Keeping the Faith and Heritage

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. _____ , Parish Priest of San Juan Bautista Church, Longos, Kalayaan, Laguna
Fr. Gabriel Ma. Delfino, Parish Priest of San Juan Bautista Church, Longos, Kalayaan, Laguna

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Of Hearth and Heart

San Pablo City, Laguna, the Philippines

November 11 – 13, 2011

San Pablo City may have its share of urban woes, both vehicular and human traffic choking its narrow two-lane streets, but within city limits a parallel universe existed. Two B&Bs in sprawling tree-dotted enclaves had become pockets of peace far removed from the bustle of the city just beyond their gates.

Casa San Pablo, Laguna
Casa San Pablo, Laguna

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Water on Maars

San Pablo City, Laguna, the Philippines

August 29, 2011

There was more to the Seven Lakes of San Pablo City than met the eye. Who would think that this city of bustling commerce and idyllic inns sat on a volcanic field? The Philippines had been called the Pearl of the Orient, but this Pearl adorned the Ring of Fire. Much of its picturesque topography had been molded by volcanic activity. It was easy to forget that fact, especially in this part of Laguna. After all, it had been more than 700 years since the last eruption of the San Pablo Volcanic Field. Its craters, also known as maars, had since filled with water and were now disguised as placid lakes.

Granny and Grandson at Lake Sampaloc, Laguna
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The Church in Red

Magdalena, Laguna, the Philippines

November 12, 2011

The Sta. Maria Magdalena Church is a shrine to a saint and a hero – St. Mary Magdalene and General Emilio Jacinto. Separated by centuries and geography, they are two vastly disparate figures in history. Yet their legacies are inextricably bound together in this church in the town of Magdalena, Laguna.

Bloodstained Shrine Dedicated to Emilio Jacinto in Magdalena Church

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Dogged Devotion

Kalayaan, Laguna / Boljoon, Cebu / Dauis, Bohol / Magdalena, Laguna, the Philippines

June 2010, March 2011, April 2011, and November 2011

All Dogs Go to Heaven went a movie title. I think there might have been a grain of truth in it after seeing some canine parishioners in various churches I visited. They gave the phrase “faithful as a dog” a literal spin.

Dog Looking at Jesus in Magdalena Church
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Bats in the Belfry

Pakil and Kalayaan, Laguna, the Philippines

June 26, 2010

Filipinos had a penchant for turning piety into a party. Just as the sight of Filipinos mugging for the TV cameras during a natural calamity, it was not surprising how a supposedly solemn celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows had turned into an annual street-dancing extravaganza called Turumba. I had not seen the festivities first hand, but I could very well imagine the glistening costumes and borderline sacrilegious gyrations. Catholicism in the Philippines was not all penance, it sometimes lapsed into a street party.

Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Turumba in Pakil Church

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Like a Pilgrim

Pagsanjan / Cavinti / Luisiana, Laguna, the Philippines

March 27, 2010

Cross over Candelabrum

An alien in your own land – that was how I had always felt being non-Catholic in a predominantly Catholic country. The Philippines, erstwhile colony of Spain and the only Christian (specifically, Catholic) country in Asia, was culturally closer to Latin America than our neighbors. But I was raised a Baptist. I grew up insulated from the rituals and superstitions of the Catholic faith. I had never subscribed to many Filipino traditions because they were Catholic traditions; my being a non-traditional Filipino was not iconoclastic but doctrinal.

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