The Manaoag Church… The Pilgrim Center of Northern Philippines

In the Philippines, we always have the 1st of November declared as a holiday. For this year, we had October 31 and November 1 declared as “non-working holidays”. Of course, most of the Filipinos, including me, took the 30th of October as a “self-declared” holiday which gave me a five day respite from work. ūüėÄūüėÄūüėÄ

… And off we go to my home town province where I was born, Manaoag (“mana-wag”), Pangasinan (“pang-gasinan”).¬† Manaoag is located about 200 kilometers north of Metro Manila via North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) going through Tarlac-Pangasinan Expressway (TPLEX). It’s about 3 hours drive from Metro Manila. One of the places to visit in Manaoag, specially if you’re a Catholic, is the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.

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The Manaoag Church was formerly called “The Chapel of Santa Monica” in¬† the 1600s before it was named as “The Shrine of our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag”.¬† Believe it or not, Manaoag was originally called as “Santa Monica”.

On weekends, thousands of Catholics visit the shrine to attend mass and have their cars/vehicles, and other things blessed. The center of devotion is the Lady of the Holy Rosary, which is also known as “Nuestra Senora de Manaoag” or plainly called “Apo Baket”, which means “Divine Goddess”. Catholics believe that the image of the Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag possesses miraculous powers.

“Pilgrimages reach their peak during Lenten and Easter seasons, during the month of May and October during the feast of Holy Rosary. Before the Dominician arrived, the Augustinian missionaries put a the Visita of Santa Monica, (the former name of manaoag), which they visited from Lingayen. As early as 1600 the Augustinians had put a modest chapel where the cemetery is now located. It was turned over to the Dominician in 1605 and was served from Mangaldan.

The first Domician priest to work in Manaoag mission was Fr. Juan de San Jacinto, O.P who was the curate of Mangaldan. It was not until 1608 that Mangaldan mission was formally accepted by the provincial chapter of the Dominician order. In 1610.

Fr. Tomas Jimenez, O.P. took over the mission community was transferred to the present site on a hill. A large church was commenced in 1701 under the sponsorship of Gaspar de Gamboa and his wife Agata Yangta, wealthy residents from Manila who transferred to Lingayen.

An expansion of the church began in 1882 was frustrated by the earthquake of 1898 and the whole church with is treasures was destroyed by the fire lighted by the revolutionaries in May 1898.

The miraculous image of the Virgin of Manaoag was narrowly missed destruction; it was found abandoned behind the church, and from June to October had to be kept in Dagupan for safety. Invited by Fr. Mariano Pacis, a diocesan parish priest of Manaoag, the Dominicans returned in 1901.

Under the aegis of the Order, the church began in 1882 was finally completed to a large extent in the years 1911-1912; the central retablo (altar of Virgin) was completed by the famed Tampinco studio in Manila. The transept (the arms of church) was completed in 1931-1932.

The Dominicians ceded all their Pangasinan missions to the mitre (i.e to diocesan clergy), with the exception of Manaoag. Spiritual administration of the shrine in perpetuity was given to the Dominican Order by the Holy See in 1925.

The image was canonically crowned in 1926. It means that the Church through Holy See officially recognized and proclaimed that the Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag had granted favors and blessings through her devotees through the centuries.

The old convent now houses the Our Lady of Manaoag College, formerly Holy Rosary Academy founded in 1946 by Fr. Teodulo Cajigal, O.P., the last Spanish Dominican in Manaoag.

Since December 8, 1972, the Shrine of our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag has been under the care of the Philippine Dominican Province.” (excerpt from Minor Basilica Manaoag website)

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The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag was declared a Minor Basilica by Pope Francis on October 11, 2014.

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A valuable tip to those who plan to go to the Minor Basilica of our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, visit the shrine on weekdays to enjoy the place as you will find it “jampacked” with pilgrims on weekends and holidays, specially during the Lenten Season.

The PWU-JASMS Rondalla

The rondalla is an ensemble of stringed instruments played with the plectrum or pick and generally known as plectrum instruments. It originated in Medieval Spain, especially in Catalonia, Aragon, Murcia, and Valencia. The tradition was later taken to Spanish America and elsewhere. The word rondalla is from the Spanish ronda, meaning “serenade. The rondalla was introduced into the Philippines when it was part of the Spanish East Indies. In the early Philippines, certain styles were adopted by the Filipinos, especially guitar and banduria used in the Pandanggo, the Jota, and the Polka. The use of the term comparza was common, however, during the American period in the Philippines, the term rondalla became more used. (Wikipedia)

Philippine Women’s University-Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (PWU-JASMS) has been teaching its high-school and grade school students the art of music in rondalla fashion. I had a chance to watch and listen to their rondalla music when I attended PWU’s 2017 graduation ceremonies held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) last Saturday, July 8… and I was completely blown away!
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I was transported back in time and felt that I was one of the Principalia (elite ruling class in the Philippines during the Spanish colonialization) living a good life in the 1800s.

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I understand that PWU-JASMS Rondalla has won the NAMCYA (National Music Competitions for Young Artists) Rondalla Ensemble Competition held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on November 26, 2015. (from PWU Webpage)

The PWU-JASMS Rondalla was also chosen to perform during the gala dinner of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit hosted by President Duterte last April 29, 2017 attended by the leaders and delegates of the member countries of the ASEAN. (from Lifestyle Inquirer)

Unfortunately, I was unable to take a video of their performance… but fret not, PWU-JASMS has lots of VLOGS at Youtube and here’s one of them – –¬†NAMCYA 2015 Semi-finals (Kayamanan ng Lahi).

The Philippines… Home of Excellent Service with A Smile

Corniche is a buffet restaurant located at Diamond Hotel, a 5-star hotel, along Roxas Boulevard in Manila, Philippines.  Its selection of diversified food is composed of Asian, Western, and Japanese cuisines, including a salad and dessert station.

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Aside from the delicious food it offers to hotel guests and walk-in customers, Corniche is one of those places that provides excellent service with a smile which makes your dining experience unforgettable… and that’s exactly the very reason why I am one of their frequent diners.

But hey, the Philippines is the home of excellent service with a smile… ūüôā

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City Sunset on EDSA

Yup, it is really difficult or quite impossible to photograph a decent picture of sunsets if you’re living in the¬†city like me. ¬†The Philippine‚Äč metropolis like Manila, Makati, Quezon City, and Caloocan, to name a few, are cities heavily saturated with high rise buildings, malls , hanging power lines and cables like spaghettis on your dinner plate, and of course, those large billboards and left-over campaign posters with faces of our politicians as if Filipinos don’t know them enough… most of these politicians¬†have been in politics and in the government for the past couple of decades as far as I can remember.

The sunset in the photographs below can only be seen during summer months (April through July) with the setting sun almost right in the middle of EDSA (a circumferential highway passing through several cities in the heart of Metro Manila).

I took this picture along EDSA just between SM CyberMall and Munoz in Quezon City. During non-summer months, the setting sun is located somewhere right of EDSA where it is covered by the high-rise buildings on the right side of the road. Unless you’re on the higher floors of a building or on top of a parking building of a mall, it is really quite difficult or near to impossible to capture a decent image of the sun setting on the horizon in the Metro of Manila.

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Don’t Steal or Don’t Kill?

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In the past years, a Catholic seminary located near EDSA, Guadalupe in the heart of Makati, Philippines had a poster saying “VII. Huwag kang magnakaw.” which refers to the seventh commandment in a tablet claimed by Moses to have been written by his god. ¬†In English, it means “VII. Thou shalt not steal”. ¬†We all know that the Philippines, being a 3rd world country, is among the world’s most corrupt country — Jan 2017: PH still among world’s most corrupt countries: Transparency International Index. ¬†By having this poster seen by many, the Catholic leaders were hoping to make “corrupt politicians and government employees” alike to change their ways and be more prudent in doing government business. ¬†In those years, the Filipinos were one with what the Catholic leaders was advocating.

This year, the same Catholic seminary had changed their poster which now says “V. Huwag kang papatay.” which means “V. Thou shalt not kill.” It is quite obvious why the seminary have this poster nowadays. ¬†The Catholic leaders in the Philippines, namely the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has continuously criticized the Duterte administration over the apparent disregard of human rights because of the alleged extra-judicial killings (EJK) that had¬†already resulted to about 8,000 deaths brought about by the war on drugs since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016 – – CBCP: Pastoral Statement on the Extra-Judicial Killings. ¬†The message is quite clear and¬†of course, the Duterte administration lambasted the Catholic leaders. CBCP is now at the receiving end of social media bashes mostly by the avid supporters of the country’s populist leader. ¬†This time, the Filipinos are completely divided about this “EJK/human rights concern” ¬†on top of the worsening political polarization – – the avid supporters of Duterte crying for more bloodbath rationalizing the innocent deaths as just “collateral damage for the good of the many”¬†while the anti-Duterte groups are rallying to protect the rights of every citizens in the country.

Photographer Hack… the Lenspen!

‚ÄčIf you are using a lenspen to clean your gear’s lenses, don’t throw it away after the carbon-tipped disc has been quite used up. It is still useful!
I use my old lenspen to clean my reading glasses, the screen of my mobile phone, and even my watch and other sort of things made of glass. It can easily wipe away grime and oily smudges. Of course, the brush itself is excellent at dusting off those tiny dirt stuck in your laptop’s keyboards! :):):)

Isaw-isaw (Grilled Chicken Intestines)

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This popular street food in the Philippine is what we call the “Isaw-isaw” or plainly, a grilled chicken intestine for the un-oriented. You see, nothing is wasted in our country. We eat everything in a chicken… its head, its organs, its blood, and even its feet. And believe it or not, we call the chicken feet barbecue as “Adidas”.

But¬†wait…!

Like the chicken, we also eat everything in a cow,  a goat, a carabao (water buffalo), and a pig. We eat their heads, their guts and organs, their blood, and also their feet. We even eat the bone marrows of cows and carabaos.

So if our country is one of those places to visit in your bucket list, don’t be surprised if you see some parts of a livestock which you don’t normally eat being sold on the streets and in our local restaurants. It’s just one of the food we eat and is part of our local cuisine!

Bon apetit!

Wag Matakot… (Don’t be afraid)

A masked vendor holding a newspaper with a headline “WAG MATAKOT”, which means “Don’t be afraid”!

I’ll let my fellow Filipinos translate what this phrase really mean in our country where scores of people are killed every day… 

Nuong bata pa ako…!

I sometimes miss these days…

… Nuong sumasabit ako sa dyip habang may sumisigaw ng “… Valiches, Novaliches”!

… Nuong umaangkas ako sa traysikel na kakalog-kalog dahil sa lubak na daan!

… Nuong sumusundot ako ng pisbol sa kalyeng mausok at maalikabok at isasawsaw sa sukang punong-puno ng naiwang pisbol na lumulutang pa!

… Nuong nagbabasketball sa kanto na ang pustahan ay isang litrong Coke at handang maki-ramble dahil lang sa isang litrong Coke!

… Nuong nakikipagsiksikan sa bus at pinagpapawisan ang kilikili sa init dahil walang aircon pa ang mga buses nuon!

… Nuong tumatakbo at naghahabol ng dyip sa may Blumentrit para makasakay!

… Nuong naglalakad sa gatuhod na baha sa may Dimasalang!

… At higit sa lahat, nuong nakikipag-inuman na isang baso lang ang gamit at sardinas na maanghang ang pulutan, solb na!

Yup, those were the days! Masaya at laging exciting ang araw! Gawin ko nga uli minsan yan to feel how exciting it was… :):):)