Saturday, March 31, 2007


One of my interns was tasked to prepare the parlor games for our last year’s post-Christmas and pre-New Year party.

She must be fond of tortang talong because her games turned out to be about eggs and eggplants.

The first contest is who among the pairs (should be male and female) will first break their eggs (hanging down the middle of their thighs from the waist) by swinging them with their movement (pakintudkintud) until the eggs collide and break.

Tossing an egg the farthest distance between pairs without breaking it followed.

Then the eggplants.

I forgot what the first one is all about (I was busy drinking Generoso brandy with some of Nueva Ecija’s dakilang magsasaka).

The second one is my favorite: eggplant is placed between boy’s thigh (imagine what it connotes), girl mashes the eggplant using only one of her hands at one time (imagine again).

First pair to reduce the eggplant to pulp wins.

I told my intern, “Dapat may bibingka eating contest para kumpleto na”.


Wala lang. I should post at least one story every week and it has been a tough 7 days for me.


Profile: Cabiao’s Church of San Juan Nepomuceno

The Augustinians accepted Cabiao as a mission in 1834 and built the first parochial buildings after thirty years. A church of stronger materials was later built that was damaged by floodwaters, probably rebuilt, and probably damaged again. Fr. Federico Cortazar (OSA) initiated the church’s restoration in 1871 and that was finished during the term of Fr. Martin Arconada (OSA) in 1884. This might be the present church but there are no traces of the old structure maybe because of the many repairs, renovations and restorations it underwent.

PHOTOS (top to bottom):

1) First timer
2) Nakahawak na minsan
3) Nasanay sa maikli
4) Sanay
5) The winner (captured ang hand motions sa bilis)
6) Cabiao, Nueva Ecija

Friday, March 23, 2007


Emmanuel Dapigran Pacquiao is an accidental champion. He was actually a replacement opponent of Lehlohonolo Ledwaba who was the IBF Super Bantamweight champion in 2001 whom he eventually knocked out. Manny Pacquiao would lose once after that fight but from there, it will be a steady climb to stardom for him. His ticket to fame came at the expense of 3 Mexican boxing icons: Marco Antonio Barrera whom he TKOed in the 11th round, Juan Manuel Marquez whom he fought to a contoversial draw, and Erik Morales who decisioned him once before getting TKOed in the next 2 grudge matches. In his 48 professionbal fights, Manny Pacquiao lost only three times to Filipino Rustico Torrecampo, Thai Medgoen “3K Battery” Singsurat, and Mexican Erik Morales.

There is no doubt that Manny Pacquiao is among the greatest Filipino boxers of all time, if not the best. He is also the most popular: a movie was made on his life (it flopped in the box office), his Visayan-accented Tagalog song became a hit, and he seem to be able to sell anything from beer to vinegar to Magic Sing. But he is so everywhere so much (he even want to become a congressman) that he is in danger of being over exposed and over sold. Somebody should tell him to hold his horses and focus on what made him great. For God’s sake, he should first get a belt and be a legitimate champion.

Many years before Manny Pacquiao was Kid Buntal who, with his copycat Lo-waist Gang, ruled the mean streets of Sta. Ana with their fists. It was said that if only he got the breaks, Kid Buntal could have reached the heights of Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Rolando Navarrete, and even Manny Pacquiao. But as it was, Kid Buntal never had ring experience, chalking his wins and losses in the talahiban of what is now present day Luneta. With his fists doing the talking, Kid Buntal’s foes never had a chance. Abet have only 2 memories of him in the losing side: when a beer bottle was smashed on his head in Uncle Doming’s beerhouse, and when he challenged Almaguer’s local boxing hero when he was already past his prime.

He tried to rub boxing to his two sons. He taught them the basic boxing arts of the “jab jab jab straight”, the uppercut and the cross during close fights, and defensive dancing in the ring. He toughened their fists with a sack of sand hanged in a coconut tree, and their jaws and body with a daily three rounds of boxing. One day during a sibling brawl, Kid Buntal took out the gloves and made his sons let their steam off in boxing. The taller Abet easily dominated the shorter Eric who, in his frustration, finally lunged at his brother and bit him in the stomach. And Mike Tyson was not yet around.

Eventually, it was Eric who inherited Kid Buntal’s mantle of boxing. But like his father, boxing became a tool of survival and not just a mere sport. His fists also talked too much that he had to run away from a university before eventually getting expelled in the next one. But he bested his father by having a real ring experience. During the Munoz town fiesta, his tropa entered him in an amateur boxing match where he handily beat his opponent and was given a bag of grocery for his prize.

Profiles: The Churches of Bayambang and Malasiqui

Bayambang’s parochial buildings were already in existence in 1804. These were replaced with stronger structures in 1869 after suffering severe damages in the earthquake of 1863. From 1813 to 1840, Fr. Manuel Sucias (OP), Fr. Juan Alvarez del Manzano (OP), Fr. Joaquin Flores (OP), Fr. Benito Foncuberta (OP), and Fr. Jose Ibanez (OP) successively supervised the construction of a new church. This might be the present church (ABOVE) that is dedicated to San Vicente Ferrer. Thirteen kilometers away is the town of Malasiqui whose Spanish colonial era Church of San Ildefonso was totally destroyed during the 1990 earthquake. The church’s lineage goes back to 1677 with the building of the first structure that was rebuilt and/or rennovated in 1746, 1780, 1823, 1885, and 1897. The new church (BELOW) was started to be constructed in 1993 over the ruins of the old church and blessed in 2002.

CREDIT: Manny Pacquiao photo and info were sourced from Wikipedia.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


The travelling family of Kid Buntal and Precy spent a year in Paniqui, Tarlac after 2 years in Pangasinan. They stayed in the upper half of a house behind the school and beside the church in a compound surrounded by sugarcane fields. Just beside lives a fat lady with a divine healing power. The people who come to her brought lots of eggs which the fat lady will break then place the contents in glasses of water beside a white life-size statue of the Virgin Mary. The healer will look at the eggs and write on a piece of paper words that only she can understand. Then she will wipe holy water on the sick. And they got healed. The landlord said the fat lady is guided by angels.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Kid Buntal is always sullen but it was one particularly day when he was that so much that he looked more like in grief.

Ano problema mo?”, asked Precy.

Kid Buntal said nothing, took off his barong and sat in their splinted kawayan bed. He was like that for a long time.

That day, Abet later learned, was the day Kid Buntal’s friend died. And it was no ordinary friend.

There was an old beggar in the Paniqui market. She lived on alms and sleep on the stalls. Whenever he passes by, Kid Buntal would always take her to one of the turo-turos in the market then leave her with a 10 or 20 peso bill. But one day, the old beggar was not in her usual place. Kid Buntal asked around and one of the stall owners told him, “Patay na ang kaibigan mo”.

That was his friend. When Abet asked him in between munches of sugarcane why he cared so much, sullenness again came to his eyes when he said, “Kamukhang-kamukha siya ni Lola Inay mo.”

It was the bunso in him. And the canned Swift frankfurters, the pabaon from the sale of Lolo Itay’s Balita, the beloved mother, and the missed funeral.

Abet became generous to the namamalimos after that. People think it’s absurd for him to distribute 5 peso coins to street children and give limos to all the mendicants lined up in the simbahans he went to even if he was not asked to. He simply told them, “It makes me feel good.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kulot salot!

That has been said about Kid Buntal. He tried to be the Sabadista that Precy wants him to become to but sometimes, he just snaps. He will go home drunk which is a scandal for a literature evangelist like him, missionary teachers like Precy, and the saints that be in the Sabadista compound. There are moments too when Kid Buntal will beat his sons with sugarcane until this looks like it just came out of the dadapilan.

But it’s is not like that always. Most of the time, Abet and Eric are accomplices. Kid Buntal would take them to Tarlac where they will gorge themselves with Sabadista forbidden pleasures: a lunch of longganisa and adobong baboy, copies of komiks that would be hidden in their carton boxes where they keep their clothes, and a fitting finale of a double picture in the sinehan. Of course, Kid Buntal will have his beer and a few smokes too.

ulot salot!

Abet heard that in Almaguer and it was intended for him. It was the glory days of the Samahang Dilim. Nowadays, he keeps his hair short so the kulot would not show. Para kasing bulbol ang buhok niya pag humaba. But he lets his hair grow and curl once in a while.

PHOTOS (top to bottom):

1) Twenty-three years later in Carino, Paniqui, Tarlac. The building on the left is the church. The school has been moved behind it. The house where Kid Buntal and Precy’s family stayed is in the right side. In front is the house of the healer.

2) TARLAC’S CHURCH OF SAN SEBASTIAN. The Augustinians established the ecclesiastical mission of what would be Tarlac in 1686. Fr. Agustin Barriocanal (OSA) probably built the first parochial buildings in 1740. Fr. Baltasar Gamarra (OSA), Fr. Fr. Tomas Fito (OSA), and Fr. Fermin Sardon (OSA) successively helped built a wood and stone church between 1872 and 1890 where the Philippine Revolutionary Congress held its sessions. This was totally destroyed in 1945 during the second world war and was subsequently rebuilt.

3) The Spanish colonial era church of CAMILING TARLAC has been razed by fire and is currently undertaking a painfully slow process of rebuilding. Camiling is the hometown of Leonora Rivera who was immortalized by her ex-boyfriend Dr. Jose P. Rizal as the archetype Mari Clara. During the Philippine-Spanish War, Gen. Francisco Makabulos presided over the execution of Gen. Pedro Pedroche and some of his men within the church compound. They have been charged with rebellion by Gen. Antonio Luna who also ordered the execution. Later, General Luna himself will be assassinated by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s Kawit Company within the vicinity of the Cabanatuan church in Nueva Ecija.

Before the war, Apong Puyot fled Camiling to Almaguer where he became a long time kapitan del barrio. Also hailing from Camiling is Uncle Nonong.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Because televisions then were powered by batteries, it has to be turned-off during every commercial to save on electricity. Everybody tensed when the black-and-white picture start to diminish indicating the decreasing battery power. And this always happen when he goes riding off on his horse to rescue a damsel from the bad guys.

Channel 13’s Piling-piling Pelikula was always a big event as Abet has witnessed in Almaguer, Mapandan, and Paniqui. At least for the kids. This they anticipate for 1 week especially if it’s the fast-drawing-and-shooting hero who can kill a battalion of kontrabidas and seemed immune to bullets. There is one rule among the TV viewers: no farthing please.

He was Geronimo, Leon Guerrero, Julian Valiente, Diego Santa Cruz, Pedro Tunasan, Zigomar, and Julian Vaquero. How we would like to be like him then.

After high school, he tried the movies as a fledging stuntman doing mostly “extra” roles. But he’s got the looks and perhaps the talent of riding horses, cocking a gun while sumersaulting in mid-air, and doing the rapido that culminates in a pompyang. The kids liked his movies and he soon become the country’s numero uno action star.

This is the fame that made him vice-governor of Pampanga, governor, and a senator of the republic. Now, he wants to become the mayor of the country’s financial center too.

Actors must have liked being family men because like a former president, an almost president, and a father and son in the senate, he’s got multiple family ties. His eldest son Manuelito is with former Miss International Melanie Marquez while his next 4 children is with his legal wife Marissa Tadeo, one of which is now the incumbent governor of their province.

Manuel Mercado Lapid was born and raised in Porac --- a town that was first established as an Augustinian mission in 1594 and named after the purac tree. Like many missions, a church was built: first of light materials that was replaced with a stronger structure during the 1710-1734 period by Fr. Manuel Obregon (OSA) and Fr. Nicolas Mornier (OSA), then in 1872 by Fr. Isidro Bernardo to replace what was probably destroyed in the 1863 earthquake. This church was renovated and restored in 1877, 1884, 1950, and 1990.

Adjacent to Porac is the sleepy town of Sta. Rita de Baculud/Sta. Rita de Lele. It was established in 1722 but because of its “economic and juridical conditions”, church building was started only in 1839 by Fr. Francisco Royo (OSA) then Fr.Juan Merino (OSA) presumably through funds donated by Don Alejandro Rodriguez.

Lito Lapid’s koboy image suited him fine in the movies. He should have just stayed there and make the kids of Almaguer happy.

PHOTOS (top to bottom):
1) Action star turned politician Lito Lapid.
2) Gov. Mark Lapid (left) and dad Sen. Lito Lapid (right).
3) The churches of Porac and (4) Sta. Rita in Pampanga.

CREDITS: Lapid photos and information from Wikipedia.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I forgot the brand and specifications of our first camera. It has a silver color and one of those models where you have to peek down the viewfinder to take a picture. It was a gift from my Dad’s American friend. Abet and Eric’s photo in the banauang in front of Amang Lakay’s house in Almaguer is our sole remembrance of it. The camera was given to me when it broke down and I have happy memories of being the neighborhood kids’ “photographer”.

Later, I dabbled with an old black camera during my college days that was given as a gift to the campus paper by the university president. It was, however, pawned by one of the staff writers before I can fully enjoy it.

I consider these my early flings with photography. What might be first love happened when I am already working with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement and with an inky black Cannon that looks like those hand held movie cameras which everybody seem to have now. The surviving photos I took with this camera are now posted in my flickr account and include a trek to Battad in Banaue, Ifugao for a friend’s alternative stag party; photos of Boracay Island in Aklan and El Nido in Palawan where we have two of our company’s multi-day (and boring) workshops; and those of Baguio City during a conference. My affair ended when the camera disappeared from our office.

What followed were a series of “one-night stands” with various cameras: Egay Paraguison’s Instamatic in Bangkok 1, Bohol, Singapore and Jakarta; and a company camera with a manually adjustable lens that I borrowed for Bangkok 2 and 3). Then I started going to churches and decided to finally get hitched.

My Olympus Camedia digital camera is not actually mine but our company’s. I bought it in 2004 for around P19,000.00 at the Villman branch in West Avenue, Quezon City. I really have to convince my boss for that camera who finally relented when I proposed that the cost be taken from my operations fund and that it will be used in documenting company activities.

And so it was that I embarked on a visita iglesia (with the original intention of breaking the monotony of my constant travels) with my Olympus Camedia with its 4,000,000 effective pixels, 5.8 mm to 17.4 mm lens, ½ to 1/1000 second shutter speed (2 seconds for night scene mode), and an effective memory of 16-256 MB. I actually didn’t care on the specs because frankly, I don’t know what these mean. I’m fine as long as the camera worked. It will be 2 years later before I finally read the user’s manual and got introduced to the camera’s shooting modes and other features.

In the Christmas season of 2005, I redeemed the points I earned in my “Laking National” loyalty card and bought myself Michael Busselle’s “100 Ways to Take Better Photographs”. I consider the book as my first training in photography. Poet-cum-techie Jun Lisondra also guided me through the intricate technicalities of photography by enlightening me on pixels and introducing the wonders of Picasa.

In my 37th year, I gifted myself with a flickr pro account after being inspired by Maestro Oyet’s prodding to start a group on simbahans and pansit. Instead, I joined several groups whose outstanding photography exposed the engot in me. For a moment, I was ready to quit but then Abet told me, “This like college, man. You will learn and you will survive”. I do hope so.

For me, my flickr pro account is an advance course in photography and I will be thankful for viewers of this blog who can share tips in improving my photos. It is also a tribute to my Olympus Camedia who never failed me, and a way of sharing my passion for Philippine colonial churches (and other places of deity worship) however blurred, dark or tilted the photos may be.

So far, my Olympus Camedia has taken more or less 4,000 photos. It has traveled with me across the Philippines and to Cambodia, Pakistan and Japan. It is a witness to both the happy and sad moments of my family, the many meetings/workshops/conferences/trainings related to my work, and the secrets that goes with life.

Early this year, I went camera hunting with some friends in Quiapo’s Hidalgo Street. I fell in love with a Nikon D40 which Mang Ramon offered for P26,500. I was taking out my ATM card from the bag when I came across my Olympus Camedia, the markings erased with age, its silver coat pale with use, the lens barrier now loose, and evidently gurang compared with the sleek new models. It seemed to tell me, “One more year, boss”. Yes, one more year…

(Photo above taken in an art gallery in Yufuin, Oita City, Japan)