Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: Taking Road Trip #2, UP, Pampanga, and Timberland

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Taking Road Trip #2, UP, Pampanga, and Timberland

the dome ceiling o the Philippines' Sistine Chapel, Betis Church in Betis, Pampanga
After a hectic ten days culminated by the official book launch, we took another Sunday break. This time we traveled north of Manila to the province of Pampanga, about an hour and a half drive through the Northern Luzon Expressway.  Ann and I both left our Bills behind. Instead, we went with two other ladies, Cynthia and Jingjing. Jingjing was the one who took care of my PR program while Ann took care of the events. We were treating ourselves for a job well done! On the other hand, Cynthia had just come home from California to pay last respects to her Mom, who had just passed on.
UP  Chapel
Our first stop was to have breakfast at one of the five Metro Manila branches of the famous breakfast chain in the US, IHOP (International House of Pancakes). This one was at UP Town, very near the University of the Philippines (UP) where all of us studied. After breakfast, we heard mass at the UP Chapel, that looked exactly the same as we left it. Then we chanced upon the preparations at the Oblation Plaza, behind the main building. The Oblation is the university icon, a symbol of selfless offering of oneself to country. For the first time, I also noticed the new IKOT (translation, around) system, golf carts that replaced the jeepneys of our era, ferrying students around the campus.
University Avenue makes UP the Academic Sunflower Capital of the Philippines
Leading to the Oblation Plaza is the University Avenue, an 800-meter long road that bursts with yellow sunflowers in June to welcome the freshmen. They first bloom in April in time for commencement exercises. In this way, Mother Nature signals the rites of passage on campus.  Sunflowers as big as saucers are in full bloom to the delight of graduates who use the flowers as the backdrop to the photo of their lives and of freshmen who start their four or five-year stay on campus. Thus, UP has become the academic sunflower capital every summer.
The Sunken Church, the San Guillermo Parish Church in Bacolor,Pampanga
the Philippine Sistine Chapel, Betis Church
From UP, we drove to the San Guillermo Parish Church in Bacolor, Pampanga.  It was originally constructed by the Augustinian Friars in 1576, the year the town was founded. In 1880, the church was destroyed by an earthquake but was rebuilt six years later. But it was on September 3, 1995 when lahar flow buried the church at half its 12-meter height. The lahar was from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo, which had erupted on June 15, 1991, in the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in Alaska. Thus, the church came to be known as The Sunken Church.

From Bacolor, we proceeded to St. James the Apostle Parish Church in Betis, Pampanga. It was a Baroque church established in 1607. The preliminary structure was made mainly of wood and stucco. But when fire broke out several times due to these light materials, it was finally rebuilt in concrete in 1770. In 1939, the paintings on the ceilings were repainted by a native of San Agustín and an assistant who restored these paintings in the 1970s. It is now called the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines. It was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
authentic Kapampangan Cuisine at Everybody's Cafe
We had lunch at Everybody's Cafe in San Fernando, Pampanga, which is famous for authentic Kapampangan cuisine. The cuisine has many similarities with Cantonese cuisine, with a touch of local, Spanish, Malay, and even Mexican flavors. After lunch, we proceeded to a children's party in Adventure Farms in San Mateo, Rizal, part of Timberland Sports & Nature Club.  It is close to Metro Manila, just 15 minutes from Batasan Pambansa, the country’s Legislative Branch in Quezon City “but the world away from the traffic, noise, and bright lights…bring(ing) you to this exclusive mountain resort where families can commune with nature without giving up the convenience and comforts of home.”
becoming like children at Adventure fArms, Timberland Sports and Nature Club
The view of Metro Manila from the Club up in the Sierra Madre Mountains is supposedly the best but seeing how smoggy our beloved city is was quite disconcerting. But after twelve hours on the road, you would think we had enough. Little did we know that we still had another six hours to go in another unique adventure that will be the subject of my next post!
a view of smoggy Metro ManilaAdd rom Timberland Sports and Nature Club, Sierra Madre Mountains

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