End of the Month Roundup - October 2013

EMPTY – this is the best description that I can give to the month of October with regards to blogging. It seems like everything is winding up and I neglected a few things, including my blogs.

My Beloved and I are slowly speeding up our preparations for our wedding day. Actually, we are getting more and more anxious as the days pass by because there are still a lot of things to accomplish. We have this feeling that disaster is coming our way. Oh please Lord, we hope not.

Thankfully, the fun in preparing for our wedding is still there. One thing that we enjoyed this month is our pre-nuptial shoot in my alma mater, UP Diliman. Our photographer is good and we got some excellent photos that will surely grace our wedding album.

October is the month where I enjoyed another travel to the island of Mindanao. Me and an office mate visited Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City and the neighboring towns for some office works. The good thing is that this trip is not strictly work-related because I got the chance to roam CDO and see some beautiful spots in the area like this one:

Balingoan, Misamis Oriental
Clear sea and blue sky at Balingoan, Misamis Oriental.

The sad thing is that many of my kababayans, especially those living in Bohol and Cebu, suffered because of the big earthquake that occurred in Bohol Island. Many structures, including the old churches (the cultural and spiritual jewels of Bohol) were destroyed. I believe that Boholanos are slowly returning their lives to normal. They still need our prayers and help, however, so I do hope that we continue in providing their spiritual and temporal needs.

Hope for Bohol

PhilPost celebrated the 1st National Letter Writing Day on the 2nd week of October. I joined the celebration by showing off some stamps in my “collection”.

PhilPost stamps featuring churches in the Philippines

My adventures with Foong are not yet done. I already talked about Yaowarat Road in Bangkok Chinatown but I failed to follow up on the restaurants where we had eaten our merienda and dinner. I do hope to post about it this November.

During lulls in our wedding preparations and office works, I tried to return to my bookish self that I lost when I graduated from college. After finishing G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and some of his Father Brown stories, I started reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

A friend gave a book as her gift for my Confirmation. The book is The Essentials of Catholic Spirituality by Fr. Joseph F. Classen. I will read this after I'm done with Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes and The Essentials of Catholic Spirituality

I once again joined Filipinos for Life's blogging event. The topic for the month of October is Girl Power: Upholding the Dignity of Women, Shunning Feminism. My post is about my observations of men not offering their bus seats to women. I tried to connect such behavior to the destructive type of feminism that is prevalent in our society.

In Ahab Reviews and Tips, I recounted the time when I bought my fiancee's engagement ring.

We are now in the Halloween Season and I see many people wearing scary costumes for their Halloween parties. I even heard about kids doing “trick or treat” in upscale subdivisions. I still wonder how Halloween, which actually means Hallow’s Eve or the eve to All Holy (Saint) Day, became an occasion to celebrate monsters and evil spirits. Oh well, at least some people tries to combat this gory event with a more holy mode of Halloween celebration.

Happy All Saints’ Day and Halloween to everyone. May all of us strive to be holy like our Father who is HOLY.

Pray for Bohol and Cebu

Around 8:30 this morning I was awakened by the shaking in our hotel room here in Cagayan de Oro. I thought I was just imagining things but the truth dawn on me when I saw the curtains, the flat screen TV and other things shaking. There's an EARTHQUAKE.

No bad thing happened to me and my travel companion. The shaking stopped after a minute so we felt that were saved. That was good news for us but the bad news is that our kababayans in Bohol and Cebu were severely affected.

It was reported that some people died. Many structures collapsed  including the very old churches.
Churches in Bohol damaged by the October 2013 earthquake
(Source: Carlos Antonio Palad)

These churches were built during the Spanish period and they have been part of history of the Boholanos and Cebuanos. I visited a few of these churches, specifically the Baclayon Church and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.

It is so sad that these heritage sites were already gone. It is also sad that so many perished.

What happened to our country this morning is heartbreaking but this should not be the cause of utter despair. There is still hope because God is listening.
Image of Mama Mary at Baclayon Church
(Source: Walking in the SacRed PaTh with Jesus)

So let us call upon our Lord and ask His aid for the sake of our kababayans in Bohol and Cebu. Let us ask our Lord to have to the Filipino people.

At the same time, let us do what we can to help those who were affected. Gather clothes, food, medicines, toiletries and money that can be donated to earthquake victims.

Pray and act, that's what we can do for the sake of our kababayans.

May the Lord have mercy to all of us.


For more info about fault lines and earthquakes in the Philippines, please read my post about PHIVOLCS list of fault lines and maps. I also have another post about the Marikina Fault Line that may cause great damage in Metro Manila.

For PhilPost 1st National Letter Writing Day: Showing Off My Stamp Collection

I was at SM – Bacoor last weekend where I was amazed by an exhibit located at the lower ground floor. It featured the history of the postal service in the Philippines and, of course, letter writing. The best part of the exhibit is PhilPost’s collection of stamps.

Couple looking at the PhilPost Sulat Mulat exhibit
PhilPost's stamp collection on display.

I also learned a lot about the history of postal services in the country. The Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost or PhlPost) points to the year 1767, when the Spanish Colonial Government established the post office in Manila, as its foundation date.

PhilPost milestones
Milestones of postal service in the Philippines.

What I saw in SM – Bacoor is the Sulat Mulat Campaign exhibit of the PhilPost. It is a part of the 1st National Letter Writing Day on October 09.

PhilPost’s 1st National Letter Writing Day was done to promote letter writing and postal services in the Philippines. This is a good move for PhilPost since letter writing is now ignored by most people, especially the younger generations.

During my grade school days, letter writing is one of the things that we should learn. We are taught about the parts of the letter. Our teacher also taught us how to start and end a letter. We were even tasked to send our letter by mail!

I’m not sure if letter writing is still being taught in schools.

PhilPost exhibit - parts of a stamp

What I enjoyed is the display about the parts of a stamp. I didn’t know that this small piece of paper have parts.

Many stamps produced by PhilPost were on display. Many of them feature plants and animals. Of course, heroes and notable people in Philippine history were also featured in the PhilPost exhibit. My favorite, however, are the stamps featuring the canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod and the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

PhilPost Stamp for Beatification of Pope John Paul 2

I am not a philatelist nor an avid stamp collector but I had some stamps that I collected over the years. Here are some of them:

Old stamps issued by PhilPost
Butterflies (2006), special stamp for APO Philatelic Society (1950) and KKK.

PhilPost stamps featuring butterflies and flowers are the most common in my collection. Such stamps are my least favorite because I don't like the design.

I also have stamps featuring some notable persons in Philippine history. I think that these kinds of PhilPost stamps are also common.

Philippine heroes stamp of PhilPost
Left to right from top to bottom, PhilPost stamps featuring the first stamp issued in the Philippines, Sultan Kudarat, Pio Valenzuela, Rafael Palma, Wenceslao Vinzons, Gregorio del Pilar, Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino.

My favorite kinds of stamps are those featuring churches in the Philippines. Too bad that I only have three such stamps.

Philpost stamps of churches
Clockwise from upper left, Morong Church, San Agustin Church and Basilica of Taal.

All three stamps were issued in 1975. Of the three churches, I only managed to visit San Agustin Church, which is located in Intramuros. I hope to visit the other two churches in the near future.

Aside from stamps issued by PhilPost, I also have stamps that originated from other countries. Here some of them:

Stamps from other countries
Stamps from Japan, India, Indonesia, USA, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

I also have stamps from New Zealand and Canada but I didn't included it here.

Aside from the common stamps and old envelopes, another gem in my collection is an envelope of a telegram. I was amazed when I found it because it is rare to see telegram envelopes these days.

Telegram envelope

Before the advent of telephone, the telegram served as the fastest mean of sending messages to faraway places. I heard from my parents that it is expensive to send a telegram so people try to be as brief as possible. Telegram was usually used for urgent messages.

Stamps are small pieces of paper but it is packed with history. That's why I collect stamps and also the envelopes where they are attached.

It is good that PhilPost is active in promoting letter writing. Such art is somewhat lost to the youth of today. They prefer fast paced communication that they usually forget to think before they send their messages. I believe that letter writing promotes thinking because it requires well constructed sentences.

Letter writing and postal service will not return to their former glory. What I hope that PhilPost's National Letter Writing Day will achieve, at least, is the promotion message composition that was well thought of and patiently composed.

So, to my kababayans, happy National Letter Writing Day!

PhilPost 1st National Letter Writing Day poster

For more information about the 1st National Letter Writing Day, please visit Sulat Mulat Facebook page and the PhilPost website.

Yaowarat Road: An Almost Familiar Place

After our visit to the world famous Wat Arun, Foong and I went to another place that for me is both new and familiar. It is new because this place is located outside of my home country. It is familiar because it is very similar to that one place in Manila that I see almost everyday.

From Wat Arun, we rode another orange flag Chao Phraya River Express boat and went down the Rajchawongsee (Ratchawong) Pier at the end of Ratchawong Road. We followed Ratchawong Road until we reached a street that obviously is an enclave of the Chinese. It is obvious because Chinese letters dominate the skyline. Aside from that, things that are definitely Chinese are everywhere including the clothes hanging from the street shops.

Chinese clothes at Yaowarat Road
Chinese clothes for sale in time for the New Year.

I am definitely in a Chinatown, particularly Bangkok Chinatown.

Yaowarat Road

The current Chinatown in Bangkok is the place where Chinese immigrants transferred after King Rama I ordered them to move from the west bank of Chao Phraya River to give way for the palace complex that is being built during the time. Bangkok Chinatown includes Yaowarat Road and Charoen Krung Road,* and even included the River City Complex and the Kalawar Church.** The River City Complex is the area where Chinese junks berth in the past.

Of the many places in Bangkok Chinatown, the most popular is the Yaowarat Road. Many Thai-Chinese businessmen placed their shops along Yaowarat Road because it resembles the dragon's curvy body.*

Whatever is present in Bangkok Chinatown is also present in Binondo Chinatown in Manila. This is the reason why I said that Bangkok Chinatown is somewhat familiar even thought it was my first time to visit the place.

The two Chinatowns have lucky charms for sale on the sidewalk:

Lucky charms for sale at Yaowarat Road

Even the waving-cat lucky charm looks the same with what we have in the Philippines. I suspect that manufacturers of lucky charms follow some standard. It is also possible that most of these lucky charms were imported from mainland China, that's why they look the same.

I was delighted to see that Bangkok Chinatown has castañas (chestnut) being roasted on the sidewalk. We also have castañas in Binondo. The only difference is that their castañas is cooked using a machine.

Castañas or chestnuts being roasted at Yaowarat Road

I actually haven't tasted castañas even if I see it a lot of times when I walk along Ongpin Street of Binondo. I know the smell but I didn't know its flavor.

A side street along Yaowarat Road

One of the difference between the Chinatowns of Thailand and the Philippines is the streets. I noticed that the vendors in Bangkok Chinatown keep to the areas assigned to them. They don't hog the street to the detriment of passing vehicles and pedestrians. For Binondo Chinatown, just look at Divisoria and you'll see how orderly we, Filipinos, are.

In fairness, Bangkok Chinatown seems to cover a wider area than our Chinatown. That's why they can afford to  have wide streets that can accommodate street vendors, vehicles and pedestrians. Binondo Chinatown don't have such luxury. Ongpin Street, which is the main road of Binondo Chinatown has just two lanes and is severely restricted by street vendors and parked vehicles.

Street vendor along Yaowarat Road

By the way, it is Bangkok Chinatown where I bought the pomegranate fruit juice that I featured in an earlier blog post.

Like Binondo Chinatown the Chinatown in Bangkok is likewise a mecca for Chinese food. This place has plenty of tea shops, Chinese restaurants, and side street food vendors. Both tourists and Thais visit Yaowarat Road for the food.

Street restaurant along Yaowarat Road

We did some foodtripping here. We ate both merienda and dinner at this place. I will talk about it in the next blog posts.

Bangkok Chinatown is also alive during the night. Many restaurants only open in the evening, like the restaurant where we had our dinner. Vendors, street sellers are everywhere to sell their wares to both tourists and locals. Yes, even Mr. Balloon-man is busy during the night.

Balloon for sale along Yaowarat Road

Bangkok Chinatown, particularly Yaowarat Road, is another interesting place in Thailand. It is good to note that this Chinatown is not that different from our Binondo Chinatown. Tourists must visit Yaowarat Road, especially after a gruelling day of touring Bangkok, to enjoy the great food that this place has to offer.



*”Yaowarat Road” in Wikipedia.