Monday, December 27, 2010


Naisulat na kami ni Ruel S. De Vera sa Sunday Inquirer Magazine kaya bili na kayo. Hindi ko kayo maa-aginalduhan ng kopya kasi wala pa kaming complimentary copy. Heto na lang muna ang Chow Mein mula sa Chinatown ng San Francisco. Masarap na panghimagas sa pasko at pambungad sa bagong taon. :-D

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I never missed a plane until yesterday when my flight from San Francisco to Portland left while I was doing a week’s laundry and preparing binabad na pork chop for Oyet and Jack.

I was very particular on plane schedules. I knew I got it right so what happened is still a mystery at least to me.

Anyway, Oyet made frantic phone calls as I braced myself for the possibility of having to shell out a few hundred bucks for the fine and rebooking cost. An emerging worst case scenario since it’s the peak season of air travel is not being home for Christmas which would be unforgivable.

But miracles do happen. The voice on the other line finally became that of a human and after a pause, she said there’s another plane leaving for Narita at 12 noon. She is now booking me and if I can get on that plane, I would be able to catch my connecting flight to Manila in Tokyo. I never packed so fast in my life. Luggage in tow, Oyet and me ran to the 16th Street BART Station. And the fucking train have to stop 2 stations before the airport because of what was explained as "heavy traffic ahead". Finally at the airport, we have to run searching for the Delta Air counter which have to to be at the far end of the terminal. I was not booked but was able to insist on getting a boarding pass, endure the long security check queue, and barely have enough time to board the plane. I made it and what Oyet and me has to go through is certainly worthy of an “Amazing Race” episode.

Somebody up there must like me after all and perhaps, it might be because of those churches...

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (top to bottom): (1) St. Patrick's church count among its congregation a sizable Filipino community. It was first built in 1872 then restored in 1906 in the aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake. It is today registered as the city's Landmark No. 4. (2) The origins of the Episcopalian Grace Cathedral started in a little chapel built in 1849 during the great California gold rush. Two bigger structures were subsequently built with the third going down during the 1906 earthquake. The present structure was started to be constructed in 1928 on a donated property and was completed in 1964. It is the third largest Episcopal cathedral in the United States. (3-4) Bernal Hills offers a sweeping view of San Francisco. I was shooting for a panoramic view of the city's skyline and did not really notice the churches that came out in the photos. But there they stood, as if on cue, posing for me. (4) I saw this church while walking down from Bernal Hill. Never knew of a St. Kevin until then. A Google search result says that the church was named after Kevin of Glendalough, Ireland.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


“Yes, I walked the red light district”.

“Nude girls danced on my lap”.

“I get to be intimate with some of them too”.

That’s my storyline if I got asked about the seamy side of the countries I’ve travelled to.

The truth however is I am not really into gaudy red houses. Except that one night at Bangkok’s infamous Patpong district for curiosity’s sake and I thought it was more like a curio carnival and would not be coming back.

I would rather spend my free times walking around and shooting. My favorite past time abroad is something like WAT-ching in Thailand or exploring the mystery of Phnom Penh’s Happy Pizza or walking fast and furious in Kuala Lumpur. No girly bars please.

Recently though, a close encounter with go-go girls which I actually enjoyed happened in San Jose. Kuya R drove straight to a gentlemen’s club after picking me at the Sunnyvale train station. He paid $15 for each of us, ordered 2 bottles of non-alcoholic beer, and positioned ourselves along the center stage with $1 bills on the ready. I t was still 5 pm and we were the only patrons at that time. But boy, how the girls danced. It was uninhibited total performance with amazing acrobatics on the pole. Kuya R would place a couple of dollars on the table and they would come and spread and get so close I can smell them. It was no striptease. It was all the way throughout.

That night and the lies we made to cover our deed might have been one reason why Kuya R decided to drive me and go church hunting the next day. THAT was the striptease.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a renowned arts colony where noted actor Clint Eastwood once served as mayor. We drove slowly: Kuya R looking for the street signs and I admiring the neat streets and cute stores and genteel houses. The striptease that it was involved 2 u-turns until finally an uphill drive which first revealed the bell tower, then a grove of trees, until finally a centuries old church. San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo’s billing as the most beautiful of the California Missions is just.

There’s more coming. We were on the road again after a quick lunch of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl at Monterey's Fisherman’s Wharf. The striptease brought us to another u-turn, a right and another u-turn, a left and another u-turn, until finally a parked school bus and a town square straight out of a Wild West movie. Mission San Juan Bautista, the largest of the California Missions and the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s "Vertigo", is indeed a sprawl.

But really, this striptease started much earlier in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores with Oyet mentioning an old church around the neighborhood as he ticked off the churches we will be going to then finding a photo of that old church in a bookstore in Fort Mason and me deciding that it is a must-see-and-shoot church then Oyet and Jack and me walking along Mission Street and stopping in Clarion Alley for some photos and at a marker declaring the original location of the church and passing a Methodist / Protestant / Lutheran (?) church under renovation and shooting a Jewish synagogue across the street then the Basilica until finally the old Mission Dolores church.

PHOTOS EXPLAINED (from top to bottom): [1] The mission church of San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was started to be erected in 1793 some 22 years after the mission was moved to its present site. It was the headquarters of the California Mission chain from 1770 until 1803. Raiding French pirates ravaged the mission in 1818 and it has been in ruins until 1884 when restoration work started. The remains of the legendary missionary priest Fr. Junipero Serra is interred in the mission. [2] Mission San Jose Bautista’s first church was built a year after the mission’s foundation in 1797. The present church was started to be built in 1803 until 1812. It was damaged during the 1906 earthquake and restored from 1949 until 1950. [3] The Mission de San Francisco de Asis was established in 1776 and, through the years, became to be known as Mission Dolores after the stream which supplied it with water. It is the 6th mission to be established by the legendary missionary Fr. Junipero Serra and the most northerly of the 21 California Missions founded by the Spaniards. Beside the mission is the Basilica Dolores (building on the right) that was built in 1918 over the ruins of a parish church which collapsed during the 1906 earthquake.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Marahas ang reputasyon ng Oakland.

Ito marahil ang nag-udyok na mag-extra legal ang mga "Rough Riders": apat na beteranong pulis kasama ang dalawang Fil-Am na sina Clarence Mabanag at Jude Siapno, tinaguriang "best and brightest" ng Oakland, na natanggal sa serbisyo at kinasuhan dahil sa di umano'y pang-aabuso sa mga pinaghihinalaan nila. (Sila kaya ang inspirasyon ng pelikulang "Pride and Glory"?).

Kaya nakapagtatakang tahimik at walang katao-tao doon nang pasyalan namin ang amoy Pinoy na Cathedral of Christ the Light.

Linggo daw kasi at ang best side ng Oakland ang pinuntahan namin.

Ang kaibigan kong si eman59 ay nakatira sa side na 'yun.

Siya 'yung pinag-shoot ko ng San Beda Church kahit bumabagyo, at siya din yung nag-aya sa aking dumaan sa kanila n'ung una akong mapunta sa Amerika. Nagkakilala kami sa flickr.

Kasama si eman59 sa Lagalag Notebook project ni Oyet P at isang gabi nga ng Miyerkules ay muli niyang pinasadahan ang mga namimintog na pahina nito una kasama ang isang bote ng Croatian wine sa isang mukhang bonggang bar na sinundan ng 3 pang bote sa bahay niya at hinugasan ng isa pa. Alas-3 ng umaga na kami nakauwi ni Oyet P.

Bilang pabaon ay binigyan ako ni eman59 ng kuha niya sa St. Patrick's Church ng San Francisco. 'Tsaka  libro tungkol sa California Missions at hardbound edition ng "Turn of the Century".

Mabigat ang mga libro pero iuuwi ko ito kahit na magbayad pa ako ng excess luggage...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


It was our 13th anniversary. So I went out for a long walk and shot 13 photos. It's the best I could do when she's in Nueva Ecija and I am in San Francisco...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


After some 4 years and 41 destinations in several countries, the Lagalag notebooks were safely turned over to Wilfredo Pascual who started it all. The date was December 11, 12:05 am, at the San Francisco Airport.

Rightly so, my soon-to-be good friend Jack Fagan prepared spaghetti to celebrate the reunion.

An exhibit perhaps? Then publication?

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata…

PHOTOS EXPLAINED: The reunion photo with a Christmas tree in the background was taken by Jack Fagan while the lower photo with the spaghetti was by me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Bago ang aking pagpunta sa Mexico ay minsan pa lamang ako nakamalas ng niyebe sa malapitan. Ito ay ‘yung nakasombrero sa Mt. Hood ng Oregon noong 2008. Hanggang ngayon ay pinagsisihan ko ang hindi pagsama sa ilang kasamahang pumuslit at naglaro sa isang parisukat ng yelo.

Sa pangalawang pagkakataon ay napagbigyan ako habang nag-aantay ng eroplano sa Lindbergh Airport ng Minnesota. Balot ng kulay puting niyebe ang paligid subalit katulad ng dati, ako’y nagkasya na lamang sa pagtanghod mula sa loob ng airport.

Kailan kaya ako makakapaglaro sa snow?

Thursday, December 09, 2010


The colonial town of Valladolid was first established in 1543 by an unnamed Spanish conquistador at a place called Chouac-Ha. Two years later, mosquitoes forced its relocation to its present site over a Mayan town called Zaci-Val. The town was built from the stones of the ancient settlement and to show this, the residents have left the corners of their buildings unplastered. Valladolid became a city in 1823. It was the center of the native Mayan’s revolt in 1847 against the European-descended Yucatecos which became known as Yucatan Caste War. In 1910, the sparks that would trigger the Mexican Revolution were ignited in Valladolid.

But this blog is about churches and noodles and what really pulled me to Valladolid is the Church of San Servacio that was first built by Fr. Francisco Hernandez in the same year the town was relocated in 1545 to its current site. The church was ordered demolished in 1705 by Bishop Pedro de los Reyes Rios who declared it profaned by the massacre of 40 city officials by Mayan insurgents (i.e. Assassination of the Mayors). It was replaced by the present structure that was started to be built in 1706.

I would find out later that Valladolid is host to 5 more colonial era churches: the Cathedral of San Bernardino which is said to be the first Catholic church to be built in American soil, and the churches of Santa Lucia, Candelaria, San Juan de Dios, and Sta. Ana. And I could have had enough time to go to those churches if I did my usual pre-shoot research. I should be hanged for this oversight.

My first Mexican church is more of a recreation in a restaurant called Hacienda where we were treated to a buffet lunch of Yucatan cuisine after our Chichen-Itza tour. Then I have to insist to turn back and shoot the centuries-old church of Pitse who, according to our host, was the largest ancient Mayan settlement in Mexico.

I did not have time to sample the noodles because there’s none except for the everyday spaghetti. Hindi din daw masarap ang pansit nila sabi ng boss ko sa email niya.

I should not have listened to him.

PHOTOS (from top to bottom): (1) Valladolid's Church of San Servacio, (2) the recreated church of the restaurant called Hacienda, and (3) the ancient church of Piste.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Naikuwento ko nang mahilig akong magbasa ng komiks noong kabataan ko.

Isa sa mga paborito kong serye ay ang “Zuma” --- ‘yung kulay berde at kalbong mama na may nakapatong na double-headed snake sa kanyang balikat.

Si Zuma ayon sa kuwento ay anak ng diyos na si Kukulkan, isang higanteng balahibuing ahas, na aksidenteng napalaya ng mga archeologist sa pagkakalibing sa isang Aztec pyramid.

Si Zuma ay kathang isip ni Jim Fernandez.

Si Kukulkan naman ay isang alamat na sinamba ng mga sinaunang Mayan lalo ng mga nakatira noon sa palibot ng Chichen-Itza.

Totoong lugar ang Chichen-Itza at masuwerte akong mapuntahan ito nang magkaroon ng break sa Climate Change negotiations sa Cancun. Doble suwerte pa dahil sa maagang aginaldo ni Gob. Joey Salceda ng Albay na siyang naging ninong ng aming pagpunta sa doon.

Nasa gitna ng Chichen-Itza ang Templo ni Kukulkan na kilala din sa pangalang El Castillo. Tuwing panahon kung saan magkasinghaba ang araw at gabi (o equinox) sa tagsibol at taglagas, iniluluwa si Kukulkan ng mga anino at sinag ng araw upang muling bumaba sa lupa marahil upang hanapin ang pasaway niyang anak na si Zuma. Parang mahika ang kanyang paglitaw: isang trianggulo na nag-uumpisa sa kanyang buntot at nadadagdagan ng isa pa tuwing limang minuto hanggang sa humantong sa kanyang ulo sa lupa.

Pero dahil 30 minuto lamang pambihirang pangyayaring ito ay walang sapat na panahon si Kukulkan upang mahanap ang anak niya. Mahaba ang biyahe mula Mexico papuntang Pilipinas kung saan nakatiral si Max Laurel na siyang gumanap sa pelikulang “Zuma”. Alam din kaya ni Kukulkan na may apo na siyang ang pangalan ay Galema at may kakambal itong isang kulay puting ahas?


MGA LARAWAN: Ang pangalawang larawan mula sa itaas na nagpapakita sa El Castillo ay kuha ng may akda ng blog na ito. Ang unang larawan naman na isang promotion poster ng pelikulang "Zuma" at ang pangatlo at pang-apat na larawan na nagpapakita at nagpapaliwanag sa paglitaw ni Kukulkan tuwing spring and fall equinox ay kinuha mula sa Google images.  

Saturday, December 04, 2010


“FM in Cancun”.

That was the headline I remembered from the Bulletin. I thought it would make a good material for my Cancun blog entry but Dean Tony Lavina of the Ateneo School of Government beat me to it. His column for the Today mentioned just that.

FM (i.e. Ferdinand Marcos) was among the 23 world leaders who attended an Economic Summit in Cancun in 1981. I was among the thousands of delegates from 194 countries and governments, and among the 50 members of the Philippine delegation, attending the 16th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change twenty-nine years after FM but also in Cancun.

Cancun is very touristy and indulgent. At least that’s what impressed on me by the Hotel Zone strip where I stayed. For $120/day, I can gorged myself with unlimited breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner and drown in free flowing margarita, daiquiri, mojito, pinacolada, and local beer while ogling sunbathing sexy tourists wearing almost nothing. Not bad at all for a place which recorded only 3 residents in 1970.

But I was sent to Cancun to work and when I did, I realized that the only decent meal I will have for the next 2 weeks will be breakfast which became so monotonous later I feel like puking just thinking of it. Lunch was subsisting on whatever we were able to pack in our bags and bring to the negotiations. Dinner is a limited room service selection because the buffet tables close at 10 pm. Thank God for the Margaritas and I always manage to catch 5 of these, triple strength, just before the bar closes at 12 midnight.

Our daily grind starts with a hurried breakfast to catch our 7:30 morning briefings followed by a frantic 30-45 minute trip to the Cancumesse for the security checks then another restless 10-15 minute ride to the Moon Palace for the negotiations. We walked a lot with our heavy briefcases-on-wheels in tow. Internet access has never been so important. On the way back at 10 pm, we go through a reversed routine of the morning grind but this time with a complimentary 300 meter walk from the bus stop to the hotel gate then a steep 10 meter climb for the finale.

I did somehow survived Cancun and now have a COP tucked in my belt. But it’s not because of them heavily armed Mexican Marines and Federal Police security cordon. It’s more of Team Philippines who pulled us together and carried us throughout the 2 weeks of the negotiations. It’s not a perfect team but it has more good than bad in it. And it’s been my privilege to work with such fine men and women…

PHOTOS EXPLAINED: [1] Top photo grabbed from Google images shows FM (all white at extreme right) with some of the 23 world leaders in the 1981 Economic Summit in Cancun. [2] The second photo shows yours truly in action during the Cancun climate change negotiations (Ramon Magsaysay awardee Atty. Antonio Oposa who represented Micronesia is in the center while that on the right is Jasper Inventor of Greenpeace). [3] The third shows some of the members of Team Philippines. Both second and third photos were taken by Kuya Fred Serrano who is undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture and the top negotiator of Team Philippines' adaptation panel.