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Category Archives: Provincia de Morong

Happy eighth anniversary, TOF!

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LA FAMILIA VIAJERA

Ivan Man Dymyself, Karl Ace, Paula O, and Traveler On Foot (photo taken by Traveler’s son Joaquín). Click here for more photos of our celebration!

 

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Traveler on Foot may not be as popular as other Filipino bloggers out there, but it can never be denied that he is one of the pillars of Filipino travel blogging. And you don’t just travel with him (and his son): you get educated along the way!

Congratulations on your eighth year!

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TOF Home

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Art connoisseur Glenn Martínez calls his comfy San Mateo abode as “TOF Home”. TOF of course are the initials of his well-known travel blog Traveler On Foot. Having been blogging about his travels all over the country with his son Joaquín since 2008, he can be considered as one of the pioneer travel bloggers in the country. But his online travel journal is different from the rest of the pack. For one, he endears his readers to have a patriotic attachment towards the places that he visits by revealing, and putting emphasis on, their historical and cultural side. Simply put, he is a Filipino travel blogger. Secondly, he refuses to “commercialize” his blog (despite its popularity, he has never bought his own domain name yet), making his advocacy more admirable.

Me and fellow blogger Arnaldo Arnáiz first met Glenn in 2008 during an Ambeth Ocampo lecture in Macati (or just a few months after he started TOF). The three of us have been communicating ever since. A couple of years ago, tragedy struck his first home in San Mateo when Typhoon Ondoy inundated it, destroying not just his belongings but his precious collection of Filipiniana, many of which were already out of print!

I would have died if it happened to me.

But Glenn rose back like a phoenix. Just last month, he invited me and Arnaldo to have lunch at his new home. We were astounded by what we saw — his new home has become a virtual art gallery!

Works of internationally acclaimed Paeteño painter Dominic Rubio.

A collection of miniature baskets on top of an antique marble-topped mesita (foreground), accumulated from various towns which Glenn and his son Joaquín had visited

More paintings and miniature wood sculptures will greet visitors by the stairs going to the third floor.

A sketch by Celso Pepito.

Father and son.

A collection of Ambeth Ocampo‘s highly informative books.

More Filipiniana volumes adorn this antique estante.

Glenn has transferred to a then bland-looking three-story house —this time farther from the Mariquina River— which he has since styled into an artist’s haven. He has decorated the interiors, from first floor to third, with various art pieces by renowned painters and sculptors he had met during his travels, purchased miniature items, handicrafts, and other interesting trinkets from various indigenous cultures he had visited, and salvaged parts of old ancestral houses and churches which were otherwise considered as junk. His taste in Filipino art was surprisingly something new, an enthusiasm developed by his travels and the friendships he had made with many artists through the years. He has become so immersed in the local art scene that he could even lecture me about the inanities of differentiating “low art” and “high art”, whatever that means (now you understand the “art connoisseur” tag at the beginning of this blogpost).

Glenn’s bedroom, at left, is on the second floor. At right bottom is part of the stairway which leads to the third floor where most of his art collection and books are located.

Joaquín’s bedroom, also at the second floor, has four framed graffiti by Rai Cruz.

Antique dining table (foreground) and sala furniture pieces at the background. A calado from an old ancestral house in Pila, La Laguna hangs above.

Potteries and baskets from various parts of the country displayed safely inside this nostalgic armario.

“You have to live by what you write” is what Glenn told us during that afternoon visit, hence helping us understand why his home, a modern-looking house from the outside, looks and feels so nostalgic, so homely, so familiar, so Filipino. The place is complemented by Glenn’s effusively positive outlook towards life. I remember how he gave me some old-fashioned encouragement during one time when I was having another fit of depression. And with genuine concern, he even gave me advice on how my family should travel. And then there’s his smart boy Joaquín, a very fortunate chap who is being showered not only with paternal love but also with the lovely culture that has shaped our national identity. Joaquín is even keen on learning Spanish, the language of our forefathers! TOF Home also has its doors open to all of Glenn’s artist friends because he wants to consider them as a “family extension” of sorts for his son Joaquín, one of the country’s youngest travelers.

Visiting TOF Home inspired me to do some major makeover on my own home. I’ve been dreaming of owning my own bahay na bató for my family, but I have to accept the reality that it might never happen anymore. But having experienced Glenn’s house made me realize that it is still possible to Filipinize one’s home even if it is not an ancestral house.

That evening, the four of us attended Mass at the nearby parish of Our Lady of Aranzazu.

Enfrente de la Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazu, San Mateo, Provincia de Morong. Izquierda a derecha: Glenn Martínez, Arnaldo Arnáiz, y yo. Al frente es Joaquín, único hijo de Glenn.

And here’s our podcast (“episode 2”) with Glenn Martínez, the one and only Traveler On Foot, last September 7 at his Filipino home in San Mateo, Morong.

Pardon us for the sound quality; birth pains of rookies, y’know. The podcast with Glenn took more than an hour, but Arnaldo had to cut it to around 30 minutes because much of our conversation was garbled. Fortunately, Arnaldo recently purchased some new equipment. That’s why for “episode 3” of our podcast with Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera (I’ll blog about it very soon), the sound quality finally came out A-OK. We’ll do much better next time.

For more photos of TOF Home, click here. You may also want to buy this month’s issue of Real Living magazine wherein the said publication features Glenn’s rustically modern home.

¡Hasta luego!

Save Laguna de Bay!

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The same video with an English transcript is available here.

Around 80% of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces are submerged in floodwaters!

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Quick report

No, there is no typhoon taking place. But nonstop monsoon rains left 80 percent of Metro Manila flooded on Tuesday (7th of August) forced hundreds of thousands to escape out of their inundated homes, sparking traumatic recollections of the calamitous tropical storm “Ondoy” three years ago. Last night, Malacañang Palace suspended classes in Metro Manila and the nine provinces surrounding it.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa issued Memorandum Circular No. 34, ordering the suspension of classes Thursday at all levels, including postgraduate courses, in Metro Manila, Zambales, Bataán, Pampanga, Pangasinán, Tárlac, Bulacán, La Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal.

Actually, it has been raining for more than a week, even before typhoon Gener struck. The flash floods began gradually on Monday and severely swelled last Tuesday. Many places are in a state of calamity, especially communities along the Mariquina River and Laguna de Bay. Before last night’s memorandum, Malacañang Palace also issued a directive canceling work in both government and private offices. Even call centers/BPOs were not excluded from this, prompting the Business Processing Association of the Philippines to appeal; this is because this industry caters to international clients.

Now the sun is finally up, but barely. And the floods don’t mitigate that fast. And think of the countless families who were rendered homeless. Please, let us not allow ourselves to be mere spectators of this tragedy. We are all part of this…

How to help? Please click HERE and HERE.

We can all get through this together. That is the FILIPINO spirit. Dapat sama-sama sa hirap at guinhawa.

*******

Special thanks to my cousin, DJ Jam Alas of Magic 89.9, for the info on how to help the flood victims.

Rizal and the Virgin of Antipolo

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¡Salve Rosa pura
Reina de la mar!
¡Salve! Blanca Estrella,
Fiel Iris de Paz …
Antipolo,
Por tí sólo
Fama y renombre tendrá.
De los males,
Los mortales
Tu imágen nos librará;
Tu cariño,
Al fiel niño
Le guarda siempre del mal;
Noche y día,
Tu le guías
En la senda terrenal.
—José Rizal (Junto al Pásig)—

Here’s a photo that I salvaged from oblivion. We’re posing for posterity in front of the historical shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (circa 2008).

Standing from left to right: Arnaldo Arnáiz, Michiko Hasegawa, Señor Guillermo Gómez, and a bald version of myself. Michiko is Señor Gómez’s Spanish-speaking Japanese flamenco dancer.

This historical shrine houses the miraculous image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as Our Lady (or Virgin) of Antipolo. Many people who are about to embark on a long journey or travel, especially those who will go abroad, flock here to seek guidance from Our Lord’s dear Mother.

Rizal’s mom was a devotee of this church. While carrying Rizal in her womb, she fervently prayed here that she may have a safe delivery. Years later, when Rizal grew up as a young boy fit enough to travel, he went here with his dad (on 6 June 1868) to fulfill his mother’s panatà or vow made years before: to take Rizal to the Virgin of Antipolo should she and her son survive the difficulty of delivery. Rizal’s visit here was a thanksgiving pilgrimage of sort.

Rizal’s attachment to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage carried over to his early masterpiece, the one-act play Junto al Pásig (Along the Pásig). In this piece, Our Lady of Antipolo was mentioned twice. She was also mentioned in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, but not exactly in a pious light (for Rizal was already a Freemason when he wrote his first novel):

Contrastando con estos terrenales preparativos están los abigarrados cuadros de las paredes, representando asuntos religiosos como El Purgatorio, El Infierno, El Juicio final, La Muerte del Justo, La del Pecador, y en el fondo, aprisionado en un espléndido y elegante marco estilo del Renacimiento que Arévalo rabía tallado, un curioso lienzo de grandes dimensioness en que se ven dos viejas… La inscripción dice: Nra. Sra. de la Paz y Buenviaje que se venera en Antipolo, bajo el aspecto de una mendiga visita en su enfermedad á la piadosa y célebre capitana Inés.

Also, during his stay in Biñán, La Laguna, Rizal used to pray at a chapel which was also dedicated to Our Lady Of Peace and Good Voyage.

Since Junto al Pásig is mentioned here, let me comment on something: whenever we talk about Rizal’s literary skills, his two novels immediately come to mind. But these two are almost far from being literary. They are, to put it frankly, but a part of the propaganda fuel of hatred against the Catholic Church, particularly against the friars in the Philippines. Many citations in these novels are even slanderous at worst. To an honest writer and literary critic, Rizal shone at his brightest during the days when he wrote only poetry and plays, when he was not motivated by the propaganda machine, when all his writings were motivated with nothing but religious love as well as the passion for the arts.

Every merry month of May, the legendary town of Antipolo becomes a beehive of acitivity and vibrancy as thousands, from all walks of life, flock to this lovely place amongst the hills. To the lilting tune of native songs, people come to this town, primarily to pay homage to the miraculous Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and, secondly, to take a breather from the heat and dust of the summer months amidst Antipolo’s refreshing mountain air, rippling streams and springs.

I wish we could do another trip like this again.

Click here for more information about Ciudad de Antipolo.

Hinulugang Tactac: finally, a major makeover is in the offing!

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HINULUGANG TAKTAK

Two years ago, I wrote my regrets about the polluted state of the Philippines’ most famous waterfall, the celebrated Hinulugang Tactac (now usually spelled as Taktak, but I still prefer the original because that’s the way it should really be). It’s a pity that, for several years, Hinulugang Tactac remained forgotten and disrespected by the people surrounding it. What a political slap in the face because back in 1990 it was proclaimed as a National Historical Shrine under Republic Act 6964. Once a picnic haven for backpackers, tourists, and pilgrims of nearby (and equally famous) cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje, it’s fast becoming another Pásig River: the place is now filled with unspeakable filth and garbage.

If José Rizal were alive today and have seen the pitiful state of Hinulugang Tactac, he would’ve fainted in disdain (he used to visit the place; his mother, Doña Teodora Alonso de Mercado, was a devotee of the church of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage).

But all is not lost. Hinulugang Tactac is not yet considered biologically dead as compared to the ill-fated Pásig River. And the good news is that –finally– the local government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will collaborate with concerned groups to bring back to life our country’s beloved and historical waterfall:

The city government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are working with private groups for a P100-million makeover aimed at restoring the glory of the Philippines’ most famous waterfall in 10-20 years.

With an amount like that, cleaning up Hinulugang Taktak shouldn’t even go beyond three to five years.

I’ve never been to this place. But I plan to visit it of course. And when I do get there one day, I hope that Hinulugang Tactac would have gotten back its pristine beauty. The money, the clean-up project, and the people/groups concerned are all set. All it takes now is political will and loads of discipline to save the waterfall. Thus, in due time, we can all sing with genuine cheerfulness once again this famous song:

♪ Magbihis na cayó ng pinacamagandá
At cayóng lahát ay sa amin sumama
¿Baquit? ¿Saán ba tayo pupuntá?
¡Sa Antipolo na laguing masayá!

Tayo na sa Antipolo
At Doón maligo tayo
Sa batis na cung tauaguin
Ay hi… hi… Hinulugang Tactác
At doón tayo cumáin
Ng mangá, suman, casóy at balimbíng
Cayá’t magmadalí ca
At tayo’y tútuloy na sa Antipolo.

Doón sa Antipolo inyóng maquiquita
Ang mapanghalinang tanauing cay gandá.
At sa mayuming mga dalaga
Sa sulyáp laang mabibihag ca ná. ♫
(repeat chorus)

Click here to listen to the song’s famous chorus!

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