Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Bangkok, Thailand, 2023
Buddhism originated in South Asia roughly 2,500 years ago and is believed to be one of the world’s largest religions; over the next Millenia, Buddhism has spread across the world. Buddhists believe that life is a cycle of suffering and that by doing meditation, spiritual and physical labor, and having good behavior, they can escape this cycle of suffering and achieve what they call nirvana.
There are three major branches of Buddhism: Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana — Theravada being the most common in Thailand. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes a monastic lifestyle and meditation as their way to enlightenment.
Napaling, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines, 2022
I think most of you would agree that being near the ocean is just a different kind of peacefulness. Just staring and listening at the sound of the waves gives me that carefree little girl feeling that I cannot understand at times. And recently, after I’ve learned how to do freediving with my husband, every beach visit is just a level-up different kind of experience for me.
I’ve always loved to swim, but having to learn freediving gave me a different sense of longing for the ocean whenever we’re back in the city. It feels like it just keeps calling to me, even in my dreams. Growing up and having to read a lot of beach novels, I’ve always dreamt of living near the beach when I grow up and I still carry that dream with me to this day.
Chocolate Hills is one of the places that I never thought I’d see and visit. As a kid, I’ve only seen this in my textbooks as it’s probably the well-known landmark of Bohol back in the day. Once, years ago, there was news that the hills were growing smaller for some reason and I thought, oh, no, I probably wouldn’t be able to see them as beautiful as it once was.
Come 2022, Norman asked me which place we’d go and visit on his birthday. It was a bit too late to organize an international trip + we just got married and spent our honeymoon in Boracay, so we didn’t have a huge budget. I suggested that we go to Bohol because aside from Chocolate Hills, the reefs in Bohol, particularly in Panglao Island, is very beautiful and perfect for our fun diving sessions.
Anyway, when we went atop the stairs to get a good view at the Chocolate Hills, I was mesmerized. I never thought I’d appreciate it as much as I did when we were there. These photos couldn’t give justice to how beautiful the view was.
Alona Beach, Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines, 2022
There’s just something exhilarating whenever I get to go to the beach. It’s just about the blow of the wind on my face, the smell of salt water whenever I inhale, the feel of the sand on my feet, and just looking at the waves and the horizon. It’s something I will never get tired of.
The place reminded me so much of the trees of Dodona from Greek mythology. In some books written or based on Greek mythology, the trees of Dodona whispers to people who are lost in the woods because Dodona is an Oracle. In those stories, it is said that they can cause a person to lose their minds.
This forest didn’t give me the creeps the way it did when I read about it in books because they are so refreshing to look at. It’s quite a huge difference from the usual view that I see back in Manila. I hope that our government build more forests instead of selling our land to businessmen who builds malls, condominiums, and subdivisions as we already have lots of those and less public spaces for the people.
Taal Basilica was first built in 1575 near Taal Lake in present-day San Nicolas. The construction was led by Fr. Diego Espinar under the Augustinians with San Martin de Tours as their patron saint. The church has been improved for centuries since 1575, but was massively destroyed by the 200-day eruption of the Taal Volcano in 1754 which has also devastated the whole town of old Taal.
When the town moved to its current location on top of a hill that overlooks Balayan Bay, the construction of a new church was launched by Fr. Martin Aguirre. Alas, after decades of construction, another tragedy hit the town; this time, an earthquake, which destroyed the church yet again.
Four years later, another church was built at the same site and was led by Fr. Marcos Anton. Fr. Anton commissioned Architect Luciano Oliver to design and run the construction. Fast forward to 1878, the construction was finally complete. Under Fr. Agapito Aparicio, a 79 ft altar was added to the original plan. It was the largest church at the time.
It wasn’t until 1974 that it was declared as one of the country’s National Shrines. To this day, Taal Basilica remains to be the largest church in Asia.
On the day of our Anda tour, I was having a really bad headache because of the unpredictable weather. When we were on our way back to Panglao after completing our itinerary for the day, we passed by this mining site. This wasn’t part of our tour, but my husband asked our tour guide if we could stop by just to take a photo. And though my head feels like its tearing itself apart, I just couldn’t help but go down and take a photo of the conveyor belt myself.
This mining site is a project of the Duterte administration and according to locals, Bohol’s LGU doesn’t earn anything or have any share from this — all the money goes straight to the national government. You might not see or notice it in the photo that I took from the main road of the town, but the top of that mountain has already gone bald.The next photo shown below is a screen capture from Google Maps of what the mountain looks like from a bird’s eye view:
One of my many dreams for the Philippines is for our farmers to be recognized and receive the proper care and salary that they deserve. Today, they are still part of what we call laylayan who are most in need; their sentiments, requests, and demands are mostly never heard and neglected. Yet a lot of people would tell them to stop complaining and just work harder. I’ve heard this being said so many times that it just irks me how privileged, entitled, and selfish most people can be. How can you say this to our farmers who spends every day of their lives planting and harvesting crops — not even taking holidays and weekends off, but still remain part of the laylayan?
Alas, it might take more years or decades even, for this dream to come into fruition. But these photos give me the kind of hope that one day, someday, maybe, our farmers will be heard and taken care of. I think that if we just take the time to stop and listen to their cries of help, the country would be more united as a nation and the people from our laylayan would never feel ignored.
Located in the town of Dauis in the island of Panglao, the church is also known as The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. It was built in August 1923 and is one of the most sophisticated and complex structures of its kind in Bohol. Dauis church is said to have been built according to a plan for basilicas which explains the church’s high central nave flanked by lower aisles.
Built in 1596, this majestic structure is the second oldest church in the Philippines. The church is built out of coral stones mixed with thousands of egg whites as cement.
One of its most interesting and intriguing feature was the famous column wall at the back of the church where locals said that an image of Padre Pio mysteriously appeared. Sadly, when Typhoon Odette hit numerous islands in the Philippines in 2021, Bohol was one of the islands where the typhoon made its landfall and Baclayon Church was badly damaged, destroying the said column wall at the same time. Today, the church has been successfully and fully restored, but the image of Padre Pio is nowhere in sight.