October Festivals in the Philippines


Zamboanga Festival by HappyPhilippines.org

Filipinos love to party. They will find any excuse to have a party. They celebrate births, marriages, saints’ days and everything else. The Spanish adapted traditional rituals by celebrating a saint’s birthday on dates formerly associated with animistic rituals.

You will see festivals in every ethnic group, as people get together for essentially spiritual events. Drama, excitement, food, music, and renewal of relationship are shared extensively. Fiestas range from large, organized, regional events to small barangay happenings. Activities usually center around the church, and from there, proceed into the community.

Here are some festivals for October:

Zamboanga Hermosa Festival – 2nd week in October, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Mindanao

Zamboanga City’s biggest fiesta commemorates the apparition of the Virgin at Fort Pilar and her miraculous intervention against enemy attacks. It celebrates the Virgin Mary towards whom the people of Zamboanga hold a special devotion as a unifying cultural…

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Epsom Salt and Its Role in the Rose Garden

Rose Gardening World

epsom salt

Epsom Salt or Magnesium Sulfate is a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It gets its name from the town of Epsom in Surrey, England, where it was originally discovered.

Epsom salt is a popular remedy for many ailments. People use it to ease health problems, such as muscle soreness and stress. It has many health benefits but I’m not going to talk about its health benefits here but its role in the garden.

I remember the first time I bought 5 boxes of the quart size of Epsom Salt at the drug store. People looked at me with that questioning look – “What is wrong with you?”.  I had to tell them that I used them to fertilize my roses. “Really?” I had to show them the label where it said good for plant growth.

Epsom Salt is an important part of the rose diet…

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Bohol and its History


Map of Bohol

Bohol Island has much to offer in terms of history.

Bohol’s contact with other civilizations antedates the Spanish “discovery” of the Philippines. Among the early settlers were people who used gold jewelry, death masks and who “beautified” their women by flattening and shaping their skulls.

The Chinese traders frequented Bohol before the 5th century. Boholanos profited from them as middlemen. They took Chinese wares as far as the Moluccas and returned with spices, honey and trinkets they used for bartering.

Before the Spanish came to Bohol, the main population center may have been on stilts between Panglao Island and the mainland. Legend says that the town was razed by Portuguese sailors who abducted one of the queens. As a result, Sultan Sikatuna and his people moved to Bool, which is just outside Tagbilaran City. Other sultans moved their people to Dapitan and other areas of Mindanao.

In 1521, Panglao…

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Bohol – Home of the Chocolate Hills


Chocolate Hills0004 

Bohol has become synonymous with Chocolate Hills located northeast of Tagbilaran, the provincial capital. Clusters of these cone-shaped mounds are scattered over about 50 square km. (about 30 sq. m.) around Sagbayan, Carmen, and Sierra Bullones in Central Bohol. Numbering 1,268 in all, the hills are formed of sedimentary limestone, shale, and sandstone in an area once covered by ocean. Each hill rises 30-120 meters (100-400 ft.) above the flat terrain. The hills are green during wet weather, but after a dry spell, which is most likely to occur in April and May, the sparse grass cover turns dry and brown so that they resemble chocolate drops, hence the name.

The explanation of their geological formation remains a mystery. Some theories postulate prehistoric, submarine volcanic eruptions and the action of sea currents, but most geologists believe that weathering is the main factor. Curiously, although they’re regarded as an example…

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Romblon and its Place in Philippine History


Romblon Map

In Romblon, the remote Mount Guiting-Guiting Natural Park is a living testament to the ice age. Its geology and geography stand as evidence of the big freeze, with ancient teak trees and unique species of birds and monkeys. It is biodiversity at its best here.

Romblon’s strategic position made it an important way station on the sailing lanes between Manila and the Visayas. The Spaniards visited Romblon as early as 1582. Recollect missionaries came in 1635. The ruins of Spanish watchtowers and forts testify to the islands’ former vulnerability to the raids of slave-seeking Moro pirates. Dutch warships also attacked the islands during the early Spanish era. In 1853, Romblon was made a politico-military comandancia. It was linked to Capiz prior to becoming a separate province.

The mountainous province is fragmented into about 20 islands, with Romblon, Tablas and Sibuyan as the main islands. Romblon, the provincial capital has…

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Marble in the Philippines


Marble by Pineapple Supply Co. Marble – Photo Credit: Pineapple Supply Co

The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia with commercially viable marble deposits, and most of these are in Romblon, hence its description as “Marble Island” or “Marble Country”. Marble can also be found on Alad and Cobrador Islands, and at the north end of Tablas. The quarries have been worked since the 18th century, and the marble industry is a major source of employment.

Romblon topography is rich in marble and other rock types, supplying materials for sculpture. Marble is the most significant mineral deposit of Romblon and is the most renowned product of the province. Based on statistics, Romblon marble is of very high quality and comes in shades of white, green, pink, red and black. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has estimated that Romblon is endowed with about 150 million metric tons of marble. At current rates of…

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The Battle of Lepanto – Part 4


Battle_of_Lepanto_1595-1605_Andrea_VicentinoThe Battle of Lepanto by Andrea Vicentino (c. 1600, Doge’s Palace, Venice)

To complete the series on “The Battle of Lepanto”, I have to include this beautiful poem by G.K. Chesterton which provides a series of poetic visions of the major characters in the battle, particularly the leader of the Christian forces, Don Juan of Austria. It closes with verses linking Miguel de Cervantes, who fought in the battle, with the “lean and foolish knight” who he would later immortalize in Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes, a soldier for Habsburg Spain, was so severely wounded in the hand at Lepanto that he became a writer. He lost the use of an arm in this battle and henceforth he is known as el mano de Lepanto (the one-armed man of Lepanto) in the Hispanic world.

White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling…

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