We were island-hopping the whole day and by late afternoon, we dropped anchor at Lahuy Island, a tiny island in the Caramoan peninsula. Then we noticed this sign! We didn't know some of the islands here are owned by private individuals---mostly by political clans, I learned later. We expected to be kicked out but the the gentleman who lives here told us we can stay to enjoy the sunset and the beach, for free.
The jeepney is one of the Philippines' cultural symbols. It is found in roads all over the country---in the crowded city streets, sleepy towns, provincial roads and rural back roads. Jeepneys are symbols of our street life, the workhorse of Philippine transportation. Through the years, jeepneys have earned a moniker "King of the Road" because jeepney drivers are notorious for doing as they please---unload and pick up passengers whenever and wherever, violate all kinds of traffic laws like stopping at No Stop signs, drive on lanes and streets where they are not allowed, bust people's eardrums with their blaring music.
Jeepneys have made an impression on our visitors. I haven't met a foreign guest who has not been fascinated by our jeepneys. Riding a jeepney is definitely one of their must-try when they're in the Philippines, and I bet they have interesting stories of their jeepney rides when they go home. An American client was fascinated how the driver can manage it all---keeps track of each passenger, makes sure each passenger pays before getting off, receives fares and gives change while snaking through traffic. Yes, a jeepney driver is great at multi-tasking!
I enjoy riding jeepneys when I travel to the countryside. The ride is inexpensive and it allows you to take in as much scenery as you could. I admit it's not the most comfortable ride, sometimes it feels like you're in a can of sardines. The fun part is, you get to meet interesting people when you share such small space with them.
Jeepney rides can give you an adrenalin rush especially when you take the top load---that means sitting on the roof of the jeepney. There are places in far-flung provinces where trips are few and far between, and commuters have to make the best out of these trips, hence the top load sitting arrangement. Tourists and thrill-seekers love the top load, photographers get the best drive-by shots.
Law enforcers discourage top load as it is dangerous but drivers allow it, and passengers ride the top load at their own risk. Maybe I should try this one of these days.:p
Ornamental vine with showy blue-violet trumpet-shaped flowers. This flowering vine covers most of the pergola and parameter fence at a friend's property in Tagaytay.
"Gardening is a kind of disease. It infects you, you cannot escape it. When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irrisistible impulse to get up and pull a weed."....in my case, to take a photo.:p
Painted on top of an old two-storey house in Malolos, Bulacan.
With the current tensions between Taiwan and the Philippines, territorial disputes with China, the Sultan of Sulu's claims over Sabah, peace in this corner of the world is always threatened. I hope everybody is seeking peaceful solutions to these conflicts.
Dendrobium anosmum, an unscented dendrobium, locally known as Sanggumay, is native to the Philippines, Borneo, New Guinea, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The genus Dendrobium contains approximately 1,200 species making it one of the largest genera in the orchid family. Dendrobiums are adapted to monsoon climates and long dry periods stimulate flower production. This species is popular for lei production because it is relatively long-lasting with flowers staying fresh for up to 4 days and does not crush easily.
Spotted the blooms at my friend's grandmother's garden when we visited her recently.
"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." ~ Albert Camus
We had our national mid-term elections on Monday, and hopefully, the candidates will start tearing down their campaign posters soon. We were following this campaign jeep on our road trip to Laguna in late April. Aside from the posters, this jeep had a loudspeaker blaring out political jingles---and it wasn't even 9 a.m. yet! Political campaigns here are like a circus---each party/candidate has some gimmick, balloons, colorful tarps, and yes, campaign jingles that can be annoying when you're still sleeping.
Campaign posters on a designated place along the provincial highway in Laguna.
For most people, a cowboy is a distinctly all-American symbol. The wild, wild west comes to mind with Doc Holliday and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp; John Wayne riding into the sunset, and yes, my teenage crush, the Marlboro Man looking out into the distance.
The rodeo was not originally a sporting event but an integral part of cattle-ranching in areas of Spanish influence. Rodeo stresses its western folk hero image and its being a genuinely American creation. But in fact, it grew out of the practices of Spanish ranchers and their Mexican ranch hands (vaqueros), a mixture of cattle wrangling and bull fighting that dates back to the 16th century conquistadors. source
Today, rodeo is a sporting event that involves horses and livestock, designed to test the skill and speed of a cowboy or cowgirl athletes.
Like cowboys, a rodeo seems out of place in the Philippine setting. An image of a farmer on a carabao (water buffalo) is probably a more identifiable Filipino icon than a cowboy on a bucking horse. But with our strong Spanish influences, it's not far-fetched that the rodeo has been practiced here since the Spanish regime.
And as far as I can remember, our homegrown cowboys have been competing in local rodeos since I was a kid. Back in the day, watching a rodeo was one of the highlights of our summer vacation in my hometown. The rodeos of my childhood were held in an open field in one of the haciendas and were participated by farm workers from nearby haciendas.
Although not a popular sport here, the rodeo reached the mainstream Filipino consciousness since the Masbate Rodeo Festival started in the early 90's. It was conceived by ranchers and businessmen of Masbate to uplift the local cattle industry. With about 30 ranches and a cattle population of approximately 54,000, Masbate is the Cattle Country of the Philippines. In April, teams consisting of four hundred cowboys from universities across the country competed in the rodeo.
Masbate, an island province, is about 426 kilometers from Manila, approximately 230 nautical miles; or about 50 minutes by plane. The province has been declared the Rodeo Capital of the Philippines, and became known as the Rodeo Capital of Asia and is now affiliated with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association of America.
Friends from FUNtastic Philippines were at the Masbate Rodeo Festival last April and Chelli Castellano was kind enough to let me borrow her photos. I promised myself not to miss this festival next year.
Triboa Bay is a small community within the Subic Freeport Economic Zone, a former US naval base, overlooking Subic Bay. There are 21 villas here originally built to accommodate world leaders who attended the 1996 ASEAN Summit. There is also a clubhouse with swimming pool which looked dilapidated. The villas are now for sale/lease.