Saturday, April 26, 2014

Batangas City: more than just an industrial port

For many years, my only recollection of Batangas City is whenever we go to its pier: the Batangas International Port. My first visit there was in the summer of 2001 when Yeyette was to take me and Krystal (who was then our only child) for the very first time to her hometown of Abra de llog, Mindoro Occidental. Since then, that's the only part of Batangas City I have known: its seaport. We had never gone to any place in Batangas City save for its pier whenever we go to Abra de Ilog or for a brief dip in the famous waters of Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental.

But for Yeyette, it was like a homecoming of sorts when we decided to stroll around the city proper last April 1 (in celebration of Juanito's fifth birthday) because she had stayed there for sometime. As a young girl, she used to visit her mom who was then boarding and studying in the city; her mother was then finishing her studies at St. Bridget College (back then, it was exclusive only for girls). That is why she was able to roam around the city proper and was a bit familiar with it. However, she seemed at a loss when we got back there weeks ago. The establishments she once knew have long disappeared. Gone was that ice cream parlor near her mom's school which she frequented. Gone was her namesake cinema at the población. The city got noisier because vehicles have multiplied. Modern structures are now everywhere, making the few remaining ancestral houses seemed out of place, not to mention out of time. Nevertheless, she told me that she felt like she was a young girl again as we walked the narrow streets of the city proper. The surviving ancestral houses still reminded her of those brief vacations that she had in Batangas City.

Batangas, the eponymous capital of Batangas Province, was founded by Augustinian friars in 1572. The name was said to have been derived from an old Tagalog word called "batang" which meant "huge logs". Hence, "batangan", another form, meant "a place of huge logs". Eventually, the name batangan became Batangas. At around that time, the Spanish-created province of which the old town of Batangas was situated was then called Bonbón (named after the ancient name of Taal Lake, the site of that world-famous smallest volcano. When that volcano erupted in 1754, it buried the original town of Taal (now the site of the Municipality of San Nicolás; the new Taal was moved further westward, away from the volcano) which was then the province's capital. Because of the tragic incident, the capital was transferred to present-day Batangas. Later on, the whole province of Bonbón adopted the name of its new capital. Agustín Casilao was appointed as the first gobernadorcillo.

The city still has many well-preserved ancestral houses scattered all over the población, mingling with modern edifices.

More than two centuries later (23 July 1969), the old town/city of Batangas became a city through Republic Act. No. 5495 which was signed by former president Ferdinand Marcos. Since then, rapid industrialization of Batangas City began. Aside from the international port, major industries with their huge plants and factories sprouted all over, making the city an economic powerhouse.

Although its local government promotes Batangas City as the "Industrial Port City of CALABARZON", we found out that there's more to it than just the business-like appelation. The city's charm lies in its old town proper with its nostalgic ancestral houses, as well as the serene countryside and seaside vistas at the outskirts. All you need to do is to simply walk around, eagle-eyed.

We bought a cake from this bakery along Calle José Rizal for Juanito's birthday and some bread for our báon in Kamantigue Beach Resort.

Juanito requested that we celebrate his birthday here in Jollibee. Inside the fast food, Yeyette became acquainted with these students from nearby Saint Bridget College, the alma mater of her mom.

A simple birthday celebration for Juanito. Basta completo camí tulad ng ganitó, masayá na camí. =)

Momay (far left), Jefe, Juanito, and Yeyette in front of city hall. This building was inaugurated on 19 June 1909 when Batangas (the town, not the province) was still a municipality.

This portion of Calle Marcelo H. del Pilar is beautifully lined and shaded by acacia trees. At left is St. Bridget's College. At right is the elementary department of the University of Batangas.

In front of St. Bridget's College along Calle Marcelo H. del Pilar. This is the alma mater of Mrs. Teresa Atienza de Perey, my wife's mom. This Catholic school was founded by the Religious of the Good Shepherd in 1913.

Basílica Menor de la Inmaculada Concepción. You'll be mesmerized by its interiors!

Juanito at the foot of the Apolinario Mabini monument in Plaza Mabini. This plaza was named after the "Sublime Paralytic" from Tanauan, Batangas who served as one of El Presidente Emilio Aguinaldo's political advisers and was also the country's first Prime Minister.

Resting our feet and legs at Plaza Mabini.

Río Calumpang, on our way to Barrio Pagquilatan where Kamantigue Beach Resort is located. This great river drains towards Bahía de Batangas.

Late afternoon arrival at scenic Kamantigue Beach Resort, named after the camantigue tree (right below). At the background is the northern portion of Isla Verde which is still under the jurisdiction of Ciudad de Batangas.

The next day (April 2) at Kamantigue Beach Resort. Ang claro ng tubig, ¿no?

On our way back to the city proper. Here's a breathtaking view of Batangas Bay connecting towards the Verde Island Passage along the Batangas-Tabañgao-Lobô Road. The mountains beyond are those of  the Municipality of Mabini.

Side view of SM City Batangas along the Batangas-Tabañgao-Lobô Road. I think Uncle Henry's bent on creating a "Republic of SM" sooner or later.

Iglesia de la Santíssima Trinidad. Right beside SM City Batangas. Notice the horrible wires hanging in front of it. A severe lack of aesthetics in city planning is a common problem throughout the Philippines.

Click here for the complete photo album! ¡Hasta la vista!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lola Bening Marasigan's 96th birthday at The Aristocrat Restaurant

Me and Yeyette first met Lola Bening, the nickname of Atty. Benita Marasigan-Santos (the granddaughter of Marcelo H. del Pilar), four years ago. It was an exciting moment for both of us because it was our first time to meet the bloodline of a patriot whom we have read only in books. She was then 92, already hard of hearing and blind. But I was astounded by her sharp memory and profound wisdom of history. It was quite surreal that such a perspicacious mind is helplessly trapped in an aging shell.

We met her again, this time with our kids, last April 6 on her belated 96th birthday bash held at Malate district's The Aristocrat Restaurant which is not far from her art deco home in Calle Malvar. Family members as well as friends from Saint Paul University and Malate also graced the affair.

We arrived a few minutes before 11:00 AM, just in time before the thanksgiving Mass began. After finding a place for the family, Uncle Paul Évora, dad's cousin, escorted me to Lola Bening's table. Although wheelchair-bound, she was of high spirits, just like the last time I saw her. I then drew close to her right ear —the only one that is functioning— and greeted her in a raised voice so that she could hear. I was surprised to learn that she still remembers me even though we have met only once (and that was years ago)!


Learning some words of wisdom again from Lola Bening. Uncle Paul is standing right behind her.

The Alas kids at yonder table. They had no idea that Lola Bening was bequeathing me her grandfather's superpowers, hehe!

After the usual salutations, I curiously asked her what her birthday wish was. I caught a glimpse of a split-second of thought in her countenance — she seemed not prepared for that one. Nevertheless, she was able to deliver a somewhat ready answer (this lady never fails to astound me, really). And she had three to boot:

1) Quality education for all Filipino students, regardless of economic standing.
2) Medical care for everyone, especially the poor.
3) Upliftment of family life. And she meant ALL families.

She enumerated each wish as if she had been brewing them in her thoughts all these years. But she didn't even have any wish for herself. And no, she won't stop talking, haha! And her voice is not as frail as her body. It was commanding even. She talked about acquaintances, her dad, her country's deplorable state. She's even updated on that whole Janet Nápoles circus! Yet inspite of all the hullabaloo the country's in at the moment, she remained hopeful.

With our dear Tita Sylvia, Lola Bening's eldest daughter.

Fr. John Leydon, MSSC, officiated the thanksgiving Mass for Lola Bening's 96th year on this topsy-turvy yet happy planet of ours. He is the parish priest of nearby Church of Our Lady of Remedies, popularly known as Malate Church (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios).

The Missionary Sisters of our Lady of Fatima, popularly known as the Peach Sisters of Calambâ. They must have invited Yeyette to become a nun, hence her surprised look.

With my Peach Sisters. We are family.

Sharing a table with members of the Santos clan (family members of Lola Bening's deceased husband).

The Ladies of Malate serenading the birthday celebrant.

The great grandchildren blowing the birthday candles on Lola Bening's behalf.

Lola Bening with the Saint Paul Sisters and alumnae of Saint Paul University. Lola Bening is an alumna of the said university.

La Familia Viajera con la pensadora anciana.

Yeyette with Tita Corina, Uncle Paul's better half and a daughter of Lola Bening. She was the host of the event.

Me, Krystal, and Jefe together with Philippine poetry's high priestess, Virgie Moreno, a dear friend of my favorite writer, National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquín. She is also the sister of renowned fashion czar José "Pitoy" Moreno who recently passed away. Actually, the dress she's wearing here was designed by her late brother (this info I got from my fashion police of a wife; excellent interrogation there, dearest wife).

I asked Virgie why Nick left the seminary in his youth. She said the answer could be found in his novel "The Woman Who Had Two Navels". Oh great. Now I had to do some rereading.

Uncle Paul and Yeyette.

I couldn't imagine myself reaching that age with my sentience still intact. I'm not sure if Lola Bening feels the same. It must be lonely being in that condition (I dared not ask her). But what I know for sure is that the reason why she is still with us is that she still has a mission on earth. And what could that mission be? Well, she sent all of us to task. Just listen to her closing statement at the end of this video...

She is really eager on making her three selfless wishes come true. I hope everyone in the hall was listening to her intently.

Slowly ebbing away, but with grace and intellectual posture, she and her engaging statements for the country —reminiscent of her grandfather— remain a beacon of hope, at least for me.


What better place to celebrate the birthday of a historical figure's granddaughter than in an equally historic place! Known as "The Philippines' Most Popular Restaurant", The Aristocrat is probably the most well-known and most historic restaurant in all of Manila (and probably in the entire archipelago). Mere mention of its name will immediately evoke nostalgic scenes of Manila Bay and its postcard-perfect boulevard. It started as a foodcart and has amazingly morphed into the restaurant which we know today. Famous men in our annals such as Emilio Aguinaldo have dined here. It is also the only food establishment I could think of that has been accorded the honor of having a historical marker. The place has gone through wars, coups, earthquakes, typhoons, and competition. But it has endured the test of times. Now it has several branches, sprouting in malls and elsewhere. What seems to not have changed is its reputation as a comely eatery for classic Filipino and intercontinental cuisine which Manileños in particular and Filipinos as a whole have loved throughout the decades.

Juanito beside the restaurant's historical marker situated at the Plaza Rajah Sulayman, just across the restaurant itself.

Click here for the complete photo album of Lola Bening's 96th natal day feast! ¡Hasta la vista!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our blog is now six months old!

Yes! How time flies! Our blog is indeed now six months old! So as an added bonus, we want to share to all of you our photo albums and videos that we have taken and recorded for the past six months of humble traveling! Click here to view them! And thank you so much for patronizing La Familia Viajera! God bless you all! :D

Laguna de Bay in Barrio de la Paz, Biñán, La Laguna last Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

¡Felices Pascuas! Happy Easter!

We at La Familia Viajera would like to greet all of you on this most important Sunday in Christendom. That may God be with us always. And may our hearts and minds be with Him, too.

Iglesia de San Jerónimo Emiliani y Santa Susana.

Rejoice! God has risen! ¡Felices Pascuas! Happy Easter! =)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

We're BlACK in Biñán (Via Crucis)

Because of Yeyette's delicate condition, we were unable to do a visita iglesia this past Thursday. We would like to apologize to those who were expecting us to do so. If everything goes well next year, we will do a visita iglesia.

To make up for that lost opportunity, we just went to nearby Biñán this afternoon (Sábado de Gloria or Black Saturday). The church there, San Isidro Labrador, has a small garden dedicated to the Passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is called the San Isidro Meditation Garden which has life-size stone images of the via crucis or the fourteen Stations of the Cross.

Iglesia de San Isidro Labrador.

The San Isidro Meditation Garden is located at the right side of the church. The main entrance is at the gate between the church and the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.


I. Jesus is condemned to death.

II. Jesus carries his cross.

III. Jesus falls for the first time.

IV. Jesus meets his mother.

V. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.

VI. Verónica wipes the face of Jesus.

VII. Jesus falls the second time.

VIII. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

IX. Jesus falls the third time.

X. Jesus is stripped of his garments.

XI. Jesus is nailed to the cross.

XII. Jesus dies on the cross.

XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross.

XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Jesus inside the tomb.


All black on a Saturday.