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Category Archives: Provincia de Batangas

Ultranationalism: what does it really mean?

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It has been observed that the term ultranationalism has become a pejorative description for nationalists who display an extreme fervor to or advocacy of the interests of their country. Those who claim to be “citizens of the world” are the ones who are quick to calumny nationalists, often accusing them of being this so-called ultranationalism.

But what, really, does ultranationalism connote? Legendary nationalist Claro M. Recto had this to say:

It is evident that our brand of nationalism is different from that of our accusers. We have no desire and we have never attempted to deny the national self-interest of other peoples in their own countries. We merely want to defend our own, in our own territory. We are nationalists but we can live in harmony with other nationalists, because all nationalisms can work out a plan for coexistence which will not detract from the sovereignty of any one nation. Those who are bent on carrying their nationalisms beyond their national frontiers in order to overrun other nationalisms have ceased to be true nationalists and have become ultra-nationalists, which is another word for imperialists. Ultra is a Latin word which means beyond in space, as in the terms plus ultra and non plus ultra. An ultra-nationalist, therefore, is one who wants to be first not only in his own country, but also in other countries to which he is a foreigner; that is, an imperialist.

We would rather take the meaning of ultranationalism from a master of words and an expert in etymology (many critics in literature regard him as our Filipino version of Miguel de Cervantes) than from those with shallow understanding of the true import of nationalism. Nevertheless, we have to admit that there really are nationalists who do show an extreme kind of nationalism to the point that they have disregarded or neglected the interests of other countries. But such people are a minority and do not really represent the lofty ideals of nationalism. The kind of nationalism they adhere to can be classified as bigoted or chauvinistic. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters the most is placing ultranationalism in its proper etimological perspective, that ultranationalism is imperialism after all. Period.

And speaking of bigotry or chauvinism, there are actually no “ultranationalists” (to borrow from anti-nationalists’ twisted definition of the term) in Filipinas. What we have are regionalists who claim that their province or region or town/city or ethnicity is better than the rest. Take this photo, for instance:

Photo taken at the border of Tagaytay, Cavite and Nasugbú, Batangas last 13 September 2011.

“Welcome to the Province of the Brave”, says this welcome arch, signifying that travelers are about to enter the Province of Batangas. Aside from the “warm welcome”, what does the message really want to imply? That Batangas is the only province of the brave? And what does that say of the other provinces? You see, there are many ways to promote provincial or regional pride without overdoing it or putting others down. Regionalism is not only anti-nationalist but anti-Filipino as well. We have to remember (and treasure) that the concept of the Filipino is what united our once divided and warring ethnolinguistic groups.

Other than the parochial message, this arch is a total waste of tax payer’s money. As if the arch behind it is not enough (they could’ve just added the name Batangas with that of Nasugbú).

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Vandalism in Mount Batuláo!

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Now THIS is an OUTRAGE!

The vandalized boulder you see in the two photos above is not an ordinary boulder. It is one of those iconic boulders you encounter in Monte Batuláo’s breathtaking peak (Camp 10). Tapos ganitó, binaboy ng mg̃a tarantadong itó, masabi lang na nacaratíng silá sa taás ng Batuláo.

And who did this desecration two days ago? Thankfully, the idiots were stupid enough to leave more evidence of their environmental CRIME.

Click on their names below to get to their Facebook accounts:

1. Janet Páyad

2. Robert Paul Ador

3. Ermel Atendido

4. Eduard Palima

5. Erland Fajardo

6. Mark Anthony Abarracoso

7. Rocy Flores is one lucky scoundrel because I couldn’t find his (or her?) Facebook account.

To you who read this, I encourage you to send these filthy animals some “love”.

I’ve been to Batuláo’s peak only once and that was many years ago. Yet the  spellbinding beauty of its surroundings makes me feel as if I just climbed there yesterday. That’s how unforgettable the place is.

And now this?! I never thought that these bozos from View Park Hotel had the tendency to revert into cavemen-like behavior.

To the management of View Park Hotel: what do you intend to do about this? Because each time we pass by your place, or even just hearing your hotel’s name, we will always be reminded of this vandalized mountain boulder of majestic Monte Batuláo.

*F*I*L*I*P*I*N*O*e*S*C*R*I*B*B*L*E*S*

Special thanks to my mountaineer cousin Paolo Raphael Balicao and his group for sharing these photos. May the protection of our mountains against brainless scums such as those from View Park Hotel be every mountaineer’s advocacy and responsibility.

Church ruins of Lumangbayan in Nasugbú, Batangas

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To many Metro Manileños, Nasugbú, Batangas is a place that is synonymous to family and barcada beach outings. The first time I was here was way back in college together with my neighborhood friends. And since then (until now), that is the only thing I know about Nasugbú: its famous beaches.

During our 12th-year anniversary at Muntíng Buhañgin Beach Camp, Inc., Násugbu, Batangas last year, 13 September 2011. Yep, that’s beach-addict Mrs. Alas.

The second time I visited it was last year, during me and my wife’s 12th-year anniversary last year (13 September). After a drizzly afternoon of swimming at picturesque Muntíng Buhañgin Beach Camp, we visited the old población, like what we usually do whenever we go out of town, to take pictures of ancestral houses and the center of activities in each Filipino town during the Spanish times: the town church.

We got a bit confused when we started asking around for the location of the town church, especially when we did see the towering structure of the town’s Saint Francis Xavier Parish Church.

Iglesia de San Francisco de Javier, Nasugbú, Batangas. Its interiors, albeit humble, is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

The tricycle driver whom we asked for directions insisted that it was not the town’s original church. I was starting to believe him, especially since the structure is indeed very modern. He led us to someplace else, outside the town proper. We had no idea what church was this guy talking about, nor where he was taking us. But we felt that we’re off to another adventure.

And I was right.

My wife (wearing orange) examining the ruins in Barrio 6, Lumangbayan.

Upon seeing the ruins, I felt a bit ashamed of myself. Here I am, parading myself as a passionate online history buff, but how come I haven’t even heard of this?! Fail.

Inside the structure.

Spanish-Filipino war? There was no war. Rebellion is the correct word.

I learned that the name of this church was Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Escalera or Our Lady of the Staircase (probably in reference to the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, Nuevo México, but I could be wrong). According to stories from the locals, this church was burned by the Spaniards at the height of the Katipunan rebellion (the so-called Philippine Revolution).

Huh? Something’s quite wrong with the picture.

The Spaniards burned their own structure? A structure they considered holy?

I began to realize that the site has become yet another perfect example of the notorious, malicious, and twisted leyenda negra.

This 19th-century church was said to have been destroyed during the skirmish between the Spanish troops and the Filipinos (Katipuneros). In the Nasugbú Tourism Quarterly (April-June 2000 issue), Francisco Villacrusis wrote that after imprisoning the townsfolk inside this church, the Spaniards burned it down, killing the people inside. But Villacrusis did not cite any reference. And his claim is preposterous. Here are my reasons:

1) The Spaniards, being devote Catholics, would never have done such an atrocity.
2) There were only a few Spaniards in the Philippines, from start (1565) to finish (1898). As a matter of fact, during that time, the only “white face” that one usually encounters in far-flung villages is that of the friar.
3) To the best of my knowledge, there was no other instance of “church-burning” that was instigated by the Spanish troops in other places in the country outside of Násugbu.

The only church-burner that I know of are the Katipuneros themselves. Andrés Bonifacio was a church-burner himself. As a matter of fact, he attempted to burn the church in nearby Indang in Cavite province. And he did considerable damage to the church.

In view of the foregoing, all accusing fingers should point to the Katipuneros, not the meager Spanish troops.

And many of these so-called “Spanish troops” were native Filipinos, by the way…

Click here to view the whole album.

Meanwhile, in my adoptive province of La Laguna, there’s another church left in ruins, and it’s in Calauan…

Iglesia de San Isidro Labrador y San Roque (1860-1925?), Calauan, La Laguna. Photographed by Ronald A. Yu during our visit there last weekend (18 August 2012).

But that’s another story (coming very soon!).

Batangas City’s basilica was vandalized on Christmas Day!

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Last Sunday, Christmas Day, the parishioners of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Batangas City were shocked to find out that a seemingly crazed man, armed with a metal candlestick, attacked the altar and the image of the Santo Niño. Photos (with captions) of the carnage were immediately posted by Fr. Leonido C. Dolor, the basilica’s Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, on his Facebook page and has since become viral on the said social networking site.

As of this writing, the album already has 103 shares.

The description on Fr. Dolor’s album reads:

At around three in the afternoon, Christmas day itself, a man for reason not yet assessed, took hold of one of those big candelabras at the altar of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Batangas City and laid waste the marble altar (see photos) and then took a swing at the altar of Sto. Nino, breaking the glass panel and deforming the crown of the Child Jesus! Is this his way of saying “Happy birthday, Jesus?” He later fought the “tambays” outside the Basilica who tried to apprehend him.

This crime is a concern not only for the Catholic faithful of Batangas City and elsewhere but for heritage advocates and travelers/tourists as well. Whenever me and my wife visit an old town, we make it a point to stop by the town proper’s old church. And although no religious services were held during the times that we get to visit these churches, we almost always gain easy access to their interiors, including the bell towers. Many of these churches’ caretakers are hospitable and accommodating whenever we request entry for photograph sessions. But this crime which happened in Batangas City’s basilica last Sunday is not just a case of vandalism but can also be considered a security breach, thus it might set a precedent: future church visits might become a pain in the neck for tourists. Many churches might even have their doors locked after a Mass.

And to make matters worse, it coincided with the gruesome bombings of about five churches in faraway Nigeria.

Via Facebook, I inquired for more details from Fr. Dolor. He replied immediately, saying that the vandal had a “brief psychotic reaction due to deprivation of food and sleep”. It was later learned that this man walked all the way from Macati City to Batangas for five days without food nor sleep! Further inquiries also revealed that this man was a Pentecostal, but that he was “angry at God”; Fr. Dolor did not elaborate further. What is sad here is that one of the “tambays” (bystanders) who tried to apprehend him was injured during the commotion (he was hospitalized; please pray for him).

On a positive note, we should still be thankful that this crazed man was in no way a terrorist, and that the damage he had wrought upon the basilica’s altar was minimal compared to what had happened to those churches in Nigeria. But as mentioned above, this might set a precedent regarding security measures. There is no problem to that. The Catholic Church as well as all the other religious denominations should really plan more about this (especially during these days when not even banks are in danger of being attacked by mindless scum). But hopefully not to the detriment of a social-networking-starved and a digital-camera-wielding public. Why, even Fr. Dolor himself has a Facebook account.

Happy 12th year anniversary, mi amor!

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At Muntíng Buhañgin Beach Camp, Inc., Násugbu, Batangas (9/13/2011).

It’s our twelfth year together! Funtabulous!

Happy 12th year anniversary, my love! I love you so much! 🙂

A quick stop in Tanauan (Tanauan, Batangas)

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Just one of many beautifully maintained Filipino houses (also known as the bahay na bató) found in Tanauan's población

Several months ago, Yeyette and I attended a birthday drinking session of a friend of hers in Tanauan, Batangas. And so I found it an opportunity to stroll around the oldest parts of the town, which is what I always do whenever I have the time to travel. It is because in the oldest parts of a Filipino town (the población, where the ubiquitous church, municipal hall, rustic town plaza, schoolhouse, and the old houses —the legendary bahay na bató— in the sector de mestizos are located) a Filipino can find and realize his identity as a nation, as a people.

Me, wifey, birthday boy Oliver (sporting a mohawk) and friends (09/26/2010).

Tanauan is one of those Batangueño towns/cities that are near Manila. It’s historical significance is mostly attributed to patriot Apolinario Mabini y Maranan and former President José Paciano Laurel y García, both of whom were natives of Tanauan.

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Former President José Paciano Laurel's ancestral house (with its unfriendly dog launching an attack).

Mabini monument.

Apolinario Mabini's monument located at the plaza fronting the city hall. Notice that in this monument, he is not paralyzed.

Wifey Yeyette posing outside the Mabini Shrine. We didn't make it on time (the shrine is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Also, this is the hometown of Telésforo Carrasco’s wife, Dorotea Nazareth. Carrasco was a Spaniard in Emilio Aguinaldo’s army who fought against the US WASP invaders. He was also in action during the catastrophic Battle of Tirad Pass (in his journal, he mentioned in detail how General Gregorio del Pilar was shot and killed — in a not-so-heroic manner).

In Philippine Literature, Tanauan was the hometown of one of Rizal’s characters in El Filibusterismo: Plácido Penitente. The name, in fact, is an oxymoronic technique that was utilized by the national hero. The name means “calm penitent” in Spanish, in a way depicting the turmoils of the said character’s status quo in the novel. The stereotype Batangueño, however, is not known to be calm. He is a raging warrior when provoked, as shown in many Tagalog films of old.

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Pine trees!

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Wifey with Tanaueño kids.

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City Hall.

City Hall.

Batangueño thrashers.

Batangueño thrashers!

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Governor Modesto Castillo Memorial Cultural Center. Still under construction when I took this photo last September. But already looking prim.

According to the Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas (1851), the old town of Tanauan was originally established in 1581 along the banks of Taal Lake (then known onomatopoetically as Bonbón due to the sound whenever Taal Volcano explodes) together with the old town of Salá. The town as well as the church was then under the patronage of San Juan Bautista.

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Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista. The façade is a combination of Romanesque and High Renaissance architectural styles.

The ecclesiastical supervision of the city was accepted by the Augustinians on 5 May 1584, and Padre Antonio Roxas became the first parish priest (see my photo of the church’s historical marker below). During the final years of the 17th century, the town’s first church was completed. It was made ​​of wood and stood along the banks of the lake. In the year 1732, the stone church was built. But due to the catastrophic explosion of Taal Volcano in 1754, the communities of both Tanauan and Salá were totally destroyed. The surviving Tanaueños moved to a place called Bañadero which later on became one of Tanauan’s barrios (barangáy). Salá, on the other hand, moved to its current site: Barrio Salá which is also in present-day Tanauan (like Bañadero, Salá became a mere barrio as well). After the explosion, the church was rebuilt by Padre José Díaz in 1881.

It is interesting to note here that the aforementioned Spanish soldier, Carrasco, had an unfriendly encounter with Fr. Díaz. It is because Carrasco eloped with Dorotea. And as a consequence of this illicit love affair (unlike today, elopement was highly scandalous during the Spanish times), Fr. Díaz didn’t have nice words to say about the matter. He even accused Carrasco of kidnapping! Since then, an irate Carrasco nicknamed him Muy Reverendo Cura del Demonio Padre José Díaz! 😀

During World War II, the church was damaged again. It was rehabilitated by architect José Mª Zaragoza under the supervision of Monsignor Godofredo Mariño in 1948. The present features of the church (particularly the interior) was the result of a renovation made during the late 1960s that was spearheaded by Fr. Leonardo Villa. The façade remains as the only original part from the church’s Spanish-era architecture. Today, the church is now known as the Church of Saint John the Evangelist (San Juan Evangelista).

The old church's historical marker.

Mass was ongoing.

Mass was ongoing. It was a Sunday when we visited Tanauan.

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Instead of the usual retablo, the altar had stained glasses for a background. Cool.

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Heavily renovated interiors. Only the façade retained its original look.

The Diccionario Geográfico-Estadístico-Histórico de las Islas Filipinas describes the parish church as made up of stone but whose roof was composed of bamboo materials (this was when Tanauan was transferred from its original site after the volcanic eruption). The church had a regular priest and is under the patronage of St. John the Baptist/Evangelist. There was an elementary school for boys and one for girls. The cemetery was outside the village, well situated and ventilated (this we didn’t visit anymore). The townsfolk were able to communicate well with those from nearby Lipâ and Santo Tomás due to well-built roads (it should be noted that the Philippines back then was densely forested).

The land was elevated and had good plains where crops were planted. Cultivated lands produced wheat, rice, corn, cacao, coffee, indigo, pepper, cotton, abaca, and various fruits and vegetables. In mountainous areas were bred many kinds of hardwood from which were obtained materials for both furniture and construction purposes (as well as honey and wax!). Tanauan also had good pastures where cattle, horses, and pigs were bred. There was also even a sesame-oil-extraction industry. Others made beautiful fabrics created out of abaca and cotton. Still others produced indigo which gave out a permanent dye.

At the time of the said book’s publication (1851), the town had less than 14,000 people. According to the latest census, there are more or less 150,000 people in Tanauan today.

Today, little of what was written above can be seen in Tanauan. I’m not even sure if it still produces the same crops that it used to produce during the Spanish times. No longer a town, Tanauan now prides itself as a city. But in the Philippines, when one mentions the word city, what comes to mind are images of skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, intimidating highways, heavy traffic, and busy necktied and stockinged office people going to and from each glass- and concrete-covered, neon-lighted structure. Tanauan is far from it (yet), even if it has two Jollibee outlets already. And that is why to my mind, I refuse to consider it as a city as much in the same way that I refuse to consider other old Filipino towns-turned-cities as newly established urban centers (such as Calambâ). Of course, this is all but romanticism from someone who thinks he was born in the wrong century. 😦

Ciudad de Tanauan, Batangas

So even if it morphs into a new Ciudad de Macati or Ciudad de Quezon, Tanauan will still be the same old Hispanic town that I came to know from the books that I’ve read about its romantic past…

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More Tanauan photos below!

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DSC09512DSC09513DSC09514DSC09515DSC09516Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista (09/26/2010)

TANAUAN, BATANGAS, a set on Flickr.

In The Garden

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Photo from ALAS FILIPINAS (Tanauan, Batangas).

IN THE GARDEN
José Mario Alas

Christ never cried in the Garden:
Instead, he sang songs in praise
Of sleep to sweet to ignore
And the blood that flowed
From his brow divine
Was too salty for everyone
To implore.

Circa 2002

Copyright © 2011
José Mario Alas
Manila, Philippines
All rights reserved.

Monte Manabú (Santo Tomás, Batangas)

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Mount Manabú was supposed to be an easy climb. Until we lost our way.

Everybody’s favorite Pinoy Mountaineer, Gideón Lasco, wrote: “Because of its easy access, short trail, and very beautiful environs, Manabú Peak is a great introduction to hiking for beginners.” And so after years of prodding, I was finally able to convince Yeyette to experience the “chilly thrill of being up there” by trying out this easy-to-climb mountain in nearby Santo Tomás, Batangas.

We left early morning last 30 May, during the last days of summer. We did not plan to stay there overnight. We do not have camping gear. And even if we did, I am not really fond of staying up there even if for just a night. Yeyette even forgot to bring extra shirts and power snacks. Upon reaching the entrance trail to the mountain, we were lucky to have found a small store there where we bought a couple of junk foods. This lack of preparation was my fault: I shouldn’t have let a neophyte hiker do the packing for us.

On our way to Mount Manabú. Beyond is the Malipunyô mountain range which is composed of three peaks: Malipunyô, Susong Dalaga, and Manabú.

Register here (for only ₱10.00 per person).

The climb to the top begins here.

We started the hike at around 9:30 AM. As we followed the trail, we passed by thick grasses and foliage, encountered wild mountain flowers and even farm animals which urban people don’t see anymore for obvious reasons. Although we have been to such places before (especially me), this abundance of nature never fails to thrill both of us.

A horse is on our way!

A bitter gourd (ampalayá) plantation at the foot of the mountain.

And now we got cows.

This map only got us confused later on...

Going higher and higher.

Boulder man.

Met some hikers who were descending. They spent the night at the peak.

Mountain spring!

¡Pahiñgá muna!

=)

To the grotto.

Violet mountain flowers! What are they called?

Wild pineapple!

The grotto fronting a spring.

Mt. Manabú's Marian grotto.

The estimated time of arrival was 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM. I planned for us to stay at the peak for about an hour or two.

But that didn’t happen.

Confusion began as soon as we reached the grotto. After staying there for awhile, we followed a small sign which says Station 8 that was perched on a tree branch to the left of the grotto. Underneath the sign was a trail, or what looked like a trail. But to the right of the grotto, there was another trail. And it sloped so high and looked a bit difficult to tread on that we quickly assumed it might lead to nowhere (because before reaching the grotto, the trail to the top has been an easy one)

Going farther on to the wrong trail (which was fast disappearing in the foliage), we saw this lone image of the Blessed Virgin.

The roof of the hut fronting the grotto (behind Yeyette).

Getting steeper and steeper...

The trail disappeared somewhere here. Or what we thought of as a trail.

¡Pahiñgá ulít! We realized that we're already lost. We were just not admitting it to each other.

After what seemed like hours of difficult climbing (we were virtually using our hands to hold on to trees and the soil just to keep us from rolling down to sea level!), I realized that we were lost. I knew that Yeyette knew that we were lost, but I did not want her to panic. The reason why we refused to go down is because of the Station 2 map whose photo we took.

The red line shows the wrong trail that we followed because of a Station 8 sign stupidly hanging on the wrong path. And speaking of stupid, I mistook North for East, and vice versa. But that is because the trail on the map was horizontally placed instead of vertical. Ah, so many excuses, LOL!!!

Besides, it is pretty tiring to go down just to look for the correct trail and then climb up again. And worse, our water supply was not enough. To our mind, trudging upwards will lead to the same peak, anyway.

Little did we realize that we were already on the wrong mountain. Not on the wrong side, but literally ON THE WRONG MOUNTAIN.

Sobrang taás nitó sa malapitan.

Wild jackfruit!

The vegetation gets thicker and thicker, blocking our way.

Yeyette's rash guard was not able to protect her from rashes caused by these prickly stuff. Probably the lipâ pricklies (yep, that's where Ciudad de Lipâ got its name).

If it were raining, this boulder would have rolled us over! Even light rains over the mountains could cause huge rocks to slide down.

Yes, there are bayucô snails up here! We learned later on that these snails are edible and are actually exotic and rare!

When we descended, residents said that bayucô can only be found on the highest parts of the mountain. That means weve reached the top of the mountain already when this photo was taken! But where's the freakin' trail?!

This spiked tree wounded my wife's right hand.

Mushrooms feasting on a dead tree trunk.

We were virtually hanging on to trees in order to avoid rolling downwards -- the ground up here is almost vertical!

From this vantage point, I was so sure that we're no longer in Mount Manabú!

We reached the top, at last. But it did not fit Gideon’s description of Mount Manabú — because we were in the middle of a tropical forest! The sounds that unseen animals and birds produce from up there were quite eerie. We have exhausted our bodies, and I was on the verge of dehydration (I drink a lot of water even at home). There was nowhere else to go, and we could not even find the “trail” that we were following anymore.

Getting dehydrated here due to lack of water.

Mushrooms on the ground.

Sampinít, but unripe.

During the climb, I was looking at our digital camera from time to time, probing the picture that I took of the trail map from Station 2. Suddenly, I thought of tilting the camera sideways, then realized a scary mistake.

We were following a different trail which is not really a trail! After thoroughly examining the photo, and using my “mind’s compass” by checking out the position of the sun, I turned my head through the foliage, and there. From afar, I saw the mountain where we were supposed to go…

Mount Manabú is over there! We are indeed on a different mountain!

There was no other option but to descend. And while our ascent was tiring and difficult, the descent was almost impossible, for the way down tilted crazily, almost vertical. Some of the sites that we passed by was possible to climb on, but virtually impossible to descend to. There were just so many ravines. And I could even feel my legs and knee giving in whenever I use them to balance my body with gravity. Twice, I almost rolled downwards when I stepped on loose soil, or when some plants that I was holding on to keep myself from falling also gave in. And during those times, my wife immediately grabbed my arms, thus saving me from getting killed or paralyzed.

And I loved her even more for that. =)

For all the bravado that I have of being an experienced mountaineer, a neophyte –and my wife at that!– saved my @$$, hahaha!

We continued the perilous descent, shouting occasionally for help, hoping that somebody will hear us and lead us to the right track.

The tiring descent begins...

Deathly steep!

Used vines to get down.

We made it! Just a few more ravines!

A home for wasps (putactí) up there on that tree!

Finally, in what seemed like forever, we noticed that we were finally on level ground. But we were still lost.

Sea level at last!

What are those -- some sort of cabbages?

Pardon my ignorance. I really don't know what this is. But it looks delicious, hehe!

We've reached the bottom, yes. But the place is unfamiliar. Definitely NOT the place where we started trekking. Which means... WE'RE STILL LOST!

Lookin' for help.

¡Nuno sa punsô!

Still in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, people! We saw some a small settlement of Batangueños who told us that Mount Manabú was far, far away!

Darn, we descended on the wrong side of the wrong mountain!

We told them that we were already climbing the said mountain, until we got lost. They were very surprised to hear how we reached the peak of a mountain that is never visited even by residents of Santo Tomás. Then, in true Pinoy fashion, some of them recalled stories of how some mountaineers did lose their way in the past, perhaps due to unseen and playful spirits (probably of the infamous ticbalang). Of course I didn’t buy it; my provinciana wife did, LOL!!!

But at the very least, we were still in Santo Tomás. The mountain which we climbed was a nameless one (but some of them call it Santa Cruz). They said that people rarely go up there because it is very dangerous!

At last, people! They provided us with water, and confirmed that we were indeed in the middle of nowhere!

It was past 2:00 PM. It was OK for me to go home. Anyway, what we climbed was a mountain. But Yeyette was still raring to go for Mount Manabú! ¡Guay! That was the mountain we came for in the first place.

One of the old ladies there (the one with the eye patch) accompanied us to the main road (actually a dirt road) and pointed to us the correct way towards Barrio Santa Cruz where we can start our climb to Mount Manabú once more. We also asked if there was any nearby sari-sari store where we can have eat and buy drinks. Luckily, there is one about half-way towards the entrance trail to Mount Manabú, and it’s owned by her relatives. The road had no vehicles, somewhat deserted. So we had to walk about a kilometer towards that store.

The Batangueños in the previous photo led us to this road which links Santo Tomás, Batangas to San Pablo, La Laguna. It will also lead us back to the foot of Mount Manabú.

Dead tired but still smiling. =) What an adventure!

Chickens!

We had some refreshments at a store behind this milestone.

The people who own this store are related to those Batangueños in the earlier photo who helped us earlier. Íisang pisâ cung tauaguin sa nayon.

I don't like eating pancít cantón with rice. But with what we went through, the heck with fussiness! The meal turned out to be delicious! And best of all, the rice was free!

Lancâ (jackfruit).

After refreshing ourselves at the store, we met a certain Tanó, also a relative of the one-eyed lady we met earlier. He offered to guide our way so that we won’t get lost. And he knew of a nearer trail from the store. It was almost 3:00 PM, but he assured us that we will reach the peak before dark.

I asked Yeyette again if she still wants to pursue the climb. She said yes. She was enjoying every minute of our adventure, and I’m happy about it. So off we went for our second mountain that day!

The second trek commences a few minutes past three in the afternoon. Cuya Tanò went with us as a guide. He's also a relative of those Batangueños we met earlier.

We started off on a different trail, a place few mountaineers are aware of!

Crossing a crystal-clear stream.

Afternoon laundry.

The land goes up again.

A mahogany forest, as far as the eye can see!

Our destination: the white cross of Mount Manabú, located at the peak.

That hut on the other hill is where we originally trekked before we got lost. It is near Station 2.

The original trail and the new one that we're following merges here!

Free this monkey!

Free these rabbits and hamsters!

Station 2 again. They sell fresh coconut juice here. Yeyette saw an ex-officemate of hers with the latter's friends. They had just arrived and will spend the night at the peak.

Tunay na lacás -- Ralph Recto, ¡hahaha!

We had to go ahead of them because we were in a hurry. Besides, we did not bring any camping gear.

The hike resumes.

The fun climb turned into a fast one because dusk was just about two hours away. We had to reach the peak fast enough in order to stay there a little bit.

They say that mushrooms which grow from dung can give a much stronger high compared to what marijuana and talampunay can offer. And it is said that this crappy li'l mushroom costs high in the black market!

To Cuya Tanó, this climb's a piece of cake. My wife says otherwise.

At last! A clearing! We're out of the dark woods!

Ciudad de Lipâ and the town of Cuenca, Batangas in the background.

We're near the peak!

The brown tract of land from afar is the peak of Mount Manabú.

As we neared the peak, we entered another forest.

More of the edible and sweet sampinít or wild mountain berries. Although its season is summer, these in the photo are still unripe.

Warning: this sign leads to a ravine! Obviously a cruel prank (I wasn't able to remove it because it was situated in a very dangerous area where it is not impossible for one to fall down). Just ignore it.

Finally, we reached Mount Manabú peak a few minutes past five in the afternoon. Because it was just her first time to reach a mountain peak, all of Yeyette’s exhaustion suddenly vanished! But I could not wait to lie down on the ground for a quick rest!

Aaaaaaaahhh! The peak! Finally!

Thank the Lord, we still made it in just two hours despite our exhaustion! The white cross, by the way, was constructed by Cuya Tanò together with some of his friends and relatives many years ago.

It's her second mountain peak in just one day! And this is just her rookie climb! Try to top that!

The mighty Monte Banahao is behind Yeyette. The mountain is shared by the municipalities of Lucbán, Quezon and Majayjay, La Laguna.

The municipalities of Lucbán and Sariaya in Quezon province behind us.

Thick forest below!

The sun is about to set on Lago de Taal.

Ang aming cauntíng báon.

My wife's ex-officemate and her crew still far below us.

Monte de Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas. I've climbed this mountain on my 26th birthday (07/18/2005)!

The mysterious and somewhat mystical mountain of Banahao.

Faraway La Laguna de Bay.

A welcome intruder! Cuya Tanò said it's an ulyabíd.

It's raining yonder!

Yeyette's ex-officemate Sierma Limos (left) and her posse arrived just before dusk.

Mang Pirying: the keeper of Mount Manabú

Although it was still summer, the climate was very cold at the peak. But of course; we were on top of a 2,494.75-foot forested mountain. A few minutes past 6:00 PM, we bid goodbye to Sierma and her friends who were staying there overnight. This time we followed a different trail which will pass by the hut of Mount Manabú’s famous resident, Mang Pirying.

Descending. These thick ropes are used by mountaineers during slippery days.

With the Manabú Man himself, Mang Pirying!

Mang Pirying, the keeper of Mount Manabú.

Mang Pirying was a very humble man. A hermit, he has been living in the midst of the mountain for a long time. He introduces himself as a 48-year-old man, but he looks older (Cuya Tanò says that he could be in his 60s already). Many people living around the mountain know him. Also, it is not uncommon for hikers to visit him. Besides, Mang Pirying offers them perhaps the best tasting café baraco that I have ever tasted (and it’s all for free)! Freshly brewed! And the coffee beans are from his small plantation beside his hut.

I told him that he’s quite popular in the net among local mountaineers. But I don’t think he understood what the internet is.

We told Mang Pirying of the early day’s adventure, of how we got lost and found our way down. Then he told us that it could have been us who he heard shouting for help from the other mountain which he called Aluyan. So that first mountain is still officially nameless, indeed, for people sometimes call it either Santa Cruz (or Holy Cross in English, perhaps named after Barrio Santa Cruz where Mount Manabú is situated) or Aluyan. Ironically, Mount Santa Cruz has no cross. But Mount Manabú, which has a white cross on its peak, is not named as such.

After the brief pleasantries, we had to leave because it was very dark already.

Darkness fell.

Back at Station 2. There are no more buco juices left.

The people over at Station 2 provided us with this torch which they call cuyóg. It is made up of dried coconut pulp.

Back from where we began. This house is right in front of the mountain's entrance trail.

Truly, an incredible day. Especially for wifey. Who would have thought that, on her first climb, she will conquer two mountains?! And she’s raring for her second, nay, third, climb with me as soon as the rainy season has stopped.

Enjoy nature, guys, while it’s still there. Because, sadly, it appears that there is no stopping the curse of urbanhood, i.e., pollution, deforestation, . But I pray that Monte de Manabú’s bounty of natural beauty will remain until the end of times.

Me vs Mt. Maquíling: 0-2

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Yesterday, Arnaldo, I, and two of our officemates had a fun climb in Mt. Maquíling (using the famous and safer University of the Philippines Los Baños trail). It was my second try to scale its heights. My first one two years ago was a failure. And so was yesterday’s hike; we miscalculated the trip it would take us to Peak Two, the mountain’s highest point.

Adding insult to injury, all the photos I took of our climb were accidentally deleted! It still puzzles me up to now how it happened (I haven’t recovered yet from the shock). Fortunately, Arnaldo took his camera along. But those photos I took (including two short videos in the spectacular boiling Mud Springs) were numerous and more defined. I’m so frustrated I could’t even write further. =(

Photographs are memories, dammit…

An important lesson I’d like to share: NEVER DELETE UNWANTED PHOTOS FROM YOUR DIGITAL CAMERA. Start deleting only when they are all uploaded into your PCs.

Hit it baby, one more time: DAMMIT!

Photo taken last 2008 in Mt. Maquíling's Sto. Tomás trail (Batangas).

I’ll blog about this second Maquíling hike once I get the photos from Arnaldo. And once I have recovered from sheer disappointment. =(

Ananias Diokno, taaleño revolucionario

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Today is the birth anniversary of Ananias Diokno, one of the greatest Filipino soldiers of all time.

Below is a brief biographical sketch of the taaleño revolucionario written by Carmencita H. Acosta (from the 1965 book Eminent Filipinos which was published by the National Historical Commission, a precursor of today’s National Historical Institute).

ANANIAS DIOKNO
(1860-1922)

The only Tagalog general to lead a full-scale military expedition to the Visayas against the Spaniards was General Ananias Diokno. He was also among the very few who, in the twilight period of the War of Independence, bravely undertook guerrilla warfare against the Americans.

General Diokno, born on January 22, 1860, in Taal, Batangas, to Ángel Diokno and Ándrea Noblejas, began his military career as Secretary of War in the departmental government of Batangas. After distinguishing himself in several battles in the Batangas-Laguna-Tayabas zone, he was commissioned to lead an expedition to the Visayas to attack the Spanish stronghold there and to forge unity between the Visayan rebel forces and the Central Revolutionary Government of Emilio Aguinaldo.

Diokno, therefore, organized the Maluya Battalion and sailed in September, 1898, first to Mindoro, then to Marinduque, where he reorganized his battalion; then proceeded to Camarines and places to the south. He established the local revolutionary governments in Buriás, Sorsogón, and Romblón where he supervised the election of local officials.

At Navas, Aclán, he victoriously laid siege to the Spanish stronghold. Diokno’s army then proceeded to Calibo and afterwards to Cápiz and in both places defeated the Spaniards. In a short while, the whole of Cápiz was completely liberated from Spanish rule.

Aguinaldo, upon recommendation of Apolinario Mabini, appointed Diokno politico-military governor of Cápiz. Diokno held the post for a time then left for other regions of Panay to lead his battles. He established contact with General Martín Teófilo Delgado, commander-in-chief of the Visayan rebel government, and in December, 1898, went to Jaro with his troops to maintain peace and order following the defeat of the Spaniards.

However, the temporary peace brought about by Spanish defeat was cut short by the arrival of the American forces. In November of 1899, General Diokno arrived at Santa Bárbara, Iloílo, where he had several engagements against the American troops. At Passi, he almost lost his life when he was ambushed by several mounted Americans. With his son Ramón, he fought off the enemy and even captured two of them.

The Americans being equipped with the latest weapons, many of the revolutionary officers throughout the archipelago knew that they were fighting a losing war and consequently the majority of them surrendered to the enemy. But Diokno refused to do so. He retreated to the hinterlands of Cápiz and resorted to guerrilla warfare. Badly wounded, he was captured by the Americans in a skirmish in 1901 and imprisoned.

After his release, he led the ordinary life of a citizen. The American government offered him in 1916 the directorship of the Bureau of Agriculture. Diokno refused because he believed it was disloyalty to his country so serve the very foreigners who had suppressed its independence.

He spent the remaining years of his life in Aráyat, Pampanga, where he died on November 2, 1922.

The ancestral house of Ananias Diokno in Taal, Batangas (photo taken by Arnaldo Arnáiz).

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