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I love to travel just to explore new things in life from breathtaking natural wonders, interesting historical sites, delicious food, friendly people and colorful culture. I treasure every moment in traveling by writing in my journal, taking photos and publish it in my travel blog.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

A Quick Visit in Mabitac: Passing the Battle Tableau to the Hilltop Church

Mabitac is located in the northern part of Laguna, nestled in the lush mountains of Sierra Madre and it is the first town in Laguna from the province of Rizal via Manila East Road. The town got its name from Tagalog phrase "ma bitag" meaning many traps.

Last year, I decided to make a quick visit in Mabitac because someone told me that it is a peaceful town with an interesting historical background and an old church in the hilltop. Although it was raining hard during that time, I am eager to explore this small town. So I ride a jeepney from Paete going to the town of Siniloan. After that, I took a three minute tricycle ride to the tableau of Battle of Mabitac.

The shrine of Battle of Mabitac
Mabitac was a site of a battle during the Philippine American War where Filipinos won their victory against American forces on September 17, 1900. During the midst of  the Second World War in 1942, Japanese forces entered and occupied the town. In 1945, the Philippine Commonwealth Army along with the guerillas defeated the Japanese forces in the Second Battle of Mabitac. Today, the shrine of Battle of Mabitac is an evidence that the town is rich in historical heritage and the fact that Filipinos shown courage and bravery in order to defend our country to the foreign invaders.
Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church
The one hundred twenty six steps to the hilltop church.
The panoramic view of Mabitac from the hilltop which offers lush vegetation and houses.
From the shrine, I walked in the ascending slopes to the hilltop in order to visit the Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church. The church was first built in 1613 under the Franciscan missionaries. Due to earthquakes, only the belfry remained in the original structure of the church. You can climb the 126 steps to the Kalbaryo Hill where the church is located. In addition, you can see the panoramic view of the town where you can see the lush and verdant trees, the small and simple houses and the rice fields and mountainous terrain that border the town.

After the visit in Mabitac, I decided to leave the town due to rainy weather and visit the next destination. Therefore, Mabitac is a place where you can experience the bounties of nature and the richness of cultural heritage and history.

Date of Travel: December 18, 2011

Friday, March 8, 2013

Visita Iglesia: Baroque Churches of Laguna Loop

There are different traditions in commemorating the Lent season. One of the common Filipino customs during Holy Week is the Visita Iglesia. It is the custom of visiting seven to fourteen churches where people pray the Stations of the Cross with the stations are divided among the churches. According to Wikipedia, Visita Iglesia is customarily observed during Maundy Thursday but today, it is commonly practiced in any day of the Holy Week.

The historical province of Laguna is also popular because of the ancient Baroque churches. These churches were built during the Spanish era and it was located in various towns and cities in the province. Therefore, Laguna is an ideal venue to conduct a visitation to seven churches or Visita Iglesia because of the majestic architecture and the serene ambiance of the province that teemed with the captivating landscapes and the abundance of nature in the province.
Shrine of Saint Anthony de Padua
Pila, Laguna

Located in the town of heritage houses, the Shrine of Saint Anthony de Padua is the first Antonine house of worship in the Philippines. It was built in 1618 but the town was transferred from Pagalangan to its present site in 1800 in order to avoid frequent floods. The church was completed in 1849. In addition, the first printing press was established under Tomas Pinpin and Domingo Loag. The church was located in the town plaza, adjacent to the town hall and museum.
Immaculate Conception Church
Santa Cruz, Laguna

Within a five to ten minute travel from Pila, you can reach the busy and progressive provincial capital of Santa Cruz. In this town you can visit the Immaculate Conception Church. It was originally constructed of stone in 1608 and enlarged in 1672. It was destroyed by fire in 1945 during the Liberation and reconstructed in 1948. It is located in the town center of Santa Cruz.
Saint Mary Magdalene Church
Magdalena, Laguna

Nestled in the lush and verdant foothills of Banahaw, you can visit the peaceful and historical town of Magdalena. Within ten minutes from Santa Cruz, you can reach the town plaza of Magdalena and you can visit the St. Mary Magdalene Church. It was completed in 1829. It plays a significant role in the Philippine Revolution of 1896 where Emilio Jacinto sought refuge in the church after he was shot and wounded near the Maimpis River.
Saint John the Baptist Church
Liliw, Laguna

You can visit the St. John the Baptist Church located in Liliw, the town which is popular for its slippers and footwear. The church was built in 1605 after the town was separated from Nagcarlan. The church is popular because of its elegant bricked facade as well with the solemn interior.
Saint Bartholomew the Apostle Church
Nagcarlan, Laguna

Few minutes away from Liliw, we have the St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Nagcarlan. The first church was built in 1583 made of light materials. The second church was built in 1752 which is made of stone. There also stories that there is a tunnel from the church to the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery which is the secret meeting place of the Katipuneros in the 1896 Revolution. In addition, this church is the setting of the defunct fantasy series "Kampanerang Kuba".
Saint Gregory the Great Church
Majayjay, Laguna

One of the tallest churches and a National Historical Treasure in the Philippines, the St. Gregory the Great Church was built in 1571 in the highland town of Majayjay. It was made up of nipa and bamboo and its church made of stone was completed in 1616 to 1649. This church is popular because of its stunning height and the Baroque architecture which was made during the Spanish era.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish
Luisiana, Laguna

This church is located after crossing the zigzag roads of Luisiana which is known as "The Little Baguio of Laguna". The town is located in the highlands of Sierra Madre and it is popular because of its cold climate and its town festival called "Pandan Festival" because of its products made of pandan. The church was built somewhere in 19th century and it looks like in a process of reconstruction when I visited the place because the facade looks newly construct.
Parish of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Chruch
Cavinti, Laguna

Located in the rugged terrain of the province, Cavinti is the home of famous Pagsanjan Falls. In the town center, there is the 400-year old Parish of the Transfiguration of Our Lord which is one of the old churches in Laguna. The church was built in 1621. It was destroyed by the Chinese uprising in 1639. The present structure was destroyed by an earthquake in 1824 and the tower collapsed in 1880. The walls were cracked in 1890 and 1937. Today, it is one of the Baroque churches in Laguna which is still standing after many centuries.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
Pagsanjan, Laguna

Pagsanjan is known as the Tourist Capital of Laguna. In the town center located in the highway going to Lumban and Cavinti, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is located. It was named after their patron of the town which is the Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was originally made of bamboo and nipa when the church was founded in 1687. It was reconstructed in 1690 and improved in 1853. It was destroyed during the Second World War. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a gift from Mexico in 1948.
San Sebastian Church
Lumban, Laguna

Lumban is one of the oldest towns in Laguna and it was a center for missionary activities in the province. The San Sebastian Church is located in the town center near the Pagsanjan River. Rev. Juan de Plasencia ministered here in 1578 and the original church was made of wood and thatch. The first stone church was built in 1600. *
Saint John the Baptist Church
Kalayaan, Laguna

This church is located in Longos, a small barrio in the lakeshore of Kalayaan. The church was built in 1669 by the Franciscan friars. Its bell was one of the oldest in the country which was cast in 1642.
Saint James the Apostle Church
Paete, Laguna

In the town of colorful woodcrafts and artistic woodcarvers, the Saint James the Apostle Church was located in the town center of Paete. The church also offers the view of Sierra Madre as a background. The town was founded in 1580 and the church was built in 1646. The church was also a gathering area of wood sculptures of images of Jesus Christ and the saints for the Procession in Holy Week.
Saint Peter of Alcantara Church
Pakil, Laguna

Pakil is a town which is famous for Turumba Festival, delicate woodcarvings and the old Saint Peter of Alcantara Church. The church was originally made of nipa and it was established in 1676. The stone church was completed in 1767 and the belfry was made in 1777.
Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church
Mabitac, Laguna

The Nuestra Senora de Candelaria Church was located in the hilltop in the town of Mabitac. This church is unique because you need to take the one hundred twenty-six steps to the hilltop church. The church was built in 1613 under the Franciscan missionaries. It was destroyed by earthquakes and the belfry of the church was remained standing after many centuries. The church is also located near the Battle of Mabitac historical marker. In addition, you can see the panoramic view of Mabitac from the hilltop church. *

Saint Paul the Hermit Cathedral
San Pablo City

The Saint Paul the Hermit Cathedral was first established in 1586 and its present structure was completed in 1714. San Pablo City is the diocese in the province of Laguna where the cathedral was located. *

You can read my post in Perspectives in White Scratch Papers entitled Visita Iglesia: A Pilgrimage to the Baroque Churches of Laguna which tells about my personal experience in visiting the Spanish era churches in the province.

Date of Travel: April 5, 2012

* The churches of Lumban, Mabitac and San Pablo City are not included in Visita Iglesia tour last April 5, 2012. The visit to the first two churches is part of Laguna Loop Tour from October to December 2011 while the visit to San Pablo Cathedral was happened on February 2012

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pinoy Delicacies on Cool Summer: Digman Halo-halo of Bacoor, Cavite

Halo-halo from BC2 topped with
ice cream, ube and leche flan.
It's summer time! The scorching heat of the sun waves through the tropical streets of Bacoor in a Tuesday afternoon. The bright ambiance makes the summer more fun in Cavite. In addition, you can experience our own thirst-quenching delicacy called halo-halo which has colorful sweet ingredients that combine with creamy milk and crushed ice which quenches your thirst and satisfy your taste buds. 

Last year, I decided to visit Barangay Digman located near in the town plaza of Bacoor. This barangay is popular because of their delicious halo-halo. There are two stores  located near H. Rubio and C. Gawaran Streets that offer Digman Halo-halo and I had a chance to visit these refreshment parlors. The first one is The Original Digman Halo-halo and Homemade Siopao and just a walk away from that store is the BC2 Original Famous Digman Halo-halo Special: Talk of the Town. I have tried both stores and in fairness to them, they have creamy, thirst-quenching, and mouth-watering ingredients. I had a question that comes to my mind, "Which one is the original Digman Halo-halo?"

Both stores have newspaper and magazine clips even famous celebrities visited these refreshment parlors. Both of them claiming that they were the original and they are convincing in terms of their delicious specialties. However, the BC2 Original Digman Halo-halo (located along C. Gawaran Street) has one scoop of ice cream in their halo-halo and the Original Digman Halo-halo and Homemade Siopao has leche flan and ube as their toppings but they have colorful layers of ingredients. Plus, this store offers Siopao and other local delicacies such as spaghetti, pansit and kutsinta.
The ingredients of BC2 Original Digman Halo-halo.
The colorful Digman Halo-halo. (The Original Digman Halo-halo and Homemade Siopao)

Green Gelatin
Red Gelatin
Red mongo
Sago (tapioca pearls)
Leche Flan
Nata de coco
Therefore, I enjoyed my time eating the specialties of two Digman halo-halo stores. I want to go back again there to try their thirst-quenching halo-halo as well with their other delicacies.

How to Get There:
From Manila, you can drive to Bacoor town proper passing SM Bacoor and you can go to Barangay Digman which is near in the town plaza. Then you can go to C. Gawaran and H. Rubio Streets to visit the two Digman halo-halo stores.

Date of Travel: April 2012
Original Digman Halo-halo and Homemade Siopao
 BC 2 Original Famous Digman Halo-halo Special: Talk of the Town Since 1969

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A View from the Lakeshore: Visiting San Pablo City

San Pablo City is known as "The City of Seven Lakes" and one of the component cities in Laguna. The progressive city is the home of seven lakes namely Sampaloc, Muhicap, Pandin, Yambo, Palakpakin, Calibato and Bunot. These lakes are source of freshwater fish and tourists go to these lakes to see the natural and picturesque beauty of the city. San Pablo City is nestled in the foothills of the three mountains namely Banahaw, Makiling and San Cristobal. 

According to Wikipedia, the seven lakes are maars or low volcanic craters located in the San Pablo Volcanic Field. They are among 200 small monogenetic volcanoes found along the Macolod Corridor, a rift zone between Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw. These craters can create an eruption where ground water comes along with magma pushing up near Earth's surface. 
Sampaloc Lake, the largest among the seven lakes with the view of Mount Banahaw.
I had a chance to visit the city last year in order to explore the Laguna Loop. I made my first stop in San Pablo City to take my breakfast. Then I visit the Saint Paul the Hermit Cathedral, the church located in the town proper of San Pablo City. It was built in 1586 by the Augustinian friars and its present structure was constructed in 1714.  The cathedral is known for its Neoclassic architecture as well with its stunning dome.
San Pablo Cathedral
The facade of San Pablo Cathedral
After I visited the cathedral, I decided to visit the largest among the seven lakes, the Sampaloc Lake. The tricycle driver offered a tour to the lake which is located within the town center. Then I made it and I saw the picturesque view of the lake. The turquoise waters that teemed up with the astonishing and verdant view of Mount Banahaw makes the best view of the lake. 
Fish pens and fish cages prove that Sampaloc Lake is rich in freshwater fish.
Two elementary girls taking photos of the beautiful lake. It seems that they have a future as photographers or bloggers.
I also noticed the old and concrete stairs to the town proper. The Sampaloc Lake Concrete Stairs was built in 1965 by President Diosdado Macapagal. As you go upstairs, you will see the Bonifacio Monument and a terrace where you can see the panoramic view of the lake. You can also visit the City Hall of San Pablo City which is near to the lake.
The marker of Sampaloc Lake Concrete Stairs
The concrete stairs of Sampaloc Lake teemed with ornamental plants.
Bonifacio Monument
The panoramic view of Sampaloc Lake
After the tricycle tour in Sampaloc Lake, I appreciated the tricycle driver who did a tour along the lakeshore of the largest lake in San Pablo City. Although, I visited this city in less than one hour, I appreciated the fact that there are beautiful places within an urban city. 

Date of Travel: February 2012
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