SMART Araneta Center , Cubao- Quezon City , Philippines
After attending an early dawn mass , I went to a food and plant hunting trip in a weekend market somewhere in Quezon City . Then rode a passenger bus going to Cubao for a quick stop-over . Traffic was very heavy due to the arrival of passengers coming from the provinces. It was past noontime when i reached Cubao -Araneta Center and bought some pasalubong for my aunt who incidentally is having her 80th birthday .
a child looking for Easter eggs at the Farmers Market stage area
People visiting the site image that they are in wonderland of some sorts . Floating through the clouds at the giant balloon ride, express their creativity by painting the giant doodle eggs, listen to stories of fun and adventure during storytelling time.
a clown added delights to kids and parents
There is an on going science experiments dubbed as the Mad Science show, all at the Smart Araneta Coliseum’s Quadrant C Activity Area.
Kids together with their parents participated in several events like a Magic Show , Dancing contest , “Best in Easter Costume ” , Face Painting contest, on the spot spin a wheel and other freebies.
emcee together with kids in Easter inspired- costumes
Entrance is free for everyone who wants to come into the fair grounds. To take part in some of the activities and get freebies, just show a P300 single or accumulated receipt purchase from March 15-31, 2013 before entering the fair grounds.
a kid in fairy costume is one of the participants of the costume contest
Glenn in an Easter Egg costume delighted several photographers
I quickly took the opportunity by asking the guardian of this kid . His costume seems to stand-out in comparison with the other kids around the activity center, It looked like hand- made and crafted to suit the occasion. Most of the kids costumes were ready to wear .
a kid in military -inspired costume
The event is an all-afternoon affair with tons more activities for kids (and kids-at-heart!)Other activities in store for the kids are games such as the Easter Egg Hunt and Family Egg Relay, face painting, costume contest, rides, and more.
Media partners includes ABS-CBN channel 2, TV channel 5 and ABS-CBN publication. What did i find in this event? I saw a limited edition collector edition of Spider man published by ABS-CBN publication ( Marvel) being sold for just Php 70 pesos! They even called “The Super Summer Issue ” .
limited edition Marvel Spider man comics
I only stayed for a few minutes at the activity center, It was quite hot and very humid during the afternoon. I had to leave the place by past 3:00pm .
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto complex , San Jose del Monte City – Bulacan province
I woke up early morning and quickly packed my things, this is like a yearly retreat to the famous Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Shrine in San Jose del Monte City of Bulacan.
Our Lady of Mercy Shrine in Novaliches
I then rode a jeepney going to the town of Novaliches visiting Our Lady of Mercy Shrine in the heart of the town. I would visit the place on a regular basis. This is my first time to bring a camera to document the pilgrimage together with some friends waiting at the grounds of the church.
When I was in elementary, my classmates and teachers in school would always ask me if I was able to go to the famed grotto. Knowing my roots, I would tell them that we always visit the place during summer time and the place was quite rugged then with asphalt-paved roads leading to the shrine.
statute of Blessed Immaculate Concepcion within the main plaza
My aunts and uncles always tell me that they would come in the 1960’s and 1970’s to the place to participate in Via Crucis (way of the cross) on their way to the shrine. They would recount that they would buy fresh vegetables, fruits, live poultry and native orchids after they visited the place.
Most people in Metro Manila and even in Novaliches area will always refer the place as Our Lady of Lourdes Novaliches- Grotto rather than San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. I tried to ask some old –time residents of the town. Some say that before the development of the San Jose del Monte area, Most of the public utility vehicles would ply the route of Quirino Highway ( formerly called Manila -del Monte Garay Road or Ipo road before 1960’s ) passing Novaliches, Quezon City area of Fairview, Barangay Pasong Putik , Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon, and then passing the Caloocan – Novaliches areas of Tala, Amparo, and Tungkong Mangga ( Tungko ) of San Jose del Monte .
trash are left within the ground by thousands of devotees , while camping tents showed that some of the visitors held over night vigils at the premises
Another resident told me , That due to the proximity of the grotto to Novaliches and during old days ( since there are no proper demarcation lines dividing Novaliches to San Jose del Monte City ) Most people would recall Novaliches as a reference. The journey from Novaliches ( town proper ) to the shrine would be anywhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes .
Bicycle groups from different parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas would come to the grotto
enterprising residents of nearby subdivisions rent their garage and vacant lots for minimal fees for those who brought their cars, bicycles and motorbikes.
” Noong 1960’s and 1970’s hindi pa konkreto ang daan papuntang grotto , ang kalimitang daan ng mga namamanata ay mula sa Quirino Highway dating tawag na Manila -del Monte o Ipo Road , Novaliches bago pa maayos ang Commonwealth Avenue. ” ( During the 1960’s and 1970’s when the road are not yet concrete going to grotto most of the devotees would use Quirino Highway formerly called Manila-del Monte or Ipo Road , Novaliches before Commonwealth Avenue was finished) .
main plaza as viewed from the second floor of the church
Another popular route is via Fairview – This is the jump-off point going to the famed grotto. There are jeepney routes , bus and AUV plying the route . there are buses from Baclaran which have GROTTO or Tungko signage .
welcome arch of Barangay Graceville , San Jose del Monte, Bulacan
Residents of Tungkong Mangga would rather dispute the name ( Novaliches Grotto ) . They would recount that the area boast of big mango orchards and market , Hence the name of the place was derived .
The famed grotto is near Tungkong Mangga so we normally called the shrine as ” Tungko Grotto” or even ” Santa Maria Grotto” . It must be the visitors which probably named the grotto as part of Novaliches , since there are regular jeepney route going there . This was according to one of the resident of Barangay Graceville .
Eventually bus and jeepney drivers would shorten the name to Tungko .
Other Names: Grotto- Bulacan , Grotto- Spring , Grotto- Vista Church , Grotto Church , Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto , Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and Church , Guanzon Estate Grotto , San Jose del Monte- Grotto , Santa Maria Grotto , Bulacan Grotto , Lourdes Shrine .
This mango tree is located within the property and long lines of devotees trek the hilly terrain going to Calvary hills
Aside from mangoes , There are vegetables , camote , cassava, rice fields , corn, banana , ilang-ilang plantations in the locality . Native orchid gatherers would peddle their orchids on the roadside.
plant peddlers selling ornamental plants, flowering plants, liliums and orchids near the grotto
Now, most of the area are highly urbanized and most of the old plantations are now converted into subdivisions or commercial zones.
main altar of the church
Another route going to the grotto is riding the bus from different parts of Metro Manila . There are also special buses and private vans for hire that ply the route during Holy Week. Another route is via Trinoma , and SM North Edsa .
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes statute within the ground
We quickly lined-up and rode the jeepney going to GROTTO. We were amazed that all the people were also pilgrims like us!
arch leading to stations of the cross, calgary and rosary hill , spring water , grotto and picnic grove and amphitheater
Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine Complex located in Barrio Gaya-gaya , San Jose del Monte City , Bulacan .The six hectares Lourdes Shrine Complex was formally inaugurated on February 11, 1965 . Some local say that there were already pilgrims going to the shrine as early as 1963 .
Our Lady of Lourdes grotto replica within the complex
Several thousands of people from all walks of life came to give thanksgiving, gave flowers and to offer prayer. Some would also came to bathe in the natural spring, located below the statute of Our Lady. According to her biographer, it was the happiest moment of Mrs. Anita Guanzon’s life after over 4- years of hard and backbreaking works that stands her faith –copying the exact replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France to her native land for all people to witness and experience the miracle that healed her. It was her greatest gift to all humanity in this part of the world.
discarded crutches seen on the left side of the grotto, these are apparently left by the devotees who were cured of their disabilities upon visiting the place.
It was on February 1961 when Mrs. Anita Guidote-Guanzon had barely 6 months to lived when she went to Lourdes, France on a pilgrimage . When she was declared cured of her cancer upon her return from France , she decided to built a grotto as an act of her Thanksgiving. From the early 1960’s till her death on March 31, 1990 Mrs. Guanzon and her husband would try to supervise the improvements , fund raising and construction of the church within the property.
benefactors who donated for the causes , construction of the church and complex.
Among the notable contributors are Doña Josefa E. Marcos mother of President Ferdinand E. Marcos , Doña Trinidad de Leonvuida de Roxas, Doña Leonilavuida de Garcia, Doña Luz Banzonvuida de Magsaysay, Secretary and Mrs. Jose Aspiras , Reverend Father Patrick Peyton , Don Gonzalo Puyat and Family , Don Vicente Madrigal and Family , Mr. and Mrs. Juan A. Nakpil Sr. , Elizalde and Company , Guanzon family and long list of contributors.
The property is now being supervised by her daughters . The heirs also recognizes Bishop Cirilio Almario Jr. of Malolos , Bulacan who approved the complex to have their own chaplains . His eminence Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin had performed mass in the church twice . President Gloria Macapagal -Arroyo inaugurated the carillon bells in the church in 2010 .
Attraction and Landmarks :
Aside from the spring water which is believed to be miraculous that is located just beneath the grotto , pilgrims can visit the other attractions like life-sized statutes of the stations of the cross.
devotees light blue and white candles in front of the crucified Christ
Rosary Hill with 155 giant concrete beads, Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes where people can pray in silence for good health, the Grotto of the Resurrection.
life sized statutes of the crucifixion
The area is also good for photographers and bird watchers , They can easily spot lowland bird species during early in the morning or early evening within the complex.
scale model of the Basilica of Lourdes in France
There is a Little Poland Museum which features the house and the basement where Pope John Paul II lived, the chapel where St. Faustina had a vision of the Divine Mercy and the eerie Prison Cell of St. Maximillian Kolbe where he was martyred. The complex is now run by Mrs. Marietta Guidote-Guanzon viuda Picache de Holmgren.
mini- amphitheater and picnic grove where families can use for eating and picnic activities.
Grotto Religious Store located within the complex sells religious item, calendar, rosaries , candles , spring water from Guadalupe chapel near the grotto , books and postcards.
native delicacies for sale within the vicinity
Interesting Note : It is best to come early to visit the site ( especially during lent , summer months and weekends ) , some streets may be closed to traffic due to increase number of people visiting the pilgrim site. Jeepneys plying Novaliches route would park about 500 meters from the gate of the grotto while bus will only allow up to Tungkong Mangga ( Tungko) and visitor to the site may walk for about 1 kilometer . Traffic is heavy along the Quirino Highway .
References and Bibliography:
The Grotto Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes by Ms. Marietta Guanzon -Holmgren copyright February 11, 1992
Ruth Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 52.
Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto pamphlets
personal interview with some residents of San Jose del Monte , Novaliches- Bayan, Novaliches – Caloocan city and Tungkong Mangga
MCT event management in cooperation with SM Mall of Asia , for a minimum purchase of Php 500 single purchase have a chance to meet and greet your favorite Looney Tunes characters on March 31 and April 1, 2013.
For more information about this event:
Mr. Emer Dela Cruz MCT Events Management
Office: 399.2935 / 643.5490 / 576.6362
Mobile: 0920.953-7153 / 0922.831-2601
KFC one of the leading fast food restaurant had release 4 NBA tumbler set in time for the NBA season. With additional Php 60.00 added in the NBA bucket meal promo and additional NBA playing cards .
There are people who collects NBA memorabilia, playing cards in the country. for more information about their bucket meal promo item please try to visit their website. Promotional period is from March 19 to May 6, 2013. ( as stock allows
Far Eastern University campus – Metrogate Estates, Silang, Cavite, Philippines
Far Eastern University – Cavite ( High School Building )
In January 2009, a ground-breaking ceremony marked the start of the construction of the Far Eastern University Silang campus which will rise on a six-hectare area at the Metrogate Subdivision. The school offer basic education and tertiary courses such as Hotel and Restaurant Management, Tourism, Business, Education, and health-related degrees. The alumni affair office conducted several tours in FEU -Cavite when the buildings are still yet to be finished. The author is quite fortunate to have signed-up in one of the tour organized by the alumni office.
Map of Far Eastern University – Silang- Cavite
Architecture : FEU-Silang campus boast of a world class sustainable green architecture designed by Architect Daniel A. Lichauco to maximized the use of the the wind and having high ceilings in order for the natural air flow to pass the building, This also to allow the structure to breath .
facade of FEU- Building with flowers
Ms. Mona and Soler Santos are the artists who designed the artwork which became the basis for the facade of the buildings in FEU Cavite.
The place is much cooler compared to Metro Manila and very windy . Hence putting additional electricity within the building is minimized .Sustainable architecture is framed by the larger discussion of sustainability and the pressing economic and political issues of our world.
In the broad context, sustainable architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space.
The hotel laboratory set-up was sponsored by SM foundation . The hotel laboratory rooms are used by the HRM and Tourism students for their courses.
hotel laboratory with spacious living area
L-R Mr. Adolfo Caparas class 1980 ,Mr. Ramon Aganan , Ms.Edna Yao-Lim Mr. Martin Lopez and Mr. Allan Flores batch 1980 showed off their FEU- collectible memorabilia items.
fresh sliced mangoes and watermelon
lunch buffet set-up
After the short tour , the group was treated to a sumptuous lunch hosted by FEU -Cavite chapter President Mr. Allan Rodriguez and Mr. Martin Lopez- FEU Alumni Affairs Office
group picture taken in front of FEU- Cavite building facade
Note : I would like to ” Thank” FEU alumni affairs office thru Mr. Martin Lopez and Mr. Allan Rodriguez- Flores ( FEU Alumni- Cavite Chapter President ) for the tour arrangement inside the campus and for their gracious accommodation to the group. All pictures were taken by the author , to those who wish to use the pictures for any purpose, Please cite this link.