Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19, 2014

Visita Iglesia around Manila

When I was still in Davao, I always wanted to make a Visita Iglesia, but never got a chance to do it because there was no one to accompany me, until 2014 when I come to live in Metro Manila. Thank God! Finally, I was able to fulfill this divine activity yesterday, Good Friday. Thanks to my ever beautiful and supportive friend, Rowena Tagaan, for accompanying me ^_____^

After taking a long, tiring walk from San Agustin Church
I asked Rowena to take me a photo souvenir (in front of the entrance gate of Fort Santiago in Intramuros) before catching a PUJ ride for Malate Church

Visita Iglesia is a pious Roman Catholic tradition during Holy Week where devotees visit seven Catholic churches to meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ. Normally it is done either on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. The modern practice of this tradition is praying two station of the cross for each church. 


1. Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (also known as Quiapo Church)- Quaipo, Manila
2. Sta.Cruz Church - Sta.Cruz, Manila
3. The Manila Cathedral - Intramuros, Manila
4. San Agustin Church - Intramuros, Manila
5. Our Lady of the Remedies Church (also known as Malate Church) - Malate, Manila
6. Basilica Minore de San Sebastian - CM Recto street, just across Quaipo Church
7. Redemptorist Church (also known as Baclaran Church)- Baclaran, Paranaque City


First stop: Quaipo Church
First and Second Stations of the Cross

I arrived in Quiapo, Manila at 9:30 in the morning, it was my first time to be in the place but I was not afraid, I was more excited to accomplish my wish to visit historical churches around the area. The surrounding of the church was already packed with people by the time I arrived.

Despite the intensely hot weather, I did not complain. I moved forward to the entrance area and tried to squeeze in among the crowd still I wasn't able to enter the  church, I just stood outside. I started making station of the cross alone because my friend, Rowena Tagaan, texted that she would be coming late. I prayed for first and second station then went to the other side of the church to breath! Haha! So crowded!!! I felt so suffocated and I was perspiring hard, my shirt was already drenched in sweat.

Few more minutes, I walked ahead and started looking and wandering where to find the Sta.Cruz church, I went to the other side of the road and asked some vendors, they told me to go back to Quaipo church and follow a narrow street in what could have been Sta.Ana street.

Few more walks with a very alert mind, carefully gripping my sling bag (afraid I might encounter a snatcher because the place was a little messy hehe!), I arrived in Sta. Cruz church (thank God for my safety!). I went inside and seated for a while to rest my tired limbs, my feet were terribly aching due to a long walk of searching the church. By the time my friend Rowena arrived, I already finished meditating on the third and fourth station.

Our third stop was at the Manila Cathedral, we hired a pedicab from Quiapo to Intramuros. This church is home to the Archdiocese of Manila where key religious activities are being held. The interior of the church is slightly modern after it undergone a renovation but the old touch of the ancient design can still be seen. This church is very famous for celebrity weddings.

After the Manila Cathedral, we decided to drop by at 7 Eleven store and bought a bottled water and one cone of Ice Cream because the weather was severely punishing and seemed pricking excruciatingly on our skin. We started asking again where to find our fourth church stop the San Agustin Church. We were told to walk straight ahead, it is just four blocks away from the Cathedral.

The church's exterior is built in stone and upon looking at its ancient structure I thought it is just a plain, simple church, but when we entered inside, a display of opulence and architectural wonder greeted us! The interior is so fabulously rich in artistic details, the chic structural design, gorgeous chandeliers, so fantastic!

San Agustin Church, one of the most popular wedding sites in Metro Manila due to
its very romantic and elegant architectural design
San Agustin church is an architectural wonder! 
The elegant details of the church's interior feature an art technique where
realistic imagery is being used to create an optical illusion that depicts 
an object in three dimensions

Our fifth stop was at the Malate Church officially known as Our Lady of Remedies, we did not know the location of this church, we just kept on asking people as we passed by in the street. After absorbing the direction they had given, we left Intramuros and caught a PUJ, we told the driver to drop us at Malate Church.

This church is just in front of Raja Sulayman park and directly facing the Manila Bay so the environment is cool and refreshing. After praying the 9th and 10th station, we decided to take a little break and spent lunch at the nearby Shakeys, yeah I know it was not supposed to be a time of food tripping, sorry Lord for this expression of luxury, but we really felt extremely tired and very hungry and ignoring the hunger pangs might not bring any good to our already exhausted muscles. I figured, maybe we would not perish in hell by just breaking the "less eat" tradition of Good Friday.

After taking lunch, we're back in our little spiritual adventure again, asking the people nearby how to go to our next stop, the San Sebastian Church. And this is where the funny moment hits in. The church is just within the vicinity of Quiapo LOL!! Had we known it earlier, we would have visited it ahead of Intramuros. Anyway, lesson learned hehe! So we were back at Quiapo! 

Upon disembarking from the jeep, we asked a lady vendor again for the exact location of San Sebastian Church, she pointed us to a narrow street leading to a bridge, we started walking to the direction and upon reaching the edge of the bridge, we saw the two towers of the church with its icy mint green paint. Oh it was awesome!

Before making our way to San Sebastian, we saw this intriguing convent along the way haha! So we entered the area and climbed the stairs, it was so quiet but we heard voices upstairs, we found out it was a chapel of the Holy Face of Jesus Convent. The Seven Last Words celebration had started when we entered the chapel. After posing for a moment inside the chapel, we left the convent and moved forward to our destination.

Originally built in the late part of the 19th century, San Sebastian church, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, earned the reputation of being the only church in Asia that is built from steel and claimed to be the only prefabricated steel church in the world. In 1973, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared this church a National Historical Landmark.

I was in awe upon seeing the structure of San Sebastian church! Very European in appearance. Unlike other churches we visited earlier, the surrounding of San Sebastian Church is so breezy, cool and very comfortable, it has also a spacious quadrangle with clusters of buildings nearby. We lighted a candle on the left wing side of the church in front of the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! According to the marker of the church, the structural metal of which the church is built was manufactured from Belgium and was brought to the Philippines and erected by Belgian Engineers. 

Our last stop was at the Baclaran church, officially known as The National Shrine of Mother of Perpetual Help, again we don't know where to catch a PUJ for Baclaran, we endured another miles of long walk, asking bystanders and vendors where to wait for jeepney, with their contrasting instructions, we ended up on the wrong road hahaha!

Finally, we crossed the street and found a PUJ for Baclaran, the dense traffic made the travel very slow! And as if the wandering was not enough, upon arriving in the street the driver said already Baclaran, we're afraid we're taking the wrong road again!!

After going up to the foot bridge and crossing another street and another street, we decided to ask a lady vendor and our fear of taking the wrong road proved very true because we're walking on the road to Pasay!! The lady told us to cross another street and wait for a PUJ that would take us to Baclaran church.

Finally!!!At 5:30, we arrived at the church and well, just like at the Quiapo Church, the area was packed with large crowd! 

We were not able to kiss the crucifix of Jesus because the line was soooo long!! So we proceeded to the right wing and lighted candles then prayed the last set of the Station of the Cross. We finished the Visita Iglesia at 6:00 in the evening.

Before catching a PUB, we looked for a place where we could chill down because we're already overwhelmed with exhaustion and thirsty, we wanted to drink something very cold. We found our way to Jollibee.

At 7:30 in the evening, we left Baclaran. By the time, I arrived home it was almost 10:00 in the evening, my limbs were badly aching and my muscles seemed beaten by a hard object, but I felt a deep level of satisfaction, my heart was full of happiness for the fact that I was able to accomplish my long wish to do a Visita Iglesia.

What made this spiritual activity very meaningful to me?

God's grace! I felt God's guidance and protection all the way. Despite the unfamiliar location of each of the church we visited and the anxiety of going to a place they always refer as scary and prone to snatching and other horrifying crimes, I felt so safe, so peaceful and intact. In fairness to the environment, I did not experience any troubles.

I am very thankful also to my friend, Rowie Tagaan, for her support and determination to complete the devotion despite the discomfort she felt haha!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13, 2014

Intense Love does not Measure

           ...It just gives...

And so goes the inspiring quote from Mother Theresa.

This quote is so timely because the coming week is already Holy Week, a season that commemorates the Passion of Jesus Christ. A very significant event in the Christian world because it symbolizes Christ's sacrifices and sufferings to save mankind from eternal damnation.

In the Catholic faith, this season marks the most important spiritual celebration in a year, very meaningful than Christmas because without this event and eventually Easter, the Christian faith would never be meaningful at all.

Intense Love does not just gives, and yes, because of God's love to mankind, He gave His only son, Jesus Christ to save sinners. A clear act of a sacrificing, giving love with no condition.

But how about human beings? How can we really love without expecting something in return?

It's always difficult for humans to internalize the divine personification of unconditional love. Maybe because our brain capacity is just designed to comprehend what's being there, what's being seen by the naked eye, anything that is so invisible is dismissed as nonsense and beyond comprehension, therefore not worthy to entertain.

And because at the moment I am presently breathing the world's mortal atmosphere and would want to do first my earthly mission before my heavenly appointment, I will try to reflect the meaning of it in a worldly level.

But don't get me wrong, I am not saying I am inconsiderate with the concept of God's will, divine intervention and the idea of a genuine love, it's not that way, what I am trying to say is that I will try to ponder it on the capacity level of a human brain. We all have the tendency to be lured to something creepy, stupid and maddening no matter how spiritual we are, we often struggle to balance sentiments and logic and most often than not we always choose the former because it is where we feel so complete, comfortable and happy.

How can we really sense if we are already crossing the parameter of sinfulness out of love? To make the record straight, when it comes to love I've never committed a mortal sin, so to speak, because I've never into a relationship. But lately, I've become so weird entertaining this vicious thought --- what if I commit a huge mistake when it comes to falling in love? But in what level and what degree? When is falling in love becomes a grave sin?

Over the years, I kept on pondering the mysterious circumstance of falling in love. Where in the heck of the universe "the one" can be found? Is it really worth the wait? Why others are so easily to find someone while I continued to turn the page of wandering? What is the difference of a momentary attraction from an enduring emotion? It baffles me a bit and I am tired listening to the ancient argument of finding love in the most unexpected places because I've been into different places, but finding the one is so remote as finding a shooting star.

I am trying to come to terms with my destiny that maybe my true love is trap elsewhere or maybe he is already married or worse, dead!

Another profound quote from Mother Theresa that I kept on contemplating haha!

"Every time you smile at someone, it's an action of LOVE!!

Whether it's a pure platonic and altruistic love that one day might progress into romantic Love, Mother Theresa did not elaborate LOL!! So it depends on us how we would interpret that quote ^______^

I always give my smile to the people I meet and have been receiving smile from everyone but whether this can be categorized as an action of Love is a long hell story of a mystery.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 08, 2014

That Perfect Moment

Everything that happens in this world happens in time that God chooses (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15)

A very profound quote indeed. For so long, I am also waiting for that perfect moment to come, waiting for the whole world to align, waiting for that big splash to squint in my life before making a huge decision. But as time goes by, I felt this belief is somewhat confusing, the perfect moment I tried to wait for a whole decade is just an illusion, a mysterious vision.

My first set of photos after turning another year 

This year, another figure added to my chronological chart but I've already come to a point where I don't care about age any more, my own concept of ageing has a little make over.

I believe that when people reach a significant milestone in life, age is no longer a burden but more of an advantage. So as I turn another page of my journey, I don't feel I am unfortunate in fact I felt so luckier, wiser, more confident, more self-assured and stronger this time. There's something about ageing that I find extra fascinating, it's all about grace and wisdom.

I know I've already piled enough wisdom in my heart and mind to understand my environment better and the complexities of life. I know already how to balance things and figure out where I am heading. But this emotional maturity I have right now does not guarantee a close-to-perfection existence. I know deep inside, I am still vulnerable, I am still capable of committing a grave mistake.

But what about that perfect moment everyone is waiting?

Yeah, I am also waiting for that beaming moment to hit in my horizon, but what if, the perfect moment I am waiting is no longer appropriate? Would it still be considered a perfect moment?

For the past years, decades perhaps, I kept on waiting for that beautiful flicker, splashing of emotion to come, because I always believe that each one of us has the right to dream, to long for that fairytale circumstance to come. You know soulmate, true love stuff.

I am one of those traditional dreamers who had been literally poisoned by fairytale, that there's some truth about the tale of Cinderella: it's love when the shoe fits perfectly, when your gaze meets and suddenly tiny bubbles float in the horizon, when that little smile suddenly turns magical and you can hear beautiful music in the air. When everything is just so right and comfortable and rosy.

But what if this moment I've been trying to believe as perfect would no longer available, no longer possible? Would I be wiser enough to balance the logic and sentiments when one day a stupid circumstance would push me to the edge?

Oh, the irony of life.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 03, 2014

My Birthday this year

Today is my birthday, another milestone of my life, another year to be thankful because life itself is a gift and it should be cherished.

Today I realized how much God has protected and loved me all through out my life. How lucky I am to be blessed with so many things.

I am forever 30 and that's what I have in my mind right now. After all, age is just a number, and has nothing to do with biological ageing and personal growth. We become what we think everyday, so if we say we stay forever young it will come true haha!

Mark Twain once said: "Age is just an issue of the mind over matter, if you don't mind then it doesn't matter" :-)

There's something in age that I find wonderful and incredibly terrific. As we age, we become wiser and more confident, more emotionally secure, we tend to leave insecurities behind, and we know how to balance things sensibly, and women become sexier and prettier as they age!

I tried looking back now what I had accomplished or missed in my life and analyzing the circumstances and all those what-ifs, I can say, I'd travelled a fulfilling journey for the past years.

Each year, I always make it a point to give myself a birthday gift, and this year, I've decided to buy something spiritual for my special day to make the occasion more meaningful and memorable.

Best religious finds at Our Lady of Manaog at Tierra de Maria
This bracelet rosary composed of delicate beads featuring the
images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I chose this as a birthday gift to myself so that
I can wear the image of the Blessed Mother  and the crucifix everyday of my life.

To mark my special day this year, here is the list of reasons why I am very thankful and felt so very blessed to reach this milestone.
  • I'm more confident, emotionally stronger and more self-assured
  • Fully understand the value and worth of "waiting" and why God let me wait longer for that perfect moment to come.
  • I already surpass the stage where the desire of marriage is as urgent as waiting for a bus ride during rush hour lol!
  • I'm not afraid to sail into the sunset of my life alone, but still longing for a special someone to sweep off my feet ^____^
  • I can still sort things out from my life, what's important and what's not.
  • I can still change decisions, map out plans and rearrange my goals.
  • I don't have to worry too much about homely finances.
  • I've come to accept that wisdom is lot important than riches.
  • I learn to remove price tags from people.
  • Understand that life is a give and take and has ups and lows but it's not going to be like that all the time, coins flip to the other side from time to time.
  • I learn to understand that life is full of beautiful, wonderful things that must be cherished, afterall we pass in this world only once so make the most out of it.
  • I've materialized almost 95% of my life's wishes.
  • I always look things on the brighter, positive side of life.
  • I learn to discard the notion of failure, resentment and other self-defeating thoughts.
  • I am more understanding, more forgiving and more considerate.
  • I've come to accept that not all things we wish to receive can be given.
  • That prayers can move, yes, really move mountains.
I am so blessed in many aspects, so lucky that I reached this stage without much entanglements, but looking on the other side of the coin, there are times that I felt so terribly lonely, that deafening silence within myself, that painful emptiness lurking deep inside, I know from the deepest corners of my thoughts, I longed to be with someone, to take care a family, to nurture kids, to make a house a home, but these are some passing moments that I have to battle, when I wake up the next morning these thoughts quickly fade and felt so refresh again, ready to start another day with excitement.

Everyday is so inspiring, the routine never tires me -- waking up early to fix myself, reporting to work in the morning and coming home at night – and the reality of living in the busy metropolis never disappoints me. The energy in the metro is so contagious I quickly caught it J   

So how special my birthday this year?

Hmmm, I felt so fulfilled! No doubt about it. Though not 100% haha! But the most important thing is, I have that awesome feeling where I don't ask for anything beyond my capacity anymore, I stop thinking also why life has so unfair to me, I am confident God is preparing a wonderful plan for me, someone better, something bigger and grander and as I age and progress in life, I come to understand these reasons and purposes.

I am also finding time to realize other wishes and stuff I've been planning to do in my life. I am so determined that this year I really want to make a difference! LOL!!

For years, I've been dreaming to try Ice Skating but never got a chance because there's no ice rink in Davao City, I also wanted to do an awesome tumbling moment just like what Bianca Gonzales had been doing in her numerous travel adventures. So  for the first time in my life, I finally found an opportunity to realize these wishes ^_____^
So funny! I tried to make the angle perfect but to no avail, 
it's so hard to raise my feet up high!


Last April 9, I pulled enough courage to try Ice Skating! haha! Ice Skating has always been my favourite event during Winter Olympics, I love watching figure ice skaters doing difficult routines in the ice rink. One of my favourite movies is The Cutting Edge partly because the concept of the film tackles the love story of two figure ice skaters. The movie shows most part of the scenes in the ice rink where Kate and Doug did ice skating routines! And so goes my fascination ^____^

Tried Ice Skating for the first time
With my friend, Rowie, in the ice rink

So goes my birthday this year and as with most years in my life, nothing big news worthy to share haha! Hopefully as months progress I can feel that awesome feeling where I can say, this year, really marks another milestone lol!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 02, 2014

My Maternal Grandmother passed away

I’ve been silently grieving the death of my maternal grandmother, Aurea Plaza Respecia, we affectionately called her Lola Auring. She died peacefully in her sleep last March 23, 2014, Sunday, at the ripe age of 94.

No one in my circle of friends in the metro knows about it, I never mentioned this sad event as I don’t want to be reminded with the sting of heartache that pricking underneath, of how painful it is to be far from home at this time of sorrow and failed to witness her final departure on earth, of not seeing a glimpse of her face for the last time. I don’t want to be consoled from the desolation I felt, because it will make the loss even harder to embrace and will make my tears tougher to suppress.

I appeared calm and happy despite this silent pain. My grandmother’s wake is in my home province, in Surigao del Sur, and it’s so sickening to know that I could not attend the burial.

She was the last of my grandparents to die. My lolo (her husband) died in 2003, my paternal grandfather died in 1979 and my paternal grandmother passed away in 2005.

The last time I saw my lola was in January 1, 2013 when I visited her on New Year’s day. At her advanced age, she had still this very incredible memory, upon hearing my voice, she instantly recognized me. I hugged her and asked how’s she’s doing, she smiled and caressed my head, like she always did when I was still a child.

I missed her. She was an amazing woman. She was an excellent home maker, a terrific cook! My favorites were her unique recipes for rice cake and suman, she would mill cocoa for home-made chocolate drinks. Back in my childhood days, I used to spend my summer vacation with her and grandpa in a neighboring town. We would go to the farm together and would spend afternoons in stories and laughter. According to neighbors and everyone in the family, I inherited my grandmother’s fair complexion and brown eyes, she had a mixed of Chinese and Spanish ancestries.

With my dear grandmother last January 1, 2013

In the middle of this year, my mother texted me that lola would barely manage to stand, she would not eat her meals and would spend the whole day sleeping, from my mother’s nature of message, I knew death is coming.

It’s so odd to think, but given the circumstances of her age, the inevitable moment of death is a possibility. When my mother informed us it was more like a confirmation of that foreseeable event. But even though it was certain, still it brought some degree of distress to my system, talking death of love ones is still a taboo in our society no matter how certain it is.

We don’t last forever, everyone has to die, but still when death comes it is always heartbreaking and awful. Maybe because our human nature abhors too much pain and sufferings and we’ve this emotional attachment to love ones that is so hard to bargain with reality. But we must learn how to compromise with the truth because life on earth is so temporary.

Almost two weeks on since her passing ( she was buried last March 31), I am slowly coming to terms with the loss and just wishing for grandma’s eternal repose of soul. May she find eternal happiness in the afterlife. Her memories will continue to live in my heart.
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authorI am a blogger from the Philippines. My interest centers on travel and food, global affairs, European royals and self-help. I've a great passion in traveling and photography. I am also a book author with five published books in Amazon.
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