Celebrating Rizal Day in Calamba City

Rizal Monument in Calamba Laguna

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna - In celebration of Rizal Day, a public holiday in the Philippines, we traveled to Calamba in the province of Laguna to visit the 22-feet tall statue of Dr. Jose Rizal. It was on this date in 1896 when Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan, Manila but instead of visiting his monument in Luneta, we chose to visit his monument in his hometown of Calamba.

the tallest statue of Rizal

The Rizal Monument in Calamba is the tallest statue of Rizal in world, which stands in front of the Calamba City Hall, facing Mt. Makiling. The height of the statue represents the 22 languages that Rizal could speak. The monument was inaugurated on June 19, 2011 to celebrate Rizal's 150th birth anniversary.

Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours in Taal, Batangas

The Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours, which is considered the largest Catholic Church in the Philippines and in Asia, is one of the most popular tourist and religious attractions of the town of Taal in Batangas province. The original church structure was built in 1575 in a coastal barrio near the shore of Taal Lake. In 1754, the most powerful eruption of Taal Volcano ever recorded destroyed the whole town of Taal including the church. In 1755, the church was then moved to its present location on an elevated hill.

Kawit: Aguinaldo Shrine | Christmas Lights & Sound Show 2012

It was through an invitation by fellow travel bloggers Pinoy Adventurista and Byahilo that we decided to go on a roadtrip to Kawit, Cavite. It was also a perfect timing that another travel blogger friend of ours, Love Mindanao, is arriving in Manila from Butuan, and he decided to join us that afternoon in Kawit to watch the Christmas Lights & Sound Show at the Aguinaldo Shrine.

We drove from Pasig City to SM Mall of Asia to pick up Byahilo and Love Mindanao and continued the roadtrip to Kawit via the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex). We arrived at around 2:30pm in Kawit and met up with Pinoy Adventurista at the Aguinaldo Shrine. We did a quick tour inside the shrine and visited the nearby St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church. It was already 6:00pm when we returned to the shrine.

The lights & sound show was scheduled to start at 7:00pm but as soon as it got dark at around 6:10pm, the shrine was already glowing bright with Christmas lights and LED spotlights. Like moths, visitors instantly converged in front of the shrine to admire its sparkling beauty.

The lights & sound show finally started at exactly 7:00pm. We sat on the road gutter facing the shrine as we got mesmerized by the flashing Christmas lights and LED spotlights, dancing in synchrony with Filipino and English Christmas songs playing at the background. The entire show lasted for about 40minutes. Below is a segment of the lights & sound show in the tune of the Tagalog Christmas song Ngayong Pasko Magniningning ang Pilipino (Filipinos Will Shine this Christmas).

Watching the lights & sound show made us feel like we were small kids again. I remember my childhood when I used to stare at the dancing lights of our Christmas tree for hours and not getting tired of it.

Thank you very much Pinoy Adventurista for inviting us to your town. We really had a great evening and we hope that this marks the beginning of a new Christmas tradition.

(from left) Pinoy Adventurista, Ed, Love Mindanao, Byahilo & Ram

San Fernando City: Giant Lantern Festival 2012 | Ligligan Parul

SAN FERNANDO CITY, Pampanga - It's the middle of December and many houses in the Philippines are already decorated with Christmas lights and lanterns of different sizes and colors. I remember in my childhood the giant Pampanga-made lanterns displayed in upscale subdivisions in Pasig. It was in the 1990's when having a Pampanga-made lantern was a status symbol for the rich and wanna-be rich. Watching those lanterns at night have always been a source of entertainment for many.

Fastforward to year 2012, we traveled to San Fernando City in the province of Pampanga to witness the annual Giant Lantern Festival. Because of this century-old tradition, locally called Ligligan Parul, the City of San Fernando was dubbed as Christmas Capital of the Philippines.

We were so excited as this would be our first time to attend the festival. We left Manila at 3:00pm and arrived at Robinsons Starmills Mall, the venue of the event, at around 5:30pm. After we had claimed our media and photographer ID cards, we immediately proceeded to the event area to secure the "best spots" to cover the event.

Eleven giant lanterns were set up side-by-side in a showdown competition for the best lantern award. Each lantern, representing the eleven participating barangays, can have a height of up to 20 feet. The “dancing” lights of each lantern is controlled by a metal barrel manually turned by a team representing their barangay. 

This year's winner is Brgy. Del Pilar, with Brgy. Telabastagan and Brgy. San Jose placing second and third, respectively.