Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 3): The Newly Improved Picnic Grove

It is many years since my last visit to Tagaytay Picnic Grove. It was so long ago that we had only two children, who were still babies, back then.

I was actually surprised and amazed with the changes of Picnic Grove. The city government of Tagaytay applied the much needed renovation of the park, which I recommended in a previous post

One of the changes that surprised me is the presence of a big Ferris wheel.

Ferris Wheel in Tagaytay Picnic Grove

The Ferris wheel is the first thing that welcomes visitors to the park. This means that Sky Ranch can no longer boast of having the only Ferris wheel in Tagaytay.

Picnic Grove was developed from 1956-1964 during the presidencies of Carlo P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal. Back then, Tagaytay City Government wanted to turn their city into a prime tourist destination. The plan failed and Picnic Grove was abandoned.

The park came to life in the 1970s when wealthy Metro Manilans started building vacation houses in Tagaytay. From time on, Picnic Grove became a popular destination in Tagaytay. 

Picnic Grove Entrance Fee

Entering Tagaytay Picnic Grove is never free. We paid 80 pesos per person. Sadly, the ticket lady said that even kids had to pay. So we paid a total of 320 pesos for four people.

People's Park in the Sky is much better because my 6-year old daughter entered that park for free. I guess the renovations of Picnic Grove made the park management more "business-oriented".

What We Saw in Tagaytay Picnic Grove

There are more changes to Picnic Grove other than the presence of the Ferris Wheel. What's noticeable is that the park became more organized.

Souvenir Shops in Tagaytay Picnic Grove

There is a new building that has spaces for souvenir shops, food stores, and other shops. The building has a second floor for more shops and a bridge, also known as "Sky Walk".

Sky Walk in Tagaytay Picnic Grove

Sky Walk didn't lead us to the sky. It is just a bridge over the path that leads to the main part of Picnic Grove.

The good thing about Sky Walk is that it has a good view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.

View of Taal Lake from Sky Walk in Tagaytay Picnic Grove
View of Taal Volcano from Sky Walk

One end of Sky Walk has a close-up view of the Ferris wheel.

Ferris Wheel in Tagaytay Picnic Grove

The other end has a wide deck for viewing Taal Lake.

View Deck of Tagaytay Picnic Grove

The picnic area is still the same. The only difference is the absence of hawkers who pester visitors into buying picnic mats and snacks.

Picnic Area of Tagaytay Picnic Grove

The zip line, which is one of the Picnic Grove activities even before the pandemic, is operational. My kids enjoyed watching people fly along the wires.

Horses in Tagaytay Picnic Grove before the Pandemic
Horses in Picnic Grove before the pandemic.

Horse riding in Picnic Grove, another of the pre-pandemic activities, is absent during our visit. 

The birds that we saw during our previous visit are also gone. Maybe they perished during the pandemic?

A hornbill in Tagaytay Picnic Grove's mini-zoo before the pandemic.
A hornbill in Picnic Grove's mini-zoo before the pandemic.

Our Bunso enjoyed Picnic Grove. He didn't want to sit. What he did was walk on the grass and roam the whole park. He is the same as our firstborn when he visited Picnic Grove when he was a toddler.

Our Eldest Child Running in Tagaytay Picnic Grove
Eldest son, Samuel, exploring Picnic Grove

Our Bunso and I reached the cottage area of Picnic Grove. We also walked the whole length of Sky Walk, from the viewing deck to the other end. My other two children had their own explorations and even made friends with other kids.

It was a fun picnic for the family. I can say that Picnic Grove is the perfect end to our family bonding. We will definitely return to Tagaytay to once again experience the fun.

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Read more about our recent adventures in Tagaytay:

Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 1): A Taste of Bulalo in Taste Ride Tagaytay

Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 2): Going High in People's Park

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References:

1. Incorporating Environmental Management on Tourism Activities at Picnic Grove Tagaytay by Anjeline Park

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Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 2): Going High in People's Park

After savoring bulalo in Taste Ride, our next destination is Tagaytay People's Park.

We rode the jeepney from Tagaytay Palengke to reach People’s Park. The ride is easy and there was no heavy traffic since it was a Friday. Heavy traffic in Tagaytay usually occurs during weekends and holidays.

Gate of Tagaytay People's Park
Gate of Tagaytay People's Park

The entrance fee per person is 50 pesos. We were happy that kids below 7 years old are free of charge. So, we just paid the entrance fee for three people.

There is a jeepney near the gate for people who do not want to do the upward walk of around 300 meters to the “Palace in the Sky”. The jeepney fare is 15 pesos per person.

Road to the Palace in the Sky
Road to the Palace in the Sky.

We decided to walk so that the kids will have some exercise and also for them to observe nature.

It was a tiring-but-in-good-way walk. The kids enjoyed looking at plants and trees, the birds flying above, the view of the lowlands, and the colorful wildflowers.

Road to the Palace in the Sky

It seems like the absence of people during the pandemic allowed many plants to grow.

Tagaytay City sign in Tagaytay People's Park

What didn't change is the "Palace in the Sky", which remained decrepit and abandoned.

Path to Palace in the Sky of Tagaytay People's Park

Tagaytay People's Park in the Sky is also known as Palace in the Sky. It is indeed in the sky since it stands atop Mt. Sungay, which is the highest point in the whole Cavite Province. This mountain was a prominent landmark for ships navigating Manila Bay. It was topped with distinct rocks that look like horns, which is the reason for its name as Mt. Sungay.

The construction of Palace in the Sky, which was started in 1981 at the behest of Imelda Marcos, destroyed the “horns” of Mt. Sungay. The mountaintop was leveled and trees were cut. The farmers who were planting pineapples at the mountainside were driven away without any compensation.

The Marcoses decided to use the Palace in the Sky as accommodation for US President Ronald Raegan when he announced in November 1983 his visit to the Philippines. The visit did not push through and the government stopped the construction works.  

The construction of the palace truly ended when the Marcoses were ousted through People Power. What remained of what should have been an opulent palace is the unfinished shell that is now used as a viewing deck for tourists.

The Marcoses wasted $10 million according to the estimates of Chicago Tribune. It was said that President Corazon Aquino intentionally left Palace in the Sky abandoned to show to the public the excesses of the Marcoses.

President Fidel Ramos, seeing the tourist potential of the palace, approved its renovations. The place was made more tourist-friendly by adding benches, cottages, and interesting spots like the giant pineapple.

Viewing deck of Palace in the Sky of Tagaytay People's Park
Viewing deck of Palace in the Sky.

The view from the palace is breathtaking. We were able to see three bodies of water: Laguna de Bay, Taal Lake, and Manila Bay.

Taal Lake and Taal Volcano from Palace in the Sky of Tagaytay People's Park
Taal Lake and Taal Volcano from Palace in the Sky.

The kids oohed and aahed while they looked at the vast expanse of Laguna and majestic Taal Volcano.

Mountains of Tagaytay as viewed from Tagaytay People's Park

Souvenir shops still occupy the ground floor of the palace.

Signs at Tagaytay People's Park

My kids' favorite spot is…

Pineapple at Tagaytay People's Park

…is the solitary pineapple that reminds our kids of Spongebob's house.

Near the pineapple is a real horse that visitors can have a selfie with for a fee. This reminded me of the disappointing selfie horse in Mines View Park in Baguio.

There is nothing much to do in People's Park other than relaxing and enjoying the good view.

Our visit to Tagaytay People's Park will never be complete without climbing the chapel for Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love.

Tagaytay People's Park Chapel

On the roof of the chapel is the image of the Divine Mercy.

Divine Mercy at Tagaytay People's Park

The statue of the Divine Mercy was sculpted by Marcial G. Bernales, who is a sculptor of religious icons and is well-known to santeros and icon collectors. He is considered a master sculptor and has been sculpting ivory for around half a century.

The rooftop is also a good vantage point overlooking Taal Lake. It is a good spot to take photos with Taal Volcano in the background.

Divine Mercy at Tagaytay People's Park

Mt. Sungay was dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love even before the beginning of the construction of the Palace in the Sky. In 1974, Hernan D. Reyes and four high schoolers from Opus Dei’s Lauan Study Center (now Lauan University Center) in Quezon City and a sculptor from a shop along EDSA (near West Ave.) installed a low relief image of Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love on the wall of a big granite rock atop Mt. Sungay.

It was a private shrine dedicated to Mama Mary that is only known to these high schoolers who frequented the inaccessible Mt. Sungay for excursions. According to Atty. Jose Sison, these high schoolers had a project of leaving Marian images atop the different mountains that they visited to show their veneration to the Mother of God. 

Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love in Tagaytay People's Park
Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love

The huge granite rock blocks the good view of the planned Palace in the Sky. So the construction workers tried to destroy it, first by using their equipment, which did not work. They then used dynamites but the rock remained intact. The workers, after clearing the rock's surroundings, discovered the image of Mother of Fair Love previously installed by the high schoolers. The construction crew, probably awed with the discovery, understood why the granite rock is miraculously indestructible.

The image of Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love was copied from the image gifted by St. Josemaria Escriva to the University of Navarra in Spain. The image shows Mama Mary holding the infant or toddler Jesus standing on a pile of books. It was the perfect Marian image for students. 

The chapel was built to fully honor Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love. The chapel was formally inaugurated on February 14th of 2003 - Valentine's Day - by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who was the Bishop of Imus by that time.

Marker at the Chapel of Tagaytay People's Park

The visit to the chapel completed our Tagaytay People's Park experience. And so we descended from the mountain and then went to our final stop: Tagaytay Picnic Grove.

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Read more about our recent adventures in Tagaytay:

Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 1): A Taste of Bulalo in Taste Ride Tagaytay

Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 3): The Newly Improved Picnic Grove

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References and Interesting Reads:

1. A Law Each Day (Keeps the Trouble Away) by Att. Jose Sison at PhilStar for the story on how the image of Our Lady, Mother of Fair Love reached Mt. Sungay.

2. Marcos' Mountain Palace is the House that Arrogance Built by Janet Crawley at Chicago Tribune, which told the story on how the Marcoses tried to build the Palace in the Sky. 

3. Palace in the Sky (Tagaytay City, Cavite) by Benjamin Layug, which tells the story of a visitor to the Palace in the Sky three years after the Marcoses were ousted through People Power.

4. GettyImages by Brent Stirton and "Tayuman store selling statue with ivory parts for P230,000" by Erika Sauler at Inquirer.NET, which provide interesting info about Marcial G. Berrnales (the sculptor of the Divine Mercy image in People's Park)


Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 1): A Taste of Bulalo in Taste Ride Tagaytay

Familia Ahab can now finally visit Tagaytay City!!!

Thanks to bloggers and vloggers, we are informed that Tagaytay now accepts visitors and their tourist spots: Picnic Grove and People's Park, allow kids to enter.

So, one Friday in the month of June, we climbed up to Tagaytay City. We chose to go to Tagaytay on a Friday to avoid the mass of weekend visitors and the heavy traffic that they bring. I didn't want to repeat our experience in the past when we walked more than a kilometer to reach Picnic Grove, or the agony of waiting for a jeepney going home.

It was around noon when we reached the palengke (Tagaytay Market) so we decided to have our lunch there. Since we are in Tagaytay, My Beloved Wife searched for a place to eat yummy bulalo.

The place that we found is…Taste Ride.

Taste Ride Tagaytay - Bulalo House in Tagaytay

Taste Ride is a small restaurant just across the Tagaytay Palengke.

We were the only customers during our visit so we got our orders fairly quickly. This is quite different from our previous experience with the bulalo restaurant across Picnic Grove that made us wait for more than 1 hour because they are still buying beef meat in the palengke.

Taste Ride Tagaytay

My Beloved Wife, of course, ordered bulalo

Bulalo of Taste Ride Tagaytay

Bulalo is a flavorful beef soup composed of the stock made by boiling beef shanks and bone marrow for many hours. Bulalo is different from a regular beef soup because of its fall-off-the-bone meat and the melted collagen and fat. Many people just go to Tagaytay just for a taste of authentic bulalo, in fact many dubbed Tagaytay City as the “Bulalo Capital” of the Philippines. Bulalo is My Beloved Wife’s favorite and she always order bulalo whenever we are in Tagaytay.

Bulalo of Taste Ride Tagaytay

On the other hand, Samuel the Firstborn requested the calamares


Bulalo and calamares of Taste Ride Tagaytay
Our bulalo and calamares from Taste Ride Tagaytay.

For me, the bulalo of Taste Ride is OK and much better than the ones that we tasted in another Tagaytay restaurant in 2017. My Beloved Wife, meanwhile, said that Taste Ride's bulalo is OK but it is not the "bulalo" she’s craving for. Well, I guess our search for the best bulalo in Tagaytay is still on.

Koorah-Koorah Restaurant in Tagaytay
Koorah-Koorah Restaurant (2017) is the restaurant that made us wait
for more than an hour for their bulalo.

The calamares is also OK and was liked by my picky-eater kids.

All in all we paid 880 Pesos for a big bowl of bulalo, calamares, 4 servings of rice, and a bottle of coke.

We had a nice experience in dining at Taste Ride, maybe we will be back again - or not since we are on a journey to find the best bulalo in Tagaytay City.

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Read more about our recent adventures in Tagaytay:

Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 2): Going High in People's Park

Family Bonding in Tagaytay (Part 3): The Newly Improved Picnic Grove

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Why I am Not a Fan of Chicharabao

One of my co-workers brought a different kind of chicharon as pasalubong from her hometown in Cagayan.

Chicharabao


Chicha-rabao is a chicharon made from carabao skin.

The Chicharabao that I got is the Onion and Vinegar Flavor.

Chicharabao tastes good. It is crunchy. It is a little bit spicy. It is salty.

What I didn't like with Chicharabao is its smelly aftertaste. The smell is not terrible but I am not accustomed to the smell of carabao meat.

If Chicharabao loses the smelly aftertaste then I might give Chicharabao another try.

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Chicharabao is the "One Town, One Product" (OTOP) of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. I suggest that you try this if you're in Cagayan and maybe the smelly aftertaste that I complain about is not a big deal to you.

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Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Wedding Rates, Requirements, and Other Info

Our wedding day at the Altar of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

It was 8 years ago when me and My Beloved Wife said our "I do" at the altar of the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

It was a good wedding for us. The church looks good and the staff are very helpful, especially that we didn't have any wedding coordinator during the wedding ceremony.

We paid a total of 27,500 pesos as the fee for using the Shrine as our wedding venue. The wedding package that we got already has basic flower decoration, an officiating priest, commentator, royal-blue carpet along the aisle, a soloist/pianist, and use of the Shrine for 1 and a half hours.

The more expensive wedding package back then was 40,500 pesos, which had the same amenities as the cheaper package. The only difference is that the whole Shrine is air conditioned during the whole wedding ceremony.

Wedding Rates in the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

It is now 2022 and the wedding packages are more expensive. Here are the price of wedding packages in Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus:

Package 1: 48,500 Pesos inclusive of basic flower decoration, an officiating priest, commentator, air con, and use of the Shrine for 1 and a half hours

Package 2: 33,500 Pesos inclusive of basic flower decoration, an officiating priest, commentator, and use of the Shrine for 1 and a half hours.

Discounted Wedding Package:

Since the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is under the Military Ordinariate, active and retired members of the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) and their dependents can avail of the discounted rate.

Military and uniformed personnel (MUP) are the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Active MUP can get 50% discount for Shrine of St. Therese’s wedding package while retired MUP or dependents of MUP can get 25% discount of the wedding package. In the info provided to me by the Shrine, the eligible dependents are the mother, father, brother and sister of the MUP. However, I think that this list is incomplete since the son or daughter of the MUP should also be considered as dependent.

The Discounted Wedding Package does not include the flower decorations during the wedding. So, MUP or their dependents should be the one to negotiate with Shrine’s florists.

How to Book Your Wedding in the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Pencil booking is allowed but it is only good for 3 days and the Shrine will cancel that pencil booking.

To effectively book the date that you want for your wedding, you must do the following:

1. You and your future spouse should personally appear during the Canonical Interview.

2. Pay 50% down payment of the wedding package if the result of the Canonical Interview is positive. Note that the down payment is non-refundable.

The requirement for the Canonical Interview is the Baptismal Certificate with the notation “For Marriage Purpose”. You will not be allowed to attend the canonical interview if the baptismal certificate that you submitted doesn’t have that notation.

Booking the wedding date is on a “First Come, First Serve” basis.

Requirements for the Wedding in the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

The following are the requirements for those who are wishing to have their wedding at the Shrine:

1) Date of the wedding

2) Baptismal Certificate with notation “Marriage Purpose” for Catholics. The birth certificate is the requirement for the Canonical Interview

3) 50% Downpayment of your selected wedding package. This is non-refundable.

4) Filled up Personal Details Form, which can be obtained from the Shrine’s Office

5) Delegation Letters from Our Lady of Airways Parish or Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) for Non-MUP or MUP Dependent

6) Marriage License (with 120 calendar days validity). Requirement for marriage license PSA copy of Birth Certificate and CENOMAR of both couples or Marriage Contract/Certificate from PSA for couples who are civilly married, and Brgy. Clearance or Cedula. Read my posts about how to obtain a birth certificate or CENOMAR for more info.

7) Certificate of Freedom to Marry from Embassy of Origin for Foreign Nationals

8) Dispensation Certificate if one party is Non-Catholic

9) Crasm and Celebret with ID of Invited Priest. This is for cases where the couple wants their wedding to be officiated by a Catholic priest who is not connected to the Shrine.

10) Request letters for Wedding Banns, which will be provided by the Shrine. The Wedding Banns will be announced in respective parishes for 3 consecutive Sundays

11) Confirmation (Kumpil) Certificate with notation for “Marriage Purpose”. In case that you still doesn't have Kumpil (Sacrament of Confirmation) then I suggest that you get kumpil in Quiapo Church

12) Permission Letter addressed to the parish of the bride and groom. The permission letter asks for permission from the parishes of the couple that they will have their wedding in the Shrine. The Permission Letter which will be provided by the Shrine

13) Pre-Cana Seminar Certificate, which can be obtained by attending the Pre-Cana Seminar of the Shrine that is usually held every third Saturday of the month. You can also choose to attend the Pre-Cana Seminar of your parish instead of the Shrine, You just need to submit the Pre-Cana Seminar Certificate from your parish

14) List of Principal Sponsors (Ninong and Ninang). The maximum number of Principal Sponsors is 12

15) List of Wedding Songs. The Shrine only accepts liturgical songs.

16) 3 copies of Printed Missalet placed in clear book. The template of the missalet can be requested from the Shrine

18) Confession Certificate, which can be obtained from the Shrine after receiving the Sacrament of Confession (kumpisal) at least  3 days before the wedding day.

Note that the 50% of the Deposit will be forfeited if Requirements 1 to 7 were not complied.

Guidelines and Additional Info for the Wedding in the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

1. Pre-Cana Seminar in the Shrine is held every third Saturday of every month. One seminar lasts for a half-day and, as per our experience, may last longer if the lecturers are “ganado” in their lecture. The Pre-Cana Seminar is similar to the pre-wedding seminars conducted by city hall but with emphasis on Catholic doctrine on marriage and family. Pre-Cana Seminar Certificate will be provided after the end of the seminar.

2. The following are the attires not allowed inside the Shrine:

  • Sleeveless gowns (except for the bride). If the bridal entourage or guests want to wear sleeveless gowns then they should cover shoulders with shawls.
  • Clothes with plunging necklines and spaghetti-strap tops.
  • Tight or low-cut clothing
  • Dresses with long cuts or slits
  • See-through clothing

Wearing appropriate and modest clothing is required inside the church, not only during weddings, as a respect to the holiness of the place and the sacrament of wedding.

3. Commentators must exclusively come from the Shrine. Readers  for the 1st Reading, Responsorial Psalm, 2nd Reading and Prayers of the Faithful will be assigned by the couple from any of their guests or family.

4. No age limit for Ring, Coin, and Bible bearers and Flower Girls as long as they are able to do their tasks.

5. Photographers should act appropriately and should always put in mind the holiness of the event and the church. They are prohibited from entering the Sanctuary, which is the area where the tabernacle and the altar is located.

6. Only shower of petals. Throwing of rice and confetti are not allowed. For our wedding, we opted to use bubbles instead of shower of petals since there was an additional cleaning fee.

7. The sample offertory are 2 pieces of candles, Mass Bread (a.ka. hosts or ostia) and Mass Wine (Mompo). Other things, like fruits and food, are voluntary. For info where to get the offertory, please read my blog post about St. Pauls.

8. Final visit of the couple and the wedding coordinator to the Shrine should be 3 days before the wedding day to have Confession and to check the marriage contract for any errors. It is also a day to submit the Wedding Missalet placed in a clear folder.

9. The wedding entourage must start at least 15-20 mins before the wedding schedule.

For more information you should contact the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus at telephone no. (02) 8854-3024 and mobile phone nos. 0928-1690055 and 0917-6108823. The Shrine may also be contacted through email at stthereseshrine1983@gmail.com

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This is the latest information about the wedding in St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Note that the wedding fee in the Shrine is 48,500 pesos and 33,500 pesos.

Read about my previous post on how we booked the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus for our wedding and my post about our Wedding Day.


Also read the post summarizing our Wedding Preparations.

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Through the Rabbit Hole to the World of Myne the Bookworm

“DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE”

This is how I described my current state of feverishly looking for anime to watch, manga to read, and light novels to lose sleep over for.

I think my descent began during the 2020's intense COVID19 lockdowns. I rediscovered my interest with anime, which was lost due to the busyness of fatherhood.

I rewatched old favorites (Code Geass, Haruhi Suzumiya) and discovered new favorites (Higehiro, Komi Can't Communicate, Gintama, Violet Evergarden, Tanya the Evil, Reincarnated as a Slime). My interest rekindled so much to the point that I even penned a long essay about my disappointment with Quintessential Quintuplets’ end.

Anime, more often than not, is "bitin" since they cannot make new episodes when the manga is yet to release new chapters. So, I just moved to reading the source manga just to satisfy my insatiable thirst for "what's next". With that, I fell deeper in the rabbit hole.

I then discovered that manga is also "bitin" because the mangaka is so slow in releasing new chapters or the source light novel is yet to release new chapters. The former is what I experienced with "I was Reincarnated as a Slime" with a new chapter released once a month or more. So, I just moved to reading the source light novel just to satisfy my insatiable thirst for "what's next". With that, I fell way deeper in the rabbit hole.

Velgrynd kissing Masayuki
Velgrynd kisses Masayuki (one of my favorite scene in Tensura)

I spent sleepless nights finishing the available Machine Translated version of the Slime light novel. I reached the most current available chapter and I was stuck since there is no more source to move over to.

I searched for new anime or manga but  I discovered that my taste changed somewhat. I abhor shounen manga filled with fan service and action/fight scenes is no longer enough to keep me hooked (sorry My Hero Academia). This is when I discovered Ascendance of a Bookworm anime.

Ascendance of a Bookworm

As usual. The anime is "bitin" so I went directly to the light novel and that's the moment I went to freefall into the world of an isekai girl whose singular desire to be surrounded by books in the world where the printing press and mass production of books is yet to be realized.

Ascendance of a Bookworm is about the bookworm Urano who died after being buried by books during an earthquake and then was isekai-ed to a magical world that is still in Medieval Age. Her soul inhabited the sickly body of the 5-year old Myne, who is the youngest daughter of a dirt poor family that cannot afford a comfortable life, much less books! Unsurprisingly, Myne has magical powers that are only common with nobles. Armed with her magical power, knowledge of the modern Earth, and great desire to be surrounded by books, Urano/Myne introduced recipes, inventions, fashion from her former world that pushed her ascendance from a dirt poor commoner to a merchant to a shrine maiden of the temple and into a noble. Her ultimate goal is to create a library and to be surrounded by books forevermore.

Ascendance of a Bookworm is not a typical isekai that already has actions/fight scenes in the beginning. The first few chapters are about a girl trying to invent papyrus, then a clay tablet, and finally paper made from wood. The flow of the story is boring for those who are expecting fast-paced action. The things that typical isekai enthusiasts hate are the ones that I enjoyed. The novel first focused on the life of Myne’s poor family, the daily life of a commoner, the invention of new paper and creating new recipes, discrimination amongst social class, and the magic. As a history buff, the world building kept me engaged.

Ascendance of a Bookworm (Part 4 Vol 5)

The result is the sleepless nights as I rushed to read all the available 18 volumes of the Ascendance of a Bookworm light novel. I cried with Myne when she was separated from her true family when she was adopted into a noble family. I celebrated with Rozemyne when she invented the printing press or became victorious against great odds.

Rozemyne Invented the Water Pump
Rozemyne "invented" the water pump.

The light novel was well written to the point that I even empathize with other characters and enjoyed reading parts of the novel about them such as Myne’s commoner family trying to maintain their very thin connection to the now noble Rozemyne, Myne childhood friend Lutz forging an agreement with temple attendant Gil in looking over Rozemyne, Aurelia and her struggle to join a new society after leaving her old duchy, Roderick and the joy he found with Rozemyne’s kindheartedness amidst the abuse that he received with his family, the laynobles struggle with life to the point of just focusing on the “stronger” offspring and just leaving the weak ones dead, the treatment of nobles against commoners (which is similar to our world’s rich and powerful treating the poor) and so on and so forth.

I enjoyed Ascendance of the Bookworm so much that this is the only light novel I considered worth my money. I do not hesitate to spend money just to get the latest volume and also to support the author.

This is now a very long post. I guess this is the result of the agony of the long wait for the release of the new volume. Now I understand what the fans of the Harry Potter series felt when they awaited the release of the new book in the past. 

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UPDATE:

I finished reading the machine translated web novel of the Ascendance of the Bookworm. It was a difficult read since many Japanese words were badly translated. But I had to put up with it since I wanted to finish it and know what will happen in the end.

The ending is good.

I even read the spin-off web novel lead by Hannelore of Dunkelfelger. Unfortunately, Miya Kazuki (the author of Ascendance of a Bookworm) stopped updating the web novel. Now, I am just waiting the new volumes of the light novels, which are very slow in releasing the English version.


Weird Dream: Arrested by the Gestapo

Gestapo arresting people


Scene 1:

I am in a multi-floor apartment complex looking out through the back window. I guess I am at the second or third floor.

Suddenly, my mother went in through that back window bringing some stuffs (grocery maybe).

I wondered why my mother went in through the back window. How did she climbed up to third (or second floor)? (In hindsight, I think she climbed using the fire escape).

The atmosphere is heavy in the room

It felt that we are doing something illegal or we are afraid of something.


Scene 2:

I am on a street in the long queue of men. I don't know how I got there but a police approached me. His uniform is similar to the Nazi officers. And his demeanor is stiff and demanding.

I remembered that we (the people in the queue) are being asked to provide some metals for the war effort. I only have one piece of nail in my pocket, which I gave to the Nazi police. He was angry with what I was only able to provide.

I begged the police to have to pity on me. That I was not able to scrounge any metal because I was busy working.

"I am a busy working. We are serving the same country. Please have pity" - I said

The dream ended there. I don't know what happened after. Did the police killed the Dream Me? Did he listened to my plea?

It was a weird dream. Maybe I was just anxious. Is it my distrust with the police manifesting in my dream? I don't know.

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Alert Level 2 Adventure: Family Lunch-Out at Ramen Nagi of Nuvali Park

Going to Nuvali meant that we had to eat. So, as a birthday treat to the birthday girl, we dined in our favorite Japanese restaurant…

Ramen Nagi at Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna

…Ramen Nagi!

Our family likes Ramen Nagi because of their tasty and authentic(?) Japanese noodles.

Placemats of Ramen Nagi in Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna

It's been ages since the last time we dined in Ramen Nagi, so we decided to order three large bowls of Wonder Chasu King and Butao King.  

Yummy bowls of Butao King and Wonder Chasu King of Ramen Nagi Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna
Wonder Chasu King (upper right) and the others are Butao King.

The kids like them of course because they are way better than the Lucky Me noodles at home.

Chicken Karaage of Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna
Chicken Karaage.

We also ordered the Chicken Karaage, which the kids didn't like that much. Well, for me, it is just OK. Maybe we will not order this again if we return to Ramen Nagi.

We also ordered this dish, the name of which I cannot remember:

Mystery Dish of Ramen Nagi Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna

Ordering three large bowls was a mistake since the kids didn't eat much because they are full already. So Daddy had to eat all the left-overs since we were not allowed to take them home.

I was so full afterwards that I had difficulty walking. I guess we overdid it since it was our first time to have a nice dine-out after more than two years of lockdown.

We bought Ramen Nagi's frozen and cook-at-home ramen once during lockdown since we missed eating their delicious noodles. It was a disappointment since it didn't taste as good as the ramen prepared in Ramen Nagi restaurant.

Now that many restrictions have been lifted, we can go to Ramen Nagi anytime and not have to content ourselves with their frozen take-home ramen.

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Alert Level 2 Adventure: Family Bonding in Nuvali Park (Santa Rosa, Laguna)

Now that the COVID restrictions are slowly being removed by the government, the Ahab Family finally got the chance to have the long-awaited family bonding outside of the house. Unfortunately, beach resorts in Nasugbu still have some restrictions and Tagaytay is too crowded during weekends.

So, we decided to have our family bonding (and birthday celebration of My Beloved Wife) in Nuvali Park of Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Grass of Nuvali Park in Santa Rosa, Laguna

It has been ages since we last visited Nuvali. Then pandemonium pandemic came and we were not able to visit the place for almost three years.

And so we grabbed the chance and went to Nuvali when Laguna was placed under Alert Level 2.

Kids running in Nuvali Park in Santa Rosa, Laguna

This is the first time Samien, our bunso, visited Nuvali. He was very delighted by the wide open space!

Brick road of Nuvali Park in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Samuel, our eldest, and Samantha, our only princess, enjoyed running on the grass and then climbing up the "hill".

Kids running on green grass of Nuvali Park in Santa Rosa, Laguna

I envy these little ones who found happiness in simple things such as the wide open space of Nuvali.

The kids are famished after running under the sun. So for lunch, we brought them to Ramen Nagi, which is one of our favorite Nuvali restaurants.

The kids' favorite place in Nuvali is the playground. Sadly, the place was cordoned off in the name "health and safety protocols".

Our kids are persistent so they still tried the slide, monkey bars, spring horse despite the cordon.

Big Heart in Nuvali Park, Santa Rosa, Laguna

The lockdowns shut down many shops in Nuvali. The store of expensive ice cream near the playground is gone. Other shops on the second floor are empty and were invaded by stray cats.

A few hours before dusk, our family went to the grassland for a picnic. We were not the only ones who set up a picnic in the area. There were families sitting on the grass or doing some stroll. Dog-owners were also there to walk their dogs.

Finally, before going home, we went to Nuvali Lake to look at koi fishes.

Feeding the koi fishes in Nuvali Park ,Santa Rosa, Laguna

Feeding the koi fishes is the most popular activity in Nuvali. Our little ones enjoyed watching scores of kois fighting over the feed thrown at them.

This is the first time that our Bunso saw these fishes and he was delighted in watching them.

Our visit to Nuvali Park was a truly fun experience for all of us. The kids were finally freed from the lockdowns and the many restrictions. I do hope that the situation improves so that we can visit other places this summer vacation.

Read about our previous visit to Nuvali Park in 2016.

End of the Month Roundup: February 2022

February is dubbed by many as the "Love Month". Little they know that the man whose name became synonymous with "love" was actually beheaded in the name of "Divine Love".

(Source: Confessions of a Funeral Director)

I felt being beheaded too this month. The demands for my service kicked into high gear and pestered me throughout the month. I guess the holiday lull is over for our clients. And so they arr back asking us for urgent this-and-that.

Personal Notes

1. The Level 1 Boss who suddenly disappeared last month has reappeared. He dropped the Atomic Bomb by filing his resignation. He will not be with us next year.

I am amazed with his bravery to resign to pursue the path that he desires. I, sometimes, think of doing that, especially when the pressure is high and I am so exhausted. Those times when usual mood is anger. But then practicality steps in. I cannot just throw everything away to chase the star. I have a family to take care of!

2. A subordinate told me of her decision to retire early 3 years from now. The reason for the early retirement is that she found…love.

The conversation with her unexpectedly became personal. I was actually touched that my subordinates trusts me enough that they are open to share their personal life with me.

3. I am feeling the exhaustion again in the last week of February. I guess this is common whenever a month ends.

4. I was so angry with MetroBank last year because they did not waive their Annual Fee. I paid around 5 thousand pesos and decided to ditch their card. I called MetroBank and told them to cancel my card. In the end they phonebanker convinced me to just change my credit card to that with no annual fee. #BankWinsAgain

5. I was surprised that a friend (wala na sa opisina ngayon) supports a presidential candidate who is from a corrupt family. That friend is very vocal against corruption and yet…ambot!

6. A subordinate suddenly had to go back to their home province because his mother had a stroke. Sadly, some of the co-workers mocked his being “deaf” and inattentive because they did not know what he is going through.

In Other News…

February is the start of the campaign period. So my FB friends and contacts, my neighbors, my co-workers are battling it out. This is the mood of the Philippines this month:

(Source: Muzeo)

UKRAINE vs RUSSIA is the trending topic in the last days of the month, eclipsing even the election issues in the Philippines.

It is another history unfolding before my very eyes and may mean the beginning of a global conflict. At the back of my mind are thoughts of how the family survive this just in case the new Axis Powers and Allied Forces slug it out with another World War. Life will be difficult even if the Philippines will go neutral

What is happening now is that oil prices will skyrocket and followed by the prices of basic goods. Mas uunti yung mabibili ng sweldo ko. :-( 

Another incident of impunity and “what are we power for” act. A police officer died just because of the “private time” of the PNP Chief. Nakakasuka na ang kawalan ng honor at morality ng mga nakakataas sa gobyerno.

Interesting Reads

This post from La Grande Armee of Memes & Francophile Themes narrates the situation in Prussia before their war with Napoleon Bonaparte. The Prussians, including the high bureaucrats and royal family, have “great thirst for war” and a “certain hope of victory”. The Prussians’ thirst was quenched but the result is devastation and plenty of defeat at the hands of the Grande Armee.

“The insolent braggarts will soon learn that our arms are in good order!”

Napoleon’s reaction to Prussian soldiers sharpening their sabres at the steps of French embassy. 

A Damaged Culture - This article from The Atlantic speaks about the reason why People Power 1 failed. The problem is not only about Marcos but Cory Aquino not ushering in the reforms that the Philippines direly needs. In the end, she just put back to power the old oligarchs that were displaced by Marcos.

...it is hard to believe that replacing Marcos with Aquino, desirable as it doubtless is, will do much besides stanching the flow of crony profits out of the country. In a sociological sense the elevation of Corazon Aquino through the EDSA revolution should probably be seen not as a revolution but as the restoration of the old order. Marcos’s rise represented the triumph of the nouveau riche. He was, of course, an Ilocano, from the tough, frugal Ilocos region, in the northwest corner of Luzon. Many of those whom he enriched were also outsiders to the old-money, old-family elite that had long dominated the country's politics...

Images of the Month

Not all unity is good. (Source: Ιωσε Κάρλος Ραπαδας)

Unity is not a virtue. Not all unity is good. Even the demons are united to destroy the Son of Man.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the talk of the town, nay even the whole world. A nation attacked by a superpower. The art from Tarantadong Kalbo pretty much sums up the Goliath and David struggle between the two nations.

(Source: WW II in the Philippines)

During the Battle of Bataan in World War 2, brave Igorots sat on top of American tanks to cut off dense foliage blocking the tanks way and also served as “eyes” and guides of the tank crews.

Quotes of the Month

Dictators are like boils, superficial manifestations of an inner rottenness.  They would never have come to the surface if there had not been the proper conditions in the world from which they came.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 

Soviet power, unlike that of Hitlerite Germany, is neither schematic nor adventuristic. It does not work by fixed plans. It does not take unnecessary risks. Impervious to logic of reason, and it is highly sensitive to logic of force. For this reason it can easily withdraw — and usually does — when strong resistance is encountered at any point. 

George Kennan, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, 1946.

Words of Wisdom

You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet. For nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

- Matthew 14:6-7


When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one’s faults when one speaks. As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just. The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.

- Sirach 27:4-7

My Thoughts for this Month

Ukraine's experience should be warning to the Philippines. We cannot overly rely to our allies, including those with defense treaty, for the defense of the country. 

We must improve our defensive capabilities: more and better armaments, improvement of military doctrine, shaping up of our soldiers, instilling the sense of patritiosm to the people, and the REMOVAL OF MANCHURIAN LEADERS AND QUISLINGS IN THE GOVERNMENT.

Doing this will make our allies respect us and make potential enemies think twice before attacking us.

Blog Posts in February 2022

I posted about the Evolution Park of Marikina Heights. This park is the one with statues of cows and a monument dedicated to the Filipino soldiers of PEFTOK.

I also posted in the blog my original post about that lazy and cowardly presidential candidate - Philippine Politics: On Cowardly and Lazy Presidential Candidates.

Finally, I posted about my reactions to Violet Evergarden: The Movie.

Here are my post in Pinoy Informer:

Jollibee Party Package 2022: Virtual Party 

Who are the Jollibee Characters?

Mcdo Party Package for 2022 (Party Box)

Anime of the Month

I watched two animes this month, namely, Komi Can’t Communicate and The Classroom of the Elite.

(Source: Wordery)

Komi Can’t Communicate is about a high school girl named Komi, who despite being idolized by her classmates, has difficulty speaking with other people due to anxiety. She got an unexpected assist from a social-outcast classmate Tadano, who is the only person who noticed her difficulties. Tadano became Komi’s very first friend (and maybe more than a friend). The goal of the anime is for Tadano to help Komi gain 100 friends during high school.

(Source: TheBestGameTips)

This anime is over-the-top hilarious and reminds me of my other favorite…”High School Rumble”. Although “Komi Can’t Communicate” has less outrageous and unbelievable scenes than High School Rumble.

It is a refreshing anime that also tackles the concerns of people having social anxiety. I can relate to this anime since I had “social anxiety” starting high school that worsened in college. I wrote somewhere in this blog that I was a loner in college and had no barkada.It actually came to a point that I tried to start a conversation with anyone who happened to be with me at the table in CASAA (the popular canteen in UP Diliman that was burned a long time ago). Well, That sounds creepy but that was how I coped with loneliness or the fact that I didn’t have a buddy during those years. 

Another anime that I binged this month is Classroom of the Elite.

(Source: Amazon)

This is a like Death Note in a high school setting. The plot is about the lowest-ranked high school class trying to outwit other classes to go up the rankings. The main character is Kiyotaka Ayanokouji, who uses his classmates and other people as pawns for his own (not yet stated) goal.

I binged watch this anime so at least it got me interested. I liked the cutthroat competition and the fact that what’s on the surface of each is a just a veneer of their corruption inside (particularly Kikyō Kushida)

(Source: Wallpaper Abyss)

I found this anime quite distressing because of this monologue of the MC in the last episode:

I’ve never once thought of you as an ally. Not you. Not Kushida. Not Hirata. All people are nothing but tools. It doesn’t matter how its done. It doesn’t matter what needs to be sacrificed. In this world, winning is everything. As long as I win in the end…That’s all that matters. – Ayanokouji Kiyotaka

I am familiar with manipulation and people pretending to be good but deep inside they just wanted some favors and benefits. Each one wears a mask to hide something for we do not really trust other people, especially those outside of the family. I know this since I wear a mask too.

Meanwhile, in One Piece Big Mom finally met her defeat at the hands of Law and Kid.

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