Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Glimpsed: One Direction

On Rome's gest to utopia, often times, he found himself in the middle of crossroads. With wide range of destinations in his mind, deciding one road to take is tricky knowing that there's no turning back. Luckily though, all  his destinations are pointing at one direction!

This is a teaser post of his next destination: Grand Villa

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pilgrimage to Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center, Lucban, Quezon Province.

There's a sense of wonderment and something life-changing about their trip to Lucban that's half-holiday, half-pilgrimage as Rome found when he went to a retreat in Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center with his cousins and nieces early on their last day in Lucban. The healing center is just right across Batis Aramin where they stayed for two nights.

As they approach the main gate, Vio Dolorosa Grotto is seen from afar. The 5 hectares Kamay ni Hesus Healing Center is a religious complex complete with Grotto of the Ascending Christ, Rosary Hill , Gallery of saints,  Garden of Eden, Healing Church, Retreat center, Cliff Houses, and Shopping Centers/Souvenir Shops. The religious complex and healing centetr is under the initiative of Father Joseph "Joey" Ayala Faller, a gifted and well-known healing priest who also conducts regular healing masses for physical, emotional and spiritual healing on the following days;

Wednesday and Saturday - 9:30 AM Healing Mass
Sunday Mass
7:30 AM - 9:30 AM
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
4:00 PM
Anticipated Saturday Mass Every saturday - 5 PM

They began at the Garden of Eden where statutes of Adam and Eve depicting the creation, the temptation, and the fall are scattered in the tropical version of the garden. There were million of queries registered on the kiddos’ faces upon seeing the nude statutes. 

Rome heard his cousins telling familiar story to his nieces – The Story of Creation. They were listening wholeheartedly but distracted when they saw a playground and fun rides attached to the animal statutes near Noah’s Ark.  Anney let them play in one condition – they need to pose with one of the statutes, and they willingly obliged. The garden is definitely not a theme park but a fascinating educational and visionary gallery for kids.

Due to limited time, they weren’t able to climb the hill where Risen Christ statue is situated.  Well, they tried but gave up when they reached almost 50 of more than 300 steps. A healing mass was being held when they went down the hill.  Rome silently prayed for a short while and promised to come back to reflect and retreat.  

Struggling how to conclude this post about Rome's unfinished pilgrimage, let me end it  with Paulo Coelho’s quote for us to reflect on: "Pilgrimage is not a destination but a lifetime's journey".

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Family Friendly Holiday Destinations 2013

Whatever your holiday budget for summer 2013, there is a destination out there to fit every family’s budget. From short haul Majorca holidays to faraway stints, including low cost Florida holidays  wherever you want to jet to, there’s a cost efficient plan for your clan.

Keeping costs low is one of the best ways to book your ideal escape. Rather than sacrificing on the niceties of your holiday, browse discounted holiday websites online and pay the lowest price for holidays from the UK’s favourite travel companies.

The ultimate short haul holiday spot for families with school aged children to teens. Portaventura, located in mainland Spain, is an outstanding family friendly resort with an immense theme park, water park and various awesome amenities.

The island of Majorca off the east coast of mainland Spain is under two hours away from the UK, making it an ideal choice for parents with small children. To the south of the island, Palma Nova is an active resort with many attractions close by, while Alcudia offers safe shorelines and low key entertainment for those aiming to take a more laid back break.

Action packed and fabulous, Tenerife is a superb year round destination for families. Head away from the vibrant night scene of Tenerife and choose to stay in the Puerto de la Cruz region to the north of the island. Here you will be nestled at the heart of an authentic Canarian landscape, while on the doorstep of Loro Parque, the Canaries’ outstanding wildlife park and fairground.

Easily the family holiday capital of the world, Orlando in Florida is every child’s dream destination. Brimming with world class theme parks, waterparks and mind blowing entertainment facilities, Florida is the home of Disney, Universal and the place where magic comes to life.

Get ready for family fun in the sun this summer and book your 2013 escape online today.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Visita Iglesia: Church of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse in Lucban, Quezon Province

The Philippines apart from East Timor, is predominantly a catholic country in Asia. Colonized by Spain for more than 300 years, the Philippines' early citizens were converted to Christianity by the Spanish missionaries either voluntarily or forcefully. They removed all marks of other religions that the Filipinos formerly patronized before their arrival. They burned down churches and idols so that the only religion that the Philippines will recognize is Catholicism.

Since then, churches became the focal point of communities all over the country. They can often be enormous, ornate buildings which so domineering over their surrounding landscapes.

Perched on the center in the humble town of Lucban in Quezon Province, surrounded by gardens, grottos and stone walls called quince-quince, the Church of Saint Louis, Bishop of Toulouse was initially created in 1595 but destroyed in 1629.

According to the facts on the tablet hanged on the wall the second church was constructed between 1630 and 1640, gutted by fire in 1733 and reconstructed in 1738. The adjacent convent was added and completed in 1743. The church was partly destroyed during the World War II in 1945 and renovated by the Philippine Historical Commission in 1966.

The church’s ancient bell tower stands to the right, rising three tapering levels, topped with a weathervane. Old and dingy, the grayish and dusty color shows that it has existed for a very long time. The facade and the bellower are finished with lime and cement.

It was a real good experience visiting old churches. Rome had a moment of silence for his prayers. For him, visiting this religious attraction was mentally stimulating somehow uplifting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pahiyas Festival, Lucban, Quezon Province

Pahiyas Festival - It's an idea that has really illuminated.

What began in 1500's as a form of thanksgiving to the "Anitos" (god/idols) for the good harvest of farm products such as palay, vegetables, fruits, and fish has became the most celebrated ode to illuminate colors in the Philippines. Ever since its inception, the quaint municipality of Lucban in Quezon province has hosted an annual festival “Pahiyas” held every 15th of the merry month of May.  It falls on the feast day of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers to show gratitude for a good and bountiful and abundant harvest.

Before the day of San Isidro Pahiyas Festival, residents of Lucban adorned their houses with their bountiful produce such as chayote, radish, pepper, beans, tomato, ginger, chili, grains of rice, and or any agricultural harvests that the home owner’s source of living represents.

Residents engaging in other forms of livelihood display their products too on the most glowing Thanksgiving Day. The handicraft manufacturer house was decked with colorful buri hats, bags, placemats and others while the poultry supplier colored the egg shells to decorate the front of his house. 

The most traditional and certainly the most attractive decor comes of course in the form of "KIPING" which are adorn and strung together to form all sorts of shapes, from chandelier called "ARANGYA" to huge flowers. Kiping is made from ground rice flour, shaped using "cabal" leaves or other leaf forms and colored in radiant red, fuschia, yellow, green and other bright shades.

Each household tries to outdo each other in friendly competition as they vie for honor of recognizing their creativity.  Prizes were given to the winning pahiyas based on a given criteria. The route of the Pahiyas Festival changes every year to give other houses their chance to decorate aside from the fact that expenses for the kiping and other ornaments will drain one's savings. 

In the morning of the Pahiyas Festival, the procession of the image of San Isidro will pass along this route, to bless the families for bountiful harvest on the upcoming planting season. 

It was early in the morning when Rome and his relatives departed Batis Armin to watch the Pahiyas decoration. They weren't able to witness the procession though.  Early morning is the best time to capture radiant and colorful images as there are very few people watching and roaming the Pahiyas route and you can see the houses in full view. Intricately brilliant - this house below left no detail out and was Rome favorite during last year's Pahiyas festival.

Every participating house here had made such a delicate, tiny structure, and colorful kipings much to the delight of thousands local and foreign tourists flocking to the charming municipality every May to gasp at the displays.

What Rome thought was highly commendable is the dedication of each community member to do all the work together to create the multi colored display, who by the way, do not profit from the colorful display. 

Pahiyas for him, is the display of camaraderie  and solidarity of this small populated town who makes huge efforts in bringing the brightest fiesta colors of the Filipino summer to the world.

Parts of this post were sourced from: www.pahiyasfestival.com

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Glimpsed: A Traveller's Shadow

From luxurious to craziest travel experiences we’ve seen shades on our roads and strolled the colors of life. A true blue traveller would agree that his/her shadow isn't gray. 

This post is a teaser of Rome's first experience of Pahiyas in Lucban, Quezon province.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Legal Highs in Batis Aramin Adventure Camp

Batis Aramin resort and Hotel offers not just a relaxing vacation but also of an action packed getaway. The resort have bike trail, 50 feet repelling descend, 150 meter zip line, and a 50 feet wall climbing tower at an open field area at back of the hotel. At the rate of Php 150.00 or Php 250 (unlimited trip) per person, the camp offers a unique experience for anyone interested in vertigo inducing experiences and extreme fun. 

Rome, his cousins, and CIL registered and signed a waiver at the front office before proceeding at the camp site. It's his first time to experience these kind of activities and he tought of backing out when he saw the tower. Without any sign of hesitation, his cousins in full army attire and trainers seemed very much ready for the extreme activities though. Quietly, he mumbled his last prayer and decided to try everything once. 

He was strapped into a safety harness and suspended from the wire which spands 150 meters in length from the tower. The 5-10 seconds route was short but the experience of seeing his death was horrifying. With the help of trained crew he had a smooth landing realizing a whole new perspective in life - it is about reaching for the sky, taking opportunities and embracing challenges. He conquered his fears and took the risks that people take to be successful in an ever-changing world. It was indeed an enjoyable ride!

He had another zip line ride before trying rapell. It was not an actual rappeling because they did not control their own descent. They were pulled-up and lowered by the crew. If that would be an actual rapell, no one from their group could reach the top of the tower considering that all of them are overweight, lol! Rome was a little bit scared knowing that it was controlled manually so he chose to rappel face up. 


Their last activity was an in-contrast wall climbing. It was controlled with secured ropes. Although the height was quite low for the pro, it's much safer introduction to the sport for the first timers like them.  Anney and Peachy had hard time going further up the wall and eventually gave up after few tries but Rome managed to touch the top. The experience gave him an overwhelming feeling of exposure as it brought him full understanding of safety measures and risk assessement. 

That the long and short of life is like travelling up. It is a process that requires us to pull ourselves together to constantly make the move upward.

That there are moment of doubts and fears...and you need to pause for sometime until you recover your strength.

That climbing-up is defying gravity and requires a serious commitment and strong focus.

That you have to keep on going no matter what.

That climbing downwards is not something that you usually do when....

...you travel upwards.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Batis Aramin: More Than Just Colorful Kiping

Batis Aramin Resort & Hotel 
Brgy. Malupak, Lucban, 
Quezon Philippines, 4328 
Telefax: (042) 540-4401 ; 540-7320 
Mobile: 0917 595 4145 
E-Mail: info@aramin.ph

Residents of Lucban would argue that this is the prettiest destination in Quezon Province. And yes, it is indeed an attraction. Nestled at the foot of Mount Banahaw, Batis Aramin is among the reasons why you would want to go to Lucban, Quezon apart from taking colorful pictures of the world famous Pahiyas Festival and tasting the garlic-y Longganisang Lucban.

Batis (or creek) Aramin is a developed creek owned by Mr. Filomeno D. Valde. Fascinated by its green meadows, abundant vegetation, cool fresh air and its ever flowing crystal clear water from the spring called the ARAMIN, he decided to convert it to a resort formally opened in the Easter of 1997. It was classified as Special Interest Resort by the Department of Tourism.  

What Rome loved about Batis Aramin was the fresh, un-chlorinated, and free-flowing swimming pools and private pools in the middle of the nature park. The water was extremely cold even in summer days. His nieces, the daughters of water, truly had fun swimming from one swimming pool to another.

The resort and nature park has a boating and fishing area. Rome and his cousins, Peachy and Anney, tried to paddle up to and from the man-made creek. Anney, had a hard time balancing on bamboo raft screamed like there's no tomorrow but manged to pose and smile when Alvin point the camera lens at them. It was tiring but really fun activity. For Rome, it reminded him of paddling in Malampaya Sound in Palawan during his high school days.

Other facilities are; Biking Trail - A dirt trail stretching 1.5km long that gives you a route to come back and forth town and all around Batis Aramin. Function Halls - that could host events of any scale from meetings and birthday parties. It has a beautiful landscape ideal for garden wedding.

During their stay, Rome and his cousins attempted some of the high-defying activities in Batis Aramin’s Adventure camp. I’ll tell you what are those on my next post.

Batis Aramin is right across the Kamay ni Hesus Healing Church and Vio Dolorosa Grotto. Hectares of lush resort right at the foot of Mount Banahaw, Batis Aramin is a nature park spot for boating, swimming, camping, biking, trailing and so much more.