Thursday, April 29, 2010

Skywatch#29 Hundred Islands Fish or Monster?

I saw this strange cloud formation right above Lucap Wharf in Alaminos, Pangasinan. We were browsing around the market for souvenirs after doing our island hopping around the Hundred Islands at that time. It looks like it was about to swallow the house on the foreground. Was it a fish or a monster?

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Monday, April 26, 2010

My World#67 Kids of Caleruega

They trailed us the moment we went out of the gates of Caleruega Church. The boy kept offering the bag of uncooked sweet potatoes (kamote) he was carrying while the girls shyly walked behind him. They had the same features and I thought to ask if they were siblings. They were twelve siblings in all and the teen-age boy whom we bought our drinks from on a makeshift store a few steps away from the gate was one of their older brothers. They all had the same sweet innocent smile even if poverty was quite obvious in them. I told the little boy that he should've cooked the sweet potatoes so I could buy them. He just answered, "you can still buy it uncooked." Such persistence from an innocent boy.

We bought some snacks from the store their elder brother was manning and as we ate our snacks, we talked with the kids. At their young ages, there's already some maturity in the way they answer shyly our prying questions. I asked why were they selling those sweet potatoes instead of playing, the little boy answered that they need the money to help their family. What were their parents doing anyway?, someone asked. He answered, "He's at the farm working and sometimes, we helped him too." 

As our ride has arrived, I asked them to smile for the camera but little boy decided to hide behind his bagful of sweet potatoes, his older brother told him to stop it. So, here's the result:

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Skywatch#28 Capas National Shrine, Capas, Tarlac

As our national election is getting near, the candidates' election campaigns are getting frenzier and their rhetorics getting bolder. I truly hope that my countrymen will choose the right persons that will lead us out of graft and corruption to give hope to the future generation.

It was quiet when we got to Capas National Shrine on a Saturday. It was after we climbed Mt. Pinatubo and somehow, I expected that there would be a lot of people visiting this national shrine for the heroes of Bataan Death March. Sadly, there was just me and my friend and a small family of three that were there.


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If it was a political rally venue, the place would have been colorful with campaign propaganda and with the number of people spilling all over the place. They would have been excited to see their candidates singing or worst, dancing along with some sexy dancers just so to attract those precious votes.

But it was just a memorial shrine, where people seems to forget that thousands of their ancestors sacrificed their lives to enjoy the freedom that they're having right now.

This coming national election, I truly hope and pray that my countrymen will not forget  that they owe their freedom to their forefathers and to their offsprings. That the leader they need to choose is someone who is honest, hardworking as well as someone who looks after the welfare of his people not the thickness of his bank account.

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This is Capas National Shrine, a memorial shrine for the fallen soldiers (American and Filipino soldiers) who fought against the Japanese regime during World War II. 

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My World#66 Death March Camp, Capas, Tarlac

I was supposed to post this entry on the first week of this month but I was on travel during that time. Nevertheless, this post is in recognition to our country's national Day of Valour (Araw ng Kagitingan) celebration last April 9. Along with a friend, I went to the Capas National Shrine last April 3 to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers who died from the Bataan Death March during World War II.

I am proud to say that I have already visited all three major memorials for the fallen soldiers of the Bataan Death March. The first one was the fortress-island of Corregidor which lies strategically at the mouth of Manila Bay and the second one was the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor (Dambana ng Kagitingan).All memorials are mute witnesses of how the Filipinos can be brave and proud to fight for their country.

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I always had this interest in Philippine history especially the World War II stories. I first heard those stories from my maternal grandmother who was such a great storyteller. My maternal grandmother  in turn had  such an interest in Philippine history because her Spanish father was a soldier.

Out of the stories my grandmother told her grandchildren, Bataan Death March piqued quite an interest from me because of its notoriety. Out of almost 75,000 prisoner-soldiers captured by the Japanese invaders, only about 55,000 soldiers survived the 102-kilometer walk under the sweltering sun and the inhumane living conditions of Camp Donnelly afterwards.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Skywatch#27 Meeting of the Sky and the Rice Paddies

Seeing Batad Rice Terraces is like watching the meeting of the blue skies and the green rice paddies. The amphitheater-like rice terraces of Batad have the most stairlike appearance of rice terraces that I have seen so far. A lot of people quite appropriately call them "Stairway to Heaven".

Sadly, because of the El Niño phenomenon heating its way all over the country, the harvest from the rice terraces are in danger of getting destroyed by the unrelenting summer heat. While the rice paddies found in the poblacion of Banaue Rice Terraces are mostly doing well courtesy of their ancient irrigation system, Batad's Rice Terraces' also-ancient irrigation system is suffering from thinning mountain cover exacerbated by the unusual hot days.

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The hut on the right on top of the hill is a resting place before tackling the trail going down to Tappiyah Falls. While the smaller thatched-roof huts are the native huts of the Ifugao people.

More pictures of Batad Rice Terraces here.


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Monday, April 12, 2010

My World#65 Banaue Rice Terraces

This is Banaue Rice Terraces. Considered by many as an amazing engineering feat and recognized as a UNESCO Heritage site. For most Filipinos, they consider it as the eight wonder of the world.The more than 2000 year-old rice terraces were carved out from the mountains by the ancestors of the indigenous Ifugao people using minimum farm equipment.

(Wikipedia: The Banaue terraces are part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, ancient sprawling man-made structures from 2,000 to 6,000 years old. They are found in the provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao)

These particular rice terraces in Banaue are also featured on the face of the P1000 Philippine peso bill.

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The rice terraces get their water supply from centuries-old irrigation system fed by the rainforests on the mountaintops.

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Tourism has increased through the years for this beautiful place. When I first visited this place, those steps as can be seen from the picture were not there. Instead, the locals walked along the edge of the rice terraces by maintaining their balance to avoid falling off down the steep terrace. Most rice terraces are about 15-30 feet in height. Those steps were made for the tourists like me who wanted to experience walking along the ricefields without the danger of falling off the steep inclines.

Deterioration of some of the rice terraces all over the provinces were caused by increased population, migration, tourism, development and the El Nino phenomenon.

My only prayer is that the present generation would be more active in the preservation of this beautiful heritage of my country.


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Friday, April 9, 2010

Skywatch#26 Stairyway to the Skies

Like stairways to the skies, these rice terraces found in Banaue never fail to amaze me. I can only imagine the sheer determination and hardwork of the people who carved these stairlike rice paddies on the mountain slopes.

rice terraces,Luzon,Philippines,Banaue



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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My World#64 Caleruega Church, The Church on the Hill

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Skywatch#25 Caleruega Church

It was a hot and sunny day when we arrived in Caleruega Church. It took us almost two hours to get there but the travel was all worth it. We first saw this structure upon our arrival and for me, it felt like I was somewhere in Mexico. I was hoping that there would be less people in the area considering its distance from Manila but the hope was for a naught. Nonetheless, the beautiful day made it possible for us to explore Caleruega and its surroundings more.


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