Let's Go Onward to 2016!

I intended this blog post to be quite long, with summaries of my posts in 2015 as a sort of looking back to that hyper-busy yeaar that was. Sadly, I don’t have enough time. I guess all daddies who is taking care of a baby have very little time for himself.

Since it’s just less two hours before the end of this year, let me greet all of you a…

Happy New Year
(Source: New Year 2016)

Before we move on to the New Year, let me thank all of you who constantly visit this blog despite the fact that my posting of blog posts was scarce. I also thank all of you posted their comments and leave their thoughts. Thank you very much.

2015 is one-of-a-kind year that I experienced in my entire life. The coming of Little Ahab turned my world upside down.The time that I usually spend on blogging was spent on taking care of our little tot. I am not complaining but I still desire to continue blogging despite these difficulties.

I hope and I hope and I hope that all of you, readers of this blog, will continue to visit me in 2016. I hope against hope that I will be able to post new stories per week. So, stay tuned and let us go onward to 2016.

Exploring Ayutthaya Historical Park (Part 4): St. Joseph Church of Ayutthaya

Searching for a Catholic church in Thailand is like finding a needle in the haystack. Catholics are rare in Thailand that they’re only 0.46% of the total Thai population. This is the reason why I was so happy when I saw a Catholic church on the other side of the river during my tour around the ruins of Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Ayutthaya Historical Park - Church by the River

I biked around 30 minutes just to reach this church. There were no clouds in the sky and the sun burned me with full force. All the sweat and exhaustion paid off when I finally reached the church and then welcomed by the gold and white colors of the Vatican flag.
Flags in Ayutthaya Historical Park

A cemetery greeted me when I entered the gate.

Ayutthaya Historical Park - Cemetery near St. Joseph Church

I spent some time looking at some of the interesting tombs and markers, some of which combined Siamese and Christian elements like this one:

Grave marker near St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

The engraving definitely depicts the child Jesus but in a posing similar to that of Buddha. The necklace around his neck is similar to the Buddhist beads.

Image of the Holy Child in St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya Historical Park

Another tomb marker depicts the Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart in St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

Even this marker has Siamese art elements. Just look at the lotus flowers at the three ends of the cross.

Old Crosses in St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

Some of the tomb markers are half-buried in the ground. I believe that these are the tombs for people buried a long time ago.

St. Joseph Parish Church is one of the oldest churches in Thailand. I believe that it was older than the Catholic churches in Bangkok since Ayutthaya was the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam.

St. Joseph Church was first built in wood in 1673 after King Narai provided the French missionaries with a large piece of land and assistance. It was said that the king was pleased with missionaries’ concern for the welfare of his people. This is also a political move since the king counted on the French to contain the influence of the Dutch.

Archaeological finds in St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park
Excavated archaeological relics in St. Joseph Church.

The church was rebuilt in bricks between 1685 and 1695. Unfortunately, it was destroyed when Burma invaded Ayutthaya in 1767. The invading Burmese promised that no harm will come to the church if the Bishop, priests, and all Christians hiding in the church will surrender. The Christians surrendered but the Burmese didn’t keep their word. The church was looted and then burned.

The French missionaries, under the leadership of Bishop Jean Louis Vey, started to rebuild St. Joseph Church in 1883 and completed in 1891. Due its importance to the history of the Catholic Church in Siam, Bangkok Archbishop Michael Michai Kitbunchu started the renovation of the church in 2003.

St. Joseph Church located outside of Ayutthaya Historical Park

St. Joseph Church is in Romanesque style. Its fa├žade is quite similar with Church of Kalawar in Bangkok because each church has a single bell tower at the center.

Inside St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya Historical Park

The interior of St. Joseph Church is not as grand as that in Bangkok Cathedral. But it was a breath of fresh air from the suffocating mass of ruins of old city of Ayutthaya.

The altar of St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya Historical Park

The image of St. Joseph, the parish’s patron saint, is at the altar. He is carrying the infant Jesus in his arms.

I say that St. Joseph Church in Ayutthaya is simple yet its beauty is in its simplicity.

Stained glass windows of St. Joseph Church, Ayutthaya Historical Park

I am glad to discover this church. I am also glad that the church was open and the good people of this church allowed me to stay for a while and take photos.

St. Joseph Church is the beacon of faith in the whole of Thailand. It stood for hundreds of years and I hope that it will stand for hundreds of years more.


Read more about other Catholic churches in Thailand:

Our Lady Mother of God Church in Rangsit, Pathumthani
Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok
St. Louis Church in Bangkok
Kalawar Church in Bangkok
Bangkok Cathedral



La Familia Ahab’s First Grand Outing: Overnight Special in Canyon Cove Beach Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas

Having a child is different than during our early months of our married life. In the past, Lei and I go out every month for a date. Now, we have to consider Little Ahab first before going out of a date. Our baby is the reason why we didn’t have any vacation during our first year wedding anniversary last January. In fact, our last outing was during our honeymoon in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

So, for our anniversary as a couple, we decided not repeat what happened last January. We decided to go a beach resort nearest to Laguna and that is Canyon Cove Resort in the town of Nasugbu, Batangas.

Canyon Cove Beach Resort is nestled in one of coves in the Batangas town of Nasugbu. I believe that it was envisioned to be a private residential resort like Punta Fuego but very few people bought residential units that’s why we were welcomed with this:

Beside the gate is an unfinished condominium building. There are around 10 of such empty buildings near the hotel. However, don’t let those empty buildings scare you. The facilities of Canyon Cove Beach Resort are not as dilapidated.

How to Go to Canyon Cove Beach Resort

Canyon Cove Beach Resort can be easily reached by car. Go north along J.P. Laurel Street from Nasugbu town proper until you see the gate of Canyon Cove to your left. You will feel that you’re in the middle of nowhere while going to the resort because of the grass fields and trees along the way.

For the poor commuters like me, Canyon Cove Beach Resort can be reached by riding a tricycle from the poblacion. We paid 100 pesos for the special trip. Tricycles are also parked outside of the resort so it’s easy to go back to Nasugbu.

Tricycles are prohibited from entering the resort so we had no choice but to walk around 200 meters from the gate to the lobby. It’s hard, mind you, carrying the super-heavy and super-likot Little Ahab and our bags during that length of walk.

Welcome to Canyon Cove

I knew that our overnight stay in Canyon Cove Beach Resort would be good the moment I entered their lobby. The place is comparable to good hotels that I previously visited.

The sound of the sea is calling us. I really wanted go to the beach and dip to the sea rather than wait at the lobby.

We came around 3 PM, just in time for check-in. Lei and Little Ahab busied themselves by taking selfies while I processed our check-in. The lobby receptionist was quick so got our key card after a few minutes of waiting. No long queues – this is the benefit of going to resorts during weekdays.

The room that we got is nice too. Lei instantly liked it. Little Ahab, on the other hand, instantly liked the soft bed where he bounced without fear of bumping his head.

We booked the Superior Room with one king-sized bed and this day bed…

…which I think is for the children.

What we liked the most with our room is the view of the sea.

I guess all of the rooms have a veranda facing the beach. This is the perfect place for watching the sunset.

Meeting the Sea of Canyon Cove Beach Resort

We didn’t go all the way to Nasugbu just to stay in the room so we immediately changed to our “swimwear” outfit and then go to the beach.

Lei said that she liked the beach of Canyon Cove. She even said that it is better than the beaches of Laiya in San Juan, Batangas.

We purposely went to Canyon Cove Beach Resort during the weekday to avoid the weekend crowd. The result is that we have the whole beach for ourselves. It is as if we were in a deserted island. (Well…almost)

One of my intentions for going to Canyon Cove Beach Resort is I wanted to see Little Ahab’s reaction when he meets the sea for the first time. And his reaction is funny and will forever be imprinted in my memory. My Little Ahab is afraid of the sea. His I-wanted-to-cry face pleaded Mommy and Daddy to carry him away from the sand.

I think our baby was alarmed with the way the sand gave way in his every step. He is so accustomed with the stable concrete floor in the house.

The sea is a different case. Little Ahab likes dipping in the salty sea, as long as his head is above water.

The beach of Canyon Cove is protected by breakwaters so the waves reaching the beach are not that high.

We had a very good time in the sea. I’m glad that our baby is having fun.

Lazying by the Pool

If you’re tired of the salty water and the sand then you may opt to dip in chlorine…err…I mean in the swimming pool.

We tried Canyon Cove Beach Resort’s swimming pool the morning of the next day.

Since we’re with Little Ahab, we just dipped in the Kiddie Pool.

The pool is quite big so Lei and Little Ahab enjoyed “swimming” around without bumping another guest. Despite the size, I believe that the pool can be crowded during weekend and holidays.

There’s nothing much to see in the swimming pool area of Canyon Cove Beach Resort. There are sunchairs, which is perfect for selfies. There is also a playground where toddlers can enjoy the slides and the swings.

Our check-out time is 12 Noon but we were told that we could stay in the room until 1 PM. We were also told that we can go to the beach or to the pool until 5 PM. As much as we wanted to return to the beach, we decided to leave Canyon Cove around 1 PM because we want to reach our home before twilight.

Our stay in Canyon Cove is very brief. Nakakabitin, ika nga. Thankfully, we enjoyed our time in this resort. Maybe we’ll come back. If there is a promo (50% discount would be fine) then we will surely come back. (I do hope that the bosses of Canyon Cove read this).

My Verdict on Canyon Cove Beach Resort

On a scale 1 to 5, where 5 is the highest, I give Canyon Cove a rating of 4 because we truly enjoyed their place. Lei and our child had a good time in their pool and in the beach. All the hotel staff that we met was courteous.

The room that we got is well cleaned. Their water heater is convenient for us in preparing Little Ahab’s milk. There were signs of aging, especially in the bathroom but that can be overlooked.

Canyon Cove Beach Resort source their food from Max’s Restaurant so the food is expected to be good. Too bad that they only offer selected items from Max’s menu. Our free breakfast is limited to fried rice partnered with tocino, egg, etc. We have no complaint about that. We’re not that picky when it comes to food.

My major complaint is that their gate is very far from the hotel. This is inconvenient for us poor guests who do not own a car. This made me think that Canyon Cove Beach Resort is only for the rich.

A Blessing is Coming

Baby is a blessing from God
(Source: Quotesgram)

There is another blessing coming our way. This is the greatest blessing that a husband and wife can have. This blessing is another child. Our second child.

My parents and in-laws are all shocked when they heard the news. “Too soon”, they said. They are correct. Our bunso came to us when Little Ahab is around 6 to 7 months. My Beloved Wife Lei was still recovering from her Cesarean operation thus making this pregnancy a little risky both for her and the child.

Our Ob-Gyne told us that the worst thing that could happen to Lei and our unborn child is death. Lei could die or the child could die. I hope and pray that that scenario will not happen. I hope and pray too that Lei and our unborn child will not have any complication or illness.

Despite of these risks, we are still hopeful that Lei will be fine and our Bunso will be fine too, just like her Kuya. We also wish that she will be a baby girl.

I have only one request for you, Dear Reader. Please pause for a while and pray for Lei and our Bunso. Pray for a safe pregnancy and please ask our lord to deliver them from death.

Thank you very much.

Paco Cemetery: Where We Pigeonhole the Dead

In the midst of the concrete jungle that is Manila lays the quiet refuge for the dead of long ago. The Americans, during their occupation of the Philippines, found this place so peculiar that one governor-general described it as the place for “pigeonholing our dead for future reference”.

The pigeonholes for dead now occupied by actual pigeons.

The pigeonholes are located in Paco Cemetery in the Paco District of the Manila.

My interest flared up again when I entered the walls of Cemeterio de Paco. It was like the first time, about a decade ago, when I visited the cemetery for a paper required in Panitikang Pilipino course. I believe that that first visit stirred my enthusiasm in Spanish Colonial Era architecture, history, and heritage left by our forefathers.

Paco Cemetery was built in response to the cholera outbreak that ravaged Manila in the late 18th Century. Maestro de Obras, Don Nicolas Ruiz prepared the plan while the construction work was supervised  by Don Jose Coll. The original cemetery, which actually is the inner wall, was finished on April 22, 1822.

Atop the wall of Paco Cemetery.

The population of the dead grew that another set of niches were needed. So in 1859, Gobernador-General Fernando de Norzagaray ordered the enlargement of the cemetery to 4,540 varas cuadradas (square yards). A Chinese builder won the contract for building the outer circular wall at the cost of 19,700 Pesos.

Many people consider cemeteries as scary places. Paco Cemetery is different. I didn’t felt afraid of the niches or the dead ashes they hold. In fact, Paco Cemetery is the site of many weddings.

Weddings in a cemetery is usually connected to “black weddings” but that is not the case in Paco Cemetery. Weddings held in that place are as solemn and joyous as the weddings in other churches.

St. Pancratius Chapel is a small chapel inside Paco Cemetery. It was named after a Roman citizen who was beheaded for the Faith. The chapel was meant for masses for the dead in the cemetery. Now, the chapel is beginning to be recognized for weddings.

The chapel and the cemetery were originally administered by a chaplain, a sacristan, and eight caretakers. The chaplain used to reside at a residence fronting Paco Cemetery, which is now occupied by the Paco Fire Station.

The chapel is now under the care of San Vicente de Paul Parish. Masses are held every Sunday while weddings may be scheduled from Monday to Sunday.

The beautiful garden of Paco Cemetery may be booked for garden receptions. The place is perfect for couples who wish a vintage ambience. Couples can even have their wedding photos atop the circular walls and I’ve seen beautiful photos shot in that place.

Couples who wish to have their wedding inside the Paco Cemetery should contact the National Parks Development Committee.

I am not the only person who visited Paco Cemetery during that afternoon. Most of the visitors were students from the nearby school and couples like this one:

They found the perfect place to promise their undying love. I bet their parents will not be pleased.

Vandals are also common visitors to Paco Cemetery. They truly don’t have any respect, even for the dead:

Internment in Paco Cemetery stopped in 1912 and most of the niches are empty. However, around 65 people, including 22 children, are still within the vaults within the walls.

Niches for infants and children.

Only the members of the aristocratic class, living in the walled city of Intramuros were allowed to be interred in Cemeterio de Paco.  Each niche cost 20 Pesos for three years, and subject for renewals. No one is allowed to own the niche in perpetuity.

Niche of one of the young residents of Paco Cemetery.

So what happens if the family failed to renew the rental? The answer is: EVICTION. The remains of the dead are removed from the vault and buried in the common grave at the back of the cemetery. This means that being aristocratic and rich while alive will not guarantee that your remains will be safe forever. Death, indeed, is the equalizer between the poor and the rich.

Actually, vault rental is not unique in Paco Cemetery. Most of the cemeteries in the Philippines practice this. There were even reports of evicted dead thrown as garbage by scrupulous cemetery administrators. 

If the aristocrats are placed in vaults then those who rebelled against the colonial government are buried in the cemetery grounds. I found two white crosses can be found in the area between the two walls that mark burial grounds of the four great persons in Philippine history: GomBurZa and Jose Rizal.

Between the inner and outer walls.

Filipino priests; Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as the GomBurZa, were executed in 1872 by the colonial authorities because of their alleged involvement with the mutiny in Cavite.

GomBurZa's final resting place in Paco Cemetery.

Jose Rizal, then 10 years old, witnessed the execution of the three priests. He later wrote that GomBurZa’s death “awakened my imagination, and I vowed to devote myself to avenge such victims some day.” And he did avenge the three priests at but at a cost of his life. About 24 years after GomBurZa’s execution, Jose Rizal was executed at the same place as the three priests.

Spanish colonial authorities buried Jose Rizal’s remains in an unmarked grave in Paco Cemetery. They did this to prevent the revolutionaries from using Rizal’s body as a rallying point.

Jose Rizal's burial ground in Paco Cemetery.
The unmarked grave was later found by Narcisa, one of Jose Rizal’s elder sisters. She marked the grave with a marble slab inscribed with “R P J”, Jose Rizal’s initial in reverse. In 1912, Narcisa had the body exhumed hid it in her home in Binondo in an ivory urn until Jose Rizal’s remains were finally placed in his final resting place in Luneta Park.

GomBurZa and Jose Rizal were not the only notable persons who were interred in Paco Cemetery. Major General Henry Lawton, killed in the Battle of San Mateo, temporarily stayed in Paco Cemetery before he was sent to his final resting place in USA. Lawton is the highest-ranking American officer killed during the Philippine-American War.

Paco Cemetery is one of the most beautiful heritage sites in Manila. I actually enjoyed looking at the vaults even though some people consider it eerie. The thick walls filtered out the vehicular noise outside which made me think that I’m not in Manila. 


Information in blog post was obtained from the following sources:

1. Inscriptions and historical markers in Paco Cemetery.

PHOTOWALL: A Slice of Nasugbu (Batangas)

Here is another posting of photos sans the wordy elaboration in the normal blog post. The place that I visited this time is the Batangas town of Nasugbu.

CADP Locomotive in Nasugbu, Batangas
An artefact of Nasugbu's glorious azucarera past.

Six angels in Nasugbu Church
"Six angels" in Nasugbu Church.

Solitude in Canyon Cove (Nasugbu, Batangas)
Too much phone makes one alone.

A view of sunset at Canyon Cove (Nasugbu, Batangas)
Blue sky. Orange horizon.

These are few of the photos that I took for our advanced celebration of our anniversary of starting our relationship. Lei and I began our story almost a decade ago but I can still remember it as if it just happened yesterday. Time is really fast.

Aside from celebrating our anniversary, our visit to Nasugbu is extra-special because it was the first time when Little Ahab met the salty sea. Our baby’s reaction is amusing. He’s both scared and amazed that such a big body of water exists.

Me, Lei, and Little Ahab, and even Bunso in Lei’s tummy; all enjoyed this very short vacation at Nasugbu’s beach. We hope to repeat this fun next year.

SCAM ALERT! Cancel Overpayment Scam in Sun Cellular Postpaid

A scammer tried to steal load from me last weekend. This scammer was not successful. I am not an idiot as he/she thinks I am.

Sun Cellular postpaid scam

The scammer claimed that Sun Cellular over-charged 50 pesos because I allegedly called and texted while on roaming. He/she/it told me that I can cancel the overpayment by texting “50 09330883428” and sending it to 2292.

2292 is the number used for Sun Cellular’s Give-a-Load. In short, the scammer tried to trick me in giving he/she/it a 50-peso load.

I reported the scam to Sun Cellular via Twitter and I received this quick response:

Response from Sun Cellular

I’m glad that Sun Cellular is taking these scams seriously.

So, what are the telltale signs that that text message is a scam? Well, the obvious sign is the scammer used a regular eleven-digit number. Sun Cellular (and most telcos) uses four-digit numbers when sending messages. Sun Cellular numbers are usually saved in your sim already so they will register in your phone as “Sun Cellular”.

Another obvious sign is that Sun Cellular will not ask you to transact via text messaging. Payments, cancellation of overpayments, and other transactions are conducted in the Sun Shop.

The best action when receiving this kind of messages is to inform Sun Cellular and verify the truthfulness of the message that you receive. People at Sun call center will help you on this.

Christmas is around the corner and I bet that I will receive more dubious messages like the one above. In fact, I received different scam text messages in the past like:

1. That I won 1 million from a so-or-so foundation even though I didn’t join any of their raffles. I can only claim the prize if I send 500-peso load to the scammer.

2. A “relative” informing me that he/she/it sent a package. She will tell me the details of her padala if I send a 500-peso load.

3. A text message that claimed that me and my family has shameful photos uploaded in Facebook or some dubious websites.

And my favorite:

4. A scammer telling me that I stole his friend’s cellphone and the police is now looking for me. I posted about that experience in my post “My Nasty Experience with the Budol-Budol Gang”.

The last scam in the list was so persistent in harassing me that I was forced to change my number just to have a peace of mind.

Everybody is bound to receive text scams. Don’t fall for it. Report them to the telcos and NTC.