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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Novena Masses-The Filipino Tradition

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Belen at St. Andrews Catheral

Filipinos’ Tradition is very colorful and festive. One of the most I love is the Christmas Celebration. We have the longest celebration in the world. Amost everybody is preparing for the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. We have Christmas Novena Masses (nine masses), which is also known as Simbang Gabi (Midnight Mass) or Misa de GAllo.

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Before the masses were held early in the morning, it starts on every December 16th till the 24th of the month, which is the Christmas Eve. But now there are Parishes which hold night masses, anticipated masses and even lunchtime masses, just to accommodate those who want to complete the novena masses. There is a belief that if one could complete the novena masses his wishes will be granted. Before I do that too. I would complete the novena masses so that my wishes and dreams would be realized. As time goes by I realized that God knows what I need and He provides and guides me to all my heart’s desires, so now I go to Novena Masses more on to give thanks. Completing the novena masses strengthens my faith more as I traverse life. I love the feeling of anticipating that God will come again.

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Today December 15th is the start of the anticipated novena masses in St. Andrews Cathedral, ParaƱaque City. Hope I can complete the novena masses again. Outside the Church there are vendors of Puto Bumbong, Bibingka and other native delicacies. It’s fun to buy and eat them after each Simbang Gabi.


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

San Miguel by the Bay-Mall of Asia

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SM Mall of Asia also known as MOA or MoA is currently the largest shopping mall in the Philippines [1] and the 3rd largest shopping mall in the world in terms of Gross Floor Area according to Studies by Eastern Connecticut State University. It opened on May 21, 2006. The mall is located at Bay City, Pasay City, Philippines just near the SM Central Business Park and the Manila Bay. The mall attracts people from locals to foreigners

One of the attractions here is the San Miguel by the Bay just at the back of the Mall. As Manila mayor Alfredo Lim ordered the demolition of structures along the shorelines of Manila Bay, Manila known as Baywalk. The demolition coincides with the construction of a wide array of restaurant and Open Park. Patrons of the deserted Baywalk quickly flocked the new feature of the Mall of Asia complex, which is also along the shorelines of Manila Bay in Pasay City.

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Manila Sunset in a gloomy day

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The wide array of restaurants also features a small sea food market known as seaside where patrons can buy fresh sea foods and request to cook them in Paluto stalls or restaurants.
In the afternoon this place is the best place to witness the Manila Sunset and during the nights you can listen and watch live bands, sing in the videoke machine of some restaurants or watch mime artists.

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Mime Artist

There is a dancing colorful fountain installed and a Firefly Choir Christmas Tree, which is composed of top band chorales, a 53-foot giant singing Christmas tree that has 47,000 bulbs and yet consumes 3,000 watts, festooned with cost-saving firefly light- emitting diode and fluorescent light. It is Firefly’s way of promoting energy-efficient solutions from every home and that holiday lighting need not to be a burden to the environment. The tree uses energy-sufficient saving wonders proven to be more cost effective, functional, long-lasting, durable and environment-friendly.
Sometimes we go there early in the morning to join the group who do exercise. There are fitness equipments free to use. There are pet lovers who bring along their pets as they do exercise. The ground can be used as picnic ground, that’s why some family do picnic there too.



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Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Tallest Indoor Christmas Tree in the Philippines-Mall of Asia, Bay City, Pasay City

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Christmas Season is the most festive occasion in the Philippines. As early as September Christmas Carols can be heard on the radio. Some Filipinos buy their Christmas presents as early as possible. Although we are also affected by the World’s Economic Meltdown, we have ways to celebrate Christmas in most festive way.

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Last weekend I was in the SM Mall of Asia, Bay City, Pasay City. Everything is grand and glorious at the SM Mall of Asia at it showcases the holidays with a Christmas Wonderworld Celebration. At the center of all the activities is the Giant Christmas Tree at the mall’s atrium. The towering 42-foot tree is decorated with thousands of gold Christmas balls and stars. Complementing these golden garlands are the Christmas tree lights. I’ve seen how kids enjoyed just by staring at the Christmas tree.

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I noticed that there were more window shoppers than the real shoppers. Aside from window shoppings, there are attractions here specially during this time, Christmas. Kids will certainly think big this Christmas in the Dino Live Theme Park. Enjoy world-class entertainment, Dino movies, and Dino games at this exhibit of life sized robotic dinosaurs from November 28 to January 11 at the SM Mall of Asia. Music will fill the mall in the Grand Symphony of Voices, a series of performances by some of the country’s top choral groups like the UP Singing Ambassadors and Coro Tomasino. This will be held every weekend of November and daily this December at the mall’s atrium. The Skating rink in this mall is the largest in the country.

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Celebrate a Christmas Wonderworld at the SM Mall of Asia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sagada, Mountain Province-Home of Natural Wonders

When we planned to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces, we planned to go to Sagada, Mountain Province, too. It is located 275 km. north of Manila, 140 km. from Baguio. The Trip itself to Sagada is more on an adventure. Long, rocky and winding road.

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Mt. Polis-very foggy

"Hanging coffins" is the trademark of Sagada. This is a traditional way of burying people that is not in use anymore. Trekking, explore caves and waterfalls, spelunking, bonfires, picnics, rappelling, visit historical sites, nature hikes, and participate in tribal celebrations are among the popular activities. Guides can be found upon registration at the tourist-office in Sagada Proper (the main town) for a small fee. You can choose a tour package at the registration office.

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Lumiang Cave

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The Hanging Coffins

We were lucky because we found a family of 6 persons and we formed as a group so that we could minimize the payment for tour guides and jeepney rental. We chose the tour package to explore Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves, where hanging coffins can be seen. At the back of a transient house where we resided, there is a rice terraces. The climate and crops are like those of Baguio and Benguet: cabbage, tomatoes, green pepper, potatoes, carrots, beans, and other temperate products.

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Entrance of Sumiwang Cave

There are many places to stay in Sagada but when we arrived the hotels and houses were already taken. We met a woman by the Name of Rose, her family was very willing to accommodate us but her house was already full of tourists. She was the one who found a shelter for us. Her friend Rose Agpad was not accepting transients because her house is under renovation but because we couldn’t find a place, she was willingly accept us and even those who arrived after us. The people here are very accommodating and warm. They treat their tourists nicely and they even go for extra miles just to make their tourists comfortable.

The tourists said that you have to eat in Yoghurt House when you are in Sagada because this restaurant will complete your tour. True enough this restaurant is really a nice one to dine-in. I love the food but we had to wait for an hour in order for us to be served. There was a long line of waiting tourists to eat. Nevertheless the foods were worth the wait.

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Dinner at Yoghurt House

Sagada has many natural wonders. Backpackers and tourists can enjoy the waters of Bokong and Bomod-ok Falls. Other places that can be visited are: Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves, Bomod-ok and Bokong Falls, Rice terraces, Echo Valley, Kiltepan Tower, Underground River, Lake Danum.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sabitang Laya Island-Caramoan Peninsula

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One of the longest beach shorelines in the Peninsula the Sabitang Laya Island. Pristine, fine and powdered white sand. Rock formations are perfect for rock climbing. This island is perfect for camping, swimming and snorkeling. We stayed here for hours because there were no tourists, and made us feel as if we owned the island.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Banaue Rice Terraces, Ifugao Province- a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.

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Hapao Rice Terraces

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with my sister


Even when I was a child, I dreamed of visiting the well known rice terraces. My sister and I took time to visit this place, more than 2000-year old terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao Province by the indigenous people. We Filipinos referred this as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". The terraces were built with minimal equipment, largely by hand. The terraces are located approximately 1500 meters (5000 ft) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4000 square miles) of mountainside. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system from the rainforests above the terraces. It is said that if the steps are put end to end it would encircle half the globe.
The Banaue terraces is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, ancient sprawling man-made structures from 2,000 to 6,000 years old.

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I was really amazed by the site of the terraces, really thankful. Although locals to this day still tend to the rice and vegetables on the terraces, but more younger Ifugaos do not find farming appealing, often opting for the more lucrative hospitality industry generated by the Rice Terraces. The result is the gradual erosion of the characteristic "steps", which need constant reconstruction and care. The high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains. The knowledge handed down from one generation to the next, and the expression of sacred traditions and a delicate social balance, they have helped to create a landscape of great beauty that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.
The trip itself is an adventure. The road is literally long, rocky and winding road. I thought it was just a joke that the jeeps in Banaue can carry the passenger on the top load; and it’s true. I was scared and at the same time amazed. There were foreigners chose to ride on the top load instead of inside the jeep. The view is really fabulous and picturesque.

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According to the locals the most beautiful and maintain rice terraces is the Batad Rice Terraces, but we were lack of time so we opted to trek to Hapao Rice Terraces, Hapao, Hungduan instead. We visited the hot spring natural pool there; it is not big as much as that of Hot Spring in Bicol. Our tour guide was really accommodating and very patient to guide and guard us as we trail the terraces.

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Hot Spring

PhotobucketMy sister with our Tour Guide

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Hanging Bridge in Banaue

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Snow World Philippines – Star City Theme Park, Pasay City

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Christmas is just around the Corner. Those who want to experience winter in the Philippines with snow; Star City brings new attraction called the Snow World. The temperature inside is negative 15 degrees Celsius and patrons are provided with thick jackets and gloves before they enter inside. Camera is not allowed because it might damage your camera/ videos due to extreme coldness (Negative 15 degrees Celsius). Actually my camera had moist when we go out. I was
afraid that it might not returned to normal.

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The Theme Park opens at 4pm-11pm (Mon-Thurs), 2pm-12mn (Fri-Sun). No height limit, it is not advisable to wear high heels and slippers. Those who have heart problems, asthma, hypertension, fever, cold and flu, this place is not for you. The Entrance is affordable P 160.00 pesos (star city theme park entrance + snow world), P 325.00 pesos (ride all you can + snow world), and same price for adults and kids (3 years old above).

No time limit, you can stay inside as long as the Park is still open, but we didn’t stay for a long time there maybe we just stay for 20 minutes or less, the temperature is too cold.

There are different ice sculptures such as Santa Claus and his reindeers, Sumo wrestling, Statue of Liberty, Christ Redeemer of Brazil, Eiffel Tower of Paris, Swan and more. After the ice sculptures, there is a tunnel going to the giant ice slide.

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Star City rides and attractions are carefully chosen and constructed to ensure an exciting, safe, and educational experience that appeal to all ages. It is located at the CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City.



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Saturday, November 22, 2008

St. Michael Archangel Parish Church-Hilltop Church- Irosin, Sorsogon

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St. Michael Archangel Parish Church-Irosin, Sorsogon


Touring the Philippines will always include the visitation to different Churches. One will see how the Christianity influenced the lives of the Filipinos. Even the smallest communities have chapel.

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Atop a hill at the poblacion of Irosin, Sorsogon is the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church. Parishioners have to climb the 74 steps to worship in this scenic, breezy and spacious church. This church has different ways to reach. Aside from the stairs that you can see in the pictures, on the sides there are narrow stairs, and an asphalt road for vehicles.

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On this hill is another smaller hill, called Little Baguio, where the Grotto of Virgin Mary located.

From this church you can have a clearer view of Bulusan Volcano but when I was there it was covered by clouds so I wasn’t able to take a picture.

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In 1876, the Parish of San Miguel was officially recognized with Father Mariano Miranda as its parish priest. Town fiesta, in honor of San Miguel, was celebrated every 29th of September.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Shrine of our Lady of Peace-Brgy. Tabgon, Caramoan Peninsula





The huge statue of Virgin Mary is atop Mt. Caglagow, which draws thousands of pilgrims and tourist. It has 532 (according to my counting) steps leading to the statue and providing one with a view of pristine islands of Caramoan and Catanduanes province.



While trekking to the Shrine we heard the chirping of birds, watched colorful butterflies, luscious vegetation and watched the unfolding of picturesque view as we climb. I love the fresh air brushing my cheeks while perspiring. In betweens of the trek we drunk water and of course what we love to do picture taking. As we were enjoying posing and catching the beautiful views we run out of batteries for our camera. What we did was we alternate the sets of batteries (all low bat) just to capture the moment. God is good because my sister’s cellphone has battery still. Our gadgets were low bat because we camped in an island where there was no electricity. Lesson learned bring a solar charger wherever you go.