Lechon Festival in La Loma (Parada ng Mga Lechon)

What better way to celebrate fiesta in La Loma but to, well, dress up and parade lechon? After all, La Loma is the lechon capital of the Philippines. So, last May 16, 2011, I accepted another invitation from Deeday to watch the parade of lechons at their place in La Loma. I thought it entertaining to see all those succulent roast pigs in colorful costumes and in various made up scenes.

We met at UP at around 10 am. We dropped our initial plan to jog around the acad oval because of sheer laziness. As such, we went straight to La Loma. We were early, it was just 10:30 AM so we decided to take a walk around and work up a sweat.

By 12 NN, we felt hungry so we headed to Shakey’s for some “light” lunch. After which, we went back to Deeday’s house to rest a bit and wait there for the parade.

The whole of La Loma was in fiesta mood, naturally. The parade started a bit late at around past 1 PM. Children as well as adults were all in the sidewalks excitedly waiting for the lechons. When the parade finally came into view, the spectators were obviously thrilled to see the “stars” of the fiesta. I later realized that only the heads of the pigs were used. The body, meanwhile, is made up of various materials – from wooden skeletons to papier maches – and decorated.

With all the lechons we saw, we found it impossible to even have a bit of a craving for the crispy, fatty pork skin. By the way, free lechon was distributed to the residents of La Loma.

After the parade, Deeday and I decided to stroll around the area and wait for the evening procession. Later that night, we had coffee and chatted for a while. I went home early that evening as we were both tired and there was work the following day.

Holy Week 2011

I was looking forward to spending the long Holy Week break at San Antonio, Nueva Ecija when, unfortunately, my father informed me that the renovation of our house was not yet done. With the sudden change in plan, I quickly made a mental list of the things that I could probably do during the vacation. I immediately texted Deeday and Cecille, asking them if they had anything planned during the Holy Week break. I quickly received a message from Cecille asking me if I wanted to tag along in her annual Visita Iglesia. Of course, I readily accepted. The Visita Iglesia is something that I have yet to experience. We were to visit seven churches, which is the tradition. We began the day by visiting the Sto. Domingo Church. There were already many people inside when we got inside the church. We left after about five minutes. Next stop – Lourdes Church. Lourdes is a memorable church for me as my former office was just across it. We had a quick lunch after our Lourdes visit, then proceeded to Sta. Cruz Church, Quiapo Church, San Beda Church, St. Jude Church and Espiritu Santo Church.

Each church was a sight to behold. However, two churches that I found unforgettable were the San Beda Church (because of the stunning details of the interior) and the Quiapo Church (the architecture and the number of devotees). We ended our Visita Iglesia with a visit to the Espiritu Santo Church in Tayuman.

St. Jude Church

That night, I received a message from Deeday, this time asking me if I wanted to join her and Ate Baby in the Black Nazarene procession. I thought “why not?”; that sounded like a unique adventure.

The next day, I woke up early to prepare for the procession. Since most people were in a holiday break in the provinces, the streets were plainly deserted. From UP, I was in La Loma in less than 15 minutes. We took a jeep from La Loma and got off at Legarda. From there, we walked to catch the procession in one of the small alleyways in the area. Deeday and I were loving the feel of old Manila as we hurriedly walked to catch the Nazareno. When we finally saw the Black Nazarene, I was awed by the devotees who were scrambling to touch the religious figure. The people were literally walking on other devotees’ shoulders just to stroke the image. Indeed a testimony to Filipino religiosity.

Black Nazarene

After some walking, we stopped to rest at the San Sebastian Church. The church’s architecture was impressive. I later found out that it was made entirely of steel. The interiors were likewise remarkable – the colors, the details, the antique figures. Every element looked amazing.

San Sebastian Church

When we had rested a bit, we decided to overtake the procession because the pacing was painfully slow. We headed to Plaza Miranda where many devotees were already waiting. A curious character, whom I called Supremo, caught my attention. I readily took a picture of him. I believe he heads a religious cult proclaiming the end of the world.

We found a good spot at the second floor of Mang Inasal where we had a good view of the entire plaza. Knowing that it would take some time before the procession arrived, we ordered lunch to save our space.

As we saw the procession approaching, the crowd in Plaza Miranda had increased significantly. I saw that pushing the Black Nazarene’s carriage through the crowd took tremendous effort. Devotees were battling to touch the figure at the last minute. It took a good 30 minutes before the escorts were able to push the carriage inside Quiapo Church.

Quiapo Church

After the procession, we headed to San Miguel church. Deeday informed me that she was baptized in that church. Inside, we saw a play called “Senakulo” which is about the passion of the Christ. From San Miguel parish, we headed back to La Loma so that Ate Baby could rest.

At 6:00 PM, Deeday and I decided to do a Visita Iglesia of our own. We proceeded to Sto. Domingo Church then to the UST Church. From UST, we walked all the way back to La Loma.

We had Krushers at KFC in Mayon and after a few minutes of talking, we decided to call it a night since we were both tired. It was a day well spent. Tomorrow, it will be another mini adventure for us.

Back to Blogging

I’ve been away from blogging for several months now, seven to be exact. The reason, I haven’t been home from March to May or almost the whole summer because we had our house renovated. I spent all my summer weekends running and/or walking with Deeday in Intramuros, our all-time favorite spot, leaving me with little or no time at all to make posts. Old manila, indeed, never fails to charm us.

Our starting point for our Intramuros walk is always Manila Cathedral. From La Loma, we’d take a cab and navigate through Quiapo. On our way to the cathedral, we would usually pass through a short tunnel along the Pasig River side of Intramuros. It was weird because each time we pass through that tunnel, we felt like we were being transported back in time.

From Manila Cathedral, we would randomly choose a route and run for a short while. Then we would walk around Intramuros as we ogle at the beautiful architecture, the exquisite red bricks and the lovely cobblestones. One of our best walks was when we actually strolled on top of the walls. Wide-eyed, we never once thought that the walls were so thick (making us laugh at our ignorance).

After about an hour of walking/running, Deeday and I would make a pit stop at Starbucks Intramuros, which we also love because it’s inside a tunnel in the brick wall – giving it an old world feel. After about an hour of coffee and tea at Starbucks, we would proceed to Luneta either by jeep or by foot. We would walk around some more in this famous park, then run along Roxas Boulevard (Baywalk). Dinner was usually at Mang Inasal in CCP Complex. After eating, we would rest a bit then walk some more towards MOA. We would end our old Manila adventure on the sea wall behind MOA, chit chatting until 1:00 AM then head home after.

This was our weekly summer routine, each a new learning experience that we relished with zest. It didn’t also cost much because we had to spend only on food, coffee and fare. Plus, it gave us our weekly dose of exercise to bust stress.

The last time we’ve been to Intramuros was last August for a “photo walk” session, but that’s another story. Anyway, I’m already looking forward to our next Intramuros adventure.