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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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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Visita Iglesia: Heritage Churches in Manila

Manila has a very colorful history. Before the Spaniards arrived in the country, it is the center of economic activities by the foreign traders. On 1571, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi established the seat of government in the fortified walls of Old Manila (which is the present-day Intramuros). In addition, there are many churches built in the Spanish city of Manila during their rule in the Philippines. Today, Manila is one of the busiest and most populated cities in the country and the churches built since the Spanish era are still present, so it is also a possible location for Visita Iglesia.

Manila Cathedral

Located at Plaza de Roma in Intramuros, the Manila Cathedral was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the Principal Patroness of the Philippines. It is also the seat of the archbishop. The cathedral was originally made of bamboo, nipa and wood. It was originally a parish church owned and governed by the Diocese of Mexico in 1571 until it became a separate diocese in 1579. The cathedral was destroyed and damaged several times by fires and earthquakes since its original built in 1581. It was also destroyed during the World War II. The current cathedral was built in 1958. Recently, the Basilica will have its re-opening this 2014 due to repairs for earthquake retrofitting and subsidence prevention.
Manila Cathedral
San Agustin Church

The San Agustin Church is considered as the oldest stone church in the Philippines. The construction started in 1587 and completed on 1607. It has withstood many earthquakes and survived the British Invasion (1762), Spanish-American War (1898) and the Japanese Invasion (1942). The church choir has sixty-eight carved molave seats with narra inlaids, an artistic lectern and parchment cantorals of the 17th and 18th century and the ashes of early Spanish conquistadores are now rest in the easternmost chapel of the transept. The first Philippine Plenary Council was held in this church on 1953. It is also one of the four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. 
San Agustin Church
Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz

Located in the oldest Chinatown in the world, Binondo, there's the San Lorenzo Ruiz Church, fronting the Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz. In history, Andres Bonifacio and Gregoria de Jesus were married in this church. In addition, San Lorenzo Ruiz who was born with a Chinese father and Filipino mother trained in this church before he went as a missionary to Japan. The church was founded by the Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was destroyed in 1762 during the British invasion. A new granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 however it was greatly damaged during the Second World War with the western facade and the octagonal bell tower surviving. The church was renovated between 1946 and 1971. Masses are also held in Filipino, Chinese (Mandarin and Hokkien) and English.

Binondo Church
Sto. Nino de Tondo Parochial Church

Sto. Nino de Tondo Parish is one of the most visited churches in the country. It is located in Tondo where the district held the Feast of Sto. Nino de Tondo every third week of January. Many people came to Tondo due to fluvial procession where waterways and tributaries are connected to Manila Bay, a possible reason why the church is made of stone. It is one of the first structures built by the Spaniards in Luzon where the Convent of Tondo was approved in 1572. In addition, Tondo was the center of Catholic activities among the Chinese. The church went to renovations and improvements with an appropriate amount of money for the materials and construction from 16th to 19th century. 

Sto. Nino de Tondo Parish
Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene or Quiapo Church is a prominent church located in the District of Quiapo. It can be found beside the Plaza Miranda where you can see a lot of stalls and busy people waiting for jeepneys and tricycles. The basilica is the home of the famous Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ which claimed to be miraculous. On August 29, 1586, Governor-General Santiago de Vera founded the District of Quiapo as a suburb of Spanish Manila. The church was built by the Franciscan missionaries using bamboo and nipa palm. The church also holds the Feast of Black Nazarene on January 9 celebrating the solemn translation of the statue to the church from the Church of Saint Nicholas Tolentino.

Quiapo Church
Basilica Minore de San Sebastian

The San Sebastian Church is the only all-steel church or basilica in Asia. The church is also noted with its architectural features which is an example of Gothic architecture in the Philippines. In 1621, Don Bernardino Castillo, a generous devotee of Saint Sebastian donated the land which the church stands now. The original made of wood was burned in 1651 during the Chinese uprising. The succeeding structures made of brick were destroyed by earthquakes and fire in 1859, 1863 and 1880. In 1881, Esteban Martinez, the parish priest of the church approached Spanish architect Genaro Palacios to built a fire and earthquake resistant structure made up of steel. Palacios made a design with a fused Earthquake Baroque and Neo-Gothic and the structural metal was manufactured from Belgium and erected by Belgian engineers. The church was solemnly blessed in 1891. It has long been reputed that Gustave Eiffel is the French engineer behind the church. 
San Sebastian Church

Santa Cruz Church
Santa Cruz

The Jesuits built the first Roman Catholic Church in the area where the present Santa Cruz Church stands on June 20, 1619.

Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church

Malate Church is a Baroque-style church facing the Rajah Sulayman Park and beyond the Manila Bay. The church is dedicated to Nuestra Senora de Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies) whose statue was brought from Spain in 1624. The church was built by Augustinian friars in the 16th century and it is one of the oldest churches in Manila outside Intramuros. The British landed in 1762 their troops near the shores and used the church for protection for their rear-guard in the capture of Manila. The church was destroyed by the earthquake on 1863 and it was destroyed by a typhoon in 1868 and rebuilt. The church was badly damaged during the Second World War and later restored again. 

Malate Church
Manila is not just a busy city but it is a place where heritage churches stand and it is also a perfect place for Visita Iglesia especially to those who lived in the Metro.

Date of Travel: March 15, 2014

Source: Historical Markers of Each Church Written by National Historic Commission

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our Weekend Merienda Habit at the Legendary Chinese Restaurant

When I was taking my Master's Degree at one of the prominent universities in the U-Belt, my classmates and I are always having a food trip at Ma Mon Luk. It is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants located in the busy streets of Quiapo, Manila. This is not just a typical restaurant but it has an interesting history. 

There was a Chinese chef and entrepreneur named Ma Mon Luk, who went to the Philippines in order to marry a Chinese girl from a rich family. As a hardworking peddler, he sold Chinese noodles (locally known as mami) in the streets of Manila. He is very known for gupit noodles, where he used a pair of scissors for cutting the noodles and chicken strips teemed up with hot and savory broth. 

Ma Mon Luk established his small restaurant in the 1920 after he achieved prosperity from hard work. There are ideas that the term mami came from Ma, the first syllable of his name and mi from mi-ki or egg noodles. In addition, siopao, a white steamed bun enhanced with meat chunks and secret sauce. is also popular delicacy in the restaurant.

Today, Ma Mon Luk has two operating stores, the one being in Quiapo (the oldest branch) and in Quezon Avenue (the main restaurant). They offered mami with chicken strips, beef chunks and savory broth worth P100.00. It is perfectly matched with siopao with different varieties. The first one is asado (worth P45.00) and a combination of asado, chicken and salted eggs (worth P65.00). The food is definitely delicious that can matched with fruity beverages or even mineral water. Definitely, you can taste the raw Chinese cuisine in this restaurant.
Chicken Noodles
Beef Noodles
Asado Siopao
Beef Noodles and Siopao
If I come back again to my graduate studies soon, I will never forget to have a foodtrip at Ma Mon Luk even once a month. Although it is an old restaurant located in the busy sidewalks of Quiapo, it is such an exciting foodtrip. It is for the reason that I appreciated the real Chinoy cuisine made by the legendary Chinese chef and entrepreneur who became a household name among the residents of Manila.

Date: July 13, 2013

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Weekend Visit in Manila Zoo

When I was a kid, some of my playmates were talking about the places that they visited. Most of them are proud that they visited Manila Zoo because they saw a lot of animals and they spent time with their family and relatives there. As a matter of fact, this is the first time that I visited the said tourist attraction.

The Manila Zoological and Botanical Gardens is a 5.5 hectare zoo that is located at Quirino Highway, Malate, Manila which was opened on July 25, 1959. The Manila Zoo receives millions of visitors every year especially it is popular with the tourists and visitors who spend their time during weekends.
The entrance to Manila Zoo
Historical marker of Manila Zoo.
This is the first time that I will visit this popular zoo in the Metro. I had seen a lot of birds from different species in different aviaries. It is also the first time that I saw a zebronkey (a hybrid of zebra and donkey), hippopotamus, and deer. Therefore, I was overwhelmed when I had a chance to look at Mali, the Asian elephant which is the popular attraction at the zoo. In addition, there are exciting activities in the zoo such as riding a boat, picture taking with colorful birds and visiting the Kinder Zoo.
Philippine Deer
The Asian Elephant, Mali, the major attraction in the zoo.
The Asian Elephant, Mali came from Sri Lanka.
An exotic bird which came out of the aviary.
Philippine Hornbill

It was one year ago when I visited this zoo. I hope that the management will take care of the cleanliness and safety of this zoo because animals want to feel that this is not just an animal sanctuary but a habitat to live for the rest of their lives. Therefore, Manila Zoo is a place which is rich in vegetation in an urban area and the tourists can see variety of animals in this place.

Date of Travel: March 2013
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