Kalayaan, Laguna, the Philippines
November 13, 2011
The church in Barrio Longos stands as a vigilant sentinel of centuries past; its baroque stone facade and belfry, blackened by the elements and overgrown with weeds, bear witness to the ravages of time and circumstance. The church appears forgotten, yet additions such as a wooden main portal, a door awning, and latticed windows – palliative attempts to evoke its lost grandeur – show that it has not been completely abandoned.
Fr. Gabriel Ma. Delfino, Parish Priest of San Juan Bautista Church, Longos, Kalayaan, Laguna
Quezon City, the Philippines
November 9, 2013
What could be more fabulous than ushering in the Christmas spirit with lights and music? Dazzling lights dancing to yuletide carols beckoned Mom and me to Ayala Triangle in Makati a year ago. This year, we didn’t have to go far. The first light and sound show in Quezon City recently opened at TriNoma, Ayala Malls’ premiere shopping-dining-entertainment center in our home city. I had received an invite to attend the launch of Merry Musical Lights Show, an event made for a mommy date.
Mom @ TriNoMa Merry Musical Light & Sound Show
October 19, 2013
In the wee hours of October 19, 2013, China Eastern Airlines landed on Philippine soil for the first time. The maiden flight arrived on schedule from its hub, Shanghai. Airline officials and staff were on hand to welcome both passengers and crew with bouquets and photo ops. I would soon have the same privilege of being among the first passengers from Manila to board flight MU212 departing for Shanghai at 4:55AM.
China Eastern Airlines Flight MU212 from Manila arrives @ Pudong International Airport
Kathmandu / Patan, Nepal
February 24 – 25, 2013
For centuries, life in three ancient kingdoms in Kathmandu Valley – Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur – has revolved around their respective royal and religious centers: Durbar Square. These kingdoms have since become cities, and each of their squares is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The squares are not kept at arm’s length from the public. No velvet rope, only an entrance fee for foreign visitors. Nepal citizens (I heard they prefer this term over “locals”) go about their daily life in and around ancient temples, palaces, courtyards, altars, and marketplaces in these squares that remain as vibrant today as they may have been in 15th-century Malla Dynasty.
Patan Man @ Patan Durbar Square
Bacong, Negros Oriental, the Philippines
June 25, 2011
“Fierce as a lion, quick as a lightning bolt” – that was Leon Kilat (lion and lightning, respectively). The nickname may suggest the stuff of legends, but the man was a real revolutionary hero, a Katipunero named Pantaleon Villegas. He led a successful revolt against colonial Spain in 1898, the first Katipunan uprising in Cebu, or perhaps even in the Visayas. Shame on me; I had never heard of him and only learned about his place in history when I visited his hometown, Bacong, with my family. The world is indeed my classroom.
Pantaleon Villegas aka Leon Kilat
Kathmandu and Patan, Nepal
February 24 – 25, 2013
Today I saw the highest point on earth and met a living goddess. Just your regular day in Nepal.
So went my Facebook status. Nepal occupies not only a sliver of land high above the rest of the earth, but also the earthbound dwellings of deities. Mysticism pervades the rarefied air of this Himalayan kingdom, where ancient idols at street corners have been smoothened by centuries of veneration, enduring and unchanging through time that seems to have stalled.
Namaste! Sporting the tika applied by no less than the Living Goddess of Patan
Bhuwan, our guide, had acquainted us with Hindu gods in frozen stances. For a change, he led us weaving through the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex in Kathmandu to behold a flesh-and-blood deity called the Kumari Devi, or simply the Kumari, Nepali for the Living Goddess. She is the incarnation of Taleju (aka Durga), the goddess wife of Shiva, who embodies the victory of good over evil, in a vessel of purity – a pre-menstrual virgin. Continue reading
Candaba, Pampanga, the Philippines
February 24, 2008 and September 16, 2011
I was like, Dude, where’s the swamp? He was like, Duh, beats me.
OK, the exchange was not exactly slacker-speak, but it might as well have been. Our query for directions was met by a blank stare, a shrug, and a pivot away – all in two seconds. Ugh, granted he was a teenager, probably angsty or just couldn’t be bothered by lost tourists. Or worse, he truly was clueless about the whereabouts of his town’s claim to fame: the Candaba Swamp. It was the hardest 30,000-hectare swathe of land to find in a small town. We had reached the swamp three years before, thanks to the directional signs then. This time, we were at the mercy of seemingly indifferent townsfolk.
Road to Candaba: Home of Migratory Birds