Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Dear Shubert Ciencia,

I read your blog notes about the churches of the Philippines and I was wondering whether you could give me some advice. My name is Thomas van der Walt and I am a lecturer at the University of South Africa. In February, a colleague and I will be visiting the Philippines where we will conduct a children’s project with the South African Embassy and where I will participate in a conference on children’s museums at the Museo Pambata in Manilla.

I had been to the Philippines before, in 1993 and 2001, but those visits were restricted to Manila and Cebu. As far as Manila is concerned, most of my time was spent at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. I also made two short visits to Intramuros.

Since my hobby is visiting World Heritage Sites, I would like to visit some of the World Heritage Sites of the Philippines this time and this is where I hope you can help me. It is very difficult to get information here in South Africa.

We will stay in Manila Hotel for a week during the conference and project duration on 17-25 February and therefore will not be too difficult to visit Intramuros and the Church of Agustin. I had been there before but want to visit it again.

In addition to the time in Manila, we have one week in which we can travel and I was hoping that you will be able to give me some advice of what will be possible and what not. We would of course like to see as much as possible. We will arrive in Manila on Sunday (9 February), leave, and have to be back in Manila on Friday evening (15 February).

And then of course, there are the sites in Luzon. I would like to visit Vigan and the rice terraces of the Cordilleras. I know Vigan should be fairly straightforward --- we will travel there by bus (maybe you can give us some advice on the practicalities, which bus service should we use, how should we book our tickets, how can we find out departure times).

But what about the rice terraces of the Cordilleras? How do we get there? Should we go there before Vigan, or first to Vigan and then to the Cordilleras? How much time do we need for this trip? I read about a 15 kilometer walk from Banaue to the tribal village of Batad. Which of the four clusters should we try to see: Banaue, Mayoyao, Kiangan or Hungduan? Should we travel by bus to one of the bigger town in Luzon and hire a car there to travel from site to site?

And then there are the Churches: San Agustin Church in Paoay and Santa Maria Church. Will it be possible to include a visit to Paoay in a side trip?

Unfortunately the Miag-ao Church is out of question although apparently beautiful!

And then of course the Puerto Princesca Subterranean River National Park. Should I be able to stay a day or two longer after the conference? I would like to go Puerto Prinsesa. I suppose the best way will be to fly there. How much time do you think I need? I suppose a boat/ferry will take too long?

Tubbataha Reef National Park is out of the question this time.

I know I am asking a lot, but I hope you can help a bit. If at all possible, I hope we can meet while we are in Manilla!

Kind regards.

Prof. Thomas van der Walt
Department of Information Science, University of South Africa
0003 Unisa, Pretoria, South Africa

Profile: The Church of Bacoor, Cavite

The ecclesiastical mission of Bacoor was established in 1752 and administered by the secular clergy who probably had the first parochial buildings built. In 1872, Bacoor was handed to the Augustinian Recollects then back again to the secular clergy. Fr. Mariano Gomez of the GOMBURZA Martyrs served as a parish priest of the church for 48 years.

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