In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Grid.”
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan, Philippines prides itself in its showcase of “Filipino talent, ingenuity and craftsmanship”. And I was blown away by how beautiful this place is, and how the owner is able to preserve the past.
My family and I went to this place as part of our 3-day trip around Luzon, which I will write about in the succeeding blog posts. For this week’s photography inspiration, I have chosen this picture of the Balanga Church replica in the Las Casas property.
Stay tuned for my posts about our travel adventure!
Hahaha! This photo never fails to make me laugh. I’m sure I was also jumping and laughing at the same time while this picture was being taken.
It took me three attempts to get this okay shot before I got tired. Preserved butterflies were mounted on a glass wall and this jump shot was sort of a must-do when you get to the Bohol Butterfly Sanctuary. Visitors simply have to jump while a skilled tour guide positions the camera such that the subject seems like he/she were flying with butterfly wings.
Facing the South China Sea (or “West Philippine Sea”) is theBangui Wind Farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. The first of its kind in the Philippines, this wind farm consists of 20 wind turbines which line up along a nine-kilometer stretch off Bangui Bay. An average of 20 typhoons (or tropical cyclones) enter the country in a given year – just imagine the potential to create more sources of clean energy!
My family and I arrived at the wind farm just a little before dusk. We missed the sunset; the tide was high and the clouds were heavy and dark, almost as if rain’s about to fall. So after taking in the beauty before our eyes, we headed to a beach resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, where we spent the night.
The beach resort provided a great vantage point for these towering beauties! I’ll put off the details of my day at this beautiful beach for another blog post so I’ll just tell you more about the time when we stopped by to see the windmills on our way back to Manila.Got a little lost for a while.
Then we’ve reached it finally!
We knew then that our luck has turned around – the sea looked really calm and postcard-pretty.
Do you want to know how it feels like to stand next to one of these wind turbines? It felt awesome, because I knew that these generate clean energy that supplies a chunk of the electricity needs of the province. But how exactly? On the other hand, I felt a little nervous. It might sound funny, but I had this image of being blown away into the sea tattooed on my mind (I don’t know how to swim).
Here are some more photos:
The wind farm is located in a little fishing community and the only establishments around were these little huts wherein souvenirs were being sold.
We just can’t leave without buying our own souvenirs.
My mom bought two large souvenirs and four small ones. I guess in her mind she wanted those to represent our family. (A little FYI: it’s customary to hang a rosary on the rearview mirror in the PI.)
Good bye, giant pinwheels! You are well worth the ride from Manila!
Visiting Vigan, Ilocos Sur has always been a dream.
I often wondered what’s it like to walk down the famous cobblestone kalye (calle in Spanish) with the occasional kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) passing you by. How does it feel to be in a place which pretty much resisted change, thereby transporting you back into an era that once was?
Three weeks before I went back to New York, I asked my family whether we could spend a weekend in Vigan. The suggestion was met with a resounding yes from my parents. I knew then that that meant a go, because convincing my siblings to miss a class or a day at work was a walk in the park. This was especially true when we had to extend the trip for another night at Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, whose white sand beaches are not to be missed.
After an arduous 6-7 hour drive from Manila on a Friday night, the beautiful city of Vigan, Ilocos Sur greeted us as the day broke. The city is located on the western coast of the island of Luzon, facing the South China Sea (which Filipinos renamed to the Western Philippine Sea because of the territorial dispute between the two).
Aside from Intramuros (Manila’s oldest district), Central Park, and Times Square (those poor horses!), I’ve only seen horse-drawn carriages in Vigan. The calesa,cobblestone calle, and Spanish colonial architecture are what makes this city unique. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Vigan heritage village showcases well-preserved 18th century buildings and mansions, as these were spared from the WWII bombings.
After checking in into a hotel in the heart of historic Vigan, my mom insisted that we go to the Vigan Public Market. Souvenirs, woven clothing that’s a trademark of Vigan, and fresh vegetables are very affordable at this place. My sister and I bought identical wide-brimmed hats for PhP100 each (approx. $2.50). With its top-notch quality, we knew that we got more than we paid for.
I ❤ VIGAN shirts, anyone?
Most of the mansions have been converted into shops or museums. Look closely at this facade!
My parents both came from Ilocano-speaking provinces in the north. However, this dialect wasn’t spoken much in our household so I grew up speaking Filipino and English. So when my family and I heard Mass at the Vigan Cathedral, which is a stone’s throw away from the hotel, my limited Ilocano vocabulary wasn’t enough for me to understand the readings and passages from the Bible. Good thing my sister had a Bible app in her iPod, so we were able to catch up with the readings for that day.
The eight-sided bell tower is just south of the cathedral. Its position was actually the safety measure of the earthquake baroque style: it was built separately from the church so that it would not topple into the church in the event of an earthquake. Its eight-sided design reflects its Chinese Feng-shui influences. (From WikiTravel)
The homes of rich people during the Spanish time were located around the plaza surrounding the church and the administrative buildings. The farther your home is from the plaza means that your family has lesser prominence during that time. The Aniceto Mansion used to be the residence of political and literary figure Don Mena Crisologo. Its connection to Vigan’s rich and historic families does not end there. The mansion which was built in 1840 was owned by Leona Florentino’s father. Leona Florentino was a poetess whose works were recognized by the world even before they were recognized by her countrymen. (Source: Vigan.ph)
Hearing Mass is a family affair in the Philippines. What I love most about Filipino Masses, apart from the family dinners that followed while I was growing up, are the lively and heartfelt liturgical music. There’s absolutely nothing like it.
Walking is my preferred method of exploring. So if you didn’t ride a calesa during your Vigan trip, make sure to take your souvenir photo from this calesa at the shopping area near Plaza Salcedo!
Unlike Manila which slowly tears down the traces of its Spanish roots in order to modernize itself, the city of Vigan has preserved, even embraced, its colonial past. I’ve always felt strongly about saving and preserving Philippines’ slowly “vanishing heritage” – if other countries can do it, why can’t we? I cringe at the idea of demolishing ancestral houses in order to pave the way for high rise condominiums.
Insufficient resources and development pressures are cited as the top reasons for the country’s apparent neglect of conserving the past. I would add apathy and lack of appreciation for the country’s history.
Philippines is now back on track with catching up with its rich neighbors. I understand that at its current rate of development, the country just can’t afford to divert valuable resources away from where it’s needed most – education and infrastructure, most especially. However, modernization at the expense of cultural preservation would prove costly in the end.
I hope you feel the same way I do. Let’s not rob the future generations of the beauty of Philippine history and culture. It’s one thing to learn about history from books and another thing to see it for yourself, to hold a piece of history in your hands.
If there’s one valuable thing I’ve gained from my travels, it would be a newly-found appreciation for my country’s heritage. I look forward to visiting the National Museum in Manila, the Sto. Niño Basilica in Cebu which houses the iconic Magellan’s cross, participating in Iloilo’s colorful Dinagyang Festival, and, of course, basking in the glorious sunset over a white-sand beach.
No matter where I am or where I’ll be, I’ll always be proud of my morena skin, my “fresh-off-the-boat” accent, and my insatiable appetite for rice.
Click one of the pictures below to launch the Gallery!