Archive for August, 2008

into the woods of raptors and raptures

Posted in architecture, artifacts, events, locales, nature, people with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2008 by mijodo

It was a hurried sidetrip to the University of the Philippines, Los Banos with some balikbayan guests. It was a rainy afternoon, and we just had a few hours to spare to explore what could be interesting points in Mount Makiling, aside from the university itself as the campus is at the foot of the mystic mountain.

It was not my first time to trek to this mountain. I was in second year highschool then, when my class teacher had decided to bring his whole class supposedly to the top of Mt. Makiling. After hours of torturous foot ascent the whole class found out that we needed to still climb a tree to enjoy a panoramic view. We weren’t sure if it was worth the energy.

This time, I chose to bring my guests to the popular (among students of UP Los Banos) Forestry area. There we found out that there was an exhibit of live raptors up in the mountain. For a while I thought of creatures during the dinosaur era, but it turned out raptors were birds of prey which included eagles and hawks. After more than a hundred step hike, we were able to see different types of about fifty eagles, falcons and hawks in their supposed natural habitat into the mountains. There was only one hitch – all were caged. Since the rain pelted on us, and it was difficult to make good photos, we decided to go down again. The climb could have been worth it, if only there were no rains, and had plenty of time.

Next, I decided to bring my niece and her family to where artistry and talent abound – the Philippines High School for the Arts (PHSA). It was a steep and tortuous (not yet torturous though) drive for our AUV packed with adults. During our climb, I would wonder why in heavens Imelda Marcos whose brainchild was the PHSA had chosen such an isolated place for young students to stay in for a lengthy time. But if only to give the students the most ideal venue to teach the highest forms of arts whether in dance, drama, music and visual art then it is worth the vision and its actualization. The place can give energy to create rapturous artistic expressions indeed. Too bad some us needed to decompress and had to do some errands before retreating back at the rented villa at nearby Pansol thus we were not able to explore the campus grounds. And we were afraid that our vehicle’s break system was suspect hence our very careful descent.

Our sidetrip could have been better if conditions allowed us to get immersed in the places or maybe if only there was a “tree” for us to climb and see the total beauty of the the raptors and the raptures.

supposedly little philippines

Posted in architecture, artifacts, locales with tags , , , , , on August 22, 2008 by mijodo

It used to be that Nayong Pilipino was near the vicinity of the Manila Domestic and International Airports in Pasay City. In that sprawling area, I remember the many depictions of the the more famous spots of the Philippines from Mt. Mayon’s perfect cone shaped figure to the several different indigenous Filipino homes where souvenirs could be bought cheap. It was the perfect area to see the “whole” Philippines to tourist who have neither the time nor the money to travel the nation’s numerous islands.

And I knew of the numerous plans to transfer Nayong Pilipino to different locations elsewhere (still near the airport) due to the expansion of the runways of the Ninoy Aquino International II terminal. In fact, there had been a contest for designers who can conceptualize best a spanking new Nayong PIlipino.

But all of a sudden, there was news that the Nayong Pilipino was transferred a smallish area at the old Clark Airbase in Angeles, Pampanga. I was perturbed with the decision. Surely, Pampanga can boast of another new tourism spot, but I was not sure of the viability of the transfer. It could be too far for those wanting to get a glimpse of what Philippines can offer culturally and in terms of travel spots.

Sad but true, Nayong Pilipino at Clark now has not been well maintained. And the time we were there, there was a handful of visitors thus even shops and eateries had to close.  After just a couple of years in the area, one could see colors of the kiping (rice chips) adorning the houses, depicting the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban, Quezon already faded. And the represented spots were very limited to Barasoain Church, Banaue Native Huts, Intramuros, and Vigan Houses among others. Well good thing for us visitors, the place did not ask for entrance fee. (On second thought, the place should have asked if only for its upkeep)


Posted in architecture, interior design, locales, people with tags , , , , on August 16, 2008 by mijodo

In this quaint town of San Luis, Pampanga lies an 18th century church, beautiful in architecture, but somehow has a quiet nature about it.  Because of the church’s limited and seemingly unadorned front area, it does not demand notice and attention unlike other religious structures. Yet it is undeniable how the church inspires steady faith from the townfolks as this structure is too intimate physically with the neighboring community.

Although the church’s facade may seem to be unimposing despite the antiquity, its interior boasts of a spectacular interior mural atop the main altar, with God seated on the throne. Large capiz windows, antique floor tiles ,and handeliers that poured out from the ceiling make the church’s rich ambiance, With the able assistance of its sacristan mayor, Mr. Rey Cayanan unselfishly gives a glimpse of what is inside the Church of the Jesuit Saint, Aloysius Gonzaga.

rizal’s calamba

Posted in architecture, artifacts, interior design, lifestyle, locales, people with tags , , , , on August 10, 2008 by mijodo


In Leon Ma. Guerrero’s biographical book on Jose Rizal, the author conferred upon him the title of being “the First Filipino,” an honor that bespoke the greatness of Rizal’s intellect, strength of character, and more importantly love for nation.

Thus during a short visit to Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna where the National Hero was born, it is fascinating to see the relic and the antiquities of a bygone era, most specially during the youthful days of Rizal. In the garden area, there is even a “bahay kubo” (native hut) where Rizal and his sisters supposedly had “bahay-bahayan” (playhouse).

In Calamba not only do we get to see the Rizal family manor, and the church where Rizal got baptized, but also the big clay jar, symbolic of the legend of Calamba’s name (“kalan-banga”).


Posted in culture, lifestyle, people with tags , , , , , , on August 7, 2008 by mijodo

It all started with a young 7 year old Fil-American girl from Michigan (USA) watching a cartoon character who was a smart girl and played the violin well. Then the young kid bravely requested her mom to take her to a music store to purchase the same string instrument, and asked for lessons right away. Since then she has put the violin into good use. From middleschool (John Marshall) to highschool (John Glenn), she has been an active member of her schools’ orchestra group and symphonic band. In fact in middleschool, she was awarded the National School Orchestra Award.

Obviously, her mentors have observed her adept technical skills despite her young age (now 15). She is into performing the works of Rimski-Korsakoff, Paganini and Vivaldi and would practice for almost three hours everyday.  For her, it is most important to carry out the music pieces the way the composer thought them to be – expression wise and style wise.

And last May, 2008, she was handpicked to do the outrageously difficult solo part of the 1970’s country composition, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” together with the school’s symphonic band in a public performance. She was required to do the material “con fuoco” or “with fire.” And she did. Everyone went abuzz after her astonishing performance.  With that I say to my one and only niece, “Brava, Ernestine.”

hot pools of pansol

Posted in architecture, artifacts, lifestyle, locales, nature with tags , , , , , on August 2, 2008 by mijodo


The stormy weather these days should not deter one from taking a dip into a pool, most specially if it is in Pansol, Laguna. The hot springs from Mt. Makiling provide the soothing waters which envelop one’s being after wading into the pools.

Because of the warm waters, resorts have been long established in the area to provide relaxation and rejuvenation to many for a minimal fee.  Yet some homes have also catered to tourist trekking to the area who want to have the pool just for themselves at a slightly higher cost. Just drive to the main roads of Calamba, and one gets to see dozens of men with small “karatolas” (signages) which will direct you to these homes.

But one may call Mang Rudy (0919-8636952/0922-6398849) to show around the hottest resort homes of Pansol. They’re “hot” not only because of the heated pools, but because these places are the town’s poshest in terms of architecture, accommodation and amenities.