Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 12): Why Cebuanos Call Mama Mary as Birhen sa Regla?

Birhen sa Regla image that I brought from Cebu


There is one church on Mactan Island that piqued my curiosity during my first visit to the Province of Cebu. That church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary under the title of “Birhen sa Regla”.

“Why regla?”, I asked. Is Mama Mary a patron saint for ladies suffering dysmenorrhea and pains related to menstruation? Is regla the Cebuano word for blood?

These questions popped to my mind because we Tagalogs define regla as menstruation. I didn’t find having a patron saint for ladies suffering menstrual pains implausible because the Catholic Church has many saints for “random” and “weird” things. An example would be St. Eligius who is the patron saint of gas station and garage workers. In fact, there is a saint who is called upon during menstrual cramps. He is a guy and the general of the Theban Legion named Maurice.



A little Google search revealed that my assumption that regla means menstruation is wrong. Regla is actually an abbreviation of the Spanish word reglamento, which means rule. In short Birhen sa Regla is Our Lady of the Rule in English.

The veneration of Our Lady of the Rule was said to be begun by St. Augustine. According to tradition, St. Augustine has an image of a black Virgin Mary and through that image the saint received the rule that he used to guide his monastic community.

The altar of Opon Church featuring the image of Birhen sa Regla

The islands of Cebu and Mactan were placed under the care of the Augustinians. Thus, it is not surprising that they brought the veneration of the Birhen sa Regla to the islands. The veneration became so popular that the people of Opon (the old name of Lapu-Lapu City) has a big fiesta honoring the black virgin.

The image of Birhen sa Regla was so dear to the people that they offer their precious jewelries for every answered prayer. The image was adorned by precious things until the parish priest decided to remove it after a robbery incident.

I was so oblivious of the fame of the Birhen sa Regla that I didn’t even know that the church where I attended a Sunday mass during my first visit to Cebu housed her famous image!

As newbie collector of Marian images, I found the image of Birhen sa Regla in Cebu unique to the many Marian images that I saw in this archipelago. I considered her as a defining image of Cebu.

My image of Birhen sa Regla


I brought home an image of the Birhen sa Regla and she is now placed in our living room.

What I like with this image is that she holds another image that is so popular in Cebu. And that is the image of the Santo Niño.

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Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!
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Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 11): Sto. Niño Basilica - Mother and Head of All Churches of the Philippine Islands

The finding of the Santo Niño by Juan Camus


In a partially burned hut, Juan found a pine box gilded with gold. The Spanish soldier opened the box, hoping to find some treasures hidden by indios. Alas! What he found is not gold or silver. What he found is something much more valuable: the image of the Santo Niño.

The accidental discovery of the holy image in Sugbu (now Cebu) is the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines.

According to historical accounts, the image of the Santo Niño discovered by Juan Camus was the same image given by Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon about 44 years earlier. The discovery of the image was seen as a divine sign by Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of their victory in the Philippines.

Restored Santo Niño Cathedral in Cebu City

A church, made of wood and nipa, were immediately built on the very spot where the Santo Niño was discovered. The first church for the Santo Niño destroyed by fire and so was the second church that replaced it.

The stone church for the Santo Niño standing today is the third church structure and was finished around 1739.

Devotees attend the holy mass outside of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

This stone structure of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is not impregnable because it was almost destroyed by an earthquake. I have seen the ruins firsthand when I visited Cebu City in 2014, about 4 months after the devastating earthquake in Bohol.

Bell tower of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño ruined by the Bohol Earthquake

The basilica’s bell tower collapsed and only half of it remained standing.

Good thing that the basilica is not off limits to visitors that’s I was able to enter it. However, masses have to be held outside of the basilica for the safety of Santo Niño devotees. I actually attended a mass at the open space fronting the Basilica.

Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City ruined by Bohol Earthquake

The ruins of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño made the somber atmosphere in the area. Even the vendors around the basilica felt sad seeing their church in ruins.

Balloon vendor outside of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

The lively atmosphere around the Basilica is back during my visit to Cebu City in 2016. The Basilica was restored thanks to the help of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

The Basilica now has a new belfry.

Renovated bell tower of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

Even the whole façade of the Basilica was restored and look new.

Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

Devotees can now attend masses inside the Basilica and visit the Santo Niño without the fear of being buried under the rubble. Tourists like me can safely marvel at the beauty of the seemingly golden altar of the Basilica.

Altar of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

There is one painting inside the Basilica that I enjoyed looking at. It depicts the Santo Niño with his staff pointing towards Cebu.

Painting of the Santo Niño in the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

The message of the painting is clear. It shows that Cebu is the center of Christianity in the Philippines. Cebu is the fertile land where the seeds of Faith took root and bear a hundredfold.

This is the reason why the Holy See declared the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño as Mater et Caput Omnium Ecclesiarum Insularum Philippinarum or the Mother and Head of All Churches of the Philippine Islands.

Image of the Santo Niño outside of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño, Cebu City

This declaration by the Church only shows the great importance of the Basilica and the Santo Niño to the Filipinos. They are the anchor of our faith and culture.

Candles outside of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu City

Aside from being the center of Catholic Faith and anchor of Filipino culture, the Basilica also serves as a landmark of World History. In front of the Basilica stands the bronze marker commemorating the journeys of Fray Andres de Urdaneta.

Historical marker showing the travels of Fray Andres de Urdaneta outside of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño, Cebu City

Urdaneta is the navigator of the Legazpi Expedition. He is also the first prelate of Cebu. He made a mark in world history for discovering the tornaviaje or the return route from Philippines to Mexico, which became the vital route of Spanish galleons during the great Galleon Trade.

Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño as shown in the Urdaneta Brass Marker

Some historians said that children had special place in the heart of the indios that the Spanish met during the colonization of the Philippines. This is the reason why the Cebuanos readily accepted the Santo Niño in to their hearts. I believe that God, in some way, Christianized the whole country through His humility as a child.

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Read about my previous visits to the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño:

Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño (2010)
Inside the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (2012)

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Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!
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Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 10): A Visit to the Fake(?) Magellan’s Cross

A visit to Ciudad de Cebu will never be complete without seeing the city’s iconic symbols: the image of Santo Niño and Magellan’s Cross. Both of these icons were gifts of the Purtoguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the Cebuanos.

My third visit to Magellan’s Cross was about one year after the destructive earthquake in Bohol. The earthquake is so strong that it destroyed the bell tower of the Minor Basilica of the Santo Niño.

Fortunately, the earthquake didn’t destroy Magellan’s Cross Shrine. However, it still has to undergo some repairs so the whole shrine was supported by wooden braces during my visit.

Magellan's Cross Shrine in Cebu City

The Magellan’s Cross Shrine is just a walking distance from the Basilica of the Santo Niño. It is located just in front of the Cebu City Hall.

Magellan’s Shrine is very accessible to public transport. Any tourist can hail taxi cab to go here. Another alternative, particularly for those who want to save money, is by riding a multicab with a Cebu Cathedral placard.

Magellan's Cross Shrine in Cebu City

I am glad that the shrine was not closed to the public despite the fact that it is under renovation. What’s missing are the old manangs who offer prayers (for a fee) and dances in front of Magellan’s Cross. I think the cross is already off limits to them while the Shrine is under repair.

Just like in my first visit, Megallan’s Cross Shrine still has no entrance fee.

Magellan's Cross in Cebu City

Magellan’s Cross survived the earthquake but it still had to be supported by wooden braces.

The cross was erected by Ferdinand Magellan after Rajah Humabon, king of Sugbu, and his subjects converted to Christianity.

The marker at the foot of the cross says that the cross on display is made of Tindalo wood that encases the original cross that was planted by Magellan on the current spot of the Shrine in 1521.

Marker of Magellan's Cross in Cebu City

The original Magellan’s Cross was encased in another wooden cross to protect it from the elements and from people who chip parts of the cross for its alleged miraculous powers.

It is difficult to believe that Magellan’s Cross existed for more than 500 hundred years. There are many people who argue that the current Magellan’s Cross is a fake and that the original cross was destroyed a long time ago. Some even say that Rajah Humabon destroyed the original cross as a proof to Lapu-Lapu that he is no longer allied with the Spaniards.




Rajah Humabon, after the defeat of Magellan in the Battle of Mactan, feared retaliation from the victorious Lapu-Lapu. So, he massacred the remaining Spaniards to show that he is no longer allied with them. I guess that the destruction of the original Magellan’s Cross by Humabon’s men is not too farfetched.

Another proof that the original Magellan’s Cross is gone is that Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who finally colonized the Philippines for Spain, made no mention of the cross. The discovery of the image of Santo Niño was mentioned but there is no account on Magellan’s Cross. The lack of mention to an important relic such as the Cross may mean that it no longer exists.

Mural on the ceiling of Magellan's Cross Shrine in Cebu City

The mural on the ceiling of Magellan’s Cross Shrine depicts two scenes that happened during Ferdinand Magellan’s sojourn in Cebu. The scenes are the planting of the Cross and the other is the baptism of Rajah Humabon and his subjects.

Painters of the mural in Magellan's Cross Shrine, Cebu City

The mural was painted by Serry M. Josol and Jose Ma. Roa in 1965.

Unfortunately, little is known about these two painters. Even Google couldn’t provide reliable information. Jose Ma. Roa's surname is similar to the middle name of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. I wonder if the two are relatives.

There is a great possibility that the original Magellan’s Cross is already gone and that what is displayed in the shrine is just a replica. However, this does not reduce the importance of Magellan’s Shrine because it commemorates an important piece of Filipino history and the birth of our Christian Faith.

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Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!
A Foretaste of Cebu in Mactan Cebu International Airport

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Information for this post was obtained from the following sources:

Magellan's Cross in Cebu Living
Retrato
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Laag-Laag sa Cebu (Part 9): The Story of Rajah Humabon - King of Cebu

There is a small spot in Cebu City that I didn’t give much attention during my past visits. That spot, fronting the Cebu Cathedral Museum, finally caught my eyes when I saw a statue of Pintado.

Rajah Humabon Monument in Cebu City


I wondered why a precious space would be given up for this statue.

I realized, upon closer inspection, that that statue is Rajah Humabon, the king of Cebu when the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, “discovered” the Philippines for Spain.

Statue of Rajah Humabon in Cebu City


Rajah Humabon, also known as Hamabar, is the king (rajah) of the kingdom of Singhapala (now part of Cebu City). He is the son of Sri Bantug and the grandson of Sri Lumay, who came from Sumatra (now part of Indonesia). Thus, we can say that the Cebuanos today are directly related with the Sumatrans.

Marker for Rajah Humabon in Cebu City

A marker, located a short distance from Rajah Humabon’s statue, contains inscription of a brief historical accounts about Rajah Humabon.



The inscription says:

Rajah Humabon was the first Filipino chieftain to embrace Christianity, regarded as the as the wisest and bravest man in the island. When Ferdinand Magellan landed on Cebu on Sunday, April 7, 1521, Rajah Humabon made a blood compact with Magellan as a symbol of their newfound friendship. Captivated by its noble teachings, Rajah Humabon was converted to Christianity. 
On Sunday morning, April 14, 1521, Humabon and his wife Humamal, and about 800 Cebuanos were baptized. Humabon was given the name Carlos in honor of King Charles V of Spain and his wife Queen Juana after King Charles' mother. 
In remembrance of the occasion, Magellan gave Queen Juana an image of the Child Jesus as a gift, while a large cross was erected to mark the baptismal site.
Inscription in the markerw for Rajah Humabon in Cebu City


The image of the Child Jesus that Queen Juana received is the same image of Santo Niño that is enshrined in the Minor Basilica of Santo Niño and is deeply revered by all Cebuanos. Meanwhile, the large cross is the Magellan’s Cross that is on display near the Minor Basilica.

The inscription didn’t mention the third gift that Magellan gave to Rajah Humabon. That gift is the Ecce Homo is the Latin for “Behold the Man”, which Pontius Pilate said when he presented the scourged Jesus Christ to the crowd.

Santo Niño Pointing at Cebu
Painting of the Santo Niño. Notice his staff pointing at Cebu.

The inscription said Rajah Humabon was captivated by the noble teachings of Christianity. I do not believe this. What I believe is that Humabon had practical reasons he made a blood compact with Magellan and why he converted to Christianity.

One reason is the miraculous healing of Rajah Humabon’s uncle. Antonio Pigafetta did elaborate on the procedures done by the Spaniards but folklore says that the Santo Niño is the one who healed Humabon’s uncle.

A more practical reason is the chieftain of Mactan, who is now popularly known as Lapu-Lapu.

I read in Eye in the Sky’s blog that Lapulapu Dimantag came to Cebu from Borneo and asked Rajah Humabon for lands. Humabon gave the region Mandawili (now called as Mandaue) and the Island of Opong (now Opon) in the hope that Lapulapu’s tribe will cultivate it. Unfortunately, Lapu-Lapu turned to piracy and attacked merchant vessels calling at Cebu which affected trade in Cebu.

I guess that Rajah Humabon was impressed with the European’s guns, cannons, and big ships. That's why he asked Magellan to kill Lapu-Lapu for him.

Battle of Mactan in 1521
The Battle of Mactan (Source: Wikipedia)

The Battle of Mactan against Lapu-Lapu resulted in the loss for the Spaniards and the death of Magellan. The newfound friendship turned sour as Rajah Humabon tried to massacre the remaining Spaniards during a feast. Some say that Humabon did this to avenge the Cebuanas who were raped by the Spaniards. I believe, however, that this is a way for Humabon to show to Lapu-Lapu that he is no longer allied with the Spaniards and thus avoiding further conflict. The Europeans who survived left Cebu and continued their journey back to Spain, thus circumnavigating the world for the first time.

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Read more of my latest adventure in the island of Cebu!
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Various historical tidbits for this post about Rajah Humabon came from the following sources:

Humabon’s Jesus icon returning to Cebu by Ador Vincent S. Mayol and Candeze R. Mongaya
Magellan’s gift by Jobers Bersales
Rajah Humabon in Wikipedia
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A Test of Patience: My Son Killed the External Hard Drive

My Hard Drive is Dead


My external hard drive just died today and the culprit is my 2-year old Son.

What happened was an accident. My little son pulled the antenna wire which in turn pulled out the external hard drive from its place on the TV rack. The virtual storage of our memories hit the tiled floor from a height of about 5 feet. It no longer worked ever since.

Our external hard drive (EHD) contains my important files such as copies of my papers written during my college years, Word files of my blog posts, and our precious videos and photos dating back to my teenage years.

I am somehow thankful that I backed up some of our precious photos to another EHD. The other files, however, are no longer recoverable.

The EHD is just one of the many gadgets that my son destroyed. The truth is that he already destroyed two cellphones, broke the screen of my smart phone (I am still using it), threw My Beloved Wife’s phone to a bowl that is full of water (it was not damaged thankfully), and destroyed my Lumix camera.



The recent incident with the EHD is a test of patience and letting go.

I didn’t felt extreme anger when I discovered that the EHD no longer works. I reasoned out that there’s no point getting angry about it and punishing my 2-year old for this accident will result into more problems (i.e. psychological and emotional).

I had to let go of the irrecoverable files stored in that EHD. It is sad that I will not be able to access those files but I can only move on.

I learned many lessons after this incident with the EHD. One important lesson is the importance of backing up my files. Another lesson is to keep our expensive gadgets in secure places that are out of reach of our makukulit na babies.

The last lesson is that my children are more important than mere things. That I should be more understanding, especially now they are still learning what is right or wrong. That I should be more patient with them and and should not place their emotional development in jeopardy.

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This a Daddy's Corner post!

Daddy's Corner is where I post my thoughts on my life as a Daddy to two wonderful kids and Husband to a very loving wife, and my journey in raising a family.
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Send Hugs to the Children of Marawi

1000 Bear Hugs for Marawi Children


The Department of Health (DOH) recently reported that evacuees, or bakwit, from the war torn Marawi experiences depression, trauma, and a host of mental disorder. DOH says that this is the effect of the bakwits’ the ongoing war between government forces and the Maute terrorists.

The DOH and DSWD are doing various interventions to help the bakwits cope with the depression. They do drawing, Zumba, sharing of experiences. Volunteer doctors and psychiatrists were also on board to help the refugees.


Unfortunately, these efforts are not enough. Thus, 1000BearHugs with the Dominican Province of the Philippines launched a toy drive campaign to help the most affected by the war in Marawi: the little children.

1000 Bear Hugs for Marawi Children

1000 Bearhugs is a special reach out to kids by kids put the spotlight to children displaced by disaster and conflict.



To children, teddy bears and stuffed toys are imaginary friends who are effective comfort givers in times of extreme stress and fear. These cute and cuddly toys will help them heal from trauma or tragedy.

1000 Bear Hugs for Marawi Children

1000 Bear Hugs only accepts toys that are:

1. Adorably cute and in good condition.
2. Huggable size (minimum of 6 inches height and maximum of 24 inches height)
3. Clean and ready for distribution

1000 Bear Hugs for Marawi Children

They do not accept the following toys:

1. Non-stuffed
2. Scary-looking
3. Pigs or wild animal replicas
4. Weapon-like (i.e. teddy bears holding a gun)
5. Battery-operated
6. Damaged or soiled

Those who are interested to send hugs to the children of Marawi may drop their cute and cuddly toys at the Sto. Domingo Parish Information Center, which located along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City.

1000 Bear Hugs for Marawi Children

The collection period is from June 15 to July 15.

For more information, you may send a message to @1000Bearhugs at Twitter.
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My Beloved Wife is Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
(Source: AskMen)

"Paano mo nakakaya ito? "

I exclaimed this after one exhausting Saturday. I was tired because of our hyper and super kukulit babies. 

My son, Samuel, is 2 years old and my daughter, Samantha, is now 1 year old and it is hard to keep them still.

My son runs around the house. He climbs up the sofa, the stairs and even the windows! My little daughter, who is already more ten kilos, always wanted to be carried up.

And it is more exhausting when we are in a shopping mall. Samuel runs and pulls things around. I have no choice but to run after him for fear of kidnappers. Also, I always keep an eye on him so that he will not break anything while we are in SM.



Eating out is also a messy affair since a lot of food drops to the floor because of Samuel and Samantha’s messy eating.

Samuel and Samantha are the reasons why I do not find rest during the weekends. Sometimes I even felt more tired on those days. 

That's why I am amazed that My Beloved Wife manages to take care of our children every single day. Aside from that, Lei wake up early to prepare by lunch box and my breakfast. She also does chores like cleaning the house and washing our dirty clothes.

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This a Daddy's Corner post!

Daddy's Corner is where I post my thoughts on my life as a Daddy to two wonderful kids and Husband to a very loving wife, and my journey in raising a family.
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SCAM ALERT! One Tagaytay Place Scam

"If it is too good to be true then it is probably untrue."

This is what I learned when I almost fell for the Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel scam.

Last year, I received a call from an unknown number. The caller said that I won a free overnight stay in Crown Regency Hotel in Cebu. I can claim the gift certificate by just watching a 90-minute presentation.

I smell something fishy so I didn't take the bait.

I thought that's the end of it.

I was wrong.

Last April, I received a call from a certain Andrea Madrigal. She told me that I won a free overnight stay in One Tagaytay Place Hotel. She also told me that I have to attend a 90-minute presentation to get the free gift certificate. She also promised that there will a free lunch buffet.

I was suspicious because she used the same script as in the Club Ultima /Crown Regency Hotel Scam but I confirmed my attendance, nonetheless.

Andrea Madrigal then texted me these messages:

One Tagaytay Place Scam
One Tagaytay Place Scam
One Tagaytay Place Scam

Her message says:

INVITATION TO: MR. and MRS. AHAB: You are receiving this text message to confirm our invitation to you as a selected recipient of Complimentary Room Night Gift Certificate at One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites. In order to claim the Gift Certificate with a free Lunch Buffet for two at around 11:30am Tomorrow.There is no financial obligation recipients are only required to bring 1 valid ID each with spouse and kindly finish the minimum of 90mins. hotel presentation to see our rooms/facilities and amenities of our h0tel in claiming the GC as this is part of our promotion. Our office is located in G/f aguinaldo agoncillo function Room Barrio Sungay Tagaytay City. before Picnic Groove we are in left side along the hi-way. Infront of our hotel we have 7-11 & PR Bank. Kindly look for me Ms. Andrea Madrigal or our receptionist Ms. Ana Mallari. Thank you
Andrea is quite persistent because she sent two more text messages. One text message says:

CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected by our company to receive a COMPLIMENTARY GIFT CERTIFICATE which is an OVERNIGHT STAY IN OUR PREMIER HOTEL-ONE TAGAYTAY PLACE HOTEL SUITES. The accommodation is good for 2adults & 2kids. Valid for 3months upon claiming the gift. It's Transferrable.  Have a blessed day...:-)
Another of her message says:

Hi! Andrea here kindly reply us back once you received the details/invitations. You will be reserve at V.I.P Table #8 for the Free Lunch Buffet for two and FREE PARKING RESERVED. It will be our pleasure to see you both here tomorrow. God bless and have a nice day ahead..:-)



It will be their pleasure to us indeed since they reeled in another victim.

My gut tells me that there is something wrong with the so-called "free" overnight hotel stay so I decided not to attend the 90-minute presentation.

Andrea called again the next morning so I apologized and told her that I will not come.

Her reply was, "Ano pa ang magagawa ng sorry mo?!"

Then she suddenly dropped the call.

Her attitude just confirmed that she's a scammer. A true hotel employee will not act the way she did.

I bet that she was mad that she will not get a commission  because her victim got away.

It seems that my name is still in their database so I will not be surprised if I will get another call or text message from another scammer.

I am truly thankful that I was not victimized by this One Tagaytay Place Scam.

UPDATE

I recently received another text message from Andrea Madrigal, which reads:

Hi! Andrea here from One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites. This  is regarding to your UNCLAIMED COMPLIMENTARY GIFT CERTIFICATE for an OVERNIGHT ACCOMMODATION at ONE TAGAYTAY PLACE HOTEL SUITES good for 2 Adults and 2 Kids at the Deluxe Room and Valid for 3 Months upon claiming. Were inviting you again for the special batch of claiming on Saturday or Sunday  in between 11:30am-1pm (MAY 20,and 21, 2017) here in our HOTEL at ONE TAGAYTAY PLACE with Free Lunch Buffet for two. Again dont worry just bring 1 valid id together  with your spouse. Please txt us back if you are still interested or not. Were preparing po kasi everything and were finalizing our guestlist. Thanks and God bless:-)
This Andrea think that I will deal with her again after her rudeness. Bah! I didn't reply to her text message. Bahala sila mag-aksaya ng load.

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I did a Google search about One Tagaytay Place Scam and I discovered that they been doing this for a very long time now. Some says that this is valid but the problem is that these people are exaggerating their claims just to make their prospective client say "yes". That's the problem and that makes it a scam. 

Don't be a victim of scams. Read about other scams that I encounter:


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SCAM ALERT! Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam

I received a call from an unknown number one busy day at work. The caller introduced himself as Lester Chua and immediately said that we won a free overnight stay at the 5-star hotel called Crown Regency Hotel. He mentioned that we can opt to stay in Crown Regency Hotel located in Cebu or in other branches of that hotel.

Sensing my disbelief about winning a raffle, Lester reminded me of the raffle entry that I filled-up during the Travel Mart Expo last year. I told him that I already threw away the raffle stub so I am no longer eligible to win. He brushed that aside and said that I can still win the free overnight stay if I can confirm my personal information. I admit that I was driven by emotions that time so I foolishly provided all the personal details that he asked for. 

I suddenly imagined me, My Beloved Wife Lei and the kids enjoying by the pool beside a 5-star hotel. I also imagined us strolling along the beach and touring to the historical places of the Queen City of the South.  Finally, I can bring the kids to Cebu and make them enjoy a 5-star hotel.

Lester said that I had to attend their 90-minutes audio-visual presentation about the Crown Regency Hotel to claim the gift certificate for the free overnight stay. He insisted that I have to bring my wife. He kept on mentioning that there will be free buffet lunch and there will be no financial obligation on claiming the gift certificate.

I believed that there’s no harm attending an audio-visual presentation so I told him that I will go to their office to claim the gift certificate.

After our conversation, Lester Chua sent the following messages:

Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam
Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam
Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam
Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam

The message reads:

INVITATION:
Mr. Ishmael Ahab & Mrs. Lei Ahab, 
CROWN REGENCY HOTEL Office: Unit 102 G/F LE METROPOLE BLDG. corner Tordesillas St. along Sen. Gil Puyat/Buendia (Inline of RCBC Plaza Gil Puyat, opposite PAG-IBIG FUND/BIR.in between Ministop & PhilTrust Bank) 
SCHEDULE: see you on SATURDAY, Sept. 10, 2016 at around 1:30pm to 3:30pm will wait. 
REQUIREMENTS: 
-Kindly bring 1 valid ID with your SPOUSE for proper identification and should watch the 90mins. video clippings & graphic display for you to  choose your best choice for your family vacation preferences & also for us to provide you all the important details raegarding your Gift Certificate. 
-NO Financial obligation upon claiming. 
Just look for me Mr. Lester Chua the Reservation Officer or Jenny Quintero our receptionist. 
In behalf of the management
CONGRATULATIONS!
GOD BLESS & SEE YOU!
I received that text message from mobile phone no. 09228825659.



Their group is quite persistent because they sent a lot of text messages. Another message that I received was from Pia Esguerra (mobile phone no. 09228825709) and it says:

A blessed day! Mr. Ishmael & Mrs. Lei Ahab This is Ms. Pia Esguerra Reservations Manager of Club Ultima/Crown Regency Hotel i would like to remind for the claiming of your gift certificate and that would set Tommorow , Saturday Sept.10 at around 1:30pm tn 3:00pm here at Le Metropole bldg. Makati corner TORDESILLAS along BUENDIA, inline of RCBC PLAZA. Please advise for the final confirmation if your coming for me to reserve a seat for the FREE REFRESHMENT Godbless you. See you!
This is the last message I received from someone with mobile phone no. 09228825731:

I just want to remind you for the claiming of your gft certificte today around 1:30pm at Club Ultima/Crown Regency Makati and kindly txt us your confrmation bcoz we are going to prepare a free snack for all selectd recipient and stay for the presentation that last for 90mins. kindly txt us if you are coming bcoz if your name is not on the guest list you can not enter the bldg. Congratulations!

My gut tells me that there is something wrong with the offer. I am a loser when it comes to raffle and this sudden win without the need for a raffle stub signaled some irregularities.

A Google search brought me to Julienne’s blog post about Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel, which was posted 5 years ago. The information I read there confirmed my suspicions. The offer made by Lester Chua is a sham.

Julienne also received a phone call who said that she won a free stay in Crown Regency Hotel. She was not tricked by the Club Ultima agent. However, the commenters to that blog post have different stories. Some commenters were tricked and gave large sums of money for a membership at Club Ultima. Others said that they couldn’t use the gift certificate because the hotel is always “fully-booked”.

Those who attended the 90-minute presentation said that the agents will try to convince you to join Club Ultima. They felt the pressure and some were hypnotized by the sales talk. Many gave in. In the end, they paid cash for a bad deal.

What actually  prompted me to be suspicious about the offer is that the address indicated in Lester Chua's text message is different from the address of Crown Regency Hotel in Makati. Isn’t it logical that a promotional event of a hotel be done inside the hotel?

The warning signs are very clear so I cancelled my attendance to their event. 

Looking back now, I believe that I might fall for their marketing ploy. I might give in especially if our babies are crying after the exhausting 90-minute presentation. 

My little Google search saved us from trouble. I am grateful to Julienne and other people who shared their experiences with the Club Ultima / Crown Regency Hotel Scam.

Lessons Learned

I learned a lot of things after my close call with Club Ultima / Crown Regency Scam. I am glad that I didn't learned these lessons the hard way:

1. Never give your personal information to the strangers and that includes the participants of travel mart or any travel expo. Their usual gimmick is that they will ask you to sign their gust book or fill-up a raffle coupon. This is just a way for them collect data that will be used for scams or, worse, for hacking your bank accounts, email, and social media accounts.

2. Be suspicious of offers that is too good to be true because there is no such thing as free hotel stays. There is always a catch.

3. Check with DTI if the raffle that you joined is legitimate. Real raffle or contest are registered with DTI.

4. Do an Internet search whenever you encounter offers like this. Always keep in mind that information is power.

I do hope that none of you, Dear Reader, will fall prey to these scammers. Be vigilant and never believe any too-good-to-be-true offer especially when there is money involved.
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Pizza Hut in SM Sta. Rosa is NOT Baby Friendly

Pizza Hut Philippines is Not Baby Friendly


My Beloved Wife Lei is craving for pizza so we went to our favorite pizza joint: Pizza Hut. 

Lei was lured by Pizza Hut’s Pizza Panalo Promo that's why she chose that restaurant over Greenwich, which is another pizza restaurant that we frequents.

Everything is fine until I asked the waitress:

"Meron kayong high chair?"

She answered, "Wala po." 



I felt disappointed! Why does a family restaurant does not have a seat for toddlers? Didn't they know that it is VERY difficult to eat with a hyperactive child? What's more difficult is that we have to makulit babies.

The Pizza Hut in SM Sta. Rosa had high chairs in the past. I didn’t know why they removed them without any replacement. I also noticed mommies and daddies in the other tables having diffulty eating while taking care of their babies and toddlers.

Pizza Hut's pizza is yummy as usual but I did not enjoy it that much because of the makukulits.

I do hope that they will have high chairs the next time we dine in their restaurant. We will not patronize this restaurant until then.

UPDATE

We recently dined in Pizza Hut in SM Santa ROsa and I am happy to report that they already have two high chairs. Well, this number is not enough but it better to have two high chairs than nothing.
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Visita Iglesia: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of the Caracol Church (Rosario, Cavite)

A batel was plying its usual route from Mindoro to Manila when it encountered a strong typhoon. The big merchant’s boat was battered by strong winds and tossed around by giant waves. Great terror engulfed the crewmen as water entered their boat. Their only recourse is to tie themselves to the boat to avoid being thrown overboard. Their captain, as he checked the goods that could be saved from the terrible storm, saw the image of the Virgin Mary. The sight of Our Mother moved him to pray for her help. He promised that he will build a chapel in her honor as soon as they landed safely to the shore.

The stormy night was followed by a sunny morning and calm sea. The crew found themselves along the shores of Sitio Mojon (now called as Barrio Muzon) of Barrio Salinas-Marsella. Knowing that their prayers were answered, the boat crew built a makeshift chapel out of bamboo and the altar was made from the lumber of their boat. The crew entrusted the chapel and the image of Virgen del Rosario to the people of Mojon.

Miraculous image of Nuestra Seῆora del Santisimo Rosario de Caracol

I didn’t know that image of Mama Mary at the altar of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of the Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite has a very interesting story. That image came to the people out of the storm and it served as the beacon of faith and hope to the people.

Since the makeshift chapel is not a good place for a miraculous image, the townspeople built a new church for it. That church is fittingly placed under the patronage of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Salinas-Marsella was once part of the town of San Francisco de Malabon (now known as General Trias). Salinas means salt beds while Marsella is the Spanish word for the seaside French town of Merseille. Salinas-Marsella is famous for its salt beds that lined up it shore. The barrio produces clean salt that were traded in the province of Cavite and Manila.

Salinas-Marsella became a separate town in 1845 by the order of Governor General Don Narciso Claveria y Zaldua. The new town was named as Rosario, which fits the townspeople’s deep devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Undated old photo of Caracol Church in Rosario Cavite
Old photo of Rosario Church. (Source: Rosario Church website)

The age of the church is obvious. Its walls made of adobe blocks and the façade harks back to the Spanish period. However, based on the old photos the church, the porch and the bell tower were later additions.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

According to historical accounts, the first parish priest of Rosario is a native Filipino. He is Don Mamerto Ner Mariano. Unfortunately, he was later on replaced by a Spanish priest from the order of Augustinian Recollects. The change was made under a royal decree and was meant to stem the tide of nationalism that is sweeping through the whole Philippines. It was a futile decree since it alienated the natives and illustrados because they considered it as proof of unfair treatment by the Spanish government against native Filipinos. The move, in fact, resulted to the creation of a schismatic sect called the Aglipayans.

Ancient bell in Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Just like old churches in the Philippines, the church in Rosario became witness to the historical events of the town. During the height of oppression by the friars, many Caviteños turned to banditry and ransacked the church and even the houses of the poor people of Rosario. On April 1, 1987 the members of Katipunan burned the church. During the Filipino-American War, the convent of the church was used as camp of the Filipino soldiers. Fortunately, this church was spared during the Second World War.

Inside Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

I found the church of Rosario to be quite narrow but with a long aisle. The lack of space was compensated by side pews that are outside of the main body of the church. The side pews were not only meant for additional seats but also a space where devotees can do homage to the miraculous image of the Virgen del Rosario, who is also called as the Queen of the Snail.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol image in Rosario, Cavite

Actually, the Virgin Mary’s title in Rosario is Nuestra Seῆora del Santisimo Rosario de Caracol. Mary was given this title because of the snail paced procession held by the townspeople in her honor.

Fiesta of Reina de Caracol in Rosario, Cavite
People celebrating the feast Reina de Caracol (Source: Rosario Church website).


The Caracol begins at the church wherein the Virgin Mary’s miraculous image is borne on the shoulders of her devotees. Hundreds of people from Rosario and neighboring towns participate by dancing to the tune of fandango. The image is later on boarded on a beautifully decorated boat that will pass along the shores of the town. The fluvial procession ends at Barrio Muzon, as if to commemorate the first landing of the Marian image on that very site.

Altar of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

I was awed the first time that I saw Virgin Mary’s image in Rosario Church. I didn’t know the history of that church that time but I know that there is something worth knowing about her image at the altar. I just found it weird that the altar was covered during my visit. Old photos show that Rosario Church’s altar is beautiful.
The side pews to the left of the main church faces directly to the tabernacle. I was disappointed when I saw this. The tabernacle should be placed at the altar and not at the sides.

Tabernacle of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Well, I guess placing the tabernacle at the side is a common practice in Cavite. I have seen the church in Noveleta where the tabernacle was also placed at the side.

Image of the Crucified Jesus in Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Queen of Caracol Church in Rosario, Cavite

Rev. Fr. Virgilio Saenz Mendoza, former assistant parish priest of Rosario, lamented that the old values and tradition of the town are dying. The rapid industrialization of the town and the entry of people from various parts of the Philippines, and the emigration of native residents of Rosario to other countries caused the change of values of the town. The devotion to Nuestra Seῆora del Santisimo Rosario de Caracol is getting weak and the town’s feast is no longer as festive as in the past. The younger generation are no longer interested with the Caracol.

It is sad that centuries old tradition is doomed to extinction. But I guess the whole Philippines is experiencing this. It is a challenge to the Church to make the faith valued again. I do hope that Catholics will move faster than a caracol to achieve this.

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Information about the Rosario Church came from the website of the The Most Holy Rosary Parish (Rosario, Cavite)
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