’s really to each his own.

Immediately after the admission counter and the turnstile, a huge lifeless bell greeted me. It was simply labeled with a laminated paper that states, “A 3,400 kilogram bell, taken down in 1927 from the belfry of the San Agustin Church damaged by the earthquake of 1863.”

I was warned that photography without flash is only permitted at the hallways and not inside exhibit rooms. Good enough! I obliged of course.

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Every step I took seemed a stroll back in time. Isn’t that amazing? (surprising? exciting? hehehe!)

Most of the items in the hallway at the ground floor are for sale; from paintings to wooden sculptures, most have tags with fixed prices for those collectors and patrons of the arts.
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The concrete staircase and its ceiling, en route to the second level almost took my breath away! I literally uttered, “Wow!” several times and left me in awe for few minutes. It was like setting foot inside a century-old dungeon or a castle, or felt like I was ascending the steps of Hogwarts with Professor Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape about to greet me with magical spells! Very theatrical and cinematic!
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Surreal!

Then I found the displays and stained glass windows at the second level even more amazing!
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From the scale model of San Agustin Church, to small brass replica of galleon ships, paintings, priest vestments and whatnot, to the restricted noise of young students who were having an educational field trip with their teacher, I took everything in as a visual feast! Every corner appeared picturesque to me!
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But the highlight of my visit to San Agustin Museum was admiring the choir chamber and the church’s ceiling to my heart’s delight! I found logical reason for my one hundred Philippine pesos entrance fee for I have not seen the ceiling’s painting this up close! Wow! Wow! Wow!

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The intricate carvings on the solid choir seats was beyond wonderful! Imagine, these were done creatively decades ago!

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Behold. The ceiling of San Agustin Church done in trompe l’oeil.

A quick glance at Wiki, trompe l’oeil (French for deceive the eye) defined as “an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects exist in three dimensions.”
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Beautiful, isn’t it?

I just hope and pray that proper restoration shall be done to those dilapidated areas.

Other than my appreciation for the ceiling, the pipe organ also a caught my eyes and my lens.

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From the choir loft, I completely understand why San Agustin Church remains to be a favorite venue of Sacrament of Matrimony.

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Of all the paintings inside the exhibit halls and corridors, I figured out my favorite. It’s called, The Family of the Virgin Mary, 234.3 cm x 173.3cm (92″ x 68″), Oil on Canvass, tagged as 19th century, Araneta collection.
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More must-see-display on the ground floor…

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There’s a door from the museum that leads to the church itself besides the church’s main facade.
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My two hours inside the San Agustin Museum may not be as entertaining as watching a blockbuster comedy, love story, action or fantasy films, but my appreciation of my heritage, religion, timeless treasures of my country was heightened tremendously.

“In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, under the collective title Baroque Churches of the Philippines. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.” ~wiki.

San Agustin Church & San Agustin Museum | General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila | website : http://www.sanagustinchurch.org/

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12
Jan
14

ANGONO | HIGANTES FESTIVAL & BALAW BALAW RESTAURANT

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It only took me 20 minutes and twenty-two Philippine pesos on a single public-utility-jeepney ride from our place in Pasig City to reach Angono, Rizal.  Although it sounded quite near and convenient, I did not have any idea where to alight! I only remembered from what I googled, that the Higantes Festival parade would start at 7AM, Sunday, 17 November 2013,  in front of Angono Elementary School. Good thing, luck was on my side because a young family with grandparents were also on their way to the same town fiesta, sat beside me. I got off the jeepney when they did.

Just before 7AM, I found myself standing in front of World War II monument at the junction in Angono. The driver dropped off almost half of his passengers there, as the road going to Angono Elementary School was closed for the event. After few meters of walking, I smiled when I finally saw numerous Higantes, or giant paper mache on queue for the parade. It certainly brought back simple and happy memories of celebrating fiestas during my childhood years.

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Towering at ten to twelve feet, with diameter of about four to five feet, Higantes are made of paper mache for their heads, and bamboos and colorful textiles for their trunks. They usually add fun to almost all fiestas around the Philippines, but it is in Angono where the tradition started. History states that these Higantes originated as a creative means of protest of Filipino farmers and land tillers against their Spanish landlords during the colonial era. That explains why these Higantes have hands placed high up on their waists, they used to be the effigies of arrogant hacienderos before.

An awesome surprise treat for me was to see and photograph little pretty kids that were dressed in costumes of mermaids, fishermen and parehadoras (group of young girls holding paddles and wearing bakya or traditional wooden slippers); they were all in the parade at Higantes Festival as reminders that Angono was once a fishing village and that its town people were blessed with abundance of Laguna Lake.

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And so my Sunday morning was made with infectious kiddie smiles and a lot variations of Higantes from computer-game-inspired, Plants versus Zombies…

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Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal…

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More animated characters…

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Local town’s cosplayers…

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Even the famous Filipino comedian-host, Vice Ganda was made into a Higantes!

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Like almost all fiestas in the country, the parade started with a lively marching bands…

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Fiestas are commonly celebrated in honor of Catholic saints, and in Angono, it’s the feast day of Saint Pope Clement I or locally known as San Clemente. Higantes Festival is held a week before the feast day of San Clemente, that’s usually celebrated every November 22-23.

After I stationed myself to a spot where I watched the parade pass by, I walked my way down to the town’s municipal building.

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The relief-structures of “Si Malakas at Si Maganda” fronting the municipal building of Angono, Rizal.

Since I am not familiar with the place, I asked bystanders and a few policemen of the directions to the San Clemente Church. It’s easy as I was told to stroll down where the parade was going.
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The narrow street en route to the San Clemente Church was lined by concrete walls in parallel, with sculptures and murals depicting local lives and other artistic creations of homegrown artists of Angono. This urban municipality would never been dubbed as Arts Capital of the Philippines for nothing. Angono is home to two National Artists, namely Lucio San Pedro for music and Carlos “Botong” Francisco for the arts. It is also in this humble town where Angono Petroglyphs, the oldest art work identified in the Philippines, can be found (not in photo).
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Finally, I uttered prayers of thanksgiving, asked for forgiveness and blessings inside San Clemente Church.
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Outside, under the heat of the mid-morning sun, the Higantes Festival parade was still on-going. I caught myself with mouth-wide-open, at the sight of local men and women in their geriatric years, taking photos of the parade using modern tablets and smart phones.

I was in awe at the efforts employed by all participants, specially the boys and men who were carrying those Higantes, and of course, all the children and the old ones who were wearing traditional attires and costumes for the parade. Hats off to them who continue to pass this traditional celebration to the next generations.
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Most people who visit Angono, Rizal also drop by the famous Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery.  Of course, I did not let the chance to pass without sampling something from their menu. It only took me 5-minute-tricycle ride to get there.

Apparently, 3 Higantes from the parade were from the restaurant owners. I saw them how they disassemble the Higantes before keeping them inside the gallery. Amazing!

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The facade’s inviting with lush greens…
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Inside, I found the restaurant quaint and fascinating…
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The view where I sat…
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Paper Mache : Local women with children, cooking local rice cakes, bibingka and puto-bumbong.

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant is known for local and exotic dishes from Angono. I forgot to bring my daredevil and adventurous attitude when it comes to food (as if I have one!), thus I only settled to personal favorites – Halo-halo to beat the heat, Balaw-balaw Seafood fried rice -that appealed to me as a meal-in-one, and a fresh mango juice to wash everything down.
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By its huge serving, I had more than half of the Balaw-Balaw Seafood fried rice as my take-away, and shared it immediately for lunch at home. Everything’s OK but certainly not the best compared to what I’ve tasted. To be fair, there’s a lot of Filipino dishes on the menu to choose from and perhaps, a single visit to this restaurant with minimal orders would not be enough to have a fair food review.

The restaurant houses an art gallery too.

Behold.

The craftmanship of Angono…
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A visit to their toilet with a 45 degree turn to the right will give you this view…

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More beautiful sculptures and art works installed at the other room of the art gallery…

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Half day wasn’t enough to understand, enjoy and savor an entire town’s culture, tradition, food and celebration. But I reckon that I had fun nonetheless.

Have you been to Angono, Rizal? How was your experience attending Higantes Festival? Have you tried dining at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant?

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San Clement Church | Baranggay Poblacion Ibaba, Angono, Rizal.

Angono Elementary School | M.L. Quezon Avenue, Barangay San Isidro, Angono, Rizal.

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery| #16 Doña Justa St., Doña Subd., PH1, Angono, Rizal. (this is not a sponsored post).

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05
Dec
13

INTRAMUROS, MANILA | 2013 GRAND MARIAN PROCESSION

“I love you when you bow in your mosque,

kneel in your temple,

pray in your church.

For you and I are sons of religion,

and it is the spirit.”

~ Khalil Gibran

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Around 3PM, I rode the MRT train from Santolan Station all the way to its last stop in Recto, Manila. Strolled my way to Quiapo, then took a jeepney ride to Pier and alighted near the Department of Immigration building. The road was completely blocked to private and public vehicles and only people were allowed to walk through the historic walled city. Few steps further, I found myself standing in front of the restored Ayuntamiento, among the thick volume of crowd, waiting for the 100 carrozas to float by.  Although I spent countless evenings of Holy Wednesdays, Good Fridays and dawns of Easter Sundays watching Catholic saint-processions with my family in Marikina City and considering I used to be a part of an all-boys-choir in Marikina Catholic School, who used to sing in First Friday Masses, Living Rosary and other religious activities in school during my growing up years,  attending the longest procession devoted to the Blessed Virgin entirely, was something new to me.  It was my first time to attend and witness the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, Manila that, correct me if I’m wrong, is an annual event held every first Sunday of December.

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Ayuntamiento

01 December 2013, Sunday, Intramuros, Manila. It was drizzling when I arrived within the vicinity of Manila Cathedral but the mild downpour miraculously stopped around 5PM, so timely for the start of the Grand Marian Procession for this year. Armed with my long black umbrella, I took a few shots of the first few carrozas on queue. Most of them came from nearby parishes in Metro Manila, to as far as Northern, Central and Southern Luzon, with few that came from provinces in the South.
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La Familia De La Virgen Maria.

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The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth.

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Angel Gabriel on the Annunciation tableu.

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Annunciation

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Nuestra Senora De La O from Our Lady’s Nativity Parish, Pangil, Laguna.

I saw groups of people with gadgets that could take photos swarming around one of the carrozas that was literally filled with colorful and attractive flowers; mostly Ecuadorean roses in various hues. Not long after, I joined the bystanders and faithfuls who were in awe at San Jose and his float. It was the grandest I’ve seen!
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Roses in various colors & other blooms, mirrors, faux trees & crystals adorned San Jose’s carroza.

Within 4 hours of watching the procession, at times I whispered prayers to the Lord and to His Blessed Mother, whose many images passed me by, I was totally amazed and proud of the Filipino faith. Each Marian icon was accompanied and ushered by parish priest/s, sacristans, some with nuns, marching bands, a few came with Boy scouts, folk dancers and young and old ones who were dressed in their Sunday’s best and traditional Filipino attires, volume of parishioners and Marian devotees from the town or city the image came from.

Every expression of Filipino devotion to the Virgin Mary was unique. Some paraded in solemnity, complete with recitation of the Holy Rosary; some were barefooted, others attended in uniform shirts; while some devotees were amazingly cheerful, vocal and loud in professing their love to the Virgin Mary, with singing, waving of handkerchiefs, dancing, particularly the people from Pakil, Laguna who ushered Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba, people from Candaba, Pampanga who brought Nuestra Senora de la Merced and the people from San Mateo, Rizal who accompanied Nuestra Senora de Aranzazu.

Of all the Marian images I saw, I was moved and grounded as a Filipino when the carroza of Ina Poon Bato from Zambales passed by and I saw it was accompanied by Aetas, our indigenous brothers and sisters.

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San Roque.

Image of St. Andrew or locally known as San Andres was brought in from Catanduanes, Bicol.

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St. Andrew.

Then that incredibly beautiful carroza of St. Joseph or San Jose passed by.
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St. Joseph.

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La Familia De La Virgen Maria.

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Annunciation.

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Mary and Joseph.

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Nuestra Senora De Navidad.

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From Cainta, Rizal, Mahal Na Ina Ng Kaliwanagan or the Our Lady of Light.

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Other than flowers, the parishioners from Cainta used suman, or rice cakes in the carroza.Wow!

People from all ages and walks of life participated. We were all prayerful under one sky.
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Mary, Help of Christians.

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Our Lady of Penafrancia, Naga, Bicol.

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La Angustia De Maria La Santisima Nazarena.

Something new to me was the image of Mother Mary as Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China for the Chinese Catholic community. It was my first time to see such gracious image.

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Our Lady of Providence/Our Lady of China.
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Nuestra Senora La Desatadora De Nundos. Our Lady Untier of Knots.

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Roses and annato/achiote or locally called in the Philippines as atsuete adorned the carroza.

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Rosa Mistica. One of the few images that was carried via wooden poles on shoulders.

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Women who ushered their image in traditional Filipino attire.

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La Pieta…

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La Pieta.

As mentioned, one of the images of the Blessed Mother that paraded with numerous devotees and parishioners was the Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal. The energy of the people clapping, singing, waving their flags and hankerchiefs, cheering for the Blessed Mother was beyond inspiring!

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Nuestra Senora De Aranzazu from San Mateo, Rizal.

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Nuestra Senora De La Santisima Trinidad.

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Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba from Saint Peter of Alcantara Parish, Pakil, Laguna.

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Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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Our Lady of Montserrat.
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Our Lady of Czestochowa, The Black Madonna.
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Mary, The Lady of All Nations.
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Our Lady of Banneux.

Hail to Ina Poon Bato from Zambales! Accompanied by our indigenous brothers and sisters, the Aetas.
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Ina Poon Bato from Zambales. 

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Mary, Mirror of Justice from Comembo, Makati City.
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Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

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Birhen ng Lujan.

*There were 100 carrozas in this Grand Marian Procession and please forgive me if this blog post only features less than half of them, a few without names of Our Lady.  I’m so sorry as I tried my best to capture the signages from each carroza, however, I only did as much for 4 hours (5PM-9PM) of standing and taking amateur photos for me to share on this site.  I’ll appreciate if readers could identify those Marian images on this post without labels.  Also, some of the photos turned out to be blurred that I chose not to post. The other Marian images were :

  • Our Lady of Caysasay, Taal, Batangas,
  • Nuestra Senora de la Merced, Candaba, Pampanga,
  • Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City,
  • Nuestra Senora de Barangay,
  • Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario de Malabon,
  • Our Lady of Piat,
  • La Naval de Manila,
  • Our Lady of Orani,
  • Nuestra Senora de la Soledad de Nueva Ecija,
  • Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Cebu,
  • and many more that I failed to list down and capture. Again, my apologies.

For four hours, my focus from challenges of daily living was deviated to something more meaningful; something peaceful. This religious activity truly defined what Filipino Marian devotion is to me.

On December 8, Happy Feast Day of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception!

Please pray for us.

>><<

26
Apr
13

RANDOM MEMORIES, HAPPY THOUGHTS FROM MALACCA

Malacca is as colorful as her trishaws.
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That shine bright like diamonds at dusk.
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Malacca is sweeter than her cendol.
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Dare I say it’s tastier than Jalan Penang’s.
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It was in Malacca we wore Malaysia as Baba-Nyonya.
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Spent (pa-) cute bonding moments.
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Inspired to pose for more photos.
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As we discovered Church of St. Paul Ruins as a nice backdrop.
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Despite the dirty lens problem, ikr. :(
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Clicks, clicks and more clicks…
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Here, Cristina’s men in plaid.
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That historic ruins on a hill witnessed how my lovely wife looked more chica than ever! Agree? lol
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Almost every corner, picturesque!
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We had no dull moments.
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Loved her river cruise…
malacca @ docgelo.com
Those colors of Melaka River are charming at day…
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Enchanting and romantic at night…
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In spite of the fact that Stadhuys Museum was closed…
malacca @ docgelo.com
We roamed around others and found valor and heroism…
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And because the Malaccan sun was nearly unbearable, we found comfort inside airconditioned museums…
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Where royalties and dignitaries used to dine…
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Over and beyond her culture and heritage spots, undeniably, it’s the Malaccan food and unique Peranakan tastes that lure people over.
malacca @ docgelo.com
Finally sampled Chicken Rice Balls, Malaccan Roasted Chicken and Pork, Tofu in Oyster Sauce, even Western bites of course!
malacca @ docgelo.com
Our appreciation for few visual arts fused with incredibly cool ambiance was heightened at The Baboon House Malacca…
malacca @ docgelo.com
Time stood still at Hereen Street…
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Where hugs and joy reigned.
malacca @ docgelo.com
Certainly melted our worries away…
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Saw more fascinating things being sold at the touristy and famous, Jonker Street…
malacca @ docgelo.com
Where beautiful is an understatement…
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Where unique tastes and traditional collide…
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Malacca, you brought so much fun!
malacca @ docgelo.com
We’ll create happier memories next time! Until then!

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

02
Apr
13

MELAKA! MALACCA!

melaka march 31 2013
Rocking the Baba, Nyonya Malaysian traditional attires | Christ Church Melaka, 31 March 2013.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

We’re supposed to be in Singapore again from March 30 to midnight of April 2, 2013 but because of unforseen and inevitable circumstance that happened the last minute when we’re already in Johor Bahru (the state of Malaysia at the border prior to Singapore) on the daybreak of Black Saturday, our sponsors -a hotel in Singapore and an a-theme-park-access-card, and my family agreed that the sponsored trip to revisit the Lion City for blog review and feature is best rescheduled to last week of May 2013. Although cliche as it may sound, my family and I considered it a blessing in disguise because as of morning of April 2, 2013, our salaries for the month of March are yet to be issued by our employer, so pushing through with that much-anticipated Singapore adventure could’ve been a challenge on the pocket. Nonetheless, we’re still thankful to the sponsors for such invitation!

After almost 10 hours of travel via bus from Penang to Johor Bahru and learned that the trip was rescheduled, we didn’t dwell on the hassle but opted for the next best thing (affordable too!). Tina, Gabby and I grabbed quick breakfast bites from McDonald’s at Larkin Bus Station and purchased bus tickets at 19 ringgit each from JB to Melaka for that 9:30AM bus ride. We didn’t want to spoil everything and at least, we became excited to experience a place that’s new to our senses.

Without any hotel reservation and no itinerary at hand, we slept the 2 hour bus ride from Larkin Bus Station in Johor Bahru to Melaka Sentral in Malacca. And the rest was a 3D2N of nothing but family bonding, food and fun!  Randomly, Beyond Toxicity will take you to our first ever Melaka trip! :)

Unplanned, Spontaneous, Random Trip to Malacca : Here we go!

On our second day in Melaka, we attended the 8:30AM Easter Sunday Mass at one of the most iconic landmarks in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dutch Protestant Church, Christ Church Melaka. Yes, we’re Catholics and experiencing other religious service of Christian faith in a completely new place to us was truly warm and welcoming. The mass that ended after 2 hours with full band and choir singing, was so similar to Catholic masses in order & sequence. After coming out of the church with smiles on our faces, holding Easter eggs and tiny lemon cake slices given by the choir members and the priests, Tina spotted two people with a clothesline of Malaysian traditional attires for rent at 7 ringgit (USD 2.26) per adult, 5 ringgit (USD 1.60) per kid. Next scenes unfolded ~ she asked me, “Gusto mo?” (“Do you like?”), then she began choosing what to wear for a few minutes of photo-op.  Why not, choc nut? :D

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While Malaysia is known to be a cultural melting pot in Southeast Asia, Baba and Nyonya in Penang and Melaka (also in Singapore and Indonesia) are people with rich and fascinating heritage. When Chinese, mostly traders, came to Malaysia and married Malays, Peranakan or descendants in Malay term were born.  The term, Baba refers to male and Nyonya to female. Interestingly, Chinese culture and traditions were assimitated to Malay cutoms.

Wearing the Baba and Nyonya traditional attires for the moment was such an experience. Admittedly, the part could’ve been complete if we found time to visit the Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum. Now that’s a good reason among many others, to revisit Melaka given another chance in the future.

Luckily, there was a Baba costume that fits my size, haha! While Gabby’s too big for the little Baba outfit, he donned Baju Melayu instead, complete with red sampin, a sarong wrapped around his hips. In our eyes, he looked like a very regal Malaysian prince! :D

melaka 1

Et voila!  A Filipino family in Malaysian cultural outfits in front of Christ Church Melaka! :)

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With permission, Tina took a shot of the next customer who rented another colorful Malaysian wear, an adorable little tourist who came with her parents too. The frame could’ve been nicer if we paired her with Gabby, hehehe!
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Too cute for words!

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Bagay po ba?

Before some closed minded ones conclude that we’re not being proud of our roots and prefer to wear foreign traditional attires, here’s a photo of our family taken at Mines View Park in Baguio City, Philippines that I’ve unearthed from this site’s previous posts. All for the sake of FUN! :)

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In traditional attires from Northern Philippines. Blog post HERE!

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

>><<

20
May
11

KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN SERIES : BUDDHIST TEMPLES

Being one of the towns bordering Malaysia and Thailand, Kelantan is obviously rich in culture and religion. It’s considered to be the cradle of Malay civilization and is predominantly a Muslim state but inevitably Buddhist temples sprung like mushrooms.

More than being tourist spots, these temples are apparently sacred sanctuaries.  However, one could not help but admire its architecture, interiors and ambience.

On our second day in Kelantan, we had temple visit overload. We went to see the Temple of the Sitting Buddha…

The Shrine of the Standing Buddha…

And a Reclining Buddha that’s bigger than the one in Penang… *yes! position matters!*

This Reclining Buddha is enshrined in a bigger than life gymnasium-like-temple.  At the lateral and the back areas of the enormous image are even more images!

Few kilometers away, we found ourselves appreciating the facade and interiors of the Sitting Buddha Temple which are truly spectacular!

Awesome looking dragons guard its entrance…

And there’s spontaneity in its interiors…

Tina and Gabby went inside the temple of the Sitting Buddha first, as I was still in awe outside. Then as I walked in, my wife hurriedly called my attention to see these art works…

A few we found to be disturbing…

Every detail gave us goosebumps, or we’re only clueless of this religion, sorry!

Can anyone share anything on this? *so busy  lazy to research and google!*

I wonder if people from other religions also get curious and fascinated with our very own. Either way, I am definite that whenever we go to a new place, my family and I will always include temples and mosques and other houses of prayer to visit.

Do we think the same?

————————————————————–

——-This blog series includes :




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