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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Our Lady of Lourdes Mt. Maculot Virgin Mary Image on Rock Formation Seen from the Grotto

Mt. Maculot is a small mountain in the laid-back town of Cuenca of Batangas province in The Philippines. Formed by the explosion of Taal volcano in prehistoric times, the mountain is now a mountaineering site favored by beginner hikers and campers. But apart from camping, the mountain is also frequently visited by Catholics for the Stations of the Cross. These stations pass through a monkey sanctuary (found near the 10th Station) and reaches the top of a smaller peak where sits the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto. The shrine itself is a very humble structure made of concrete and rocks that feature a cross, a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, and a niche for prayer candles. There's a crude restroom area on one side, the doors of which open towards a deep cliff (which gives new meaning to the saying, "I got to go..." if you're not careful).

At the grotto, you will notice a cluster of rotating solar panels. Beside this is a dirt trail going down from the grotto. You will see what appear to be shelters protected form the heat of the sun by tarpaulins. You'd think this is a campsite, but it's really a mountaintop food court where you can buy meals and refreshments (which can be a welcome surprise to pilgrims. There's even a secluded area where the local storekeepers wash up. Where they get the water is a mystery you can solve yourself by asking them where the water comes from. The traverse trail to the mountain peak and to what locals call "The Rockies" passes through these stalls. This might not be for everyone, but for those who are fit and psyched up to facing the challenges of the mountain, they can definitely go on to experience the rest of Mt. Maculot. But for most people, the grotto is their sole goal.

Our Lady of Lourdes pic by Dennis Jarvis
The view from the grotto is fantastic. From there, one can see almost the entirety of the province of Batangas including another famous shine, Montemaria, where you can visit the gigantic statue of the Virgin Mary at the foot of Mt. Banoi. But panoramic views aside, there's also an interesting feature in the opposite direction, and it's part of an exposed part of the peak of Mt. Maculot.

During my first climb to the Our of Lourdes grotto, the patch of rock face was what caught my attention. I don't think anybody has noticed it before, but if you look carefully, you will see what appears to be the image of the Our Lady of Lourdes Virgin Mary. If you want to be scientifically technical about it, it's what is called a simulacrum, which means the similarity might just be a quirk of nature and human perception (the image of the rock featured here has been zoomed in, switched to black and white, and color-inverted), but as a coincidence, it is short of miraculous to find it there. It is definitely something that could be attributed to more than chance by the Catholic faithful.

Outline of Our Lady of Lourdes
If you are interested in taking a look at the rock formation yourself at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Mt. Maculot, do not expect too much since it is just a small feature visible from a distance that has remained unnoticed (since the grotto was built). When do do visit, make sure to register and pay the local village barangay administration fee, which, at the time of this writing, cost 10 pesos. You can start your climb from the Pinagkaisahan Barangay Hall or from the Mt. Maculot View Resort, where you can pay at the station where the trail starts to ascend.

Note that the barangay hall is not identified on Google Maps, but the resort is marked. If you will have trouble finding your way, then you can ask the local tricycle drivers or just hire them to take you there. The main tricycle station is near the intersection of B. Laqui st. and the National Highway. It's best to make the journey during the dry season, which is between December and May. Otherwise, the trail would be muddy and slippery, even though, for the most part, you will be climbing on concrete stairs.

Monday, December 25, 2017

When Shih-Tzu & Rabbit Pets Don't Mix inside The House

WATCH: This Shih-Tzu dog has an issue with having a rabbit in the house.

Pets are popular in The Philippines, and, like everywhere else, dogs and cats are the norm, but sometimes, there's the occasional rabbit, now that rabbit breeders are growing in number. Rabbits are still generally regarded as pets, though, unlike cats and dogs, they are usually kept in pens since they like to chew on things, especially furniture. It's probably best since dogs, like this Shih-Tzu, doesn't appear to like having a rabbit in the house. Who knows what she's thinking?

Shih-Tzu's are known for their attitude, even towards their owner, so they might get a little jealous if there's another pet around and rabbits don't seem to appeal to them, or maybe they do like them for another reason? Shih-Tzus are small and given enough time, this rabbit in the video will likely outgrow this dog. Whether dogs and rabbits get along, it's best to give them both good homes. They're always great pets and companions for us humans.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Electric Infrared Feet Massager by Hinano Tested by 6-Year-Old Kid

WATCH: 6-year-old kid tests an infrared foot massager by Hinano.

Many people have all kinds of physical complaints these days, especially involving their feet. The population is aging and more people are feeling the aches and pains associated with getting older. In the Philippines there are lots of devices being sold out there that supposedly help in encouraging blood circulation and easing pain associated with a number of ailments like arthritis, but it's hard to know which ones are safe or do the job. Unknown brands abound and there's no assurance when it comes to quality and reliability.

The device featured here is an old Hinano electric infrared feet massager and the video shows a 6-year-old child testing it. Basically, the device vibrates for a number of minutes (5 minutes in this case) and this produces a massaging effect by shaking the feet and gives the sensation that pins are pricking their underside (simulating acupuncture and accupressure). The user also has the option of adding heat to the mix. This model has eight (8) "H" levels and the speed is variable. When the heat is turned on, yellow lights flicker like fire under the feet. They're harmless and only produces a warming effect. Regardless of the setting though, there isn't any perceptible change in warmth, but this could be because the feet are being shaken too much for the user to notice.

Using the Hinano infrared foot massager will leave your feet shaken and you will feel a strange tingling sensation for a while. It could be helpful to seniors experiencing joint pain in their feet but it's still best to consult a doctor first if you intend to use this when you know you have a condition which might be directly affected.

800-Meter Palawan Over-Water Zip Line Ride - Puerto Princesa Manlipien Beach Jungle Trail Peak

WATCH: 800-meter over-the sea fantastic zip line of Puerto Princesa Palawan!

There are lots to do in Palawan and when in the capital, Puerto Princesa, there's one trip a tourist should not miss - the St. Paul Subterranean (Underground) River tour. Because it's a trip that's world famous, there's a waiting time of a few hours. To while away the time, you will be given the option by your tour guide to either ride the 800-meter long zip line or take a boat and row among the mangroves that grow near the protected Manlipien Beach area. Most of the adventurous ones choose the zip line. It's a long ride and takes you over the waters of the Sulu Sea like the wings of a bird. To get there, you will take a short hike along a primeval beach, then go up the side of a mountain thickly covered by an ancient forest. At the top, there's a zip line platform where you will be treated to an amazing view of the shore, the sea, and distant mountains!

This zip line isn't scary at all, though the thought of hanging by a cable for short of a minute (my estimate) can give you butterflies in your stomach. Once you're there (hike up the mountain in a dense primeval forest) and you soak in the awesome view and see kids as young as seven taking the ride, then whatever apprehension you might have would likely dissipate with the wind. It's not everyday that you get to ride an 800-meter zip line over water, so when you do get the chance to visit the Underground River of Puerto Princesa Palawan in The Philippines, do so. You will feel alive and if you're lucky, have a zen-like experience. Oh, and there's also a treat on the tiny island below, which is your destination. It's a very primordial island with layered rock formations that are probably more than 20 million years old, if you would consider the gelogical history of the area.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mall Christmas Holidays "Animatronic" Toys Lobby Display - Robinsons Magnolia, New Manila, Philippines

WATCH: Giant Christmas Toys Holiday Season mall display by Robinsons Magnolia.

The Christmas season starts early and ends late in The Philippines. Come August, malls start playing Christmas carols much to the surprise of westerners, who always wonder why. That's understandable, but it's not really practiced in households. Filipino families do not play Christmas songs in their houses in August; only the malls do. Why do malls do this? Well, there's a saying that Christmas songs put people in a festive mood and more likely to make a purchase. Whether that's really true is debatable but the fact is that malls in the Philippines like SM, Robinsons, and Gaisano do spend a lot of money for Christmas, and if they start playing holiday season music as early as August, then it's a long season indeed with lots of potential revenue for commercial establishments.

The video here shows one of the Christmas holiday season giant toys "animatronic" displays of Robinsons Magnolia along Aurora Boulevard in New Manila, Quezon City. It's right in front of the old building which used to house the German Cultural Center or Goethe Institute (a building which has seen better days at the time of this writing). The Aurora boulevard frontage of the Robinsons Magnolia mall is pretty cramped, but that's where the Christmas display is usually installed.

The Robinsons Magnolia mall is where the old Magnolia Ice Cream building used to be. It had a playground in the front lawn and children used to point to it from jeepneys and the LRT trains that passed above, but it was never really openly accessible to them, unfortunately. Nevertheless, it was a landmark until it changed to Nestle and eventually became a mall. So that's basically the simple history of the place.

MoKja! Korean Buffet & Barbecue Restaurant in Quezon City is a Must-Try for Tourists

WATCH: The MoKja! Korean Buffet & Restaurant Quezon City, PH tourist experience.

Maginhawa Street of Quezon City in the Philippines has become a kind of food mecca where residents and tourists alike get to treat themselves to restaurants which serve local Filipino and international cuisine. There's so many to choose from and since there has been a level of cultural influence from Koreans who've chosen to make the city their second home, there have also been a boom in Korean food restaurants. One of the popular ones include MoKja!, which is a buffet and barbecue restaurant at the 3rd flr. of 80 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City 1101, Philippines.

"Mokja" is Korean for "let's eat" and this vibe is definitely present when you enter. It's quaint, small, and cozy, so if you're not early, you might have to wait at least a half hour or so before you can be seated. Diners have a maximum time of two hours to eat, so there could be some stomachs grumbling waiting in line to get filled when you get there. By the time you get seated, you might already have the sweet smell of bulgogi beef meat on your clothes since the frying smoke that fills the place can really cling on you. The gold-painted exhaust tubes which hang from the ceiling like some high-tech anime tech gear don't help much to suck out the smoke from the room, although they definitely contribute to the feel of the whole place which seems to be popular with people in their twenties.

MoKja! is really the kind of Korean restaurant where the food becomes part of how friends, co-workers, or family get together over a good meal. If you're a tourist in Quezon City thinking of treating a few friends in a fun restaurant, then MoKja! is a good choice. Just be prepared to wait until you get seated if there's a crowd and also be ready to eat lots of meat. Sure, you can mix your own salad at the buffet table, but that's just secondary to the meat.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Finding a Starfish on Starfish Island, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philipp...

WATCH: Armored starfish of Starfish Island, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, PH.

In Puerto Princesa, there is an island where starfishes abound. It supposedly has the most starfishes anywhere in the province of Palawan. It's called, not surprisingly, Starfish Island. It sits among other islands, just as colorfully named, in Honda Bay. Despite the name of this body of water, tourists won't find any motorcycles or cars floating in it. It's name likely originated from the Spanish phrase for deep bay, bahia profunda. Other people might have other origin stories for the name. You can choose what you want to believe.

It's a bit of a mystery why there are lots of starfishes on Starfish Island, but you have to bet there are plenty of food there for them to eat. The starfish in the video is a type of armored starfish. They have knobs on top, they feel hard to the touch, and for some tourists, they would appear to be dead, although, if they would just take the time to look at the underside, they will see the tiny tentacles that line the midsection of their arms

Our Lady of Lourdes Mt. Maculot Virgin Mary Image on Rock Formation Seen from the Grotto

Mt. Maculot is a small mountain in the laid-back town of Cuenca of Batangas province in The Philippines. Formed by the explosion of...