Monday, October 26, 2015


Or some of it since Brussels is teeming with ancient churches I presume, having been conceived by a chapel built on an island at around 580 [Wikipedia] although officially founded 400 years later in 979 when the St. Gaugericus Chapel became the repository of the holy St. Gudula's mortal remains [Wikipedia again].

In 1047, the relics were moved to a bigger church that would, in 1962, become the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula [Wikipedia more], and today a treasure trove of religious artifacts and No. 1 in my hit list of to-shoot in Brussels.

I climbed up a hill from there in search of my No. 2, the Iglese de la Notre-Dame du Sublon, another church built in 1400s over a 13th century chapel made famous by the theft of Antwerp's "Our Lady on the Little Stick" and thus originated today's annual Ommegang procession in honor of that great religious robbery. 

On the way back, I stumbled on the Iglese de la Chapelle, a 13th century church where the remains of the painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder and relics of the saint Boniface of Brussels were interred, where some of the work of the the architects/sculptors Jerome Duquesnoy and Lucas Faydherbe are displayed, where I chanced upon a church of beers, one of Brussels' many, where I bought some bottles to take home.

But to the Chapelle de la Madeleine goes the distinction of the first Belgian church I have ever photographed, unintended though, as I happened to pass through it as I walked to my hotel, almost not there after it was partially demolished in behalf of the Brussel-Centraal, almost perfectly restored to its 15th century glory, my jump-off to the Grand Place which being again lost in map translation bought me to the Iglese de Notre-Dame de Secours, circa 17th century, my gateway to the Grand Place, which brought me to the Cathedral, to Sublon, to the Chapelle, and to the street musicians of Mont des Arts.

To them all churches I offer my early morning foray to the Grand Place, the branded Belgian chocolates I sampled before leaving, from a Euro each to free, from Godiva, Neuhaus, and Corne Port Royal, and the last seven glasses of Belgian beer I will perhaps ever have.


Sunday, October 25, 2015


It has been decided even before KLM Cityhopper announced that only Business Class seats are available in their Sunday morning flight to Bonn.

It was perhaps my last trip to Beethoven's city and I've got to go to Belgium even if at the border in Aachen only, or perhaps to Bruges which I have heard so much, and finally Brussels because of Fr. Apolo and the shorter train ride to the Schipol Airport. 

I have the train tickets bought by Thursday, Bonn-Koln-Brussels Nord-Brussels Central, and I was in Brussels by Saturday morning, lost trying to understand Google map before finally getting led by a friendly and pretty chocolatier. 

I am in Brussels, at the Royal Windsor Hotel Grand Place, where the first thing I did after checking-in was touch the death statue of Everard t' Serclaes, the assassinated savior of Brussels, to bring me good luck and allow me a return to the city. 

And then it's beer, chocolates, and waffles from there, at the Belgian Brewers Museum for the history and the free beer, a dark complimentary and a blonde on the house, courtesy of the curator/bartender who got hooked on my spin of German versus Belgian beers, San Miguel Beer as our only real beer, and his planned visit to the Philippines... more history and the chocolate fountain and the chocolate chips, all in the name of free taste, at the Musee de Cacao et du Chocolat...

...and of course waffles, one size, one creamy foam, different flavors, for one Euro, which I opted out in favor of a tamer version, just the waffle and syrup, piping hot and chewy, at a truck stand somewhere. 

All of that in the Grand Place, impressive and elaborate, rightfully Europe's most beautiful square but chocking with too many people and bursting with souvenir shops, like those gawking at the Mannekin Pis, that wee statue of a peeing boy that I find tasteless, from which I eased out...

... into the genteel but electric environs of the Mons des Arts where street musicians and advocates gather, where, I remember now, the hot waffle smothered in syrup originated, and discovered the garden and the Rue Montagne de la Cour to the Royal Square.

Then it was lunch, or early dinner, and for 23 Euros treated myself to a Belgian smorgasbord of beef stew and meat balls and mussels and frites washed down with a cold mug of Tripel Karmeliet.

And then it was night, in my superb hotel room, and more beer.

But that is another story...     

Saturday, October 24, 2015


I ate my last curry wurst today, in Marketplatz, from a wagon park along a street corner, near Beethoven's home.

I took my last train ride to Bad Godesber, through Line 63, got out at Max-Loebner-Strasse on the way back, and walked a familiar route to and from the Maritim one last time.

Team PH had the usual delegation dinner at a Thai restaurant on the eve of our last ADP 2.11 negotiating day, before the launching of the CVF's 1.5 degree website the next day, which is our last day, and my last frame at the World Conference Center.

I'm sure I won't miss the crap served as food at the World Conference Center, but will the German beer, a lot, terribly.

Good bye Bonn, you are a whole chapter in my storybook...  

Monday, October 19, 2015


Walong beses akong bumiyahe ng Bonn mula Hunyo 2011 hanggang Hunyo ng 2015 na siya ring mga natatanging panahon ng aking paninimbahan --- sa Bonn, sa Cologne, sa Trier, at sa Amsterdam na din kung saan ako kumakatok at nagpapaalam.

Ngayon ang ika-9, at maaaring huling punta ko ng Bonn, na pinasinayaan ng isang mangkok na ramen sa RCBC Towers sa Makati malapit sa tanggapan ng German Embassy, ang marahil ay angkop na umpisa ng aking isang linggong pamamaalam sa "small angular city" ni Ludwig van Beethoven.

Ika-12 ng Oktubre 2015

Pang-sampu ko na dapat ito sa Bonn pero binigyan lang ako ng 1-month visa ng madamot na consul para sa huling biyahe ko noong nakaraang Marso; hindi ko na nai-renew dahil may pagpupulong ang mga lahi ni Superman sa Yogyakarta, kaya hindi ko na din napuntahan ang paanyaya sa Marakesh dahil bigla kong kinailangang sumaglit sa Phnom Penh.

Kamanghamangha ang mga obra ni BenCab ng isang mananayaw na siya kong pinagpatayan ng oras sa Yuchengco Museum, kasama ang mga agimat ng Pilipinas, habang naghihintay ng aking 11:30 AM slot sa German Embassy...

Ika-16 ng Oktubre 2015

Napasubo yata ako sa Balkan Breakfast na inakala kong may mas madaming palaman na mozzarella kesa inihaw na baka na pinalamanan pero kabaliktaran pala, at dahil alas-10 ng umaga pa ang schedule ko para tubusin ang aking passport sa Window 10 ng German Embassy ay tumuloy na din sa Starbucks, maghihimagas sana ng kape at blueberry cheesecake, nang matalisod ko sina Val at Baby sa sulok.

Oo, pupunta ako ng Bonn at hindi, pass muna sa Phildel meeting mamayang hapon dahil kailangan kong umuwi ng Nueva Ecija para mag-empake; alam kaya nilang ang lahi ni Spiderman ay Pilipino, at ang RCBC Towers ay gawa ng kanilang pinag-isang mga sapot?

Ika-17-18 ng Oktubre 2015

Ito na nga marahil ang aking Huling El Bimbo sa Bonn.

Kung gayon, nararapat lamang itong maging katangitangi at kakaiba kesa naunang walo bagamat hindi ko inasahang makikisawsaw ang Bagyong Lando na siya na yatang marka ng aming mga paglalakbay para sa UN Climate Talks [Ondoy sa Bangkok, Pablo sa Doha, Yolanda sa Warsaw], at bahagyang nalungkot na dalawang linggo nga palang hindi ko makakasama sa pagbibisikleta si Balong.

Sa pagkakataong ito, sumakay ako ng tren mula Schiphol Airport sa Amsterdam pauntang Bonn.

Kakaiba dahil hindi ko pa nagawa ito maliban sa isang biyahe mula Frankfurt, at katangitangi dahil ganap ko nang naabot ang pagkatao ng pagiging lagalag --- ang lakas ng loob na suungin ang mga walang kasiguruhan at tuklasin ang mga hindi pa nararating, ang dumiskarte kapag hindi sigurado o naliligaw, ang tantiyahin ang mga maaaring maganap at paghandaan ang anumang mangyayari.

Ganyan ako nasakay sa IC 3525 at nakarating ng Utrecht Centraal, sa pagtatanong sa dalawang magandang dalaga na nagkataong nag-aabang din pala sa kaparehong tren.

Ganyan ko nahanap ang Coach 32 at Seat 65 ng ICE 105 papuntang Dusseldorf Hauptbahnhof, makabalik sa tren matapos lumabas sa maling istasyon dahil wala akong nakitang na Platform 15 at 16, at masakay ng EC 9 sa Dusseldorf papuntang Bonn Hauptbahnhof. 

May escort pa akong mga bisikleta, kaya heto na nga marahil ang Huling El Bimbo... 

Monday, October 12, 2015


Miracles do happen.

St. Lance, the patron of Cebu Pacific, made the plane arrive and depart from the Iloilo International Airport on time.

Almost on time as it was 30 minutes late, but enough time to bring the wife to the bus station, get my laundry and grab a quick lunch, browse through my inbox and pack my small luggage, take a quick shower and enjoy a smoke.

But not enough time to double check and realize that I am one change-of-clothe less for the 4-day trip and have only $84 with me.

Thai Airways left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport late and I have to grapple with the terms of checking out and in for an overnight layover in Bangkok that left me with only 4 hours to enjoy the transit comforts of my spacious but seedy room at the Miracle Suvarnabhumi Airport.

It was a short one hour flight from there to the Phnom Penh International Airport where touchdown was like diving into a pool of red roofs, parachuting straight to the the workshop where I was again treated to a panoramic view of dominant red roofs during lunch break, as if telling me that this will be all for me for the next three days.

That night, my first in Phnom Penh since 2004, I chased away all the hours spent in airports and airplanes in the last five days with a bottle of cold Angkor Beer, two when my plate of Khmer beef salad came, three when the conversation turned to plants then rugby then cricket, four when a supposed night cap of Happy Pizza was remanded to the next day. 

The next night, my second in Phnom Penh in 2015, the best beaches in the Philippines dominated dinner talk that segued into dog stories as the digestif turned into a Cambodian beer tasting marathon while a largely ignored Cambodian dance played, until the waiter told us to check our things, which is his polite way of saying it's time for us to go, which we did on a tuktuk because we were were either too drunk or too full or too tired to walk back to the hotel.   

And then it's time to leave, from PNH to MLA via BKK.

Phnom Penh's red roofs were still shadows when I reached the hotel rooftop for one final look; breakfast was being prepared when the sun came up; I was having coffee when the city stirred and the empty street below slowly filled with motorcycles and people.

I missed Wat Phnom and Happy Pizza but noodles were served for breakfast and that will do as the sun's rays burst forth into the red roofs of Phnom Penh.  

Monday, October 05, 2015


The sudden uncertainty of Typhoon Kabayan's rainy Friday morning, the almost 6-hour flight delay, the late expensive over-rated airport lunch, the fumes of an irate mob at Gates 33 and 34, the taxi driver's futile attempt to mulct P200 more for the trip from Iloilo to Miag-ao...

...these frazzled me a lot.

But the site of Bulan waiting at the gate, getting into the taxi and huddling close to his Nanay, the stirring of silent emotions among us, a late family dinner of reheated chicken and canned sardines...

...they waved all the frazzles away, and I have forgiven Lance Gokongwei.

The next day was NSTP day so we killed time in Miag-ao, in the market, in the church [where the wife suddenly had this idea of renewing our vows], in the main university enclave, in the College of Fisheries...

...before finally going to the City.

There, we had an Italian lunch and got bags repaired at SM City, checked in at the 16th floor of the Injap Tower, killed time with Ilonggo s'mores at Plazuela de Iloilo, shared my first bottle with Bulan at Smallville...

...and had an interesting breakfast the next day on the 25th floor while joggers in white below threw pink dust at each other.

It was a good weekend...

...until the taxi driver missed my instruction and cost me P350 more, until that night's flight to Bangkok was suddenly jeopardized by another possible CebuPac delay.  

And that got me frazzled again.