The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts – October 4, 2009

Prior to writing this blog post, I never really bothered wondering what a “gable” actually was. But I do know that I had to see this House with the Seven Gales while I was in Salem.

Aside from being a historical building, there was a novel of the same name in our house for many years. So the name had recall to me. I never read the book, but there was a drawing on the cover.

According Wikipedia, a gable is a triangular section of the house. And this house… had 7… of course.

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We took a lot of pictures outside. I was too cheap to pay for the tour and go inside. From the witch house and the witch museum. I wasn’t sure if it was worthwhile… hehe.

For more information, visit the official website and Wikipedia

Witch House, Salem, Massachusetts – October 4, 2009

I attempted a roadtrip from Westford to Salem yesterday, Oct 3rd. But the rains were quite heavy. Not to be defeated, I pursued the trip today with of my officemates from Manila.

Salem is one of those towns which one hears about over the years from American Movies and Television shows. Salem is a beautiful little town in Massachusetts, but is best known for the witchcraft trials of 1692.

The only structure which has still stands since 1962 which had any direct ties to the Witchcraft Trials of 1692 is a house known as Witch house. It wasn’t home to any witches but it was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin. Corwin was called upon to investigate the claims of diabolical activity when a surge of witchcraft accusations arose in Salem and neighboring communities. He served on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which ultimately sent nineteen to the gallows. All nineteen refused to admit to witchcraft and maintained their innocence. ( More info at the website )

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I got a real kick visiting the town of Salem. I’d always been fascinated by the stories of Salem and the superstition surrounding it. I was never really into witchcraft itself and I am not into goth… but it was definitely a kick to be in this little town with such history.

We went to the back of the house where the “giftshop” was. We were convinced to cough up $8.50 for the self-guided tour and we got around to walk around the house.

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This is the main dining area where the family entertained guests.

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Above is the family dining area. I learned something interesting about the era from a description posted on the wall. If you note, there are no utensils on the table. Apparently, they ate with their hands. And they scooped up stuff using bread. And so I wondered… so that is where the “using bread” practice started… it had a practical purpose.

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Fireplace where they did cooking. No magic potions here. That rea light was from a red bulb hanging over the pot for effect.

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Children’s bedroom. It was full of other tools of the era like that huge loom.

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It was in interesting place. I don’t know if it was worth $8.50 though :)

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I still recommend people visit here when they get the chance. It’s so full of history. Just make sure you don’t expect to find any witches.

From the Witch House we wandered around Salem to soak up its history.

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We and a Gandalf-type wizard

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In the town square we encountered some characters acting out a scene. We couldn’t quite figure out what they were acting out though.

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Lots of interesting architecture.

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We ended up taking in a short historical show at the Salem Witch Museum. It was interesting.

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We came across some interesting friends…

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… and for some reason we ended up in a cemetery… in Salem!

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Calatagan Light House, Batangas – July 5, 2009

On the evening of July 4th, at around 10:30pm I put a note out on Facebook asking for people who wanted to come with me on another “bahala na” roadtrip.

I had done this in May with Jasper as we made a “balikan” trip to Baguio, and previously in March to Quezon Province. The goal was not to have any specific plan or destination in mind… just to ride the car and go! Stop when hungry and spur of the moment “let’s go there”. While against my true “planner” nature… these kind of trips are less stressful because anything goes. No sticking to a schedule.

This trip would also serve as a field test for me new Nikkor 10-24mm Ultra Wide Angle Lens.

By around 11pm I was able to assemble my team of Jasper, Patrick, and Luis via Facebook, IM, and phone txts.  I picked everyone up early Sunday morning. We had breakfast at McDo Alabang Town Center. And we were off.

On the the road, we took our my map of southern luzon and then decided where to go. At first we were going to head for Batangas City or Nasugbu when we saw at the very end of the leftmost point the words “light house” at the end of Calatagan. And so we decided that that would be our main destination for the day.

View Calatagan Light House in a larger map

As with these kind of no-plan trips, time does not drag. We spend our time chatting in the car about anything and everything while we notice oddities along the road. From SLEX we exited in Santa Rosa (Greenfields actually because I missed the Santa Rosa exit) and proceeded to Tagaytay City then proceeded to Lian.

We kinda made a wrong turn and headed instead to Balayan, then down to Calatagan from there. The nice thing about Philippine roads, in their simplicty you can’t really get lost. Just go straight and follow signs no matter how vague they may seem.

When we got to Calatagan… the sight of Ricky Reyes on these Golden Sunset Beach Resort signs bothered us but at lease indicated that were on the right route. We saw signs to Cape Santiago (I honestly thought it was a coffee shop). We followed the main road until the very end until we reached the tip of the map. We could see the light house on the right but couldn’t find any signs indicating a road to it… simply because there wasn’t any.

Anyway… after some asking around and getting lost, while my tires filed with cakes of mud we found the little road leading up to light house. White cows and a few goats along the side. We parked… and walked up this small driveway looking road up to a gate.

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The small wooden gate was padlocked. With a sign stating that we should not enter (those weren’t the words, I should have taken a picture of the sign). There was an old rusty padlock which seemed not have ever been opened in recent years. The above picture is the scene from the gate.

The light house is very rustic. Built in 1890 by the Spaniards, its architecture very evident of its era. The area is referred to as Cape Santiago or Punta de Santiago named after Don Santiago Zobel who donated the property for the construction of the light house. I wonder if he is of relation to the Zobel’s of today.

There was no “bantay” at the time. So we didn’t know who to ask. The place seemed abandoned but we could see that the lighthouse had very modern lights. We were told as we were asking for directions that there was a “bantay” (or caretaker) but he was not around at the time.

We decided to see if we could take a peek of the light house from the water side. At the edge of the flat area where we parked the car, we saw that it would be somewhat challenging to get to the water level…

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Above we see Patrick scaling the side of the cliff.

It wasn’t a difficult climb. But the corals (and the plants) were quite sharp. Thankfully no one got scratched. I wouldn’t recommend this for everybody.

As we about to embark on the climb, another group of people arrived and saw us. They were a group of photographers from Marikina who also heard of the light house.

While climb down was treacherous… getting there was worth it!

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Here’s the view from the breakwater with mynew ultra wide angle lens.

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with me :)

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View from the breakwater.

After several minutes taking picture and prancing on the painful rocks (and I was just in slippers) we then decided to make it back up to the cars.

When we made it back we noticed that our erstwhile companions were still there (their car was parked next to mine) but we could not see them. Apparently they had made it in via a back entrance… meanwhile we asked Luis to ask a guard who miraculously appeared who also said we can go inside and look for the caretaker.

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We got inside the place. Beautiful rustic architecture. No caretaker in sight. Along with the other group of 4, we were the only ones there.

We went around the grounds. Despite its age and obvious deteriration, the place looked pretty well maintained. It was clean, no rotting leaves on the ground. The grounds were nice and green with cows and goats roaming around.

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The trip was definitely well worth it. It was an interesting place and the trip itself was quite pleasant.

From here we left Calatagan, Batangas in search of lunch. First thought was Sonya’s Garden in tagaytay. We ended up eating in Nagubu Batangas’ Kainan sa Dalampasigan

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