A Celebration of Love in the Highlands

1st of 2 parts

I haven’t been back to Baguio for like, ages. With the ongoing restrictions due to the lockdowns, one would think this wouldn’t be the best time to go to Baguio, or anywhere else for that matter. But really, how could one pass up going to such a beautiful place and how could we pass up the opportunity witnessing two of our friends (Vince & Jill) tieing the knot?

We were initially on the fence whether to have the Covid test upon arrival in Baguio or at the terminal in Cubao before boarding. Thank goodness we decided to have it done pre-boarding. Otherwise, we would have been pressed for time. The flipside however is that we had to go to the bus terminal at least two hours in advance to have the test, which meant having to sacrifice sleep. As you can imagine, I spent the five-hour or so drive catching up on sleep.

So, off to Baguio we went. The confirmation of us going was on short notice so we had to hustle finding outfits and booking our travel since we had to commute going there.

Upon arrival in Baguio, we were whisked to the triage area where we had our interview with the local authorities, pretty much like how immigration would do it. We presented our negative Covid test results and the QR code for the travel pass we had downloaded online. In the end, we were cleared and given a piece of paper with the reminders to keep the health protocols followed at all times – social distancing, the wearing of mask and face shield, and regular hand washing.

Navigating around the city was made easier with the use of cab-hailing apps like Grab. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is it true there aren’t any options for Grab car in Baguio, just cabs? Or does it depend on location and time of day? It’s also interesting to see cars not needing to use A/C and have their windows down because you get the cold air from the outside anyways. I think that’s good for the environment and you even get to save energy.

The wedding venue is at Potenciana Avenue, in Beckel, La Trinidad – a part gallery, part events place, part café, part accommodation. We arrived just in time so we could prep up for the ceremony. We met new friends from the family of the couple, both two-legged and four. Meet Hugo and Ginger, our newfound furry friends, the pug and the Dachshund respectively. Aren’t they the cutest?

This is probably the coolest wedding I have ever attended and not just because of the weather. I mean, the bride arrived in a classic Volkswagen kombi 1969. How ’bout that? I’m sold.

Wedding reception is on the same venue, with catering from Naimas and styling by Miel’s.

The current situation allows for just a small group, but it does not take, by any means, the fun away from the celebration.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes to the new couple!

A Day at the Museum | The National Museum of Anthropology – Part 1

Treasures of the San Diego

You’d be glad that our museums are free of charge, would you not? At least those under the auspices of the National Museum, that is. One could kill time away and explore new knowledge for practically nothing, at no cost.

The story of the San Diego should interest every Filipino because not only does it shed light into the kind of world our forebears lived in, but because it’s teaching us some important life lessons too, if we are only to look closer and really listen.

I know nothing much about the San Diego myself, so I’m sharing this so we could learn together. I’m kind of curious too if this has already been part of school text books. It should be. Children, especially, with their impressible minds, should visit the gallery because nothing beats seeing the artifacts with one’s own eyes. I was kind of happy seeing groups of school children touring the museum. There is this one group in the lobby being briefed by the guide before the tour started. Although most seemed excited, you can see in some of the children’s faces that they are getting bored, what with their short attention span – some looking spaced-out, others forcing a somewhat interested/engaged look, perfunctorily nodding to every thing the guide says, but that you know their mind is wandering some place else. Sorry kids, you need to learn these stuff 🙂

Just a disclaimer, though. The article you will be seeing below were taken purely from museum references and informational guides. It does not reflect the author’s words or opinions.

The San Diego – a 16th Century Galleon

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A model of the San Diego

The San Diego was a 3-masted trading ship built in 1590 in Cebu by Basque, Chinese and Filipino shipbuilders. It used different kinds of Asian woods and was about 35-40 meters long, about 12 meters wide and 8 meters high. It had at least 4 decks and could hold about 700 tons of cargo.

The discovery of the San Diego has significantly expanded knowledge of Renaissance shipbuilding techniques. On the basis of the finds and the positioning of the wreck, the construction of the ship had been studied.

Detailed investigations were only conducted on selected planks because of conservation problems. A large part of the wood remains were left under-water and covered with sand for future researches.

The Sinking of the San Diego

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

On December 14, 1600, about 50 kilometers southwest of Manila, the Spanish battleship San Diego under the command of Morga clashed with the Dutch ship Mauritius. All odds were in favor of the Spanish. The San Diego was four times larger than the Mauritius. It had a crew of 450 rested men and massive fire power with 14 cannons taken from the fortress in Manila.

It sank “like a stone”

Unfortunately, this was also the weakness of the San Diego. Morga had the ship full of people, weapons and munitions but too little ballast to weigh the ship down for easier maneuverability.  While the gun ports had been widened for more firing range, not one cannon could be fired because water entered through the enlarged holes.


The San Diego sprung a leak beneath the water line either from the first cannonball fired by the Mauritius or from the impact of ramming the Dutch at full speed. Because of inexperience, Morga failed to issue orders to save the San Diego. It sank “like a stone” when he ordered his men to cast off from the burning Mauritius.

The events were recorded in Morga’s book, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. The book portrayed Morga as a hero of the battle. Olivier van Noort also wrote about the battle.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Antonio de Morga (1559 – 1636)

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Morga came from a family of bankers in Seville but decided to have an administrative career. He was appointed as Advisor and Lieutenant General to the Governor of the Philippines in 1593 by the Spanish King. This did not make him happy being posted “at the ends of the earth”. He saw his chance to change his fortune when he heard the news of a Dutch pirate ship entering Philippine waters.

Through political maneuvering, he was promoted to admiral and later commissioned the San Diego, a merchant vessel anchored in Manila, to be a battleship. Morga thought that a swift victory over the exhausted intruders would put him in a favorable stead with the King.

Morga’s ignorance as a captain was proven during the sea battle with the Dutch. He gave wrong commands that led to the sinking of the San Diego, but as one of the few survivors, he successfully depicted himself as a hero of the battle and even got promoted. He was sent to Mexico in 1603 and to Peru in 1615.

Olivier van Noort (1558/59 – 1627)

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Olivier van Noort was a tavern owner in Rotterdam. He was described as a humorous, courageous, stubborn, but enterprising man. In 1598, he was entrusted to command a small fleet financed by some merchants and the Dutch stockholder, Maurice of Nassau. His mission was to ascertain the trade route to the Spice Islands and, along the way, plunder any vessel he could find.

In the latter part of 1600, van Noort, reached the Philippines with two ships. On December 14, the battle between his flagship Mauritius and Morga’s San Diego took place in front of Manila Bay. Although far outnumbered, 59 to 450, his men fought bravely. Van Noort tricked the Spanish into fleeing by setting fire to his own sails. Through his nautical skills and tactical cunning, he was able to escape the Spaniards.

One year later, van Noort returned to Rotterdam broke. The expedition was a failure. But his knowledge of the trade route, allowed Dutch participation in the spice trade in the Moluccas. Belatedly acknowledged, he finally took a post as garrison commander until 1626 when he retired.

The Wreck of the San Diego

The hold of the San Diego contained food and water supplies. Stoneware jars doubling as containers and ballast were placed in the hold. About 800 of these were found in the wreck. These jars came mostly from Burma and dated from the 16th century.

Antonio de Morga sailed into battle with the Mauritius, commanded by Olivier van Noort. Early in the morning, Morga neglected to inform his Vice Admiral Juan de Alcega. Morga at first seemed to gain the upper hand, and his soldiers even captured the standard of the Mauritius. The Spanish galleon was under full sail when it violently rammed the Dutch ship. The seasick Spanish admiral, however, failed to follow up on his advantage despite pleas from his officers and crew and soon lost control of the situation.


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The Admiral’s table

A major leak was discovered in the hold, obviously a result of the violent impact. Morga gave the fatal order to cast off the lines holding the ships together. The astonished Dutch could not believe their eyes. When the lines had finally been cut, the San Diego sailed 330-660 feet (100-200m), nosed over and went straight to the bottom. The time was approximately 3:00 pm, on Thursday, December 14, 1600. Three hundred people are thought to have drowned. Another hundred apparently survived by swimming to nearby Fortune Island. Morga himself was rescued by his secretary.

Vintage Meets Novelty at The Picasso

Coming from a busy morning from an art fair, we decided to go to The Picasso afterwards and watch Wes Anderson films being shown that day. I didn’t really notice if anyone from our group asked where the filmshowing is being held from any of the staff at the lobby (since I was a bit preoccupied), but I was just going with the flow. Next thing I knew we were riding the elevator and ended up in a gallery – the Altro Mondo. I think we assumed it will be held at the gallery since we’ve learned of it from their booth at the art fair. Anyway, it was a pleasant suprise to learn that there is an exhibit ongoing by Melanie Gritzka del Villar. It’s entitled Hanging By A Thread. And here are some of her works.







The artist has developed a unique technique of transferring printed images onto gel mediums.






Do stop by and visit Hanging By A Thread – An Art Exhibition of the Works of Melanie Gritzka del Villar

Exhibition Run: 23 March to 24 April 2016, at the Altro Mondo at The Picasso

After the exhibit, we then proceeded to the hotel’s function room. Being shown at that time is Moonrise Kingdom, a coming-of-age film described as “eccentric, pubescent love story”. I was kind of hoping it was The Grand Budapest Hotel. But this one works just fine. I was more concerned about being able to get some rest and shelter from the heat, anyways. Looking back however, I realized we could’ve skipped some of the movies since we were the only ones watching at the time 😛


Somebody’s sitting pretty 😛