Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Simala Shrine: Miraculous and Majestic (Cebu)

People from all walks of life come out in droves to Simala Shrine in Lindogon, Sibonga, not just to pray for divine intervention, give thanks for their blessings, or revisit their faith but to see what is clearly an architectural wonder in Cebu south. It is built on the side of a hill with a design reminiscent of European cathedrals. The shrine, even though evidently under construction when I went there last May this year, is magnificence for the eye -- just a perfect house for the Miraculous Mother Mary of Simala which is run by the Marian monks.

As you queue up to see the statue of the Miraculous, you get to read all over the bulletins overwhelming testimonials from people who have been cured or miraculously survived serious illnesses and those who have successfully hurdled (dreaded) national licensure examinations. Some of them left their crutches, wheelchairs, and school nameplates. They are beyond grateful for having been given a second chance at life or for all the guidance leading to their victory. I was told, out of gratitude, many have donated generous amounts to the shrine. That in itself speaks volumes about strong faith.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shades of Grey

According to the wise, only two things in life are real -- one is black and white being the other. These two gauge what is exclusively a right and what is a wrong, what is a yes and what is a no. They are perfect instruments to weigh on objects, people, and deeds, and judging differentiates one from another. They help assess the value of something by tagging it with either of the two extremes and no middle ground.

However, black and white alone make no sense, sometimes. If someone asks you for an opinion, sometimes we have to bypass a straight answer for a less obvious one. We become our own moderators where mitigation creeps in because we want to keep the better of the relationship while sounding rational and honest. A filtered response seesaws in our thinking before we shoot it out in order to be more careful with the person’s feelings. That in a sense is just being a person sensitive enough for the feelings of others.

Great are those who can speak their minds with no holds barred. They speak that way because they know what they are doing, are knowledgeable and truly gifted communicators. The highly opinionated would only tell you whether it is black or white and no grey areas. But it is beside the point if you’re being self-centered. Egocentricity is manifested in so many ways, and let me point out one way in the context of the topic. It happens when you fail to check the people around you because you’re so full of yourself and the lack of sensitivity is astounding, blurting out what’s always on your mind for your own good. All you could think about is saving yourself from the sinking boat first, and yes, probably, you care for others but just using the wrong means, which would be easily misunderstood. The worst is when you tell everyone that it is just the way you are ever since, and that you deserve to be understood. Point well-taken, but have you tried improving yourself lately, and until when will you be deadpan? Have you, after all these times, asked yourself whether you said something enough to be hurtful? Being hurt and hurting someone is a good thing only for the good reasons.

It is high time to re-evaluate, re-examine, and open that window to your soul you probably for long refused to see. You need to see it for yourself. A change of heart will help you do it, and that shades of grey sometimes deserve some recognition after all.

Image: Woodlands Waterfront Park, Singapore

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Twin Bridges of Cebu

Cebu's twin bridges are a classic reminder of where I came from and where I was headed. I was born and raised in Leyte and found a new home through the wonderful years in Cebu. Oh, yeah, reminiscing those epic years!

Pictures were taken using a Sony Cybershot W310 during my trip back to Cebu from Ormoc City, Leyte in May 2010. 

business as usual...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pulau Ubin: Rustic Side of Singapore

Little is known of the old ways and what used to be. But with much curiosity and keen observation, history effortlessly unfolds before your very eyes, taking you deeper into the forgone times.

Once you step into the soil of Singapore, its overwhelming modernity somehow makes you forget about its beginnings. Coupled with its clever conveniences, shiny skyscrapers, green environment, Singapore does exceed best in many categories, drowning you with all the good things in an ideal city, providing easy access to anything and anywhere, presenting you with possibilities of the future (if you know what I mean). Surprisingly, to the delight of probing heads and adventurers at heart, Singapore does have remains of the past, and what I’m talking about is its living past -- somehow untouched literally that pulls you closer to a better-sounding laid back setting as opposed to its fast-paced lifestyle. That there is still an area in the city-state that is stuck in the past.

So let us travel a few short miles from the central to one of its islands called, Pulau Ubin – Singapore’s last frontier, appropriately far removed from its common definition: ultra-modern.

Pulau Ubin is situated off the north east coast of the mainland and only 8-minutes away from Changi Point Ferry Terminal via a bumboat (one-way fare is 2.50 dollars per person). Upon arrival, you will be greeted with numerous streamers, which mean business is so alive in the island. It is just sprawling with activities for adventurers most especially.

Personally, the best activity there is biking. There are numerous rent-a-bike shops there, and it is worth giving emphasis the “2 Dollars” signs because it is a bit deceiving, for the price is meant for kids only. When we went there, we ended up renting 9 dollar mountain bikes and started pedalling our way at 11 in the morning (until 4 in the afternoon). During that time, we met so many bikers on the road -- families, couples, groups of friends. The paved roads made biking a lot easier save when we went uphill, which was quite challenging.

Then, we headed to the abandoned granite quarry sites that turned into lakes - sure they're quite scenic.

Biodiversity is best exemplified at Chek Jawa Wetlands, located on the south-east tip of Pulau Ubin. It is divided into the Coastal and Mangrove Loops -- home to nipa palm trees, mangroves, wild boars, mudskippers, birds, and many nocturnal animals.

Pulau Ubin is simply an enjoyable contrast of the city, where you can see one-floor houses with aluminum roofing and on stilts, where locals are getting creative at their own backyards as opposed to typical HDB units so confined within equal spaces. Truly, it is simply the other side of Singapore worth exploring.

Changi Point Ferry Terminal
Biking and the road
Pulau Ubin jetty
Welcome to Pulau Ubin!
bicycles for rent
monitor lizard

Pulau Ketam
Pulau Ketam, a small island off Pulau Ubin
as seen from Pulau Ubin
Celestial Resort

Abandoned Granite Quarry Sites


Rural Singapore
definitely, not a typical Singaporean house
houses on stilts
taxi stand
Noordin Beach

Chek Jawa

Wild boars
Jejawi Tower
nipa palm trees
mangrove trees
mangrove tree roots
trail in the marshland
House No. 1, a pre-war structure facing mainland Singapore
House No. 1's jetty

Leaving the island
We had a wonderful day! :)

Back to Changi Point
Changi Point Ferry Terminal
Changi Beach Park, near the terminal
It was March 19, 2011 when the moon was closest to Earth; it happens every 18 years