A Day at the Sentosa Flowers 2012

Janine among the flowers of Sentosa Flower 2012

Last January 29th, me, my wife, and my daughter visited Sentosa to check out this year’s Sentosa Flowers.  Sentosa Flowers is an event that annually happens in the island resort of Sentosa located south of the main island of Singapore.

This was our first time to see Sentosa in blooms were flowers are almost everywhere.  Basically this event was set to welcome spring after the Chinese New Year.

And so anyways, we planned to visit Sentosa for a short time as my wife is pregnant and she gets easily tired.   We first headed to VivoCity where the Harbourfront MRT station is located.  And instead of riding the monorail into Sentosa, we decided to walk the half kilometer long Sentosa Boardwalk beside the bridge that connects the resort island into the main island.

Santo Nino Festival in Manila

our Santo Niño on display along Roxas Blvd for the parade

January in the Philippines has been dedicated by the Vatican to be that special month to celebrate the feast of the most revered Catholic image of the Holy Child Jesus or most known locally as the Sto. Niño.   All over the Philippines the feast of the Sto. Niño is celebrated almost every week of January wherein the most notable among these festivals are the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo, and the Ati-Atihan Festival of Kalibo.

The great following to the image started from the arrival of the first image of the Sto. Niño brought by explorer, Ferdinand Magellan.  This was first given as a gift to Queen Juana, the pagan queen of Cebu during that time, when they were baptized to the Catholic faith.  But Magellan died later on and the Sto. Niño was left to become a pagan idol by the local tribes.  It was only after 44 years when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived and revived the image as a Catholic symbol.

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The Slipper Town of Liliw

PauTravels in Liliw, Laguna during the Tsinelas Festival

Two weeks back, a day after Labor Day, I had the opportunity to visit once more the beautiful town of Liliw in the province of Laguna, south of Manila.   The town has been known for its main industry which is manufacturing of slippers.   They are known for making world-class slippers where local tourists travel to to buy slippers and they are rival with the city of Marikina in shoe-making as well.   Also, the town is also famous for its cool water springs that visitors flock to cool off from the summer heat.

Liliw is a small town located at the foothills of the enchanted Mount Banahaw, where faith healers, voodoo people, and other people climb up for spiritual cure and beliefs.   The town has been founded since 1571 and some remnant of Spanish architecture may still be found and one of them is its centuries old red-bricked Liliw Church that is located uphill and offers the view of the whole town from it.  This church is very beautiful in my opinion and gives you the feel of the Spanish Colonial period.

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Panagbenga Festival in Baguio

PauTravels and Jen visits Panagbenga Festival of Baguio

The whole year round, cities and towns around the Philippines celebrates a festival or fiesta in celebration of their patron’s day, cityhood, or for other purposes. And among these different festivals, the hilly city of Baguio at the Cordillera Mountain Range celebrates one of its own, the Panagbenga.

Panagbenga, which meant ‘season of blooming’, is celebrated annually during the month of February by giving tribute to one of city’s main produce, flowers. Baguio City is blessed with a cool weather year round making it a good planting ground for flowering plants. During the festival, the city’s main commercial street of Session Road is closed from vehicular traffic to give way to the celebrations.

A parade of dancers and performers from the city, neighboring towns and tribes join in the celebration. And, a number of floats made fully by flowers are paraded on Session. The flower filled floats may be compared with the floats during Pasadena’s Rose Parade, but Baguio’s floats are smaller and less intricate. The festival usually lasts for a week, with the parade of flowers being done on the last day of the whole celebration.

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Pahiyas Festival 2008

PauTravels in one of Lucban's houses adorned by farm produce for the Pahiyas Festival 2008

Every 15th of May, the town of Lucban in the province of Quezon, on the Luzon island of the Philippines, celebrates the feast of their patron saint, Saint Isidro Labrador.  San Isidro is the patron saint of farmers.  And during this time of the year, this farming town holds one of the most famous festivals in the country, the Pahiyas Festival.  The Pahiyas features the town’s houses adorned colorfully with the households main produce ranging from rice, fruits, vegetables, and other handicrafts.  One common decoration during this festival is kiping, colored leaf-shaped decorations made from rice.

And after years of planning to attend this festival, this year my wife and I were finally able to go.  Originally, we planned to go using my car but due to some car trouble, we had to opt to take the commute to get there.  From my wife’s place in Calamba, we took a bus bound for Sta. Cruz.  And in Sta. Cruz, we transferred to a minibus en route for Lucban.  The minibus is a hybrid of a jeepney and a bus.  The trip from Sta. Cruz took about an hour and a half drive through the towns of Laguna via some zigzagged and narrow highway.

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Philippines, How Much Have I Seen of You?

My home country, the Philippines, is an archipelagic nation of 7,107 islands that is situated in the South East Asian region.  It is a tropical country bounded by three bodies of water, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the West Philippine Sea to the west, and the Celebes Sea to the south.  It is basically composed of three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The country’s population is pegged at 88 Million, 90% o which are Roman Catholics.  A smaller percentage of the population is composed of Muslim Filipinos who generally reside at the southern islands.  The Philippines also has a long history of Spanish colonization, 333 years in total.  This is still evident with Hispanic architecture left.  The Philippines was discovered by the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Megallan under the Spanish flag in 1521.  Then it was also under the US Commonwealth rule for 40 years.

The Philippines is also composed of a diverse group of people with hundreds of different dialects though English is a second language.  And each of its 7000+ islands has a distinct characteristic on its own.  And on this journal, I’ll be listing down the different places in this country of mine that I have visited and possibly my experience with Philippine culture.  And I’ll be linking any blog that I’d be writing for each destination.

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