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About this City Journal

Pearl of the Orient is my new and current project focusing entirely on a recreation of the Philippines as never before seen on Simtropolis. I will be posting update for this CJ complete with...

Entries in this City Journal

Simbro_08

WelcometoGuam-1-1.jpg
 
So yeah Iike I've been living in the Philippines for a while now.

Right, what happened?

Well I had originally left Guam to join my family in Bacolod, but then I went to Manila at a very early age, to perform in a singing competition. I had to go to Manila for that.

Ooh so then what?

Well I came in second place but I mean....

Ding! we are currently performing last minute procedures before we touch down at Guam international airport, so could you all please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts. Thank You

Ding! sa kasalukuyan kami ay gumaganap huling minuto mga pamamaraan bago namin touch down sa Guam internasyonal na paliparan, sa gayon maaari mong lahat ng maaring bumalik sa iyong upuan at sarahan ang iyong seatbelts. Salamat.

Oh would you look at that..

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That must be Hagåtña up ahead. 

Look over there, can you see the airport?

Yes, wow we're very close now.1.gif

Hagatna-4Jan5021273440503.png

An aerial view of Guam's capital Hagatna and the newly upgraded Guam International Airport

Wow it looks so much different from the last time I was here.

See Agan Heigts just behind the Airport, wow those buildings weren't there before. 31.gif

Yes it looks very beautiful and just look at that beach out there, and the reefs too.

The ocean is so blue.4.gif

Yeah 19.gif

That's Sinajana and just infront of the airport s Mongmong-Toto-Maite & Barrigada.

Hey that's Tamuning, that's where my uncle lives. 4.gif

Tamuning

Hagatna-26Aug5021273441539.png

and that's South Acres

Hagatna-3May5031273441645.png

Just look at the archietecture, it's almost like a mixuter of American and Camorro-Spanish.

Yep, that's because we're part of US territory, but before that Guam was a Spanish Colony, part of the Spanish East Indies.

Hagatna-24Apr5021273440898.png

I can also see some Japanese & Chinese buildings down there too.

Well Guam does have a lot of Japanese people living here and during the war many Japanese settlers came to the Island from the neighbouring Saipan, which was then under Japanese rule.

But I suppose the mixture of buildings and archietecture only adds to the beauty and diversity of the island right?

Absolutely and without all these cultures merging into one place, I think we'd see a very different Guam.

Look down there, see those buildings?

Yes?

That's the original location of the Camorro Village.

That place hasn't change would you believe since the Spaniards arrived.

Wow.

And that place till now is still the capital of the Camorros.

Camorro Village

Hagatna-4Mar5021273440754.png

and see there, that's the Marina

Very nice!3.gif

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Ok well I guess this is it

Our approach and landing at Guam International Airport

 
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Ding! Ladies and Gentlemen, Cebu Pacific welcomes you to Guam.

We hope that you've enjoyed this trip with us.

On behalf of Cebu Pacific, thank you for flying with us and enjoy your stay.

TLSD2218.jpg

Please remain seated till we arrive at the gate.

Well at least we made it.9.gif

Yes, thank God.

Now all we have to do is meet up with my uncle

.1.gif

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Hafa Adai!

Simbro_08

Islandofsails-1-1.jpg

Ding! Good afternoon everyone this is your captain speaking.

We are currently flying at 10 thousand feet and have begun our decent on GuamInternationalAirport.

Outside temperature is 30o Celsius and 40o at Hagåtña.

The time at our local destination is 3pm in the afternoon.

For all those flying onwards from Guam, please don’t forget to fill out your transfer papers which should then be brought to the airport transfers desk.

For those ending their journey here, I wish you a pleasant day and hopefully we’ll see you again soon.

On behalf of Cebu Pacific, I and our flight crew, we thank you for choosing and flying with Cebu Pacific.

Mabuhay!

 Ding! Magandang hapon sa lahat na ito ay ang iyong pagsasalita kapitan.

Kami ay kasalukuyang paglipad sa 10,000 mga paa at sinimulan ang aming kapita-pitagan sa GuamInternationalAirport.

Sa labas ng temperatura ay 30o Sentigrado at 40o sa Hagåtña.

Ang oras sa aming mga lokal na destinasyon ay 3:00 sa hapon.

Para sa lahat ng mga paglipad pataas mula sa Guam, maaring huwag kalimutan na punan ang iyong mga papeles transfer kung saan ay dapat pagkatapos ay dinala sa desk paliparan transfers.

Para sa mga nagtatapos ng kanilang paglalakbay dito, gusto ko sa iyo ng isang kaaya-aya sa araw at sana kami makita kayong muli sa lalong madaling panahon.

Sa ngalan ng Cebu Pacific, ako at ang aming flight tripulante, pasalamatan namin kayo para sa pagpili at paglipad sa Cebu Pacific.

Mabuhay!

 

Well I guess that's us 1.gif

Yup!19.gif

So this guy we're meeting, what time did he say we could see him again?

You mean my Uncle?

Yeah, sorry I meant him.34.gif

Well he said that he'd see us at 5pm

So I guess that leave us with just over an hour then upon arrival.

I guess so.

So this uncle of yours, what does he actually do?

He's a history professor at the University of Guam.

I see...

He studied at the University of Seville Spain where he lived for a few years.

Seville?42.gif

Yes.19.gif

He's also an experienced Archeologist, he's been to Chichen Itza; you know where that is right?

Yes it's a MayanTemple in Mexico, on the Yucatan.

Yup, he was part of a team that led one of the first excavations on the temple ruins.

I went there with him when I was 13.

Wow! So I guess he's pretty well known then?

Oh yes, he's a leading expert on the Island when it comes to history and archeology.

I haven't seen him in like 6 years though, since I left for Cebu.

In fact I lived in.....

Wait! There it is....Guam or as Ferdinand Magellan called it "Islas de Velas".


Aerial View of Guam

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As I look out to get a glimpse, I just couldn't believe how beautiful this Island was.

To the North you could see the city of Hagåtña as we slowly approached, whilst to the South lay the vast coral reefs in the middle of a lagoon surounded by long sandbars either side.

Wow! I never thought that I'd be going back to my homeland.

Hey check that harbour out.

Those must be US Navy Ships?

Yeah that's ApraHarbour.

Apra Harbour is a port of call for the US Navy's Pacific fleet.

ApraHarbour-9Jul1731273527489-1.png

Although Guam has a semi-detached relationship with the United States, it is still considered part of US territory. Also due to its strategic location, the US has found it hard to grant Guam full independence as the threat of nearby rogue states such as North Korea continues to grow.

My Dad worked there before we moved to the Philippines.

 

Apra dry docks

ApraHarbour-21Jul1731273527551.png

Another Key reason why Apra Harbour retains its importance is due to the islands dry dock where cargo & military vessels can be repaired. 

In fact, Guam is the only island territory of the US within the Asian/Pacific Sphere to have dry docks making it such an important naval base.

So what about your mother?

Well my mother owns a farm in the Philippines.

Both my parents run it now and they tend to the livestock.

Like farmers?

Yes.1.gif

This Harbour is Massive, look at all that cargo below.

ApraHarbour-16Mar1731273527121-1.png

Apra Harbour is a natural harbour located within a lagoon flanked by a sandbar along the west coast seperating it from the Philippine sea on the other side.

To East is another lagoon connecting it to the main island whilst to the North are the mountains of Guam.

Ooh what's that down there?18.gif

Looks like native huts.

Ah, that's a Native Comorro Village.

Comorro? What are they like?

They're very nice peaceful people, the original inhabitants of the Mariana Islands way before the Spaniards arrived.

Right, well we have similar natives in the Philippines.

Yes, like the Apu and the Negritos.

Correct.19.gif

Native Comorro village

ApraHarbour-23Feb1741273528116.png

Flying high up you can see what seems to be a native Comorro village.

They're very peaceful as Maria has said, but also they're very simple and tend to exist in small agricultural communities, supporting eachother through trade of food and livestock.

Those Chinese containers look huge.

Yes, well when I was a small kid, I used to hang out the docks where my Dad worked.

He used to carry me on top of his shoulders to see all the big ships that would dock here from all over the world.1.gif

Port Apra

ApraHarbour-30Jun1731273527451-1.png

Asides from US military presence, Apra Harbour is the main industrial port on the island.

In fact, goods from all over the world especially the United States, China & the Philippines arrive here every day. US merchant ships tend to deliver raw resources to the island such as coal, oil and gas since Guam lacks these, whilst Chinese imports bring in food, electronic goods and clothing.

Flying Past Apra Harbour we near Hagåtña and Guam International Airport.

Simbro_08

TheVoyage.jpg

Having got out the shrine, dad and I decided to split up. He thought it best that I try to look for more information regarding Magellan and Enrique Diego de Velazquez, so I decided to head for the library whilst dad took a taxi back to the hotel.

The Marco Polo Hotel
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Fuente Osmena Jose Rizal Memorial Library,

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Upon arriving at the Fuente Osmena Jose Rizal Memorial Library, I immediately headed up towards the archives in search of more possible clues to the documents when I was approached...

Umm excuse me, but could you help me? I'm looking for a book called Prince by Machiavelli, you don't know where I could find it do you?

The Prince? Oh the Prince, here.

I was looking for somethinge earlier when I stumbled upon it, thought I might read it later hehehe.

Wow thanks! 1.gif

Well now that I've found what I've been looking for, may I ask you what you're looking for?

Me?

Yeah duh! I mean who else silly hehehehe. 21.gif18.gif

You said that you were looking for something before right?

Well I mean I AM! It's just that, well I'm in search of lost documents that are related to Magellan and his voyage to the Philippines? It's kinda complicated, but it's relative to me in that one of my ancestors Enrique Diego de Velazquez, well he was sailing with Magellan.

Here, I have these two documents but I'm missing a few more.

Ok let me read them.

Hmmm....this is really interesting. These documents must be over 400 years old!

I mean WOW! You've got a real treasure here, why it must be worth fortunes.

.....Well I dunno about that?

Extraordinary....well sorry but there's nothing I can really help you with except, if you were in search for Magellan items or anything to do with him, then I suggest you go ask the librarian for help.19.gif

Oh, well thanks for taking a look anyway. I'll be on my way..

As I left this girl, I wondered whether I should go to the librarian, so I did.

Miss, could you help me a second please?

Yes, what is it?

Well I'm looking for anything related to Magellan, documents, parchments etc.

Hmmm.... I don't quite understand?

Here, I have these really old parchments that belonged to my Grand father. He gave them to my father to show to me, but the problem is that it's missing a few pages I think?

Let me check.....WOW! These documents seem to be really old and the writing here seems really genuine.

Extraordinary, in all my years working here, I never knew that I'd ever come across anything like this.

What did you say your name was?

I didn't, but if you'd like to know, its Juan de Velazquez.1.gif

Velazquez...hmmm.... well I do know of one item that we have here on Velazquez.

It's really old, but since you've been so kind enough to show this to me, then I guess it wouldn't hurt to show this to you.

Old_book_bindings_cropped.jpg

She showed to me this really old book, so old that even the name on the binding had disappeared, worn off by the sands of time.

Now this book is on the Velazquez family name and its origins here in the Philippines.

Anyway, this is all we have here and I'm sorry if I couldn't be of much more assitance to you; hope this book will help.

Thanks Miss!

Slowly as I opened it, a mysterious page written in Spanish suddenly fell out.

Luckily I can read Spanish, so I quickly grabed it and started to read it.

parchment-1.jpg

I began to translate the words into English and slowly I got this.....
 
We continue to sail these wretched seas and still no sight of land.

Our Captain has fallen ill and most of the crew besides me is suffering

from scurvey and disentry due to possible lack of food and clean water.

By my observations on deck, I fear that we will soon have a mutiny again

on our hands and I doubt that for the love of God he can intervene

this time in saving our Captain.

After reading this, I realised that there was a piece missing. However, it was very unlikely that I'd find this piece now since getting hold of this first piece was a fluke. So I decided to head back to the Hotel to see what Dad had uncovered.

WAIT!

Oh it's you. I thought you had left?

Look mister (huffing and puffing)..... 14.gif

I know this may sound awkward and now's not the time, but I'd just like to ask if I could go with you?34.gif

But why? I mean you've said it yourself that your no expert.

Yeah, I'm no expert, but I know someone who is back home.

It's just that before I came here today, all I was interested in was some dumb book, but having read your parchment has invigorated me in wanting to know more about your ancestor, about your family's past.

But why do you want to help?

ADVENTURE hehehe! 9.gif

Besides, I may not be an expert, but I know someone else who is....I can take you to him if you'd like?

That's if I can come along?34.gif

As if my life couldn't get anymore complicated, along comes some over excited kid that wants to come along.

You do know right that this is going to take a while? That we'll probably be travelling non stop till we drop.

Yup, but like I said, I want to know more and that's why I wana come.

Well ok, by the way what's your name?

Mariana Shenara 1.gif

WOW! That's an unusual name?

My name is Juan de Velazquez.1.gif

Ok well we better get moving.

Right behind YA!9.gif

 

Down town Cebu

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 As I left the library with my new accomplice, we decided to stop by at Cafe Rojas to get a bite to eat.

The main buildings in this pic is the Library, Old City Hall and China town down the left handside.

As if that wasn't enough, we decided that a Quarter Pounder and Cheese would be better.

McD.png

After years of complaints from the local residents over the McDonald restaurants location

(which was infront of City Hall) an agreement was reached and a new Mc Donalds opened up on 23 Osmena Street.

As you can see, it's only within walking distance to the Marco Polo hotel (bottom centre) along with Globe Telecom building and the old fort.

Knock! Knock!

Come in!

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Juan, who's this?

Oh Dad this is Mariana, Mariana this is my father.

Hi Mr Velazquez!9.gif

Hi....?

Ok so what's going on son?

Nothing, no time to explain.

Have you found anything in that box dad?

Yes in fact I have, but hold on, who is she and what are you doing with that piece of paper?

It's not a piece of paper dad, its another piece of parchment that I found in the library.

A Piece?

Yes!

Well infact she suggested that I ask the librarian for help, so I did and that's how I found this.

But take a look at this son...

 

parchment-2-1.jpg

My dad being as clumsy as usual had stumbled across another piece of the parchment.

Oh thank God you've found it!

Let me just check and read this that it fits well with the 1st piece.

Fortunately, I remember a rumor I heard years ago in Sevile about an island that the Portuguese had discovered

20 years ago, known as "Island of Sails" that are on the edge of the Spice Islands, hopefully not

far from here.

Fortunately I took the liberty at the time of recording the bearings, so I have ordered the captain serving the remainder of our crew to sail there.

 

Enrique de Diego de Velazquez 1520 -

'Island of Sails'? That's Guam Juan!

Really? You sure about this?

Positive!

Infact, that's where I come from.

Really? So what are you doing here in Cebu then?

Later, we'll talk about this later.

Right now we need to get to Guam.

But how are you going to get there Juan?

There's a flight that leaves at 8pm.

We can make it there in an hour if we go now?

I won't be able to come with you nowSon.

I've got to get back to San Jose and besides, your mum will be back from the states soon.

Right, so this is it then?

Yes, you'll have to figure this out on your own now.

I'm sure that you'll be in good company though.

Ok well let's go.

Thanks for the help Dad!

No problem and like I said, if you need anything, then you know who to call. 2.gif

YEAH we're off to Guam!9.gif

Having to leave behind Dad and go on my own was a little hard for me. I suppose on the bright side, at least I've got somone else now who'l annoy me lol!

Just kidding, I can do this. 5.gif

New Mactan International Airport

MactanInternationalAirport.png

This is New Mactan International Airport and as you can see, it's just been newly upgraded into a new state of the art design.

It's a lot bigger than its old former self, so big that the planners had to request from both governors of Cebu and Lapu Lapu City for the relocation and removal of some residents on the eastern and northern parts of the island.

MactanInt2.png

Huge protests were carried out, but ultimately lost due to Cebu's and Mactan's heavy reliance on the airport and besides, the old airport was already in disrepair, thus it was deemed unsafe by the government.

MactanInt3.png

The airliner Cebu Pacific has its headquarters here in Cebu, but other carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and JAL are also common visitors to the airport.

Mainly due to rich tourist who come to the Islands to seek peace and tranquility in Paradise.

Alta Beach Resort

AltaBeachResort.png

This is one of the many favourite beach resorts located here on the island.

Whether your a person who likes adventure & sport, or if you just simply wish to lay back and relax then Alta beach resort is the right place. Not only does it come with many activities, the main one being scuba diving near the local coral reefs, beech volleyball, hiking up the mountains and many more.

It's simply a beautiful place to stay especially when watching the sun setting on the horizon.

Mandaue City

Mandaue.png

This is a subdivision of Mandaue City, which is part of Metro Cebu as a whole.

Consolacion City

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Consolacion City is a very quiet and peaceful city.

It's main tourist attraction includes the 16th century parish of St. Joseph and Enrique Street (Far upper left)

This is Consolacion at night

ToledoCity-atnight.png

Ding, ring bing ding! To all passengers boarding the flight to Hong Kong, please proceed to gate 4, thank you!

Ding, ring, bing ding! Ladies and gentlemen, for all those flying Cebu Pacific to Hagatna-Guam, please start checking in

at gate 2. That is all

Ding, ring bing ding.

I guess that's us Maria.

You ready to go then?

YUP!.9.gif

So what's our plan once we get there?

Well I've just spoken to my uncle on the phone, he says that he'd be happy to see us both tomorrow at 4pm.

In the mean time, let's just enjoy this trip to Guam shall we.

2.gif

Sure, afterall this could just be the start of something new.1.gif

Thank you for visiting Cebu and for flying Cebu Pacific today!

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Mabuhay!

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Simbro_08

Your Feedback

Hi to all that have viewed my CJ.1.gif

I've created this page for you the readers to post your comments & suggestions along with anything else you'd like to see on my CJ's.

Your feedback for me is very important as it helps me to connect with you the reader and also gives me ideas on what you'd like to see more of.2.gif

Looking forward to hearing from you all.

regards,

Simbro_0844.gif

Simbro_08

TheVoyage.jpg

 

Now the story goes that the Portuguese since the early 1470's had already found a route to the Spice Islands via the Cape of Good Hope of Africa. They had been dominating the markets and that was one of the biggest problems for Spain at the time because Portugal and Spain have always been rivals. They just couldn't sit by and let their neighbours control spices in the markets. Remember, Spices back then were worth more than Gold.

Ah I see, then what?

Well this is where Ferdinand Magellan (a Portuguese) enters the scene. 

magellan.jpg

He promised King Carlos V of Spain to fund an expidition to the East Indies, via the mythical South Western passage that the Patagonian natives had told Amerigo Vespucci when he sailed down the coast of Brazil in the early 1500's.   

Now your earliest ancestor Enrique Diego de Velazquez as the story goes boarded one of the 5 ships which made up Magellan's fleet, accidentally becoming an indentured servant to Magellan.

Ok, so my ancestors were poor?

Oh yes, very. I mean not much was known about Enrique, but all I know is that he was born in Seville Spain.

If you want to find out more about him, then I suggest you go there oneday, but right now lets just focus on finding that secret compartment within this cross.

Here, these are a few old journals that I dug up following my father's death.

Omg, it's the secret journals of Ferdinand Magellan.

But how, these must be over 400 years old?

Yes, well Enrique and Magellan as the story goes got along pretty well and Magellan trusted him with his life, more so that he must have left these documents in his hands. 

Sshhh, I'm reading......

MagellansVoyage1.jpg

Magellan's fleet of 5 ships sailing through a storm off the coast of Brazil

MagellanoffcoastofSpain.jpg

The fleet included the, Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Victoria & Santiago.

Alone in the dark, Magellan knew that this voyage had taken a turn for the worse.

MagellansVoyage3.jpg

 
The mutiny and the killings could not have come the wrong time, however he knew as an experienced captain that this was bound to happen, since the ships had been sailing for almost 5 months without stopping.

Out of the shadows though is a ray of sunshine, of hope through one man that was proving himself.

The question is, how far will he go to remain loyal to his captain? Only time will tell.

Founding of Puerto San Julian - a port of call at last.

MagellansVoyage2-1.jpg

Founding a new colony isn't easy for a man to do, especially when supplies such as food and rum are already running low.

This is a risk only the hardest man, with strong faith will take.

This is Puerto San Julian - Argentina (present time)

PuertoSanJulian-3Sep091271989276.png

As you can see the city isn’t that big, with only a population of just over 6,000. However, the city itself is rich in history (as can be seen) and was at one time a major port of call (stop over) for ships crossing the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The city itself was founded by Ferdinand Magellan on his way to the Spice islands in 1519.

Old San Julian-est 1519

PuertoSanJulian-26Jan09127198879-1.png

This little area is known as old San Julian, mainly because this is the oldest part of the city.

However, poor funding and corruption keep the town from developing further (virtually in stasis) if you will as if it had just be founded yesterday. These dirt roads are known for collisions and car crashes, in fact San Julian has been voted the most dangerous city in Argentina.

This is a birds eye view of downtown San Julian with fort Magellan below.

PuertoSanJulian-26Jan091271988793.png

The fort itself dates back to the founding of the colony and legend has it that timber & cannon was used from the wreckages of the San Antonio and the Santiago.

Port San Julian

PuertoSanJulian-20Jan091271988760.png

A shadow of its former glory, the port sees only a handful of ships nowadays since the Panama canal opened.

Sugar, Tobacco, Peppers and Bananas are usually exported from San Julian to Buenos Aires down south.

Shipwreck Bay

PuertoSanJulian-23Apr08127197817-1.png
The remains of ships that were just too unlucky to make it.

The waters around San Julian have a very bad reputation for being rough seas and plans to build a lighthouse have been put forward by the concerned public. However, corruption is just too high and changes only usually take place after an under the table bargain.

Don Rafino Gonzaga's Pineapple farms.

PuertoSanJulian-2Feb091271988835.png

The Gonzaga's are known as one the most prominent of the families in the city. Not because they own land, but because of their ancesteral past, having served in military roles since the arrival of the Spaniards 450 years ago. 

This is Gonzaga Plantacion - the ancesteral home of the Ganzaga family.

PuertoSanJulian-15Apr081271978139.png

The Gonzaga's literally make up 75% of the economy of San Julian, with the poweplant at 5% whilst offices and government buildings provide only 20%. It is safe to say that without the Ganzaga's, this town would have died years ago.

San Julian Coal ltd.

PuertoSanJulian-25Apr081271978191.png

This is the main source of electricity in the city. SJEC or San Julian Energy Co provide the town with energy burning up coal because coal in San Julian is in abundance.

Dusk in San Julian

PuertoSanJulian-11Sep091271989320.png

Residents don't normally venture out at night due to tales of beasts that lurk the jungles.

One woman said that she spotted a creature, half ape, half dog, half chipmunk, half squirrel, half chicken.

I mean either this mad science experiment exist or maybe she's hi on chewing the tobacco. xD

Night time in San Julian

PuertoSanJulian-25Sep091271989385.png

The torches guarding the entrance to Fort Magellan are always lit as tradition states that Magellan's ghost will come and keep the city safe as it sleeps.

Downtown San Julian at night

PuertoSanJulian-21Sep091271989366.png

Still looks very busy on the roads. Maybe its because midnight mass has just finished being held at the Church of our Lady of Sorrows.

The city does look very beautiful at night, its as if we're starring into history itself.

 
PuertoSanJulian-8Mar081271977897.png

Wow, I never knew that looking at pieces of parchment would be like looking through time itself, as if I'm right there at San Julian in Argentina.

Found it! Let's go Juan, quickly.

The inscription?

Yes, hurry or else the guard will either spot us or lock us both in.

Besides, I have what we're looking for so we're done here.

And the parchments? I want to know more about....about Enrique, but I've only got two copies here?

I know, but that was all the old man had. I guess we'll just have to visit Cebu Library tomorrow huh, maybe they have more clues in there. Now quickly, before the guards see us.

Iraq-Fleeing.jpg

Simbro_08

Magellan's Cross

awn-1.jpg
 
 

Waking up at early dawn and to see Cebu from a balcony as the sun slowly rises from the east pushing itself out of the clouds is truly a magnificient sight to behold. As take a breath of fresh ocean cool air, I look out to the distance and just over the horizon I could see ships and little fishing boats slowly moving by the shore. Looking down, the city itself is slowly waking up to the hustle and bustle of tricyles, jeepneys and the usual sound of the markets and people shouting SAB A! DANGGIT!

CebuCity-3Aug1531271811859.png
 

Having just got dressed and holding a bag full of food supplies, I decided to head straight to Magellan's cross.

cebu_magellans_cross.jpg

Magellan's Shrine - this is the place that houses the cross Magellan's men planted when they first landed here in 1522.

As a I approached Magellan's Shrine, I suddenly began to feel a tingle in my bones, and as I took a look I could see that the hairs on my arms where standing like pins in a cushion. I took no notice of it, but then I got worse and the anxiety within me just kept on building and getting stronger. Was it just me or was I getting all anxious over the fact that I may actually be able to find out my true origins and where my family came from, where it all began.

Suddenly as I entered, I felt this sense of aura as I gazed up as low and behold the cross of Magellan stared right down on me surrounded by paintings of the Spanish arrival on the Island and along side them the natives who had greeted them.

magellans_cross.jpg
 
Magellan's Cross - as it stands today surrounded by frescos of the Spanish conquistador and his men as they touched down on Cebu Islands. Along side them, the followers of Rajah Humabon, the chieftain on the Island of Cebu.

 
As I gazed up, I suddenly remembered that I was to look for inscriptions found on the cross. However, because of the crowed, I was finding it hard to look for the inscriptions. 

Then all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulders as I was touching and feeling the cross for anything suspicious.

Cough!

Father?

Juan, I took it that uncle Romolo has told you? Hehehe you make a lot of effort not to look suspicious huh son.

But why are you doing here? I thought that you're in Korea?

I was Juan, but I made a promise to your grandfather that I'd tell you when it was time.

Ok, but I'm trying to find the...

Inscriptions, they're on the bottom of the cross. There should be a little opening on the side somewhere, its been a while since I last found it when I had to go through this right of passage.

Right of passage? So you're telling me that all this, its a test?

Yes, every Velazquez since the time of Magellan has had to go through the same test, to prove himself to the Conquistador that he was the right man to face Lapu Lapu, the King of Mactan Island.

But father, who started it all?

Enrique de Velazquez, an indentured servant and most trusted man of Ferdinand Magellan himself.

You see son, this is how it all started..............

Cebu slowly waking up to the beating night as students and business men/women go out to party the night away.

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Cebu City's business district, a slightly more modern city that San Jose

This is the old part of the city and if you look carefully, you can still see the mix of Spanish and Filipino styles.

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A birds eye vie wof McDonalds where I decided to stop and grab a bite to eat before heading off to fort San Pedro.

Hmmm quarter pounder and cheese. YUM! 3.gif

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This is fort San Pedro, love the lights on this 17th century fort.

Seaport-this is one of Cebu's most important features for it relies heavily on export and the shipping industry.

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Looks like the Santa Marta (Blue) will be ready to leave soon.

Villa San Pedro - This is one of the posh places to live here on cebu.

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  It's quite near the seaport, but that doesn't really matter since without the port, Villa San Pedro would not be able to receive tourists coming in from the main islands to view the historic Spanish architecture.

Witness the spectacle that is Cebu.

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It will leave you BREATHLESS!

 

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Cebu City

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Ah Cebu, the oldest city in the Philippines. Why it was near here in 1521 that Ferdinand Magellan on board the Victoria landed and kissed land for the very first time in 2 years.

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Uncle never really told me what to expect when I got here, except that he wanted me to go find Magellan's Cross.

He told me that somewhere on the cross is an inscription, a clue as it were left over long ago by one of my ancestors and that something was indeed hidden inside the cross; that the cross as it stands today isn't the original.

Ah but enough of that, I'm starving and thirsty. I haven't eaten since this morning and besides, I've heard that Cebu is well known for its delicacies, especially when it comes to dry mangoes, bibingka and my favourite, Lechon Baboy (Pig).3.gif

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Cebuano Mango - a very sweet & yellow mango when compared to it's Indian cousin, this mango is a national favourite, eaten all over mainly during breakfast.

WARNING! This fruit is to be eaten lightly since over consumption may lead to diabetes.

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Dry Mangoes-made from sweet yellow mangoes found here in Cebu.

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Bibingka-a sponge cake like snack covered in coconut and sometimes melted butter hmm YUMMY!3.gif

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Lechon Baboy - whole spit roasted pig usually stuffed with herbs & lemon grass, a typical delicacy here all over the Philippine Archipelago. Hmmmm arhrharchrharhhh! 3.gif

This dish is usually served & eaten at social events, such as parties, weddings, aniversaries, well you get the picture right.

It's a personal favourite but

WARNING! Recent studies have shown that eating too much fatty foods isn't good for you.

Beware not to over consume Spit Roasted Pigs as eating too much may lead to high blood preasures.10.gif

Wow so much food, I'm stuffed! I guess Magellan's cross will have to wait till tomorrow because right now I need to rest and catch some nap time, even if it's just for a tiny bit hehehe. 24.gif

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A Journey Begins

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It's been several weeks now since I last wrote in my journal. I've been kind of busy with exams and both my parents have gone off on business, with my Dad having gone off to Korea whilst my Mom's currently attendind the annual CRCPD in Newport Rhode Island-USA. 

To make things complicated, I've been busy with all my group mates preparing for this years SOCC-Leadership Training Seminar, which will be held off campus next month. It's an event for Thomasian student leaders and it's something that I've always been involved in.  However, there are still more pressing concerns on my mind, important things I need to do and one of those involved visiting my uncle Romolo at his house in Tagaytay. I haven't seen my uncle in 2 years, since my aunt passed away

Here, I've taken the liberty to take a few snapshots of the beautyful area that is Tagaytay.

Taal Volcanoe
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If you look below in the distance, you can actually see Taal Volcanoe.

It's an amazing sight, but don't be fooled by its size since this volcanoe has already erupted back in 1754, so this isn't the original volcanoe, in fact that's baby Taal right there.35.gif

Caleruega Church, Tagaytay

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This is a photo I've taken of Caleruega chapel, situated atop the highest point of Caleruega.

The Chapel's own façade itself is complete replica of the original chapel in Caleruega, Spain. Its hut-shaped roof is in remembrance of the temporary sheds that the apostles wanted to build for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah during the transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8).

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Uncle's car Outside a shop or Changey as we call them.

Had to buy load for my cell phone.

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Mang Inasal-My favourite chicken house.

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Strolling through Picnic Grove (farmers markets)

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St. Lourdes Church

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Palace in the Sky-This summer retreat was designed by Imelda Marcos for her late husband President Marcos.

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Entrance to People's Park

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This is Christ the Redeemer- A statue that stands in people's park overlooking the valleys below.

Seen this picture before? Well its actually very similar to it's more famous latin cousin in Rio De Janeiro-Brazil

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This place is well known as the highlands because it looks very similar to areas found up in North America & Europe.

Notice the Pine Trees? Well, Tagaytay is the only area in the Philippines and South East Asia to have Pine trees that grow in tropical conditions. This is because Tagaytay sits on very high altitude and because of the cool air, pine trees can go there.

The cool air is the reason why many city folk Makati business men/women go there during the hot summer season, but due to high land values, Tagaytay is well known across the country as rich man's paradise.

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Uncles house located near the highlands

Driving along the road through Caleruega, my uncle started to recall memories of his childhood and asked me if I wanted to visit a special place. I asked him why all of a sudden, but he just kept silent and islowly but surely, I started to wonder where this place was, till we reached what seemed to be an abandoned house.

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This is the place Juan, this is where your Granddad used to take me and your father everytime we'd visit Tagaytay.

Really? Wow, its so old, yet the window shutters are still on, is someone living here?

No, infact this was the home of your great, great, great grandfather Emilio Jose de Velazquez before he moved his family from Leyte.

I was just amazed, I mean I was going to ask him if he knew anything about our family's roots, yet I couldn't figure out why he'd taken me here. As if something was trying to tell him.

You know Juan, before you, I or anyone else you knew including your grandfather were born, my grandfather and his family used to live here in this very house. Not only that, but 4 generations of the Velazquez have lived here.

In fact, this place was once owned by our family before it was abandoned during the war. Since then, this place has litterally become forgotten and as you can see overgrown.

But why did you take me here? Surely you haven't just taken me here to tell me that my ancestors used to live here.

 

No, I took you here because your Grandfather before he passed away requested it; he thought that it was tme for you to know where our family roots came from, how we started off. It's going to be a long journey for you, full of discoveries, not all pretty but as a Velazquez I think it's time that you find out your purpose in life, just as your father and I did.

But I mean I dunno where to go, where to start or what to do from here? I mean where should I go from here?

You go to Cebu where it all began, to Magellan's shrine where God willing he will guide you from there onwards.

As for the other questions, well that's for you to find out yourself.

Anyway, lets get home and tomorrow I'll take you to the airport.

But what about my studies? What about our leadership seminar?

Don't worry, my contacts at Santo Tomas have taken care of everything.

Just remember, you can contact me for anything if you ever get stuck.

l was left speecless because I had planned to go out there and find out the truth behind my family's past, but I never knew that it would happen this fast. It's as if this has been planned all along.

However, I'm ready for this, I can do this and I know that if my Grandfather is watching above, that this is what he would've wanted.

What time do I leave for Cebu?

Sunset over Taal lake
 
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Discovery

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My name is Juan Miguel de Velazquez and I'm currently finishing my studies at the University of Santo Tomas Manila - Philippines. However, I come from a small city called San Jose, it's in Central Visayas.

I usually fly to Manila every couple of days, only cost P3000 pesos and I can get there in less than 1hr.

Anyway, this is our City of San Jose.

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That redish brown Spanish style building is called Residencia de Gobernador and that avenue infront of it is known as Victor de Velazquez Boulevard (named after my Grand Father).

From right to left is Residencia de Vilazquez (home of my Grand Parents), Plaza Mart, below is Cardinal Lim's Residence, next to that is Bureau of the Interior and above that is San Christobal Chapel.

This is Villa de Cabral, it's where I live.

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It's one of the poshest & oldest districts in San Jose City.

Our house is right next to Juan de Baptiste Church, (the one with the fountain) It's in old Spanish colonial style house.

Below us is Andalucia subdivision, the ones with the colored roofs and next to that is Ponce de Lopez St, its where the pobres live or squatters (as we call them).

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Old San Christobal Cathedral

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This is San Christobal Cathedral, one of the oldest Churches in the Philippines, established by Juan Sebastian Elcano. Above that is New Plaza Mart and next to it is Palacio de Elcano.

Rumors have it that gold is stored within the catacombs of the Cathedral, but no one has dared to venture and look for it as it's said to be guarded by the Conquistador himself.

Here is the city at night.

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Birds Eye view of Downtown San Jose.

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Different angle of Residencia de Velazquez and Cardinal Lim's residence.

San Sebastian Cathedral at night along with Tong Lee China Town..

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See the Chinese, & various other styles. Filipino architecture has always been very much influenced by foreign cultures that what has come out overtime is a blend of designs.

Looks like Cardinal Lim is holding Midnight mass.

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View of Palacio Elcano at night.

Anyway, growing up in San Jose has never really been very hard for me, having been born in a wealthy family, which is why I guess I've never really had any fascination or interest in general to history, let alone the history of my family because of the money I have. All I used to care about was shopping, hanging out with friends, partying, chicks and booze.

I mean I've never really had to worry much about anything because I grew up being the only child in a pretty well off and established family, with both my parents having very successful careers.

My dad Eduardo de Vilazquez (who's part Spanish) has his own shipping business providing electronic ship parts to Hyundai in Korea, Japan and China as well as America, Great Britain and Germany.

My mother Mei Xing Lee de Vilazquez (who's part Chinese) is a very well known Physician & Doctor of Medicine.

I on the other hand am studying business, aiming to graduate with MBA this year providing I keep up my high honors, so in terms of education and material wealth, I'm pretty much set up.

However, the passing of both my grandparents (whom I loved to pieces) just recently has somewhat opened my eyes to the reality that life is not infinite, that death does not choose, that someday it could also happen to me or my parents.  I suppose that it's because of this that I've come to realise just how precious life is, that I should try to live it to the fullest and in some way or another try to find out my family's own origin, where we came from, why we're here and why were my ancestors so very well higly regarded.

I guess the passing of my grandparents in a way for me is like the passing or the end of an era, an era so colourful and vibrant with totally different attitudes when compared to today's time.

Back then as grandma told me, the only thing that mattered was status & wealth because these would determine one's own life and destiny.

I just feel sorry for others sometimes that they weren't so fortunate as I am. For them, being born into poverty is not something one is proud of, nor is it an easy life to live.

I mean living in San Jose for a rich kid like me is easy, but seeing poor people outside our house begging on the streets for money & food, having no place live or clean water to drink and wash in with absolutely no education and no education in the Philippines means no future.

I guess what has happened recently has not only changed my views on life, but has made me more aware of my surroundings. It's made me appreciate more of what I have and now not only do I feel that it's my duty to help them out, but also to find out where my family came from & how we gained our wealth & status.

I don't think my own life's view would've changed or that I'd feel differently towards others if my grandparents hadn't died. Now I want to learn, I want to know everything about my family's own history.

Life works in many mysterious ways and it has a way of hitting you in the face; I suppose youth is still on my side though.

 

 

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Perlas de Oriente

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Hi Guys and welcome to my CJ Pearl of the Orient. This is my first CJ dedicated solely to my homeland, its people and our culture. 

In this CJ, we will witness the telling of a story through the eyes of a young Filipino as he travels, unfolds and discovers the legacy of his family, taking us on on a journey spanning over 400 years (4 stages) of Philippine history, from the discovery of the archipelago by Ferdinand Magellan, to the founding of Manila right through the wars of Independence and the return of General Douglas McArthur as he liberates the country from Japanese occupation.

Hopefully this CJ will help to shed new light on the true typical filipino culture and way of life and also .

I realise that the buildings I use in this CJ are not 100% accurate, but this is something I cannot avoid since there are no Filipino BATs around, so this is another project I'm working on to fix by creating BATs of my own.

Hopefully I will be able to complete some before I finish this CJ, but I would gladly welcome anyone who would like to help me create these BAT's since this project is big and will take time.

I am Filipino and creating this CJ is one of my life's ambitions, so please feel free to contact me anytime if you'd like to know more information regarding my project or if you'd simply like to help.

Anyway, here it is hope you like my CJ. :)

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