Saturday, March 31, 2012

Butanding Festival 2012

[Photo Credits:  http://wwf.org.ph/wwf3/news/article/35 ]
What: Butanding Festival
When: May 14 - 20, 2012
Where: Donsol, Sorsogon
How to join: Would you like to cover at least one whole day of activities within May 14-20, 2012 during the Butanding Festival in Donsol, Sorsogon? All you need to do is to help us gather sponsorships/donations for the event and we'll take care of your transportation, accommodation and meals. To signify your interest, please send a message to Mark Joseph Delgado on his Facebook account. Click here.


To see the schedule of activities, please click here.


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Email: markjosephdelgado [@] ymail [.] com
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Intramuros Bloggers Challenge 2012: Winners

BEST FOOD BLOG 
Buffet Dinner Plus Daily Cultural Presentation at Barbara's Restaurant in Intramuros, Manila
Blog by Cha Sy


BEST TRAVEL BLOG
Intramuros, within the walls of a historic city
Blog by Estan Cabigas


BEST PHOTO ENTRY
Photo by Sumi Go
Adjudged by Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation



PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST PHOTO - BARBARA'S RESTAURANT
Photo by Cha Sy



PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST PHOTO - INTRAMUROS
Photo by Karla Mae Brazil

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pipolwering the "Diwa ng Pipol Power" Logo: Call for Entries

The Pipol Power Institute wishes to “pipolpower” the logo design for the Diwa ng Pipol Power recognition project.

The current logo of Pipol Power Institute
[Source:  http://www.facebook.com/PipolPowerInstitute  ]

Seeking to recognize, affirm, and enable people power projects all over the Philippines, the Diwa project begins where it should: starting with a logo created by a people power devotee. The jury selecting the logo to be adopted by the Institute will also be composed of people power proponents from a number of sectors.

Below are the mechanics for proposing a logo:

1. All Filipinos and Philippines-descended citizens/residents of countries other than the Philippines may propose a logo design.

2. Each participant may submit ONLY ONE logo proposal.

3. The logo must INTERPRET AND INCLUDE the theme. Please click here to view the Diwa ng Pipol Power Concept Paper for more information.

4. The design may be done by free-hand rendered in markers, ink, pastel, watercolor, oil or acrylic, or by computer or both free-hand and computer, as long as it will be submitted in a high resolution .jpeg file. There are no restrictions on the number of colors used.

5. The logo should not carry the name or the signature of the artist.

6. The design of the logo must be certified original and/or officially submitted by the participant. Any complaints that may arise due to similarities, likeness, or comparison of the design, the participant will be responsible to prove its authenticity. Under no circumstances will the Pipol Power Institute Inc. (PPII) be held liable for fraudulent submissions.

7. Proponent must fill out an online application form disclosing the artist’s full name, contact details, and the rationale for the logo proposal. This online application form shall be made available through the Pipol Power Institute’s Facebook page or accessed HERE: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dHk3c3EzWWxaOFZsQm15S1A0MVU4ZkE6MQ.


8. Entries will be accepted from March 12 to 31, 2012. Logo entries should be submitted in digital form (.jpg file). File resolution should be 300dpi and file size should be no greater than 3MB.

9. The logo proposal that will be adopted by the Diwa will be that which:

      a. ALL THE MEMBERS OF A MULTI-SECTORAL JURY WILL UNANIMOUSLY LIKE

      b. Captures the idea of courageously and independently taking a stand to uplift life          for a Filipino community

      c. Will not need any explanation to understand

              i. Projects the force of multitudes

              ii. Projects creative expression of socio-political change

10. The logo to be adopted as official by the Diwa project will be announced on April 9, 2012. The successful proponent will be informed through email or will be called by the PPI Staff, and shall receive a cash prize of Php15,000.00 plus a plaque of recognition. Other publicity efforts may also be undertaken by the PPII.

11. PPII has the right to use any or all of the selected logo design(s) in all print, digital, video, and other media, including but not exclusively in brochures, leaflets, posters, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and so forth. The name of the designer(s) shall be duly acknowledged.

12. All proposed logo designs shall be considered the property of PPII, which will nonetheless use these other designs only with permission of the designer(s).

For further inquiries, you may call (02) 433-87-88 or e-mail diwa.pipol.power@gmail.com
and look for Niña Terol-Zialcita, PPI Executive Director.

To know more about Pipol Power Institute, you may view this online document.

To read about the Pipol Power Institute's Kainan sa Binalot where the Pipolpowering the "Diwa ng People Power" Logo was launched, please click here.

To re-blog this full blog post, please copy the HTML below.

Pipol Power Institute's Kainan sa Binalot + Binalot Restaurant's Advocacy

The venue was Binalot Restaurant - Madison Branch in Mandaluyong City. 2:00pm of March 12, 2012. I have finally met some of the people behind Pipol Power Institute, a non-profit organization established to "channel the voices and actions of the humblest of citizens" and "dedicated to the full realization of People Power in the national life and in the international arena".

I myself was curious at first about the meaning behind this vision of PPI. So when I got an invitation from Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita, I never hesitated to take a day off from work to know more about the organization. And that day proved to be more enriching and fun than how I imagined to be.

The gathering was started by a short prayer to the Almighty Father, led by Mr. Marvin Sipin of PPI.    
This is Ms. Joy Fabian of the Marketing Department of Binalot Restaurant. I'd say I really enjoyed her whole talk about the restaurant and their advocacy works. It's not everyday that we hear about restaurants making social responsibility and sustainability as integral parts of their businesses. One of those restaurants is Binalot.
The vision statement of Binalot is simple-minded, straightforward and near the hearts of the Filipinos. Binalot in itself is truly Filipino. I know for a fact that "binalots" (English: wrapped) are packed meals of the Filipinos (especially of the farmers) a long long time ago when tupperwares weren't invented yet. Filipina wives used to wrap the meals of their working husbands using banana leaves. During gatherings, Filipinos will gather around the table and eat using their bare hands with banana leaves as plates. Unlike plates, banana leaves have no divisions. There is so much oneness and unity among the Filipinos back then.
Value for Money Filipino Meals + Banana Leaves = Binalot's Success USP

What makes Binalot a stand out among the other Filipino fastfood chains is the way that it stayed true to its proposition of being a Filipino brand. We know that not too many Filipino restaurants will consider including banana leaves as part of their formulas right away, but Binalot courageously ventured to using this gift from nature to differentiate itself from the other Filipino restaurants.

Not only that, it even ran the extra mile by looking for mutually-beneficial opportunities with rural communities from where their important raw material (banana leaves) maybe sourced from. While they ensured a stable supply of banana leaves as an important raw material for their business, they also ensured that local farmers from the communities whom they are working with were also self-sustaining.
Here is the picture of the Binalot meal I had during that day. Can you imagine how fresh it looked and smelled that day- all because of the effect of the banana leaves where it is wrapped in? Absolutely yummy!


During Ms. Joy's presentation, she explained that the Binalot All Time Pinoy-vorite Meals were creatively named inspired by the fun-loving nature and humor of the Filipinos. Vivo Tocino! Sinigang with a Bang! Pork Bongga Longganisa! Tapa Rap Sarap! Sisig na Makisig! Bistek Walastik! The coined names for the meals made it all the more easy to remember- and fun to order at the counter!

Among the many communities that Binalot is helping through their Dahon Program is a community in Zambales. Because of this project, they were able to help 20 families become self-sustaining.

Dahon means Dangal at Hanapbuhay para sa Nayon.

Indeed, Binalot became instrumental in helping a lot of communities in the Philippines become sustainable- and the dignities and hopes of the people living within it restored and uplifted.

Because of the success of the Dahon Program, it became a business in itself. Through the Dahon Program, Binalot has now became a supplier of banana leaves to other business such as BibingKinitan!, Bacolod Chicken Inasal and Tita Lynn's.

Binalot also reaped recognition from international award-giving bodies conferring awards for model business and environmental sustainability.

After Ms. Joy's presentation, we did a little ice breaker to relax us, the participants. After introducing ourselves, we played a game- a very Filipino game. The all-time favorite Pinoy Henyo!
Ms. Mae Paner of Juana Change and her teammate won the game! She got a book from Kaya Natin Movement.
Ms. Nines took the floor and then slowly by slowly she revealed the things that I need to know about PPI.

Ms. Nines took us to the two flagship initiatives of PPI namely, Reimagine: Pilipinas Bukas and Diwa ng People Power.

Reimagine is a collective visioning exercise of gutsy and imaginative Filipinos that articulates a Philippines twenty-five years hence- a gathering made distinct by the convenors' use of a cultural lens in considering key political and economic problems that need to be addressed if the nation's future well-being is to be assured.

On the other hand, Diwa ng People Power is an annual event that aims to highlight and celebrate outstanding examples of empowered democracy, enlightened citizen participation, and sustainable changemaking in communities around the Philippines. Inspired by the spirit of EDSA One, Diwa ng Pipol Power hopes to inspire more Filipinos to amplify their individual and collective voices, and to use the power of engaged, collective action to create solutions that address their own urgent needs.

[Source: About the Pipol Power Institute]


After going through the profile of the organization and its two flagship initiatives, Ms. Nines led us to the highlight of the gathering: the call for entries for the Pipolpowering the "Diwa ng Pipol Power" Logo. To know more about this call, please click here. To register for the call,  please click here.

I also dedicated a full blog post about the Pipolpowering the "Diwa ng Pipol Power" Logo Call for Entries, please click here.
The event was a success! During the event, I've realized that a lot of Filipinos actually wanted to help and offer their time and resources for the betterment of the country. Indeed, the spirit of People Power lives on!

Special thanks to Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita inviting me to this very fruitful event.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Greatness starts at home

My parents were the earliest witnesses of my insatiable thirst for blogging and social networking. I had been blogging since 2005 and I even used to blog at Tabulas back then. I also used to be online in Multiply and Yahoo! Messenger every day, especially during summer, chatting and having fun with my friends. My mom is usually the last person to go to bed (after finishing the chores) and usually is the first person to rise in the morning to prepare for breakfast. And in both instances every day during summer, she can’t fathom how I manage not to get any sleep at all and how I can stay wide awake in front of my laptop from dusk till’ dawn.

“Di ka ba natutulog?” she used to ask me every time she catches me in the morning clicking and typing in front of my laptop. I used to provide her a lot of explanations such as, “Ma, I’m nocturnal.”, “Ma, it’s summer. I have so much reserved energy.”, “Ma, this blog post can’t wait for tomorrow. This has to be posted already otherwise I’ll lose it.”

Despite my parents’s little worries about me having too much online activities and less relationship with my bed, I am so glad that they never planned, not even once, to have our internet subscription at home cut. In fact, they even bought me and siblings one of the early versions of Globe Broadband Tattoo which I am still using until now whenever I need internet outdoors.

My old but still very reliable Globe Tattoo Broadband had always been with me especially during my travels. It had been the partner of my laptop for the longest time. I use this for blogging and connecting to my social networks.  
My greatest moment of achievement started last year, 2011, when I was lucky enough to be picked to attend the online classes in the Ateneo-DigitalFilipino Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur Program  (CBSMEP) for FREE! I won this from a writing contest wherein I needed to answer the question, Why do I want to become a Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur?

My greatest moment!

Last February 2012, I created a blog activation campaign called Intramuros Bloggers Challenge 2012. My objective is to promote tourism in Intramuros, the Walled City of the Philippines, through blog and social media. The idea is to let the bloggers experience Intramuros through (a) food- during a free dinner at Barbara’s Restaurant, the only restaurant in the Philippines that holds daily cultural presentations; and through (b) travel- during a one-day walking tour with top-caliber tour guiding groups in Intramuros such as Celdran Tours, Castillan Tours and Mabuhay Guides.

This photo was taken during my briefing with the bloggers before the walking tour inside the exclusive Club Intramuros. This project was supported by the Department of Tourism and by various private organizations. To know more about Intramuros Bloggers Challenge, you may click here.   
It was none other than Ms. Janette Toral, an internet marketing guru in the Philippines, who selected my work from among the many entries that participated in the writing contest. And to top it all off, she, herself, became my mentor for the nine-week intensive training in blog and social media entrepreneurship certification.

I am thankful for this program. Because of this, I am now starting to learn how to earn from a hobby that I only used to enjoy doing at home- seven years ago. I am thankful for my parents too for being an inspiration for me to continue doing what I love to do, for reading my blog from time to time (my biggest fans) and also for giving me and my siblings the great gift of being “connected” with the world- through the world wide web.

The coolest parents!

This photo was taken during the summer of 2011 in the beautiful island of Boracay. Actually, my parents are heavy users of internet too. My father had been working in Mexico for a couple of years now and he only returns to the Philippines once a year- during summer. The only way for my parents to stay in touch with each other is through Facebook and Skype. Thanks to the power of the internet! My dad seems to be closer- even though he's miles apart from us.
I am now only less than two weeks away from attaining my dream of becoming a Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur. I know this is just the beginning of my journey towards achieving more accomplishments in the future. I wish more and more parents will be able to realize the great gift that they can give their sons and daughters by just merely giving them the advantage of staying connected, at the comforts of their home, with the bigger world that is out there- the internet.

Greatness starts at home.


Part of the perks of being a blogger and a social media entrepreneur is meeting famous celebrities and notable personalities during "work". Posing with me is Carlos Celdran during the first premiere of his disco-themed play entitled "Livin' La Imelda Loca" last February 7, 2011 at Silverlens Lab where I was invited as a blogger.

Carlos also sponsored my blog activation campaign for the Walled City, Intramuros Bloggers Challenge 2012.


[Source:  http://blog.globe.com.ph  ]
About the Author
Mark Joseph Delgado is a Certified Blog and Social Media Entrepreneur in the making. He maintains three blogs namely, www.sleekinthecity.com, www.intramurosmanila.asia and www.bloggers4change.net under his online marketing company called Think Marketing Group. He is madly in love with Thai dishes and loves to cook pancakes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pipol Power Institute


Pipol Power Institute is reserving two slots for anyone from BLOGGERS 4 CHANGE.net. In order to register, please input your full name, blog URL and email address at the comment box below. The two bloggers shall be notified through this blog post and via email.

The Pipol Power Institute (PPI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the full realization of People Power in the national life and in the international arena. It endeavors to channel the voices and actions of the humblest of citizens. Seeking to programmatically understand what these voices and actions are expressing to the leadership of the land, the PPI takes up the task of safeguarding and circulating the peoples’ narratives, ensuring that the spirit of People Power remains alive in communities around the Philippines through a multiplicity of means.

CHAIRMAN: Jim Paredes
PRESIDENT: Garth Noel Tolentino
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Nina Terol-Zialcita
CORPORATE SECRETARY: Kay S. Bunagan
TREASURER: Ruby G. Alcantara

TRUSTEES:
Ruby G. Alcantara
Kay S. Bunagan
Steven T. Cua
Ma. Theresa C. Lorenz
Esther M. Pacheco
Mae P. Paner
Jim Paredes
Garth Noel Tolentino
Marian Pastor Roces

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Digital Technology for Social Change in Baguio City (British Council)

We traveled all the way to Baguio from Manila to catch the Digital Technology for Social Change seminar by the British Council Philippines. It was the fourth leg- one among the five legs to be implemented in various key cities in the Philippines such as Manila, Davao, Bacolod, Baguio and Naga. It was a day full of fun learning and realizations on how we, the youth, can create impact in a society where people are brought closer to each other by technology. In simple words, how can we make a difference in our own communities now that almost everybody's blogging and using Facebook?

As a blogger and as a student of life, I couldn't dare miss this wonderful opportunity to discover what more can social media do, apart from being an effective marketing tool in use today and also as a source of income for many bloggers and social media entrepreneurs who refused to be tied down to ordinary desk jobs.

Indeed, it was about taking digital technology and social media marketing to the next level! I am thankful for the British Council Philippines for creating such an amazing project. I hope that in the future, they'll be able to reach out to more people (bloggers and social media practitioners should experience this too) and get everybody really participating in advancing social responsibility in the country. 
Our first speaker was Mr. Jay Salazar, Managing Director of ProPinoy.Net. Mr. Jay formed ProPinoy in 2010 as a political awareness tool for Filipinos in making their electoral choices. Afterwards, the site reinvented itself to take Filipino online patriotism a step further. On top of bringing political developments to light, ProPinoy aims to work toward civil engagement, social and environmental awareness as well as local tourism and industry promotion.
Our second speaker was Ms. Micheline Rama, Creative and Strategic Planning Director of Dakila Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism. She specializes in digital media and advertising. Her organization, Dakila, is the group behind the projects such as Active Vista, a biennial human rights film; Digibak, digital advocacy training seminars and Tik Tok, a climate action campaign. Prior to turning to advocacy work full-time, she conceptualized and produced digital-led campaigns that won international awards for creativity, effectivity and innovation. These projects ranged from a global digital-led 360 campaign, social media-based brand advocacy building, viral video marketing, applications, blogger promotions and new media innovations.   
Our third speaker was Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita. Ms. Niña describes herself as a “communicator, connector, idea curator, and changemaker.” Aside from being a co-founder of Writer’s Block Philippines, she was formerly editor-in-chief of asianTraveler, the Philippines’ longest-running travel magazine, and is currently President and Deputy Editor of ProPinoy.net, winner of the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards for the Society, History, and Politics category. In 2010, she had a “grand slam” year in the speaking circuit after having been invited to speak at all three of Manila’s most-coveted events, Ignite Manila, Pecha Kucha Night, and TEDxManila. In 2011, she was recognized as a finalist in the first-ever Tatt Awards (“The Advocate” category) for her advocacy platform, Changemakers Philippines.
[Source: http://writersblockphilippines.com]
Our fourth speaker was Mr. JP Alipio, Executive Director of Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT). Mr. JP is a National Geographic Young Explorer recognized for his research in the Environment and Culture of the Cordillera Region. His organization, CCT, is an organization that seeks to provide relevant practical and sustainable solutions to environmental problems arising in the Cordillera region. CCT managed to incorporate social media in their forest-building activities most especially in the recent Occupy Baguio, an event that gathered concerned citizens all over Luzon about the uprooting of thousands of trees to build commercial infrastructures. JP is also a correspondent of Rappler, an independent citizen news site online.

After the four resource speakers, we heard from the five Global Changemakers of the British Council who were present during the event. From left to right is Mr. Dwight Ronan, Mr. Joseph Mansilla and Ms. Jecel Censoro.
The other two Global Changemakers were Mr. Ponce Samaniego and Ms. Anna Oposa.
Here is one of the many insightful and interesting slides presented during the seminar. This was created by Ms. Micheline Rama. As a Marketing professional, it is so nice to have a sort of a review of my Integrated Marketing Communication classes in an advocacy seminar setting. Indeed, to communicate an idea effectively, one may use the story-telling technique and mirror real-life behaviors from the target market who you are talking with. Find a compelling detail that can communicate the whole story that is based from a equally compelling insight. A classic example of this is the successful "Langhap Sarap" campaign by Jollibee which mirrored a real-life behavior of the Filipinos while eating- Filipinos used to smell their food before they take the first bite.

That's how the "Langhap Sarap" campaign was brought to the world. Pretty amazing huh?
Passion + Strategy that is based on Insight will result to Effectiveness and Success.

I sometimes call this Directed Creativity and I got this term from one of my classes in MarkProf.
This is a really cool illustration of the kind of responses that marketers would like to obtain from their target market.
This slide was created by Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita. I am really thankful that she shared this slide to us especially to me who had just founded a group of bloggers and social media marketing practitioners who would like to harness the power of social media for social responsibility. Because of this slide, I realized that I should not be limited to just writing about and sharing my thoughts online when trying to create a positive impact for the world. I realized I must be able to really go "out there" and work with real people in real situations in order to bring forth real positive change.
The Alphabet of Change. Thanks to Ms. Niña Terol-Zialcita for this slide.
Aside from the overflowing insights and knowledge I gained from the seminar, the British Council also served us really awesome lunch meals and snacks that day. Yummy!
After the seminar, we took a group a picture with the Global Changemakers as well as with the other participants from Saint Louis University and other universities in Baguio.
I am very proud of this certificate! I hope I can attend more advocacy seminars like this in the future.

Thanks to the British Council for organizing this event and to Saint Louis University in Baguio City for allowing us to use their school as our venue for this event.

[Speaker Profiles were from the British Council Philippines.]

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Puratos Carat Ganache Live Demo with Chef Hasset Go



Chef Hasset Go is in need of 10 bloggers to come to this event on March 8, 2012 at 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Witness his live demonstration on new chocolate recipes and techniques using Puratos Carat Ganache! See you there!

To register, please place your e-mail addresses at the comment box below. Thanks!

List of participating bloggers here. Congratulations and see you there!
  1. Foodie from the Metro
  2. Serial Tripper
  3. Purple and Hue
  4. Spread Some Awesome
  5. Tin Gonzaga
  6. Travel on a Shosetring
  7. High Gear Full Throttle
  8. House of JCJEE
  9. Larawan at Kape
  10. Singlemom Supermom


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Email: markjosephdelgado [@] ymail [.] com
Facebook:  Sleek in the City
Twitter: @sleekinthecity
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Manila Transitio 1945: Remembering the day that changed Manila forever

Organized by Celdran Tours, Manila Transitio 1945 is an event commemorating the Battle of Manila fought from February 3 to March 3, 1945 by American, Filipino and Japanese army. After the battle, Manila was regarded as the second most devastated city in the world, second to Warsaw, after the World War II. More than 100,000 Filipinos died in the battle, around 10% of the entire population of Manila, resulting to what is presently known as the Manila Massacre. After the war, Manila had never been the same. 

Sixty seven years after, one man led us all to remembering once again the day that changed Manila forever. 
It's going to be a sunset tour for all us last February 26, 2012 with Mr. Walk This Way, Carlos Celdran. At 4:00pm, we assembled in front of the Fort Santiago ticket booth. Minutes after, the event was started with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem.
And then Carlos started to talk. Armed with a lapel mic and visual materials, he gave us the most insightful and most amusing history class we ever have attended. In this picture, Carlos showed everyone the symbol of Manila during the Spanish Era. A Chimera, a mythological symbol for illusion, is at the center of that symbol.

More than 200 people attended the Manila Transitio 1945 event last February 26, 2012. They're from all walks of life. Most are Filipinos, some are from the US. There's even a Buddhist monk who attended the event. It's a good crowd that day!




When the Spanish came to the Philippines, they built a fortress called the Fort Santiago. An image of Santiago Matamoros or St. James of the Moors was etched at the facade of the fortress. According to the legend, St. James appeared as a warrior on his white horse to help the Christian army of King Ramiro I of Spain against the Moors. Until today, St. James is the patron saint of Spain.

Before the Spanish Era, the Pre-Hispanic Filipinos were Moslems. 
Contrary to what the Spanish did to the Filipinos, the Americans taught the Filipinos their language. They were taught English. Now this was part of a bigger strategy. Carlos said, "Because we were supposed to be made to the image of the United States. We were supposed to be the 50th state."

Carlos also said, "Thanks to the United States! We now have a national hero!" Now this is insightful. Jose Rizal was an artist, a doctor, a poet, a scientist, a writer and etc. In short, he was westernized. For an ordinary Filipino during that time, his image was boring. Remember that the Filipinos were clamoring for a revolution, for a real change. Why would the Filipinos choose him as the national hero?

But we didn't! It was the United States. But the question is why? Why the diplomatic, the educated and the peace-loving Jose Rizal? Why not the revolutionary Andres Bonifacio? Was this part of a bigger picture again? Was the United States "softening" our warring tendencies during that time?

This got me thinking. 
We offered a short prayer for the souls of the more than a hundred thousand Filipinos who were killed in Manila during the World War II. Across us actually stood a white cross which was dedicated to the many Filipinos who were buried there, nameless.
Carlos enlarged this picture of an American bomb landing somewhere in Manila. Apparently, it wasn't just the Japs doing all the killings of the Filipinos during the Battle of Manila. This American bomb, along with the other armaments which devastated the former "Pearl of the Orient", has its own share of murder.
Carlos was mimicking Gen. Douglas McArthur complete with a hat, a pipe and the infamous photo which was even made a life-sized replica in Leyte. The photo showed Gen. Douglas McArthur along with his troops dramatically stepping unto the Philippine shores to fulfill the promise he made more than two years before the photo was taken. "I shall return."

Apparently, this photo had to be taken thrice. It's part of the drama.  
We walked upon the walls of Intramuros. I wonder how the Walled City looked like before the Battle of Manila. The Philippines was the "Pearl of the Orient". It must be THAT beautiful and prosperous during that time. I yearned for Manila of the past which I haven't even seen.

This was the prison cell where Jose Rizal was jailed before the day of his execution.
On the other side of the river is Binondo, home of the Filipino-Chinese in Manila. During the Spanish Era, Binondo was called Parian. As said, the Parian is one canon ball away from Intramuros. It was a place where non-Christian Chinese settled. The Spanish had to keep them in one place due to the alarming growth of their population during the 16th century. They were allowed residency in Manila as long as they convert to being Christians. Those who refused conversion had to settle at Parian.
Carlos stood at the tranvia with an enlarged image of the San Agustin Church. During the World War II, this was the only structure in Intramuros that was spared. All the rest had to be flattened. It was said that someone placed a red cross on top of the church- symbolizing that the structure had to be spared. It'll be a great war crime to destroy it.

San Agustin Church is now regarded as the oldest church in the Philippines.

To cap off the whole walking tour, we were treated with halo-halo! The Philippines was compared by Carlos to this all-time favorite Filipino dessert. Like a melting pot of many culture and ethnicity, the Philippines can be compared to the halo-halo which is composed of many ingredients and flavorings. Yum!

That night, the beautiful music of the Mabuhay Singers filled the air in the heart of Manila again. They sang a lot of Kundiman songs that the younger ones like me may not be familiar with, but truly enjoyed listening to. It was so much fun to see them perform!
After a short while, Carlos showed us how to light the flying paper lamps or the spirit balloons to be released in a short while. This is one of the highlights we all awaited for.
We held our spirit balloons in front of Fort Santiago.

And then one by one, the spirit balloons all rose to the air and into the night sky!
Like stars at night, they shone. It was truly an amazing experience!
While the spirit balloons all rose above the ground, a beautiful rendition of the patriotic song, "Ang Bayan Ko" was given by the awesome Mabuhay Singers. They were the real stars that night!
My spirit balloon took a couple of minutes more before it took off. And when it finally did, the feeling was inexplicable. It was actually the last lamp to rise. I think I might join Manila Transitio 1945 again next year.

Special thanks to Carlos and his team for organizing this wonderful event.

God bless Manila! Long live the Philippines!

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