TRIP TO BULACAN PROVINCE, PHILIPPINES

Q: We learned that Bulacan is your province, isn't it?

A: Yes, Bulacan is one of my province. Actually, my mother is from Baliuag, Bulacan. My grandmother, Librada dela Cruz Samson, is from Pulilan, Bulacan and my grandfather, Alfonso dela Cruz Magtalas is from Baliuag, Bulacan. At my father's side, my grandmother, Gregoria Evangelista Darlucio, is from Obando, Bulacan. When I was in Philippines, I went to Bulacan always to spend my vacation with my grandparents and relatives. During festivals, Christmas, and Holy Week, I went to Bulacan to stay and visit with my grandparents and relatives.

Q: Could you please describe about Bulacan Province if you are familiar in that province?

A: Well, Bulacan Province is located at Region 3 known as Central Luzon. The people in Bulacan are speaking fluent Tagalog. Most of the Philippine heroes are from the Province of Bulacan like Francisco Balagtas, Marcelo H. del Pilar, General Pio Valenzuela, and so on. Bulacan Province is located north of Rizal Province and Manila, west of Quezon Province, and south of Pampanga Province. The Province of Bulacan is derived from the word "Bulakan" meaning there is a plantation of cottons. During the Spanish period, the province was a plantation of cottons that's why the province got its name.

Q: How big is Bulacan Province?

A: Bulacan Province (Map of Bulacan Province) consists of the following cities and towns: The capital of the province is Malolos City. Malolos City is also a historical place especially the Barasoain Church where the First Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines was established in 1935.

Q: We learned that Bulacan Province is also a rich province in Philippines, isn't it?

A: Yes, Bulacan Province is also a rich province in Philippines because Bulacan is also near to Manila. Valenzuela City is the most productive and industrialized city because it is the nearest city of the province to Manila. The towns of Obando, Bulacan, Hagonoy, Paombong, and Calumpit are making the fish products and have a lot of fishponds. Paombong is a well-known town in making the vingegar from coconut water. Meycauayan City is a well-known town for making the leather from animal skin and jewelries as well. Norzagaray and Angat are the well-known towns for making the cement. There are many indistries and factories of well-known companies in Valezuela City, Meycauayan City, San Jose del Monte City, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Pandi, Guiguinto, Malolos City, Plaridel and Pulilan. Pulilan is a well-knwon town for making the clay pots, jars, and stoves. Handicraft products from the wood are made from Pulilan, Malolos City, Guiguinto, Plaridel, and Baliuag. Baliuag is a well-known town for making "cicharon" or pork skin crackers, watermelon seeds, and squash seeds. The people in Baliuag are making the buri hats and handicrafts. There are many poultries, agricultures, and livestocks in Marilao, Bocaue, Bulacan, Malolos City, Balagtas, Pandi, Guiguinto, Plaridel, Pulilan, Calumpit, Baliuag, Bustos, Angat, San Rafael, San Ildefonso, Doña Remedios Trinidad, and San Miguel. The province is also rich because there are many subdivisions, golf courses, and resorts in Valenzuela City, Meycauayan City, San Jose del Monte City, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Sta. Maria, Guiguinto, Malolos City, Plaridel, Pulilan, and Baliuag. The people in Bulacan are also making Bulacan Sweets and Delicacies and most of the cities and towns in the province are making these products.

Q: What are the main roads in Bulacan Province?

A: Well, I know most of the main roads in Bulacan Province like the following: McArthur Hi-Way, North Espressway, Panghulo Road, Maysan Road, Torres Bugallion St., Bagbaguin Road, Pinagkabalian St., Gov. Santiago St., Gen. T. de Leon St., Paliwas St., Arkong Bato St., M. H. del Pilar St., Gen. Pacheco St., Camalig Barangay Road, Quirino Hi-Way, Araneta Ave., Bagumabayan Road, San Nicolas Road, Matungao Road, Bantayan Road, J. P. Rizal St., Binanag 2nd Road, Wakas St., Bocaue Provincial Road, A. Mabini St., San Jose Road, Ipo Road, Manila North Road, Wawa Road, Burol Road, Tambobong Road, M. de Leon St., San Ignacio Road, New Town Drive, Maharlika Hi-Way, Bunsuran Road, and Ninoy Aquino Ave.

Q: Do you go to shopping malls and department stores in Bulacan Province and where?

A: Yes, I went to the department stores and shopping malls in Bulacan when I was in Philippines. There are shopping malls and department stores in Valenzuela City, Meycauayan City, and Marilao only because they are near to Manila. In the rest of the province, there are few department stores and shopping malls and I have never been there because its far already to Manila. There are shopping malls in Baliuag, Plaridel, and Malolos City recently and the people there will not required to go to the other towns in Bulacan even in Manila. Baliuag is now also a progressive town in Bulacan and later this town will be coverted into chartered city like Malolos City, its provincial capital.

Q: We learned that you were arrived in Philippines on November 16, 2002. Since you are Balikbayan, did you have a tour in Bulacan Province?

A: Yes, I went to Province of Bulacan twice, on November 24, 2002 and November 30, 2002. On November 24, 2002, I went to Bulacan with my cousin Ester Garcia, my niece Jade Garcia Cruz, my nephew Ferdinand Garnet Garcia, my nephew-in-law Jerry Cruz, and my cousin's grandchildren Katrina and Jasmin. We went to Malolos City to have a tour at Barasoain Church and to buy the Christmas Lantern. My aunt Mrs. Flora B. Macaraig was asking me to buy the Christmas Lantern. We bought the Christmas Lantern and I brought it here in United States when I get home. My nephew-in-law Mr. Jerry Cruz is a native of Malolos City and Calumpit, Bulacan and he gave us a tour in Malolos City and Hagonoy, Bulacan. We went also to Angat and San Miguel, Bulacan to have a tour at Angat River and Biak-na-Bato. After our tour, they dropped me to my grandparents and relatives in Baliuag, Bulacan. They were surprised because most of my relatives there including my grandparents did not know that I've already arrived in Philippines. I send already a text message one week before my arrival date to one of my cousins there and they did not received my text message. We are very happy there and I spend three days vacation with my grandparents and relatives. On November 30, 2002, I went to the Province of Bulacan again. My cousin was very busy in her beauty parlor so I went there by riding thru public transportation. I took a public transportation thru Baliuag Transit Bus then a tricycle. It was my last visit to my grandparents and relatives because I had a short of time and my vacation in Philippines is only three weeks. My grandparents and relatives were sad and hugged me because of my shortage of time. My grandparents and relatives were asking me to ask my mother to visit in Philippines if she has a time. Before my departure on December 8, 2002, my aunt, Estelita Magtalas Zapanta, went to my cousin's beauty parlor in Quezon City to give the sweets and delicacies for my parents and brothers. My visit to Bulacan Province is so memorable and I wish that I can visit to my grandparents and relatives again if I have a time to take a vacation to Philippines again within two to five years.

Q: We learned that you were arrived in Philippines again on November 09, 2009. Did you visit in Bulacan Province?

A: Yes, of course because my cousins from Bulacan, Philippines were picked me up from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL). After they picked me up from the airport on November 9, 2009 at 4:30am, we went to Baliuag, Bulacan to stay with my relatives particularly my mother's siblings and my cousins. They were very happy with my arrival, visit, and stay there. They helped me in distributing all the packages that my mother and brother bought from Walmart and Costco. After I took my rest, I visited my all relatives there and ate our lunch. I missed all Filipino foods and I am still love Filipino foods. I had a tour also at the downtown of Baliuag, Bulacan. Philippines has a lot of changes since my last visit in 2002 even in Baliuag, Bulacan. There's also SM Shoemart in Baliuag, Bulacan. Also, I visited the tomb of my grandparents and my uncle at Baliuag Memorial Park. My first day of visit in Philippines is also memorable because I saw my hometown again after 7 years.

Q: Are you familiar in San Rafael, San Ildefonso, and San Miguel, Bulacan?

A: Yes, of course because San Rafael, San Ildefonso, and San Miguel are the close towns of Baliuag, Bulacan. They are beyond the town of Baliuag, Bulacan. If you will go to the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, and even to Cagayan, you have to pass the towns of San Rafael, San Ildefonso, and San Miguel, Bulacan. We went to Cabanatuan City, Philippines on November 12, 2009 with my relatives courtesy of my cousin, Alvin Alvaran Magtalas and we passed the towns of San Rafael, San Ildefonso, and San Miguel, Bulacan. These three towns are selling sweets, delicacies, and even vinegar along the national highway. I used to go to San Miguel, Bulacan when I was a kid because we have relatives there, the Umali family, my mother's cousin. We were supposed to visit the Biak-Na-Bato but unfortunately, we don't have enough time to visit that place. Biak-Na-Bato is the main tourist attraction in San Miguel, Bulacan. I love to travel all the time especially in Philippines because I want to see the places again that I have been when I was a kid.

Q: Since you have relatives also in Pulilan, Bulacan, did you visit in Pulilan, Bulacan?

A: Yes. I went to Pulilan on November 19, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. I used to go to Pulilan, Bulacan since when I was a child to visit my mother's relatives at her mother's side. My mother, Mrs. Rosario Samson Magtalas Balajadia, told me that she was born there at her grandparents' house. Because of this, Pulilan, Bulacan is also memorable not only to her but also to me, too. My grandfather, Alfonso dela Cruz Magtalas, has also relatives, too in Pulilan, Bulacan. Although my grandfather was born in Baliuag, he used to visit in Pulilan, Bulacan, too to visit his relatives there. Anyway, we went there to visit my mother's uncle, Ramon dela Cruz Samson. He is the only living brother of my grandmother and I want to see him while he is still alive. We also visited my mother's cousins and other relatives there. Their houses are closer to each other and so it is easy for us to visit them. My great grandparents' house is now a factory of Purina Foods. I was very sad because their house is so memorable to us and I used to stay there before. The downtown of Pulilan, Bulacan is almost still the same but crowded. During summer period especially Holy Week, the people there are celebrating the Holy Week like reading the Pasion, joining the Penetencia, and so on. Also during their town fiesta, there's a Carabao Festival where the carabaos are wearing costumes and kneeling at the floor. Carabao or water swamp buffalo is a kind of buffalo that lives in rice fields especially at the swamps and riversides. Pulilan, Bulacan is also rich in history and culture not only in Bulacan but also in Philippines. The people there are still making clay pots and clay stoves. They are also making different kinds of handicrafts that are made from wood and coconut leaves. After we visited in Pulilan, Bulacan, we invited our relatives there to visit in Baliuag, Bulacan to join in drinking beer and singing thru videoke. My tour in Pulilan, Bulacan is also memorable and I would like to visit again later in the future.

Q: You were mentioned earlier that you have relatives also in Obando, Bulacan. Did you visit in Obando, Bulacan?

A: Yes. I went to Obando on November 21, 2009 with my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan. We visited my relatives there on my grandmother's side. My grandmother, Mrs. Gregoria Evangelista Darlucio Balajadia, is a native of Obando, Bulacan. When I was a resident in Philippines, I used to go there always before especially in the month of May because of the town fiesta. Most of my relatives there are cooking many delicious foods and dishes every year on the town fiesta. I remember that when I was a child, we used to go there every month of May with my grandmother to visit her relatives particularly her siblings and cousins. My relatives' houses are closer to each other. When we were visiting our relatives there, we almost visited all our relatives there because my grandmother is also an approachable person. This is my memorable place, too because as I said, I used to go there every year to attend the town fiesta and visit our relatives there. I remember also that there's a well at my great grandfather's house and I used to play there by dropping coins and stones. Thanks God that I had a chance to visit at Obando, Bulacan. We visited my aunt, Mrs. Dolores Balajadia Villaluz, my father's sister, and her family. When we were attending the town fiesta, we visit my aunt first and then my grandmother's siblings and father's cousins. My aunt is still in good condition but she's suffering arthritis and diabetes because of her age, too. I am so glad that their sari-sari store is still there. Their store is their source of income until now for 24 hours everyday. After that, we went to the downtown area of Obando, Bulacan to visit the Obando Church. Obando Church is a well-known church in Philippines for its miraculous blessing especially for the couples who want to have kids. During the town fiesta of Obando, Bulacan, the church is always doing the Fertility Rites. The couples that they don't have kids yet, are dancing at the church while they are praying. This tradition is already about 300 years and until now, the church is doing the Fertility Rites. The main landmark there is the Arkong Bato or an arch that is made from brick rocks. This arch is a main boundary between Bulacan (Valenzuela City) and Rizal (Malabon City).

Q: Since you will go back to United States on November 30, 2009, did you have a farewell party to your friends and relatives?

A: Yes, I had a farewell party with my relatives in Baliuag on November 29-30, 2009 after we left the Oxford Suites in Makati City where me and my cousin, Mark Anthony Tan are staying during my vacation period. I would like to give thanks to Mercado Family for allowing us to stay at their unit at Oxford Suites. Filipina Mercado Magtalas is a daughter of Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and wife of my cousin, Alvin Alvaran Magtalas. Anyway, we had a farewell party by drinking beer and eating snacks at my aunt's house. We're also singing thru videoke. I met most of my relatives there like my uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews. My aunts did a lot of help in packing my luggage and balikbayan boxes. They wrapped the sweets, delicacies, dried fruits, dried fish, and clothes very well. This is my sad memory which is my last day of vacation in Philippines. My employer gave me only a vacation for three weeks and one day in Philippines is considered as fast because of heavy traffic in Manila and we did traveling in many places. Thanks God that I visited almost all my relatives at both sides. Before we proceed to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), my cousin gave me a suggestion to visit at his house in Parañaque City to continue to pack all my luggage and balikbayan boxes because the traffic in Bulacan, Manila, and Rizal are also heavy especially during rush hour. After we finished our lunch with my relatives, we proceed to my cousin's house in Multinational Village, Parañaque City so that we will not stuck in the traffic because my flight is 10:30 pm.

Q: How's the weather condition in Bulacan?

A: Well, the weather there was nice. It is 90°F during days and 75°F in the evening. Thanks God that the storm is already passed when I visited in Philippines because last October of 2009, the storm or typhoon was very strong and heavy and almost the whole province was submerged with flood. I am so sad that most of my memorable things in elementary, high school, and college days are already gone because all of my things are destroyed by flood.

Q: Do you recommend to anyone to visit in Bulacan?

A: Yes, of course. I will recommend to anyone to visit in Bulacan because my province is very rich in history and culture. We have a lot of tourist spots there as well as resorts. If you want to visit in many historical places, nature places like caves, mountains, and rivers, Bulacan is also a good place for you to visit. The foods there are delicious and you will love those especially during the town fiestas and festivals.

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