As part of our visita iglesia trip to Ilocos in 2017, we made a short stop to the beautiful city of Vigan. Vigan is the capital city of the province of Ilocos Sur. It is host to the most preserved Hispanic-era historic town in the country and this is best experienced in Calle Crisologo.
Just a little bit of history. The Philippines was conquered by Spain. In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi returned to the islands to colonize it after Ferdinand Magellan’s discovered it in 1521. He then named the islands after Spain’s King Philip II. And for 333 years, Spain ruled most of its islands until 1898 when it was ceded to the US along with Guam and Puerto Rico.
For these 3 cruel centuries, Spain has left beautiful structures that are of European architecture. Walled cities like Intramuros of Manila and fortresses like that Fort San Pedro of Cebu were built to protect key cities. Huge stone churches were built in every center of towns. Many houses in town centers were built on adobe rock foundation with wood, straw, and coral stones.
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.
As part of my 2 week business trip to Belgium, I have planned to have myself go to its neighbor country of the Netherlands which used to be known as Holland. My main target is to see is its capital city of Amsterdam. Well going to Brussels, my KLM flight from Manila had me connecting through Schipol Airport in Amsterdam but was not able to actually see the city that time. And so with my other colleagues, we have set a trip to the city.
Well the trip was just a short one since we just planned to drive to the city back and forth within the same day. The drive to Amsterdam is about 3 hours from Brussels. And so we left Brussels at around 8am on the 31st of October. Our route took us to driving past through Antwerp at the north before reaching the Belgian border and through Utretch in the Netherlands. Well, before heading to Amsterdam, we first made our way past the city to its north to the small town of Akersloot to visit my colleagues friend from there.
After learning that I will be sent by my company to see Belgium, I set out to look for what could Belgium offer. And one of the most recommended destination in the country is Bruges, northwest of Brussels. Bruges or locally known as Brugge has been known to be a fairy tale type of town for being the most preserved medieval town in western Europe.Also during my research about the town, I had stumbled upon this movie that came out in 2008 entitled In Bruges that starred Colin Farrel. The story mainly plotted around this old and charming town giving me a good picture of how it looked liked. And I’d say I was pretty much pleased to have actually set foot into this town.
And so on the 24th of October on my second day in Belgium, together with 3 other friends I drove about an hour and a half to the north to Bruges. We made our way there and parked beside the train station for the park and ride facility. And so for €2.50 for parking, we got a free bus ticket for the four of us into the center of town.
On my first day in Belgium, I had gone with the rest of my colleagues on a road trip around Brussels and we first traveled into the nearby city of Leuven. And after that short visit as the rain started to fall down, we have thought of extending our road trip to Antwerp to the north of Brussels and near the border of Netherlands.
From Leuven, we took a long turn going east on E314 and connecting on E313 going northward into Antwerp. Going into Antwerp was quite a challenge as there were a lot of roads to pass through to actually get into the center. Entering the city, we pass by its streets where its trams pass through. As we made our way into the city, I have noticed that it seemed that Antwerp residents are of different cultures, many of which are of middle eastern origin.
On my very first day in Belgium, I decided to tag along with the rest of my colleagues who had their own day planned and they’ve thought of seeing the next town, into the historic town of Leuven. Leuven is about an 30 minutes drive east of Brussels.
Well going into Leuven by car from Brussels, we have mainly relied on using the GPS to get there. All I remember is that we passed through the Ring Highway and connecting to E40 to the east to reach the town.
The town seems small and we just parked somewhere near the town center and the first thing that I have seen that struck me is a statue of what looked like a gnome. I actually thought that he looked like Dobby of Harry Potter. It was actually the statue of Paep Thoon who once lived in Leuven in the 15th century. And from where we parked, we simply walked a short way through a small market where stalls of fruits, flowers, waffles, ceramics, and other stuff.
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.
Being a resident of Manila, traveling around it is just part of my routine. I have been to almost every nook and corner of Manila. But I’d just try to write up something about the nation’s capital in this article.
Manila lies along the inland shores of Manila Bay at the central area of the island of Luzon, the northern major island of the Philippines. It was born from the banks of the Pasig River near its mouth that open up to the Manila Bay. It has acquired its name from an extinct mangrove tree that bloomed a beautiful white flower, called ‘Nilad‘. The nilad used to be abundant near the river delta. Local people called the place ‘may nilad‘, which meant ‘where there is nilad‘. Eventually the name became from May Nilad to Maynila, in Filipino verbage and Manila in English.
The city is the current seat of the democratic government of the Philippines and has been a center of political power for more than 400 years, except during the Commonwealth regime in the 1940’s. The city has been part of the Philippine history and dates back to pre-Hispanic occupation until in 1570 when it was ceded as the capital of the archipelago named in the honor of King Philip of Spain.