The Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, the Catholic University of the Philippines. This the full name of the University of Santo Tomas (UST). UST is among the oldest universities in the Philippines. It is also the oldest Catholic university in Asia. Established in April 1611, it was founded and managed by the Dominican priests. And today, it is one of the top universities and most respected educational institution in the country.
Well, I’m a proud to say that I one of its alumni who graduated from its College of Commerce in early 2000.
UST is currently located in a squarish 21.5 hectare lot in locality of Sampaloc in Manila. It is bounded by España Boulevard, named after the Philippines’ former colonizer, Spain. In exchange, Madrid named its own as Avenida de Filipinas where the replica of the Rizal monument stands. But originally, the university was located within the walls of the Intramuros. It was only in the 1927 when the Dominican priests decided to move to a bigger location outside the wall. The Intramuros campus remained operational until it was destroyed by the World War II.
Well traditionally Visita Iglesia is done by visiting seven churches while reciting the stations of the Cross. But this year, after our visita iglesia in Laguna, the day after we thought of visiting another church. Well eventually we ended up into visiting two churches in the province of Batangas. Both churches has miracles related or associated to it.
The first one, we visited the San Pio de Pietrelcina Shrine in the town of Sto. Tomas. Well, this is my second time to visit this church. This parish is relatively new yet this has become quite famous lately due the regular healing mass being done here every 23rd of the month. Also this also made famous the the healing masses performed by Father Fernando Suarez, a famous healing priest.
This parish started from a small chapel located on the same grounds and this was dedicated to St. Pio de Pietrelcina, a priest who experienced a phenomenon called stigmata, wherein he showed wounds and marks that Jesus Christ has suffered form His crucifixion.
About a month back, Catholics around the world celebrated once more the passion and death of the Christ. This is in the season of Lent. And just as what my wife and myself did in Singapore back last year, we once more go on a Visita Iglesia. Again Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting 7 churches while praying. Along the way, the Way of the Cross is commemorated.
This year we did our visita iglesia on Good Friday as I’m working on night shift. And this year, my daughters, my wife’s sisters and nieces tagged along with us. We also have a vehicle to use and we are visiting churches from different towns in Laguna province.
We started our visita iglesia from the city of Calamba at around 9am. With the itinerary that I have set, we drove first to the furthest in our list. We recited 2 Stations of the Way of the Cross for each church we visited.
Like what I’ve posted last week about my trip to Bicol, here I’m going to share about my very first trip on board an airplane. This was a trip back in June of 1999 to my father’s home province in the Visayas region on the island of Leyte.
My father along with his siblings were all born in the small town of Tabontabon in the province of Leyte in Eastern Visayas before they moved to Manila when they were older. And since back in the 90’s, my father together with one of her sisters have been flying back to Tabontabon once every year during the town’s fiesta to check out the parcels of land left by my grandmother. And in June 1999, my father tagged me to join them along with my cousin to fly over Leyte with them.
This was my first time to fly on an airplane. We took a Cebu Pacific Air flight to Tacloban City, the only major airport on the island of Leyte. Back then, Cebu Pacific was fairly new in the market where it only started it airline operations in 1996. There was even a joke then that when you fly on Cebu Pacific, you fly out from Cebu and arrive in the Pacific. The joke came out after some airplane crashes Cebu Pacific had in its early years along with the then Asian Spirit (renamed to Zest Air but now operated as AirAsia Zest under AirAsia) which got the joke of flying as an Asian and arriving as a Spirit.
After my short trip back to Manila a few weeks back, I was able to get some old pictures of my previous trips. I’ve brought these pictures back to Singapore and scan them to write up for those trips from way back. I was able to get old pictures from albums of my Hanoi and Ha Long Bay trip to update my old posts for both trips. I’m happy the digital era made me stop expensive photo printing and making those heavy albums. I also got another set of pictures from my trip in Leyte which I’ll write about later.
Anyway, this blog is about the trip I made back in 2002 with my colleagues to Bicolandia in the Bicol Peninsula on the southern end of the island of Luzon.
Bicol Peninsula is composed of four different provinces composed of the people called the Bicolanos. Bicol is best known in the Philippine for being the site of one of the most majestic natural wonders in the country, the Mayon Volcano in Legazpi City. Also since a few years ago for a place to swim with the whalesharks in Donsol and a place for the extreme sport of wakeboarding in Camarines Sur (CamSur).
Last week, me and my whole family flew back to Manila for a whole week for a vacation with my our relatives back home and to celebrate the first birthday of our youngest daughter Jade. And where else do celebrate it? None other than the happiest place for kids in the Philippines, Jollibee.
Well, I guess it has become sort of a tradition to many Filipinos to celebrate their kids’ parties in Jollibee. Jollibee is well loved by Filipino kids and adults alike mostly due to the food they serve that is very close to the Filipino taste, plus their mascots. Jollibee is the most famous fastfood brand in the Philippines beating McDonald’s.
Jade was born on 8th of July but we have booked her party on a 14th in the Shangri-la Mall branch in Mandaluyong City. We have invited relatives and some close friends to join us. Well, the party is more for the kids and so we booked and made sure that Jollibee’s 5 mascots will be there to join us.
Located at the southern eastern coast of the province of Batangas, lies the small and remote town of Laiya. Remote as it can be but the town has become known due to the exclusive beach resorts that opened up along its beach, as well as a jump off point for people wanting to dive into the rich corals reefs off the coast of Batangas. Batangas province, aside from its coffee, is known for its dive resorts most specially in the town of Anilao.
To reach Laiya from Manila, one will have to drive south through the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) all the way to the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Expressway and take the exit to Lipa City. From Lipa, one will need to pass through smaller roads that leads to Candelaria in the province of Quezon until reaching the San Juan-Laiya Road.
So far, I have been to Laiya twice. First was with my wife’s family where we went for a swim in Laiya’s public beach which I’ll talk about on this blog and a year later on in our company team building in the Acuatico Resort on the other side of Laiya.
Southeast Asia has been one of the most famous destinations for many backpackers and holidaymakers coming from Europe or the Northern Americas. Among the more famous tourist routes include Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Tourists would usually go straight to Bangkok or fly to Singapore. Some would include Indonesia to visit Bali.
With tourist arrivals are high on these countries, the Philippines is still trailing behind. Well maybe, I guess, is due to the fact that the countries I’ve stated all border each other, except most of Indonesia. This makes backpacking easier as tourists can simply take a bus or take hours long of train rides to reach the neighboring country. This is compared to the Philippines wherein the main means to reach is by air travel.
With a more challenging means to reach the Philippines, many simply skip the country. Many probably do not know much about the Philippines except maybe that it’s a group of islands and maybe because of the thousands of shoes of Imelda Marcos, plus the other political problems we had in the past.
And so, what do tourists are probably missing as they skip the Philippines in their itineraries?