Thursday, April 13, 2006

visita iglesia 2006

On Maundy Thursday, I found myself, for the first time, without my parents and siblings. So, I went to visit different churches with Daddy’s elder sister, Tita Ising, and her husband, Tito Sibing.

This was a big challenge for me because it’s my first time to drive to the Pasay area on my own. But the good thing is that it’s a holiday, so the roads were less congested than normal. I found it a bit easy to drive to several churches in the Manila area today.

Malate Church. 
Found along MH del Pilar St in Malate. With high ceilings, the church was bright and cheerful, almost welcoming to parishioners and pilgrims. It was interesting to watch the kids rehearse for the Passion play on stage. There were lots of stained glass pictures too. Because the parking lot on church grounds was full, I had to keep the car across from the church. We had to make the trip quick because I was parking on a resident’s parking spot! But I was able to take photos.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish. 
This one is right beside Adamson University along San Marcelino St. in Ermita. It felt old… it was dark inside the chapel. I just stayed at the back. Tito Sibing was a parishioner there for 10 years… from 1956 to 1966.

St. Joseph the Worker Parish.
Located in Palanan, Makati, I think this is one of the smallest churches I’ve seen because it’s in the middle of the road (as if it’s the building separating the opposite lanes. But the interior of the church is beautiful, and it was quite cool inside because of the high ceilings. This was my first time to go through back roads of Makati.

St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish.
This chapel is currently under renovation. It’s right inside Magallanes Village. The makeshift church is interesting because the roof is made of nipa. I was imagining that maybe, the churches in the old days looked like that: open air with wooden posts and nipa roofs.

When a church is stripped down to its essentials, I think that a structure like this is enough. There’s no need to build grand buildings… except of course if the goal of the early friars was to impress the pagans with pomp and pageantry, and grandeur of the new religion… but that’s in the 16th century.

Manila Cathedral.
At last I was able to see this world-famous church. It was built in the 1580s but was destroyed by fire and by typhoon. Inside, the arrangement reminded me of the Lipa Cathedral. There were so many people! There was even a van of GMA7 parked by the church’s facade! According to the marker, this church has been elevated to a basilica minore. It’s huge! Anyway, the first few churches were relatively empty, and I had an easy time finding a parking spot. But when we got to the cathedral, there were so many cars parked by the sides of the church that I had to slow down and hunt for a good spot. I finally found an empty space almost beside the GMA van (hehehe!). My parking skills were put to the test because I had to park at a weird angle in between a van and an electric post. But because I have been practising backward parking, I was able to park there without embarrasing myself.

Going back to the church, the green dome is the centerpice for this church. I think it’s been renovated recently because the blocks look a bit new. But the wooden carvings on the door looked really really old. I find it interesting that the clock on the bell tower is actually working! Another novelty is the rayadillo patrolling the streets… It’s like travelling back to the Hispanic era when the guardia civil were controlling traffic flow!

The vendors and the hawkers outside the church reminded me of the time when Jesus walked to the temple and overturned the merchants’ stalls. The cathedral was so busy with people outside that it’s a surprise to find solitude inside it.

San Agustin Church.
A few minutes away (by foot, the road was blocked off) from the cathedral is this chapel built by the Augustinian friars. It turns out to be a UN World Heritage Site (like so many of the churches I’ve visited in Ilocos during the Hum 2 field trip under Prof. Zafaralla). The facade is not impressive, though (it was painted pink, for crying out loud!). But the interior of the church is a different story, though. The chandeliers reminded me of the stained glass panels in the Winchester Mansion (San Jose CA) and of the wooden chandeliers in the Agoo church.

When we got there, it was quite dark, so I took the tour of the museum. That was a treasure chest of Philippine history. The curators of the museum were able to integrate the history of the country with the development of the Catholic religion. There were vestments, 18th century books, statues, paintings, relics… they also included the crypt as part of the museum! That’s the creepy bit.

Tita Ising and Tito Sibing were married in this church, and she said it was magnificent when the lights are switched on. True enough, the lights were lit at 4pm in time for the washing of the apostle’s feet. Still on tour, I took a detour to the choir loft. There was a gigantic book of hymns and wooden chairs for the choir (it must be hard to sit on them!). But the view of the altar from the loft was the best part of all. The yellow glow from the chandeliers (with the sparklies from the crystals) was a sharp contrast to the red carpet and the colorful vestments of the priests. I thought I walked into the set of movie shoot.

The feel of this part of Intramuros was similar to that of Vigan. There were old houses, a plaza, and a convent (I think) that made it look like a life size museum. Except that in Vigan, cars are not allowed to drive on the cobblestoned roads. But in Manila, they just traverse it… and the streets are full of trash… very Manila.

Shrine of Jesus: The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Found at the Central Business Park at the reclaimed portion of Pasay City, I thought this church would be deserted and parking would be a cinch. But I was dead wrong! There were vehicles everywhere, and I had to park parallel to other cars. But the view of the sunset was heavenly… even the view of moonrise was breathtaking (too bad my camera died on me for the nth time). There were so many people that many of them were sitting on the steps. We got there in time to see the washing of the feet, but we didn’t stay long. I thought the church was big, because of the grand facade. However, the interior was almost as small as that of the St. Joseph the Worker Parish.

After saying prayers, we decided to stroll a bit farther to the bay. There were less cars and the walk was wide. People can actually fly kites there and breathe the fresh air. The view was also great. It’s better than Baywalk because I get irritated with the cars parked right along the highway and on the sidewalk. Plus, there were so many restaurants and comedy bars that it looked like Malate was uprooted from it’s spot and transferred there!

That’s my Maundy Thursday adventure this year. I wonder what’s in store for me next year. Another city? Another province? Who knows?

Sunday, April 9, 2006

A Bullet Runs Through It (Part 2)

This CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode is my favourite so far in the sixth season (my all time fave being Grave Danger).

This episode picked up where the LVPD left off, at a huge crime scene involving a shoot out with drug dealers where a police officer was shot by friendly fire. There were also several other shoot outs near the crime scene, making it really big.

I love this episode because it showed so much raw emotion from the characters. Sofia, the police officer suspected of firing the shot that killed a fellow officer, was at the brink of breaking down but she didn’t have anyone to turn to for help. Sara finally showed seething anger directed at Sofia. Jim Brass was so sympathetic to Sofia because he had been through it before. And as always, Grissom was the image of grace under pressure and logic because he never abandoned the science. I just couldn’t believe that he was so detached even as a hall full of angry people were demanding an explanation about the shooting of a high school student near the drug dealer shoot out.

But the best scene, in my opinion, was when the the wife of the downed officer met the police officer who accidentally shot her husband. To err is human; to forgive, divine. The wife was the epitome of this adage. I was expecting her to slap the shooter during the wake… or maybe to punch him in the nose. Instead, she hugged the officer. The officer, on the other hand, was so overwhelmed by emotion that he broke down and cried. I won’t mention who this officer was; watch out for the replay on AXN or Studio 23.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

lost in Quezon

After the wedding, it was time to go to the reception. By the time the wedding ended, I made a couple of acquaintances. We went together to the Queen Margarette Hotel for lunch. That’s the hotel I passed along the diversion road before reaching the church. After a delicious and filling lunch, we decided to leave. I decided to go to Sta Cruz first to visit Lola Estay, and since the route via Tayabas and Luisiana is shorter than going all the way back to San Pablo through the busy Maharlika Road.

My new friends told me that that road was more mountainous, but that wasn’t a problem because I’m used to going through the PCARRD-Jamboree road and the road to Cuenca and Alitagtag in Batangas. I just didn’t expect it to be so deserted! The view was spectacular… there were many coconut trees along the side of the road. Some portions of the highway seemed to cut through the forest because there were so many trees whose branches hung over the highway (I had to remove my shades while driving through the Luisiana area). Plus, the gas stations were few and far in between. Rice fields covered the gap between trees and gas stations. In Cavinti, there was this big bukal and there was a bridge over it. The water was so blue and clear… and cool to look at. The rocks on the stream reminded me of those at Flat Rocks and at the Botanical Garden in UPLB. So beautiful. Then, the view of the mighty river (is it the Pagsanjan River?) appeared. Even from a distance, the river could be seen so clearly, cutting through the green of the forest and the rice fields. There were many tour buses parked along the side of the highway so the view was more like a glimpse. After ninety minutes along this road, I finally got to Pagsanjan… and from there, the route to Sta Cruz was very familiar.

Somewhere in Cavinti, I saw a man getting bananas ready for the market. He was an interesting sight to see, because he seemed so isolated from the modern world, what with all the trees behind him, and there were no cars along the highway (except for my car, of course).

It’s just a shame that I drove alone… I couldn’t take a picture of the view because it’s dangerous to multitask it with driving (especially on the sharp curves… where the breath-taking view can be seen). And there’s no one to take the pictures (and I brought my camera! *sniff* *sniff*) for me. Ah, the hazards of being a driver. :0(

The next time I ply this route, I have to bring someone along… looking at the map was hard enough while driving at the same time. Plus, there are lots of pictures to take… Wait, I have to be the passenger! I’d love to use the SLR the next time, not the digicam.

too fast too furious trip to Quezon

During the last week, I asked around how long a trip to Lucena City, Quezon would take. Everyone answered around four hours by bus from Los Banos. Since I should be in Lucena by 9am, I planned to leave the house at 5am early today… but as it turned out, I was too poofed by the harvest yesterday that I slept in until 5:30! Yikes! My companions for this trip backed out Thursday afternoon, so I went to Lucena alone.

I finally left the house at 6:30am, and was worried about possible traffic congestion in the Pansol area since it was Saturday. Thankfully, I left early enough, and the drive was smooth all the way to San Pablo (I got there an hour later! This is nothing short of a miracle). That’s where the traffic began to slow down. The San Pablo section of the Maharlika Highway was a bit crowded by trucks coming in from the Alaminos area, so I was forced to go a bit slower.

But once I got past that part, I picked up speed until I was running at around 80kph (driving to the beat of Chillout Project House Sessions 2 by Anton Ramos — enough to get the blood pumping, and to get me awake). I sped past Tiaong, Candelaria, and Sariaya, averaging 70kph (a bit slower because of the cargo trucks going to the Dalahican port), covering much ground by 8:30. Finally, I heaved a sigh of relief when I got to the Lucena boundary at 8:45.

The next challenge was to find the church in 15 minutes. In Lucena, I took the diversion road leading to Bicol, and had to ask questions at various gasoline stations and carinderias because there were no posters or bulletins saying where I should go. I even entered the Grand Central Terminal by mistake (this was at 9am). After a few errors, I finally took the correct turn that went up to the church where a college classmate of mine was getting married. I got there at 9:30. Not bad for a newbie… I got to Lucena in 2 hours and 30 minutes… and arrived at the church in 3 hours.

Friday, April 7, 2006

planting season is over!

Today marks the end of my first attempt at planting rice. And through this exercise, I’ve realised that my mom and my dad’s lectures were true: we shouldn’t waste rice because farmers spent blood and sweat to get every grain onto the table. Well, it’s literal for me: I got cut while harvesting, and I had to work in summer conditions (I had to drink lots of water to avoid heat stroke).

The saga began late in December last year, just before the Christmas holidays. I had no idea how to start this project, so I enlisted the help of Kuya Jun and Kuya Ferdie (two of the technicians in the lab). I was really worried because I did not even know anything about rice production, or even about the population I was prepping. All I knew was the samples were sensitive to hot temperature (perfect! and I’m planting them right smack into the dry season! impeccable timing!). After breaking seed dormancy, we transplanted them into seed trays. During the holidays, I was in the glass house, watering the plants. I was too worried that they might die if I forgot to water them.

At last, the new year arrived, and my next worry was where to transplant them. Fortunately, there was an empty screenhouse behind the "mentos" tower so I set my plants there.

Still the worrywart, I was in the screenhouse everyday, including Saturday or Sunday, to water and de-weed my plants. But I eventually gave up de-weeding (it was a fruitless endeavour… the weeds keep on growing too fast).

Thankfully, my plants grew green and tall. I was beginning to rest easy. But then, my panel of advisers (specifically the technicians from the crop science division, and Kuya Jun and Kuya Ferdie) kept on reminding me that the tough part wasn’t over yet… the plants should flower and the grains should grow plump; otherwise, my work would have been a huge waste of time. So, I continued to water them until the early days of April when the summer air began to scorch the field.

I was so happy to see that my rice grains were plump and filled. The next challenge was to harvest all of them in the shortest time possible. That ordeal began on April 5. The novice that I am, I had no idea how to work the fastest until the next day. The advisers were all thinking it would take me a long time (at least a week) to finish up. But, surprise, surprise! I was done with 3/4 of the "farm" by 5pm yesterday. The only setback was I was dead tired. I was on the field from 9am (right after getting updated in the lab) up to 12nn (no snack break… when I’m focused on one thing, I act like the Energizer bunny). Lunch was a welcome break because the sun was so intense! But after getting cooled down a bit, I had to return to the field to work. So I was there again at 1pm til 5pm. I was working at a fast pace because I wanted to finish harvesting before the weekend. But I was too exhausted to carry all the harvested seeds by hand; I had to load everything in the car. Everything ached, even my fingertips! When I got home, I couldn’t sleep!

Today, I was back in the field from 9am until the lunch break. The good thing was that before I left, there were only around 12 pots left. So right after lunch, it just took me an hour (seems slow, maybe, but considering that I was really tired and my knees were ready to give out — after three days of working like this) to finish the harvest. Sa wakas!

After three days of field work, I got roasted to a beautiful golden brown complexion, just like my lola’s fried chicken. Anyway, I was religiously applying sun block spf 30 so I wasn’t worried about sunburns. Only the legs remained pale because I was wearing pants. The joke was I was sun-bathing on the field. Hehe.

As I was harvesting my plants, I was reminded of the Tim Allen-Kirstie Alley movie in which their characters hid in an Amish community during the planting season. Allen’s character was amazed because the plants he cultivated were all grown up, and he only watered them. I share the same sentiments. I am amazed that the seeds I had three months ago matured into grown plants with fruits of their own. And all I did was water them everyday (well, God made them grow; that’s in answer to my prayers that the plants survive the summer conditions). Really amazing. It was quite sad though, to see them wither and die.

Then again, that’s life.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

the OJT season has begun

I thought that my role in supervising undergraduate students was over when Raina and Charisse were done with their thesis. WRONG! With the arrival of the summer heat came the on-the-job trainees. They are third-year college students who have internships as part of their requirements for graduation.

Last year, I was largely uninvolved in the OJT program. But this year, I found myself volunteering to handle one OJT over the summer to help me in analysing around 600 samples. So far, I’m very impressed with the performance… well, I’m easily impressed, so that’s not a big challenge for anyone.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

i dread driving through Makati traffic!

I absolutely dread driving my car to Makati. The only reason I would bring my car there would be if I needed to get there in a hurry. For example, I volunteered to bring my sister to her office because she had barely an hour before her shift started (I got lost finding my way back to EDSA… that was past 10pm, and with the traffic at the Sales Interchange, I got home 1am the next day!). Or that time when I had to go to my orthodontist for my appointment, but I left the office late (and I had to drive through the notoriously slow Sta Rosa traffic).

So, the THIRD time I drove to Makati was on March 31; again there was some time constraint because I was attempting to beat a deadline. I would have loved to park right in the building I was going to. The problem was I was unfamiliar with the one-way streets in the area. It was easy to walk along Ayala Avenue and the side streets because I didn’t have to worry about the traffic flow, but it was a different story altogether when I brought the car.

From Los Banos, it took me two hours to reach the turn to Ayala Ave from EDSA. I decided to park at the Glorietta basement parking lot near Oakwood. Lucky for me, I found a spot in basement two near the mall entrance! That concluded my trip to Makati.

On the way back, I left Glorietta at 6:30pm, hoping that the traffic would be a bit lighter (because the truck ban was still being enforced) than the last time I was there. True enough, I got home in an hour and 45 minutes. I was just worried about the buses that were out of their lanes while waiting for their passengers (this was along EDSA). Since I shifted to a subcompact, my main fear was being squished by trucks and buses just because the drivers couldn’t see the car!

Whew! What a trip!

One thing I was reminded of that day was how much I miss my dad and my brother, who both made driving in Makati seem easy!

the ayala museum experience

Intrigued by articles about the Ayala Museum, I decided to go there myself to check it out on March 31… and to try to absorb as much culture as possible. :0)

Anyway, as luck would have it, I got in with a discounted admissions fee because some of the exhibit areas were closed. The only open exhibits were the dioramas about Philippine history and the paintings by Fernando Zobel and his nephew, Jaime.

On the 2nd floor… I thought I’ve seen the dioramas before (was it in fourth grade?). The gallery started with the prehistoric tableaus like the Tabon men in Palawan. Then, the arrival of Chinese and Arab merchants were protrayed in separate viewing areas. After them came the early explorations of Spaniards. The rest of the exhibits were quite predictable because they spanned the Spanish period until the Japanese occupation in the 1940s. What made that part of the museum unique was the multimedia segment. This was about the EDSA revolution in the 1980s. It featured the newspaper clips from that period and photo mosaics of nuns and civilians and military men. The pictures were larger than life, and was quite a sight to behold. Along the path, images of the past presidents were interspersed with the dioramas. I found it interesting that Carlos P. Romulo was quite vertically challenged (his height was around 5′0").

On the 3rd floor… This was a gallery of the artwork of Don Fernando and Don Jaime Zobel. Frankly, I did not get the point of Don Fernando’s work. All I saw were violent lines splashed on the canvas. I felt uneducated in contemporary art! In Hum II, I couldn’t remember discussions on the topic… I recall the emphasis on the classics (da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc) and the impressionists (Monet was my personal fave).

Still on the third floor… Being quite unhappy about that, I proceeded to check out Don Jaime’s work. I liked his better. There’s this fine art print that looked like clumps of red crystals (that I liked so much!). The lines were so solid and dark, contrasting to the luminiscence of the reflection passing through the prism. And there was a huge painting of birds flying over cogon grass. The curves were so fluid and smooth, just like the syllables in the haiku written next to it. I enjoyed these works better!

Back on the 1st floor… I started to hear the beginnings of a pre-concert warm up of a pianist. Too bad I couldn’t stay longer to watch the concert because I still had a long drive ahead of me. And I wanted to avoid the Friday rush hour traffic, which I’ve heard was bad in Makati.

The Ayala Museum was a great museum to go to. It’s not to academic like the National Museum, and there’s an emphasis on the arts. Too bad I went to museum alone. Anyway, there’s always a next time.