Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Friday 2013

On my way to Sta Cruz, I saw the beginnings of the annual Good Friday processions in Laguna towns of Los Banos and Bay. With the road blocks and relatively slower drive (thanks to vehicles en route to the resorts of Calamba) I caught up with the Sta Cruz procession after sunset. By the time I came across it, the procession had already gone past the town plaza and was about to make a turn towards the Our Lady of Maulawin Parish of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (my aunts and cousins are active members of the church).

I was a spectator this year, not photographer... definitely not a participant in the procession. But I still wanted to take souvenir shots. The lighting conditions didn't lend well to picture-taking of moving and brightly lit objects at night, so I proceeded to the church before the rest of the procession arrived. That proved to be a good idea because I was able to get close to the statues while they weren't being pulled and I was able to photograph people getting flowers from the carriages.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Visita Iglesia 2013

Last year, I visited several churches near my house. That was a solo adventure. This year, I thought it a good idea to visit churches with one of my father's sisters, Tita Ising. It's been several years since I went with her and Tito Sibing around the city to visit churches. For this round, I thought that we'd mainly do a repeat of the churches we visited in 2006; I was wrong. Apparently, there are many more churches dotting Metro Manila than I'm aware of. Four of the churches we visited this year are in Pasay City and three are in Manila. I didn't bring a bulky camera with me on this trip in anticipation of jostling with lots of people. So the photos here were all taken using my mobile phone's camera.

San Isidro Labrador Church
Pasay City


This church is important to my family, it appears, because this was where many marriages were celebrated. The first one that I've attended here (my sister and I were flower girls) was my paternal grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. I couldn't remember it because I was three years old at the time; lucky for me, the event was documented. My brother was born only a few weeks before the anniversary so the only evidence that he was around was the baby basket he was in. 

Pasay City


When Tita Ising said that this church was where Ninoy Aquino married Cory Cojuangco, I thought that it might have been a forewarning about the trials and the prominence their family would face in the near future.

Pasay City


Another church that's important to my family. According to Tita Ising, two of my cousins studied in the grade school run by this church. Not familiar with Saint Claire of Montefalco, I thought that this church was where people offer eggs with prayers for clear skies. I was wrong: there was a school right in front of, and a hospital beside, the church BUT there were no egg vendors. Saint Clare of Montefalco, instead, was known for having a crucifix and a scourge in her heart.

Shrine of Jesus: The Way, the Truth, the Life
Pasay City


I have visited this church the last time I went with Tita Ising on a church pilgrimage. Since we went there as the sun as still up, I didn't find it difficult to find a parking space a few hundred meters from the facade of the church. However, the walking proved difficult because Tita Ising's right leg wasn't as strong as it used to be. She couldn't climb the stairs anymore so we walked along the incline made for people with disabilities and for bridal and funeral cars.

As the afternoon wore on, we decided to eat in one of the seaside restaurants. We ended up in Seafood Island. But because I am allergic to seafood, we ate chicken! This was a good place to stop, it turned out, because as evening came, it became more challenging to find parking space and the restaurants close by were full of fellow pilgrims.

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de los Remedios
Malate, Manila

After visiting the relatively newer churches, it was time to visit the older ones. Our first stop was the Malate Church, which I also visited with Tita Ising a few years back. In contrast to the cheery and happy feel I sensed then, I felt the interiors of the church to be quite gloomy. In contrast to the solemnity inside the church that I noted this year, outside there was chaos. Vehicles were parked in every available space and pedestrians were playing chicken with motorbikes, jeeps, and other vehicles attempting to traverse the street between the church and the Rajah Sulaiman Park.

Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guia
Ermita, Manila

If I thought that the Malate Church was crowded, the Ermita Church proved to be even more jam-packed! We parked a block away from the church because the road towards the church was filled by vehicles. Despite the many vehicles, the Ermita Church was less chaotic than Malate Church. The interesting thing about this church is that it houses one of the oldest statues of the Virgin Mary in the Philippines.

Iglesia y Convento de San Pablo
Intramuros, Manila

The last stop in our Visita Iglesia for the year. It is the oldest structure among the churches we visited (the others were established either in the 20th century or were rebuilt on the same site as the original, Spanish-era, structures). And it has got to be the most crowded of the churches we visited on Maundy Thursday. Vehicles were not allowed to enter the General Luna Street so we had to park at the Plaza Roma. Then, it was a five-block walk to the church. Along General Luna Street, we could see a lot of vendors selling food, drink, and souvenirs. I felt like I was walking in a market place rather than towards a church with the lively scene unfolding before my eyes. The steady flow of people ended at the church's grounds; there it became more like a swirl of humanity. Despite the chaos, Tita Ising and I managed to enter the church (which was also full of people). The atmosphere inside the church was very solemn; Gregorian chants filled the air, people were all quiet and praying despite many of them moving in big groups. This was the only church during this Visita Iglesia where I noticed nuns walking about. For a few minutes, I forgot that there were a lot of hawkers beyond the church grounds.

Basilica Minore de Inmaculada Concepcion
Intramuros, Manila

I would've counted the Manila Cathedral as the eighth church that we visited. However, the church was closed for renovations at the time. The Stations of the Cross were spaced along the front steps of the church. Because of the crowd, and because Tita Ising wanted to take a rest after our long walk, I decided not to stop by this church anymore.

This year's Visita Iglesia was interesting because I was able to visit churches I haven't seen before. Where would I do this next year? We'll see.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"do not waste the rice you're eating."

That was what one farmer's message to scientists and to his fellow farmers when I joined Dr. Jauhar Ali's field activity in Victoria, Laguna on Thursday, March 21.

Against the brilliant blue sky and the lush green fields, my father's lesson about the importance of food was echoed by this farmer. My dad would tell us that farmers invest blood, sweat, and tears to get as many rice grains as possible from their plants. To show respect to these farmers, we shouldn't be negligent: we were not allowed to burn the rice when we cooked it, we were not allowed to leave the cooked rice to spoil, we were only to put the amount of rice that we could eat on our plate (and so to minimize waste).


Farmers, during the field activity, did the threshing and the winnowing manually. I wonder how they would do it during a real harvest.




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

i won't look at a news broadcast the same way. ever.

Our teachers, Andy and Dan, are interviewing Grace. 
Mount Makiling is clearly seen in the background.

Andy and Dan, the BMS Media Training team, walked me and my classmates through the technicalities and the theatricality of media interviews last week. They also kept us thinking on our toes during the two-day course. After experiencing three types of on-camera appearances, I realized that media interviews are not just question-and-answer portions. These interviews are great ways of bringing our messages across. Maximize it every time!

The two-day training also made me look more closely at the broadcasts of international and of local news agencies (mostly CNN, BBC, and ANC). I've been timing news clips, observing that a 40-second period of talking is long, way too long. I'm now watching how people being interviewed answer questions (and not just what the news stories are about).

I promise I will try not to babble on and on even if I'm scared of the big black camera...

I've become even more scared for the people being interviewed by Christiane Amanpour and by Tina Monsod-Palma because these newscasters do interrupt interviewees that don't go straight to the point. They are the type of people who I wouldn't want to be with if I don't know what I'm supposed to say (with or without the camera!).

I've learned a lot during those two days. I am very thankful to Andy and Dan, and to Sophie for putting us through this exercise. I wish I could have a go at it again!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

recognition days are here again.

The San Pablo City Science High School held its recognition day for students last March 18. Mrs Ruby Mendoza (who teaches science courses to these high school students), invited me to give an inspirational talk to the students. These students were batches lower than the graduating class.

This was a time of several firsts for me: this was my first time to give an inspirational talk (what was I supposed to say?!?), it was my first time to be a guest speaker (what should I wear?), and it was the first time I spoke during a recognition day (why me?!?). 

Thanks to directions from a classmate of mine in high school, Rene June Hernandez, I didn't get lost on my way to the venue, the San Pablo City Central Elementary School.

Right after student awardees and their parents had entered the Rizal Hall, San Pablo Central Elementary School.

One thing that I noticed when I got there was that the teachers (except Mrs Mendoza) were all expecting someone older to arrive. As faculty and I took our places onstage, the school officials asked me quite a few questions about my age. So when it was my turn to talk, I couldn't help but start with something like this:

 "I know you were all expecting an older person to appear here so I hope you're not disappointed that I'm much younger than you might have expected."

That drew a lot of laughs.

A few minutes later, my speech was over. It was then time to give the awards to the parents and to the students. For the next hour, I congratulated students whose academic lives this year did not, in any way, crossed mine (I was a panelist during the science fair of the graduating class). I was pretty clueless. So this is what it's like to be a stranger on the other side of an awarding ceremony! Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience. It's always a joy to see very happy students and parents because their hard work have been recognized. 

Right after the recognition ceremony.

I hope that these exemplary students will perform well again next year... if not even better. But, no pressure.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Tita Mely!

Tita Mely's birthday fell on a Sunday this year. This was a great opportunity to gather her siblings and their kids (and grandchildren) over for dinner. Last year, we celebrated her birthday in Lam Hung, a Chinese restaurant in the heart of Sta Cruz, Laguna. This year, we agreed to all go out and eat at the relatively new Max's Fried Chicken branch at the SunStar Mall outside the town proper.
Tita Mely's house was decked with decorations when Anna and I arrived. Apparently, Tita Mely is a big fan of an actor in a weekday soap so my cousins got a tarp with her photo and the actor's on it... The cake was similarly decked as well. My nephew, Totoy, has a knack for doodling so his gift was taped on the wall right under the tarp.