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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day: Nature Photos

A rice field in the mountains.
A boatman flocking the ducks.
A farm with ducks.
The clear and lucid waters with starfish on the bay.

The abundance of aquatic creatures in a bay.
A clean and green highway.
The panoramic scenery of the smallest volcano in the world, Taal Volcano
It's more fun to play in a clean playground.

A smoke free and environment friendly vehicle.
This is a compilation of photos for Earth Day. Save our nature.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Navigating Laguna Loop: Majayjay

Majayjay is a highland town situated in the foothills of Mount Banahaw. The town stands 1000 feet above sea level and surrounded by the towns of Magdalena in the north, Liliw in the west, Luisiana in the east, and Lucban, Quezon in the south. 

Based on ancient stories, the town has no adequate roads but there are curved slopes and roads going to the gorges. In order to solve that problem, the conquerors hired laborers and porters. However, these people were having a hard time going to the town and one of them sigh and said "hay, hay, hay" while climbing the slopes of Mount Banahaw. That is why, they called the place Majayjay: " ma" means many and "hay, hay" which refers to the sound of sigh. It became a town in 1571 and Gaspar Osorio was the first leader of this town. In addition, Emilio Jacinto, the Brains of the Katipunan died in this town in 1899.
The welcome arch of Majayjay. 
The historical marker of Majayjay.
I went to a ten minute ride to this town via tricycle from the town of Liliw. The first thing I did in this town is to visit the town central where you can found one of the oldest and tallest churches in the province and a National Culture Treasure, the St. Gregory the Great Parish Church which was built in 1571. It was originally made of bamboo at burned in 1576 and the church made of stone was created in 1616 until 1649. The high structure of the church was built with the help of Father Jose de Puertollano which was renovated from 1711 to 1734. The church is also adjacent to the municipal hall where you can read the historical background of the town.
St. Gregory the Great Parish Church
From the town center, I took a five minute walk going to the place which is a product of forced labor. It is called as the Tulay Pigue (Buttocks Bridge or Puente de Capricho). This bridge serves as a shortcut to other barangays which lead you to the neighboring town of Magdalena. It is a very narrow bridge and you can go there after you passed the cemetery and the dumpsite where you will walk through the grassy slopes.

Tulay Pigue
The most popular natural tourist attraction in Majayjay is the Taytay Falls. Located in Barangay Taytay and you can get there by twenty minutes from the town proper. Then you will going to take a long walk to the canopy trail which leads you to the falls. When I was walking to the falls, I heard the splash of waterfalls from far away. Then, I was amazed on how the Taytay Falls looks like. It is a two-storey waterfalls in a remote location in which vegetation is abundant and it has a clear water flowing from Mount Banahaw. Before, it is a hard task to reach the falls because there were no marked trails during that time. In 2008, the World Bank supported the promotion of tourism in Taytay Falls.
The trail to Taytay Falls.
Taytay Falls, the main tourist attraction in Majayjay.
A rice field in Majayjay
Women were able to have their laundry in the river.
Therefore, my travel experience in Majayjay is one of the most memorable travels I need to treasure. First, the roads that you are going to pass is risky but exciting because of ascending slopes and intense zigzag which feels like a rollercoaster trip, that is why you need to become careful in driving. Second, I appreciated the rural life and simple ambiance in the town because of verdant mountains and forests and the traditional way of living especially using horses in transportation and women who made their laundry in the river. Lastly, Majayjay is such a town where you can experience the simple and rural life in the highlands. Let's aim high to Majayjay!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Visita Iglesia: A Pilgrimage to the Baroque Churches of Laguna

Laguna is a province located in Southern Luzon which is known as the birth place of Dr. Jose Rizal. It is also the place where you can explore the natural wonders such as the Pagsanjan Falls and Caliraya Lake which are popular tourist spots and the home of products such as woodcarvings, slippers and homemade sweets. The province is also the home of majestic and ancient Baroque churches which was constructed and preserved from the Spanish period. Recently, I decided to have my Visita Iglesia (the tradition of pilgrimage to different churches in order to commemorate the Stations of the Cross and giving our prayers) in this province. 

Previously, I visited the churches in Sta. Rosa, Binan, and San Pedro. This year, I decided to travel the Laguna Loop (classified into Laguna de Bay Loop and Mount Banahaw Loop) in order to visit the Baroque churches in the area. These churches were built since the Spanish era and preserved for many centuries which depicted through impressive architecture and strong foundation. I also appreciate the decorations, the belfries and the interior of the churches. In addition, most of these churches are located in the town plaza and adjacent to the municipal hall which reflected the society during the Spanish era and showed the unity of Church and State. Therefore, the most important thing that I accomplished in this pilgrimage is to  reflect in our lives, and saying our prayers to the Lord by asking forgiveness, thanksgiving and appreciation.

Shrine of Saint Anthony de Padua, Pila
Immaculate Conception Parish, Santa Cruz
I left our hometown at 6:00 a.m. where I traveled for almost two hours from Cavite and rode a jeepney in Calamba going to the first town. I visited the heritage town of Pila where Pila Church or the Diocesan Shrine of St. Anthony de Padua which is located in the town plazaThen, I went to a ten minute jeepney ride from Pila to the busy provincial capital of Santa Cruz to visit the Immaculate Conception ChurchThen, I took my snack in a fast food chain in this town. 

St. Mary Magdalene Church, Magdalena
St. John the Baptist Church, Liliw
St. Bartholomew Parish, Nagcarlan
I went to a fifteen minute ride to the historical town of Magdalena which is known for the St. Mary Magdalene Church. It is the church where Emilio Jacinto sought refuge after he was wounded in the war. From Magdalena, I went to the neighboring towns of Liliw and Nagcarlan. First, I went to the town of Liliw which is popular in their native products especially slippers and local sweets. Adjacent to the native products stores the bricked Saint John the Baptist Church was located in the town proper. Then I took a five minute ride to the rustic and verdant town of Nagcarlan to visit the St. Bartholomew Church which served as a location of the defunct fantasy series "Kampanerang Kuba". 

St. Gregory the Great Parish Church, Majayjay
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish, Luisiana
Transfiguration Church, Cavinti
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Pagsanjan
I waited for almost one hour in jeepney from Nagcarlan going to the highland town of Majayjay where the St. Gregory the Great Parish Church was located. It is one of the oldest and tallest churches in the country and one of the National Heritage Treasures. Then I had a thirty minute ride passing the slopes and curved roads to Luisiana where I visited the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish. I went to a thirty minute ride to Cavinti where the 400-year old Parish of Transfiguration of Our Lord Church was located in the town proper. I also visited the neighboring town of Pagsanjan where the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish was located here. 

St. John the Baptist Church, Longos
St. James the Apostle Church, Paete
St. Peter of Alcantara Church, Pakil
I also visited the lakeshore town of Kalayaan where you can found St. John the Baptist Church in Longos which is near to the Laguna de Bay. I proceeded to the towns of Paete and Pakil where they had the beautiful and artistic woodcarvings. In these two towns you can found the old Baroque churches of Saint James the Apostle in Paete and St. Peter of Alcantara Church in Pakil. After we visit the town of Pakil, I decided to go home and I enjoyed the Visita Iglesia in Laguna because of the majestic churches and the ambiance of natural wonders in the place from passing the towns where you can see mountains, rivers and lakes where you can appreciate the beauty of nature and reflect to our lives.

Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church, Mabitac
San Sebastian Church, Lumban
San Pablo Cathedral, San Pablo City
You can also try to visit the Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church in Mabitac where you are going to take the 126 steps to the hilltop church, San Sebastian Church in the embroidery town of Lumban and a center of missionary activities, and the Saint Paul the Hermit Cathedral located in the City of Seven Lakes in San Pablo City. Below are the pictures of the belfries, markers and the interior of different churches I visited:

Pila Church
Santa Cruz Church
Nagcarlan Church
Cavinti Church
Longos Church
Pakil Church
Magdalena Church
Church Interiors:
Santa Cruz
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