Tag Archives: Churches

Teaser Post about my Trip to Russia

Hello, and sorry for the long hiatus.  The past month was my busiest this year.  September is my birth month and usually, I reward myself with a trip or a visit at home, but I decided to do away with this in 2014 as I was saving up to renovate our kitchen.  Still, an unexpected blessing came in the form of a business trip to Russia, which got me so busy.

Russia is sooo beautiful!  Here’s my favorite photo from this set.

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I don’t know the exact place where this was taken.  All I know is that it’s on the bridge after Moscow’s Red Square.  Funny, map-challenged me actually got lost and when I saw the skyline getting pinkish, I decided to just keep walking to its direction until I could find a spot where I could watch the sunset.

Aside from Moscow, we also visited Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city.

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Here’s a photo of me in Yekaterinburg’s Church of the Blood, which was built on the spot where the last Emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his family, were executed.  He and his family members are now saints.

During this trip, I was also able to tick one item off my wish list.

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Isn’t St. Petersburg’s Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood magnificent?  It’s my dream to see this after seeing it in a magazine.

This Church was dedicated in the memory of Tsar Alexander II as it was built on the site where he was assassinated.

Honestly, It was morbid to  know the story behind Russia’s stunning churches.  How can these architectural wonders be built under such horrifying circumstances?

I would have loved to post more and continuously, but I couldn’t as I have scheduled trips to Gigantes Island and Vietnam and Cambodia this month.  Those, and tons of workload to catch up to.

Till next!

Batanes: Day 3

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Day 3 was a trip to Sabtang Island, the smallest island of Batanes.  Inclusions of our tour were the following: Brgy. Savidug, Lime Beach, Tiñan Viewpoint, Brgy. Chavayan, Sabtang Weaver’s Association, Ahaw Arc, and Nakabuang Beach.  Note that this was originally a day tour, but my friend and I opted to spend the night in Sabtang to make the most of our visit in this island (we did this by going to Fisherman’s Village).

Here are my photos from this day:

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After an early breakfast at Rapitan di Vasay, we headed to Ivana port to catch the boat that would take us to Sabtang.  The port is right in front of Ivana’s Church and since the boat was yet to depart, we spent our idle time at the church.

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I already mentioned in a previous post that Ivana’s Church is named after St. Joseph the Worker.  We only passed by this on Day 2 of our Batanes tour and up close, I found out from its signage that this was originally a chapel built in 1787.

Behind the current church are the ruins of the original church.

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Boat Ride to Sabtang
This was definitely one of my scariest boat rides.  The choppy waters strongly rocked our small boat.  We were told though that our experience was as smooth as any Sabtang boat ride could go since the weather’s good.  Yikes!  And I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

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A trivia: In Batanes, they call their boats faluwa.

Sabtang Lighthouse
We were greeted by this beautiful view upon arrival at the island.

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This is the third lighthouse that I saw in Batanes.  We did not go here though, and just contented ourselves with taking its photo from afar.

The Tour
Note that during this part of our tour, we changed drivers and eventually, tour guides because Kuya Jun had to catch the 2 PM faluwa back to Ivatan.  We were introduced to Michael who mostly acted as our driver instead of a guide (he only spoke when asked).

Our tour here started out in a scary way.  You see, we were welcomed by this little green guy on our way to Savidug (lower left photo of the collage):

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Sorry I had to include it in my collage of interesting flora from this trip.  I was trying to save space.  He he.  Anyway, Kuya Jun and Michael said this particular snake is harmless, but it was still scary to have him sneak on us and suddenly take that ready-to-strike pose  la rattlesnake when my friend got near it.

By the way, I don’t know what the yellow flower is called.  I just found it interesting.  The red and black fruits are berries (according to this post, it’s Batanes Pine/Arius or Podocarpus costalis, which only grows in Batanes).  The pulpy fruit tasted sweet, but I forgot its name.  It is the fruit of one tall tree (the branches’ photo is on the upper left of the collage) and we were lucky we got to taste this since according to Kuya Jun, it’s rare to chance upon this fruit.

The Stone Houses in Savidug

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Savidug is famous for its traditional stone houses.  Unlike in Basco where the houses are far from each other, the stone houses here are the opposite, and in rows.

It was interesting to see their thatched roofs.  Some were also still being built, or renovated.

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Lime Beach
This is where Ivatans make the lime that they use to bind their stone houses.  Interestingly, this used to be a fortress.

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I find it off that there are human bone fragments scattered around the place.

“Sleeping Beauty”

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This is right in front of the Lime Beach.  Note the top mountain range with what looked like an outline of nose and lips.  It does look like a woman lying down, doesn’t it?

Tiñan Viewpoint

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Definitely a must-see when in Batanes.  This viewpoint provides a stunning view of the coasts of Sabtang.

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Some interesting flora from Tiñan viewpoint:

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The palm-like plant is locally called voyavoy.  It is actually a dwarf palm belonging to the genus Phoenix.  Kuya Jun said its leaves are used to make men’s vests and women’s headgear.  I forgot what the red fruits are called, but they tasted a little like duhat.

Chavayan Village
Another village popular for its traditional stone houses and more importantly, weaving.

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Unfortunately, there was no ongoing weaving session when we were there.  There was an old lady working on a vakul (headdress), but she charges for photo-ops so we just borrowed her weaving tool and the vakul that she’s working on.

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When in Chavayan, make sure to go to the edge of the village where the view of its shoreline is picture-perfect (I have a better photo of this from my Beautiful Batanes teaser post).

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Nakabuang Beach
The highlight of our tour.  Fine sand, clear waters from the shore with darker shades of blue farther up, frothy waves, rugged cliffs and cottony clouds as backdrop…  This is one beautiful beach!

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There was no one here when we arrived (it was a weekday), though our guide told us that during the weekend, the place was teeming with tourists (this was collaborated by a group of 6 friends we met during dinner at Casa Napoli the night before, who complained about not getting the perfect jump shot at the arc or by the beach because there were other visitors).  We were thus pleasantly surprised to have the beach by ourselves.

Ahaw Arc
Definitely Sabtang Island’s most photographed attraction.

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Unlike that group of friends who couldn’t get a solo shot of Ahaw Arc, I had all the time in the world to have my picture taken here as evident on earlier’s collage of photos.

Lunch
This is included in the tour package that we got.  Here’s Kuya Jun and ate preparing our lunch:

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See, we had the place to ourselves that we could dine right underneath Sabtang’s famous arc.  And just look at that beautiful setting and the food!

We had squid, the Ivatan dish vunes (a vegetable dish made of gabi stalks), tatus (coconut crab), fish soup, and my favorite, halayang ube (ube and gabi are root crops) for dessert.  Nom nom.

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It was a sumptuous lunch and the only thing I didn’t like was the water because it had an aftertaste.

A travel tip to those who want to visit Nakabuang Beach but do not want to book a tour package: Do bring packed meals because there are no stores here where you can buy any food or even a bottle of water.  The same group of friends we met shared how they, who were on a DIY-tour of Batanes, had no food come lunch time.  It’s a good thing their co-travelers who were on a package were nice enough to share their food/leftovers.

Exploring Nakabuang Beach
After lunch, we took our sweet time exploring this secluded beach, swimming, and just enjoying the view.

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We had a lot of time in our hands since our guide left us to bring Kuya Jun back to the port so he could go back to Ivatan.  We just agreed that Michael would just come back for us at 4 PM.

Fisherman’s Village
This is not included in our tour so we had to pay an additional Php 700.

The drive going to Fisherman’s Village was very scenic, though a little scary because of the winding, narrow road.

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At the village, we saw the same stone houses that we saw in the villages of Savidug and Chavayan.  Some scenes: fish that’s being dried, fishermen heading home after a day’s toiling, and a local painting a boat.

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My friend opted to stay in the village while I walked about a kilometer to get closer to the edge of the beach.  Here, the views were more beautiful, and I did not regret the tiring walk to get here.

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Because we were told that unless pre-arranged, no one would make our dinner, we bought some chips and canned goods at a store in Fisherman’s Village then headed back to the port to check-in at Sabtang Tourism Office.

Sabtang Accommodations
Accommodations here is cheap.  It’s at Php 300 per person.  Don’t expect much, though.  It is just a place to sleep in.

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Note that there’s no shower and to take a bath here, you have to use a pail and dipper.  There’s no hot water too.  Moreover, power interruptions/blackouts are common in Sabtang Island.  Make sure to bring a flashlight and spare batteries or power banks for your gadgets.

Our humble dinner
As mentioned, we had canned tuna and sardines for dinner.  Michael provided the rice.

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The photos from this collage are dark because there was a blackout.  Over this simple meal, my friend and I reminisced about how simple life is in the province (both of us grew up in the province and only went to the city to study and work).  Simple, but definitely stress-free.

And thus was how we spent our day 3 in breathtakingly beautiful Batanes.

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Batanes: Day 2

at Batan Island

Inclusions of our Day 2 tour are the following: Chawa Viewdeck, Mahatao Shelter Port, Saint Charles Borromeo Church, Ivana Spanish bridge, Hohmoren White beach, House of Dakay, Saint Joseph Parish, Ruins of Songsong, Alapad Rock Formation and Marlboro Country.

Some photos of me from Day 2:
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Marine Sanctuary
We passed by a marine sanctuary on our way to our destinations.

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The drive was very scenic, and thankfully, the weather was perfect for touring the island.

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As we drove along, I was thinking, “Who wouldn’t fall in love with this province with views like this?”
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Chawa Viewdeck
It has a grotto of the Virgin Mary and steps leading to the beach below, where the view of the crashing waves against the rugged cliffs was quite a sight to behold.

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Chawa View Deck
The beach was not a sandy one, but rocky, and it’s beautiful.

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Mahatao Shelter Port

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The port was still being constructed during our visit. This is a project that aims to provide fish sufficiency and job generation in the region.

Saint Charles Borromeo Church
The original church was built in 1787. It has historical importance too since the Katipuneros raised the Philippine flag here on September 19, 1898.

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I just noticed that this Church’s outline is similar to Sto. Domingo’s (photo HERE, in the collage), though the latter is painted yellow.

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The drive to Mahatao Lighthouse was also very scenic.  We could see the village below and the rolling hills, mountain (sorry, I forgot its name), azure sky, and dark blue waters made me wish I have a house here.  Te he.

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Mahatao Lighthouse
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For me, this is the most beautiful of Batanes’ 3 lighthouses, though the wiring spoils the view.

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From here, the views didn’t disappoint.

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Afterwards, we had lunch at Monica’s Cottage where we got to try on native Ivatan garb (details to be discussed in a future post).

Here’s a teaser post of me looking out the window wearing vakul, an abaca fiber-made headgear worn by Ivatans as protection from the sun or rain.

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Right after our meal, we met this fisherman who spent half the day catching squid, and he was nice enough to pose for photos.

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Afterwards, we took some time exploring the village.

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And of course, its beach, which was right across Monica’s Cottage.

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One side of the beach was mossy (or should I say seaweed-y).  That is, the sea floor was full of some sort of sea grass.  The other side was rocky, and it’s a good thing I brought with me my pair of Sanuk to protect my feet.

In this beach, the water’s clear on the beachfront but farther up, the waves created about 2-foot high frothy waters.

Marlboro Country 

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Called Rakuh-a-Payaman by the Ivatans, Marlboro Country is definitely one of the most beautiful places that I have been too. The verdant rolling hills, the blue sea, the crashing waves… all these contributed to creating stunning seascapes and landscapes.

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Mahatao Lighthouse was also visible from here.

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More photos of Marlboro Hills’ stunning landscapes and seascapes.

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And photos of me pretending I was “falling off” the cliff.

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Batan Island 
Another beautiful spot with views of lush hills and the deep blue sea.

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I thought the guy in the collage was tending the carabaos (water buffalo), but Kuya Jun explained that he’s there for the signal because this is the only area in Batan with strong cellphone signal.

On the same hill, the Old Loran Station, an abandoned US navigational facility, provided a good focal point on the landscape below.

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Alapad Rock Formation 
About 10 meters from the hill is the Alapad Rock Formation.

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It kind of reminds me of Arizona and its canyons, albeit a small one.

Old House in Uyugan

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We just drove by the village and I took a quick snap of this old stone house.  We did not linger since Kuya Jun said there are more stone houses in Sabtang, our destination the following day.

Song Song Ruins
This village was devastated by a tsunami in 1953.

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Snacks at Honesty Coffee Shop
It’s called Honesty Coffee Shop because no one mans it. You just get what you want, look at the price list and then pay for it (details to be posted in a future post).

Saint Joseph Parish
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The church is named after St. Joseph the Worker. The design is again reminiscent of Sto. Domingo’s in Basco and St. Charles Borromeo’s in Mahatao.

Ivana Spanish bridge
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They said this is the oldest bridge in the country.

House of Dakay
Purported to be the oldest house in Batanes.  Most of the magazines and blogs I saw feature the lady of the house, but since she’s now so old, Kuya Jun said that she mostly lies down and sleeps. We didn’t have the heart to bother her to ask for a photo so we just took a photo of her house.

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And of this cute dog and the rose bush that grew on a neighboring house.

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We also made a quick stopover in Ivana’s welcome site.

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The sun was about to set and I would have loved to stay because I could tell that it was a good spot for sunset-watching, but we still had places to visit, and still quite far from Basco so we left after taking some photos.  

Hohmoren White Beach
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The sand here was a course, though the waves are gentler compared to Valugan Beach’s so it’s safe to swim here.

And thus was how we spent our second day in Batanes.

Some random photos from this day:

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And another of Mahatao Lighthouse.

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Just beautiful.

Macau – Day 2

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From the Royal Hotel, we walked along a colorful cobblestone street and took in this scenery to get to the famous Ruins of St. Paul’s.

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Ruins of St. Paul’s

When we arrived at the cathedral, I was very surprised to see a lot of people. And I mean A LOT – like busloads of mostly Chinese tourists who even had colored flags or caps to distinguish themselves among each other. It was thus very difficult to get good photos because there were just too many photo-bombers.

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The Ruins of Saint Paul’s refers to the ruins of a 16th-century complex in Macau including what was originally St. Paul’s College and the Cathedral of St. Paul, which at the time was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia. It was built by the Jesuits from 1582 to 1602, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Behind the Ruins is the Museum of Sacred Art and Crypt that houses relics and artifacts from the Jesuits who built the complex.

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Museu de Macau
On our way to the museum, I found a spot that offered a wonderful vista of the ruins. This is one of my favorites in this set:

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Museu de Macau required an entrance fee, but we’re not really into museums so we were content with just looking at some Sun Yan-Sen memorabilia outside the main museum. There was a pile of rocks too described as belonging to the first phase of construction around the original St. Paul’s College.

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Jardim Da Fortalleza
At the top level of the museum is the Jardim da Fortalleza, which has limited flora.

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I don’t know what these flowers are called, but they are my favorite in this set:

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Aside from these, the garden also provided us with views of Macau’s skyline:

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Afterwards, we headed back to the ruins.

At the bottom step is a signage about Macau and a pedicab photo spot.

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And on the opposite road were shops selling delicacies and Macau’s famous jerky with flavors ranging from the simple Whole Pork of Fillet to Spicy Beef and Barbecue Neck Pork (huh?!)

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To those planning a visit here, know that these shops offer free food taste.  My friend and I initially planned to dine in a proper restaurant, but got full from savoring Pastelaria Koi Kei’s delicacies.

Aside from the jerky, Macau is most famous for their Portuguese Egg Tart.

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Though somewhat full, we couldn’t resist buying one each. And it was indeed so good and worth all the talk – not too sweet, with flaky pastry and yummy custard filling.

Afterwards, it was time to check nearby points of interest but on the way there, I was again amazed at how crowded the narrow streets were.

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St. Dominic’s Church
After getting my foot stepped on and myself bumped into a couple of times, we finally got to St. Dominic’s Church, which was founded in 1587 by three Spanish Dominica priests. The first Portuguese newspaper on Chinese soil, A Abelha da China (The China Bee) was published here on September 12, 1822.

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Santa Casa da Misericordia (Holy House of Mercy)
Just beside St. Dominic’s Church was the Holy House of Mercy.

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This was established by the first Bishop of Macau in 1569 after one of the most prominent charitable organizations in Portugal. Holy House of Mercy is also responsible for founding in Macau the first western-style medical clinic and other social welfare structures that still function to this day.

Senado Square

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Senado Square has been Macau’s urban center for centuries. It is surrounded by pastel-colored neo-classical buildings that lend the place a Mediterranean vibe.

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And yes, it was crowded too.

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Honestly, I was disappointed with the last 3 parts of this travel. I’ve seen better buildings elsewhere, and they were just too crowded with people it was difficult to appreciate them.

Before leaving the square, I took this shot of their Post Office.

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Late Lunch at A Lorcha
Aside from the free food tasting, this was the best part of our Day 2 in Macau. It requires a separate post, though.

Museu Maritimo
We passed by this on our way to our next stop:
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A-ma Temple
A-Ma Temple was just beside A Lorcha, right after the Museu Maritimo.

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Its signage says that A-Ma Temple already existed before the city of Macau came into being, and that A-Ma is also known as Tin Hou (Heavenly Empress) and is the Goddess of  Seafarers.

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This last set of photos was taken on the bus that would take us back to Macau pier for our ferry ride to Hong Kong.

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Till next!

Taal, Batangas: Nuestra Señora de Caysasay

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Our Lady of Caysasay is a celebrated 17th century image of the Immaculate Conception. It was canonically crowned in 1954 and was later given the title the “Queen of the Archdiose of Lipa.

It is said that a man named Juan Maningcad found this while he was casting his net in the nearby Pansipit River, as depicted in a painting near the entrance of the church.

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Translation: Juan Maningcad and the Virgin Mary in Pansipit River

I found the Church very simple from the outside.

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Its ceiling though is very pretty.

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Here’s a collage of what else is inside the church:

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Going back to the Our Lady of Caysasay’s history, some believe that she saved the town during Taal volcano’s eruptions.  There were also many accounts of the miracles she performed and her apparitions.

After looking at the church, we decided to go to the Sta. Lucia Wells where locals say the Lady’s reflection was seen.  This well was about a five-minute walk from the church. Getting here was not hard since there were a lot of tour guides in the church. What I found fascinating was that the “tour guides” were all children. I chose the one who who was the least pushy (some would tug at my hand or incessantly plead that I take him/her).

As we walked from the church to the well, my eleven-year old guide Michelle shared stories of how in olden times, the statue would momentarily disappear from the church, get sighted at the well, then again reappear at the church.  I also got to know her better. She’s the eldest in a family of 5 and augments her parents’ income with her earnings from being a guide. She does go to school, but stopped for a year to help her family.

At the well, Michelle pointed these out: the beautifully carved stone dome made of coral stone with carvings of the Lady, and the healing spring.

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Beside it was a gated statue of the Lady. Michelle told me to light a candle and make a wish, saying many have done so and returned to share how their wishes came true. I was brought up a Catholic, but over the years, I’ve become a non-practicing one. I’ve become quite the skeptic too so I wasn’t really buying it, but she was so earnest in asking me to make a wish that I relented. “Sige na ate, mag wish ka kasi nakikinig talaga siya. Maniwala ka lang. Tapos magdasal ka.  Balik ka rito ha kung nagkatotoo na wish mo.” (Go on, make a wish because she does listen. Just believe, then pray. Then come back when your wish came true).  Still unbelieving but with hope in my heart, I lighted the candle, closed my eyes and just for the fun of it, made not one but two wishes.

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Three weeks later, my first wish came true. I shrugged it off as a mere coincidence, but about four months after, my second wish came true. Though I’m still a little skeptical about it, I promised to myself that when I come back to Manila, I will revisit the church and well and light a candle. But this time, it is not to wish, but to give thanks.

I will end this post by sharing a photo of Michelle who not only guided me to the well that day but, in all innocence, asked me to believe and taught me a thing or two about faith.

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