Why Sto. Niño is the Patron (Saint?) of Tacloban and Leyte?

Cebuanos once considered Santo Niño as their patron saint but the Church (Roman Catholic) discouraged such veneration because the Sto. Niño is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and cannot be called upon for intercession. So in 2002, Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared by Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal as the principal patroness of Cebu.

Here in Tacloban and Leyte, people are speaking and writing Sto. Niño as the patron saint. Are these people misguided by the Catholic Church?

There are reasons why the people here venerate Sto. Niño. In a story published in PIA website, Rodrigo S. Victoria, quoted Father Gilbert Urbina’s explanation why “Sto Niño is Leyte’s patron saint”.

See? A Catholic priest himself call Sto. Niño as saint. Part of the story goes:

Sr. Sto Niño became the patron saint of Tacloban City after people living in Tacloban village were healed and saved from cholera epidemic that plagued the community on June 30, 1889.

The law (REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7676), that declares June 30 every year as special non-working public holiday in Tacloban and Leyte states:

The thirtieth day of June of every year, being the feast day of Señor Santo Niño, the patron saint of Tacloban City and the Heavenly Patron of Leyte, is hereby declared a special nonworking public holiday in Tacloban City, Province of Leyte, to be known as “Tacloban Day.”

I sent an email to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Palo to ask some guidance. But until I have not receive reply from them, I continually be confused.

But of course, I am not against the Feast of Sto. Niño per se. what I don’t understand is that why people refer the Holy Child as saint when in the the Apostles’ Creed (Symbolum Apostolicum) which are recited every holy mass, Catholics would say:

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

My faith as Roman Catholic is strong, I should say. Happy fiesta, Tacloban!

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.

TaclobanBoard.com 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.

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!

Water problem

The world has water problem. Soon, those who control water control the world. I hope it would not happen very soon.

But before the world’s water problem, I had my own water problem. Since piped water in the place I live here in Tacloban runs only for few hours (mostly night time to dawn), I would need a pail or two and go to nearby public artisan well to clean my body.

I don’t cook my food. I just eat at fast food nearby and drink whatever water they serve there. Not always safe, I would say but my only choice is to survive.

I have water problem and I know many of us have water problem. In documentaries I watched in television (GMA 7), I see how big the water problem is. For example, in a mountain barangay in Cebu, people had to walk several kilometers just to get few litters of water from a well or spring. In another province in southern Luzon, some people dug meters deep to get muddy water and they consider the water enough to survive.

According to Water Environment Partnership in Asia (WEPA),

Access to clean and adequate water remains an acute seasonal problem in urban and coastal areas in the Philippines. The National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, and Central Visayas are the four urban critical regions in terms of water quality and quantity.

At least Eastern is not yet in the critical list. But Cebu is already in the red list.

Sometimes, our nations water problem is not only the scarcity of water but also “too much” water during occasional floods. And during that time, having too much would cause “too little” water for people to drink.

While in Tacloban, my water problem escalated one day when I realized that I have compromised my health because of unsafe drinking water.

I had traumatic water experience in Cebu. The water I drank come from Metro Cebu’s potable water supply and it didn’t came into my mind that the water was unsafe. But I got diarrhea, so it must not always be safe.

Since then, I depended on purified water – an additional expense for wage earner like me. But I had to stretch my budget just to have safe water to drink.

It’s a sad reality in a country with abundant water resources.

But water has its own politics, too. Or it would be accurate to say that water is not distribute equally because of politics. Cebu clearly has water politics problem. Tacloban also has water politics problem. A boarding house owner I talked told me that there is a force that control water here in Tacloban but he refuse to detail his story.

When I arrived in Tacloban, I only drank bottled water. I feel it safe than to drink tap water. However, I don’t always have the money to buy water. I still have to buy my food, and everything . I drank tap water  and nothing happened. For almost a month I forgot about water problem  – not until yesterday.

Tacloban, like most Philippine cities (if not all) has water problem. I don’t have statistics at hand but based on my observations, not every city folk has access to safe water.  In downtown areas, there are city-owned artisan well which supply water for laundry and washing. But this is not ideal. Ideally, each home should have 27/7 safe piped water supply. Water should not be served only to the affluent but also to the less privilege people. After all, everyone pays tax and everyone needs water  to survive.

People in Tacloban have no reasons yet to get alarmed. It seems there is no looming water crisis yet. But  Cebuanos (those living Metro Cebu) must work hard to find additional water sources as Cebu’s ground water is getting salty. Cebu’s water crises is fast approaching. Sun Star Cebu had published special reports about Cebu’s water problem. But actions seem very slow.

At home (in my hometown), we use purified water. There seems to have ample water supply there and deep well could be a good source of safe drinking water. However, since we are living in agricultural  area where there is heavy use of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, it could be possible that such harmful chemicals reached deep down to our water source.

The Philippines is blessed with rich water resources but we shall continue to have water problem unless we all work together to take care of our water sources. With the rate of our population (we grow too fast), it would not be possible that we can solve this water problem very soon.

As WEPA puts it its State of water environmental issues for the Philippines:

With the rapid increase in population, urbanization, and industrialization reduce the quality of Philippine waters, especially in densely populated areas and regions of industrial and agricultural activities.

May the water problem be not with us always!

Want more about water problem? Go to Globalissues.org Water and Development which says that:

If you live in a slum in Manila, you pay more for your water than people living in London.

A big problem indeed!

Tanduay First 5 Concert Series 2012: Tacloban

I am getting ready for the Tanduay First 5 Philippine tour 2012. Now on it’s fourth year, it would be my first time. See you at EVSU (Eastern Visayas State University) grounds in Tacloban City on May 5, 2012.

The Tanduay First Five concent series (2012) features Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Wolfgang, Urbandub and Rico Blanco.

Tacloban rocks! Tanduay rocks!

Tanduay First 5 2012 Concert series

Tanduay First Five Concert Tour Schedule:
March 30 – Legaspi
March 31 – Naga
April 14 – Boracay
April 20 – Dumaguete
April 27 – Bataan
April 28 – Baliwag, Bulacan
May 4 – Calbayog
May 5 – Tacloban
May 11 – Lucena
May 18 – Kalibo
May 19 – Iloilo
May 25 – Santiago
June 1 – Vigan
June 2 – La Union
June 8 – Baguio
July 13 – CDO
August 17 – Digos
August 18 – Gensan
September 7 – Surigao
September 8 – Butuan
November 9 – Pagadian
December 1 – Bacolod

See you!