San Sebastian Cathedral, Lipa City

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The San Sebastian Cathedral is the single most imposing structure in Lipa City if one does not count the huge malls within the city center. Our travel-photography group FUNtastic Philippines visited Lipa last Saturday and made the cathedral grounds our base for exploring this city.

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HISTORY OF THE CATHEDRAL

Villa de Lipa was once the most affluent town in the Philippines mainly due to its most famous produce, coffee. From the City of Lipa website, one reads that  Don Galo de los Reyes, then the  governadorcillo of Lipa, introduced coffee of the  Arabica species brought in from Mexico.

The church was first constructed with light materials and a series of constructions and deconstructions happened under he administration of the Augustinians until Fr. Benito Baras, who was Parish Priest of Lipa for from 1865 to 1894 finally completed the construction of this  parish church which would later become the cathedral, known to the locals as Katedral.

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From the webpage Batangas Hub (http://www.batangashub.com/4/category/san%20sebastian%20cathedral%20in%20lipa%20city/1.html), “Lipeños visit this place often without knowing that this church,The  San Sebastian Cathedral, is the product of the townsmen’s motivation to build astonishing huge churches to compete with other cities nearby for the seat of the archdiocese in 1910.On that same year, Lipa was chosen by Most Reverend Jospeh Petrelli, D.D, to be the Diocese covering the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon Marinduque and Mindoro and later made the seat of the Archdiocese. It was constructed simple and bare without the murals and paintings until the 19th century when the colorful and extravagant images were drawn on the walls and ceilings. San Sebastian Cathedral is raised from rough-hewn, rectangular stone and has a six-storey octagonal bell tower that rests on a rectangular base of the small dome on top. It also features a grand baroque designed pipe organ which is the only one in Batangas Province and one of only 59 units in the Philippines.”

Indeed, the Lipa Cathedral is easily one of the most beautiful places of worship in the country. Here are more photos I took on our visit.

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Paschal Mystery

Paschal Mystery

The Cathedral attracts devotees

The Cathedral attracts devotees

 

the left-side corridor

the left-side corridor

 

the church interiors featuring the magnificent altar

the church interiors featuring the magnificent altar

 

from the inside looking out

from the inside looking out

the dome

the dome

 

this cathedral is grand, befitting the seat of the Archdiocese of Lipa

this cathedral is grand, befitting the seat of the Archdiocese of Lipa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casa de Segunda

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Sagunda Katigbak is known to be Jose Rizal’s first love. This house built in 1880 is where she lived, and is very well preserved, complete with period furniture. The house is three blocks away from the San Sebastian Cathedral in Lipa City, Batangas.

Our travel-photography group came to visit and were regaled with stories by a descendant of Segunda, at the very beautiful courtyard.
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The house is not one of the grand mansions in its time, although it can be said that the residents were prominent members of the community. In those days, houses of commoners were smaller, and generally made of light materials. This one is made of hard wood and concrete.

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Casa de Segunda is typical of such beautiful old homes. Spacious, airy  with wide windows and “ventanillas”, those window-like openings below the window sills. Furniture is sparse. Drapes and curtains are de riguer. Huge planks of hard wood for flooring. And chandeliers on the ceiling. As one enters this ancestral home, a piece of history is re-lived. Mementos from those years are on the center table, plus photos of Seguna Katigbak, of Kose Rizal, as well as those of the family she made when she became Mrs Segunda Katigbak-Luz. The stairwell going up is solid, and stately.

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The dining room is at the ground floor.

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The huge staircase leads to the second floor living room and bedrooms.Image

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There are only two bedrooms, both spacious and neat even with the bric a brac that makes the rooms interesting. Image

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The azotea overlooking the courtyard is beautiful, and must have been witness to countless family get togethers under the stars.

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Casa de Segunda is beautiful in its simplicity. Re-live a piece of history when you get to this part of Lipa in Batangas.
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Calaguas via Paracale

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Calaguas is currently the Number 1 travel destination in the Philippines after a nationwide polling by Philippine Gems. My friends and I will not be the last to get to any place, and so off to Calaguas we went. Friends knew the owner of a hotel in Paracale and so we made bookings and left Manila early, arriving in Paracale, the gateway to Calaguas late afternoon. Ching, the amiable manager of the hotel booked us a boat that would take us to paradise very early the next morning. And prepared our breakfast and lunch.

The travel by sea took nearly three hours because the seas were rather rough. We were told that in summer, travel time is less because the water is much more calm. We were never afraid, though. We hired a big fishing boat that can navigate the high seas, and can accommodate 30 persons even if there were just 11 of us.

A big fishing boat good for 30 pax that can navigate the high seas. No real seats, though. Lifevests are provided.

A big fishing boat good for 30 pax that can navigate the high seas. No real seats, though. Lifevests are provided.

 

No real seats

No real seats

Nearing paradise

Nearing paradise

It seemed like paradise. Crystal clear waters on clean white sand. Unpolluted. The island is virginal Even while a resort has been put up, the municipal laws disallow the construction of huge concrete structures. And so the “accommodations” are picnic huts, even as they also have 2-level huts that provide more privacy when guests sleep on the second-level where mosquito nets are provided. No airconditioning here. No mobile phone signal, except if one goes to the far end of the island and climbs up a hill – – – where a weak signal can be had.

The photos should speak for themselves.

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How to book your picnic hut in Calaguas

How to book your picnic hut in Calaguas

PARACALE. This town is the gateway to Calaguas. Known for gold mining, the town is a tourist destination in itself. The owner of Paliza de Rio, the basic but clean accommodations that we got is owned by Rio Paliza who is also a photo hobbyist like all of us in the group. He is the towns tourism czar.

PALIZA DEL RIO

the small but very friendly lobby of Paliza del Rio, with "Ate Ching" as your host

the small but very friendly lobby of Paliza del Rio, with “Ate Ching” as your host

Gumaca Paracale 172

Accommodation rates are P550 for regular fan rooms, P995 for regular aircon, and P1,495 for de luxe aircon. Contact Ching Paliza at 09397182008 , landline  (02) 5423888. Here is their facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/palizadelrio

 

AROUND PARACALE

One can not miss the town’s old church. It is not at all majestic like most churches we have photographed, but it is a real joy to shoot. I don’t know why, but its simple beauty sets it apart from grandiose churches. Yet it is so old – – and that is why the character of this church radiates thru our photos. We even climbed up the bell tower fr a good sunset view.

old church is not grandiose but so beautiful

old church is not grandiose but so beautiful

solemnity inside this very old church

solemnity inside this very old church

climb up the bell tower and see these antique church bells

climb up the bell tower and see these antique church bells

On a late afternoon, this is the view from the top of the church

On a late afternoon, this is the view from the top of the church

the old parola looks like it is ready to sink

the old parola looks like it is ready to sink

the town hall in front of the church, at the town center

the town hall in front of the church, at the town center

 

ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATIONS

If Paliza del Rio is full, travelers may also consider a hotel at the town center. Prices are also reasonable, and one might say the rooms are a bit bigger. But for travelers bringing their cars, be forewarned that there is no parking area and you will have to park on the busy street (unlike at Paliza del Rio where there is secured parking).

the coffee shop/restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel at the town center

the coffee shop/restaurant at the ground floor of the hotel at the town center

aircon room for two at the Malayan

aircon room for two at the Malayan

family room accommodates 6-8

family room accommodates 6-8

 

 

AROUND PARACALE : Tricycles abound but the town is too small you can go around by foot. Booking a boat for Calaguas should be easy when coordinated with the hotel owners/managers. A small boat for up to 8 persons can be hired for as low as P5,000 and you can picnic on the island while the boat waits to take you back. Go early so you can lso leave early afternoon to avoid the rough seas.

Or you an hire a big boat like we did, even if there were just 11 of us, for P10,500. Life vests are provided.

Most of my friends were so mesmerized by Calaguas almost everyone was planning another trip. Better get there before the whole world conquers Calaguas.

HOW TO GET THERE. Paracale is a town before reaching Daet in Camarines Norte. Travel time by private car is about 8 hours. You can ride a bus (SUPERLINES, Cubao Terminal) and the fare is less than P500, one way, aircon.

NASUGBU : Sugbuan Festival

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The town of Nasugbu launched a first-ever Sugbuan Festival to stimulate tourism to the town as well as to promote better interaction with the many barangays and communities. I was one of the 40 bloggers/photographers invited to cover the three-day event. The Kakanin Festival, a segment of the Sugbuan Festival is covered in a separate blog I wrote earlier.

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Nasugbu is a first class municipality and the largest town in Western Batangas. I have been to this town famous for its beach resorts many times before – –  as this town covers both Terrazas de Punta Fuego and the Peninsula de Punta Fuego  which I often go to. It is also from a private wharf on this town where I once boarded a boat that took me to an island resort owned by the Levistes.

Nasugbu is defined by the rolling hills, mountain and sea. Quite naturally, its main industries are agriculture and aquaculture. Hectares and hectares of sugarcane fields plus some farms planted with rice and vegetables and fish from the oceans make Nasugbu self-sufficient and wealthy. Good reason to celebrate and create a festival highlighting the towns wealth thru its crops.

The main event of the festival is the whole-day parade that features floats and street dancing, with students from the various schools in this town all dressed up in creatively designed costumes and chating to their hearts’ content. The floats featured the muses from each barangay, escorted by the dashing barangay chiefs.

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The Floats were ingenious in their design in spite of the limited budget, this being Year 1 and no major sponsors were tapped. With the concept, and the innate creativity of the people of Nasugbu, this can be another Kadayawan or Panagbenga in the making.

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"live" fish on the net

“live” fish on the net

Huge skirt makes this beauty look like a giant

Huge skirt makes this beauty look like a giant

low budget but high on impact

low budget but high on impact

STREET DANCING. The street dancers ranged from 6 year old grade schoolers to senior high school students. There were bands with pretty majorettes, props to highlight the stories in their dance, and attention-getting devices like lighting a fire on a pot.

Majorettes

This street dance sequence used nets and prawns to highlight one of the town's industries

This street dance sequence used nets and prawns to highlight one of the town’s industries

Bountiful Harvest

Let Us set this on fire

MISS NASUGBU: The crowning of the town’s most beautiful girl was scheduled in the evening and it seemed the whole population of the town – – all the way to barangays in the town’s fringes as well as the mountain barangays seem to have descended and rooted for their own muses. The girls performed the night before for the thrilled crowd, showing off their talents and special skills.

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I must commend the good mayor for such an initiative. This is a major undertaking. From what I saw on the first SUGBUAN, this festival will grow to be a much anticipated yearly event. And will draw visitors from faraway places. And fill in the town’s many hotels and resorts. Great idea, Mayora

Gift for the good mayor