Palm Sunday marks the start of the Holy Week. It’s a time to reflect and repent for Roman Catholics. For those who want to go on a pilgrimage without hurting the pocket, you don’t need to fly out of the country. It only cost me Php 500.00.
In Iloilo, you can marvel at the architecture wonders and at the same time take a spiritual journey.
Here are list of Iloilo Churches that you can visit during Holy Week:
San Joaquin Church
Miag-ao Church or the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church
St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish in Guimbal
St. John of Sahagun in Tigbauan
Sto. Nino de Arevalo
Sta. Ana Parish in Molo
Our Lady of Candles in Jaro (Jaro Cathedral)
If you’re in a group, then better to hire a van to visit these churches. But if you’re traveling alone or with just a companion, then it’s better to ride local transport.
Three years had passed and the memories still reside in my head. We didn’t see anything but yes, we heard whistling sounds, clattering of iron roof, and the unexplained.
October 2008. My colleagues and I headed to Baguio City to shoot and document what’s inside the Diplomat Hotel for a halloween feature. Ghost hunting, it was but we ended up being hunted at the haunted hotel.
Diplomat Hotel, which sits atop of the Dominican Hill, was a dilapidated and abandoned hotel since the owner died in 1987. Before it became a hotel, history tells us that this hotel was a vacation house of the Dominicans. It was built in 1913 and was finished by 1915. World War II happened. When there’s war, there were deaths.
At around seven in the evening, the spirit questors of Baguio City: Dion Fernandez, Me An Billones and Maria Elena Catajan gathered us in a circle to pray before we enter the building. Armed with flashlights and cameras, we followed the questors as they guided us from the ground floor up to the rooftop. Mr. Fernandez flipped a tarot card as we made our way inside the hotel.
At the rooftop, my colleague interviewed the questors. Mr. Fernandez revealed that someone has been following us since we entered the hotel. The two ladies said that they were absorbing the negative energies so we won’t be affected. But the simple message that they just want to send was this: “Respect. This is their sacred ground. So don’t do anything that would desecrate their place.”
A vandalized fireplace at Diplomat Hotel
We returned outside. While one of our colleagues was narrating what he felt inside the hotel, we suddenly heard clattering sounds. It’s more like a tantrum being thrown at an iron roof. We just looked at each other. Everyone heard the sound but only two were brave enough to stand up and follow the sound with the camera. Guards passed by with their routine inspection. We asked them if they heard the sound, and they said, “No.”
We’re not going to any lodging but we’re spending the night at the hotel. We didn’t have any booking, though. But the questors warned us to camp just near the entrance so we can get out immediately.
The fountain where spirits "congregate"
Cameras were put on record near the fountain, which was said to be the place where the spirits congregate. From 12 Midnight up to 6 am, each of us alternately sleep and report about our observations. At 12 Midnight, I stood up infront of the fountain and reported what I observed. I saw nothing but felt the chilly wind and a whistling sound (Check out the video of my report at 5:45-6:04. The video has a total running time of 12:04).
Note: During the recording of the video and the interview at the rooftop, silence enveloped the night. The only noise were the voices of the questors recounting the experience. But when the video was played back for editing, various sounds were recorded and picked up. That’s the mystery which was left unanswered.
It was freezing cold. I barely couldn’t sleep but I shut my eyes to rest. Early in the morning, light came in to the shattered windows of the hotel. We went up to the rooftop. To our surprise, the pieces of iron roof that we heard were neatly piled up. The view from the top took our breath away. The fog and a glimpse of light covered the City of Pines. The breeze of the morning was refreshing. We were reminded that darkness doesn’t remain forever. The light will shine and make the day bright. It’s another brand new day.
The view from the rooftop, the morning after
At daytime, the Diplomat Hotel didn’t look haunted. It embodied a grandeur of the past. And you would think someone was taking good care of the plants and flowers blossoming in its surroundings.
*This is Tripadora‘s entry to the 12th Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival, entitled, “Dark Tourism: Philippines in Focus” hosted by The PinaySoloBackpacker Gael Hilotin.
Leyte, a province in Eastern Visayas, is one of the places that I consider under the “road less traveled.” It is not as popular as the destinations in Western Visayas.
Nonetheless, I joined my folks in their homecoming celebration to get to know the province and visit my other relatives, whom I haven’t known.
History books say that this province was where General Douglas MacArthur first landed to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese Imperial Army.
When I visited Pangasinan in early January of this year, they were also claiming that MacArthur first landed in Lingayen Gulf. Their marker said, the landing was on January 9, 1945.
And so, when the plane descended at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, we decided to visit the landing site in Palo, Leyte, which was just 15-20 minutes away. I was surprised when I saw the site in Red Beach. The monument was not that huge as it may seemed in pictures.
For first-time visitors like me, this is a must-see site in Leyte. I saw the marker and it reads: “On this spot, General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines on October 20, 1944.”
If the marker says 1944, then Palo, Leyte is indeed the first landing site of MacArthur in the Philippines.
After taking pictures, we headed to the San Juanico Bridge, considered to be the longest bridge in the Philippines at 2.16 kilometers. It stands above the San Juanico Strait and connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte.
Light was bidding farewell. I was already worried. And just like what I expected, no tripod means failed night photography. haha. I must buy a light tripod next time. And so I promised myself to return to San Juanico and get decent shots (I’ll tell more of this in my succeeding posts.).
I bade San Juanico farewell, and also told it, “I shall return.” I didn’t research on good places to eat in Tacloban but since my folks, aunt and cousins were craving for seafoods, they chose Tacloban Seafood Restaurant when they saw it on the map that I got from the airport earlier. From San Juanico, we drove around 25-30 minutes before reaching downtown Tacloban, where the restaurant was.
And when I stepped out of the van, “Oh! It’s a Chinese Restaurant.” Hmm… I was expecting to be eating near the sea. Oh well, since we’re hungry, we entered the restaurant and ate. At least, the food served were delicious and satisfied our hunger. I even forgot to take pictures because of my grumbling stomach. haha.
We left Tacloban at around 8pm and prepared ourselves for a three-hour long drive to the small town of Bato, Leyte, our main destination for this trip.
Twelve years old, slimy, but aggressive–that’s the Arapaima, an interesting specie of fish, which surprised me when we visited El Puerto Marina Resort in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
The giant tropical freshwater fish in front of the lobby wouldn’t be missed because of its size–six feet-long. Animal Planet even said that the “living fossil fish” can grow up to 10 feet. Mrs. Flor Verzosa, owner of the resort, told
us that they transferred their arapaimas from their petshop to the resort when it opened in 2006. A drop of small fish onto the pond created a splash as the arapaima responded to its hunger.
After taking the shot of the arapaima, I walked towards the native nipa hut built on top of bamboo stilts.
While walking, I saw some ducks swimming freely in the bigger fish pond, which has a sign saying: “Fishing is allowed.” Those who have a knack for fishing can rent a fishing rod for Php 50.00 and catch tilapia (St. Peter’s fish). Once you caught the tilapia, you may opt to have it cooked/grilled.
The four-hour trip from Manila to Lingayen made me sleepy. And when I saw our cozy room, it invited me to nap and rest.
CHASING the SUNSET
After two hours of rest, we walked towards the beach front and set foot on the powdery grayish sand which sways with the waves of the Lingayen Gulf. It was an afternoon of serenity.
The sun’s rays painted the sky orange, signaling its farewell. The locals said that sunset is best captured at the Limahong Channel, which was about 10 minutes away from El Puerto Marina Resort.
We arrived just as the sun sought its refuge behind the mountains. Time was so fast. Nonetheless, we were fortunate to see the lifestyle of the fishermen waiting for their catch. Our boatman said that they were fishing for large shrimps or sugpo using the huge fishing rod and fishing net.
One wouldn’t think that the seemingly peaceful and simple life in the area was once challenged by time and circumstances. The river witnessed the battles brought by conquerors centuries ago and withstood them all.
More than six decades ago, General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his famous parting words, “I shall return.”
Mac Arthur with the American troops indeed returned to liberate the Philippines from the hands of the Japanese in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan on January 9, 1945.
Up to this day, the provincial government of Pangasinan commemorates the day. But since the day fell on a Sunday this year, the celebration was rescheduled to Monday, Jan.10.
Nonetheless, I saw some Pangasinense enjoying the afternoon at the Veterans Memorial Park, which is situated at the back of the Provincial Capitol.
Warcrafts used during the World War II can be found on display in this park. Snippets and snapshots of history were also posted for visitors to see.
The Lingayen Gulf covers 56 kilometers of the coastlines of Pangasinan and La Union. It’s best seen at the viewing deck of the American-inspired architecture of the Provincial Capitol.
-The name Pangasinan came from pang-asinan- which means a place where salt is made.
-The Provincial Capitol of Pangasinan constructed between 1917-1918 is considered to be one of the eight architectural treasures of the Philippines according to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. It was refurbished in 2007.
-The construction of the capitol building back in 1917 costs around Php 400,000, said Judith Cabillo (Youth Development Officer, Provincial Government of Pangasinan)
-Since 1901, Pangasinan has 27 governors. The streets of Pangasinan have been named after them.