Payág

Payág (Bulusan, 2015)

Payág (Bulusan, 2015)

still strong at 96 to go to the poblacion.

still strong at 96 to go to the poblacion.

The farmer's sons stay with their lola (grandmother).

The farmer’s sons stay with their lola (grandmother).

Payag is the classic native hut in Bulusan. It is a simple yet brilliant vernacular organic architecture by marrying form and function with the local materials available on site.

I was lucky to chance upon an almost finished payag along the road of Kabugawan in the village of San Bernardo. The pantaw, sirong and dapog can be seen from the road and the natural colors of the anahaw roofing and bamboo walls blend well with the surrounding greens of mostly coconut and pili trees.

The tukod of the window was being prepared by the time we passed by the area. The lone window is an awning type with the tukod as the device for opening and closing the single panel window.

“This is for my mother-in-law,” said the farmer cum hut builder pointing to the direction of an elderly woman sitting near a tree in the front yard. “She is 96 years old but still goes to the market in the poblacion” he added.  I stayed for a while sitting near the yard with two kids looking at me with innocent smiles.

When I told the local farmer how neat and cool is the workmanship of the hut… he replied that some passing tourists also said the same thing about the hut several days ago.  He said this with a smile and obviously amused that his hut was being noticed by visitors to their village. Although I stay in the poblacion, I am familiar with the village rural ways. I understood that for this farmer/carpenter, the form was just a consequence of the function.

Photographs by  Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Advertisements

Fiesta album 1: ruffles and boots

Members of the drum and lyre corps after the parade take time for selfie pics. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Members of the drum and lyre corps take time for selfie pics after the morning fiesta parade. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Fiesta is intended to be celebrated to the fullest. It is a collective celebration of a community and there are no excuses. No work. All fun. And of course honoring the patron saint is foremost.

Aside from the preparation of fiesta food in every household for the fiesta ‘handa’ (roughly translates to banquet because the food feast largely depends on the individual household capability), Bulusan fiesta has generally two major community events —  The religious processions and the fun-filled parades that peak on the bisperas (day before) and the fiesta day — Saint James the Greater’s Feast Day. The drum and lyre corps (DLC) from the different local high schools and elementary schools annually provide the colorful side. And the devotees see to it that the religious aspect of the fiesta is not forgotten. A balance act since fiesta is in fact the death anniversary of the town’s patron saint.

Pretty silver ruffles for high school DLC members make a pretty tutu-like skirt

Pretty silver ruffles for high school DLC members make a stunning tutu-like skirt

My fiesta photos of the July 24 and 25 Bulusan fiesta have both the fun side and the solemn elements. Fiestas in Bulusan have always been like that but surprisingly the excitement never wears off. This I think is the appeal of fiestas not only in Bulusan but in all towns and provinces in the country. I still have to meet a local who does not relish fiesta events.

Elementary grade school participants for the drum and lyre event (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Elementary grade school participants for the drum and lyre event. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

“I feel young just by looking at these photos” says a friend. Well, maybe that is why we love fiestas in the Philippines. It evokes youth and fun for both the young and the old. Fiestas transcend age. It is ageless.

Silver and blue DLC uniforms for this local high school blend beautifully with the sunny day fiesta celebrations. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Silver and blue DLC uniforms for this local high school blend beautifully with the sunny day fiesta celebrations. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

DLC participants from a local high school take their boots off to relax before their DLC number. (Bulusan, July 2015)

DLC participants from a local high school take their boots off to relax before their DLC number. (Bulusan, July 2015)

Red, yellow and silvery white are the dominant colors of the day. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Red, yellow and silvery white are the dominant colors of the day. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

A DLC majorette and her proud mom with the crowd before the presentation. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

A DLC majorette and her proud mom with the crowd at the municipal auditorium before the presentation. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Colorful and shiny boots are part of the festive uniforms of the drum and lyre corps. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Colorful and shiny boots are part of the festive uniforms of the drum and lyre corps. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Fiesta in the age of instagram -- to each her/his own photo. (Bulusan, July 24, 2014)

Fiesta in the age of instagram — to each her/his own photo. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon
Philippines

My Bulusan Lake list

Bulusan Lake,  2015

Bulusan Lake, 2015

Bulusan Lake is undoubtedly the most photographed spot in Bulusan for obvious reason. The beauty commands awe. This however makes visitors to the nature park spend more time taking selfies with the lake rather than exploring the vicinity.

As a local the following activities are my suggestions to would be visitors of the lake :

1. Remember that the place is a nature park and it’s teeming with biodiversity. Make use of your camera whatever is at hand and snap away photos of the flora within your reach. For all you know there are species still waiting to be discovered – by you.

2. Hike the perimeter of the lake in a pace of your own liking. The greenery will make you stop once in a while so it is advisable to make the trek earlier preferably in the morning.

3. Watch the fog kiss the lake.

4. Observe the mesmerizing reflection of the water from the lake above the canopies of giant trees with the sun at high noon.

5. Ride a rustic boat instead of the colorful ones for a change and learn to row the one-sided outrigger banca (photo).

6. Cook your meals inside the lake vicinity. I suggest grilled tilapia from the lake, hot rice and kinilaw na pako (fern salad) from edible ferns picked along the forest trail.

7. Camp overnight and listen to the nature acoustic. Record the sound of the unseen rainforest’s creatures nearby.

8. Firefly gaze at night.

9. Butterfly watch in the morning

10. Bird watch. Early morning is best.

11. Snooze during siesta time with the sound of the forest as your lullaby.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon
Philippines

Rallying call

Mirage-like image of Mt. Bulusan provides a backdrop for the lush green of the rice fields that constantly depend on its mountain waters for irrigation.

Mirage-like image of Mt. Bulusan provides a backdrop for the lush green of the rice fields that depend on its mountain waters for irrigation.

If you are from Bulusan and living within a 15 kilometer radius from Mt. Bulusan/Bulusan Volcano just like me, you better heed the call of Father Edu Fulay of the town’s Saint James the Greater Parish. For several Sundays now after each mass, he patiently reiterates the consequences of hosting a Geothermal Power plant which I have already pointed out in several posts about Bulusan Geothermal :

https://bulusanruralvagabond.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/in-bulusan-environmental-security-means-no-geothermal/

Renamed as West Bulusan Geothermal, it is the same thing as the Bulusan Geothermal where Bulusan folks rallied against two years ago.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Bulusan’s Misa de Aguinaldo Gallery

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Bulusan's Misa de Aguinaldo 2013 Gallery

Misa de Aguinaldo* is popularly known as Simbang Gabi in the Philippines. The old Bulusanon term for this Christmas dawn masses is ‘suhot-suhot’. For several centuries in Bulusan it was referred to as such but now most  Bulusanons call it as Simbang Gabi. This is a recent development  brought about by the strong influence of Metro Manila’s trend among the younger generations. The tradition in fact dates back from the  Spanish colonial period and  remains to be extremely popular with the locals both young and old.

Suhot-suhot it seems is a word destined for antiquity and extinction. Nonetheless the tradition lives on.

The above photos are all recent photos taken before dawn of December 17 to 19, 2013 in Bulusan.  Since the ‘suhot-suhot’ runs until the Christmas Eve, the photos will keep on coming.

* http://www.mb.com.ph/misa-de-gallo-or-misa-de-aguinaldo-whats-the-difference/

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

This is how we make the crispy pili at home

The key in cooking the best crispy pili is using less sugar and syrup -just enough to cover the pili kernels in a thin film glazed coat.

The key in cooking the best crispy pili is using less sugar and syrup -just enough to cover the pili kernels in a thin film glazed coat.

Plastic garapon (container) is  the most common storage for crispy pili.

Plastic garapon (container) is the most common storage ‘jar’ for crispy pili.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above gallery is composed of random shots I took while my sis-in-law (Oya Choleng assisting)  was cooking effortlessly the crispy pili, one of the most popular recipes of Pili in Bulusan. The other two are the ‘mulido’ and ‘buding’ both favorites at home. The crispy pili is the easiest to make among the three recipes as the photos will show. Though arranged in a random order, anybody who likes cooking can easily follow the process. There is a caption for every photo to answer the questions of those who want to try our crispy pili version.

Be in a good mood while cooking. This will make the fast-paced process of cooking the crispy pili seems like a breeze – a cooking lesson I learned by observation.

Related post  about Bulusan’s Pili : http://bulusanvirtualtour.blogspot.com/2013/06/bulusans-heritage-trees.html#more

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Kasanggayahan and the Bulusan Geothermal Project according to the Good Bishop

Kasanggayahan 2013

Crowd fills a local mall long veranda during the opening of Kasanggayahan Festival, October 17, 2013 in Sorsogon City.

Strong words comprised the message of Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes spoken  during the Kasanggayahan festivities on  the planned  Geothermal Power Project in Bulusan. These words  were  the most forceful so far coming from the Bishop  in reiterating the anti-exploration/exploitation stand of the constituents of Bulusan and neighboring towns of Irosin and Casiguran delivered at an event where supporters of the pro geothermal exploration from the government and big business were present.

I lifted  part of the  statement of Bishop Arturo Bastes which was published in the  CBCP news site (http://www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=24793) for the information  of my town mates who are supporting the environmental conservation stand. It is also particularly addressed to  the proponents of  the exploitation of Bulusan Volcano/Mt. Bulusan for geothermal power generation for them to shift their gears and focus their activities somewhere else in places where there are no communities that will be negatively impacted resulting from such ‘development’.

Here it is:

“The government and its geothermal project contractor Summa Kumagai Inc. (SKI) betray the spirit of Kasanggayahan Festival for pushing their geothermal prospect in the province despite strong opposition, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said.

In a statement on Saturday following a Mass in Magallanes town, Bastes said the government and SKI’s geothermal dream threatens to destroy the natural resources of the province.

The term Kasanggayahan means prosperity, he said. The gifts of nature like Bulusan Volcano, Bulusan Lake, cold and hot springs in the towns of Bulusan and Irosin, marine resources, and agricultural riches are in danger of being annihilated if the project pushes through.

“Since we have a good faith, we have the responsibility to carry on in protecting nature,” Bastes said. “With the geothermal plant, they will destroy Bulusan Lake. They will destroy Sorsogon.”

Bastes called on the people of Sorsogon to support the Catholic Church in its crusade to preserve the local environment and foil any attempt to bring it down to destruction. ”

We hope those in power both in government and business will heed the Bishop’s warning so that the next generations of Sorsoganons  especially us, Bulusanons will  experience more Kasanggayahan in perpetuity with the preservation of Mt Bulusan’s immeasurable  ecosystem services from drinking water to climate change shield of those living in its midst – us.

Photo by Alma P. Gamil

Earlier post about Bulusan Geothermal:  https://bulusanruralvagabond.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/in-bulusan-environmental-security-means-no-geothermal/

No to Bulusan Volcano Fragmentation

No to Bulusan Volcano Fragmentation

Bulusan Volcano as viewed from Bulusan town.

This is a wake-up call. Bulusan Volcano is being fragmented right in front and under the noses of anti Geothermal advocates of Bulusan. Complacency is as baneful as indifference  when it comes to issues such as the Bulusan Volcano Geothermal Question. Be very very cautious is in my opinion the best course of action  for some anti Bulusan Geothermal advocates in Bulusan for them not to be misled and be convinced that exploiting geothermal energy on one side (Juban town side to be specific) of the volcano is benign and will be safer than exploiting the Bulusan town side of it.  For me, it is akin to a head where the frontal part has complete anatomical features while the back side is full of pock marks. Totally illogical.

I am totally against this kind of fragmentation that will  inevitably surface albeit done stealthily by some quarters with their own agenda far from the agenda being espoused by the anti Bulusan Geothermal advocates. I am against it because in the final analysis converting one side of the volcano into an industrial complex for exploiting geothermal energy is tantamount to giving up the whole.  Bulusan Volcano after all is ONE volcano.

I have already argued endlessly on why Mt Bulusan/Bulusan Volcano is an unwise choice of location for  Geothermal exploration in several posts  to the point of repetition but I will not stop doing so.

For instance this note from my previous blog post:

Mt. Bulusan is an active volcano, one of the five intensely active volcanoes  in the Philippines (Taal, Mayon, Bulusan, Kanlaon and Hibok-hibok) whose location is close enough to large communities to be of major concern.The Philippines has a total of 405 volcanoes of which  23 are active,  27 potentially active and 355 inactive according to the released information from Phivolcs.

Given this fact, why pick on Bulusan when there are so many other volcanoes in the Philippines?

A refresher: https://bulusanruralvagabond.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/watershed-101/

Photo by Alma P. Gamil

Pantomina and Bulusanons

“Once the pantomina music starts playing the urge to dance is so heightened  for those present in the barayle (public dance event) especially those of the older set. They could not contain themselves on their seat (diri mapa-udong sa ingkodan),” so said Amador, the gregarious and talkative carpenter currently working in our house. This must be true.  In fact I counted the pantomina music airing in the public sound system to be the most played number on any given occasion in Bulusan.

The music is a Bicol traditional folk music often played in merrymaking events from weddings  to fiestas to coronation of a local beauty queen  and even to welcome a newly elected mayor or just a simple village barayle. But it is only in Bulusan that I have observed closely the magic of this irresistible music to coax Bulusanon’s oldies and not so old to dance and sway with this Bicolandia’s iconic dance, the Pantomina. Its origin as a courtship dance is very much evident in the movements of the dancers where one is permitted to improvise. The effect is a pantomime where the male dancer pleases his partner in the  form of spontaneous body-language-dance/gestures  of courtship from kneeling to flirty hovering around his demure and coy yet flirtatious (preferred dance gestures for the female during the pantomina) dance partner.  Together the dancing pair appears to be imitating a pair of doves in a  ritual dance of courtship.

This video (above) taken during the Kasanggayahan festivities in Sorsogon was a choreographed Pantomina performed by public school teachers representing the Municipality of Bulusan. Although choreographed for the event, the performance nevertheless will give a hint on why the music/dance is such a twin hit i.e. music and dance in one in Bulusan. In my view,  no music captures perfectly the joyful rhythm of the locals other than the  Pantomina.

Video from YouTube (Kasanggayahan Festival, Sorsogon City, 2011)

Inside the rural jeepney

Inside the rural jeepney

Sleeping while seated on a Bulusan bound jeepney is a common occurrence. The trip is almost an hour from Gubat town.

After viewing Elmer’s excellent black and white  photo of a commuter scene inside a jeepney in Manila http://elmervalenzuela.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/journeys-end/, I was inspired enough to post my rural version. My amateurish compositions though  only aim  to  show the contrast of a jeepney ride experience in the rural  areas as compared to Manila’s jeepney commuter’s ride.

Both are no doubt interesting studies of the Philippine jeepney as a public transport system in separate locations.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
in Bulusan and Barcelona, Sorsogon, Philippines