Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sleeping Child

April 21, 2011. Somewhere along the national highway of Ilocos Sur, Philippines.

In case you're wondering, the vehicle you see here is a tricycle. It is a popular means of transportation in the Philippines, and is used mainly for short distances especially in barrios and urban villages.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Penitensiya: A Ritual Of Pain And Passion In The Philippines

During the long drive from Ilocos to Manila last Maundy Thursday, I couldn't resist the urge to stop the car and take a few pictures of a striking religious ritual happening on the very streets we were passing. We witnessed this scene somewhere in Pampanga, one of the oldest provinces in the Philippines.

A few half-naked men were whipping their backs as they trudged through the night. In cases where some of them carried logs, someone else did the flogging. As if those weren't gruesome enough, one particular man opted to crawl and roll as his means to move about, doing this while another man caned him. When the bruised and bloodied mean appear to have reached their destination, they would either kneel or lay prostrate on the ground while someone else struck them yet again.

The local rite is known Penitensiya and is basically meant to depict the suffering of Jesus Christ. You might have already guessed that the English equivalent of the word is penitence, which means showing sorrow and regret for one's wrongdoings. Indeed, devotees believe that this form of self flagellation is one way to show they are sorry for their transgressions. In fact, some of them believe that the act itself cleanses them from their sins.

Aside from atonement, some carry out the rite to ask for special favors such as the healing of a loved one. Some believe they get protection or guidance in return. Others merely keep a vow they made when they asked for divine intervention or a miracle in the past.

Regardless of their reasons, these devotees are decided to keep observing this ritual yearly, for as long as they can.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cebu From Above

"The view is so much better from the top, we can take you there."

This is one of the slogans used by the company a friend used to work for. In some weird twist of memory, this was one of the phrases that came to mind when I was marveling at the view of Cebu from the tallest tower in the city, Crow Regency Hotel.

Cebu is one of the major tourist destinations in the Philippines because of its white sandy beaches and its hospitable people. It is best known in history for the Battle of Mactan, where the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan met his death at the hands of its natives.

From where I stood I could see the entire city in all its glory. It certainly isn't a bad place to be in during sunset. Looking at the nearby island of Mactan and imagining the throng of people that must be enjoying the waters at that moment, I had to ask myself why I wasn't in the beach more often.

The 40-story building where these pictures were taken from isn't without marvels of its own. For instance, the cables that are noticeable at the topmost picture carry adventurous passengers of the zip line from one tower to another. There's also the Sky Walk Extreme that lets thrill-seekers walk around the edge of the building, reminiscent of the SkyWalk at the Macau Tower. Then there's the Edge Coaster, a ride that takes its passengers around the edge of the building and — to make it more interesting — allows passengers to tilt the seat downwards up to 55 degrees using a lever — the first of its kind in the world.

Speaking of firsts, Crown Regency also claims to have built the first climbing wall atop a building. With the rush of excitement I felt as I learned about this, eager to try it one day, I am instantly reminded of Orchard Central's indoor climbing wall. This certainly takes it a notch higher! While I have yet to give it a try, I imagine that it would feel like you're scaling the actual building. I was also told that when you reach the angled portion of the wall, it would appear that the building below has vanished, giving you an obstructed view of the streets below.

When you come to Cebu, I definitely recommend visiting Crown Regency Towers. If you're not the adventurous type who would love to try the rides, the view from the top is definitely worth the quick trip.

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