La Conquista de Corregidor: The Guns and Christmas 1941

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.

Battery Way

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.

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San Joaquin Church of Iloilo: Stories Behind the Stone Carvings

San Joaquin Church Rendicion d' Tetuan

Last week, we were in Batangas for a visita iglesia in Taal’s prominent religious structures—the Basilica Minore de San Martin de Tours and Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine. Today, we fly all the way to the Visayas to visit Iloilo. Our first stop would go all the way to the southernmost town of the province, San Joaquin. This town is known to be one of the landing sites of the mythical Ten Bornean Datus. However, the crowning jewel of this southern town would be its 19th century church and its cemetery. The church however tells the story of the San Joaquin’s history, carved in stone.

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Visita Iglesia 2010 Series: Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine in Batangas

Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay

In observance of the Holy Week, would embark on a journey similar to the Filipino tradition during these reflective times. With seven churches visited within the past three weeks in Batangas and Iloilo, tara na at bumisita tayo sa mga simbahan. More than just sites of Filipino religiosity, but also a mirror of the richness of Filipino culture and heritage. Our first stop: Batangas!

It was one hot summer Sunday when my family and I went on to Batangas. Just for a change of environment, especially church days, we went off to Taal. I’ve been here several times but I wanted to bring my family to this famed heritage village. Instead of heading to Pink Sisters in Tagaytay, we decided to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay—believed to be the patroness of the Batanguñeos.

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Santa Maria de Assunta Church of Ilocos Sur

Santa Maria Church, Ilocos Sur

It was my first time conquering Ilocos Sur, the land of my ancestors (mother side). My primary aim there together with my family was to have the grasp of the heritage that our Filipino ancestors left during the Spanish colonial era. Vigan City was one of them of course, but I have set my eyes towards one of the four baroque churches inscribed in the World Heritage List, the Santa Maria Church or Iglesia de Nuesta Señora de la Asuncion (Simbahan iti Asunta sa Ilokano).
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Magdalena Laguna: “Hollywood of the Philippines”

Santa Maria Magdalena Church, Magdalena, Laguna

I would like to go to Laguna, the off-beaten track. Palagi na lang kasi sa highway kaya di masyadong maka-pasyal! I was thinking of going to Majayjay with its massive church…however it is very off the way and the sun is setting in few hours time. We’ve finally decided, from Pagsanjan all the way to Nagcarlan via Magdalena and Liliw then San Pablo then head home. We went far interior, into the foothils of the Holy Banahaw.

By the time we reached Magdalena, I was surprised by several billboards claiming its title: “Hollywood of the Philippines.” Really now? How come it became “Hollywood” in the middle of the coconut plantations? I was really clueless.

Yet upon arriving at the town’s church plaza and the municipal hall, I gasped and said, “Ah! Dito pala ang pinagshootingan nung mga pelikula ni FPJ at iba pa!” Indeed, it was a familiar sight and delight. No wonder this rustic town got its own exposure to stardom. At di na nya kinailangang pumasok sa “Bahay ni Kuya” o magpa-audition sa “Starstruck!” True enough, there’s a facility nearby that was donated by FPJ himself!

One of Philippine cinema’s favorite towns indeed!

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