While traditionally it has been seven Catholic Churches that has to be visited during the Visita Iglesia on Holy Week, I’ll be featuring only two…yet these are the closest to both my heart and soul. The first one would be the Philippines’ first Catholic Church, a pilgrimage site, a historic site, and a bastion of devotion for millions—Basilica Minore de Santo Niño de Cebu.
The town of Tugaya in Lanao Del Sur province is known as the center of Maranao craftsmanship. Majority of the people in the town are engaged in arts and craft industry, particularly creating intricate wood carvings such as baul and debakan drums that are sold in the markets of Davao, Manila, and overseas. However, aside from wood, Tugaynons have another specialty—they are also metal benders—creating intricate works of art with the use of fire and earth—brass works! Kabu, kanyon, and kris are the things Tugaynons are known for.
The community of Bubong is known for brass-making, with the large intricate brass jars called kabu and canons as its main products. The kabu is well known all throughout Mindanao as a decoration of royalty. These large brass jars varies size—from size of plant pots to human sized behemoths. Since these are made entirely of metal, it is considered as a collector’s luxury item. One kabu may reach as expensive as several thousand pesos or even a million—exported to big cities such as Manila and Davao, and even overseas. All of these were craftily made in this sleepy town beside the lake.
Today’s Labour Day in the Philippines. A public holiday celebrating or commemorating the importance of the workers and the day wherein freedom to express opinions about wages, working conditions, economy, society and the like are most tackled about. Yet there is one road in Manila that has been synonymous to Labour Day, activism, civic rights groups, protests and even the phrase “struggle for freedom and justice”—that is Mendiola. Headlines parati yan (that street is always on headlines).
When I went to Zamboanga, one of my top priority destination that I would like to see and experience was Barangay Taluksangay and its red Masjid (mosque). It’s in history and travel books, and even on postcards about Zamboanga City. That Sunday afternoon, John Marlowe, a friend of mine and a local of the city, took me to this historical place that is a known bastion of Islam in Mindanao. Some people said, “delikado doon! Wag ka nang pumunta doon” (It’s dangerous! Just don’t go there.)–I said, “then let’s go there!” without hesitation nor fear for the people.
Barangay Taluksangay is located some 20 kilometers east of Pueblo (downtown Zamboanga City). The community is located at the swampy coastline of the peninsula. Taluksangay proper itself lies separated from the mainland by an estuary. One would see the towering minarets from afar, welcoming guests who have come to Taluksangay.
Cotabato City was a bustling urban area, teeming with life and people from different places, speaking different languages. Moro, Kristyano and Lumad cultures mix and intermingle, creating a seemingly distinct culture in the heart of Mindanao. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, a white-washed edifice watches over the city like a sentinel. According to Simeon Millan’s book, 1952 Cotabato Guidebook, it was the “acropolis” that governed not just Cotabato City, but once the largest province in the country. It is the old Cotabato Provincial Capitol—half a century ago.
Last Christmas, I had an opportunity of visiting one of the bastions of Philippine history, Corregidor Island. As with my previous posts, from the beginning and towards the middle side area, this island has a lot of stories to tell, about valor of our forefathers who fought endlessly to defend our freedom from the invaders. Yet the highlight of that tour last December hasn’t been reached yet. As we reached high above the Manila Bay, the view of the nerve center of then-one of Asia’s best military camps, this island has still a lot to tell…from its head and all towards under its belly.
This is my tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the greater glory of freedom and for peace to prevail once more in this part of the globe. Today is April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan in the Philippines.
All right, all right…you may be wondering why the introduction for this article was with Felipe De Leon’s Christmas Carol “Payapang Daigdig?” Nope, its not that I’m forcing it to fit on Christmas (or this article was meant to be posted on Christmas eve). The song was made out of bombardment of Manila in 1945, when the maestro woke up one morning with such devastation that engulfed the whole city–world’s second most destroyed. We also have to remember that it was during Christmas of 1941 that the Philippines was invaded by the Japanese imperial troops and bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. These stories of melancholic Christmas intertwined with Corregidor’s embattled past. As we head on for our tour, one December morning, I can feel the sirens and the cool breeze…however with more tension.
Our first stop was the Middleside area of Corregidor. Its a plateau between Topside and the coastline. It is here were you can find the second longest military barracks in the world at that time, the MiddleSide Barracks, which houses several Filipino and American troops at that time. Near it was a reservoir disguised as a tennis court. A few meters away from it, is the ruined building of the YMCA. The area is a camping ground for most excursionists and scouts.
It was one of those unplanned trips again that ended up great—and as a history student, a place something to look forward to. It was my first time conquering “The Rock of the Orient.” It is the tadpole-shaped sentinel island that guards Manila Bay from invaders—and indeed it held steadfast in Philippine history. The English name, “Corrector’s Island.” En español, “La Isla de Corregidor.”
Thanks to Ivan Henares and Sun Cruises, I, together with bloggers Joel, Cedrick, James, Estan, Claire, Rob, Patricia, Ivan Mandy, and Sir Bobby Aquino of Magsaysay Shipping, we embarked on a 1 hour and 15 minute fast cruise towards the mouth of Manila Bay as the sun is just reaching its rays over the skyline of Manila.
Its been a while since I last walked the old Manila. Somehow, I have this fascination over urban exploration, despite that I prefer living in the suburbs or even at the provinces. I am provoked for some adventure without going far or bleeding my wallet to death. Good thing though, my friend Gibb from Cebú was here. The tour wasn’t planned nor choreographed. We just like to see Manila in its real heartbeat. So off we walked from San Agustin Church in Intramuros to Quiapo Church which is in–of course Quiapo!