A Christmas Story

When the wish fits the pure heart of the child…

Why am I not surprised when, at five years past 40, my mental age is just 16! Well, according to yourmentalage.com, anyway… Not that I fully subscribe to its “findings”,  but I somewhat agree.

Call it the perpetual child in me.

You see, one of the most evident traits that I have continuously nourished is my “childlike” attitude toward life. It goes down from my childhood, I guess. I am sort of the eldest in a brood of five back then. Christmas was not much an occasion for us because we really did not have more than enough, and my mother did not want to make it as a marked event in our young hearts, for she knew we can never have the things most children have. My father was working and studying at the same time and we were just getting by with whatever was left of his earnings. One thing though that my mother never failed to do was to tell us that Christmas was really a celebration of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for the food on our table, for the shelter over our heads and the clothing on our backs, for a loving family and, most especially, for our Mother and Father.

1469810_675095172513038_635903336_nI have never really questioned why we never had what other kids had. What got stuck on my mind was that we were thankful. But as I was growing older and became more accustomed to being with friends, which at an early age seemed to be very natural for me, a name became an obsession: SANTA CLAUS!!!

My schoolmates talked about him as if he’s real. Whenever our teacher at school showed his picture on a card or sang those Santa songs, I did not dare ask my mother whether it’s true or not, because somehow, someway, she might just convince me that he is not real. I wanted so much to believe that there is a Santa Claus; simply because, the child in me wanted to believe that if you are good and nice, Santa will give you the gift you ask for.

But Santa Claus became real only through my being him to my siblings. I could still remember vividly when Kimmy was three and I, together with Kuya Texx, Bing-Bing, Bulilit and Balot, bought her a walkie-talkie (we pooled our savings from our daily allowances) with just one unit wrapped — the other used by us interchangeably, play-acting Santa and the elves. Boy, that was really fun! I could just go over and over that moment and still laugh-cry at the thought.

I am too old now to be believing in a fat, bearded man in a red suit; yet, deep down in me, the belief that Santa DOES exist was never extinguished. Every now and then, I would play around with the thought that one day, if I do good — if I really, really behaved — I would make it in the Nice List and Santa Claus will come and whisper in my ears that my gift — the one I have always asked for — will be there on Christmas day.

However, my wishes changed every year. I waited for them to come true but to no avail. Maybe, I had Santa confused as to what I really wanted.

But for quite sometime now, one wish persisted in my adult life though.

I have always prayed for someone to grow old with. Someone whom I can pour my deepest emotions with. Someone who can make me laugh aloud and do silly things and not feel embarassed. Someone who will support my love for work, and more importantly, my love for adventure! A woman who has also experienced life, had tried living outside the box — who can cry at her mistakes and triumphs, someone who can stand on her own and be her own. Say her own piece… and make things happen. Someone to whom I can tell my stories, my exploits and bloopers, my escapades — good and bad.

And for me to live life to the fullest without thinking of rules or limits, I can only do so much. I wanted someone who can live life for me… someone who can create an albumful of tales and anecdotes — all painted through words and snapshots.

Hush now… let me tell you a secret that was just recently revealed to me. A Santa Claus DOES exist! In fact, he already gave me what I have always asked for SEVEN years ago… and it took me that long to realize that what I have always wanted I already have!

Truly, when the wish fits the pure heart of the child, his perfect gift will come. Mine was wrapped in shrieks of laughter and giggles, of sweet whispers and tiny arms that wrapped me in warm hugs, and sweet lips caressing my rough cheeks with feather kisses.

She may not understand yet my rants against the world, but she has been patient in steering clear from me when I’m angry at something. She has displayed moments of strength when required, saying her own piece and standing her ground.

I cannot pour out my deepest emotions to her yet but she has shown willingness and excitement in listening to my stories, my exploits and bloopers, my escapades — good and bad. She has already proven herself to make me laugh aloud and do silly things and not feel embarassed!

She is only beginning to discover life but we have already created tons of beautiful memories together… and will be creating more.

She is, indeed, all that I need in my life now and for the years to come.

Now, all I need to do every Christmas is tell her how lucky I am to have received the perfect gift — the gift of fatherhood.

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… on Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis

Oscar Wilde. Taken away from humanity too soon…

Oscar Wilde died on this day in 1900 after being imprisoned for being gay. I know, sucks to be gay in those days.

To pay homage to Oscar Wilde — the literary genius, the poet, the romantic — let me share this thoughts anew…

via … on Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis

Batanes: Home of the Ivatans

Batanes is a chain of small islands in the northernmost point of the Philippines. Of these islands, only three are inhabited: Batan, Itbayat and Sabtang. These three (3) islands comprise six (6) municipalities collectively known as BISUMI: Basco (the capital), Itbayat, Sabtang, Uyugan, Mahatao and Ivana. Although described as having no real ports, the island chains of Batanes boast small beaches and coves which serve as anchorage for the locals’ small boats.

Inhabiting Batanes are the Ivatans, their name derived from the language they speak: Chirin nu Ibatan or simply Ivatan, an Austronesian language spoken exclusively in the Batanes Islands which is characterized by the dominant use of the letter “v”, as in valuga, vakul and vanuwa.

Also unique to their culture is their limestone houses patterned after the Spaniards and adapted to stand the onslaughts of the notorious Batanes typhoons. Ivatan stone houses — called vernacular houses — are typically windowless cube structures with walls as thick as one meter with thatched roof made of cogon grass.

Where to go in Batanes

Tour destinations in Batanes are subdivided into four (4) clusters:

  • North Batan Island (Basco)
    • Mt. Carmel Chapel
    • Radar Tukon
    • Idjang Viewpoint
    • Fundacion Pacita
    • Japanese Tunnel
    • Valugan Boulder Beach
    • Vayang Rolling Hills
    • Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills
    • Sto. Domingo Church
  • South Batan Island (Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan)
    • Chawa Viewdeck
    • Mahatao Pier
    • San Jose Borromeo Church
    • Diura (Fishing Village)
    • Fountain of Youth
    • Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Country)
    • Imnajbu Point
    • Old Naval Base
    • Alapad Rock
    • Song Song Ruins
    • San Jose de Ivana Church
    • Honesty Coffee Shop
    • Famous House of Dakay
  • Sabtang Island
    • San Vicenter Ferer Church
    • Savidug Village and Savidug Idjang Rock Fortress
    • Sabtang Vernacular Houses
    • Sabtang Lighthouse
    • Limestone production
    • Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint
    • Chavayan Village
    • Nakabuang (Morong) Beach and Ahao Arch
    • Vuhus Island
  • Itbayat Island
    • Chinapoliran Port
    • Sta. Maria Immaculada (Itbayat) Church
    • Lake Kavaywan
    • Mt. Karoboban Viewpoint
    • Torongan Hills and Cave
    • Paganaman Port and Lagoon
    • Rapang Cliffs and Stone Bell
    • Kaxobcan Beach
    • Mt. Riposed
    • Nahili Votox Burial Site
    • Komayasakas Cave and Water Source
    • Manoyok Sinkhole
    • Sarokan, Pevangan and Do’tboran Caves
    • Agosan Rocks
    • Port Mauyen
    • Island hopping (when weather permits):
      • Siayan
      • Dinem
      • Ditarem
      • Yami (Mavolis)

Optional activities

Mt. Iraya Hike (North Batan)
Duration: 3hrs to 4 hrs
Highlights: At 1,900ft ASL, Mt Iraya offers a stunning view of Basco and a wide array of endemic flora and fauna.
Rates/Fees:
PHP1000/pax for 4 pax and more, or
PHP1500/pax for 2 pax

Mt. Matarem Hike (South Batan)
Duration: 1.5hrs to 2hrs
Highlights: An extinct volcano, Mt. Matarem spans the municipalities of Mahatao, Uyugan and Ivana. At the summit, you’ll have a commanding view of Sabtang.
Rates/Fees:
PHP1300/pax for 4 pax and more, or
PHP1800/pax for 2 pax

Hiking/Walking Tour
Duration: 4hrs to 6hrs
Highlights: Hike along the Basco-Mahatao Trail, stopping by Racuh-a-idi Spring of Youth in Diura Fishing Village for a cold, refreshing dip. Then continue on to the radar station, Fundacion Pacita and the wind turbines
Rates/Fees:
PHP800/pax for 4 pax and more, or
PHP1200/pax for 2 pax

SCUBA Diving
Duration: 2hrs to 3hrs, depending on the dive location and number of dives
Highlights: Explore the rich marine life of Sabtang: Pavona coral fields, Trevallies Lair, Canyons, etc.
Rates/Fees:
PHP3000/pax for a single dive, or
PHP2500/pax for 2 dives or more

Fishing/Boating
Duration: Minimum of 1hr
Highlights: Experience “mataw” fishing with local anglers using nylon line and hook.
Rates/Fees:
PHP500/pax/hr for 4 pax and more, or
PHP1000/pax/hr for 2 pax

ATV Touring
Duration: up to whole day
Highlights: Explore Batan at your own pace.
Rates/Fees:
PHP500/pax for halfday, or
PHP1000/pax for whole day

Bicycle (Motorbike) Touring
Duration: up to whole day
Highlights: A visit to Batanes is not complete without trying out one of its iconic symbols, the bicycle. Tour Batan Island on two wheels, either self-powered or motorized. Travel from the heart of Basco to the southernmost parts of Batan.
Rates/Fees:
Bicycle: PHP100/pax/hr
Motorbike: PHP250/pax/hr

Contacts:

BISUMI Tours and Services
Ryan Lara Cardona <+63915.803.4582>
bisumitours@gmail.com

MarFel Lodge
<+63908.893.1475>
<+63920.976.4966>
<+63917.857.4493>
<+63917.883.3249>
marfellodge@gmail.com
http://marfellodgebatanes.com

Dive Batanes
Chico Domingo <+63939.935.1950>

Ivatan ATV Rentals
<+63998.551.9656>

Basco TODA
<+63929.703.8404>

Casa Napoli Pizza
<+63999.990.7553>

Rapang (Itbayat) Guide
Jose Valiente <+63949.620.0184>

The Dreamweavers of Lake Sebu

National Artist Boi Lang Dulay

Boi Lang Dulay (August 03, 1924 – April 03, 2015) elevated T’boli weaving into an art form, earning for her the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan in 1998 for her outstanding craft and masterpieces that made the t’nalak – and the T’bolis – famous the world over.

The T’bolis belong to the many indigenous tribes or “lumads” that live in the hinterlands of the southwestern part of Cotabato. The T’bolis of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato are famous for their dream-inspired and spirit-infused weavings, raised to the level of art by the iconic Boi Lang Dulay, the 1998 Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardee. Lang Dulay has designed and woven over 100 T’nalaks. She stopped weaving in 2011 due to advancing age and concentrated on designing. The last design she made was bought by the NCCA after she died.

The T'bolis are also well-known for their ornate and intricate brass and beadworks.

The T’bolis are also well-known for their ornate and intricate brass and beadworks.

The T’nalak is a deep brown cloth made from “krungon” or abaca fiber, tie-dyed with intricate designs and produced mostly by the womenfolk of the tribe. According to T’boli tradition, T’nalak designs have been passed down through generations and are revealed to the best weavers in dreams, brought to them by their ancestors.

The T’nalak is so ingrained with spiritual meanings that its production and use is surrounded by a variety of traditions and beliefs.  It is believed that in order to maintain the purity of their art, T’boli women must abstain from “worldly pleasures” while weaving a T’nalak. During weaving, one should not step over the loom, for doing so is to risk illness. Also, cutting the cloth, unless done according to the prescribed norm, will cause sickness or death; and if a weaving is sold, a brass ring is often attached to appease the spirits.

T’nalak production is labor-intensive, requiring both skills and knowledge, and learned at a very young age by the women of the tribe.

Along with the its world-famous T’nalak, T’boli music and dances are also among the indigenous cultural heritage being showcased in Lake Sebu.

I Miss You… SUN!

It has been raining cats and dogs for more than five (5) days… now, I am longing for the sun.

The stunning sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint in Sagada, Mt. Province.

The stunning sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint in Sagada, Mt. Province.

Kiltepan Sunrise

DSC_2811

No words. They won’t do justice to such magnificence only God can create.

DSC_2861

The Phoenix of Palo

Palo Cathedral, or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, was built in 1596 by the Jesuits and served as their home, until 1768, after being ordered to leave the Philippines, as an aftermath of political wranglings in Europe. They were replaced in Leyte by the Augustinians who in 1834 eventually ceded the northeastern parishes to the Franciscans.

Repairs–after it was hit by a fire and typhoon which caused its roof to be ripped off, and its convent to be destroyed–and construction of its two symmetrical towers began in 1850.

The cathedral was converted into an evacuation hospital from October 1944 to March 1945 by the American Liberation Forces. -- photo from kadetrosada.wordpress.com

The cathedral was converted into an evacuation hospital from October 1944 to March 1945 by the American Liberation Forces. — photo from kadetrosada.wordpress.com

The church became a cathedral on March 25, 1938, with Monsignor Manuel Mascariñas serving as its first bishop. During World War II, the cathedral was converted into an evacuation hospital by American Liberation Forces, and was used as refuge of civilians.

-- photo from inquirer.newsinfo

— photo from inquirer.newsinfo

Palo Cathedral was badly damaged by supertyphoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) in November 2013. DSC_0308Hurricane-like winds stripped this beautiful infrastructure of its roofs and windows. Yolanda left it almost wiped out. After Yolanda’s devastation, a memorial service for the typhoon’s casualties was held in the cathedral. Bodies were then buried in the cathedral’s grave site.

But like the mythological Phoenix, the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral rose from the “ashes”, signifying renewal and rebirth. In 17 January 2015, Pope Francis held mass here and met with families of survivors of superyyphoon Yolanda.

Today, through the major efforts of private institutions and the people of Palo, the cathedral has been fully restored and once again stand, in all its glory and grandeur.

Post Script

Red Beach in Brgy. Candahug brought Palo to the pages of world history. It is where Gen. Douglas McArthur first landed to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese occupation on October 20, 1944.

Red Beach immortalized Palo in the pages of world history. It was where Gen. Douglas McArthur first landed to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese occupation.

The celebrated town of Palo, Leyte has also played vital roles in our country’s history and religiosity.

Red Beach in Brgy. Candahug was where Gen. Douglas McArthur fulfilled his promise: I shall return, in 20 October 1944. Bringing with him the full might of the Allied forces, the massive landing in Palo signaled the end of Japanese occupation in the country during World War II.

 

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