Places

Celebrating Christmas (Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral)

Yesterday was Christmas Day and it was all about fun, love, food, lights, family, togetherness and the best gift ever- Jesus! We spent it in a simple way and we were happy with it as long as we spend it together.

We didn’t forget to go to church on Christmas Day. We went to Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral as we know San Francisco Church will be so full.NAGA CATHEDRAL 4NAGA CATHEDRAL 6

This is how it looks on the outside:NAGA CATHEDRAL 7NAGA CITY CATHEDRAL 1

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So when we got home, I greeted everyone on Facebook with a picture saying “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Someone asked me yesterday that if Jesus is the reason, then why did Santa Claus become the center of Christmas? And things like why do we even have a snowman decor when Jesus wasn’t even born during winter? And proceeded to say how it is a Western influenced fake tradition, etc. etc. He probably asked this because it is what he sees everywhere and I also don’t agree about how Christmas has been turned into a commercialized and secularized tradition that most people have lost the meaning of it. I mean, why do we really celebrate Christmas? We celebrate it because when Jesus Christ was born, we were SAVED from eternal damnation because no amount of good works can wash away all our sins to make us acceptable in the eyes of God. This is the reason why we rejoice and “give  love on Christmas Day.”

So, what if Jesus wasn’t exactly born on December 25? What if we like to eat, drink and be merry this season? Or what if we make our kids believe in Santa to get them to be nice? That doesn’t make us bad people. That doesn’t exactly put us in the same category as terrorists now, does it?  But to say that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas at all and calling people who celebrate it as gullible fools is overstepping the bounds. For the record, we do have free will. And we should all use it to however we see fit. You may not celebrate the season but really you cannot judge those who do. We should all be tolerant of each other’s differences because if we can’t be tolerant and respectful of other’s beliefs, we’d all be terrorists. And it’s not nice to call others gullible or fools just because their set of beliefs is different from your own. Remember, your truth is not the only truth. Who knows if what you know to be the truth is even the truth? Confucius said that “To know that you know what you know and that you do not know what you do not know. That is true wisdom.”

That said, I will continue to celebrate Christmas the way I want, and not the way other people think I should do it. Ho ho ho!

 

 

 

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Places

Merry Christmas Sorsogon!

Merry Christmas one and all!

Christmas is only a couple of hours away and I’m sure lots of us are busy doing last minute Christmas shopping. I should know since I’m about to get ready to do some last minute for tonight’s Christmas dinner myself. Just some stuff we haven’t yet bought, like cake maybe.

Anyway, I just got back from visiting my folks in Sorsogon City. As usual, it was too short of a visit. We only stayed overnight, so we haven’t had a chance to even see a lot of places  or meet with friends. I noticed there were a lot of new establishments though – like the Gaisano Mall for instance. We haven’t even been to Gaisano. All we did was go to and fro to buy stuff for my folks’ Christmas dinner, catch up with them and then catch up on some sleep ‘coz so dead tired. And it was always, always raining!

On the night of our stay in Sorsogon, however, we braved the rain and our soaked feet and went to the park infront of Sorsogon Capitol Building. Just because I was intrigued when I momentarily caught a glimpse of the bright lights on our way to Asia Novo Boutique Hotel.

Drop lights adorned the trees while there was a long line of bright colored yellow trees lighting up the whole park inspite of the rain.sorsosogn city christmas 2017 2sorsosogn city christmas 4

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Below is the very bright and all lit up Sorsogon Capitol Building. We just stood there as we watched the whole building change colors. sorsosogn city christmas 5Picture5

We had the park all to ourselves because nobody else was there save from three little boys who stripped buck naked and used their little butts to slide on the wet tiled surface of the elevated stage we stood on. So slippery ,and “Weeeeeeee!” they all went gleefully sliding on their butts while we were beside ourselves laughing. They didn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people thought, they were happy.  Picture2sorsosogn city chritsmas 3sorsogon city christmas 2017 1

I missed my hometown Sorsogon, and I always regret not having enough time to reconnect with and really get to know the city I spent the most part of my childhood in. As time goes by and I get older, I get less memories and flashbacks that I connect to the places of my childhood as I visit less frequently.

Till then, Merry Christmas everyone!

Places

AMAZING CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN LIGAO CITY, ALBAY

Hi everyone!

I have always wanted to see the much talked about Christmas lights and displays in Ligao City. The Ligaoeños, I hear, take their yearly Christmas displays rather seriously. And it pays off, since Ligao has always been featured on both local and national television this time of the year.

So, I thought it was really lucky that my co-workers and I got to go on a side trip to Ligao after our Christmas Party in our regional office in Legazpi City last Friday. It was almost 8:00 PM when we got there, and at first, we hesitated since we did not really know which way to go. It was our first time to go to the centro of Ligao but it did not take long for us to find the church and the lights display was so easy to find that we didn’t even need to ask for directions. All we needed to do was to “follow the light(s)” hehe. So by this time, I was already very excited and I haven’t felt that way about Christmas in a while, or maybe I just got excited to find new material for my blog? Hmm.

We parked inside the compound of Saint Stephen Promartyr Parish Church. This is what the church looks like at this time.Christmas Lights in Ligao City 2017 1

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And just outside the church is the 54 meters tall Christmas tree made from blue LED lights with a star on top. It’s kinda hard to take a photo of the whole tree though because some guys just stood around it (really closely) even when they’re obviously not having their picture taken. Anyway, the tree was amazing!christmas lights in ligao city 2017_8

Then we went to their plaza which is adorned by hundreds of star-shaped lanterns locally called parol in the Philippines. It was such an amazing sight to see. Just three colors- dark blue, sky blue and purple.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_4

Isn’t it weird how a bunch of lanterns lighting up the dark night can stir up some feelings of child-like excitement and wonder? Things one may have forgotten in his quest for a better shot at the future by slaving away infront of the computer meeting deadlines, and being oblivious to the rest of the world. Such a toxic life can be a real pain in the ass in the long run because time flies and we will not live forever.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” So the lanterns were there to remind me I should live a little, or live more.chritmas lights in ligao city 2017_11

A little trivia, do you know that the Christmas tree and the star lanterns were hand-made by jail inmates in Ligao? It’s good that they have used their talents for a good cause. Their work is not too shabby, by the way.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_6christmas lights in ligao city_16

When we were there, a lot of people were in the plaza to watch “Patiribayan sa Ligao” which was a singing contest. Everywhere, the smell of popcorn, barbeque and hotcakes was very inviting but I kept thinking if only there was somewhere I could get a cup of coffee. I didn’t get my cuppa though because we already had to leave.christmas lights in ligao city 2017_9

The people of Ligao must be very proud for coming up with such a great way to put their place in the map, so to speak, by making sure that the festive mood of the holidays can be felt by everyone who visits. It sure is something to look forward to every year. Christmas is only a few days away, I hope you all are excited and feeling the Christmas spirit already!

 

 

Places

Robinson’s Place, Naga City

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

We took a stroll at Robinson’s Place, Naga City last night and I was so thrilled to find that a giant Christmas tree is up! Well, that’s just me, something I brought along from my childhood is that old feeling of giddiness whenever I see a Christmas tree all pretty and bright. This particular Christmas tree is really pretty but I’m afraid my camera specs did not exactly give it justice. Nevertheless, I hope you see it as I do. =)Robinsons Place, Naga City

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Julienne likes the Christmas tree!

Before that, Yoy, little Julienne and I met Mama Pat and Tita Inky at SM City Naga, and together, we took a tricycle ride to Robinson’s Place which is located in Diversion Road at Brgy. Triangulo. To say that SM is packed with shoppers this time of year is an understatement as it is seriously stressful to go about your business when people are going on a buying frenzy like that. The queues for the ATMs, for McDonald’s take out and the lines at the cashiers were really long. Queues were everywhere. It was a good thing we only stayed there for a few minutes. The only consolation was that at least people were lining up instead of going in a mad dash (I think that stampede for the Php8.00 Shark’s Burger in SM North EDSA might be the one major proof in history that we are not getting any smarter with time).

Here are some photos I took to show what Robinson’s Place looks like right now in preparation for the coming Holiday Season:robinsons place, naga city10robinsons place, naga city11robinsons place, naga city5DSC09090DSC09094DSC09095robinsons place, naga city3

Although there were more people than usual as there was an event going on when we arrived, and of course, more Christmas shoppers, at least it wasn’t as crowded. It helped that this mall is bigger and the building is a lot newer than SM. It recently just opened last August 15, 2017 so everything is fresher, cleaner and their restrooms are really neat, clean and not gross. I guess, SM needs to step up their game soon, it’s a good thing they have their prime location going for them.robinson's place, naga city4DSC09029

So, if you’ve never been and if you ever find yourself in Naga, you might wanna check out Robinson’s Place for the ambience, good selection of restaurants, great customer service and helpful/friendly staff. You might also wanna go there for the holiday feels as Christmas lights are everywhere and their aircon is always so cold that I get the chills even when I’m wearing a sweater.

 

 

 

 

Places

NAGA CITY IN SEPTEMBER

Whenever the month of September comes, also marks the onset of the busiest time in Naga City as preparations for the Penafrancia Festival can immediately be felt. You can feel the energy as the usual pulse of the city suddenly gets a little bit quicker as the excitement for the festivities builds up.

Naga in September is like a crazy mass of crowd. People are everywhere, mostly dressed their best, lining along the roads to watch the Civic Parade and Float Competition, the Penafrancia Voyadores Festival Street Dance Competition and the Bicol Region Military Parade, among other activities. Also, there are concerts going on almost every night sponsored by the malls like SM, Robinson’s Mall and LCC. Across the street from SM City Naga in Barangay Triangulo, a carnival was also set up wherein the air is always wafting with the smell of newly cooked hot cakes and popcorn to the delight of the kids, with rides like the ferris wheel, caterpillar ride, horror train and the carousel. Peddlers and vendors are everywhere calling out to the crowd offering their wares.DSC08308

Nothing says fiesta more than the Banderitas hanging everywhere in the city. It’s great to see them blowing in the wind, you know it wouldn’t be fiesta without them.

 

By the way, you know what would be the best and most meaningful thing to do when in Naga? Let’s go do a Visita Iglesia! (visit the churches). Ok, did eyes just go rolling for a split second there? Nobody thinks this is fun? Well, I hope more and more people are willing to go along with this because you don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate a tour of our beautiful churches. You have to visit these churches to understand why they are a major part of the city’s identity and the life of its people.

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Basilica Church in Balatas, Naga City

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Naga City is not known as a pilgrim city for nothing. Its churches are its main attractions and the city welcomes thousands of devotees of “Ina” come September of every year. So, maybe you won’t find beautiful beaches here like in Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes, but Naga City is spiritual as it is a happening city.

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Naga City Metropolitan Cathedral

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San Francisco Church at night
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Partial View of San Francisco Church

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Sadly, the influx of tourists and devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia does not help the crime situation any as thieves also get busier during this time of the year. So I would advise everyone in Naga to please ever be so mindful of your valuables just like you do when in Manila. Wear those sling bags that can be worn across the body with the bag placed right infront of you. If carrying a backpack, wear it on reverse (as in infront of you). Of course, you can’t do this with those really big backpacks so just for the small sized ones then. And please, please avoid brandishing your high-end cellphones about, as tempting as it can be, or as nice as the rose gold color of your iPhone 7 matches your pretty peach outfit, please stop yourself from doing this. I have seen some people do this and all I could think about was “there goes another victim in the making.” The augmented police force is everywhere, in every corner, in every nook and crook, but they can only do so much. They can’t watch every single person in the crowd all the time. So better watch out for yourselves. Be smart, be careful, and don’t be a victim.

Happy Fiesta Naga!

 

Places

Daraga Church (Daraga, Albay)

Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, really more known simply as Daraga Church, is a Roman Catholic Church in the municipality of Daraga, Albay, Philippines. The church was built by the Franciscans in 1772 under the patronage of the Our Lady of the Gate.

For the locals, Daraga Church is the go-to place of worship every Sunday wherein the breathtaking overlooking view of Mayon Vulcano has become but a normal sight. In fact, it only ever draws the usual ohhhs and ahhhs of amazement from visitors, being that it has always been there and the locals have gotten used to it by now, like an ever present, father figure watching over his brood.

However, on a particularly good day when the sun, the light, the clouds and the bluest sky have all conspired with each other to give you just a glimpse of that magical view, it honestly does have the power to make you catch your breath.daraga church 2view from daraga church

I remember years ago, there was much discussion on the radio as well as between everyone who cared to have an opinion that they were totally against the move of applying white paint over the facade of the church. Everyone thought the church looked regal and classic enough on its natural state, just gray and no paint on the outside. Some even said that the unpainted church showed so much character, that it was all the better showing off its age than pretending to be contemporary. However, it still ended up being painted on with white and people were outraged for a while. It took a few days (maybe weeks) but people got over it eventually.582513_447627698587474_1157023064_n

To this day, Daraga Church remains to be one of the must-see places when visiting the Bicol Region, especially the province of Albay. It has also been featured in some local films, one of the most recent was She’s Dating the Gangster wherein Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo (Filipino actors) had a scene shot inside the church.

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Places

Magayon Art Gallery (Albay Provincial Capitol)

When in Albay, make sure to visit the Magayon Art Gallery, located at the lobby of Albay Provincial Capitol Building, which serves as the avenue for local artists to show off their visual creations. It is especially fun to go there during Magayon Festival because of the many activities like the parade of huge folklore characters made of paper mache, parade featuring the different  festivals of the different towns, pageants, trade fairs and beer plaza. However, since the festival was just held last month (May 2017), I think it will be something to look forward to next year.

The Capitol Grounds555335_447606448589599_1233813034_n392494_447606468589597_272496225_n

Magayon Art GAllery

 

549421_447606805256230_1172652317_n575242_447606835256227_1981817209_n579723_447606928589551_2068803416_n So, I was being dorky and found some ways to make this painting more interesting I think using just the format tools (effects) of MS PowerPoint:normal

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Plastic Wrapplastic wrap

Cut Outcut out

I have been to the GSIS Museo ng Sining in Pasay City and have seen paintings of Fernando Amorsolo and Juan Luna’s “Parisian Life” up close, but I found myself just as impressed by the works of our local artists in Bicol. So, if ever you’re in the area, I recommend you give the Magayon Art Gallery a visit. Thanks for stopping by!

Places

KAWAKAWA NATURAL PARK (LIGAO, ALBAY)

The beginning of the rainy season can now be felt here in Bicol, even though the heat is still the same as if summer is not quite ready to leave just yet. The rain falls every now and then, at the most unexpected times, as if to mourn the death of our soldiers who fought hard in battle to keep the peace and to protect the innocent in Marawi. God bless them. And as the country is torn and heartbroken over the war waged by the terrorists against the government and its people, I myself don’t feel the enthusiasm to urge people to travel and have a fun time just now.

However, I would like to introduce a place that is great for introspection. A peaceful place that can be a solace for troubled minds. In this time of turmoil for my country, we need to find that peace within ourselves, to extend our hands to God for comfort. Below are the photos of my visit to Kawakawa Natural Park in Ligao, Albay some years ago. It is a place I can think of that made me feel so near to God before, even though God is really within us all in the first place.

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“Welcome to this famous hill without a hilltop” the marker says. The locals have told us that Kawakawa Hill is so named because the shape of its crater  is easily likened to a “kawa” or a wok being used for cooking.

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Every summer is the right time to visit to witness hundreds of sunflowers while in bloom. Unfortunately, when friends and I went there they have just harvested the flowers a few days ago, which then left us with only a few blooms to enjoy.543242_447582698591974_1930491131_n554638_447581715258739_103050721_n536653_447583481925229_1140660211_n

The view from the top was so relaxing that I can easily see myself retiring and living in such a place. There is something about being in a high place that is uplifting to the spirits as well. I remember instantly feeling better.576365_447581998592044_1393260001_n562627_447582368592007_1719302356_n542362_447584278591816_778806875_n525787_447582041925373_1550998116_n

KawaKawa Park is not hard to find. There are markers along Maharlika Highway in Ligao, Albay that points to the direction of the park which is located in Tuburan. So whether you come from Legazpi or from Manila, it is very accessible. The entrance fee happens to be P10.00 only. Also, the locals are quite helpful and friendly so there should be no reason to get lost.

Places

Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga, Albay

Cagsawa Ruins are what remains of  a 17th century church built by the Franciscans. It is considered as one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the province of Albay.

According to history, last February 1, 1814, Mount Mayon (famous for its perfect cone), began its most violent and deadly eruption in recorded history wherein the church was destroyed and thousands of inhabitants were killed. The bell tower miraculously survived and over time, it has developed into a top destination for tourists and locals alike for the beautiful view of the Mayon Vulcano in the background. And so history goes, although that is not why many people visit nowadays. For the most part, people go there to have their picture taken with the vulcano and the belfry of the old Cagsawa church as the backdrop. Lol. I mean, nothing wrong with that. And I was definitely no exception (Mt. Mayon and I have tons of photos together!). I guess that is pretty much all you can do when you visit anyway (if you’re not into shopping for pili nuts and handicrafts). 48082_452951188055125_1578136340_n

The place can be so charming, especially when the weather is right.

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Those are just some of the photos taken while touring some friends from Manila.