Thursday, March 27, 2008

Xevera: Modern Place for a Spanish Living

Just after the holy week break, PinoyExplorer goes north for a tight technical job schedule that needs to be accomplished this Thursday, March 27, 2007. This is in preparation for the Turn-over ceremony of Don Antonio Lee Chi Uan Integrated School to the Department of Education (DepEd). This project is in collaboration with Globe Asiatique, ABS-CBN Foundation and Vibal Foundation.

Sorry if I don't want to elaborate further about the project 'coz this is another side of the story. Instead, let me give emphasis about this village that I came across that is making waves in the realty development and low cost housing in Brgy. Calibutbut, Bacolor, Pampanga.

This is my first time to visit Bacolor though I already passed this area before when I travelled far north. Brgy. Calibutbut really sounds unfamiliar to me but I have seen something unique in this village that is worth sharing.

If you are looking for an old world elegance in a modern Filipino culture, in the heart of the ancient and historical towns of Pampanga, the architectural concept of the Xevera Townhouse in Bacolor is a reminiscent of the class and grace of Spain's exuberant lifestyle.

As I enter the subdivision proper the arch entrance alone is a reminiscent of an old culture. Development is still on going and what struck me most is the 20 foot Milan-inspired fountain that act as center piece of the Xevera Plaza. Within the circumferential area you can found the on-going development of commercial area and clubhouse. Then there's the soon to be inaugurated church, town hall and school. Before you reach the main entrance you can see the almost finished market with terminals for vehicles.

Found in historic Bacolor, Xevera is fast becoming a haven for anyone who dreamed of living in a high-class subdivision that is affordable for Class B and C and can be acquired through PAG-IBIG housing loan.

Everything you need is here and according to my source Ms. Darlene, Xevera (a spanish word which means owning a new house) boasts itself to be of high quality town house amenities such as clubhouse, commercial areas, town hall, and an Olympic-size pool. This place is a uniquely designed, Spanish inspired community, the subdivision provides a luxurious ambiance to modest income groups, like starting families, new couples and retirees who want intimacy and comfort in a two-storey, two bedroom love nest.

I'd met the man behind this project, the President and CEO Delfin Lee of Globe Asiatique when he had an ocular visit in the construction site.

Located in Calibutbut (Bacolor residents call it Calibu) Pampanga, Xevera will surely be the first grand landmark in a resurgent Bacolor after the devastation of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

Related video:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lucban: Holy Week Destination for 2008

This lenten season, PinoyExplorer observed the holy week thru its simple mean and join the rest of the world commemorating the sacrifices, death and resurrection of the Lord. I have been to Visita Iglesia in the provinces of Quezon, Cavite and Batangas and joined the good friday procession in San Pablo, Laguna. With me are my in-laws, their relatives and family and together, we visit old and monumental churches in the south. But what strikes me most among the places I've visited this "Cuaresma" is the province of Lucban, Quezon. Here's why.

As we drive the Southern Tagalog region this holy week, I have witnessed the long stretch traffic when we reach barangay Tinamnan in Lucban. The heat of the sun is so intense that no one in our convoy wants to go out and try to find out the reason behind. Then I remember, it was two years ago when I accidentally seen this place during my coverage of Pahiyas fiesta, construction and improvement of the facility is underway then after two years here I am again to this newly found holy place and a Mecca in the making for all believers or non believers of the catholic faith. I am talking about the "Kamay ni Jesus" shrine and grotto.

Via Dolorosa Grotto, also known as Kamay ni Jesus is a religious shrine and grotto is located in Barangay Tinamnan, Lucban, Quezon approximately 118 kilometers and 3.5 hours drive south of Manila.

Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross) is now the newly found religious center in the Calabarzon and a regular venue for religious rites such as the yearly "Cenakulo", recitation of Seven Last Words, veneration of the cross and private devotions. When you are on the highway coming from the town proper of Lucban, you can see the 50-foot image of the arms stretch Risen Christ on top of the hill. It has a life-sized scultures of the 14 stations of the cross. As one goes up the hill, you can see waterfalls and it is really refreshing to the eyes. It has 292 steps on the left ascent and 278 steps on the right ascent and build on a concrete stairs.

So, if you want to recite the way of the cross this holy week and years to come, this is a perfect place. Before you reach the final station, one needs to struggle and exert a lot of effort along the way. This is really a way of the cross and a way of sufferings.

Along the three hectares complex you can also find the Angel's Hill, a venue for other religious functions. Facing it is the "Kamay ni Jesu"s shrine where Fr. Joey Faller performs his healing prayers. A sanctuary of Marian images can also be found in a nearby "Luklukan ni Maria" where it has an infirmary and hostel that can be accommodate more than a hundred devotees.

The grounds leading to the summit is called "Footprints at the Park". It is a reserve one-square meter spot for each donor as a record of their generosity for the improvement and development of the shrine.

Let's talk a bit of history

Fr. Joey Faller, the widely known healing priest had envisioned this place after he recovered from his 1994 car accident which had permanently damaged the ulnar nerve of his two fingers in his right hands.

In search of ways and means to realize this visions, Fr. Faller had met and healed Benito Brizuela, who suffered from stroke and became a half-body paralyzed Filipino-Chinese businessman. After his healing, Brizuela told Faller that he had a dream about the Lord telling him to help him to build the grotto.

On December 8, 2003 the construction of the shrine and grotto started and Brizuela
is among the first benefactors that led to fulfill Fr. Faller's vision. It was completed in the
following year and continuing development went on as more donors approach him to continue the project.

Today, Kamay ni Jesus became the religious itinerary in Southern Tagalog. I can estimates that it can draw more than 10,000 pilgrimage each week so roughly a 100,000 visitors is expected to peak this season.

Related links:
* Time to Reflect

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Squatters on Fire

PinoyExplorer witnessed another terrifying fire in Talayan, Quezon City and its victims — same old stories we heard from the news and its eyewitnesses. In the metropolis, squatters are always the once being blamed and they are literally on fire every time this untoward incident happens. Because of their dilapidated shanties and uncontrolled behavior they are the most known conductor of fire. Much more, due to the limited entry and exit points in the area, firefighters find it hard to reach its epicenter.

Obviously, this month is a Fire prevention awareness and sad to say that what the government can provide are only flyer's and posters of Tips on Fire Preventions. They are helpless to address this common problem we face each year. The root of this issue is not yet resolved and how many Juan's will loose their homes each year.

Anyway, this is my second time to see firefighters bravery in action. Actually, they accidentally becomes my subject when I won a photo contest two years ago. When you are on the scene, you can feel not only the heat brought by fire and the adrenalin of the fast pace of the scene but the warmth and tears on your heart witnessing those actual human drama that you can see on movies and telenovelas. Yes, its true and my lens are its witness.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Old and New Media Towards Society Change

New media have invaded the internet and have created buzz in the mass media. Blogs and other social media became platforms where ordinary citizens can freely express their thoughts and could be given privilege to deliver news and other pertinent information for the public.

In the event such as the Interfaith Rally held in Ayala, Makati City, bloggers and traditional broadcast media joined together for one purpose — to gather Information. Of course, the broadcast media are the most visible on the scene with their huge OB vans, broadcast stage, field reporters and pool of cameramen patrolling the place and covering every activities.

So what is this media hyped all about? Its a rally organized that talked about an anomaly involving our topmost politicians and personalities in the government. The involvement of Pres. Gloria Arroyo in the $130 million ZTE Broaband Deal with China. The much talk-about overpricing deal and a certain Jun Lozada's testifying of what he knows about the deal. The media followed up this controversial case since then.

On this day, every corner preparations of print and broadcast media were made. Security precautions and anti-GMA placards are positioned. Vendors also hawked the opportunity to sell all sorts of items like shirts, hats, buttons, and umbrellas. Print mediamen got to interview personalities such as Cory Aquino, Jun Lozada, Joseph Estrada, Satur Ocampo, Bishop Bacani and others. While covering the event, they need to beat deadlines, too. Gathering stories have to be fast and quick to make it for the headlines the next day. Photographers were armed with long barreled telephotos in spite of the difficulties just to get enough photo ops for their respected news agencies. These photos tell more than the stories for it give reflections to the actual event.

On the other hand, fellow bloggers were very much present in the scene backed up with digital point and shoot cameras. They are on the lookout for highlights and do some note taking. NGOs and student organizations participated in also. They served not only as spectators but critics and onlookers to the current situation. They play a big role as disseminators of information in their respective areas.

For a time like this... a time that is full of tension, conflicts and crisis, the new and old media become one. They didn't go there to be typical bystanders or supporters of a cause, but rather an instrument to disseminate the information about the event . They are the eyewitness to an event that may spark a light to a dark past that still hounded us, to an old crisis that has besetting our country for so long— corruption. We have to give credit also to these thousands of people who have attended for their tireless pursuit of the truth.

PinoyExplorer, was there and also have witnessed this remarkable event. I was able to walk around the four major streets back and forth and shoving away people just to get a perfect shot of the crowd in action and of course, every political personalities who show themselves in Ayala. I seldom make coverages like this but this time, I can say that this is the most exhausted coverage I ever had for a rally. It was estimated that there were 80,000 people gathered from all walks of life. And it was a peaceful rally.

For this reason, PinoyExplorer wants to honor our media practitioners who painstakingly worked so hard for covering the said event. They keep us up-to-date on what's happening to our society today. I may consider them as heroes who work tirelessly to enable to give us balance information about many issues we encounter everyday. Without this uproar in the news, I may not be in this rally. Without them, there would be no Jun Lozada who would surface and courageously spill the beans about the controversial ZTE-NBN Broadband Deal. Yes, we all want a clean and good government. We want true public servant that is up to the interest of the masses and not just a few. And, we all want the truth. Thanks that the new and old media are around. They could be instrumental for the reformation that the country is in dire need today.

Students and civic groups gathered for the Interfaith rally. Rain or shine they went to the street to show their support.

TV cameraman positioned in a raised platform to get a perfect view of the event. TV and print news personalities conduct interviews for their stories. Each of them need to to be in the airwaves from time to time to give a beat by beat news report to their mother station.

Photographers find strategic spots where they can document the scene. This needs to be submitted to the newswire and be available in print and web. And of course who could resist to capture the man of the need to rub elbows to get this perfect shot of Jun.

more power to all of you and let's work side by side for the common good of our people....more photos in my gallery.

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