Saturday, March 29, 2008



Blah blah blah blah blah! Its Day 3 of a talk and counter-talk shop. Many opted to clam up with that "so-what-else-is-new?" uninterested smugness. Oh the malady of eternal assessment points! And the penchant for recycled and unfulfilled plans! The curse of the talking chairs because resolutions are only for the brave hearts.

Down the street, people suddenly looking glum streamed out of the nearby church. Perhaps its the crosses on their foreheads from last year's palms.


God created paradise in 6 days. It took 2 assholes a bite of an apple to take it away.

Us took years of putting up the social enterprise of our dreams. He (our wide-eyed asshole) took some months to bring it down. But we are not going down so off to the City of Pines for 2 days of reflection. And as we flog ourselves, Jun shoots the waving palms at San Jose City's cathedral.

But its not the palms. Its Jesus stopping at the gates of Jerusalem and crying.


Must go to Aliaga to shoot these abong-abongs where the pasyons are done. But wife suddenly wanted me within seeing distance. So I sulked myself all day and was glared down as I tried making my case.

Okey. Bulan will have to wait until next year for my explanation that the Lenten abong-abongs originated from the mag-aanito's sambahan a long time ago.


Sorry Jun but wife is still in that "You don't argue with me!" mood. She knew I will be shooting the penitents of Puncan. Her first order of the day is to bring out the laundry. Bad news for me. That means no shooting today.

Jun will have Puncan all by himself while I do the rinsing and flagellate myself.


The Pantok Lenten Sports Festival had been going on for more that 10 years now. The main event is exclusively for motorsiklong pang-traysikel but before that is a short marathon, a bicycle race, and the battle for the title of Karyada King. This festival is such a hit that it has become a tradition and that it has reached the dinadayo category. Its not difficult to find. Just look for a large gathering of people along the Bacal 2, Talavera portion of the national highway. It runs from Maundy Thursday until Black Friday.

Today is the finale and I have been invited as the official photographer.


Wife finally weaned out of her doomsday mood. But the water lines need refitting. So off to the plumber and a whole day of plumbing.

There never was a more glorious Easter and the sweetest 2 cold bottles of Red Horse beer afterwards.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (from top to bottom):

PANDACAN, MANILA. The Franciscans established the the ecclesiastical mission of Pandacan in 1574. Fr. Francisco del Rosario started building the first stone church in 1732 that was destroyed twice by earthquakes, and totally rebuilt.

CONCEPCION, TARLAC. What is now the town of Concepcion was carved from Magalang and established as a separate pueblo in 1866 after which the first church was built. This was probably damaged and rebuilt in 1893 by Fr. Fernando Vasquez (OSA). The church was renovated to an extent such that the original structure is no longer visible.

STA. MARIA, BULACAN. Sta. Maria de Caboan was once known as San Miguel and established in 1602. What was probably its first church was built by Fr. Gerocino Vasquez (OFM) in 1613 and later destroyed during the 1639 Chinese revolt. It was replaced by another building in 1669 that fell down during the 1880 earthquake and rebuilt in 1891.

UMINGAN, PANGASINAN. I've heard stories about a church that was destroyed during World War II. So far, this is the only information I have about the church history. Umingan is a significant milestone of our family's story on my father's side. I thought it fitting to bring Kuya Bulan and Balong to a pilgrimage on our past.

BINALONAN, PANGASINAN. Fr. Policarpio Ilana (OP) started building the church in 1842 four years after Binalonan was established as an independent town. The construction was only completed at around 1930 during the ecclesiastical administration of Fr. Pio Mabutas. The church was converted into a garrison by the invading Japanese forces and was heavily damaged during a bombing raid. Fr. Pablo Evangelista started rebuilding the parochial buildings after the war that was completed at around 1961 by Fr. Leon Bitanga. The church have been vastly improved since then and only parts of the wall from the original structure remained visible. The facade has just been recently restored following that of the original design.

PANIQUI, TARLAC. The colonial era church was one of the first to be built in the Philippines. It was reconstructed during the 1920s and was extensively renovated in the 1970s. The convent, although showing signs of recent renovation/reconstruction work, is still intact. The church is probably where Fr. Gregorio Aglipay drafted the constitution of the Philippine Independent Church on 23 October 1899. The landed Cojuangcos also traces its roots in Paniqui's Barangay Matalapitap.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


We sure looked grim and grimy. Three days and 2 nights of an almost no-sleep duel with a deadline did that. The weird tasting almond flavored coffee (I hate it!) and fast food chow (Jollibee TLC, Burger King Jr. Whooper, and Chow King Beef and Wanton Noodles in alternates) also connived. But finally, the last edits were done and INAFI’s policy paper on migration and development plus a collateral project proposal were soon emailed away. I asked Watalubs to hunt for some real food then went straight to an indulgent shower anticipating a long, uninterrupted sleep.

But that was before our Chapter Program Manager rang up to remind me of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines’ annual National Council meeting. Now I remembered why I brought along a Barong Tagalong (actually, a cross between a camisa de tsino and a Barong Tagalog I brought for my travel to Japan; I hate collars!). So off from the shower, to the barong, to the car. Real food and sleep will have to wait.

But then again, food can wait but sleep can’t so I dozed off as Watalubs drove off to Makati through the eskinitas and short cuts of his days as a taxi driver. It was almost an eternity when a jolt woke me up.

Asan na tayo?”.

Makati ser.”

Makati?” I can only see a narrow road flanked by rows of quaint old buildings. “Sigurado ka?” I was expecting the chic high rises and wide avenues of Ayala.

Yes ser. Nasa Poblacion na po tayo.”

Poblacion. So Makati has one too. Then it came to me. Makati has an old church at its Old Poblacion!

Ihinto mo sandali!” I rummaged my bag for my notebook and scanned through the well-thumbed pages and its crazy notes and annotations. There it was; boxed and scrawled in big capital letters was “Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, D.M. Rivera Street, Poblacion, Makati”.

Heto, hanapin natin.”

Guided by my old but reliable E-Z Map Philippines Travel Atlas, we combed the streets for D.M. Rivera, counter flowing one ways, getting lost in narrower eskinitas, and going back and again. We actually passed by the church several times before finding it on top of small rise hidden and tucked among old buildings, a maze of wires, and the creeping urban jungle.

The Franciscans established the first evangelical mission in what is now Makati before turning it over to the Jesuits in 1607. Fr. Pedro de los Montes (SJ) started building what is now the Church of San Pedro and San Pablo on top of a hill called Buenavista. It was completed in 1620 and the Jesuits administered it until 1768. The church was rebuilt/reconstructed in 1920 and again in 1975. It is more popularly known as San Pedro de Makati which is shortened into San Piro or Sampiro.

And there I was in my National Council meeting regalia doing awkward contortions as I shoot the church with my just acquired Nikon D40, watched by an amused couple probably dating in the small plaza, several passersby, and an ice cream vendor. My phone rang. It was the National Council people asking where I am. I told them I got lost.

Back in the car, I instructed Watalubs to beat it fast.

Napunta na ba kayo sa simbahan ng Las Pinas?”

Hindi pa.”

Malapit na lang dito yun ser.”

That got me thinking. On the next turn, I called the National Council and told them I am trying to find my way and I will be really late.

Ituloy mo sa Las Pinas.”

Malapit na turned out to be a 45-minute drive but I didn’t care. It turned out to be my first attempt in fiddling with my Nikon D40 with Ken Rockwell’s “Nikon D40 User’s Guide” on hand. It was high morning and the strong white light of the glaring sun is not ideal for shooting. That got me started on exposure compensation. I went around watched by a couple of curious nuns and a group of street kids. A sexy young lady gave me a look then moved away perhaps thinking that I was shooting her, which I wish I did.

The church is probably the first stone church of Las Pinas whose construction was initiated by Fr. Diego Cerra (OAR) in 1792. It was also Father Cerra who installed the world famous bamboo organ in 1816. The church was rebuilt/reconstructed in 1829, 1863, 1880, and lately in 1975 under the supervision of Architect Francisco Manosa.

The phone rang again. It was the National Council asking me if I can make it by lunch. By then, my Barong Tagalog was drenched with sweat. Wife was also visiting my sister-in-law in Taguig. So I told them that I’m still lost and that the car overheated and that I might not be making it after all. Then off to Taguig where I had a Phad Thai lunch with wife at Oddy’s in Market! Market! .

It was a fun way to get lost.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Kabaritan was once a barrio of Puncan then later of Lupao until it was established as a separate and independent town in 1894 and renamed San Jose in honor of its patron saint. The Augustinians first evangelized in the area then the Franciscans and much later the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
San Jose, Nueva Ecija is the hometown of Catalino “Lino” Brocka, one of the Philippines’ best film director ever. Lino’s father Regino met and fell in love with Lino’s mother, Pilar Ortiz, in San Jose. He brought her home with him to Sorsogon where in 1939 Lino was born. Regino actually left his first family for Pilar for which he was jailed for 2 years at the National Penitentiary on charges of bigamy. Regino was murdered when Lino was 6. Things turned to worse since then for Lino, his brother and his mother. Pilar decided to go back home to San Jose after 15 years but life there was not good either. Lino and his brother have to live with relatives. He was already in high school when their family finances began improving.
Lino attended the University of the Philippines, joined the Dramatic Club, and failed miserably as an actor. He became a Mormon missionary in Hawaii, attended the Mormon Church College in another unsuccessful attempt to get a college degree, and became an OFW in San Francisco. He came back to the Philippines and joined the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) who will later give him his big break as a film director. But before that era of greatness, he went home to San Jose to take care of their family’s small poultry business.

One of Lino’s critically acclaimed films, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang”, was based on his observations on the social and political life of a small town called San Jose where the film was also shot on location. Many years later, another talented artist from San Jose whose ancestors were some of the characters portrayed in the film would produce a one-day-only rerun before the tragic closure of San Jose’s once booming sinehan industry. His name is Wilfredo Pascual, Jr.
Lino’s other acclaimed films are "Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag" which is said to be the best Filipino film ever made, "Insiang" which is said to be his best, the Palm d’Or nominated "Janguar" and "Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim", "Macho Dancer", "Orapronobis", and "Gumapang Ka sa Lusak".
Lino co-founded CINEMANILA who produced his epic “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang”, was a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, organized the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), and was posthumously declared as a National Artist for Film after his fatal car accident in 1991.
Profile: The Church of Victoria, Tarlac
Victoria’s first church was built in 1872 and totally destroyed in 1898. Fr. Pedro Gallende (OSA) in his “Angels in Stone” stated that the fa├žade walls are still standing but there is no sign of it in the present church.
PHOTOS (top to bottom): (1) Lino Brocka as a young film director, (2) the newly built San Jose cathedral, and (3) saints gallery at the Victoria church.