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. 😀😀😀

… 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… 🙂

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Photographer Hack… the Lenspen!

​If 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!

The Back Button Focus

​We were travelling along SCTEX, one of the expressways in Luzon of the Philippines, at a speed of about a hundred kilometers per hour when I took this picture of a bird flying to the opposite direction. In capturing this photo, I had set my gear to use Back Button Focus and set the AF operation to AI Servo (or continuous focus).

What is Back Button Focus? In “normal mode”, DSLRs focus when you half-press the shutter and take the picture when you completely press the shutter. The problem with this mode is that it only works for still or stationary subjects. When the subject moves out of focus, there you go… You get a blur! Even with a high shutter speed, you may still get a blur if the subject moves out of the area where your gear had initially focused. And you may have to refocus and half-press the shutter again which by the time you’re able to do this, the subject has gone out of your sight.

This is where the BBF will come in handy, together with continuous focus (AI Servo in Canon). Depending on the brand and model of your gear, it may already have a dedicated BBF button or you can set a button, like the Exposure Lock, as the BBF.

The BBF, together with AI Servo, will allow you to keep the center of focus on a moving object without half-pressing the shutter. Technically, you have two buttons in play, the BBF (using your thumb) to focus and the shutter (using your index finger), to take pictures. What does that mean? You can press and hold the BBF to retain focus on a moving object and just press the shutter to take pictures anytime without the shutter doing a “focus and refocus”.

Just some fair warning, this technique takes some practice before you can reap the rewards…! 🙂

Philippines: The Ortigas Flyover on a Cloudy Day

I am really lagging behind in checking out the amazing blogs of those that I am following. My busy schedule will soon be over and I will again have some sweet time reading the wonderful blogs of my friends in the virtual blogworld. Missing you all…!

And just to have the blogworld know that I’m still here… Here’s some few photos I took going to the office today. 🙂

The Ortigas flyover on a cloudy Tuesday morning… Free of traffic because everyone is stuck in several kilometers of traffic from West Avenue to Santolan EDSA. And the hellish traffic again appears near Shaw EDSA.

That’s life on EDSA!

Custom White Balance versus the Presets

DSLRs have built-in white balance correction presets. Usually, they are “sunny”, “cloudy”, “shade”, “tungsten”, “flourescent”, and “flash”, with estimated Kelvin/color temperatures.  In certain cases, these presets may not work precisely to show the natural colors of your photo subjects.

The two photos below show two preset white balance correction: the “Auto White Balance” and the “Tungsten” white balance. The ambient light is a warm, yellowish color. The “Auto White Balance” miserably failed to correct the color temperature in the first photo. The “Tungsten” preset, to a certain degree, managed to correct the ambient light in the second photo but not completely as there were still traces of “yellowish” light appearing.

Using Auto White Balance

Using the “Tungsten” white balance preset

This is where the “custom white balance” could come in handy. All DSLRs have this feature and using it is as easy as clicking the shutter. First, take a photo of anything that is originally colored white (of course, it will be “yellowish” under the light condition as mentioned above). Second, select the “Custom White Balance” FUNCTION of your gear and load the photo you took in the first step. And lastly, go to the preset white balance and select the “custom white balance” PRESET.
There you go, that’d be it. In the photo below, the “yellowish” ambient light has been completely corrected by the “custom white balance” making it appear as if the ambient light is in a white, neutral color temperature showing the natural colors of your subject(s).

Using the Custom White Balance

Abby Uy… A Budding Street Photographer!

There’s a new girl in town… and oh boy! Her photographs really caught my eye.  I have featured one of her photographs which shows a dramatic image which made use of colors amid a dark, woody foreground. The image above is an artsy photograph of a concert with the band members placed inside a bokeh “peep hole” of leaves. Genius, isn’t it?! And I like it a lot!

Believe it or not… she’s a newbie in photography and is really a fast learner. Imagine what else she can do with her camera after a year!

Introducing, Abby Uy and her blog site Abby – Street Photography! Please do pay a visit at her blog site and share your photo experiences with her.  She’ll very much appreciate it!