In the Western countries and the U.S. it’s the last month of summer so this is very timely to share. Two more weeks and we’ll be ushering the Ber month, September, a change of season. Travel and lifestyle during summertime are at peaks so I’m excited to share my little adventures and getaways including the last one. Don’t we all love to cherish our summer memories? it’s a cliche, but it still is “More Fun in the Philippines “when it’s time for family vacations, get together, camping, hiking, surfing, or just beach combing on the endless stretch of sands and blue waters teeming in our 7,101 islands.
Sun and Gasang Gasang
Street dancer venerating the Risen Christ under the sun
I experienced watching the Gasang Gasang Festival of Marinduque two summers ago. That was a fun and happier version of the Moriones Festival, the famous Lenten Holiday . Holy Week is “Morionan” in this province where the story of Longinus, the Roman
My mother capturing the festive mood as she gamely wave and dance with the Moriones in 2011.
soldier who was blind in one eye regained his sight when he pierced Jesus on His side and blood came gushing thru his eyes. His legend which was Biblical, is now a yearly celebration, turned into a festival. The conversion of a sinner into a man of faith. He was beheaded later on for proclaiming that Jesus healed him and that Jesus is the Messiah. The beheading or “Pugutan” is the highlight of the Passion of Christ in the festival. Anyway, that is the more popular spectacle, but there is another festival that should be given another boost. Why talk about something that happened two years ago? Well i didn’t have the chance to get back this year and the last and I miss the colorful floats and dancers . I want to showcase the lovely images, as well as the experience for those curious to know what goes on in the island during Holy Week. Local and foreign tourists have increased in numbers as more media exposure and travel features have helped to boost tourism. Indeed the blistering sun has not dampened the spirit of the young dancers to give it their best shot. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be dancing in the streets for long hours and then catch the high noon sun and still give us those big smiles. The island I’ve been referring to where this festival takes place is lies in the heart of the archipelago, just south of Quezon Province and east of Mindoro, named Marinduque. The festival itself was coined from “Gasang- Gasang,” a type of coral which abundantly grows in the shorelines of the town of Gasan. It is a lively, colorful street dancing competition, an offshoot and sidelight to the famous Moriones festival. In contrast to the religious and Lenten atmosphere of the Moriones, this one is festive and triumphant as it is celebrated on Easter Sunday. Different barrios and the town’s barangay vie for the coveted prizes and recognition as they perform a dazzling array of colorful dances and themes to venerate the Risen Christ shouting Viva El Cristo
Locals braving the heat with all smiles.
Pretty lass dancing to the venerated Christ.
Dancing to the tune of drumbeats, a marching band, and chants, their synchronized movements, smiling faces, graceful bodies, and loud spiels , make the show a must see for travelers. Not for the weak and lame, I think these girls and boys, (and some lady boys) have been favorites of the crowd as they dance in unison, unmindful of the scorching heat. . A grandiose display of costumes, creativity, and choreography is a visual experience you don’t see much in the cities of Manila, as this is a countryside festival. I salute these young boys and girls, they are unmindful of the tiring repetitive dancing in the streets just to show hospitality. The Filipino’s resilience and ingenuity is something ingrained in them. Truly Marinduque’s pride along with the Moriones Festival. Thanks to my second home, my mom’s hometown. I cherish my vacations there while growing up as a child, and spending summers as a teen. Having attended High School life for two years with my fiery but doting grandmother , aunt and uncle , Gasan is a big part of my roots. If given the chance to explore its potential , it can be a Palawan or Caramoan in the making, a dream tourist destination. Bella Rocca lies hidden there. Its unspoiled beauty, peace-loving , simple ways , generosity and adherence to religious traditions make it a must Lenten hideaway,
Fifty Shades of Tan
-Well it may sound familiar as it is what a tanning salon is – catering to Caucasians wanting to get that deep red or better yet golden brown look , here tanning lotions and bronze bodies come to mind. In the Philippines. We are so blessed with the hot sun and the sea, and foreigners love the color Malay brown or morena skin, however. the majority of Filipinas nowadays are so deep into the colonial mestiza and the Asian-Korean beauty that lightening treatments and regimens flourish. Blame it on K-POP and Mexican telenovelas, and the grandmother of all pop, American culture ingrained, as well as the diversity in every lifestyle.
Women are shunning the natural Filipina complexion. Media promotes it as well as diversities in culture, standards of Western and Asian Beauty from the small and big screen. Why do women here look fair when they weren’t born that way? It’s no wonder this industry continue to make it alive despite being a Third World Country. I love my skin. I never wanted to be fair even if that’s what’s being promoted. Young or old, our bodies need to take a break and breathe to the comfort of bare skin. Bronze for me is appealing and exotic, and that’s what the Western men usually prefer. Be proud of your individuality whether your ethnic or city born, natural born Filipino or from a mixed race. Tanning is for protection and having a sun kissed glow. I recommend less is more on the beach, on the road, in daily commute, (but beware of UV rays) . Trekking uphill and climbing mountains in full gear is something we ladies, could try out back to back with the male aficionados. Healthy lifestyle is a thing nowadays, it’s good to look good and comfortable while enjoying the sun and sea, or walking trails. Ladies should not forget the much needed sunscreens, (the males too), and a little effort to lose a few pounds if you want that swimsuit to make it to the runway (the beach). However, there is a trend as “plus size beauties” and it doesn’t matter if you are a little over the desired weight, or a few pounds heavier, it’s a liberating feeling when you’re not overwhelmed by “standards ” of society and pop culture. Being you and enjoying your thing just like the other “less curved” is already a winning attitude. Who cares nowadays, the norms have changed. So just put on the tan and enjoy.
The fun of that Picture-Perfect Moment
Just pretend here I am basking in the sands and waves somewhere up north. I still can’t forget how good our Baler weekend was. We definitely want to go back. That’s another adventure to tell next time. Our family are avid pic lovers and selfie buffs. Images capture those moments that will never come back, the memories linger and preserved thru hard discs and online albums , even Google drive. How conscious are you to experience each act with awareness? Thanks to your handy and dependable mobile phone, something you won’t miss to bring. More often, we forget that it is experiencing the Now, being present in the moment , and having a mindful experience is the essence of happiness and being together with loved ones. Enjoying and not being distracted by a camera or phone on stand by. Such spontaneity are often captured now especially by the young, who have taken a mechanical, auto-pilot approach to events. We have heard of people who died while taking selfies just to get that awesome background and thrill. To some the more dangerous the better. The present Social Media Age has brought the world smaller , and communication real time. Our gadgets are an indispensable part of our daily offline and online lives. Our social lives are more interactive, stories are shared and people and businesses get connected to you in a more personal way, you know your friends better now than before, at least in terms of Facebook. You feel you are better cared of by the brands you follow and feel like a family to them. That makes it helpful in keeping our human aspect alive, our online personas are kept alive, even if offline we barely live what we project, just the opposite. On the other hand, I will not talk about how many relationships were broken and couples estranged because of social media, and how many private lives were exposed, and shattered. Even how children have lost real connection with family and friends. Looking at it from the standpoint of strategists, social media marketing is the thing to do, and its the best medium available on the market today. The price of advancement is a double edged sword. You can master it and get the most of it or get burned by it. Get your business or personal page on FB , Instagram , Twitter , Pinterest, Google . For videos and live streams which gives the fastest increase in traffic and conversions , its You Tube , Facetime, Snapchat, are free and at minimal cost for upgraded versions, costing you much less than setting up traditional marketing platforms. If you want to get your message across, or a shot at fame, find these tools and make the most of it. Just a word of advice, be responsible and use the internet to make the world a better place to live in. Learn the ropes and respect others. Freedom is not absolute. All this technology given to us requires tactfulness and liability.
So, the next time you head for the beach or the islands, be sure to get those picture-perfect moments and give them life. You never know when you’ll be the next sensation if you’re proud to share them online. Your best holidays can be most memorable with a little imagination , those stunning GO PRO and still shots can propel you to celebrity status or just be the best director of your own indie film, to entertain , get inspired down memory lane.
Original words and photos by @lunastella Copyright 2015 S.L. Luna. All rights reserved.