Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stranded in Bohol

My partner-consultant, Engr. Jun Rusiana and I just finalized our draft of the 5-year business plan of the Metro San Pascual Waterworks Service Cooperative (MSPWASCO). We agreed with the coop management to present the output in the holidays toward the end of December 2014.

December 28

Following the same route as in my first visit in November 2014, I traveled to Ubay, Bohol via Cebu. I met Sir Jun at Pier 1 and together took the boat (fast craft) to Tubigon, Bohol. Then hired a private car to bring us to San Pascual, Ubay, Bohol.

We arrived at the coop office at 10am. We immediately did the output presentation to the Board of Directors and Management staffs of MSPWASCO. The activity concluded successfully at 4pm.

The rains that afternoon started pouring heavily. As we also did before, we spent an overnight at GV Hotel in Ubay Poblacion.

December 29

Then Typhoon Seniang landfell in Bohol, cancelling all boat trips to Cebu. Now that most stranded passengers crowded Tubigon port, the chance to find seats in the boat once cleared by Customs would be slim. So we decided to spend the night at a hotel in Tubigon, Bohol. The competition for a hotel room in the town was too tight, given its limited number of paid accommodations. Fortunately, we were given one room to share at Monina Inn.

December 30

Another day has gone and the typhoon passed by but the storm signal was still raised so all boat trips to Cebu has not resumed yet. I actually had hotel reservation at Cebu Bayfront Hotel for the night but it seemed like I really couldn't cross the sea. It would be too late to cancel the reservation. So I offered it as a gift to Ma'am Stella. I later knew that it was unused because she tied at home entertaining visitors.

I decided to reroute my flight to Manila via Tagbilaran City instead. I spent another night at Hotel Soledad in the city.

December 31

I finally flew back to Manila at the eve of the new year. This was my very first time to be stranded in a faraway place around New Year holiday.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Family Christmas in Subic

December 25

Our first Christmas together as a family here in Metro Manila. Most of our family Christmases were shared in our hometown, Anao-aon in Surigao del Norte province. Since Papa Tantong and Mama Dulcing were invited to stay with us since 2013 to help care my niece, baby Wanwan, this was the very first time that were complete (Papa, Mama, my Sis En and me). Last year supposedly but was interrupted by the super-typhoon Yolanda, when my elder bother's family were among the victims. Papa Tantong went home to welcome my nephews and nieces.

Now that we're complete, except of course for my older brothers' families, I decided to bring us all to Subic Bay in Olongapo City.

We departed from our place in San Jose del Monte City at 6 o'clock of Christmas Day; Jun, En's hubby driving. We arrived in Subic around noon. En had reserved a family room at the Venezia Hotel and Casino but the check in time was at 2pm yet. So we visited the Ocean Adventure Park and lunched there. I was grateful that Papa Tantong, who's no longer fond of the crowd had ignored this kind of phobia and enjoyed all the shows, from jumping-diving dolphins, to tricky sea lions, and to African acrobats.

That night after check in, we check the Harbor Point and dined there before spending family slumber party inside our suite.

December 26

We did our city tour that morning after our breakfast at the nearby Jollibee outlet. We drove through the almost empty streets of SBMA, reached the beach area, took a pose at the harbor, and the remnants of the old fortress. After which we headed back home.

I was more grateful to have such a wonderful, out of town family Christmas getaway, to later know that it was our last Christmas to share with Papa Tantong. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Wan Whole Family Cooling in Baguio

Nov 1 and 2, 2014 were the final dates. These were the days I fulfilled my promise to bring my whole family to Baguio City.

I have been mentioning the idea to my parents since September 2014 several days before Papa Tantong suffered another heart attack. After spending few days in hospital, he was sort of saying his last wills and goodbyes. We, his children, were trying to lighten up his mood and give him will to live on. And one of the things that inspired him is the thought of spending a day or two in Baguio City. This was my father's first time; second time for Mama Dulcing, my sister En, En's husband Jun, and Jun's sister Cel. Our little baby Wanwan and her nanny, Tatang, are also first timers in the summer capital city of the Philippines. I was quite confident this time to tug along the whole family (8 in total) because we have our private car.

Then we climbed the Cordillera Mountains on November 1, the All Saints' Day. We started the drive at 4am from our residence at San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan. We took the NLEX (Noth Luzon Expressway) at Bocaue entrance and then the SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) at Clark entrance and finally the TPLEX (Tarlac-Pangasinan Expressway) and exited at Carmen-Rosales point. We drove through the Maguilas Trail from TPLEX exit point (right turn) to Binalonan, Pangasinan where the trail merged with the MacArthur National Highway. Then we took the Kennon Road from Rosario, La Union on our way up the cool city. This was a drive that will put to test my bro-in-law's agility for a long drive, with Papa as the coach; Papa was used to be our driver but not for this tour. With senior citizens and a baby on board, we crossed the whole stretch of the way at 80 to 90 kph.

I booked our one night's room accommodation at the Baguio Teacher's Camp with the help of my colleagues in the Department of Education. Special mention goes to Sir Dakila Nadua of DepED Central Office. We reached the camp at around 11am and were given one whole 3-BR cottage. While waiting for the cottage to be cleaned and ready for us, we picnicked at the camp grounds to eat our breakfast provision.

Having settled our stuffs at the assigned cottage, we commenced our city tour by visiting the Wright Park, posing at the horse-drawn carriage, followed by a groupie at the Mansion, then we climbed up the Good Shepherds, shopping some ube jams from its souvenir shop. Then we decided to take rest in the afternoon. At night we visited Burnham Park and Camp John Hay and participated in the crowd at the Night Market. That following dawn, we indeed experienced chill of 15 degrees Celsius cool climate. We did our religious tour in the second day, starting the morning with holy mass at the City Cathedral and lighting candles at the Lourdes Grotto. That afternoon before we went down, we dropped by the Philippine Military Army's Camp. Back to Pangasinan, we also dropped by the Manaoag Church.

We made the wrong turn on our way back from Manaoag, Pangasinan. We ditched the Maguilas Trail because it was dark already and followed the MacArthur National Highway only to be trapped from Urdaneta City to Villasis to Carmen for 4 full, painful hours. We arrived home at around 1am. Nevertheless, my family enjoyed the Baguio trip.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Wan Pilgrimage for a Family Thankgiving

We are a family of Roman Catholics; not really that religious but quite devoted. We siblings grew in the church, my brothers and I served as altar boys. We learned many great things in the church, in fact I earned many beautiful experiences that helped me grew to what I am now in the church ministry.

My parents are devotees of Mother Mary, and they raced us the same. My sister and I are active members of the Association of Children of Mary Immaculate, better known as COM, even until now that we are away from our home parish.

To find a very special religious place dedicated to Mother Mary, such as Rosarii Institute of Contemplation in Asia (RICA), is such an exciting destination. In fact, I have been planning to pay visit to this shrine since the day I discovered it in the internet through a funrun invite. That funrun was in Tanay, and being used to spend sidetrips while in new places, I searched for anything more to do in the place, then I browsed the Regina RICA.

The pilgrimage site is very far, isolated and interior. You really need to charter a private car to get to here. For our family to come from San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan, the trip took us about 2 hours to get there. I doubt if there's public transport that passes through or nearby. We followed the Marcos Highway all the way to the end (seems like the end though). My father kept asking how far it is yet every time we passed a village, an intersection, a corner turn. Just be patient though, since you will only notice some signage about the destination beyond San Jose, Antipolo.

The entire place is huge, wide and hilly. Be ready to walk up and down the hill. Start your climb through the St. Mary's Trail, then wait for the orientation (for firsttimers) at the foot of the 71-foot Mother Mary statue. A 10:40am holy mass is daily celebrated, should you miss it, say a prayer at the adoration chapel inside the statue. What else to do? Subscribe to ATM (Adopt a Tree Movement); light a 20-peso candle; and join the MOM - at least for us (don't know if this million signature campaign will last for a long time).

There's only one small restaurant inside the area, with limited choices of food items, can easily get crowded and hence emptied with food stocks. Better bring in foods because there are plenty of picnic areas and cottages to unload and enjoy them all, especially with family.

Take note however that the place is closed on Tuesdays.