religion

Phnom Penh on a Plate: Golden Indulgences, Gut-Wrenching Genocide & Arachnid Appetizers

Posted on February 16, 2012

Loved the fried tarantulas at Romdeng! There’s a certain ambivalence to how I feel about Phnom Penh. Sure, compared to Saigon, Phnom Penh was equally appealing, and I honestly could not decide which city I enjoyed more. But one thing is certain: some of the city highlights may be hard to swallow. The Cambodian capital, according to legend, was named after a 14th century nun named Lady Penh, who found five buddha statues in a tree trunk floating down theRead More

Ramadan in Rio Hondo

Posted on September 11, 2011

After a three-day fieldwork in Tawi-Tawi for a travel story, I spent two days in Zamboanga on the way back to Manila late last August. Having relatives in Zamboanga, I have visited the city twice before and have seen the most important landmarks in the so-called “Latin City of Asia”, a moniker referring to the strong Hispanic influence in the city, evidenced by the Spanish-based Creole primarily spoken by the Christian population called Chavacano. As it was the last fewRead More

Pan-ay, Capiz – Where the Big Bell Tolls

Posted on June 3, 2011

The five-storey belfry of coral stone afforded a pastoral panorama beyond the town plaza occasionally punctuated by jeepneys and tricycles whirring along the highway that stretched back to Roxas City. Click! The tourist guide snapped photos of me grinning—half in fear—underneath 10.4 tons of cast metal precariously suspended by rusty chains. On its patinated belly, an embossed inscription: SOY LA VOZ DE DIOS. A less intimidating one simply declared the town’s name: PANAY. I was in the town of Pan-ayRead More

Colors of Kolkata

Posted on May 27, 2011

Hand-pulled tana rickshaw at Kumartuli “DISTRESSED? DEPRESSED? SUICIDAL?” a helpline ad at Rabindra Sadan metro station called out to me as I was helplessly swept out by a deluge of commuters onto the steamy streets of central Kolkata. It was well over 35 degrees, and the humidity instantly turned my sweat to soup. None of my senses were spared from the urban onslaught. In a maddening Morse code of blowing horns, the intersection coughed up a dizzying parade of cheddar-hued,Read More

George Town & Melaka: Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca

Posted on May 12, 2011

Stadthuys (Red Square), Melaka If the Philippines has Vigan, Malaysia has the World Heritage cities of George Town and Melaka. Having the opportunity to visit Singapore frequently for business trips has afforded me leisurely side trips to Peninsular Malaysia from time to time. My favorite getaway is Melaka, a former settlement of the British East India Company which still retains much of its colonial, small town charm. It is a city that wakes up the senses: the architectural textures ofRead More

San Joaquin’s Colonial Treasures

Posted on January 26, 2011

San Joaquin Church Detail of facade bas relief depicting the Battle of Tétouan San Joaquin Cemetery Detail of cemetery archway The southwestern towns of Iloilo boasts of exquisite colonial architecture. While Miag-ao Church gets all the limelight as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the religious edifices of neighboring San Joaquin deserves equal admiration, and are one of best examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the Philippines. Built in 1869, San Joaquin Church is the only military-themed church in the Philippines.Read More