Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Batangas

A visit or pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina or Pambansang Dambana at Parokya ni Santo Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas is incomplete whenever a group travel to the famed town.

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National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio signage

The tour was  arranged by Jotun ( Philippines)and United Architects of the Philippines ( UAP Makati chapter) as part of the cultural, heritage, environmental architectural tour of the town. This is my second time to visit this shrine.

History

The property sits on a 1.6-hectare agricultural land in Barangay San Pedro which is almost a kilometer away from Maharlika Highway, Santo Tomas, Batangas was donated the generous couple Mr. Ernesto and Adelaida Gonzaga to the Archdiocese of Lipa, where a new and larger church would be built. Dr. Isabel Malvar-Villegas donated a 200-square meter parcel of land that would be used as a right of way from the barangay road leading to the site.

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Mary Mother of Mercy belfry

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), on their semi-annual Plenary Assembly in 2015, unanimously approved the elevation of the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Padre Pio into a national shrine.

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welcome arch

We left Jotun Paint Plant at past 2:30 pm, in three vans. The group arrived past 3:00 pm at the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio.

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National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio 

There were not so many pilgrims when the group arrived at the shrine and was escorted to a private parking area ( parking fees is Php 30).

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Schedule of Mass and Healing Service

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commercial stalls

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Saint Padre Pio half size statues for sale and healing oil

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Saint Padre Pio statues made from fiber glass, fiber resins

There were several stalls which sells Saint Padre Pio statues in different sizes. Small one cost Php 150 each while larger one sells between Php 400 to Php 500.

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ambulant vendor

An ambulant vendor sells candles, rosaries and sampaguita garland

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rosaries, beads, bracelets and key chains for sale

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Saint Padre Pio statue with donation box- right side is the office and  religious store

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Saint John Marie Vianney chapel

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dedication marker

Most of the chapels and main church architecture was inspired by salakot ( native hat ) Using steel, bamboos, wood, adobe stones, stones, sasa (Nypa fruticans ) or nipa leaves, sawali panels /woven bamboo strips and cement.

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man-made forest

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jackfruits

The rector and parish priest Joselin C. Gonda envisioned this concept for the main church, to have a place of worship and prayer that is distinctly Filipiniana, eco-friendly and adapted to the tropical climate of the site surrounded by  green environment.

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Asplenium nidus / Pakpak lawin or Bird’s nest fern adorn trees

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interiors

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main altar

There were driftwood, bamboo panels and stones which are some of the materials used in the lectern, altar and seats. Ornamental potted plants like variegated dracena, bromeliads were used as live floral arrangements.

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San Padre de Pio relic with love offering

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Santo Niño with petition or love offering

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San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila

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life-size statues of religious saints

seats

wooden benches

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Divine Mercy Sanctuary for Pilgrims

There was an ongoing free religious concert at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary for Pilgrims.

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main entrance

The 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in the Philippines held on January 18, 2017 attended by thousands of participants and pilgrims from all over the country and other parts of the world was held at this chapel.

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interior

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Chapel of the Saints and Baptistry

Chapel of the Saints and Baptistry is located at the back of the main church. There are several improvements on the compound within the past few years. The relics were given by Ermelindo di Capua, OFMCap, the only surviving Italian Capuchin priest in 2013. Few years before he died.

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chapel

The chapel is the place where baptism is held. One can also pray silently in this area.

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different religious statues

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religious statues

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Saint Padre Pio painting and other religious statues

There were different kinds of religious statues within the chapel. Some were donated by devotees or parishes. Materials range from hard wood, soft wood, eskayola ( plaster of paris), fiber resin materials.

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Relic of the Holy Cross 

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relic

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devotees

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wooden processional urna

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Santo Padre Pio Bukal ng Pag-Asa / Saint Padre Pio Fountain of Hope

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handkerchiefs, rosaries, prayer beads, padlocks are tied at the fence made from wire mesh

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votive candles, padlocak and bottle of holy water can be purchase at this store

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red and white candles for sale

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Holy Water Sanctuary

Holy Water Sanctuary is another place to visit, pilgrims can throw coins at the fountain area.  Water is not potable.

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pilgrims

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chapel of saint padre pio chapel of lights

One can light candles in one of these mini chapels located within the ground.

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station of cross

The stations of the cross are neatly landscaped with tropical ornamental plants and ferns.

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Platycerium coronarium

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The area had several pocket gardens with manicured lawns and mini man-made forest.

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San Padre Pio rectory

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vicinity map

There is a useful guide for those first time visitors and pilgrims at the shrine.

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walkway with chapel of the holy cross and belfry

There is a gentle sloping walkway going down to the man-made forest area. There are a lot of flowering plants, shrubs, trees, orchids and ferns within the property.

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orchids attached on driftwood

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lower portion of the belfry

local-kakanins

local delicacies

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religious and souvenir stores

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Saint Padre Pio relics

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Saint Padre Pio relics

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UAP Makati chapter

The group had a meaningful, solemn pilgrimage at the shrine. We left the shrine at around past 4:00 pm, with some participants buying some native kakanins and souvenir items.  One can easily make this a part of the holy week retreat.

One can commute via several bus companies which ply the route going to Batangas province. One must leave early in Metro Manila and  travel time take at least 2 to 2 1/2 hours going to the shrine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Chinese New Year Special Tour in Manila’s Chinatown

Royal Postal Heritage Walking Tour in partnership with WalkwithChan, Binondo Firecrackers and Fire Lovers Association, Philippine Philatelists and Collectibles FB, Heritage Advocates and other non-government organizations conducted a guided tour within the heart of the world’s oldest Chinatown last February 5, 2019.

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Santa Cruz Church also known as Archdiocesan Shrine of The Blessed Sacrament

The participants came from all walks of life, students, professionals, bloggers, journalists, travel operators, academe, people that are involve in heritage, culture, collecting clubs and even a Japanese expat !

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Carriedo fountain replica ( photo courtesy of Mr. Philip Reyes)

We started the tour at around past 7:00 am. Some participants were already there at around 6:30 am.  We also have two participants who came from Biñan, Laguna province.

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Mr. Philip Reyes– is the earliest bird among the group. He got 1 box special Delite Herbal tea as a prize. He came around 6:20 am ahead of the other participants.

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Delite Herbal tea are available in major supermarket chain and a daily sip of this would boost one’s immune system. Perfect for everyone, especially for those walking for whole day. It had three flavors turmeric -ginger with tamarind  calamansi, salabat and ampalaya ( bitter gourd).

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Chinatown Lailai Hotel reception area

Chinatown LaiLai Hotel began offering an affordable breakfast and lunch buffet meals to the general public about 5 years ago. They include them as package ( usually breakfast buffet) for their guests staying at their premises.

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breakfast buffet dishes

The hotel restaurant used to have a wider selection of dishes at a more cheaper promo rate of Php 148 from 2015- 2016. Then they increased to Php 168 in the later part of 2016 with about 12 to 16 dishes with bottomless coffee and powdered juices ( orange or grape).

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dining area

The slight change in their promo price was posted early December 2018, which also in effect increase their price to Php 199. (Php 300 regular price).

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Chinatown LaiLai Hotel facade

However for regular patrons, the change in their prices also affected the selection and varieties of their dishes. We notice that they remove the popular fried boneless bangus, tocino, longganisa, sauteed radish and even their fried lumpiang shanghai off their menu list.

In general, their dishes are more varied compared to the regular fast food restaurants within the vicinity. Who could not resist the value for their hard earned money by having a breakfast buffet? However, some commented that they must try to improve the set-up by offering some senior citizen and pwd discounts.

Our group tried our best to reach out to the marketing and management of the hotel. It seems that they are too busy for the Chinese New Year celebration that sparing us some time seems useless. Personally, It would be a big marketing opportunity on their side since there are some participants from Daily Tribune, Manila Times and bloggers within the group.

Address: 801 Ongpin St. corner Sabino Padilla Street, Binondo, Manila

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Lao Po Pia at Php 47.00 per pack

Salazar Bakery is one of the oldest and well-known bakeshop within the Chinatown district. Some were able to buy their hopias, sweetheart pastry and tikoy.

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Salazar bakery different array of products

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Ongpin estero restaurant stalls

The group decided to visit the popular estero. There are about a dozen or so stalls offering cheap Filipino-Chinese and regional Chinese cuisines.

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fresh squids, clams and fish fillet

The only drawback are the stench coming from the estero, flies and children begging for alms. One must be careful with their belongings and have a watchful eyes. Some unsuspecting people and children can easily snatch an opportunity to get one’s item.

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Uy Suy Bin Building along Quintin Paredes street is endangered of getting demolish.  This is one of the few art deco building along the street. New Po Heng lumpia ( vegetable spring rolls) and home- cooked meals used to be located at the ground floor area of this building along with a well-known banking institution and hundreds of tenants.

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Filipino-Chinese Friendship entrance arch along Quintin Paredes street

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fountain

Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila or Plaza Binondo is home to two magnificent fountain, These two dates back in the late 19th century.

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grill works

There are also some old ancestral houses remaining within the street. Their intricate iron grill works are amazing sight to behold.

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Seng Guan temple with festive buntings

Seng Guan Temple is located along Narra street within Tondo district. The temple compound is just one block away from Tutuban Mall. Seng Guan Si was established by Wu Jianglu, Wang Zhenwen, and members of their Chinese Buddhist Society in the Philippines. Mahayana Buddhist is practice in this temple.

The facade has well detailed intricate carvings in bas relief made from granite stones imported from China or Taiwan. It is also a common practice among Filipino-Chinese and Chinese to place their offerings, sampaguita garlands and light incense in the large bronze incense burner placed at the altar of Guan Yi during the first day of the new year.

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Seng Guan temple with devotees and tourists

There are beliefs that this will brings prosperity and good luck for those who practice this ritual. The group had a hard time queuing among the throngs of people in red dress. It is regarded as the first Buddhist temple in the Philippines, being the first temple with a resident monk, Venerable Seng Guan (1889-1962).

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2nd floor of the temple

 This three-floor temple crowned with beautiful golden stupas is also known as “Temple of Thousand Buddhas”. The second floor of the temple had chandeliers, is famous for the carved murals that depict different scenes from Buddha’s life and the three silk-mache gold Buddhas.

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Some historians would agree that this is one of the oldest and probably largest in Manila in terms of its building size, compound, devotees and family urns that are deposited within the temple grounds. On the top most portion of the temple, one can see concrete stupas painted in gold color.

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large buddha images

There is not much old structures remaining at the current compound. Most of the temple structure was burned down in the late 1960’s and the present temple compound is was reconstructed in the early 1970’s to mid-1970’s. Some of the buildings within the compound are just barely few decades old. Relatives and family friends living within the Binondo and Tondo district are devotees of this shrine.

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We also went to Lucky Chinatown Mall for a quick snap shots.

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Chinese lauriat style ( Ying Ying restaurant)

Our next stop over was Ying-Ying restaurant at around past 11:00am. This is a Filipino-Cantonese restaurant along Dasmariñas street in Barangay 291 within Binondo district. We ordered a 12 course Chinese lauriat dishes with almond jelly as dessert and choice of soft drinks ( coke, sarsi or sprite).

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group photo ( photo courtesy of Mr. Edwin Galvez)

The name was derived from the proprietor and the business is doing quite well.

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long lines of people waiting to eat  ( photo courtesy of Mr. Edwin Galvez)

Proof to the pudding were hundreds of people queuing in line just to eat at this restaurant whenever there are occasions and important gatherings.

Address: 233-235 Dasmariñas street corner Yuchengo street, Binondo, Manila

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This is another building endangered getting demolish along Dasmariñas street. It is said to be one of the works of Andres Luna de San Pedro.  In neo-classicial style architecture.

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Hap Hong Hardware Co. building along Dasmariñas st. cor. Quintin Paredes street.

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Panciteria Macanista de Buen Gusto located at 539 San Fernando Street, Binondo mentioned in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel ( El Filibusterismo)

We walked towards the other side of Binondo district. This had one of the historic parts of the district. There are also some of the last remaining centuries-old ancestral houses.

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Fundicion de Hilario Sunico

This used to be owned by the Sunico family clan. There is a foundry at the back of the ancestral house where 176 church bells , iron grills and cast iron were made. Some of the bells and iron grill works adorn some of the old churches and ancestral houses in the country were cast.

Unfortunately , the property was sold several decades ago and the current owner operates a junk shop.

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old ancestral house with tile roof- now several commercial stalls are located

This is a few example of ancestral house located in 638 Elcano corner Lavezares  street, Binondo with tile roof still intact. This could possibly dates back in the late 18th or early 19th century. ( Some architects, heritage advocates estimate that this house is between 200 to 250 years-old)

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few remaining ancestral houses within Lavezares street , Binondo, Manila

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285 Lara street corner Barcelona street

This ancestral house is getting a new paint job and minor renovation at the ground floor.

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Peñarubia street

Ancestral house of Mr. Ralph Soriano along Peñarubia street. The old house was built in the late 19th century. This was repainted and minor repairs were made last year.

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Kim Yek Engineering and Foundry located along 529 to 533 Camba street

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ancestral house located on a corner street -painted in light pink

A few block away from this location along Calle Madrid was at a house numbered as 28-D. In this house were Gregoria de Jesus was kept by her parents from marrying his then fiancee’ Andres Bonifacio.

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Madrid street signage made from tiles

The documents at the National Archives and National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) revealed that she managed to write hasty letter to the gobernadorcillo of Binondo dated 6 October 1893. Its contents roughly translate into:

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Gregoria de Jesus ( Lakambini or Muse of Katipunan)

“I am Gregoria de Jesus from Caloocan, a Tagalog maiden, and a minor age. I wish to contract marriage with my novio (fiancee) Andres Bonifacio of 11E Sagunto Street, Tondo. When my parents found out of my good intentions, I was brought here to Binondo and placed in 28-D Madrid Street.

 I am truly a prisoner here. I have no liberty at all. I appeal to your power to mediate and give me justice. Take me from here, summon my fiancee, fulfill the necessary government requirements so that we can get married. I ask justice from you and hope that you listen because this appeal is addressed to anyone with a kind heart.”

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Jaboneros street marker- This is one of the few remaining street markers made during the Spanish colonial era using tiles and hand-painted. Jaboneros was named after soap makers who sells them in bulk.

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arch of solidarity -along Calle San Fernando

Arch of Solidarity serves as demarcation entrance between Binondo and San Nicolas district

San Nicolas was a barrio located within Binondo district, But was separated as an independent district towards the late 19th century. Unfortunately, some people would only refer San Nicolas because of the street which bear its name.

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Iglesia ni Cristo chapel- lokal ng San Nicolas

Iglesia ni Cristo chapel located along 338 Jaboneros street had a unique architectural style. Curiously, this Iglesia ni Cristo -lokal ng San Nicolas also provide service in Chinese language. This was repainted to a light bluish hue compared to the light brown color few years back.

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San Nicolas street

An ancestral house located within Binondo/ San Nicolas district with old street tiles still intact.

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historical marker ( old house was numbered 476 to 478)

The current building is called Oceancell building located in 478 Calle San Fernando, Binondo. This used to be an old wooden house called Leyba house where Doña Teodora Alonzo y Realonda Rizal ( mother of Dr. Jose P. Rizal ) lived until she died on August 16, 1911. Along Estraude Street is the house which the Rizal family rented after the remains of Jose Rizal were exhumed from Paco cemetery.  This is also the place where Dr. Jose Rizal bones were kept before they were finally interred at the monument.

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General Antonio Luna ancestral house located at Urbiztondo street. He was born on 29 October 1866 in Binondo, Manila, the youngest of seven siblings. He studied at the Ateneo de Manila where he finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1881.

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City Plaza condominium building located near Urbiztondo street near Plaza del Conde, Binondo, Manila

There are also rumors that there is another old ancestral house that was located near the fire station in which modern City Plaza condominium building now stand.

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Coast and Geodetic Survey building

Coast and Geodetic Survey Building is located 421 Barraca Street,Binondo, Manila

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San Nicolas fire station located at 296 San Fernando corner Madrid street

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Antiqueño restaurant located along Madrid corner Lavezares street

Antiqueño restaurant which is located at the ground floor and a residential house at the second floor. The house is in neglected condition and possibly scheduled for demolition.

The house of Mason Faustino Villaruel at No. 8 Calle Asuncion served as meeting place for the members of the Walana Lodge.

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a modern building along Calle Asuncion

It was in this house where an auxiliary lodge for women mason was founded. Doña Rosario Villaruel (Don Faustino’s daughter) became the first woman mason in the country.  Asuncion street is popular among wholesalers of onions, garlic and cheap plastic wares. Most of the lower numbered houses and buildings are located in the Binondo area.

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Casa Tribunal de Naturales

Calle Asuncion with some of the few old buildings which was used in the late 19th ( 1886) as a village court. Today very few people living within the area know the historical value and the building is under neglect and privately owned.

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book which describes the historical value of the house and its architectural plan

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Ilang-Ilang restaurant group photo

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 participants

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different specialties of Ilang-ilang restaurant ( photo courtesy of Ms. Winnie Ramos)

different dishes- chopseuy with quail eggs, buttered fried chicken, pata tim with winged pea, spinach with tofu soup, sweet and sour soup, fried rice, fried botchi with a choice of seven up and pepsi.

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Chinese new year parade along Quintin Paredes street ( photo courtesy of Mr. Ralph Soriano)

The pink and blue colored t-shirts were also handed out by Mr. Ralph Soriano ( chairperson ) Binondo Firecrackers and Fire Lovers Association and tikoys to all the participants. Much to the delight of the participants, Some of them did not expect that there will be these kinds of freebies.  Maraming Salamat po!

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participants ( photo courtesy of Mr. Ralph Soriano)

We also visit New Toho restaurant aka ( Panciteria Antigua Toho ) This was established in 1888. A visit to the historical Chinatown district is incomplete without dining at this place.

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(group photo- courtesy of Ms. Winne Ramos)

The simple ambiance, good food, personalities and historical figures who have dined-in at this place.

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We again toured several places, watched dragon and lion dancers performed. The group also went to a Buddhist temple in Santa Cruz and capped the Chinese New Year with warm greeting and endless farewell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit to Parokya ng San Jose Esposo de Maria

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Parokya ng San Jose Esposo de Maria facade

Parokya ng San Jose Esposo de Maria parish was establish a little over a century ago.

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The church was enlarged several times and its current structure is a combination of modern and old architectural styles. The facade of the church had adobe stones.

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main altar

The parish had a small plaza and the side altar boast of several century-old religious statues of Saint Joseph, Mother Mary and the holy family.

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The main altar boast of several large and life sized statues of the town’s patron saint.

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century-old child jesus and saint joseph religious statues

There were some burglary attempts in the past, that targeted some old religious statues inside the church.

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religious tableu depicting the life of saint joseph

But somehow, the religious statues were returned unscathed.  Some local would attribute these incidents as miracles.

Our immediate recommendation is for some kind hearten individual or company to help sponsor the installation of a cctv devise within the church.

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This church is popular among local families of San Miguel as site of wedding place.

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There is also a small side chapel where several large religious icons are displayed for veneration of the general public.

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large gothic style urna

Urna vaguely translated into “house shrine,” or a delicately carved wooden housing for santos, or religious icons. These wooden containers are considered part of the religious heritage introduced by the Spaniards in the late 16th century.

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religious statue of mother mary

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immaculate conception statue

Parokya ng San Jose Esposo de Maria Facebook Page:https://www.facebook.com/Parokya-ng-San-Jose-Esposo-de-Maria-SMB-774773275874469/

Address: Norberto Street, San Jose, San Miguel, 3011

Landline: (044) 764-04-79

 

Coke Philippine Plant Tour

Cola Cola Collector’s Club of the Philippines together with Coca-Cola Philippines had hosted a coke plant tour last September 7, 2018 at the Canlubang Coke Plant.

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members and international delegates group photo ( courtesy of Mr. Sonny Chua and Ms. Anne Ong)

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wacky shots

The delegates had their first hand experience in the coke plant facility and a small reception was also hosted by the club.  Coca-Cola Philippines was established in 1912.   The first soda fountain store was located within Escolta street, Manila.

 

Meet-Up with the Travelling Clatt

It was a hot sunny sunday afternoon past 1:00pm when i arrived at the historic Luneta Park to meet a youtuber and traveler. I have subscribed to his channel last year and when he decided to have a short Luneta meet-up, I decided to meet and learn a few information about his stay in the country.

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His had been travelling around the world for the past 3 years and He had been in the country since late November 2017.

He had traveled several provinces and islands. During the meet-up/ eyeball there were about 20 people who came from different parts of Metro Manila.

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Chinese garden 

We toured the Chinese garden and parts of the Rizal Park , after the short video taping. PAG-ASA had announce thru their social media accounts that the summer season had officially begun.  There was a lantern festival exhibit at the Chinese garden.

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Japanese garden

This was also a nice opportunity to visit these places since they waived the entrance fees.

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National Museum of Natural History ( used to be called Department of Tourism building from 1973 to early 2010 and Agriculture Building from the late 1930’s to early 1970’s) soon to be open to the general public by April 2018. 

We also toured the National Museum of Anthropology ( housed at the former Finance building)  and took the respite from the blazing afternoon sun and heat. It was a good idea, since the museum was air-conditioned and some of the participants first time to the visit the place.

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 travelling clatt interviews some of the participants

The national museum complex used to charge an entrance fee for the general public before 2016 except during sundays ( it was free).  Since few people would visit the place ( except on field trip or mandatory school assignments ).

There was a survey few years ago by a popular survey firm that there were more people who would visit malls amusement parks than visiting museums all over the country.  The museum board of directors decided to waive the entrance fees so that more people can enjoy the country’s rich history , heritage and culture.

This is quite alarming, with a lot of museums and exhibition places in the country that the general public must visit to learn more about their country’s history and heritage.

Unlike some Asian countries which would charge a higher entrance fees to foreigners and expats, All the museums in the country would charge flat rates.

We end the meet-up with group photo, a short video of the participants with travelling clatt and he even treated some of the participants to a refreshing buko ( coconut juice) . Try to watch and subscribe to his youtube channel and know his travel around the world.

As a postcard collector/ postcrosser , i took time to let them write their names at a piece of postcard which features Manila cityhall and will be mailing them with the latest stamps issued by PHLPOST.

If you like to have a postcards with signed autograph by travelling clatt and the participants, just send me an email with your home address or office address. However i only have few postcards.