Sunday Strolls

Car-free Sunday mornings, Filinvest Alabang

We were planning to spend Sunday morning walking, a much needed break from our pretty much sedentary lifestyle during the week. I had a bit of a hard time thinking of a good place to do so, really. First thing to consider, and perhaps the most important of all: is to go walk where it won’t be too hot and humid. Summer’s supposed to be over but the humidity and the heat have not gone away despite the scattered rain showers everyday. Secondly: our city has no park big enough to make our walk worthwhile. The places that I could think of are a bit far from where were are, and so probably with Metro Manila traffic (yes, even on Sundays), we would get there when the sun is already high and it would be a pain to even make it to a hundred steps.

Filinvest, Alabang
Filinvest, Alabang

Luckily, thanks to Google, I found that the Car-less Sundays that Filinvest in Muntinlupa, the next door city, is still in effect. It’s when most parts of the area is blocked off from cars, allowing for just walkers, runners, and cyclists to be able to use one or a couple of lanes. I’ve read about this a couple of years ago but didn’t really have the time to go check it out until yesterday.

Car-free Sunday mornings, Filinvest Alabang
Car-free Sunday mornings, Filinvest Alabang

And because it was my first time to actually walk the streets of Filinvest, I discovered these round seats that they call Community – because the shapes represent social interactions.

We walked under the canopy of the trees, listened to birds chirping. There was a bike trail nearby, and further down the road the sound of lively music beckoned us to come join in on the free zumba. I tried to do a couple of steps until I saw D attempting to take a photo of me. That was my queue to go (I’d continue my zumba at home, in the confines of my room).

Zumba morning, Sunday at Filinvest Alabang
Zumba morning, Sunday at Filinvest Alabang

I was impressed (and relieved) that Filinvest and the city of Muntinlupa continues to do the Car-less Sundays.  I read that some cities in Europe also hold their Car Free Sundays promoting walking cycling. I hope all cities in the Philippines would do the same. It would truly be good for the body and the mind, and most especially for the environment.

Do you know of any good well-shaded parks or paths near the Metro Manila south area that I could check out next?

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

Doggie

“These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.” — Nancy Sinatra

I had an instant smile when I saw Cee’s photo challenge this week, with the theme of Walks, Trails, Sidewalks.

You see, restlessness is my weakness, and walking is my remedy for this. I used to be conscious of the number of steps and relied to the dot on stepcounters, but I have since let go and just walked on and on and on.

Walking allows me to bask in the earth’s beauty – feel the sunshine or raindrops on my face; listen to the simple symphony of the waves, wind, birds, or crickets; let my imagination run as I gaze at the clouds, mountains, trees, streams, or stars.

These are some of the recently taken photos that came to mind with this week’s challenge. And I’m humming to some upbeat tunes in my walking playlist as I am writing this blog.

Nasugbu, BatangasA walk through the rainforestMt Batulao, BatangasWalkway

Taal Travels: The Marino-Agoncillo Home

Flag

A day tour in the town of Taal, Batangas, always feel like traveling back in time. Gazing up the vintage houses, I realize these are ancestral homes of families whose roots date back to the Spanish colonization era.

Batangas is one of the eight provinces condemned and oppressed by the Spanish government. The other provinces were Manila, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite and Pampanga. Together, these eight provinces would take the lead in fighting for the Philippine independence. As I walk along the streets lined with vintage homes, I cannot help but feel a sense of Filipino patriotism and pride.

Last week I wrote about Galleria Taal, a vintage camera and photograph museum located along Taal’s main road. A few meters away from Galleria Taal is another beautifully preserved heritage house: The Marino-Agoncillo Home.

Dona Marcela Marino-Agoncillo is known as the Mother of the Philippine Flag. She and her husband Felipe Agoncillo, were both born in Taal and studied in Manila. When they returned to Taal, Felipe became known for his legal services to the poor. In 1896, Felipe escaped to Hong Kong after he was accused of being a filibusteroan opponent to the Spanish regime. His family followed suit and lived with him in exile in Hong Kong. To help earn a bit of income, Marcela made sweets and delicacies that they sold in Hong Kong. When General Emilio Aguinaldo was also exiled to Hong Kong, he asked the help of Marcela to make the Philippine flag. Marcela, together with her daughter, Lorenza, and Delfina Herbosa Natividad, carefully sewed the first Philippine flag on silk, and completed it within five days. This flag was shown in Cavite City on 28 May 1898 during the celebration of the revolutionary army’s victory over the Spanish forces.

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As we entered the house, we ascended its wooden staircase which led to the receiving area, living room and dining hall. The walls and the furniture were mostly made of wood. Rooms were interconnected, and it was amazing to see old trinkets like the sungka (today’s version of a gameboard). There was also an old sewing machine that caught my eye – as I remember we had something similar back home when I was a little girl.

Sungka
Sungka

What I like about old houses in the Philippines is the airy feeling from the spacious rooms whose ceilings were also high. They had little to no electricity back then but the houses were well ventilated because the wind could freely blow through the windows, and the trees in their gardens provide shade. A walk in heritage houses also brings me to imagine how it must have felt like living in the olden days. I imagine several decades from now, when the future generations walk through our homes now, they would likewise bring themselves to imagine how simple our lives now must have been.

What comes to your mind when you see or enter vintage houses?

 

Street Art Hunting: Unsung Heroes

Magsasaka

Magsasaka

Years ago I left the corporate world to practice what I learned in the University. I took a project with the government and conducted market studies for three farmer group proponents, finding out what sustainable crops they could focus on. I was able to spend time with farmer groups of Real, Quezon; Negros Occidental, and Misamis Oriental. It was a truly enriching experience as I got immersed in community of farmers. In Real, at the time, there was no electricity in the farming village and we used gaseras at night. I sat with the farmers as they talked around a bonfire sharing stories of their lives. There was no radio, and I was lulled to sleep later on by the sound of the seawaves. That was why a few years later when the province of Real was hit by a typhoon my heart ached for the farmers who were mourning the loss of their crops – they worked half the year toiling the earth and in an instant the hardwork was literally washed away by the fury of mother nature.

The mural above, Magsasaka is made by Archie Oclos and Aleili Ariola. It’s found next to Burgos Eats along Rizal Drive in Bonifacio Global City. A tribute to the unsung heroes, the magsasaka (in English, farmers), who tirelessly work the fields, rain or shine, to provide rice – the Filipino staple food.

Thus this artwork resonates to me so much and whenever I see it I am reminded to honor the Filipino farmers who work with passion and perseverance, everyday.

Street Art Hunting: Pangako

“I’m not going to swear an oath I can’t uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.” – Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

I just had to put that quote out there. Because, Game of Thrones. It’s just around the corner. And I. Can. Hardly. Wait.

And then in May comes the Philippines Elections. I’m not even gonna delve on that topic. All I can say is We deserve who we elect.

But back to Jon Snow’s quoteand putting it into context: Have you ever made any promises that you had no intention to keep to begin with?

I know it’s just words, but for every promise I have made there had always been a pure intention to see through it. And when things don’t always turn out as planned, for example, ending a relationship that just won’t work, there are several emotions that occur afterwards: sadness, anger, guilt, regret.

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Pangako is a mural by Anjo Bolarda. In English, it translates to promise. It can be found at the side parking of Bonifacio High Street’s B3.

Street Art Hunting: Where the Heart Is

The Way Home

The Way HomeThe Way Home is a composed of 3 murals, depicting its creator Solana L. Perez’s homesickness. They can be found at the One Parkade at BGC.

What comes to mind when you think of home?

I could take it literally and choose which dormitory, house, or apartment made an impact to my memory from the time I moved out of my folks’ to go to college, until I married and settled into a house of my own, with D and the boys. Or I could take this question metaphorically and think of what, where, and when I find peace and happiness most. I’d go for the latter – when I am true to myself and accept the people around me.

Right here, and now, as I write this: I am home.

 

 

Street Art Hunting: Courtship

Tagpuan

Tagpuan

This beautiful mural by John Paul Antido is called Dating Tagpuan. In English it translates to the old meeting place. Very artistically done, where the painting was done on two joint walls. It’s located near the side street of BGC Central. I like passing through this street when I take the long route home just so I can see this art work.

Oh, the age of innocence! Sometimes I’d bring my thoughts back to the days of my youth, when the world seemed bigger and everything was simpler.

But way back in the olden days, the concept of ‘courtship’ was observed. Men would formally visit a woman’s home and bring gifts, usually for both the women they are courting and the women’s parents. They would make their intentions of courtship known, and they would patiently wait until they get the woman’s “matamis na oo” (in English: sweet yes). I believe this practice originated from the time the Philippines was colonized by Spain.

I had my fair share of this back when I was in the university – I also experienced my own harana (serenade) though it was more of a thing the guys did for for fun really. They jammed and sang Eraserheads songs outside the dorm window.

For me, personally, I cringed at the thought of courtship. I mean, it’s so formal and one way, I’d  just say no outright to save the guy his time and effort. More than a couple of times I found ways to dodge guys who would ask if they can go to the house to court.

Anyway, I digress.

Whenever I see this mural I would hum to Kanlunganan old song that my friends  and I strummed the guitar to back in the university. Its lyrics go like this:

Natatandaan mo pa ba nung tayong dalawa ay unang nagkita,

 Panahon ng kamusmusan sa piling ng mga bulaklak at halaman

Doon tayo nagsimulang mangarap at tumula.

In English: Do you still remember when first we met, we were young.

Amidst flowers and trees, that’s where we started to dream and write poetry.

Have you ever courted anyone, or been the one at the receiving end? How was it and how did it turn out? Would you prefer for this Filipino tradition to be revived?

Street Art Hunting: Bear With Me

Art
Art
Artwork by Nate Frizzell

Welcome to the first part of my Hunt for Street Art in the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, Philippines.

Many would consider BGC as the new Makati. It’s a fast developing CBD, with new high rise buildings popping up before I could even familiarize myself with my surroundings. Last December I moved into my new office here, hence I had more time after hours to explore what the place has to offer. As an appreciator of art, BGC proved to be a feast to my eyes. One of the first art works that captured my eye is this painting by Nate Frizzell. It’s called We Are What We Pretend To Be, and here are the thoughts that came into my mind as I looked at it.

No Dramas, they say, but just you wait…

Nonchalance, when deep inside bubbles of anxiety are brewing…

Fearless, because there’s really nothing left to lose…

Stoic, after hardening one’s heart from all the hurt and pain…

Boisterous laughter, and if you look closer there’s no joy in the eyes…

I’m ok, LOL, why do you ask, it was not about me, don’t you worry. Life’s a blast.

 

 

 

 

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Pathways

I just discovered Something To Ponder About‘s page and was immediately thrilled with this Friday’s challenge on the theme of Pathways.

I love looking back at these photos. I can still vividly remember how they were, in real life, a feast to the senses, to my mind and to my heart. If I were to have a holiday right this instant and I am asked to choose where I would go to, I’d say anywhere where there’s a nature trail. When I’m stuck in the city traffic, or walking among crowds of city folk during rush hours on weekdays, I’d imagine I’m walking along these paths and zone out from my busy and noisy surroundings.

trailtraildrivewayWilsons Promstream

Weekend Market: Street Meet, Makati

Sunday market

Have always been curious about Makati’s Street Meet, a weekend night market at Paseo De Roxas. I kept seeing the teasers posted around Ayala Triangle whenever I walked from and to the hotel during an long staycation a month ago. For some reason the plan on dropping by kept being put on the back burner.

Finally last Sunday D and I were able to check it out. Street Meet Makati was set up right beside the Ayala Triangle park, in front of Paseo Center. A part of the street was closed off to traffic to allow for the different stalls. The mood was quite festive: Christmas songs were being played and the Christmas lights show was happening at the same time at the Ayala Triangle which added to the fun. Luckily most of the crowd was at the lights show. It was just us foodies hopping from one stall to another at the Street Meet.

Sunday market

There were various stalls to choose from, most of them offering free taste or samples. The first food that we bought was the Korean fish cake with soup – reminded me of the street food in Seoul. D got isaw, a local barbecue delicacy made of fish intestines. We also had takoyaki and coconut juice. For takeaway we bought frozen vegetarian gyoza and dimsums, and chili sauce. I wanted to buy bibingka, a local baked rice and coconut milk cake that is abundantly sold during the month of December. I ended up dropping the idea when the seller gave me a tired look and asked me to fall in line (when there was no one else). Oh well, that means I have to be on the hunt for a good platter of bibingka from elsewhere. Will let you know when I find em!

Street Meet items

Random Thoughts: Whenever I Walk

walking

This is my response to Ragtag Daily Prompt’s RDP Tuesday: WALK.

When I walk I try to focus on the present, breathe in the air and listen. I thank God for another day, for my feet that could take me anywhere. For the blessings, the challenges, the courage, the faith. The messages He tells me through the things I encounter, the words of enlightenment that I read or hear, the nudges to remind me that I must believe. I must be humble, not entitled. I must be patient and kind and spread the love.

Bomod-Ok Falls, Sagada

Bomod-Ok

This is my second trip to Sagada – I like it so much that I hope to do it a regular trip. Thing is, it’s just so far away. I was so happy when D finally agreed to drive with me during the Thanksgiving weekend. We booked 2 nights to make the most of our time in Sagada.

During my first trip to Sagada with my brother, we were so pressed for time and we didn’t have the energy anymore to trek to the waterfalls. It was an overnighter anyway, and we covered a lot of things in 24 hours: the market, the highly rated restaurants by TripAdvisor, Echo Valley Hanging Coffins, Sagada Underground river entrance. We skipped the Sumaging Cave (short course caving) and swapped it with the market and the restos.

I’d skip Day 1 and will write about it more in detail in a separate blog. In this trip, Day 2 was the highlight.

After breakfast, D and I went to the Municipal Information Center to register and book a tour to the Bomod-Ok waterfalls. I was told it was the highest falls in Sagada, and it would be a 3-hour hike (back and forth) from Banga-an, which was 5 kilometers away from the Information Center.Wayfarers

We hopped on rented van and our driver, Jong, drove us from Aguid to Banga-an where we paid the guide fee. We were welcomed by Fritz who would be our guide for the trek. Fritz provided D and me each a wooden walking stick. She advised us to wear our caps as it might be hot. D and I left our caps at the hotel, and luckily it was a cloudy day so it was not scorching hot. Plus the air was cool and it was windy – I had my hoodie ready. Fritz gave reminders on bringing our trash with us (I assured her we won’t have any) and to have our water bottles ready. Guide

Off we went begin our downward trek. We were to walk downhill for 2 kilometers until we reach the falls.

The view from the top was breathtaking. We feasted our eyes on a lush of green. There were mountains, rice terraces, and some clusters of homes to see. We had to stop every once in a while to take photos. Topscene

Fritz was very engaging and she shared a lot of information about the lifestyle, culture and traditions in Sagada. She said that the main livelihood of the people (herself included) is agriculture. Some days she would be planting vegetables like chayote in the fields. While tourism is also a source of income, planting crops is still what she enjoys doing. The terraces used to be filled with rice, but now they have diverse plantations of vegetable crops. Arabica was also widely grown by the locals, and alongside the coffee shrubs they plant a certain type of tree (I failed to note it down, but it had small pines as non-edible fruit), which grows faster and provides the shade for the coffee trees, and the leaves that fall on the ground provide the nitrogen that will benefit the coffee trees. Fruit-bearing trees that are widely planted are the persimons, oranges, mulberries, and blueberries. Coffee

I asked Fritz why it was so quiet even as we passed through the Barangay Fidelisan where we paid the barangay fee. She said the children were at school, and most of the people were tending to the fields. Come lunch time the community will be livelier when the folks from the fields go home for a meal.

At the community, Fritz showed us a hut where the elders hold their meetings. This is called ‘dap-ay’. Adjacent to it is a house where teenage men reside in as they are trained to become future elders. In their community, the elders facilitate wedding ceremonies first before the newly-weds hold the church weddings.Dap-ay

As we passed through the rice terraces I was amazed by the irrigation system that the people built. The water comes from a natural spring (it does not dry out) and flows down to the bottom of the valley. From that spring people could also get water to drink. Near the terraces are rice granaries (wooden houses used to store grains) called ‘agamang’ by the locals. But these are now seldomly filled. That’s because rice is not as widely grown anymore and there are also field mice to look out for. Rice terraces

At last we were able to reach the Bomod-Ok falls. It was a spectacular sight to behold! D went close to it and took a lot of pictures. I dipped my feet in the cold water (and envied a couple of visitors swimming in the shallow pool). Fritz showed me where she replenished her water bottle with mineral water. We spent about 30 minutes walking through the rocks. Falls

Bridge

Going back we took a different route going to Pide where Jong would be waiting for us. I felt exhaustion kicking in halfway through and begged for several rest stops. D and I finished our big water bottle. Needless to say, going back was quieter as I opted to stay mum and catch my breath. Thoughts of where we would have our big lunch occupied my mind. I was so happy to see Jong’s van (Jong fell asleep waiting for us LOL).

I’m so glad I trekked to the falls with D. It was a good long walk (and climb) and we were fortunate to have a good guide. If you are in Sagada and up for a cardio adventure, the Bomod-Ok falls is highly recommended.

In total, we paid P1,170 (about US$23) plus tip for our trip to Bomod-Ok falls. Here’s a breakdown of the cost:

Guide Fee: P500 (approx. US$10) for 1-7 visitors

Barangay Fee: P10 (approx. US$2) per visitor

Transportation Fee: P650 (approx. US$13) two way vehicle hire from the Information Center