Monday, June 30, 2014

Baler and the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day

The Alas Family wishes to greet both our patria grande Spain and our patria chica Filipinas, a very happy Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day!

This least-known diplomatic event is already on its 12th year. But did you know that it traces its roots to Baler in Aurora Province?

The Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day was first celebrated on 30 June 2003. This day commemorates the gallantry, courage, and loyalty of the last Spanish soldiers in our country who made a final stand in Baler, Tayabas (now part of Aurora province). From 1 July 1898 to 2 June 1899, these Spanish soldiers, who numbered less than 40, garrisoned themselves inside the town church without knowing that Spain had already lost Filipinas on 10 December 10 1898 (Treaty of Paris). Because of their display of courage, they earned the respect of President Emilio Aguinaldo. So instead of imprisoning or executing them, the Spaniards were sent them back to Spain (click here for more info).

Hopefully next year, we would be able to visit Baler, famous not only in the annals of Filhispanic history but also reputed to be the "Surfing Capital of the Philippines".

Photo courtesy of Travel Up.

¡Feliz Día de la Amistad Hispanofilipina!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Happy 443rd birthday, dear Filipinas!

My other blogs, ALAS FILIPINAS and FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, seem to be in a very festive mood today (sorta, hehehe!). So might as well for this one, too. And rightfully so. Because today, June 24, is a very special day: it is the 443rd founding anniversary of our BELOVED and BEAUTIFUL homeland, FILIPINAS!

Internationally acclaimed travel photographer George Tapan's award-winning photo "Into The Green Zone". This was taken in breathtaking Isla Onuc in Balábac, Paragua/Palawan, one of the "last frontiers" of this country. Hope to bring the whole family there one day (hey, dreams are for everyone!).

¡Feliz aniversario a las islas bonitas de Filipinas!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy 38th birthday, Yeyette!

Pepper Potts: Am I going to be OK?
Tony Stark: No. You're in a relationship with me, nothing will ever be OK.
—From Iron Man 3

And so that's what it is with us. You married an imperfect man, somebody whose mind is still trapped in illusions and daydreams, actually still a boy who refuses to grow old. You married a swain who gifted you with (soon-to-be) five kids but equaled it with five times the headache. You married someone who gave you probably more pains than pleasure. Still you chose to stick it out with me.

You chose me to be your concomitant for life, not expecting much out of a brittle promise (I was a college kid back then, remember? dreaming of becoming a rock star with a tennis racket for a guitar) but looking forward to life with hope and joy.

I wasn't able to deliver what needed to be delivered a hunnerd percent. But your love for me is so boundless I am a hunnerd percent sure that you have made God so proud.

Being the perpetual loser that I am, I wasn't able to reciprocate your wifely heroics. And for that, I apologize. I am so sorry for all the tears caused.

Inspite of all the stress and tears I wittingly or unwittingly gave you, you still look younger than me, haha. So there.

Thank you for never leaving my side. Me and our kids love you so much. Of course you know that already. Happy 38th, mi amor.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The refreshing waters of Dampalit Falls

This year's summer season was annoyingly hot that a trip to the beach was not enough to stave off the heat. So we thought of going somewhere else. Somewhere much colder. And oddly, it's located in a place where the waters are normally hot: Los Baños, La Laguna Province.

Refreshingly cool Dampalit Falls. This year, the plunging waters were a bit weak when we visited it a few weeks ago. Probably because of record-breaking temperatures.

It was our second time to visit Dampalit Falls (on my own, it was my third). The first time was two years ago, a day after Momay's eighth birthday. That time, the waters were raging, but still tolerable. When we visited the falls last May 18, the place was very crowded. So many people were apparently trying to escape the record-breaking temperatures. Irritatingly, some wiseguy thought it was a good idea to block the catch basin with piles of soil to create a minipool, thus the dark quality of the waters when we got there (because several happy feet were stirring up the soft ground below the shallow waters). Nevertheless, the place is still clean and pristine because it's well taken care of (there's a DENR office nearby). And the heat of the summer sun was virtually helpless when we went underneath the vertical drop.

Dampalit Waterfalls taken two years ago (14 May 2012).
The word "dampalit" is said to be a contraction of two Tagalog words: "daang paliít" which means a narrowing path. The waterfalls is situated at the foot of Mount Maquiling, at the northern part fronting Laguna de Bay. Amazingly, Dampalit is very near the national road  just a 15- to 20-minute walk. And it's not a boring one because the foot path courses briefly upwards through the small houses of Sitio Dampalit and the natural forests of Mount Maquiling. Various fruit trees and wild flowers can be encountered along the way. And if you have a sharp eye, you might be lucky to spot wild lizards, chameleons, and exotic birds and insects. There is also a vantage point along the path where, on a clear day, a sparkling Laguna de Bay can be seen from afar.

This lovely forested foot path, which gently slopes upwards, leads to Dampalit Falls. From the national road, the walk takes more or less 20 minutes. Even my preggy wife survived it!


¡Aquí estamos! The waterfalls can already be seen to the left, partly hidden by vegetation.

Newfound friends (Kumpare at Kumare bonding from Calambâ). And one of them speaks Spanish! From left to right: Justine, Yeyette, Juanito, Kiko, Xian, Wilma, and Raymart. At the back is Reichelle, the Spanish-speaker.

Nos alegramos de haber conocido aquí a una dama que habla nuestra lengua. Ella es Reichelle Cansicio de Calambâ (la ciudad natal de nuestro héroe nacional). :-)

Dampalit Falls, about three to four storeys high, probably has the most vertical water drop we have ever seen. It may not be as high compared to other popular waterfalls (such as the more famous one in Cavinti), but the waters drop rather calmly and not in a scattershot manner. It's even difficult to take a photo of the whole height from a short distance.

Dampalit Falls is situated on an elevated site. The water from the catch basin flows downward as a serene stream on a rocky course through Barrio Lalacay, crosses the national road, and drains towards Laguna de Bay. Downstream, the people call it Estero de Dampalit  (Dampalit Creek).

Spread your wings and prepare to fly, you toast-colored butterfly!

Our kids and other tourists having an awesome time! Yep, that's me underneath the falls, being massaged by huge buckets of water dropping endlessly.

♥  ♥  ♥

For families living in Metro Manila who are a bit fed up with beach outings and who are looking for an alternative summer venue, Dampalit Falls is the place to be! Amazingly, it's budget friendly for such a nature-filled place!

Me and my family went there from Macati (in front of Dusit Thani Manila) by bus going to Santa Cruz, La Laguna. And wouldja believe? We left at around half past 12 noon and arrived at the falls before 2:00 PM! Well, it was a Sunday. But still, travel time isn't that bad on weekdays I believe. And the entrance fee is only ₱20.00 for adults and ₱10.00 for kids. Me, Yeyette, and Krystal were charged ₱20.00 each, Momay for  ₱10.00, but Jefe and Juanito got in for free (all in all, we were charged just ₱70.00). We bought some báon (mostly junkfood because we already had lunch at the place we're staying) from a sari-sari store along the foot path leading to the falls. You may bring your own báon, too. The only downside is that you will have to bring them on foot because there are no roads for vehicles. There are bamboo tables and cottages for rent, and they are placed all around the catch basin facing the falls. Prices vary from ₱150 to ₱200 (negotiable). We did not rent one anymore because kind-hearted young souls from nearby Calambâ willingly shared their table with us (¡Gracias, amigos!).

This is one place in La Laguna we will never tire of visiting. We plan to go back there on a rainy season to see and experience how strong the falling waters of Dampalit are. See you there!

On our way home.


Click here for more photos!