Sunday, May 27, 2007

The most romantic song ever written for me is Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal by Ernani Cuenco. The lyrics and the melody really strike a cord whenver i hear it. I was fortunate to have been able to find an mp3 version of Ernani Cuenco's obra maestra in the Multiply account of Xiao Chua. I think he got the MP3 from the Dean of History at UP Diliman. To Xiao, thanks a lot. Many may not know that i am a Kundiman fan (aside from being an opera fan). I was able to gather from the internet a compilation of classic Filipino music including some hard-to-find Kundiman songs (I especially like Larry Miranda's "Sa Lumang Simbahan" ). I am glad that there are still many filipinos (sadly most of them are abroad) who share in my desire to be able to preserve Kundiman music for posterity.

The music "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal" may be considered baduy by the present generation who grew up with love songs with a more upbeat tempo. They fail to realize the intensity, the emotion that goes with every line of the song. If only they could learn to appreciate real beautiful music.

I found the lyrics of "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal" at and i am posting it here for the benefit of those who like the music. Hope you like it. :D

Ikaw lamang ang aking iibigin
Ang pag-ibig ko sa 'yo ay tunay
Nais ko sanang patunayan
Huwag ka nang mag-alinlangan
Ang pag-ibig ko'y hindi kukupas
Tulad din ng umaga
May pag-asang sumisikat
Ang ating buhay
Maikli aking hirang
Kung kaya't kailangan
ng pagsuyong wagas
Ang sumpa ko sa iyo'y asahan
Ikaw lamang ang aking iibigin mapakailanman
Ang ating buhay
Maikli aking hirang
Kung kaya't kailangan ng pagsuyong wagas
Ang sumpa ko sa iyo'y asahan
Ikaw lamang ang aking iibigin

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Question

I have been asked if i have changed religions. The answer is no. I am still a christian. I have not converted to Taoism. My belief in the Pathway to Enlightenment (slightly different from the Tao for the Pathway to Enlightenment is my personal religion) is not, as i believe, in violation with the tennets of my belief. In fact, it helps me to become a better christian. The 3 keys of the Pathway (simplicity, love and meditation) and the Three Jewels of the Tao (humility, moderation and love) are in perfect harmony with the teachings of Christ. In fact, Christ exercised these keys (both of the pathway and the Tao) during His stay on this earth. He lived simply, He showed love and compassion, humility, moderation and He meditated. So i see no need to switch religions just because i practice the three keys towards True Enlightenment.

No Power

My niece wrote a blog about a recent power failure in their area. Upon contemplation, i wrote her this reply:

Darkness allows us a chance to meditate. The loss of power should be considered a blessing for it gives us the opportunity for deep meditation. Darkness and silence are factors to see the pathway to true enlightenment. When one is in deep meditation, the physical discomforts vanish like the stars upon the entrance of the majestic sun.
Love. Simplicity. Meditation. Three keys to the Pathway to Enlightenment. These are based on the Three Jewels of the Tao: Humility, Moderation and Love. The Tao and the Pathway are similar, if not one and the same.

The Pathway to Enlightement

We go about our daily lives focused on trivial matters. I say trivial because in the broader spectrum of life, the chi or path towards enlightenment recognizes no status, financial stability or social status -- these are merely man-made and not an integral part of the discovery of the pathway to enlightenment. The three jewels of the Tao (as with the essentials towards the realization of the Pathway towards True Enlightenment) are humility, moderation and love. With the Pathway, it is love, simplicity and meditation. Love is essential because only with love can one come closer to the Pathway. Living simply (simplicity) is essential as well, for only in simplicity can one escape the trappings of materiality and the temptations of the body. Lastly there is meditation. This final step towards the Pathway is based on two elements: darkness and silence. Darkness and silence are essential for it elliminates distractions of the senses and heightens the ability of a person to listen only to his heart. With the right training, the Pathway to Enlightenment will present itself, as certain as the Sun rises in the East.

How does one love?

How does one love? Does one love with his mind or with his heart? If one loves with his mind, he opens himself up to doubt and distrust, for the mind is analytical and approaches problems in forms of equations and formulae. When one loves with his heart, the heart sees only the sincerity and the goodness of another. But, the heart can be misled, and quite easily too. The brain and the heart are like the chinese Yin and Yang. Like the yin and yang, there too must be an equal balance of heart and mind when loving. To love, one must be open to the reality that all human beings have their own good and bad side. To see only the good in a person without acknowledging his faults, shortcomings and weaknesses is not love. Always remember that the positive should always be balanced by the negative, for no one of this earth is born of only one side. In the words of my old mentor Master Rico, one is blinded by love and sees only the good when he can no longer differentiate between a dimple and a pimple.

Preaching the Obvious

Someone once asked me why i bother to preach on the obvious. I replied that the reason i have to preach about the obvious is that the obvious is the thing we take for granted the most. It is not unlike the devout christian asking God for a miracle and yet fails to see the miracle in the transformation of the butterfly, or the presence of the rainbow. There is a song that says that if one would only look at a drop of rain, he opens the secrets to the skies. The obvious is taken for granted, and one must preach about it so that it can be re-discovered. One must, once in a while, look at the world through the eyes of a child who marvels at the clouds whenever he stares at the sky, or wonders about the rain, or thunder and lightning. Only then can he see that the obvious is not so obvious after all.

Silence is Golden

There is truth in the saying "Silence is Golden". In silence, we learn to truly hear what the ears cannot. With silence, we can hear the deepest desires of our hearts. Silence allows our souls to discern the true path to enlghtenment. silence allows us to hear the cries of anguish of our neighbors -- their cries for help. That is why it is important for us to allow for moments of silence everyday, for then, and only then can we really, truly hear.

Great Things start from Small Things

Great things come from small beginnings. The stately and graceful butterfly starts as a homely caterpillar. The giant redwood starts out as a single seed. Humans begin their journey through life as a single cell. The greatest empires of the world began as tiny specks of greed embedded in the hearts of their leaders. That is why great care must be given to little things, things that seldom seem to have importance, and yet prove to be more magnanimous than perceived possible. So it is with our spirituality. We may begin our spiritual journey as a single desire to commune with our maker, but soon realize that our spirituality is bigger, greater than a single desire. It becomes an encompassing and overwhelming cocoon that encapsulates us. The trick is not to try and escape our spirituality because this is not possible, but to be one with the cocoon of our spirituality. As we morph inside our spirituality we hope to emerge as enlightened beings, far understanding of the world we live in, just as the stately butterlfy learns to fly at the first opening of its wings. And so from one little desire to commune with our maker, our maker elevates us from creatures of confusion to creatures of enlightenment. Thus, from a single desire, great things begin.

14th Pundaquit Festival at CASA San Miguel

My good friend Rene "Ren" Salovsa III gave me the lowdown regarding the 14th Pundquit Festival (which he got from another good friend, Bernie Gregorio) and requested i pass it on.

The 14th Pundaquit Festcval of the CASA San Miguel Foundation in San Antonio, Zambales takes place May 26. The festival will feature exhibits and concerts from grantees and scholars as part of its mission of nurturing artistic excellence in the rural community. The event is also in observance of the 2nd death anniversary of Ricardo K. Bolipata, A founding member and patron of CASA San Miguel.At 6pm of May 26, 16-year-old violinist Joseph Valdes takes center stage in a recital which will be held at the Ramon Corpus Hall with Ruth Quinones.
On May 27, CASA San Miguel will luanch an exhibit by grantees and resident artists at Siemens Hall. On exhibit are the latest artworks of Plet Bolipata, fresh from her residency grant at the Vermont Art Center, Carlo Gabuco, Jan Leeroy New, Zaniel Mariano, Brendale Tadeo and Don Salubayba.

The launch will be followed by a concert by the scholars and grantees of CASA San Miguel with the special participation of the Makiling Ensemble, a musical group from the Phil. High School for the Arts in Los Banos.The Pundaquit Festival begain in 1994 with the beleif that it promotes slef-esteem and positive attitude towards work, family and community.All events are free to the public, with the support of Siemens, the Citigroup Foudnation of New York and Wyeth Philippines.

Call 933-23-92 and 903-86-57 for details.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Congratulations, Cong. Ronny!

Congratulations are in order for Congressman Ronny Zamora who won as congressman of the lone district of San Juan under the banner of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino. His outstanding service to San Juan far outweighed the non-achievement of his opponent Alcovendas.
Ronny Zamora was Bar Topnatcher (Number One) in 1969, Executive Secretary, Office of the President of the Philippines (1998-2001), Congressman (1987-1998), Assemblyman (1978-1984) Majority Leader, House of Representatives (1992-1995), Minority Leader, House of Representatives (1995-1998), Author or Sponsor of numerous important pieces of legislation including: Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law; the Organic Act for Muslim Midnanao and many others.
He was Magna Cum Laude, Bachelor of Laws, University of the Philippines, 1969; Magna Cum Laude, Bachelor of Political Science, University of the Philippines 1965; Valedictorian, UPLaw Class 1969, ahead of classmates like Senator (and former Senate President) Franklin Drilon and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago; Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Awardee for Law and Public Office, 1972.
Congrats, Cong. Ronny!

Asado and Mantau buns

We were at my sister's place yesterday and i mentioned to my brother-in-law Vic that i was planning to cook pork asado. So he looked up a recipe of mantau (a sort of siopao but without the filling). After an hour, he had a printed recipe of the steamed buns and we proceded to work on it. It took us about 15 minutes to gather all the ingredients from their kitchen and placed it on their bread maker (just to mix the dough). While waiting for the dough to be kneaded thouroughly, i began cooking the pork asado (just a combination of dark soy sauce, sugar, water and hoisin sauce). After the asado was cooked and being cooled, kuya vic began dividing the dough into small buns and putting wax paper underneath them. My niece Carla got the steamer and soon we had ourselves an asado and mantao dinner. It was a shame my sister wasn't there to enjoy the asado and mantau. I plan to make it here at home as well. Yum.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


After weeks of looking forward to election day, this day turned out to be more of a big disappointment than a milestone. From Marikina, my sister, niece and i travelled to San Andres in Manila to vote. My sister was hesitant to vote since she was afraid that the poll officials mights ask for her voters ID which we didn't have. We took the risk, braved the heat, and finally arrived at Rafael Palma Elementary School along Zobel Roxas. We went to the room where our precinct was, but it turned out that our barangay (763) has been divided into 6 precincts, which turned out to be scattered all over the big school. Still, we went to each of the rooms until the last room proved to be our precinct. We checked our names, and my sister found hers next to my mom's, but my name wasn't included in the list! I let my sister vote first before w went to the Comelec representative, and they checked the list and tooth which our true enough, i wasn't on any of their lists. So we went to the PPCRV booth, and the same thing happened. My final resort was to visit the barangay captain put up near the school. They checked the list, found that my name wasn't in any of them, and surmised that it might have been transfered to another precinct. What??? How could that have happened? Comelec was just saying over the radio that only 2 election no-shows will qualify one to be stricken off the list. I only missed one election which was the last Presidential elections. How could this have happened? Sadly, no one was able to answer my question, as if this was one of life's great mysteries. And so, with a heavy heart, we left Manila without me voting. I just want an explanation, a reasonable one, to validate why my name was removed from the list while my dearly departed mother's name was still on the list.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Surprising Week

I recently opened the email address of our clan website which i have not been able to open since december. I found to my surprise an email from Maureen Bernardo of Perth, Australia who sent an email along with attachments of their family tree and an theory about their link to our clan. I was surprised because the among the pictures she sent me was a picture of her mother-in-law Sabina Banares Bernardo dated 1976. The picture shows Sabina with Jose Banares and my grandfather Tomas. According to Maureen's email, when they visited Bacacay in 1976, they were receivd and accepted into the clan by Jose and Tomas. Which is why today, i am busy ammending the history of the clan which might soon include a previously unknown sixth child of ancestor Bartolome Banares. The sixth son was rumored to have left the family in his early teens and was never heard from again by the family. It is Maureen's belief, and i tend to agree with her, that Sabina's father Cornelio is the missing son of Bartolome. In any case, it is my belief that since the side of Cornelio was accepted into the clan by Tomas and Jose, then we should accept them with open arms. Truly, this is a surprising week.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Viva, Vigan!

Our four-day vacation in Vigan with the barkada was one of the best road trips our group has done. The 10-hour trip to the historic city was uneventful and we managed to arrive at our hotel, the Vigan Heritage Hotel, shortly before the start of the Binatbatan Festival Parade.

The parade started around 4 pm , and though the temperature was above humid, lots of people gathered along Liberation Avenue to watch the dancers in their colorful garb dance to a festive beat of the rondalla.

After the parade, my friends decided to take a calesa tour of Vigan, while my niece and I went back to the hotel. Along the way, i managed to take pictures of various interesting houses within the Vigan Heritage Park.

We spent the rest of our first day in Vigan trying out the various delicacies such as empanadang vigan, and of course, trying out the night life at Vigan's premiere bar, Sitio Bar, right at the heart of Vigan's Heritage Park area. The next morning, we managed to take a walking tour of the heritage park and we came upon the statue of Leona Florentino, Foremost ilocano poetess, playright and satirist. Her statue can be found in a small plaza right in front of the Max's Restaurant and Casa Leona, the poetess' residence.

There are lots of interesting architectural designs along the famed Heritage Strip, and one of these is the 3-storey marvel i stumbled upon while strolling the strip early one morning.

We had lunch on our second day at Max's, and we had their popular fried chicken and the famous bagnet and longanisang vigan, and the vegetable viand "dinuyduy".

Here are my friends smiling sweetly for my camera, as they prepare to order lunch.

After lunch, we decided to take another stroll through the heritage strip (along Calle Crisologo). The sun was at its hottest since we arrived, but that didn't prevent us from taking a stroll.

At the Vigan Heritage Park Tourism Office, we came upon Bernard. Here you can see our friend Louwi posing with the cuddly dog.

Meanwhile, across the street, a Vigan resident observes us tourists while unintentionally posing for this picture. I found out later on she was the wife of the sculptor of the statue whose head she was carressing.

We found a sign leading to a photo studio and so we decided to have our picture taken as a group, vintage style, that is. The studio provides spanish era dresses for its clients. We found out after the photo shoot that the costumes are owned by Camp Suki. That's me as Padre Damaso.

while wasiting for the hard copy of the photos, we went to the Burgos Museum (formerly Ayala Museum and now National Museum - Vigan Branch). The museum has a good collection of spanish-era furniture, beds, armoirs, and a little bit of Ifugao relics at the ground floor.

We also got a chance to visit the burnayan, where the famous vigan jars are made. when you enter the compound, you will be surprised by thenumber of jars they have -- jars as far as the eye can see.

We got a chance to see how a clay jar is made, as demosntrated here by one of the burnayan workers. He also showed us the pugon or oven where the jars are baked.

That's me having a sweet moment with one of the clay figures in the burnayan. Mwaah. We also got a chance to visit the Syquia Mansion. A scion of the Syquias married President Elpidio Quirino and one can see his memorabilia at the mansion's ground level. We had a great time touring the huge mansion and managed to steal some snapshots. The photo below is Jhackie at the second floor azotea fountain.

this is the official limousine of President Quirino during his term. It is a black, stretch Chrysler Limousine.

The next day, we headed to Batac to visit the remains of President Marcos. Here I am posing before a manequin of the late dictator.

We decided to proceed to Paoay and Curimao instead of going all the way to Pagudpod. Here is one of the views you will see along the road going to Curimao via Paoay.

While searching for a resort, we managed to enter a Korena-run resort. the resort has a Rolls Royce parked in the executive parking area. wow.

We finally decided to settle for D'Coral Resort in curimao, which was fairly okay especially since there were only a handful of guests at the resort during that time. Poppo rented an airconditioned cottage for the group and we spent the rest of the day swimming in the cool China Sea water.

Before the day was over, we returned to Vigan for our last night of vacation. We took a stroll along Heritage Park and took pictures, and then returned to Hotel for a drinking spree at the roofdeck which the owner generously offered for us to use.

We left Vigan shortly before noon, but not before passing by the market to buy pasalubong. we settled for longanisang Vigan while the others also bought bagnet and chichacorn.

On our way home, we passed by this magnificent view and decided to stop and take pictures. This was taken at a cove a few kilometers after the famous Quirino Bridge. the water looked so cool and tempting.

As a finale, here's a photo fo Mapangurirat in a contemplative mood at the Vigan Heritage Hotel.

You can see more of our Vigan trip pcitures at my multiply account. Visit it at