2016 Philippine National Election : Festive and Colorful

Juan Luna Elementary School ,  830 G. Tolentino Street,  Barangay 397, Sampaloc, Manila-Philippines

traffic is light along Nicanor Reyes Sr. Street ( Morayta ) and Lerma street intersection

I am a voter at  Juan Luna Elementary School for the past 3 election period. The first was held at mid-term or  2013 Election .  Then , it was the barangay election held last October 2013 and now the 2016 Philippine national election. The mood is very festive and there were a lot of colorful buntings and posters near the polling place.

barangay help desk or information desk

Taking a cue from previous election experiences , I tried to get some updates from friends and barangay officials who would give the latest update on the number of people at the polling precinct .  The polling precinct was jam packed at around past 5:30am with hundreds of people lining within the polling district . The school is just one of the several designated places by COMELEC where the registered public can vote .

festive buntings

The streets near the polling places have a lot of colorful buntings with the faces of local candidates.

I arrived past 1:00 at the polling station and quickly went to the barangay help desk which is composed of several barangays within the polling area.  I saw a barangay volunteer seated at the information desk and i gave him my Comelec issued ID for instruction . The barangay kagawad  quickly gave the the correct instruction and I quickly went -up to the third floor of the school . This time, the precinct is located on Room 319 3rd floor.

posters and sample ballots which littered the street near the polling precinct

It took me about 10 to 15 minutes from falling in line to  the casting of votes.  There were 4 to 5 people falling in line and the Board of Election Inspectors ( BEI )  were also very fast in giving us the election voting sheet. This is one of the fastest duration,   from finding my precinct, falling in line to casting of my ballot ( less then 15 minutes ).  Since the automation of the election with the help of PCOS ( Precinct- Count Optical Scanner ) in 2010.  ( It took over 2 hours in 2010 , 30 minutes in 2013  and 25 minutes in 2013 barangay election )

After i finished shading the voting sheet , i went to the BEI inspector to submit the shaded voting sheet and inserted the sheet to the Vote Counting Machine ( VCM ) then i got a receipt . One of the BEI had put a drop of indelible ink on my index finger which serve as a proof that i have voted .

Paaralang  Juan Luna

While going down the stairs , i saw an old friend , a Sampaloc resident and now teaching  at the Lyceum of the Philippines . We had a souvenir photo with our index finger pointing  as a proof that we have voted ,done our civil and moral duty to elect the new leaders of our country.

posters at Sergio H. Loyola Street

Observations– I have seen several campaign posters all over the walls and near the polling precinct . It seems that there are violations of campaign posters. There were some people ( particularly children) giving away sample ballots and campaign posters near the polling station.  There were also some senior citizens and people with disability which were not able to vote because they have difficulty climbing the stairs .

I hope that the next election would be better and Manila will be cleaner city .

Note : all photos are taken by the author.


Lakaran sa Quiapo : A walking tour of historical areas of Quiapo

Quiapo district , Manila -Philippines

The tour was started sometime in 1987 by Dr. Teresita “Tess” B. Obusan. LAKBAY LAKARAN SA QUIAPO was originally called LAKARAN SA QUIAPO. Lakaran means journey on foot, but to further emphasize the theme, the word lakbay which means travel was added.

Lakaran is based on Hermano Pule’s (1815-1841) concept of journeying with fellow countrymen to empower them. The concept has been appropriated to the pilgrimage tour around the Quiapo area where participants see not only the sights, but also experience the deeper meaning of PAKIKIPAGKAPWA (relationship) and its symbolic meaning – that in life we are all into a common journey. The description of Ileto, a well known Filipino scholar, about the lakaran aptly fits this pilgrimage tour – “. . . a journey – an event ….”

San Sebastian Church

San Sebastian Basilica is our first stop-over for the tour, The basilica is also known as National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Completed in 1891, San Sebastian Church is noted for its architectural features . This is an example of the revival of Gothic architecture revival  in the Philippines,and an example of an all steel church in Asia  and claimed as the only prefabricated steel church in the world. It was designated as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1973. In 2006, San Sebastian Church was included in the tentative list for possible designation as a World Heritage site .

Rust is evident in every parts of the basilica, even minor paint job is insufficient to cover the rust.

L-R Mr. Stephen Pamorada, Mr. Allan Pardilla  Martinez, Mark John Dañas , Ms. Cez  Boñales- Rosqueta and Mr. Charles Boris Mañez

Iturralde house

The house is located in 730 San Sebastian St. barangay 390 zone 40 just behind the San Sebastian Church. The house second floor balcony area had a flag pole , where the flag of Monaco is hoisted when the Honorary Consulate of Monaco ( Mr. Iturralde )held their office within the premises in the 1950’s to late 1960’s . Inside this house, it had a photo of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly that were hung on a prominent spot .


 Now , it is home and a business address of Ms. Pilar S. Iturralde ( real estate ) , one of the descendants of the clan. In front of the house there is a small sari-sari store . It had also some big trees and plants .  The magnificent fence grill works were covered by galvanized sheets maybe to cover the grounds and house from prying public’s view . The current honorary consulate office/ residence of Monaco to the Philippines is not aware of the official tenure of Mr. Iturralde and quite hesitant to give accurate information or they really do not have records ( Mr. Iturralde ‘s tenure) when some freelance writers contacted their office/ residence .

Link: http://embassy-row.com/monaco-embassy-in-philippines/

old house with nice grill works located along Bilibid Viejo street

a door  with the art nouveau styled grilled -works on a sampaguita flower.

The grill works is very similar with Bahay Nakpil-Bautista a few block away , I was just wondering if the architect is the same and the supplier of the iron grills are same company.

  ocampo pagoda and garden

Ocampo Pagoda and Garden – This pagoda-like structure dominating the skyline of a residential district in Quiapo was constructed in 1935, a time when the huge area surrounding it was part of a vast estate of Don Jose Mariano Ocampo.

 ocampo compound signage

He is a lawyer by profession had an investment brokerage and a  real estate company . The estate is quite large occupying about 1 hectare  which encompasses 6 to 8 blocks .  Most of the material used in the construction process were made from high quality materials .

ocampo pagoda circa 1940

Fascination with Japanese Culture 

The pagoda was built to adorn his garden and at same time to house his realty firm. However, with its completion in 1939, World War II broke out and the structure was used as an air raid shelter for the surrounding community.

shachihoko or shachi  lucky dragon face with koi-like fish carved and situated on entrance or sides of the building

It is a mythical creature in Japanese folklore   with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp . It was believed that this animal could cause the rain to fall, and as such, temples and castles were often adorned with roof ornaments ( shibi ).

photo from Ms. Justine Danielle and  Mark John Dañas

These fish-shaped ornaments are placed at both ends of the main roof ridge, with the male Shachi placed on the left and the female Shachi on the right .The creatures are thought to provide protection against fire, as they are attributed with the power to control rain and even protection of the family. The roof tiles bore the family name .

Website link: http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shachihoko.html

The owner is fascinated with anything that is oriental and Japanese hence , he was able to create a Japanese style home, architecture and garden within his vast compound.

japanese inspired -garden

The garden is also big, I estimate that it used to cover between 500 to 1,000 square- meter complete with Japanese styled manicured garden complete with a koi pond , cemented plant pots , sculpture, cement bridge  and other fixtures. The pagoda took some beatings during the August 2, 1968 Casiguran earthquake when parts of Manila took heavy shaking, parts of the roofs and some structure had collapsed , While the family car was severely damage , the family driver miraculously was saved from the earthquake. Another earthquake on July 16, 1990 also destroyed some of the roof tiles and gradually weaken some of the structure .

Link: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2262:casiguran-earthquake-02-august-1968&catid=43

References: Osome, S., Osawa, Y., Skinner, I., Yoshima, and Y., PHILIPPINES: Luzon Earthquake of August 02, 1968, UNESCO, Serial No. 977/BMS. RD/SCE. NR, Paris, January 1969.

Southeast Asia Association of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering (SEASEE). Series in Seismology, Volume IV (Philippines), 1985

basketball area

Now,  the area occupies a prominent place in the community as a basketball court and a place to hold some meetings, with very few traces of the garden except with some cement pots and walls which remind residents and tourists of its former grandeur.  The Ocampo pagoda is a dormitory for seafarers and photo opportunities are restricted at the basketball court .  How i wish i could have taken photos years ago when i was able to enter the premises without much hassle.

 cement plant container

A few of the stone statues  can still be found scattered in this residential community, including a Japanese-looking Our Lady of Mount Carmel standing on a globe.  Some residents would attest that the image is miraculous and save countless of lives during the second world war and during a fire which broke into the neighborhood few years ago.

Our Lady of Carmel “Birhen sa Eskinita” due to its location along a narrow alleyway

Later after the war, The descendants sold a portion of the property while some areas were lease out . ( Now the area is called Ocampo compound  ) which is located in baranggay 393 zone 40 district 3 of Manila which is much smaller compared to the pre-war heydays.

Ocampo family statute

It also used to be a popular film location shooting place. We had to squeeze through dozens of houses that were built within the former garden and the compound .

Miss Philippines 1954

 photo :  veestarz.com

One of the famous descendant of the clan is 1954 Miss Universe – Philippines . a UST architecture freshman, was the first Filipina to land among the semi-finalists. She was in London as part of her prize for winning the Boys Town Miss Philippines contest when she was asked to represent the country in the  July 24,1954 Miss Universe Pageant held in Long Beach , California , USA. She became an architect and married to Mr. Victor Buencamino whose brother Philip married President Manuel L. Quezon’s daughter Ms. Zenaida/”Nini” (later Avancena—1st husband Philip was ambushed, along with Nini’s mother Dona Aurora and sister Maria Aurora/”Baby”, supposedly by members of the Hukbalahap, in 1949)..  She passed away peacefully on January 7, 2011. She was 75.

Miss Universe 1954 you tube video

Beauty Queen clan

Ms. Pacita ” Ting” Ongsiako delos Reyes

Ms. Bessie comes from a family of beauty queens. Ms. Pacita “Ting” Ongsiako T. de los Reyes (Miss Philippines of the Manila Carnival Queen of 1929), Ms.Yvonne Berenguer de los Reyes (Miss Philippines – Universe 1955) and Ms. Simonette Berenguer de los Reyes (Bb. Pilipinas-Universe 1970) are her cousins. Margarita “Tingting” de los Reyes Cojuangco is another cousin.  They were featured by Ms. Korina Sanchez years-ago .

In 2006, Malacanang appointed Bessie as a commissioner for the EDSA People Power Commission The other commissioners included retired Gen. Honesto Isleta, journalists Belinda Cunanan and Carmen Pedrosa, former DLSU President Rolando Dizon, youth activist Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and columnist Alex Magno. (http://www.mb.com.ph/node/62357)

Sources: Missosology and Binibining Pilipinas

 Facebook event page:https://www.facebook.com/lakbaylakaransaquiapo/info

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