Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RIZAL @ 151; “YT” @ THE


 CITY OF CALAMBA – After Rizal’s sesquicentennial, a nondescript old model car negotiating the pavements of his cradle town almost always gets curious second looks from observant eyes. More so from jogging enthusiasts when the car is parked in the early morning on weekends within the Plaza, the two-hectare park under the vigilant watch of Rizal’s tallest monument in the world.
      The area has become the regular circle of “The Plaza Joggers/Runners.” City Councilor Luis Vergel “Bong” Baroro joins its members from all walks in life. See photo below taken by Negrense Jose Maylando “Botchok” Villanueva, jogger/tennis enthusiast, a resident at nearby Villa de Calamba.
 The Jogger onlookers: Danny Decena showing the biblical fish; Konsi Bong Baroro (6th R-L)
The car is YT. It is a Mitsubishi Lancer, ’86. An old car with fading wash-over psychedelic design painted over its original dirty white color. The psychedelic design was to cover dents and scratches allover.
      YT is Jejemon text for whitey. Whitey is shortcut for Dorothy White Bangs, the name given by its acknowledged owner. This foreign sounding lady means dirty white bangasBangas in our dialect connotes dents and scratches on a car.
     This nondescript motor vehicle has long been inviting this septuagenarian Calambenio to present an issue out of it. The time has come this month of June.
      June is the 6th month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and one of the four months with a length of 30 days (en.wikepdia.org).  June, dubbed the wedding month, also gives us the Fathers’ Day on its third Sunday. Typhoon season usually starts in June in our country; and ironically, the opening of our school calendar also begins.
      Historically, the month of June provides every nationalistic Filipinos a double whammy in  national celebration – Independence Day and Rizal Day.
     In both occasions YT fits in. Her psychedelic design invokes both spiritual and nationalistic fervor. The biblical fish and the Holy Spirit in a flying bird are revealed upon close scrutiny. The color combination in our national flag accentuated in the bird’s tail cannot be missed by the human eye. Above all, on her front hood is the punch line: “Pilipino Dangal ng Saling Lahi.”

        Who else among Filipinos past and present epitomizes such punch line but our very own Dr. Jose P. Rizal?
      Calamba once again has been dotted and indelibly marked in the world map when Rizal @ 150 his tallest statue was officially unveiled by no less than the bachelor president of the Republic of the Philippines, His Excellency P-Noy.
        Today, Rizal @151 views with sullen eyes just across the street the very seat of governance in his place of birth amid the background of Mt. Makiling.
      Could Rizal be invoking the legendary Maria Makiling to lead scrofulous and unscrupulous city hall employees and city residents into the straight path of governance? Would he not be looking at how each lowly casual employee performs assigned duties and responsibilities, including performance of those regular employees and consultants (?), and most in particular those at the helm of the city administration? Could they be counted in adhering to this 114th Independence Day theme: Pananagutan ng Bayan para sa tuwid na daan (Sacrifices of the Nation on the Straight Path)?

            Would Rizal be proud of Calamba today?  A timely question, indeed, to all Calambenios with the next local elections just around the corner.

 Photos by Botchok

Botchok shot Rizal at the back with Maria Makiling as backdrop, with his camera of course.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


As the year 2011 ends and the spirit of Christmas wanes, Lolo Ome’s reflection of life begins and the spirit of indebtedness in life grows. Foremost is this borrowed span of three-scores, a decade and a couple of years, a month and ten days of my very own life this 28th December 2011. And yet, all I can whisper is thank you Lord for this and all.

The very essence of the season’s spirit is plain and simple sharing His blessings. Bereft of material things, all I can give away is my simple advocacy of thanksgiving and praise. The advocacy of giving thanks to the Lord for whatever we have in life; for being a human being, alive, now, and He only knows until when. A simple thanks to our Creator upon waking up in the morning; or anytime, anyplace, anyhow. Just say “Thank you God” and I believe that would be a good start; and giving thanks to the Lord for whatever else you have in mind.

This had long been my personal commitment since I received a very touchy message forwarded via E-Mail 12 April 1999 after more than a decade overseas foreign contract in the desert of Saudi Arabia then. Below is the detailed descriptive talk-to-me message for us to ponder.

“As you got up this morning, I watched you and hoped you would talk to me, even if it was just a few words, asking my opinion or thanking me for something good that happened in your life yesterday – but I noticed you were too busy trying to find the right outfit to put on and wear to work.

“I waited again. When you ran around the house getting ready I knew there would be a few minutes for you to stop and say hello, but you were too busy. At one point you have to wait 15 minutes with nothing to do except sit in a chair. Then I saw you spring to your feet. I thought you wanted to talk to me but you ran to the phone and called a friend to get the latest gossip.

“I watched as you went to work and I waited patiently all day long. With all your activities I guess you were too busy to say anything to me.

“I noticed that before lunch you looked around, maybe you felt embarrassed to talk to me, and why you didn’t bow your head. You glanced at three or four tables over and you noticed some of your friends talking to me briefly before they ate, but you didn’t. That’s okay. There is still more time left, and I have hope that you talk to me yet.

“You went home and it seems as if you had lots of thing to do. After a few of them were done, you turned on the TV, I don’t know if you like TV or not, or just about anything goes. You spend a lot of time each day in front of it, not thinking about anything – just enjoying the show. I waited patiently again as you watched the TV and ate. Bed time I guess you felt too tired. That’s okay because you may not realize that I am always there for you.

“After you said goodnight to your family you plopped into bed and fell asleep in no time. I’ve got patience more than you will ever know.

“I even want to teach you how to be patient with others as well. I love you so much that I wait everyday for a nod, prayer or thought or a thankful part of your heart. It is hard to have a one-sided conversation.

“Well you are getting up again and once again I will wait with nothing but love for you hoping that today you will give me some time.

“Have a nice day!

“Your friend,


To begin among us in this habit of thanksgiving and praise, Lolo Ome invites each visitor of this blog spot to form a circle of 12 buddies. Let us organize each of us into a group of 12 thanks-givers and promote the habit of thanksgiving and praise. Each group you may call “K-12,” “KA-DOCENA,” “KA-CIRCULO DOCE,” or whatever you wish to name your group. Ang panawagang ito ay nakapaloob sa “Labing-dalawang Katagang Pilipino na nagsisimula sa letrang K.”

Basahin at namnamin ang kahulugan ng bawat salitang may K. Ito ang siyang timbulan natin na magbubuklod sa bawat grupo upang palaganapin ang Advocacy ng pasasalamat sa Kaitaasan at gumawa ng mabuti para sa kapuwa-tao. Narito ang 12 K.

Kumpolan ng Kamag-anakan, Kaibigan, Kapanalig sa Kapaniwalaang Kabutihang Kalooban ang Katugunan upang bigyang Kapasalamatan Kalinga at Kapasiyahan ng Kaitaasan.

These are Pilipino endearing words put together, the very meaning of which should encourage every God-fearing individual to do good things to fellowmen, regardless of faith or status in life. And be the example of the “Good Samaritan.” That is the essence of this advocacy. The advocacy of every group we organize. “K-12,” K-Docena,” Ka-Circulo Doce,” or whatever.

Go on, propagate and practice our advocacy; make this a habit in your everyday life. God Bless us all! Hayo na at palaganapin natin ang panawagang ito. Patnubayan tayong lahat ng Diyos sa Kaitaasan, sa ngalan ng anak niyang si Jesus. In the name of Jesus, amen!


Thursday, September 15, 2011


In every tennis club hereabouts and elsewhere, there will always be good players, good shooters, and good cooks. It is rare, however, that a tennis player would be “3-in-1;” all those three traits in one person. Here in the cradle city of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, we have five tennis clubs. But only the Bukal Kay-Tala Tennis Club, SEC-registered and known as “Looc Tennis Club,” (LTC) boasts of having all the three assets of a sportsman rolled-up into one in its three members – “The FPJ Trio.”

Blessed are we, indeed, in the LTC for having these three as member-plenipotentiary; inherent to play, shoot, and cook. The FPJ trio is: The seasoned-citizen lay-minister Fanny de Vera, the young-blood business entrepreneur Paul Palaganas, and ex-seminarian Joseph Oppus. Each of them has all the above traits - champion tennis player, acknowledged rifle sharpshooter, and good cook – an epicure and a gourmet.

Destiny has it that our summer vacation tennis tournaments this 2011 would showcase the FPJ trio’s hidden extravaganza to the delight of the generally gourmand tennis enthusiasts.

Little did we know of their summer nocturnal meetings planning early morning trips with Fanny’s kitchenomics aboard Paul’s Big Van and Joseph’s rent-a-motorboat concession to a far away undisclosed bird hunting place somewhere along the shoreline of Lake Taal.

Sometime this April, during the regular after games noontime fellowship in the citywide “First Lazaro Cup” at LTC, Lolo Fanny opened the caldero of his hot and spicy Adobong Ibon. Its soothing aroma instantly permeated into our nostrils; and snappily PNP Inspector Jocelyn “Joc” Cariño announced on top his military commanding voice – “MATIK NA!, let the fellowship begin and taste that finger-licking, aromatic exotic pulutan.”

Tsalap pulutan” echoed retired Nestle supervisor Raul Marinas and seconded by Atoy Co look-alike – Ed (Atoy) Loon.

Tagay parekoy! I believe for you,Tita Fanny,” briskly egged Ase Baroro and Noel Brual - the “African Brothers” of Calamba City. Naturally, we all enjoyed such lasting camaraderie with two long-neck brandy and cases of beer; and would never forget “Joker Vinz” Vencio Realon’s beer case throwing incident hurled at B1 (the youthful balding transport contractor Melchor Carandang, Jr.) after drinking to the max.

This was the club’s first encounter with Lolo Fanny’s big bird, enjoyed no less by ExPres Arman Mabunga and his tennis playing brood (Marlo, Ti, and Yani). Arman’s family has migrated to Canada April 2011.

Reportedly, the FPJ trio hauled five sacks of the game birds – locally known as Bakaw Pulo (Night Heron) - in that summer game shooting trip. Lean bird hunting trips would follow since the migratory preys would have gone to their native land, and would only return in our lakes and swamps to escape the unbearable frosty winter in their far-away-continent, wherever.

The four-season weather condition in the Philippines serves as the ultimate come-on to migratory birds across the globe. Hence, the lakes and swamps in this archipelago become regular seasonal tourist-bird destinations. These tourists seek their suitable haven in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao sanctuaries during their sojourn.

Host bird-haven communities treat them differently. To bird lovers and bird watchers, they are most welcome treat; zoom cameras and telescopes become handy to their delight. To fishpond entrepreneurs and fruit tree farmers, they are most unwanted; these birds are real pests in the business. The flying migrants are, indeed, both bane and boon to many.

To the Taal lake shoreline villagers, mixed feelings they have. Village leaders have to invite bird hunters to decimate their numbers since these visitors prey on the fish pond potential harvest. The migratory birds are pests to the fingerlings, small, medium, and large fish.

The start of our so-called “-ber-months,” opens the sojourn of the migratory birds once more. The recent long weekend holidays (Aug 27-30, 2011) provided the FPJ trio to once more pursue their clandestine hobby beyond the tennis arena. After their bountiful heroes day bird hunting, each served the participants in the “Col. Angel’s Cup” (Aug-Sep) at the Calamba Riverside Tennis Court beside the city plaza with exotic bird pulutan. Each took their turn to showcase the finished products from their cache.

But first, let us have an insight of this once in a decade event, the 2nd in-house club level encounter hosted by millionaire security and trucking magnate retired Colonel Angel M. Opeña. Following is an in-depth dissertation from the mind of Banker-Millionaire Madz Resurreccion, 'The Man'.

"The intended format had the pairing of senior-fiftyish among Nebo’s court regulars. In the scramble for sure-winning tandem, oddities are expected considering player character, senility, agility, respectability, and sheer luck. Younger players become participants.

"And in the course of the rainout playing days: The peevish tandem of the proud Drug Lord Colonel from India-Pakistan Border and supercilious speedy-oldie-ex-tailor millionaire (JOCOBERT / TSONGARCE) hug the limelight exacerbated by flying 'DARNA.' Closely watched is the performance of the Angel / Devil pare-team, the Church-and-the-State duo, the Catholic-Baptist laymen combo, the Llamado Pares (VERDASCO / ALRASHID), and the 'undefeated tandem' of yesteryears now trying hard to win. Top-seed teams remain on top and the winless already looking for special 'Kalabasa Award' sponsor. Championship match before September ends would probably be 'El Cura Paroco y Padre Señor contra Decipulos'.”

Back to reality, let us feast the pests. Lolo Fanny treated our palate with his usual saucy-hot-spicy-salty adobo. Paul, a seaman-chef in his womanizing days, presented his regular savory dried adobo, not so tender yet delicious to the last gritting bites grinding to the max the protein-rich bird meat. Joseph of Bohol Agricultural College Varsity and a top salesman during his prime, after marinating his bird meat for days with complex mixture of foreign condiments topped with brandy and cooking wine brought his concoction for on-the-spot grilling beside the tennis court. Pulot boy King Bañadero obligingly followed the grilling assignment, twice moving the grill to hide the burning embers from the drizzling rain.

But only a few feasted the pests at Nebo’s clubhouse. The unpredictable sudden downpour that day distracted most participants. Plentiful, Joseph’s exotic bird concoction had to be chop into bits for others to savor and flew to the shoreline barangay Looc, home of LTC, where Ase, Atoy, Prof Vic Santos of La Salle Alabang were stranded by the heavy rains. We feasted on the pests with brandy while waiting for Makati exec Lando Villanueva and invocation speaker Bro. Ofreng Caluya; their coming however was aborted by the rain.

Joseph’s exotic pulutan were much more delectable this time with vinegar-garlic-chili-sauce which Atoy prepared to the enjoyment (also) of pulot girl Joy Alinsunurin and the rest of the ball boys. The thoughtful Atoy even saved some of the delicacy for his beauteous songbird lovely wife Vicky.

While migratory birds have been visiting the Philippines seasonally, some LTC players have migrated to Canada permanently. We all miss you Arman, Marlo, Ti, Yani, and of course their beautiful mommy Nurse Cynthia of Zambales Province. Incidentally, Leilani “Ate Lai” Almoro-Naredo and family migrated to Canada a year earlier; followed by Mon Lira and family. Noel Brual, lovely wife RoseLyn, with daughter and son (NorLyn, Noriel) would also be migrating soon.

Regretably, we also miss the court presence of our Big Bird Rafael “Ral” Hilao and Heron-slim Jeffrey Co; who might have both flown separately like migratory birds to unknown comfort zones (you are welcome back, guys, to settle our games in court anytime).

Of course the club always longs for longer homeward vacation of LTC pioneer Jun Matanguihan. Felix Tolentino Matanguihan, Jr. is an Adamson mining alumni. Eldest in the family, education of his siblings became his priority. He grabbed the first OFW opportunity to serve family and country. He never was a licensure examinee. Like a migratory bird, Jun has been flying across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa in various foreign assignments as a Filipino unsung-hero. He never looked back until recently; now he has a fallback dry goods outlet at the new Mercado de Calamba in his home town Calamba City. This soft-spoken, well reserved bachelor still at his prime would someday find his "Shamcey Supsup" and add more mileage in "flying hours" with his lifetime partner.

Play with us more often, “Jun M,” in your next court touchdown. While our multi-citizen Jhay Dinulos (Fil-Can-Am) come-and-go on short tennis vacation like those migratory bird preys of the “FPJ Trio.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

RIZAL @ 150:



On the momentous sesquicentennial birth anniversary of the Filipino Global Hero Dr. Jose Rizal, His Excellency President Benigno C. Aquino III unveils the tallest Rizal monument at his cradle-town in Calamba June 19, 2011. This statue, standing tall at 13.4 meters in the midst of a two-hectare-land within the future Calamba Commercial Institutional and Recreational Complex, hopefully would become Rizal’s Monument-cum-Shrine of Knowledge and Greatness. Please browse on Lolo Ome’s tribute, written in tag-lish version.



Hunyo 19,2011 ang ika-150 kaarawan ng ating pambansang bayani Gat. Jose Rizal. Sentro ng pagdiriwang ang kanyang duyang-bayan – Calamba (isa nang lungsod mula Abril 21, 2001) sa lalawigan ng Laguna.

Bilang pagtingala sa kanyang tunay na kadakilaan at kabayanihan, isang pinakamatayog na monumento sa buong mundo ay pasisinayaan. Ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas mismo, Benigno C. Aquino III, ang panauhing pandangal na magpapasinaya sa pinakamataas na bantayog na ito.

6.710 metro (m) ang taas ng mismong estatua niya, 2.40 m naman ang pedestal nito, at 4.00 m ang pundasyong hagdanan. Mula sidewalk level, ang hagdanan tungo sa pedestal ay binubuo ng 15 baitang, kasama na dito ang dalawang malapad na baitang o landing steps. Ang sidewalk naman ay 0.290 m mula ground level.

Magiging 13.4 m ang kabuoang tayog ng bantayog-dambana ni Rizal sa Calamba. Kasintaas ito ng ikatlong palapag ng bagong gusaling panglungsod ng Calamba na kanyang tinatanaw sa kabilang kalsada 30 m buhat sa kanyang kinatatayuan.

“Rizal Kaytayog Bantayog-Dambana (ng Karunungan at Kadakilaan)” ang mungkahi ng isang kasapi ng “Order of the Knights of Rizal,” Calamba Chapter, na ipangalan sa bantayog-dambana na ito.

Kaytayog. Ibig sabihin ay kaytaas. Kaytayog, sapagka’t ito na ang pinaka-mataas na monumento ni Rizal sa buong mundo ngayon, ayon sa mga ulat.

Bantayog ay isang istraktura na itinatayo bilang simbulo ng pagkilala sa kahalagahan ng isang tao, bagay o kahulugan na dapat bigyang pugay. Halimbawa ay ang “Bantayog ni Rizal” sa Luneta, at maraming sulok ng bansa at sa maraming bahagi ng mundo. Ang “UP Oblation” ay nagpapahayag ng hungkag na katauhan na dapat mabigyan ng lubos na karunungan sa loob ng paaralan; hubad sa kaalaman na dapat bihisan, linangin ng katalinuan.

Dambana. Katumbas ay shrine sa Ingles. “A place or object hallowed by its association” ay isa sa kahulugan ng salitang shrine ayon sa Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. Isang halimbawa ang Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), kay-taas na monumentong krus sa Bundok Samat, Bataan - sagisag ng kagitingan, katapangan ng sundalong Pilipino noong ikalawang digmaang pandaigdig.

Karunungan (Knowledge). Maliit pa si Rizal ay nagbabasa na siya ng mga aklat, dahil ang kanilang aklatan ay punong-puno ng libro. Mulang pagkabata ay hinubog na ang kaisipan ni Rizal ng kanyang butihing ina sa maraming antas ng kaalaman sa buhay. Kaya naman sa kanyang pag-aaral ay naging masigasig si Rizal sa pagtuklas ng higit pang kaalaman. Masidhi ang pagkagutom ni Rizal sa karunungan at simbuyo ng damdamin sa tagumpay.

Ilan sa kursong tinapos ni Rizal: Bachelor of Arts (Excellent, 1877, Ateneo), Degree of Surveyor (UST, 1878), Licentiate in Medicine, Philosophy and Letters (Excellent, Universidad Central de Madrid, 1884). Matatas din si Rizal magsalita, sumulat at bumasa sa 22 linguwahe.

Rizal was also known world-wide as: Novelist, ophthalmic surgeon, architect, educator, artist/painter, sculptor, historian, economist, journalist, businessman, cartoonist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, inventor, musician, mythologist, nationalist, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sociologist, sportsman, and theologian. (Excerpt, Life and Works of Rizal – Department of Social Services, UP Mindanao).

Kadakilaan (Greatness). Wagas ang pagkadakila ni Rizal. Patunay ang patuloy na pagkilala ng buong mundo sa dakila niyang pag-ibig sa Inang Bayan at sukdulang ibinuwis ang sariling buhay sa kapakanan ng sambayanan. Wika nga ni Balagtas (?) sa kanyang panulat: Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya, sa pagka-dalisay at pagka-dakila; gaya ng pag-ibig sa sariling lupa? Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala!

Tumpak na tawaging dambana ng karunungan at kadakilaan ang bantayog na ito bilang pag-kilala at pag-dakila ng sambayanan at buong mundo kay Rizal sa kanyang sesquicentennial birth celebration. Higit na tumpak sapagkat ang Knights of Rizal ay masigasig na katuwang ng Executive Committee for the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

Ang Knights of Rizal ay itinatag December 30, 1911 nang binuo ni Col. Antonio C. Torres ang isang grupo ng siyam (9) caballeros buhat sa iba’t-ibang antas ng buhay upang bigyan ng wagas na pagpapahalaga ang pag-gunita sa pagka-martir ng ating pangunahing bayani Dr. Jose Rizal tuwing araw nang kanyang pagsilang at lalo na sa kanyang pagpanaw.

Noong Nobyembre 16, 1916 ang “Orden de Caballeros de Rizal” ay pormal na naitala sa Securities and Exchange Commission ng Pilipinas. In 1951 RA-646 bestowed upon the Knights of Rizal “the necessary powers to enable it more fully and more effectively to accomplish the laudable purpose for which it was organized.”

Ang mahalagang misyon ng asosasyon ay upang buhayin sa puso, diwa at isipan ng sambayanan, at lalo na sa kabataan, ang adhikain (ideals) at panuntunan (principles) na isinabuhay ni Rizal at naging sanhi ng kanyang kamatayan.

“Rizal Kaytayog Bantayog-Dambana ng Karunungan at Kadakilaan” ay simbulo ng aydiyalismo at pagpapakasakit sa Inang Bayan ni Gat Jose Rizal. Kinikilala siya bilang isang global hero. Ipinagpatayo siya ng kaukulang bantayog sa maraming bansa. Patunay ang naglalakihang monumento ni Rizal sa Germany, Francia, Chekoslovakia, Singapore, Austria, Espania, China, at iba pang bansa.

Marapat lamang na may isang Kay-Tayog Bantayog-Dambana ng Karunngan at Kadakilaan sa kanyang duyang-bayan mismo ang pinasinayaan ng Ika-15 Pangulo ng Pilipinas bilang pagpupugay ng sambayanan at ng buong mundo sa Karunungan at Kadakilaan ni Gat. Jose Rizal.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The long hot summer is hereabout in the oil-price-increasing and corrupt-laden Philippines as the Lenten season just ended. Lent is “the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by devout Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.”

Noah’s Ark in Lucban was the front page banner photo of The Philippine Daily Inquirer issue last Holy Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The photo-story occupied my Lenten reflections up to Easter Sunday - The Resurrection of “The Saviour.”

At the shoreline barangay Looc, in Calamba, Laguna, it has been a tradition among the young ones, for decades now, to converge at the vacant farmland by the edge of Laguna Lake from the night of Sabado de Gloria until the day of Linggo ng Pagkabuhay. They enjoy the night with their so-called salubungan revelry. Everyone was happy and hopeful to meet the new dawn of life along with the resurrection of Christ our Saviour.

The merrymaking was much-more merry and noisy this time with karaoke and juke box music introduced by an enterprising mechanic shop owner Jofer Villanueva. Jofer brought his generator engine to supply electricity thereabouts. Jofer’s buddy, Lek-Lek (my son), put up my two portable tents for his family and sold barbeque, sandwiches, drinks in his one-night kiosk.

The once-young Lolo Ome joined his grandchildren very early that Sunday morning and captured the joy of resurrection. Joyfully watching my grandkids (Zeus, Miles, and Kurt) and their parents (Lek and Ming) gathering tulya (clam shells) in the shallow lake, a big house afloat nearby appeared before the aging sight of this septuagenarian. The huge houseboat was filled with people enjoying breakfast (I surmised) in their own encounter with the new dawn.

Noah’s Ark in Lukban at the foot of Mt. Banahaw was still fresh in my mind. That early Sunday morning, what I saw instead was Noah’s Ark in Calamba, floating along Laguna de Bay, by the foot of the legendary Mt. Maria Makiling, with the majestic Mt. Banahaw as the fading backdrop.

This salubungan experience that dawn led me to a chat that same day with the boat owner and its master builder Rudy Pua, a native of Calamba (now a city), who lives near the Rizal Shrine.

Noah’s Ark
The surname Pua rings a bell with a flashback to the biblical story of Noah, grandson of Methuselah (Genesis 6:5-16). “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ... The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” And God said unto Noah: “I will destroy them with the earth. … Make thee an ark of gopher wood with rooms in the ark.”

And Noah built a huge boat – three-story-ark with water-sealed rooms according to God’s fashion: 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits in height; with one cubit window above, and side door. And it was loaded with plenty of foods for all the occupants to survive God’s deluge. And the ark held in safety and preserved Noah and his wife, his three begotten sons and their wives, including the pairs of every living thing of all flesh, male and female.

Pua’s Ark
And here is the story of Pua’s version of Noah’s Ark, that big houseboat I saw afloat laden with chosen people but less those pairs of all living animals, male and female. Chosen people are the local and foreign tourists who can afford to pay for a cruise around the lake.

Noah’s Ark in Lukban was conceptualized and built by “Fr. Joey” Joseph Faller, catholic healing priest. Noah’s Ark in Calamba was designed and built by an island father Rudy Pua. Pua is known in Calamba as an island father. He is the owner-developer of the three-hectare island that lies in the heart of Laguna Lake, about seven-minute speedboat ride from the Pantalan (pier). He has been slowly developing the island into a unique tourist hideaway the past decades. It is now known as Wonder Island Resort, a conference center for corporate planning activities, combining business and pleasure amidst pure nature ambiance. Its unique offer – cruising the Laguna de Bay aboard a houseboat by calling in advance reservation its Manila landline 520-8556, or 049-545-1766, 049-545-6491, 049-244-4948; or via fax 049-545-6492.

Boat making
“I want the boat ride to the island smooth and safe for people to better appreciate the beauty of the island, the entire lake and the surrounding view; and for them to keep coming back. Cruising is expensive that most people cannot afford the luxury. I want to share with our people this luxurious opportunity to experience the thrill of going on a cruise without spending a fortune going to other countries or owning their own yacht. I love to make people happy by providing them with a cheaper yet equally thrilling alternative – a safe and pleasurable trip around the lake.” This obsession has driven Pua to spend a fortune in boat making.

He has made over 20 fiberglass boats, sleek, durable and innovatively designed for safe cruising around the lake. He has one fully furnished houseboat for his family use, and for special treat to friends and guests. It can cruise about 100 persons around the lake safely and comfortably.

Pua’s latest achievement in boat making is the floating conference-cum-restaurant Pua’s Ark – the huge double-deck houseboat with over 200 person loading capacity, cruising Laguna Lake safely and comfortably, laden with food and group amenities. But he has to have a good pier where this huge one must dock in and out safely.

The Bay Walk
As land developer he slowly developed into a small pier, for his boats and also for the public use, one-hectare foreshore land duly titled under his name. Thousands truckloads of boulders, rocks, soil and various filling materials excavated from other resources and real estates converted into subdivisions were hauled and dumped into this private property.

Today, guests and also the general public use the stretch of driveway he built to reach the loading and unloading area for his boat, and for all kind of boats plying Laguna Lake as well. The boarding point changes with the tide in the lake.

The pantalan is now a promenade for anyone to breathe the fresh lake air. It becomes a big parking lot for free. It is an instant fish market during early mornings as the fish catch from the lake awaits transport to market destinations. The community’s barangay tanod secures the area. Aerobics aficionados gather here for their week-ends sessions. The place is now called “Bay Walk,” after the City Council under Mayor Joaquin Chipeco, Jr. (2004-2013) completed its lighting, fencing and improvement project.

“I envision a small fish port, food stalls, and curio shops for tourists at Bay Walk to uplift the living conditions and livelihood of our fisher folks. This way, more people would be attracted to the area and the communities here can have a better way of selling their products. The market would come to them and they could sell their produce directly to consumers without the middlemen,” disclosed Pua. And as this lake tourism economics works wonders, other shoreline municipalities would follow, Pua added.

Pua confessed: “All my efforts, time, and resources are geared toward a dream of developing Wonder Island as a competitive tourist resort and conference center and putting Laguna Lake into the world map of tourist destinations.”

Pua recalled the usefulness of the lake since time immemorial: as trading route of early Chinese merchants to the shoreline villages; waterways by our coastal resident forefathers to reach barangays around the lake up to Manila; and pristine site for leisure ferryboat cruise by the likes of our national hero Jose Rizal.

Pua said: “Why can’t we now use this lake as alternative waterways to help ease traffic situation in Laguna, Rizal, and Metro-Manila?” This is why instead of using traditional wooden boats I invest in fiberglass boat making for decades now to have sturdier boats adapted to the lake, Pua added.

Pua foresees modern day ferryboats plying the lake clear highways loaded with local and foreign tourists on their way to Pagsanjan Falls, and other Laguna tourist destinations. Water sports like jet skiing, board sailing, balloon sailing, and regatta would soon be regular lake scenery to attract more tourists.

The realization of this vision, hopefully, would be supported by government entities, e.g., LLDA, Department of Tourism, Provincial governments of Rizal and Laguna, tourism associations, CREBA, and NGOs.

Representatives from these groups have visited Wonder Island. Two former Philippine Presidents (Estrada and Arroyo) had been here and they liked what they saw.

Laguna Lake is not yet dead contrary to the proclamation of various sectors. Laguna Lake has been included in the official list of the world’s living lakes August 2, 2001. The Philippines’ LLDA representative attended the world’s living lakes conference February, 2002 in Japan, as the 18th partner-lake in the International Lakes Network.

Laguna Lake would be host to similar world lakes networking conference in the not far distant future. By then, local and international delegates would cruise the still living Laguna Lake (hopefully) on board Wonder Island’s “Noah’s Ark in Calamba.”

Pua believes the local community would see that his development activities are not solely for his vested interest. All these, he said, would redound to the benefits of the shoreline communities, Calamba City, Laguna province, and our country as well.

Pua prays for better governance to support his development plans to finish his dreams that would uplift the plight of the shoreline communities from the present marginal existence and provide them with livelihood opportunities from lake tourism, as the economy reels from poverty due to rampant corruption. He firmly believes the righteous path of governance is here for all to tread under the present dispensation of President Benigno Aquino III.

"I am, therefore, honestly inviting His Excellency to experience cruising around Laguna de Bai, on board 'NOAH'S ARC IN CALAMBA'," Pua concludes.

The rainbow
As the bow in the cloud that misty Sunday morning completely became a beautiful rainbow, to the delight of Zeus, Miles, and Kurt, I recalled that the rainbow is the biblical symbol of God’s everlasting covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:12-15). “And God said, this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: … And I will remember my covenant, …..; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

Noah’s Ark in Lucban is for tired, lost souls. Noah’s Ark in Calamba beacons people with the new hope of dawn to capture the bliss of the lake in a cruise around Laguna de Bay, not only in the season of reflections for tired lost souls, but moreover, whenever mother nature’s weather so permits; and more so when the colorful God’s rainbow arcs the blue horizon.

The waters of Laguna now beckon to one and all to wade in and enjoy this long, hot summer; meditate and pray for everlasting joy, prosperity, abundance, and world peace. So help us God; and may God Bless us all in the name of Jesus, Amen.