Must see in Tacloban

Many things to see, many people to meet, a rich and unique culture to assimilate!

I shouted this out in private when I arrived in Tacloban City and began breathing its still clean air. Tacloban, now categorized as highly urbanized city, still has the look and feel of a component city. Except in some isolated areas, the city is generally clean.

At first, Tacloban looked like just other cities in the Philippines I have visited. Life is not as complicated like those in metropolitan areas. Later, I began to see and feel what makes Tacloban different from other cities.

The downtown buildings looked like those in Manalili – Colon area in Cebu City. The building designs speak of its age. Tricycles are jamming the downtown thoroughfares, and people are crowding in “pirated” alleys to get the best pirated copies of movies. I think presidential adviser for political affairs Ronald Llamas would be safe to buy pirated stuff here because no one may recognize him.

Just like other cities, people are not segregating garbage and just throw bags-full of rubbish of any kind along streets. Thanks God, garbage collectors never fail to get the rubbish. And just like other cities, people in Tacloban have “a little” water problem. And politics is not a good as others, too!

I have not judged Tacloban based on those things. I only saw a little and I need to see and experience a little more.

On my second week here, a trainee from Cebu arrived. It was good for me to have a Cebuano fellow who equally love discovering people, culture, and places.

While having coffee talk at Robinson’s Mall, an idea popped up. Then we decided to rent a car and stroll around. Our priorities was to go to “must see” in Tacloban and nearby places.

McArthur Monument (Leyte Landing Memorial) in Palo, Leyte

Palo, according to a new friend has very good Tuba (coconut wine) but what makes it famous was the landing of Gen. Douglas McArthur during liberation in World War II. McArthur Monument’s backdrop is the equally famous Leyte Gulf, the setting of one of the largest naval battle in modern war history.

How I wish I could talk to the waters that race from Leyte Gulf to kiss the breakwater at McArthur Monument. I would ask the water how it feels to become part of history.

Santo Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum

I had no idea what Sto. Nino Shrine was except that our driver who also served as our tour guide told us that Sto. Nino Shrine is tourist destination in Tacloban.

As we paid the entrance fee, I thought it was a religious museum as the entrance is facing the elegant chapel.

But I have not seen many religious relics. I saw, instead, political past and the elegance and extravagance of the 20-year rule.

Sto. Nino Shrine is one of the many structures conceptualized and built by former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. told readers:

The Museum consists of 13 rooms, each housing different objects and relics, arranged according to certain themes. There are also several precious art paintings, ranging from religious images, depictions about Filipino mythology and classical pieces by Fernando Amorsolo.

Unfortunately, I have not seen the paintings of Amorsolo but I saw one by Malang.

I learned later, after reading books about Imelda Marcos by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa,  a small house of Imelda and her family used to stand in the same place where Sto. Nino shrine now stands. I think Sto. Nino Shrine was built to erase some remarkable memory of Imelda’s past.

Price Mansion

The Price (Walter Scott Price) mansion now houses some offices and used to be the CAP office. One must not expect the mansion to be as beautiful and elegant as Boracay mansion of former President Joseph Estrada or as modern-looking as the mansions of Ampatuans. Price looks old and stressed. Creepy, I told my companion.

But for one who has the eye and heart for history, Price Mansion is such a beautiful place even if it looked like being abandoned by its loyal servants. The mansion took an important part in history having become Mc Arthur’s shelter during his stay in Tacloban.

McArthur’s room is rich in war memorabilia. I have seen disturbing and inspiring was images and war documents as well. I promised to get back to the place to have better view of World War II.

San Juanico Bridge (Marcos Bridge)

A college friend once told that “the longer, the bigger, the better” and when we talk about things the question should always be “is it big?”; “is it long?”. If yes, then the thing becomes “must see” and “must feel”.

Perhaps the length of San Juanico Bridge makes it famous or perhaps because it is Marcos’ bridge of love.

Whatever the reasons of people, my reason is simple. I just want to see it and cross it (to give me the feeling of a conqueror).

San Juanico Bridge was our last point in our 4-hour tour. We had not stopped ourselves from getting out of the car at middle of the bridge and took pictures (using mobile phone) even it rained that time.

My adoration was not with the bridge. I was falling in love with the strait where the bridge crosses – the San Juanico Strait!

After crossing the bridge, we went our way towards Tacloban City.

Tacloban’s Attraction

There are others we missed but I have visited few days later like Balyuan. I learned that there used to have watch tower in the place. Now, a beautiful Balyuan Ampitheater stands in the place.

Recently, I learned that there is an issue on ownership of the called as Balyuan Property, a 24 hectare property where the Tacloban City Hall stands, the Balyuan Ampitheater and many other city offices. The property is claimed by Province of Leyte. I am uncertain on the future of Balyuan.

Another places to visit are Family Park, Leyte Park, and Sto. Nino Church.

There are many other places to go. Tacloban has fine restaurants, good hotel, and hospitable people.

Perhaps the best place to visit is the home or ordinary family in Tacloban. From that home, we learn much about this city.

Dine out or Take in?

Take out or dine in? This commonly heard line is often unnoticed. Except when the one who say it is extraordinarily attractive, I would not bother to answer verbally. Most often, my   non-verbal actions are enough.

I was not in a popular fast food chain so I expect less. But the lady who serves food at a small carenderia near Gomez Street (Tacloban City) had high regards to carenderia eater like me and treat us as if we’re in a customer-focused fast food chain.

Without saying a word, I “told” her my order. She looked at me as if asking why I was not saying a word then said, “take out”?

Still without saying a word, I “told” no. She paused a moment then loudly said, “ah, take in”

Wonderful! The lady makes me smile.

Monday Beer Talk

Red Horse beer and the fire! This was taken during my adventure in Bantayan Island, Cebu.

When relationship is good, it’s nice to celebrate with beer; when relationship fails, it may be good to have beer to start over. But let us remember that beer is not the core of everything. It is not a gear but a lubricating agent to keep gears running.

I wish I had a can of Red Horse beer as I type this post but I don’t need to because my mind keep on juicing up ideas like free-flowing beer!

So let’s talk about beer. I have tried several local beers but I only feel in love with Red Horse beer. Most of my friends love it, too! Recently, I had cold bottles of Red Horse beer with a good friend.

It was unplanned but the beer talk with my new friend Tonton (here in Tacloban) turned to be one of the best.

Beer talk is always rewarding when we talk sensible things. And sensible things are not always the “heavy ones” but something that relate to significant human experiences of the person we talk with.

In Cebu, my bestfriend and I (along with other close friends) would love to talk small and big things with few bottles of beer. The place where the beer talk happen was less significant than the talk and beer. Whether we got beer at famous Mango Avenue (Gen. Maxilom Avenue in Cebu City) or in nearby sari-sari store, it was always the quality of the talk that matter most.

There was particular beer talk that I could never forget – not until I’m alive. And there was beer talk in an island that I always love to remember.

And believe me, beer saved me!

Would you believe also that beer saved the world?

I do . And I believe that we should thank beer for what we have today. Well, I read so many things about beer and I keep on enriching my beer knowledge base.

One striking fact I stumbled was revealed in Discovery Channel documentary, “How Beer Saved the World”. If you’re beer lover like me, you will surely get inspired.

I learned from the documentary that one of the great American, Benjamin Franklin once told that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. ”

Beer help establish today’s mighty nation, the United Sates of America, the documentary claimed.

Let me share how beer took a role in American history. As claimed in the documentary by US author and historian Dr. Gregg Smith, “Beer is the secret history of America. It’s in our DNA.” It was because beer revolutionized America’s industry. Beer industry has domino effect in the economy.

Beer also helped modern medicine to advance as it is today through the germ theory.

Let’s go back to how beer helped build America. It was in December 16, 1773, in the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, the struggle for independence from the British was born with beer. I believe it was one of the greatest beer talk in the world.

By the way, old America’s tavern are like blog and Facebook of today. Revolutionaries discussed, debated, and decided many things in the tavern with beer.

It is not surprising then that the US national anthem was borrowed from the 18th century drinking song (a song to test sobriety). The words were changed but the tune the same. Indeed, beer helped found America!

Personally, some major decisions in my life were also inspired by a bottle of beer or two. I drink beer to celebrate and to be happy. I drink beer to think, reflect and decide. I drink beer to survive and to revolutionize! Just for today, I cannot say that I drink beer to save the world! Of course, I drink beer to help the world. Just like you.

The beer talk with Tonton was not about revolution of course! We did not talk about the energy crisis in Mindanao (actually we both trace our roots from Mindanao). Nor we talk about noynoying President nor Binay’s political coalitions and Liberal’s insecurity. We talk about life, our life’s light experiences. Our Monday beer talk was very light and was to strengthen our friendship.

Friendship, in my case, is not always built over bottles of beer but mostly better strengthened by beer. Not all beer talks are good. Some are not worthy to remember. Some turned bad when the spirit of beer overpowered the spirit of good friendship and camaraderie.

I know I still have some other beer talks in the future. And I hope we never run out of beer. Cheers!

Have a happy beer day to all of us!

Tacloban valituskouro

I flooded my friends’ inbox with my complaints – at least during my first three-weeks stay in Tacloban. Thanks to my good lord, none of them complained that I complain too much!

Now that I feel comfortable in the city, I started to realize how funny and petty my complaints were.

I am not the only one who complained in Tacloban. Folks have their own bagfull of complaints. I overheard complaints about city’s water, garbage, and arrogant tricycle drivers. My acquaintance here was ranting about the entrance to department store inside Gaisano. Entrance there should have been at the right just like the store’s main entrance. His problem – he always exit at the entrance! Funny man!

Radio stations inherently host people’s complaints. And barbershops,too. Complaints are like non-stop music – about politicians, about husbands, about neighbors, about internet connection, name it!

Just imagine the world if all of us complain about anything and everything. I have read how the Finnish couple tried to help so that the world hear common complaints. They help organized complaints choir worldwide! Valituskuoro” means “Complaints Choir” in Finland. I am not sure if there is complaints choir in the Philippines. If none, I hope it would start in Tacloban.

You should not blame me for having many complaints. Look, wouldn’t you complain if your room mate would fart like machine gun at the time when you’re dozing and dreaming? Who wouldn’t complain if people laugh because you did not understood “bunay” (a Waray word for egg)?

There are still many things to complain: beautiful girls have boyfriend; smart ladies are married; et ecetera, et cetera.

My friends, Dennis and Agnes, did not get tired reading my complaints. Now, I am giving them a break. No complaints this time. I just send to them my observations.

I admire Dennis and well as my friend Ringo. I seldom hear their complaints. Maybe they just don’t articulate it or maybe they have broad understanding and don’t find little things worthy to be complained about.

How about you? What are your complaints?

Crucifixion of an Unknown Man

On my way to Calvary Hill in Barangay 39, at Rizal avenue, a curiously noisy crowd was coming. I saw group of men hurting themselves. There is a term for this one but I cannot recall it.

One man wearing white was carrying a big cross. I think it was very heavy to carry. But he looked holier than the rest who were wearing red.

It looks like a dramatization of what happened more than 2,000 years ago.

Later (after I was through at Calvary Hill), I went to Magallanes street because I learned from a tricycle driver that the man wearing white would be nailed to the cross.

As expected, there were already many spectators when I arrived at a corner in Magallanes Street (Tacloban City). There were television cameras, and a lot of people were getting pictures of the white clad man now nailed in the cross. His head was crowned with “Panyawan” not thorns.

The man became an instant celebrity. I did not know what he was up to but he did was extraordinary.

I thought his hands and feet were bleeding but it was not. I asked if the nails were real and yes, they were. The unknown man (I did not bother to ask who he was), looked very tired. His expressionless face was intriguing. What he was up to, why he is doing such difficult task. I learned that it was not the first time this man submitted himself to crucifixion. Why and why were the questions I kept to myself. Maybe soon, I could talk to this man.

Crucifixion during ancient times was a “deliberately painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead” (see Crucifixion at Wikipedia). The most famous person ever crucified was Jesus Christ. But the unknown man I am talking about could be also famous. Media for sure would carry this story.

After few minutes, the nails were pulled off. The man then walked away from the cross.

Curios kids and grown-ups gathered to check if he was alright.

On his way home, his left foot was bleeding. People gathered around his to see and to take pictures of the bleeding foot. One man tried to stop the bleeding. I was just watching nearby.

I walked away, still unable to reconcile why this thing must happen. Maybe soon, I could talk to him and learn from him. Who knows?