Thursday, January 28, 2016

God created this delightful devil

We were on the road to Mamburao, Mindoro Occidental last January 15 to attend the wedding of my wife's cousin. Somewhere in scenic Abra de Ilog —the gateway to the rest of this paradisiacal province— we saw this amazing act of God...

A dust devil!

It was the first time in my life that I've seen a dust devil! How my heart leapt with joy, I almost screamed in pure delight! I was even more excited than my kids. Too bad we were trapped inside a crowded, moving bus. I wasn't able to capture this beautiful whirlwind in all its full glory. If I had the chance, I would have gone straight to it and allowed myself to be engulfed in a swirling ecstasy of dust underneath that bluish afternoon sky. Though the whirlwind lasted for only a few seconds, it was one of the happiest moments of my run-of-the-mill life.
Abra de Ilog, my wife's hometown, is my little paradise away from home, wherever home may be. Stay tuned to La Familia Viajera for more of this alluring town (including its neighbor, Mamburao) in the coming weeks.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

La Muy Noble Villa de Tayabas

At the Parque Rizal in front of city hall. Tayabas is a city that doesn't look like one. Thank goodness for that.

The main reason why we traveled to far away Tayabas last December 27 was to satiate Yeyette's hunger for that famous Rodillas Yema Cake she tasted in a reunion with my Alas cousins in Lucena almost five years ago. During that small gathering, one of my cousins brought a yema cake from Rodillas Restaurant. Yeyette only had a slice because we were too many. But she has never forgotten its magical flavor. Since then, she's been eager to visit Tayabas just to buy for ourselves a whole box of that famous yema cake (she's been bugging us about it for the longest time). Due to the place's distance and time constraints, it took us years to fulfill our plan. It was a relief that we were free to visit the town known for its budín, strong lambanóg, and Spanish-era bridges on the above-mentioned date. The rest of the family really didn't mind. All our kids, even li'l Junífera Clarita, are travel freaks. And I had my own agenda, of course: to explore the town's history.

This Rizal monument was inaugurated on 19 June 1914, on the occasion of José Rizal's 53rd birth anniversary, making it one of the oldest monuments in the country to honor the national hero. The centuries-old park/plaza where this monument stands was in the news last year because of a planned underground parking lot. Imagine that. 

Scenic Tayabas-Lucbán Road, facing Monte de Banajao's eastern side.

Rodillas Restaurant and its famous yema cake! The name of this restaurant in Spanish means "knees".

Tayabas is an old Tagálog town strategically perched more than 600 ft above sea level along the southeastern slopes of thickly forested Monte de Banajao. It was founded by the Spaniards (Franciscan missionaries) in 1578, making the place 437 years old. The old town of Tayabas, in fact, was the capital of the province of the same name, Provincia de Tayabas, from 1749 to 1901 (before that, the capital of Tayabas Province was Calilayan, now known as Unisan, the hometown of my dad). Irritatingly, the province is now divided into two, with neither carrying the original name (Aurora and Quezon). The province's former name is now carried solely by its namesake town which has become a city just a few years ago.

Two years after its founding, Tayabas was established as a parish with San Miguel Arcángel (Saint Michael the Archangel) as its patron saint. The first church was made of light materials (bamboo, nipa palm, etc.). The church was repaired under the supervision of Fr. Pedro Bautista in 1590. Ten years later, it was rebuilt using strong materials (bricks, etc.). It is interesting to note that Fr. Bautista was later declared a saint in 1862.

Basílica Menor de San Miguel Arcángel. This became a minor basilica on 18 October 1988. No other than Pope John Paul II, who recently became a saint, conferred the title.

The old entrance of this church was designated as a Porta Sancta (Holy Door) 11 days before our visit following Papa Francisco's Misericordiae Vultus.

Iglesia de San Miguel Arcángel.

In 1703, the town was conferred the title La Muy Noble Villa de Tayabas. Villa is a Spanish territorial classification as well as an institution. Aside from Tayabas, only seven other towns were classified as such. Although there were a few villas back then, they were highly significant insofar as they are considered as the centers for regional consolidation as well as a means of disseminating Spanish governance, culture, and commerce throughout the country.

In the 19th century, Tayabas grew to become one of the biggest towns in the country. It had 1,800 houses with more than 22,000 people. The town church was also enlarged. Its 338-ft nave was said to be one of the longest among Spanish colonial era churches in Filipinas. In fact, the church was the largest in all of Tayabas. From above, the church is built in the shape of a key (if the basilica rectory is included).

Krystal in front of Casa Comunidad, Tayabas' old tribunal. It was built by Gobernadorcillo Francisco López in 1776. In 1831, it was rebuilt into a much stronger and grander edifice by Gobernadorcillo Diego Enríquez. This structure was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1978. 

Tayabas is also known as the "City of 11 Spanish Bridges", but only one of them stands out from the rest: the bridge of Malagonlong. Thankfully, it's still popularly known in its Spanish original: the Puente de Malagonlong.

Puente de Malagonlong taken from the new Malagonlong bridge.

Puente de Malagonlong is located outside the población. It runs over the Río de Dumacaa. It is classified as a stone arch bridge that has a total length of 445 ft (136 m) and with four arches underneath. The arches served not merely as a design but also to mitigate the strong currents of the water (the river used to be deeper during the Spanish times), thus ensuring the stability of the bridge.

I also have a suspicion that it served as an aqueduct. If precise, the water must have been sourced from the northern part of the Dumacaa River whose elevation is higher compared to the part where the river courses underneath the bridge. The water within the this theoretical aqueduct could have been delivered to some settlement south of Tayabas, or perhaps to irrigate farmlands.

Take note that this is all just conjecture from my part. But what is not conjecture is that this bridge had strong potential to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Unfortunately, it can no longer qualify because the government built a new one very near to it, thus ruining its visual setting. Sayang.

After exploring the old bridge and the town proper, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the población's most popular street: Calle Budín!

The street is made famous for its many stores selling the town's delicacies such as ticoy (Chinese New Year's cake made from glutinous rice), pancít habháb (dried flour noodles eaten using only the mouth), longanizang Lucbán (Spanish sausage prepared Lucbán-style), and of course, budín (cassava cake). Along with Yeyette's box of Rodillas Yema Cake, we also purchased a couple of budín. All in all, Tayabas is a tasty treat for the senses, spirit, and tummy.

Did you know? Budín is Spanish for pudding!

Click here for more photos of our Tayabas adventure! And don't forget to LIKE US on Facebook¡Hasta la vista!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

¡Feliz 9º cumpleaños, Jefe!

¡Feliz 9º cumpleaños, Cuya Jefe! Qué Dios te bendiga y guíe siempre, qué continues la herencia de nuestra familia. Te amamos siempre. =)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

Because of "My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore", we'll never visit an SM mall again

The whole family after watching the film at SM Center Muntinlupà last New Year's Day.

DISCLAIMER: Before I begin, I'd like to remind readers that this is not a blogpost about traveling but a film review, is in fact my very first film review since I was in college. So before anything else, I'd like to paraphrase Maine Mendoza: "Bago pa acó i-bash ng sámbayanan, mauuna na acó". Now, if you wonder why I'm writing a film review on a family travel blog, well, it still has something to do with traveling because me and my family had to take a tedious trip from our faraway palace all the way to plebeian SM Center Muntinlupà. Haha. Kidding aside, all of us in the family are faithful members of AlDub Nation. Most especially yours truly. I was even the one encouraging my wife and kids to watch it the soonest possible time and not the other way around, this in spite of our measly budget. Be it known that I rarely watch TV and Tagálog films. I grew up as a Marvel Comics fanboy, hence the only films I watch are those from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So just imagine what in the world AlDub did to me. I don't care if my friends from the academe will say that "Pepe has become mababao, too". So be it. AlDub has its inexplicable magic... perhaps one really has to become a fan in order to understand it. Anyway, without further ado...


It cannot be argued that the saving grace for Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai de las Alas' My Bebe Love #KiligPaMore is its supporting cast. I am, of course, referring to the phenomenal love team of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, more popularly known as AlDub. If not for them (or to be more precise, if not for their solid and loyal fan base), its rival, Star Cinema's Beauty and the Bestie, would have clobbered it from day one of the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). The trailer, in fact, already gave portents of monotonous things to come. One would even suspect that the movie simply rode on the wave of AlDub's immense popularity. They succeeded on that part because My Bebe Love has been smashing its way to become the highest-grossing Filipino movie of all time despite desperate attempts by Star Cinema to downplay it (it now holds the record for highest-opening day gross for all Filipino films with ₱60.4 million).

This is not to say that either "Bossing" Vic or Ai-Ai has no box-office magic. Of course they do. But in terms of box-office competition, they would have played second fiddle to Vice Ganda whose garbage has been patronized by millions over the past few years.

Hardcore fans will come to My Bebe Love's defense and say that it's just a rom-com (romantic comedy), but that's exactly the point: the film is not just about romance but also comedy, and that's what it's lacking. How we missed the days when Bossing was really able to make us cry out in laughter (remember Hindi Pa Tapos ang Labada, Darling?) But in My Bebe Love, he seemed not to be making too much of an effort to be the comedian that he is. Ai-Ai de las Alas was too noisy to be funny. And we missed so much of it from Maine herself who is already an accomplished comedian on both Internet and TV. There wasn't even one memorable punchline that would have made us guffaw all the way to the exit.

It's quite disappointing that for a phenomenal love team, AlDub's first screen appearance was exactly that: a disappointment. But not because of them but because of the movie itself. For a supposedly family film, the plot is too complicated for youngsters to comprehend, especially the part wherein the characters of both Vic and Ai-Ai were fighting over venue reservations; my three boys were clueless as to what was going on. Other than that, it's so unrealistic to believe that their characters are that wealthy (what with their several employees and huge mansions) considering that they are just events specialists (is that a good enough profession already to make people filthy rich?). And later on in the movie, there's a (suggested) PMS scene between Vic and Ai-Ai's characters somewhere in Zambales. Is that the norm nowadays for family films?

And worse, My Bebe Love was obviously rushed; there seems to be not much of an effort to make it polished it all the more (this reminds me of Lourd de Veyra's "PNY" criticism of another Sotto film two years ago). The filmmakers seemed to have been banking on AlDub's popularity alone instead of putting flesh on the overall product. However, rushing film production is nothing new to the local movie industry. While film production in Hollywood takes at least a year or two to finish before its premiere, here it takes only a few months, if not a few weeks. But that's another story.

That My Bebe Love is replete with product placements is already expected. After all, it's a Vic Sotto film. I was already expecting it. The first few product placements I noticed were OK because they were subtly featured (Bear Brand Adult Plus, Nissan Escapade), but the rest were blatant to the point of irritating (Tide, Solmux). And what's with the junk food products with their front covers turned away from the cameras in a convenience store scene? Just because they're not sponsors of the movie does it mean that the director had to twist reality; aside from real life, that doesn't happen in Hollywood flicks, even in the most inane ones. Many from the audience noticed that goof with the junk foods, and because of that, they lost focus on Alden and Maine (and many, I believe, were too glued with Alden's radiant blue Superman shirt, a wrong choice of color and brand for a brief scene).

Speaking of Maine, I believe that, despite the letdowns seen in the movie, she deserved the Best Supporting Actress trophy she had won from the MMFF Gabí ng Parañgál (awards night). Acting is no easy feat, especially if one has no experience in it. Just ask historian Alvin Campomanes. Yet newcomer Maine nailed it with ease even if she didn't go through any acting workshop at all. She only honed her craft out in the streets — in Eat Bulaga!'s Kalyeserye. But even prior to that, she was a pure rookie. And thanks to her and Alden, My Bebe Love was saved from being overshadowed by its rival. It was their tandem that made up for what My Bebe Love lacked. Their qilíg moments lived up to the hype, delighting film goers. But that's the only compensation the film had. Nonetheless, AlDub's true worth should have been given justice on their screen debut.

If there's anyone to blame in My Bebe Love's failure to deliver, it's Bibeth Orteza because she was the one who wrote the script filled with weak dialogue and cheerlessness. Then there's Director Joey Javier Reyes who co-wrote the screenplay with her. How I wish that My Bebe Love was as funny as previous Vic Sotto movies. Thankfully, this is not an AlDub movie per se. Therefore, AlDub haters cannot say that the power couple's first movie was a fluke because technically, My Bebe Love is a Vic-Ai-Ai starrer. We AlDub fans await a much awesome launching movie for them, something they truly deserve. Not this. I was thinking of Erik Matti who is a good friend of Reyes, or perhaps blockbuster director Cathy García-Molina so that she'd be given a third chance (yes, pun intended) for her recent sins.

PS: As a blow-by-blow Kalyeserye reporter for AlDub NationI always rate each and every episode of Kalyeserye that I've watched in a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Many of my Twitter friends have been asking me to rate My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore, too. So here it goes: in view of the foregoing review, I give it a 6/10 rating. I would've given it a 5/5, but AlDub's inclusion in the movie made me kinder towards it. Nevertheless, I still encourage my fellow AlDub Nation members to watch the movie, if only for the love of AlDub. And lastly, I give SM Muntinlupa's cinema a 3/10. The air-conditioning is not cold enough, the popcorn is bland but pricey, and the cinemas don't even have washrooms inside. Patronize other malls. Better yet, patronize those that are owned by the Zóbel de Ayalas. SM is owned by somebody pretending to be a Filipino.


As the title of this blogpost suggests, this will be the last time that our family will visit an SM mall in protest of the irregularities committed there against My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore. I am talking about the ticket swapping, shameless SM Cinema crew encouraging AlDub fans to watch Vice Ganda's garbage, and handwritten tickets, something I've never heard of in my entire 36 years of existence! Could it be that Star Cinema and SM have been doing this for years, and that it's only now that their scheme was discovered? This is what Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo and his team should also look into. Needless to say, the people are not blind. My Bebe Love carries with it a phenomenon, and this phenomenon is the ONLY reason why it is leading in the box-office race. Heck, this phenomenon even compelled me to write my very first film review even though I know I suck in it.

My wife is checking if we were also victims of ticket swapping.

Thanfully, nothing like that happened during our visit to SM Center Muntinlupà.

Now, to those who claim that Vice Ganda's garbage is filling up cinemas, my family experienced first hand how this is all but a lie. Just CLICK HERE to watch a video I took before we entered the cinema and see for yourselves. Now, if Beauty and the Bestie's defenders still don't believe that I took the video during nighttime, take note of the movies' schedule below:

Of course this is just one cinema, and one cinema alone cannot be used to measure if Beauty and the Bestie dominated the box-office. But still, this is one solid proof that My Bebe Love, at the very least, beat Star Cinema's garbage in a mall that is known to be cheating in its favor. So to those who are yet to see My Bebe Love, I advise you to do the same: take videos of the queues in the cinemas, then post it on your respective social media accounts.

Don't underestimate the power of AlDub Nation.

Me and my little princess at our balcony back home, after watching the film. Notice my superhero shirt. =)

Like us on Facebook! ¡Hasta la vista!

Friday, January 1, 2016

¡Feliz Año 2016!

I wasn't with my family during the traditional Media Noche last night, hence our late New Year's Day greeting. As usual, we just had to have a complete family photo. So here we go...

New Year's Day lunch at our humble abode.


We may not have a good-looking house like what most of our relatives and friends have, we may not have the most sumptuous holiday meals, nor do we look glam in expensive clothing. What's important is that we are complete, we are intact, we are happy together. That's what really matters the most, especially during the most wonderful season of each year. So together, we'll try to survive another year. Dios mediante.

Let's have a meaningful 2016, everyone! ¡Qué Dios os bendiga todos los días!

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