Tag Archives: philippines

Memories and a history lesson

My grandfather had a box of old photos in his cabinet, which we unearthed when we were painting his room. It was a mix of his family’s photos, my grandmother’s family’s photos, my dad’s childhood and high school photos. I even saw my godfathers’ graduation photos. Hilarious, but also very sentimental.

There was an album among the photos, just a small one that held a few photos inside. Opening it, my mom said it was my Lola’s older sister, Lola Aurora. She was rather young, and was wearing black. As we went through it, Mama said it was most likely ceremonies for Lola Aurora’s husband, Lolo Condring. He was Captain Condrado Yap, who fought in the Korean War and was killed in action during the Battle of the Yultong Bridge.
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Get Inspired: Michael Cacnio + Lego

Here’s another one for you Lego fans: Sculptor Michael Cacnio collaborates with Lego to recreate his iconic work to integrate pieces of the childhood toy we all know and love.

My first encouter with a Michael Cacnio work was at my aunt’s house. It’s a brass sculpture of a young boy flying a kite. I was fascinated by this piece because despite being static, it gave a feeling of movement and freedom. Quite like the feeling you have when you’re doing something you love. This impression is punctuated by the kite itself, extending a feet or so from the main piece and supported by a thin brass wire. A light touch will make the wire move, giving the impression that the brass kite is really flying.

Cacnio is a self-professed Lego fan, and with his latest showing, “Inspire”, he recreates several of his works by incorporating Lego with his usual medium brass. Here are a few photos of the pieces that are on display at Greenbelt 5.


“Kindness”


“Accelerate”


“Boost”


“Thrill”

The exhibit will be until September 29, 2011.

Lego Pilipinas: Tara Na!

Who isn’t fond of Lego? It’s one of the toys of my childhood, but it’s been around for longer than I’ve been alive. My first experience with Lego was with my uncle’s toys, while my first personal set was one from the Paradisa series.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Tourism unveiled a huge Philippine map at the SM Mall of Asia. What made it amazing is that it was made entirely out of Lego. A local group of Lego enthusiasts called Bricks Philippines planned and built this over a span of three months. Their aim was to help promote tourism around the country by engaging people’s imagination using this timeless and well-loved toy.

The Philippines in Lego

Even though Mall of Asia was rather far away and good weather wasn’t guaranteed (it did rain), I went there with Drew and Julius just for kicks. Glad I didn’t back out, because it was really an impressive display.

Paoay Church and the Bangui Windmills

Basco Lighthouse in Batanes

Mayon Volcano and the Butandings of the Bicol region.

Sitankai Houses in Tawi-Tawi

More photos found here.

It ran for only a week, which wasn’t enough for folks in Metro Manila to see it. I asked on Facebook if there was a chance it could be set up in other locations, but it seems that there’s no plans of that yet. I hope they can show it around the country.

Sidenote: We saw some artists painting designs on t-shirts. So cool. Ganda talaga ng Pilipinas!

Artist painting designs on t-shirts (SM Kultura)

Artist painting on a t-shirt for SM Kultura.

Cagayan De Oro Adventure: Day 1

Nez and I have barely recovered from the Amazing Race we did the week prior when she invited me to go along with her for a weekend trip to Cagayan de Oro. It seems that it’s becoming a tradition for the two of us to have last minute trips. Because of the expense and other worries, I nearly passed the opportunity. Thank God I didn’t.

We left Manila on Saturday morning. Travel time is about an hour and twenty minutes. From the airport, we went straight to Cagayan de Oro river for our white water rafting adventure. Thanks to the awesome crew of Red Raft for arranging to pick us up and take us on.

Not Quite Like the ride in Enchanted Kingdom
In theory, I know how to swim. However, I am prone to panicking when the water closes in on me, hence my fear of falling into the water. More so if I’m unfamiliar with the water and if I cannot feel the ground beneath me. My worst fear for this trip was a capsized boat and being carried away by the current. I immediately told our guide, “Kuya, kung matangay ako, rescue mo ako ha?”

From Cagayan de Oro – July 2011

We suited up with personal floatation devices (PFDs, or life vests) and helmet, and grabbed our paddles. Nez, Char and I were the last of the group to arrive. Everyone else was already by the river and being briefed by Alan, one of the guides. We were also the only girls in the entire group. The Red Raft team had four rafts: Two with three people each, the other two with more than six (I didn’t take count). Because of this, we were dubbed the “Tres Marias”. Alan, however, called us “boys”.

After being briefed for water safety (I made sure to listen well), we were off. Each raft had one lead guide and an assistant guide. They’ll be the ones to tell you when to paddle and what sort of paddle you should do. There’s three basic paddles: the forward, the fast forward (I’m not sure if that’s the real name, but it’s similar to the first) and back paddle.

Cagayan de Oro’s rapids range from level 2 to level 4, so it shouldn’t be hard for a beginner. Nez decided to pick the advanced course, which had me in a panic. However, at the end of the course, I feel like an old hand. I do admit that there were times when I’d scramble to find a solid handhold if I feel the boat will tip or if our guide had this certain grin that indicates he was up to something.

From Cagayan de Oro – July 2011
From Cagayan de Oro – July 2011

In the end, he pulled Nez out of the raft and into the water. I have to give him props for taking my fear into consideration and did not try to tip the boat (well, he did try once). We easily exchanged jokes with them, although when they start talking in Bisaya I feel they’re making fun at our expense. No problems though.

The guides of the other rafts were also game to joke around with us. Most of the other riders were quiet, and my best friend was very chatty (she commented on their quietness and the guide said, “Ma’am, we’re on a spiritual river tour. Nagba-Bible study kami.”). When their rafts would float near us, they’d talk to her and joke around.

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5th Christmas Toy Con

Today, I went to the 5th Christmas Toy Fair. It was also a joint event with the Mom’s Holiday Finds. I really wasn’t planning to get anything, but I was hoping to score some Pinky:St parts from Akihabara Toys. It was also my first trip outside after a week’s seclusion thanks to my infected eye. My sister gave me the go-signal to go out, so long as I take care of myself.

Yue, Ryan and I agreed to be there at 10 AM so we can maximize the morning. Yue arrived first while the mall was still closed. I arrived a few minutes later and Ryan came much, much later, thanks to the traffic in his area.

While waiting for Ryan, Yue and I went ahead exploring the booths that were there. According to Yue, this was a much bigger event than the last one she attended. Ryan said the same thing later on, that the space for the 2009 con was smaller than this year’s.


Here is the Akihabara Toys booth. They’re a toy store located at Malolos, Bulacan. Field trip, my fellow toy collectors?

Japanimation also had a booth there.

Since there’s so much to see, I will refrain from trying to write something in a narrative form. Instead, I will spam you with pictures (which you will see by clicking on “Read more” below) and provide some comments.

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I love my Saturdays

The weekend’s coming up again soon. I’m loving my Saturdays because I get to see my friends and do fun things with them. I really wish I could split myself a la Naruto so I could see all my friends, but alas, I can not.

Therefore last Saturday, I could only do two out of three: go to the Nihongo Center Foundation Open House with Drew, and attend the first Human Heart Nature Summit with Fristine, Lornadahl and my Tita Rose.

I was late in meeting Drew, who patiently waited at the MRT station. The NCF was a jeep’s ride away, and was already in full swing when we arrived. There were various exhibits, lectures and activities guests can participate in, including an aikido demonstration, origami lessons, tea ceremony basics and a trivia booth. There were also a few items for sale, and for Php5, you can rent a cute hat for a photo op.

You can also rent and wear a yukata for the day. Drew agreed to wear one after I said I will, but the girls’ yukata had a long line, and I didn’t bring mine.

There was also food available. They looked yummy, even if they were packed in styrofoam boxes.

We spent less than two hours there. Headed off north so Drew could go to Gilmore and I to Ateneo.

The 1st Human Heart Nature Summit
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to attend because I wasn’t able to pay for the tickets. Imagine my surprise (and glee) when I got a message saying that tickets would be sold for half the price! Instead of paying P500 for two, I got to pay P300! What luck!

I arrived shortly before one. I picked up my tickets and purchased the mineral make-up at only P215. Haven’t used it yet, so don’t expect any reviews.

Fristine was already inside, and I got to hang out with Lornadahl. We saw Bryan McClelland, the guy who makes bamboo bikes. Tita Rose arrived shortly after and we went inside.

Suzy Andrada-Abrera, a Human Heart Nature dealer herself, was one of the lively hosts of the program. Anna Meloto-Wilk, her husband Daniel and HHN spokesperson Rachel Grant all said a few words. Daniel also introduced members of the HHN team who are from various GK villages. As they told their stories, I couldn’t help but tear up. Awards were also given to the best performing HHN branch and dealer.


My beautiful friends

HHN also introduced the “One Heart, One Community” program, where 100% of the proceeds from the company’s best selling product will go to the community who provides the main ingredient for that product. Imagine, ALL the proceeds go to them and not Human Heart Nature. Wow.

The program lasted until 5 PM. There was also a search for the next HHN ambassador, as well as a very rousing performance from the Ryan Cayabyab Singers. Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga, said a few words as the program ended. It rained while we were inside, making the air cooler as we stepped out to head our own ways. There were various booths outside, other organic producers, NGOs and groups.

It was definitely a success. Until the next summit!

Plurkers invade Bohol

September seems to be my vacation/travel month. Two years ago I visited Sagada. Last year, I went to Baguio (which shouldn’t really count). This year, I surpassed my quota (if I actually had any) by going to three different places: Bicol, Tagaytay and Bohol.

It’s my first time to see Bohol outside TV and pictures and it’s a strong candidate for a place I want to retire to. Seriously. While some people prefer city life, I can happily survive in small, provincial towns. Given that I hardly go out most of the time, I hate pollution and traffic, it’s an ideal place. Not to mention that there’s Internet there too.

I was with fellow Plurkers Joiz, Jan, Shabby and Marco. We booked for three days and two nights at Linaw Beach Resort in Panglao island. Of all the places we asked, this was the one that replied rather promptly with all the details we needed. The pictures showed a rather nice place so everyone gave it their approval. When we got to the resort, oh my. It was worth every centavo. Downside: no complimentary breakfast. Everything else was good.

We were practically the only people there, although we did see some people from other resorts dropping by the restaurant for dinner and some visitors coming in the next few days. It was nice to have it all to ourselves. On the first day, we didn’t do much except to go around and take pictures. The atmosphere was so relaxing, I would feel drowsy every time I sit down (which was what happened some time after lunch). Sat down to read “Hunger Games”, then the next thing I knew, it was mid afternoon and everyone was gone.

On our second day, we went on the countryside tour around Bohol. That means no island hopping, nothing too tiring or adventurous — unless you count crossing that hanging bridge that had me screaming bloody murder when everyone started jumping and swaying. I did not relish the idea of falling twenty or so feet into the brown waters of Loboc River. Yes, I was scared. Very much so. :p

So, tour. It started off rather promisingly, especially with the Belgian guys. Headed off to the Chocolate Hills (too many tourists posing for wacky shots), then to the butterfly sanctuary (did you know that there are butterflies that are both male and female?). Took a look at some tarsiers (I kinda felt sorry for the little creatures), crossed that blasted bridge (twice), caused traffic along the man-made forest and went on the Loboc River tour.

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Bicol trip 2010: Day 1

My best friend Carmenez invited me on a trip to Legaspi, Albay. It had been years since I last stepped foot on my motherís home province and I jumped on the chance. A few days later, she asked if I knew of anyone else who wanted to go, so I took my brother Miks along.

The moments before the actual flight were rather tense. one reason was mostly due to my carelessness, and the other one was purely because of fate. But when the plane was in the air and we landed in Legaspi, we didnít really care and had a grand time laughing about it.

Day 1: Legaspi and Daraga
It was Miksí first time to ride a plane, and his first visit back to Bicol after twenty years. He was roughly two years old when he first visited, and hasnít been back since. He said that the plane ride was rather short (less than an hour from Manila to Legaspi), but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Upon landing, we immediately whipped out our cameras for a shot at the tarmac, even though we were asked not to take pictures in the runway. Since there were not much activity, the airport personnel was a bit more accommodating.

We were able to get a ride with someone Carmenez knew from work, so we arrived at our hotel pretty quickly. Sampaguita Tourist Inn is located along Rizal St., and is easily accessible through public or private transportation. Itís relatively cheap and clean. Our room had three single beds, one bathroom, a TV with cable, aircon and fan. itís the bare essentials, but for P750+ per night, itís very good. Thereís no WiFi in the rooms, but thereís a free connection at the lobby. Thereís also a restaurant on the first floor, but I donít know how the food is.

After dumping our things and freshening up a bit, we headed out. Pacific Mall was our first stop, where we were told we can easily get rides to where we needed to go. A trike is P7 per person, but for some reason the drivers kept asking for P30 for the three of us. It wouldnít be so bad, but the total of those extra three pesos does make a difference.


Mall nanaman?
Pacific Mall is a Gaisano mall, hence the familiar uniforms of the department store ladies. The funny thing was it was only a few blocks away from our hotel, and we couldíve easily walked to it. It houses several familiar establishments like McDonaldís, Jollibee, Bench, Penshoppe and National Bookstore.

We had lunch at Graceland, all because we thought there were two Jollibee stores in the mall, thanks to the mascot Qweenie. For less than P100, you get a full meal. Miks and I had lechon kawali with Bicol Express, while Nez had porkchop with laing.

Right on the second floor is the store my friends and I know and love so well: Booksale. Since I was with the friend who introduced me to it, we just had to pass by. Iím sure my brother rolled his eyes as we made a beeline for it. I purchased a book for Lolo, while Nez hauled in some pocketbooks at P15 each.

We finished running our errands and headed off to the Philippine Ports Authority office, where Nez met up with people she knew from work. We took a trike from the mall, which then dropped us off in front of the Naval base. Unfortunately neither the trike driver nor the security guard we asked knew where PPA was, so we were off for a long walk. We made some wrong turns but eventually ended up where we needed to be.

Most of Legaspiís government offices are located in one compound. I saw the Civil Service, DOST, DOT, LTO, Commission on Audit, DILG among others. There were other government offices outside the compound but they were more like satellite offices.

The Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga

365/September 6: Cagsawa Ruins and Mt. Mayon

We headed off to Daraga to see the Cagsawa Ruins. The last time I was there, it seemed like it was just a big field with the bell tower in the middle of it. Now thereís a gate, where you have to pay the entrance fee, plus stalls where you can buy souvenirs. Inside the compound, we ran into King, a young man who took us around the ruins and told us the story behind it. He was also really cool to take pictures of us, and gave us information on where we could go next. If ever you do stop by the Cagsawa Ruins, look for King.

Our next stop was Daraga church, which sits on top of a hill. Daraga was celebrating its fiesta the next day, so the church was all spruced up. It had an amazing view of Mayon, and thanks to Kingís tips, we were able to get great pictures of the church and the volcano.

It was late afternoon when we got back to Legaspi, so we opted to go to Bacacay the next day, after wakeboarding in CamSur. Instead, we freshened up and went downtown to look for the bus terminal. Legaspi has a busy downtown district, the only thing I recall ever seeing back then was LCC Mall. We took a walk around but didnít find what we wanted. We poked around an ukay-ukay store, and I finally saw the post office, complete with a really odd statue of kneeling headless man. According to my research, it was originally found along the townís port area and is a memorial to a guerilla hero beheaded by the Japanese during World War II.

Legaspi’s night life
A short walk away is the Embarcadero, a waterfront development full of stores and restaurants, considered as the portal of nightlife in Legaspi. Much of it is still under development, and will house a hotel and spa as well as a IT park in the future. For now, it has enough to keep one entertained. We had dinner in Biggs Diner, one of Bicol’s popular food chain.

At first, Nez wasn’t impressed because it functioned quite like McDonaldís where you have to line up to order instead of sitting down then ordering from a menu. However, when our orders came, we didnít have anything bad to say about it. For the price, Biggís is well worth it. The servings are, well, big, and the taste lives up to the images that are posted on the menu board.

For a Monday night, there were a lot of people milling about. There was a boxing event, and there was a live band playing. Nez wanted coffee, so we looked around for a coffeeshop. No Starbucks or CBTL, instead, we saw La Mia Tazza. Like Biggís and Graceland, it is purely homegrown. Many of the drinks and the desserts have incorporated what Bicol is known for. I just tried tea, but I heard that they have drinks with pili nuts. My mom would love that.


We spent the rest of the evening listening to the band, then headed back to Sampaguita to rest as we had to get up early the next day.

“Northern Luzon is Philippines too”

When Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila, it was all over the news. People rushed to help those who were affected and the response was truly amazing. Granted it wasn’t perfect, but it certainly showed that the spirit of bayanihan was alive in the Filipinos. Even Filipinos abroad did their part, hosting fundraising events to help Ondoy victims.

The sun is shining as I sit here typing these words. On my way to work I passed by places that were greatly affected by the storm and they’re recovering nicely.

I shared the car with people who had just come from the areas that are currently being hit hard by Typhoon Pepeng. The typhoon that had Manila residents scared because it was supposed to arrive days after Ondoy left and and they haven’t been able to recover from it, but thankfully, it avoided the metro. However, that didn’t mean that Pepeng was creating problems for people elsewhere.

The whole week, my friend Yvie in Baguio has been keeping me updated about the weather in Baguio. Rain hasn’t stopped, and signal number 2 has been given all over the Baguio-Benguet area. I had been talking to my sister too on a daily basis, asking her how she is and how the storm was. Saturday palang daw, people in Baguio were in panic buying mode. That was Saturday, October 3.

Last night, Yvie said that power was out and plans to keep it out until the storm passes was underway. Some barangays are flooeded, and roads to Baguio are closed due to possible landslides. Imagine that, if Baguio residents need to leave, they can’t.

Even the lowlands are experiencing some problems. Many Botolan residents have been living in evacuation centers since August, when Typhoon Kiko hit the province. They have no place to go back to as the river claimed their homes.

My mom said that it was raining hard during their entire trip from Zamables yesterday. Earlier my mom received a message from her brother that Aringay, La Union is also flooded. We have relatives there, and we are trying to get in touch with them to know how they are. My friend Den said that it’s flooded in their family home in Tarlac.

I am not the only one who is frustrated with the lack of news and updates about Typhoon Pepeng, as well as the lack of help that’s being given to these locations. I am not saying that the victims of Ondoy aren’t important and getting them back on their feet isn’t a priority. But they are recovering, thanks to the generosity of Filipinos. It’s now time to help those who are still suffering.

Here are others who are as frustrated as I am:

N.Luzon is getting less attention bec. it’s not as ‘sexy’ as the images of flooded Manila streets. Prove me wrong. (via mcg at Twitter)

Northern Luzon deserves the same, nay, better help and response that Metro Manila got for Ondoy. (Francis Ballesteros, Twitter)

n.luzon is phils too!! why aren’t we getting the same help ondoy victims did?? come on pipol!!! we are holding on to dear life in here!! (Jacquie Doria, Twitter)

Jacquie’s family is in Mangaldan, and she hasn’t heard from them yet.

As of this writing, I’m slowly seeing movement towards helping our kababayans up in Nothern Luzon. Please pass any information you could. We need your help. Thanks.

Typhoon Ondoy updates

I got these links from Manuel Quezon III’s Twitter. It may help you greatly in this time.

List of Places to Donate
Map Update Form (places that still need rescuing, etc)
Ondoy Victim Directory

Today, a few of my officemates and I went to help the relief drive in the neighborhood. There were a lot of people there: students, residents, employees — that we really didn’t get to do much. About an hour or so, we left, saying that we’ll go back later.

This afternoon, we went to talk to some of the families who took refuge here. They told their experiences and some really made me cry. They were all devastated that they lost so much, but they weren’t angry, and many of them had the same sentiment: “We’re glad to be alive and are with our families. Our things are the least of our worries.”

Thank God for that.