30 August 2010

Spontaneous Saturday at Rizal

As my Saturday (August 27) plans got cancelled one after the other, I was ready to resign myself to an uneventful day of rest - perhaps busy myself doing trivial activities that have so long required my attention. Yet, my luck didn't run out as I've calculated. Marjorie responded to my SMS informing me she was free that afternoon for whatever I had planned. And although I didn't really have much of an itinerary set out except that I was ready for a back packing trip to wherever - we agreed to do a spontaneous adventure at Rizal. Bahala na si Batman.

Marjorie picked me up at 1.30 in the afternoon and we headed to Antipolo City. The first on our unplanned list of to-do things was to have her car blessed.

It has been a popular practice to bring newly acquired cars to the Antipolo Church - a beautiful shrine situated in the heart of Antipolo City devoted to the Virgin of Antipolo, also known as the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Having the car blessed is a tradition believed by many to keep the car, as well as its owners safe from harm especially whenever on the road - think of the many recent bus accidents. In addition, those who intend to travel long distances, go abroad for example, would visit the Shrine prior to their departure to pray for a fruitful and safe trip.

It was a fairly clear and sunny day, and we arrived with a funeral car leaving the church and a wedding about to commence. We were directed towards the office where Marjorie deposited a donation for the blessing.

With my dad's SLR, here are some of the unedited photos of Antipolo Church.

We found a photographer hanging around the place and requested him to take a photo of us near the church doors. So here I am, with Marjorie in the front steps of the Antipolo Church, baking under the August sun.

At a far right side of the Church, a rack of candles holders was installed, with a few lighted ones melting wax. A curious human-shaped wax figure (that somewhat resembles the gingerbread man) and three red candles attached to it with a thin cord caught my fancy, my initial thoughts were of course, voodoo or some sort of black magic. But then, I'm sure the Church wouldn't have tolerated that sort of practice being propagated on its grounds. Asking around, we learned that this oddly fashioned candle was meant to drive away bad spirits and diseases from specific individuals being prayed for by their relatives and friends.

Please, if I'm in grave sickness, just visit me and bring me some apples. Don't burn candles for me.

Before leaving, we passed by a small market place just outside the church grounds. There, vendors would hawk their goods - from casuy treats, sticky rice desserts to prayer booklets and special amulets. Knowing well that people aren't always inclined to purchase their wares, some vendors can be quite tricky and use emotional guilt against soft hearted passers by. Some of their lines after one's decline of a transaction are: "Maawa ka naman kay lola" (Have pity on this grandmother), "Pambili lang po namin ng bigas sa pamilya" (We need this so we can buy some rice for the family), "Para sa tuition ko lang po" (For my tuition fee).

Who are we to say no? - but when three or five are huddled around you, pushing their necklaces and figurines to your face, and you can see a whole bunch of new vendors eying you like vultures and hyenas ready to leap in after the hunters have enjoyed their meal, I just turned apathetic and walked away.

Antipolo is known for its amazing night view of the city, and that is one of the attractions we were hoping to see. With hours to kills before night fall, Marjorie and I decided to have a late lunch at the Balaw-Balaw at Angono, Rizal - the hometown of artists. Two of the Philippine's national artists hail from this town namely musician Lucio San Pedro and painter Carlos Botong Francisco.

I first learned about Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant at Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods and was curious of the different exotic dishes they have lined up. Taking from Pinoy Foods, here is a link to the exotic foods menu available at Balaw Balaw.

Upon entering, one is greeted by a variety of masks pentel penned with greetings, commendations and encouragement by celebrities and patrons.
Aside from being an intriguing gastronomical treat, Balaw Balaw is also a small-scale museum for the amusement of those with an appetite for the local visual arts. With the sculptures and paintings of Mr. Perdigon framed and displayed throughout the place, customers are given tours around the Perdigon house. Below are some of the photographs I managed to take of the place.

For those who'd like to pay a visit:
Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant
16 Don Justo, Dona Justa Village, Angono, Rizal
(02) 651-0110

After our late lunch of crickets (would've been perfect as a pulutan), adobong usa and crispy kangkong, we headed to Thunderbirds Resort, which was a few miles away. Before leaving Manila, my dad had been adamant about the place, insisting it was a must-go place. And due to the unexpected turn of plans, and Marjorie being intrigued after all my repetitious chatter about the place, we heeded dad's advice and were definitely not disappointed. Awe struck, the said resort felt like a nearby sanctuary we can easily retreat to when Manila life is getting a bit too wacky for our sanity.

It was a steep drive around a winding cliff, but upon reaching the top, only then do you realize the haven you've taken yourself to. Overlooking the Laguna de Bay, Thunderbirds resort is a quiet and relaxing space to gather oneself and take a breather. We were in such a divinely ecstatic state that Marj and I were already compelled to stay the night - of course, this wouldn't be possible for many reasons.

Driving down, we were greeted with glimpses of the city from below - a seemingly strange and other worldly vision of lights and buildings. We drove back to Antipolo and got ourselves seats at Padi's Point where the wide expanse of lights and structures lay abound. Dots of airplanes buzzing through the navy sky.

We wish we had taken a different, more serene hub to have our late dinner, but we were in agreement. Antipolo is definitely a great date place, and we intend to venture back there soon.

1 comment:

Lydia said...

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