Sanib Pwersa @ SM North EDSA March 22-25, 2019

A first-ever show featuring three Japanese art forms will open on March 22, 2019 and will run up to March 25. Dubbed as Sanib Pwersa, the exhibit will feature around 200 bonsai trees from the members of the Philippine Bonsai Society, the country’s premiere and most prestigious bonsai club. PBSI is the lead organization, having mounted huge bonsai and suiseki (viewing stones) exhibitions and conventions annually, including exhibits hosted for the international organization called Bonsai Clubs International (BCI), regional conventions for ASPAC and for ABFF, plus national shows every year.

The 2019 exhibit is joined by partner clubs Natural Stones Society of the Philippines (NSSP) which will showcase suiseki, or landscape and figure stones collected from all over the Philippines and in other parts of the world, and the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Manila which will display some ikebana arrangements.

I am showing some of my viewing stones collections to give readers an idea of what suisekis are. The exhibit and competition will be judged by an international panel of masters and experts from Taiwan, Japan and the USA. Bonsai Master Yen, from Taiwan is one of the judges, alongside another Taiwan master and another master from Japan, Kunio Kobayashi.

On the afternoon of the March 22 opening day, Master Kobayashi will do a live demo on how to create magnificent bonsais from raw trees. He will have Prof Amy Liang, another master from the National Bonsai Assn of Taiwan as partner in the demo. Here is how Master Kobayashi did his demo in the last national convention in Taiwan.

There are lectures and demos from March 22 to 24. Learn from the masters. This is a very rare opportunity.

The exhibit is open to the public, in partnership with SM Supermalls. Catch it at The Block Atrium, SM City North EDSA.

San Nicolas, Batangas

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San Nicolas is along Taal Lake and is the smallest town in the province of Batangas. It is so small for it was part of the town of Taal, and only became a separate town in 1955. Inevitably, its history is closely linked to Taal.

 

The largest basilica in Asia which now stands in Taal is actually Taal’s second basilica.

 

TAAL’S FIRST BASILICA

(from WIKIPEDIA) “In 1575, 3 years after the founding of Taal town in its old site near the shores of Taal Lake  work began on the construction of its first church by Father Diego Espinar (O.S.A.) with Saint Martin of Tours as patron saint. The church was rebuilt in 1642 using stronger materials but in 1754, it was destroyed along with the town of Taal in the largest recorded eruption of Taal Volcano This event led to transfer of the town and the church farther away from the volcano to its present site atop an elevated hill facing Balayan Bay. The ruins of the previous church can still be seen in San Nicolas.”

The first basilica is now nothing but ruins, but is the most interesting spot in San Nicolas that draws visitors to this little town. I did a copy paste of the church ruins history posted outside of the ruins.

Noticeably, the structure is principally made of corals, just like how most of the churches in southern Luzon and the Visayas were made.

 

One can not help but visualize how the church stood in its glory days even as there is now nothing except its shell.

 

Today, statues of saints have been erected outside of the walls of the ruins.

 

GATEWAY TO TAAL VOLCANO

While the town of Talisay is the default gateway, loading hundreds of visitors onto boats for a visit to the volcano island, the town of Nicolas lays claim to being the real gateway. They are the closest to the volcano, about 3-4 kilometers away, and a mere 30 minute boat ride.

The promenade that the town has built around the lake draws visitors for a view of the lake, the volcano, and Mt. Maculot on the background.

 

 

 

 

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SAN NICOLAS

Other than taking a boat ride and trekking Taal, here are two interesting things to do in San Nicolas.

Have lunch at the local restaurant serving the very rare maliputo, a fish species caught only in Taal Lake. On one visit, I had one cooked two ways (a portion was grilled, the other portion made into sinigang). And the famous tawilis. Unfortunately, they do not have these everyday. Try your luck.

(photo taken by my friend Bobby Taron)

 

BIRD SANCTUARY 

(photo taken by my friend Bobby Taron)

I did not experience this myself. But the tourism poster at the maliputo place indicated that this is a special attraction in San Nicolas.

 

 

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Segara Villas in Subic

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This is a cluster of 10 or so villas. Actually single detached hotel rooms that provide utmost privacy. Guests do not have next-wall neighbors. On top of privacy, discriminating guests will find that the villas are so well designed, inside and outside. Guests walk through a shaded garden pathway with interesting accents like jars and water features. When one gets to his villa, a comfortable lounge awaits, and a wide, orthopedic bed with linen and pillows one finds in 5-star hotels.

Aesthetics. I have always loved things Balinese and I have enough of it in Segara. Even the bathroom features a small, narrow open space one sees through a glass panel, creating an outdoorsy feeling while in the tub or shower.

The swimming pool is immaculate, and never busy.  Or at least that is how I have seen it in my last four visits. It is possible that the swimming pool might go busy in summer, as it is also accessible to the guest of the adjoining Segara Suites. No matter. I have a good view of the pool when I am in the terrace of my favorite executive villa called Lovina.

wilderness, right within a meter from my veranda

 

The service is always excellent. Even at the restaurant.

No wonder Segara remains as my default home in Subic. And I continue to share experiences to fellow travelers while paying full rates in all hotels, and not getting anything for free, as I have always thought that bloggers should be honest in their review (not tainted by freebies).

I took photos using only my iPhone. For better photos and more details (rates, bookings, how to get there etc)

http://www.segaravillassubic.com/

Church of San Matias – – Tumauini, Isabela

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Tumauini is a first class town located at the northern portion of the province of Isabela, 68 kilometers from Tuguegarao, past the town of Cabagan.

The Tumauini Church  was built in the 1780s by the Dominicans, in the Baroque style, and is considered to be the best preserved church in the province. Made entirely of red  bricks, the  4-storey bell tower which was subsequently added was also done in bricks that some have described to look like a wedding cake.

 

The Church of Tumauini was declared a National Historical Landmark on February 24, 1989, and is on the Tentative List of Unesco World Heritage.

 

 

San Pablo Church – the most beautiful in Isabela

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nothing but a facade

 

Went to all churches in Isabela on a recent tour. I could say all of the churches were interesting. But one stood out.

 

San Pablo is a second class municipality 21 kilometers south of Tuguegarao via the Maharlika Highway. Travel time is 26 minutes.

This church is the oldest in Isabela and stands out because the whole facade and the belltower, the tallest in the whole Cgayan Valley, are what really remain of what was probably one of the biggest churches in the region. Behind the facade, and actually way behind is a re-built church that still uses the walls of the old church. To think that between the old facade and the new church is a wide area that looks like a patio. Then one would know that the whole church then included the re-built church and this wide front space !

the rebuilt church behind the facade. Note the huge front yard, part of the original church

 

inside the rebuilt church. Note that walls are those of the original structure, and these walls flow into the empty space in front

 

the walls from inside the rebuilt church continue into this, now the facade of the smaller rebuilt church. One concludes this space was part of the original structure

 

the stairway to the bell tower

 

HOW MUST IT HAVE LOOKED THEN?
In front of the facade is what one will conclude to be the original church frontyard. It is marvelous and eerie at the same time.

When other photographers finally find this church, they will agree – – it is the most photographable church in Isabela.

the oldest, and most photographable

 

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The Tuguegarao Cathedral

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The Tuguegarao Cathedral is officially known as  the  Saint Peter Metropolitan Cathedral. The historical marker tells the full story, more than I can ever attempt to do.

 

Architecture is baroque, typical of churches built in the 18th century. The details on the main door are impressive that one can not resist taking photos.

 

 

 

It is one of the largest churches in Cagayan Valley and, Tuguegarao being the nerve center of the province, the cathedral is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.

Waze brought me from Piat 42 kilometers away to Tuguegaro Cathedral in 30 minutes.

Our Lady of Piat, Cagayan Valley

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At first I thought this beautiful church was in Tuguegarao. Then Waze directed me to the town of Piat,  42  kilometers  from Tuguegarao City.

It felt like Manaoag with the hundreds of devotees. I thought this was going to be some sleepy town with a beautiful church.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Piat  is one of the twelve minor basilicas in the country, and is home to the 400+ year old Black Virgin Mary.

I went to several churches in the region and noticed that most of them, like the Basilica of Our Lady of Piat, are made of red bricks, unlike the churches in the Visayas made mostly of coral rocks and stones.

The altar looks like the one in Manaoag, with the image of Our Lady of Piat enclosed in a glass case. Access is at the rear of the church where pilgrims queue towards a staircase leading to the glass-enclosed image – – where they can touch the dress of Our Lady.

Notice the man inside the glass case on the altar – – he is one of the hundreds who queued at the rear of the church for access to touch Our Lady’s dress