“Be humble for …


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“Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”

― Serbian Proverb


Old Bulusan Church – a delayed lamentation


Magnificent even in its dilapidated state (circa 1966). Notice the massive walls and the size of the structure with the old doors as scale.

My townmate friend commented in one of our conversations that Barcelona town is way ahead when it comes to heritage management (tangible structures) than Bulusan. He voiced this fact after my series of photo blogs featuring the beautiful Barcelona heritage structures – old Barcelona church and the ruins of old buildings fronting it. Yes, even old ruins can be potential tourist draws.

In contrast however, the Punta Diamante in Bulusan with its more intact form is seldom visited if not totally forgotten as a heritage tourist attraction.

Bulusan cultural heritage  as a tourist draw is in itself very attractive and interesting if you know where to look. The town is dotted with these ruins from end to end of the Poblacions – Sabang to Dapdap. The Punta Diamante for one in the Church compound is a sprawling piece of historical gem. Then why is it not picking up as a tourist must-visit site just like the Barcelona ruins?

The answer maybe is as simple as this: It is because the main attraction was not there for a long time – the old Bulusan Baroque Church (photo). It was demolished long time ago to give way to a new chapel-like structure for reasons that the present generation of Bulusanons have no knowledge of. The existing church structure though a practical substitute seems to make the remaining historical structure less visible. It highlighted the new structure rather than the old. In fact the old ruins at the back of the church (next photo) remained hidden from view and recently converted into a cemetery ground.


Remnant of the old church of Bulusan is still visible today at the back of the new church of the Saint James the Greater Parish compound.

The nearest architectural style of the old Bulusan church is the Lazi Church of Siquijor – a national heritage site  included in the tentative list of Baroque Churches of the Philippines for world heritage structure inclusion by the UNESCO. The old Bulusan Church complex however is more than just a place of worship. It is a Fortress  of which the Punta Diamante – a diamond-shape defense structure of thick stone walls encloses the compound. It can be seen today except for the old church structure.

Photo of the Old Bulusan Baroque Church courtesy of Bulusan Heritage Enthusiasts’ FB site.

Photo of the remnant back wall of the Old church of Bulusan by Alma P. Gamil

Related post: http://bulusanphotostream.blogspot.com/2013/03/imagine-magnificence-of-handsome.html

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines.

Sidewalk market in the city

Balig-ang sold along the sidewalk of Sorsogon City

Fresh pili nut kernels

Fresh pili nut kernels in plastic wrap

SONY DSC SONY DSCNoticed these merchandise along the sidewalk  during my recent trip to the city (Sorsogon). Yes, I am familiar with balig-ang and pili nuts but not for the bottled tonic. Definitely these are not available in the two nearby malls.

I highly recommend the pili nuts and balig-ang for its nutritive value. The balig-ang is loaded with anti-oxidants and the pili nut is rich in minerals and vitamins. Both are naturally grown and organic.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Sorsogon City, Philippines

Current state of mind…

Current state of mind...

“Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you to another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours — long hallways and unforeseen stairwells — eventually puts you in the place you are now. Every choice lays down a trail of bread crumbs, so that when you look behind you there appears to be a very clear path that points straight to the place where you now stand. But when you look ahead there isn’t a bread crumb in sight — there are just a few shrubs, a bunch of trees, a handful of skittish woodland creatures. You glance from left to right and find no indication of which way you’re supposed to go. And so you stand there, sniffing at the wind, looking for directional clues in the growth patterns of moss, and you think, What now?

Borrowing in part from great scientists and in part from great poets, Patchett advocates for embracing uncertainty as a positive force:

Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.”

via brainpickings : http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/02/26/what-now-ann-patchett/

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Cabugawan River, Barangay Mabuhay Bulusan, Philippines

Wild adornments along Bulusan’s road

Kuliba-o flowers

Kuliba-o flowers from Bulusan

Red wild flowers adorning Kurbada sa Porog (Porog’s curve).

Not berries but flowers


Kuliba-o in-situ

I spotted two wild beauties in the  ‘Kurbada sa Porog’ in Bulusan. The curve highway road located in a cliff overlooking the vast panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean is a species-rich area where several of my flora photos were sourced. Just a few meters from here is an old lava flow route that exits hot waters on its way to the ocean still reeking with sulfuric scent and popular among the locals for its healing  powers.

These species of wild flowers from this area are familiar to the locals judging by the spontaneous answer of its local name – Kuliba-o for the white ones. The red ones I’m sure has a local name too.

Kuliba-o is not only pure beauty. The tree  is a popular building material for vernacular architecture specifically the nipa hut or  bahay-kubo. The trunks and branches of the Kuliba-o are mainly used as framing  for the nipa and/or anahaw palm leaves  thatched roofing.  Not only that. This tree also provides the material for the carabao wood  contraption for carrying heavy loads attached to its body  referred to as ‘patuloy’ by locals.

On its own in the wild  the Kuliba-o tree is a thing of beauty.  And for its uses  and utilitarian services for domestic needs, the tree is simply incredible.

Kurbada sa Porog :


Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Bulusan EcoTrail Running Cup Year Three

Bulusan Eco Trail Run Year Three

The stars in this morning Bulusan Ecotrail Run now running on its third year were the community residents themselves whose enthusiasm and cooperation hopefully were captured by my being an observer/shutter bug to this homegrown event. I was not able to push my way inside the crowd to take photographs of the Ms. Earth beauties so I took photos instead of the event’s milieu as it unfolds in the Poblacion’s grounds.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

2013 June 12, Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Bulusan Pili Trees : A walk amongst the giants


“The Pili trees were already there for as long as I can remember,” ~ Oya Choleng, 75 years old.


Jurassic looking Pili tree of Odikin.


Pili trees  rule the landscape in this area.


This is Pili Kingdom.

Walking amongst the giants

Alma in Pili land.

These are average sized ‘giant’ pili trees (photos) in the mountain village of Odikin. Others are more ancient looking and much massive in size. It is obvious that these are the original inhabitants of the place.

Odikin officially referred to as Barangay Santa Barbara is located in the lower slopes of Mount Bulusan  around 2 km from the PDZ (Permanent Danger Zone) of Bulusan  Volcano.

Kept notes from the definitive Pili monograph authored by the eminent scientist Roberto E. Coronel reads :

“Origin and geographic distribution:

The pili is indigenous to the Philippines (Merrill 1912, 1923; Wester 1921; Brown 1954; Li 1970). The crop’s centre of genetic diversity is the Bicol region, possibly in the virgin rainforests surrounding Mt. Bulusan, in the Province of Sorsogon. In the forests of this province, very old pili nut trees measuring more than 50 m in height can still be found today.”

Photos: Alma P. Gamil /photo of me amongst the pili trees by Loida, my sis-in-law.

2013 April Santa Barbara, Bulusan, Sorsogon