RAMON MAGSAYSAY ANCESTRAL HOUSE
Magsaysay Ancestral House, located at Castillejos, Zambales is the ancestral of the seventh Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay. It is open for public viewing. With traces of the past, the Magsaysay residence is was the former leader of the Philippines grew up. This structure houses some of the personal belongings of the late president, from his furniture, appliances, clothing, medallions, and books, to his 1945 Cadillac limousine, and a Willy’s Jeep said to be in good running condition.
Oddly enough, being at Ramon Magsaysay’s house for the first time brings a lot of fond memories of my childhood. Maybe because the house looks exactly like our home back in Manila, from its capiz windows, to the antique fixtures, even to its light green painted walls. Or perhaps because just like us, he enjoyed the company of people for an afternoon chat in the sala. Or maybe because, even as President, he had always been close to the people’s hearts, that’s why Filipinos’ have dubbed Ramon Magsaysay “The Champion of the Masses”.
My friend and I came to Zambales upon the invitation of a classmate back in college, whose family resides in San Antonio, Zambales, for a brief summer gateway. It was hard to say no to such a generous offer and Zambales is a jewel after all, so we decided to hit the road. Four hours later, we arrived in Zambales.
It was my sophomore encounter with the province, and just a year after my first visit, the Zambales landscape looked more beautiful and breathtaking than ever. Of course, there are the stretch of sand, enticing blue waters, and majesty mountain range, but knowing there is more to the province than its beautiful beaches, I decided explore its historic side this time. So I headed to Castillejos and visit Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House.
Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House is hard to miss when you’re in Zambales, since it stands on the main highway of Castillejos. Home to the late President Magsaysay, the third leader of the Philippine Republic, the two-storey house had been the witness to the making of this great leader. It was renovated and converted into museum in 1990. After it was damaged by the Pinatubo eruption in 1991, the national Historical Institute led to restoration in 1991.
The ancestral house present Ramon Magsaysay’s humble beginnings. He was born in Iba, Zambales on August 31, 1907, to Exequiel Magsaysay, a black smith, and Perfecta del Ferro, a schoolteacher. He was raised in Castillejos and finished elementary in Castillejos Elementary School and high school in Zambales Academy. Photos displayed at the first floor of the house show a young Magsaysay with his family and peers. Even at a young age, he had been seen mingling and chatting with the masses, an endearing trait that would win over the nation later in his life.
He entered the University of the Philippines in 1927 and worked as a chauffer to support himself as he studied engineering. Later, he transferred to the Institute of Commerce at Jose Rizal College, where he received a baccalaureate in commerce. He worked as automobile mechanic and later became shop superintendent at Try Tan Bus & Company. It was here where he met his future wife Luz Bazon. When World War II broke out and the government needed men and women to defend the country, Magsaysay signed up for the 31st Infantry Division Motor Pool.
The young and valiant Magsaysay was a handsome soldier. Towards the end of the war, before the joint Filipino-American forces surrendered in Bataan, he joined Lt. Col. Claude Thorpe and a handful of American Officers and organized the Western Luzon Guerilla Forces, where he served as captain and overall commander of Zambales Military District. In 1945, he was promoted to Military Governor of Zambales. Magsaysay’s revolver, war medals and ribbons are restored and exhibited next to the photo gallery. When the war ended, he left the military and entered politics to continue public service.
When he was elected solon in 1946, he worked to provide the basic services every Filipino deserves and enabled war veterans to reap the rewards of their service. Inside the house are photos of Ramon Magsaysay with late President Elpidio Quirino, who appointed him as defense secretary at a time when the Hukbalahap rebellion was at its peak. Magsaysay launched a successful anti-guerilla campaign using a combination of military, land and livelihood solutions that weakened and later disbanded the Husk. He is remembered as one who fought the insurgents, returned the public’s trust and respect to the army and restored peace, law and order in the country.
In 1953 came Magsaysay’s greatest success when he won the presidential elections. He was the first to sworn into office wearing the Barong Tagalog. Some of his Barong Tagalog’s are displayed next to custom-made silk shirts; those made by Liwanag, Fashion Tesoro’s Manila Arcadia, Inc. are enclosed in lit, glass cases to serve as a reminder of the President who proudly wore Barong Tagalog and Philippine-made shoes in official functions.
More photos of the late president show him dressed in a simple polo shirt or barong, eagerly chatting and eating with the locals. One photo that stands out is among his last, which show Magsaysay on his knees and praying after addressing graduates of three educational institutions in Cebu. Hours later, after boarding the presidential plane Mt. Pinatubo for Manila, the plane crashed on Mt. Manunggal. About two million mourned on Magsaysay’s burial. A man of integrity, character and service, Magsaysay’s death was a big loss to the country.
The man may be lost but his history and success remain intact inside the ancestral house. For those who want to visit, the first floor hosts an interesting photo gallery that chronicles his life. Upstairs are period furnishings from the 1950s, including his photographs and radios. Behind his house is a glass-walled garage that holds restored 1955 Cadillac and 1942 Willys Jeep which Magsaysay used to drive around visiting U.S. President Richard Nixon.
Visiting the Ramon Magsaysay ancestral house is a wonderful journey into the past. It feels great to explore the house of a late president; not only does it account the history of a man but also it takes part in giving pride to the Filipino nation that has produced such a great citizen and hero, worthy of the everyone’s respect and admiration. Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, 8:30 A.M. to 12 N.N. and 1 P.M. to 4:30 PM.
The President Ramon Magsaysay House in Castillejos, Zambales, is where former president grew up. It is a modest but charming two-story structure located on the town’s main street. Downstairs are showcases holding some of his personal belongings, including his military service revolver, canes, trademark barong tagalong and polo shirts. Upstairs are period furnishings from the 1950’s, including his photographs and radios. A picture gallery chronicles his life. Behind the house is a garage walled in glass holding his 1954 Cadillac limousine?
When one thinks of Zambales, the name of Ramon Magsaysay is never far behind. Born in Iba (the province’s capital) the former beloved Philippine president actually grew up in the town of Castillejos where his Ancestors originated and where the Magsaysay Ancestral House was built. The modest two-storey structure became witness to the early childhood years of the 7th President of the Philippines, where he learned the values of hard work, honesty and humility. Now, the ancestral house, located on the town’s main street, has transformed into a haven of memories of the People’s President – illustrating the life he led, from his personal belongings such as his trademark Barong Tagalog and polo shirts, 1950’s furnishing to the 1954 Cadillac Limousine he used during his presidency. Visiting the Magsaysay Ancestral House gives not only a feeling of nostalgia but also a sense of pride, knowing one of the most admired men in history had lived in this part of town. . (***2007 Calendar)
Looc Lake, in Barangay Looc is the planned site for an open park for all ages and is to be developed as an alternative destination for quality time with nature and love ones.
In the province of Zambales, Castillejos town officials conducted by Mayor Wilma Billman as well as private project supporters did the groundbreaking for the Looc Lake development Project that imagines developing the 1.13 square km national lagoon into a lake resort. This lake resort is established 26 km north of and just 30 minutes away from the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, and just 2.5 hours away from Manila.
The Castillejos planning office has devised a master plan for the Looc Lake Department Project. The Master plan comprises facilities like cancers, kayaks and aqua cycles for water sports enthusiasts, facilities for family oriented enjoyment activities such as fishing and picnics and facilities such as floating grill cum bar and restaurant for those who fish for sport and want to cook their caught fish while village bands using inherent instruments are serenading them.
Walkways and trials for bikers, horse riders and trekkers will be constructed in the midst of agoho pine forest. Tracks for off-road motorbikes and all terrain for off-road motorbikes and all terrain vehicles will likewise be constructed. All these facilities will be provided to attract the adventuresome type of guests and tourists.
Tourists, who have seen the Uacon Lake in Candelaria, Zambales, call it the Shangri-la of the North.
It is in the fact one of the most scenic places not only in Zambales province but also in the entire Region III or Central Luzon. Surrounded by trees and thick mangroves, its clear and placid waters afford visitors to view the lake’s bottom and the different varieties of fish, shrimps, crabs, and shellfish that abound in Uacon.
Last year and for several years already, the lake had been adjudged the cleanest and greenest inland body of water in the region under the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran (GPK) program, formerly known as the Clean and Green program. Located 260 km northwest of manila and 47 km from the provincial capitol of Iba, Uacon is a “must-see” for nature lovers.
San Antonio, Zambales
Anawangin Cove is a crescent shaped cove with a pristine white sand beach. What makes the place unique is the unusual of riddle of tall pine trees flourishing round its vicinity.
Anawangin is surrounded by mountains of rocks theoretically known to be formed by ages of volcanic activities in the past. But the most surprising phenomenon which has occurred in the past years was the growth of the pine trees just behind the banks of the cove. The seeds were brought there by the memorable eruption of Mount Pinatubo together with ash fall. There are no roads leading to Anawangin. It is only accessible by a 30 minute boat ride from Pundaquit, San Antonio, and Zambales or by a six-hour trek through hot, open trails thru the Pundaquit range.
Just behind the beach are the pine forest and a marsh, where one can find natural springs feeding to the sea. The area is the home to a number of bird species.
CASA SAN MIGUEL
San Antonio, Zambales
Set amidst a mango orchard, facilities include an artist’s residence consisting of 7 bedrooms, a sunken terraced garden designed to offer visitors meditative retreat while waiting for the beginning of the performance. Zambales own version of center for culture and the arts and the venue for the annual Pundaquit Arts Festival. The center is committed to the continued development and support of the Filipino artist and to the development of the new artist and audiences for the next generation.
San Miguel has every reason to earn the title of “CCP of Zambales”. It is the sole house of art in the province, with no less than an internationally-lauded violinist as master, and a group of young and talented musicians and artists who have graced the stage with canons in the world of art as students.
Located in San Antonio, Zambales, and CASA San Miguel stands at a family retreat property by the sea built in 1921. When the old house burned, acclaimed violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata established an art center after returning from his studies at the Julliard School of Music in New York and the University of Indiana. This art center was to become CASA San Miguel, the playground of music, theater and visual art prodigies of Zambales.
To start up an art center is no small feat and Bolipata certainly had his share of difficulties. But his desire to expose the community to different cultural forms, particularly classical music, was simply overpowering. This brought him to offer workshops designed to identify and develop potential talents in classical music, theater, shadow play and visual arts. He even taught the children of farmers and fisher folk for free.
Located in the midst of a mango orchard, in a town surrounded by the mountains and the sea, the center encourages and inspires artists to hone their skills freely as they play harmoniously with the sounds of the surrounding scenery. The heart of the mango orchard is a grand three- story brick building that serves as the home of the Bolipata’s protégés. On its first floor is the Ramon Corpus Concert Hall, which has housed several chamber orchestra concerts, theater plays, operettas, and ballet productions. Even outstanding pianist Cecil Licad has graced the halls of the building during a recent concert. He hall can uncomfortably accommodate 300 persons and has full air-conditioning, a seven foot grand piano, and crisp, clear acoustics; quite impressive for a foundation’s concert hall. The hall also offers a view through tall panels of the mango trees in the orchard that surrounds the hall.
Upstairs are separate concert halls’ for intimate performances and music less0ns. Further up, at the third floor, are seven bedrooms with views of Mt. Pundakit and Mt. Maubanban on one side and the South China Sea on their other, all for CASA San Miguel’s visiting artists who are given free accommodation in exchange for teaching the children. The artists can also hold exhibits at the Anita Gallery, whose wide spaces and translucent walls are a blank canvas for creativity and have displayed the works of brilliant artists like Carlo Gacubo, Don Sanlubayba and Borlongan.
The artistry, of course, doesn’t end inside the walls of the bricks house. CASA San Miguel has a 1,000-seateee circular outdoor theater that serves as an alternative venue for productions. The theater was built as such to incorporate and utilize the natural surroundings in the creative process. That means when it comes to inspiration, sky is certainly the limit. Perhaps even just starting at the colorful mosaic artworks by the gate (and reflecting on how much work and time went into making them) would give one enough inspiration to work on a masterpiece.
Training Zambales’ Gifted Children
If you visit CASA San Miguel at the right time of the year, you might chance upon children in session.
According to caretaker Lucy Pabunan, CASA San Miguel regularly holds classes for violin, cello, viola, visual arts, theater production and shadow play every three months. Students attend classes every weekend. A class is given one-on-one training by Bolipata and assistant teachers. As of this writing, CASA San Miguel has about 3500 scholars who are fortunate to have had the opportunity to discover one’s creativity and be exposed to various art forms. Classes culminate with a performance or exhibit held at CASA San Miguel.
Virtuosos at Center Stage
Some of the graduates of CASA San Miguel’s programs make up what is known as the Pundaquit Virtuosi, CASA San Miguel’s homegrown talents. The group is divided into two: those skilled in arts are known by the name Quadros, and those in music, Cuedras.
The Pundaquit Virtuosi has had the honor to perform with the famed New York sextet of Juilliard School, violinist William Harvey with violinist Frank Shaw, and cellist Jeremiah Shaw, last June 6, 2007 in Makati City.
CASA San Miguel also makes it a point to participate in festivals to fulfill its part in linking the multi-sectored communities of artist, educators, children, farmers. And fisher folk, Its resident ensemble, Pundaquit Chamber Players, performers at the Pundaquit Festival which is held every year between October and April, as collaboration with various organizations and the community.
Art, Yours for the Taking
If you long to bring home some of CASA San Miguel’s artistry, drop by CASA General Store and choose from the available books, postcards, community crafts and souvenirs. Purchasing any item from the store is a noble act of remembrance, because aside from indulging on a personal whim, a visitor also supports the CASA San Miguel students and selfless people who work hard to let children learn music, theater production and visual arts for free.
Fourteen years after its establishment, CASA San Miguel has grown from a playground for the Zambales young talents and the center of the arts in the province. It shall continue to grow, in size and in influence, as the center maintains an active role in the society, making CASA San Miguel, truly, a haven of art.
San Antonio, Zambales
Capone’s is known as Faro de Punta Capone’s that brings visitors back in time. The romantic lighthouse guides ships entering or leaving the Port of Manila as well as the Military station at Subic Bay. The lighthouse similarly warns navigators of the rocky shores surrounding the island of the Capone’s. The lighthouse emits a series of warning to the shores within a navigational area that is very treacherous for amateur navigators. Thus, the lighthouse functions as the main navigation guide for ships heading towards the China Sea, a very busy and important shipping route.
San Antonio, Zambales
An island with a figure of a man’s face on its side, white sand and green clear waters compose one of the hidden beauties of the Paradise Philippines…the Capone’s Island! It is also known for an old lighthouse built during the Spanish era which will bring you back in time for sure. With a 5 hours drive from Manila to San Antonio, Zambales… going to Capone’s Island is a bit tiring but one of as kind adventure. It is located exactly as part of Barangay Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales. From the shore of Pundaquit, it’s a 15 minute boat ride before reaching the island’s beachfront.
Further south in the town of San Antonio is a bigger paradise called Capones Island. Located in Barangay Pundakit, this place is legendary for its lighthouse built during the Spanish era around the year 1890 by Filipino hands. It raises high over the cliffs like a cinematic picture right from the movies and lures people to marvel both at the structure and the enchanting panorama of the sea and the sky.
Unlike Potipot Island, Capones Island is larger, with cliffs and rocky shores on one part and white, sandy beaches on the other. But once again, you’ll find yourself spellbound by the sheer beauty of its shores and the turquoise waters surrounding it.
It is quite impressive how nature can sculpt and make lovely island destinations such as Capones. The island’s raw and even rustic simplicity is a sight in itself to take pleasure in. going deeper into the island, I find myself heading out to the lighthouse. However, the path is not always easy so if you want to visit this architectural and historical monument, ask the boatman if they’d be kind enough to show you the way. Be sure to bring some drinking water with you since going to the lighthouse requires a quick hike. The heat can turn up too and it’s best if you have plenty of provisions to replenish your thirst.
Similar to Potipot Island, Capones Island is immaculate. There are neither resorts nor inhabitants on the island, so tourists can enjoy it for themselves. Boats can be arranged to take you to the island from the mainland resorts of Pundakit. Tourists are permitted to stay overnight provided that you bring all your gear and a boat ride have been pre-arranged to fetch you back.
Be sure to come at the right time, too. Capons Island has a moving beach which means that the white sand is present at one particular side for a few months and then moves on to a different part of the island the next. But once the right season sets in, Capones Island serves up a different attraction to look forward to. Capones Island, between the months of June to December, is a surfer’s destination. It provides surfers with the right swells or waves to catch, all in the backdrop of an island all to your own.
PHILIPPINE MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY
San Narciso, Zambales
The PMMA is the premier maritime institution of the Philippines located at San Narciso, Zambales. It is globally known for quality and good performance with standards of management and training comparable only with the best. Experience the World Class Ship Simulator, fire fighting drill and the other facilities in the PMMA compound.
The Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) is reputed to be the best marine teaching institution not only from its military – style leadership training. But also from its stringent application process which cuts down thousand of application cants to just 250 students every school year.
The school screens the applicants thoroughly for a good reason - it needs to select the fittest and the brightest to enjoy academic privileges such as subsidized tuition of P50 plus miscellaneous fees. State to them art equipment for training and year along apprenticeship with the top shipping companies. But this incoming school year, PMMA has good news – it will admit more students to answer the increased international demand for competent merchant marines.
Even before the students step on a commercial ship, they get to experience how to actually operate a ship with the academy’s full- mission Bridge quipment developed in Germany, students get to steer their own “ships” to safety at the bridge, the area where the ship controls are, in virtual weather conditions programmed at he next-door control room and projected at the 210 LCD screen. The floor even shakes with every engine roar! Next to it are down-sized cubicle Bridge Simulators which use the same technology minus the giant LCD display.
What’s more amusing is hat students can take synchronized exams at the Full mission Bridge Simulator and Engine Simulator simultaneously. The academy also owns Ship Safety Training Course and Cargo-handler Simulator systems, where students are assigned to computers to works together to accomplish missions as officers and personal in a virtual ship environment. Not far from the advanced train9ng center, by the Malasig River, is the laboratory ship RPLS Juan Luna. Named after the painter hero and PMMA alumnus, RPLS Juan Luna sports the rate freefall lifeboat for training.
The available technologies may seem too costly and unlikely for a government subsidized academy, but since PMMA graduates are among the world’s best, various shipping companies did not think twice about investing in the school’s training facilities and provide the latest in nautical education for their soon-to-be crew. After all, they wouldn’t settle for anything less than the best – the graduates of PMMA.
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, at the intersections of the borders of the Philippines provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga. It is located in the Cabusilan Mountain range separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains, and is 42km (26mi) west of the dormant and more prominent Mount Arayat, occasionally mistaken for Pinatubo. Ancestral Pinatubo was a stratovolcano made of andesite and dacite. Before 1991, the mountain was inconspicuous and heavily eroded. It was covered in dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aeta, who had fled to the mountains from the lowlands during the protracted Spanish conquest of the Philippines which first commenced in 1565.
The volcano’s ultra-Plinian eruption in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century (after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta and the largest eruption in the living memory. The colossal 1991 eruption had a Volcanic Exclusivity Index (VEI) of 6, and came some 450-500 years after the volcano’s last known eruptive activity (estimated as VEI 5, the level of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens), and some 1000 years after previous VEI 6 eruptive activity. Successful predictions of the onset of the climatic eruption led to the evacuation of ten of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, but surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and later by lahars caused by rainwater remobilizing earlier volcanic deposits: thousands of houses and other buildings were destroyed.
The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It ejected roughly 10 billions metric tones (10 cubic km) of magma, and 20 millions tons of SO2, bringing vast quantities of minerals and metals to the surface environment. It injected large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere- more than any eruption since that of Krakotoa in 1883. Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 0C (0.9 0F), and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially.
There was no fire from the mouth of Mt. Pinatubo when it erupted on June15, 1991 but its searing heat turned many surrounding areas into a lake of hell. The pyroclastic flow at 1000 degrees Celsius instantly devoured people. The ash fall buried houses and families. Lahar, a steaming mudflow that cascaded from the mountains with the monsoon rains, buried many towns from Mt. Pinatubo; many said they heard the horrifying sound of a thousand stampeding carabaos. The deadly and monstrous volcanic eruption is up in the air. In its first major eruption on June 15, Pinatubo fills the sky with a swelling ash cloud as high as 15000 to 25000 meters and as wide as 15 to 18 kms. The eruption is sustained from five until eight in the morning, turning day into night. Winds from typhoon Yunya carry the volcanic dust to Manila and across the seas.
***Mt. Pinatubo (When the Sleeping Giant Awakens)
In June 1991, the world became acquainted with the fury of Mt. Pinatubo. Considered to be the one of the worst volcanic eruptions in the history, the believed-to-be-dormant volcano unleashed millions of tons of sulfur dioxide gas and caused devastation to the thousands of people, with ashes reaching as far, as Antarctica. But don’t you know that before the eruption, Mt. Pinatubo was the home of hundreds of Aetas in Zambales? The Aetas believed that the volcano erupted because its peace was disrupted. Their ancestors had told them about a great tragedy that befell the province when the mountain was disturbed hundreds of years ago. Whether the eruption was a natural or supernatural occurrence, Mt. Pinatubo has made a mark in history and has become a destination worth visiting.
A collection of crocodiles with audio-visual presentation on the need to preserve and nurture the Philippine crocodile called Crocodilus Mindorensis, a fresh water crocodile found only in the Philippines. It is a critically endangered species of crocodiles as there are no more than 40 Mindorensis in their natural habitat.
San Augustine Church
The faith flourished in the region until the troubled days of the Revolution of 1896. Leaving ruined churches and convents in its wake the revolution, rendered the region practically unattended; only some time later did secular priests took over the some of the vacated parishes. In this state of things the territory became a fertile ground for the Aglipayan schism to gain a foothold and prosper, so much so that almost the whole length and breadth of the province came under Aglipayan influence.
Upon the invitation of the Archbishop of Manila, Michael J. O’Dohery, the divine Would Fathers took over the spiritual care of Zambales sometime in 1928. Starting their missionary activities in Iba and San Narciso, they gradually took over towns and localities, concentrating their work in rebuilding ruined churches, building new ones, establishing more parishes, erecting schools and conducting catechism centers whereby they hoped to regain much lost group through the young.
The administration of the faith in the province changed hand when the territory was transferred to the care of the Columban Fathers in 1951. The prelature of Iba was erected on October 18, 1955 as suffrage of the Archdiocese of Manila. The Most Rev. Henry Byre, see was appointed the first prelate ordinary and he took ecumenical possession of concentrating on their work. On November 15, 1982, iba was elevated to diocese upon the death of Bishop Byre, the most Rev. Paciano B. Aniceto, then auxiliary bishop of Tuguegarao, was appointed second bishop of iba. On January 31, 1989, he was appointed Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga. The most Rev. Deogracias S. Yniguez, Jr. succeeded him on December 27, 1989.
Located at Paluig Zambales, standing at the height of 6,683 feet (2,037m) above sea level with temperature cooler than Baguio at 12-16 Celsius (53.660.8 Fahrenheit), is veritably a garden of nature abundant with century old as Tapulao, hence, the name of the mountain.
San Salvador is an island barangay under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Masinloc, Zambales, in the northwestern Luzon. The reefs in the northeastern part of the island are fringing, characterized by a vast reef flat with sudden drop-offs in the crest. Spur and groove formation is common along the reef crest, particularly in the area facing the South China Sea. A 127-hectares fish sanctuary and a nearby Taklobo or Giant Clam Farm is the usual attraction to diving enthusiasts.
It is located in the western side of MAsinloc, a municipality on the northern most part of Zambales. The island is about 2.5 kilometer away from the mainland, or a 20-30 minutes pump boat ride from the municipal hall’s coast. Its abundance in marine resources has made it most famous as a scuba divers paradise. Divers would certainly love feasting their eyes on seeing the largest Manta Rays in the country, each measuring about 10 feet in diameter. The island is rich in fruit- bearing trees like mangoes. Clear water, smooth beaches coupled with powdery white sand and cool sea breeze.
White pristine beaches…clear blue waters…mysterious caves…mountainous trails…abundant terrestrial and marine life… These and more complete the picturesque San Salvador, an island located on the western side of the municipality of Masinloc. A scuba diver’s paradise, San Salvador enjoys an unspoiled marine setting and offers sanctuary to all aquatic life forms. Diver’s have a feast in swimming with the largest manta rays, and exploring the giant clams (taklobo). That’s not all; exotic birds and wild animals have also made this island their home. On the top of this, San Salvador possesses the sweetest mangoes in the world as judged by the Guinness book of the World Records for five straight years. Definitely, a prime natural resource is worth discovering.
SAN ANDRES CHURCH
It is one of the cultural heritage churches in the Philippines because of a polychrome portal leading to the choir loft. It was built with coral stones by Augustinian Recollects in the 18th century and is approximately 400 years old. It is the oldest church in the Diocese of Iba and it has a stood intact until it was damage by an earthquake in the early 1990’s.
***San Andres Church***
Being the first town founded by the Spaniards in Zambales in1607, the town got its name from jinlocs - plant that was abundant to the place when the settlers came times, included certain parts of Pangasinan and Bolinao. In the heart if the town is a rare 17th century majestic’s structure, the Church of San Andres, a little – visited gem that just happens to be the oldest parish church in the province.
As all baroque churches, San Andres Church is characterized by magnificence, grandeur and richness in design. The size of the church is compelling. Though more than four centuries old, the structure still possesses a beauty that will make an experience worthy of journal entry. Perhaps all these years made the church even more beautiful and breathtaking; it goes to prove that there really is beauty in age. The façade of the church, which is believed to be an architectural breakthrough the era it was built, equals the eminence of its size. In the early times niches at the façade were placed and images of San Agustin, San Andres and San Nicholas were installed.
The façade is highlighted by a bell tower located at its right hand side, finished in 1883. Bell towers are distinct features of colonial churches as they both aesthetic and functional. For practical purposes, bell towers were used to communicate to the townspeople by means of telling time. Mostly to pray, or making occasions such as weddings or funerals.
A step inside the church reveals a quiet landscape of multicolored slabs of light, coming from the huge stained glass church windows. The windows let natural light and ventilation in; an instant peace fix. Walking along the central aisle, the 17th-century statues of different saints and a more contemporary statue of the risen Jesus begin to grow with every step. Earlier church accounts tell that more interesting pieces adored the interiors of the church; epistle side altars, iron grill pulpits, white marble tabernacle, and beautiful crystal chandelier – all donated by the church’s faithful benefactors. Restoration attempts for some of those pieces that have withstood time are ongoing. The interior of the church is a wonderful contrast, from the newly painted off white walls and dark, hardwood of the pews and centuries old altar adored with gold. Overhead, six antique iron- wrought chandeliers hang from the ceiling on chains, providing the light needed light during the evening.
But the real gem of the church is found at the choir loft – an ornately carved polychrome wall. Made from coral stones, the wall features images of a papal hat and scepter decked with carved leaves and flowers. Though the carvings may not be exactly distinct, it’s the technology behind the wall that makes it unique; the wall was built at a time when putting pigments on coral walls was not yet the practice. Back then, the polychrome wall was an innovation, making San Andres Church ahead of the times.
Over the centuries, the building has miraculously escaped major damage – not until 1999 in 6.8 magnitude earthquake. Restoration was aided by Masinloqueños in town and from around the world. In 2002, the government, through the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), began restoration works on 26 churches considered as National Cultural Treasures for their cultural significance and distinctive architecture, including San Andres Church.
Until today, restoration has somewhat become a perpetual pledge of the parish, construction is on going to this minute. So step inside and you’ll never guess that the church has withstood several turns of centuries.
Gentle breeze and warm placid waters of the South China Sea welcome travelers to this charming and peaceful little tropical island off coast of the town of Candelaria in the northern part of Zambales. Literally meaning “small white island”, Potipot Island boasts of lush array of coconut, mango, kamachile and talisay trees, coral shells, hermits’ crabs, starfishes, and the most spectacular sunsets ever witnessed in this side of town. And if the weather is just right, dolphins will honor you with their presence. This untamed and untouched island makes an ideal camping and picnic spot.
One such place is suited with Candelaria and is called Potipot Island. It’s the nearest island from mainland Zambales where tourists or travelers can simply rent a boat from any of the resorts.
After a 15 minute boat ride from the shore, I found myself on a small and uninhabited Potipot Island, an unspoiled haven that is completely surrounded with cream sand beaches and filled with trees. Many have enjoyed spending a day here, basking around the sun, enjoying its waters and solitude it brings.
Touring the entire island only took me 30 minutes where every inch of the shore is covered by the same scream-sand beach. Taking a closer look, I marveled at the distinct, pink-tainted shoreline that I haven’t seen anywhere else before. Potipot Island owes this to the rose-tinted corals shed and washed along its shores, adding charm that makes Potipot Island unique from other islands.
As there are only trees and sand in Potipot Island, tourists who want to experience its grandeur can stay at resorts in mainland Zambales and rent a boat to take them to the island. Tourists can claim the island for a day and reflect on Potipot island’s waters. Commune with nature and take in all the beauty of what an unspoiled island brings, for it offers a rare experience one would not normally find or afford.