Monthly Archives: August 2011
I love it when you go to a place, you get a tourist map that maps out where you should go, what you should see, what train / bus stations are nearby. And all other such information. Even a street map! We don’t have that in Manila yet. Our Tourism department is too busy doing other things (like what?!).
So here are some places you can visit while you are in Manila:
1. Around the Intramuros area. There is a wealth of things to do within and around the Intramuros area in Manila. There is no direct MRT (train) to the area, so you’ll have to get off and do some walking. Or take a bus or a jeep. Here are places to visit:
a. Intramuros (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intramuros). The original walled city of Manila. You can stroll along the city walls, visit the jail of our National Hero, Jose Rizal, go to the different parks, visit the CBCP office, there are also many classy restaurants within the walls of Intramuros.
b. Manila Cathedral (http://www.manilacathedral.org/index.htm). This is also within Intramuros. The main Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila. Be sure to visit the tombs under the Church.
c. National Museum (http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/#page=page-1). Across the street from Intramuros (the “street” being the one near Pamantasan ng Maynila) is the National Museum. There’s the new building with all the recent exhibits. And the old building which houses the Spolarium by Juan Luna.
d. Rizal Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizal_Park). After exiting the museum, take a walk down towards the bay, and you will reach Rizal Park. Dedicated to our National Hero. This is also where Manila holds many major activities. Walk a bit further and you will reach Manila Bay, Manila Ocean Park (http://www.manilaoceanpark.com/) and you can even walk the Roxas Boulevard Baywalk.
e. Near Intramuros again, is Quiapo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiapo,_Manila). This should actually be a site on it’s own! You can walk the streets of Chinatown. Eat cheap and delicious food. Visit one of the most popular churches in the Philippines – Quiapo Church. But better to go here with someone local. Unless you have nerves of steel.
2. La Mesa Eco Park (http://www.lamesaecopark.com/) – After all that walking through the streets of Manila, go up north to the Eco Park. It is a park at the foot of the La Mesa watershed – which supplies water to most of Metro Manila. You can bring food, have a picnic, go swimming, enjoy nature.
3. Antipolo (http://www.antipolocity.com/church.htm) – All tourists should make the trek up to Antipolo. And visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Say a prayer, and then eat some local Antipolo delicacies like suman and cashews.
4. Shopping? Try Bonifacio High Street (http://bonifaciohighstreet.com/) if you want high end, though the place is fun enough to just hang around / Tiendesitas (http://www.tiendesitas.com.ph/) if you like affordable yet comfortable, and if you like pets / Divisoria (http://168shoppingmall.com/) if you want cheap and want to haggle, again, bring a local.
5. Ayala Museum (http://www.ayalamuseum.org/) – Who, in Manila, hasn’t visited the Ayala Museum and looked at the Dioramas? I think it was mandatory for all schools to visit at least once. Take a trip here. And then go next door to the mall to go shopping or to eat something nice.
6. Malls. Malls. Malls. They are everywhere. Go crazy.
7. Resorts World (http://www.rwmanila.com/) or Araneta Coliseum (http://www.aranetacoliseum.com/2006/index.php). Catch a show! Resorts World is near the airport, and Araneta is in Cubao. They usually host international acts.
8. Malacanang Palace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malacañang_Palace). Visit the seat of government (you can actually also visit the Senate in Pasay (http://www.senate.gov.ph/) and Congress in Quezon City (http://www.congress.gov.ph/index.php)). You will need to schedule the museum visit in Malacanang. But it is interesting, from what I remember YEARS ago. I wonder if they still have all of Imelda’s shoes.
9. Ateneo de Manila (http://www.admu.edu.ph/). A nice open campus where you can walk around and smell the fresh air. My alma mater of course.
10. QC Memorial Circle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quezon_Memorial_Circle). A big memorial dedicated to Manuel Quezon (he is buried in the base of the big tower). Just be careful getting to it because the circle around it is a killer!
The World Youth Day in Madrid was a life-changer for me. And I am sure it was for all those who were able to go from our community. It wasn’t my first WYD, but it was my most complete one.
I didn’t go to the one in Manila as I was living in “dark times” then, and preferred to go to Bacolod with my friends. The first WYD I went to was in Toronto, but because of a conference the weekend before, I only attended the overnight Vigil and Closing Mass with Pope John Paul II. The second WYD I went to was with Des during the International Youth Forum last year in Rome (the WYD is actually held every year! But on the years when it is not outside Rome, it is held during Palm Sunday). We got to sit a few meters away from Pope Benedict XVI.
This year, I did everything. I traveled with the delegation. I went to the Days in the Diocese. I attended all the activities. Slept in a gym during the World Youth Day itself. Took a shower right beside other people. Walked miles. And miles. And miles. Under scorching heat that made you sweat until you had no more sweat to sweat. I squeezed through crowds of thousands. Making their sweat and smell my own. But all worth it. And all for Jesus. Everything we went through brought us back to Jesus. Even seeing Pope Benedict XVI, which was a treat in itself, always brought us back to Jesus. As it should.
But there were two occasions when my tears flowed uncontrollably. When I had to move to the back of our massive delegation and try to control myself before coming back to everyone.
Second, Closing Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.
As I posted twice already, Our Lady of Fatima helped change my life. And it was time for me to say thank you. I never thought I’d ever step on the grounds of Fatima in Portugal. But I did – another testament to God’s awesome plan for our lives. Just being there, where Mother Mary appeared, and expressing to her my thanks made me cry like a baby. Getting burned under the sun during the 3-hour Mass meant nothing to me. I was happy because I got to live the dream I never thought I had.
And the second time, I was standing during the closing Mass. And then suddenly my eyes teared up. The tears started falling. My nose started running. And I started sniffing. Was it because I was tired? I was happy to be going home? Stressed? Extremely happy and blessed? It was because I felt my call to be a missionary was renewed at that moment.
In May 13, 1997, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, I prayed to God to give me direction. He answered for me to spread His love to as many people around the world as fast as I can. And then from a distance, the song “Here I am, Lord” played.
And on August 21, 2011, during the closing Mass (after my thanksgiving in Fatima), that same song played again. Right after I prayed to God to strengthen me for my missionary life. To take care of my family, and give us everything we need. To equip me to spread His love to everyone as fast as I can.
And that was when my tears flowed again. Uncontrollably.
I am truly blessed to have gone to World Youth Day. At 36 years old. Married. Three kids. And still, it changed me. Thank you God for everything. World Youth Day 2013 (in TWO years!) will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I can’t say I am packing my bags to jump on a plane to go – because I don’t know if my 38 year old body can take all that again – but I know that I’ll do my best to make sure more people can go and experience the glory of God at the WYD.
I have had these pics on my laptop for some days now. And it’s time to post more Spanish food! During the WYD itself, we were deluged by Bocadillos and fast food. So this is as Spanish as we got.
The two dishes were all meat. The one above was a mix of pork and beef. Just cooked the usual way. And the sausages on the bottom were of two kinds. The kind we usually eat (the reddish one) and the other one was sort of like Pinoy dinuguan.
I would show you the McDonald’s, Burger King, etc meals we took during WYD. But then, that wouldn’t be Spanish.
Two weeks ago I went to Fatima in Portugal. To say thank you for changing my life. And my life was changed again. I am renewed. Re-invigorated. Ready.
Thank you again.
Some glimpses of authentic (of course authentic, we are in the hinterlands of Spain) Spanish food.
Dinner had 3 courses. And so sorry, but I skipped the first one. Macaroni salad with corn, crab and tuna. I am not a fan of fish cooked in that way, and the aroma engulfed me right away. Thank goodness for seatmates who eat what I pass them.
Course 2 was still fish but breaded. It was a pescao kind of day. It was good and crunchy. But again, I don’t take kindly to fish. The ensalata was a good side dish. And the strong onion and tomato (with pepper) combination helped a lot.
My life changed on May 13, 1997. That was the day I left my old life behind, and took a giant leap towards the missionary life. And I am still here.
My mom never fails to remind me every year that May 13 is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. And I should thank her for that special day of conversion. And I do. Every year. It has been 14 years!
And this Saturday, the unthinkable for me is going to happen. I am going to Fatima in Portugal. I am actually going to the World Youth Day. And our Days in the Diocese is going to be in the Diocese of Coria-Caceres. At first, I was very iffy about it. Who knows where that is? I wanted Barcelona or Pamplona or any of those famous places. But God has other plans for me.
Apparently, Coria-Caceres is 3 hours away from Fatima. And our host Diocese will be bringing us there on Saturday to spend the day there.
… mouth open …
… tears …
I have been saying thank you to Our Lady of Fatima every year for the past 14 years. This time, I can go there and thank her in person. You changed my life, and I am going to commit to working even harder. You can count on it.
I brought my team to Navotas yesterday with the WWP team of Pat. We did a shoot for an upcoming project of FLiQ Media. Which looks awesome, by the way. But wow. Visiting sites really affects me.
I used to go to Bagong Silang in Caloocan everyday for Gawad Kalinga. For almost 2 years. And I helped build houses there. I went on builds and all that stuff. But going to a “ground zero” site always takes your breath away. Because of the rawness of the experience. And because of the rawness of the conditions there.
We are currently doing our part to ease the harshness in that area. But really, when you think about it, if the government just did it’s job… it would be so much easier and faster. They need to be reminded of the plight of their constituents even outside of an election year.
Nonetheless, the strength of the people in the area shows that there is still hope for a better future. And with people who help each other out because of a community of brotherhood and sisterhood, anything is possible. I thank God for my life and for my blessings, but I also thank God for the opportunity to meet people who go through life’s hardness with smiles and perseverance. And I thank God even more for the chance to help.