Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gallego Family Stories

Julio Gallego--My Great Grandfather

Manuel Viola Gallego--My Grandfather

Manuel Ongsiaco Gallego--My Father

Manuel Padilla Gallego--Moi

Here, I recount the stories of my father about my paternal family line. It starts with a bastard son of a Spanish nobleman in Galicia, northwest Spain. As the boy was growing up, living-off the land, his father took pity on him. The nobleman said to his son, "I cannot give you my title but I shall give you my sword. Go and seek your fortune in the colonies." The father assisted his son in joining the Spanish Navy and the son eventually served as an ordinary Spanish soldier in the Philippines, with hardly more than his karsonsilyo to his name. He is the original Manuel Gallego, my great-great grandfather, the quintessential Spanish aventurero.

Over time, Manuel Gallego (the original) rose through the ranks of the Spanish military establishment in the Philippines and distinguished himself to the point of being awarded a Spanish royal land grant of approximately 4,000 hectares in the vicinity of Guimba, Nueva Ecija. This was according to his son, Julio Gallego (my great grandfather), who gave his son, Manuel Viola Gallego (my grandfather), the title of such Spanish royal land grant at the time when Guimba had already an established community.

Manuel Gallego (the original) did not live long. He was planning to send his son, Julio Gallego, to Spain for a military education. However, he became seriously ill and died before Julio had the chance to leave for Spain. Hence, Julio was deprived of a proper military education. This was personally expressed by Julio to his grandson, Manuel Ongsiaco Gallego (my father), when he gave his 38 caliber Colt revolver to Dad upon returning from the US after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in the 1950's.

Colt 38 given by Lolo Julio to Dad after he graduated from VMI
(which happens to be the favorite gun of Al Capone--see picture below)

Al Capone's Handgun

Julio Gallego was married twice--both times to sisters (Juliana and Inocencia) of Maximo Viola, a friend of Jose Rizal, who would later become the patron of Rizal's first novel--the Noli Me Tangere. My family line is descended from Julio's second marriage, which was to Inocencia Viola and which appeared to have been under less than upstanding circumstances. So the story goes . . . Julio (then a widower of Juliana; they had one daughter, Amalia, who married Antonio Lamson; hence, Mang Boy Lamson (one of about 17 children of Antonio and Amalia) was the second cousin of Dad) climbed into the room of unsuspecting Inocencia (then only a teenager and truly an innocent country lass) and spent the night there, knowing full well that Inocencia would be a disgraced woman in the eyes of the entire town on the morning of the following day--unless, of course, he married Inocencia.

Manuel Viola Gallego was the eldest and only boy among the children of Julio and Inocencia. He often mentioned how he could not have pursued higher education if not for the sacrifice of his sisters, who were unable to pursue college to enable their brother to do so. In spite of this, Lolo Ego still needed to work while pursuing college and, later on, his graduate studies. In the future, Lolo Ego integrated an extensive working student program in the educational institutions he established--clearly having an appreciation of the strong work ethic he imbibed as a former working student himself.

In line with the age-old Filipino custom of helping siblings "complete" their higher education, Lolo Ego helped fund the education of his youngest sister, Purificacion Viola Gallego or Tia Cion (as Dad would call her), who completed her degree in pharmacy at the Manila College of Pharmacy in 1925. The following year, at the age of 25, Tia Cion married Filemon Tanchoco, then the Secretary-Treasurer of the Manila College of Pharmacy, the precursor of the Manila Central University (MCU).

Lolo Ego was handsome, intelligent and industrious. Most of all, he was a people-person. Even the few times I had encountered old-timers in Nampicuan who had interacted with Lolo Ego, they would describe him as a gentle individual who got along nicely with the townsfolk. He was almost what we would call a self-made man. I say "almost" because he could not have achieved or helped others as much if not for his wife. Caridad Ongsiaco, who we affectionately call Lola Ego, belonged to an affluent family, thereby relieving Lolo Ego, at least partially, of the drudgery of "putting food on the table" in pursuit of higher level aspirations.

Sidebar on MCU
In 1941, the Manila College of Pharmacy (MCP) suspended its operations as the Japanese forces occupied and looted its facilities, leaving only the shell of its two buildings in the City of Manila. After the liberation from the Japanese occupation in 1945, Filemon Tanchoco was the only remaining individual at MCP who could revive the institution but not without the help of his wife, Tia Cion, who, in turn, sought the help of her brother, Lolo Ego.

Not coincidentally, MCP's transformation and expansion was unprecedented during the years that Lolo Ego was the Secretary of Public Instruction (1946 to 1948). In light of the extensiveness and diversity of courses offered by then Manila Central Colleges (MCC), it was granted the authority to become a university. In 1948, the institution was known as Manila Central University with Filemon Tanchoco as its first president.

After Lolo Ego stepped down as the Secretary of Public Instruction, Tia Cion asked him if he would invest in the expansion of MCU.  After consulting his wife (Lola Ego, who would fund the investment from the proceeds of Rancho Caridad), Lolo Ego undertook the most ambitious initiative of MCU to date, which was to acquire the 10-hectare property of the Jesuit Novitiate of San Jose in Caloocan to serve as the new campus of MCU.

According to Dad, the only other serious buyer of the Jesuit property was Don Salvador Araneta, who had far more financial means to consummate the transaction. Yet, Lolo Ego's modest and gentle approach to negotiations persuaded the Jesuits to sell the property to MCU on installment!

For a number of years, Lolo Ego remained a shareholder of MCU. Early on, Tia Cion indicated the need to establish a cafeteria to serve meals to the students. This enterprise was assumed by Lola Ego with her cousin, Tia Itang, until it eventually grew to a substantial establishment. When Filemon Jr. (son of Filemon and Tia Cion) got married, his wife wanted to take over the operations of the cafeteria. When this was conveyed by Tia Cion to Lolo Ego, Lola Ego felt betrayed. She told Lolo Ego to divest their ownership interest in MCU and Lolo Ego obliged. Henceforth, the relationship between Lolo Ego and his sister, Tia Cion, had become distant.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Since my first cross-country flight to the Angeles Flying Club in September, this rainy season has grounded me for the most part, which has been rather anti-climactic. Even today (mid-November), regular rainfall keeps the airstrip too muddy for pleasant (not to mention safe) take-offs and landings. I get splattered with too much mud when I take-off and land my aircraft. Because we have a bit of cattle grazing the farm, the mud is really a combination of soil, pipi and poo-poo. You get the picture.

The parts I had ordered for the overhaul of my first Rotax 582 engine have arrived. My friend, Ricky Aguas, lent me certain specialty tools to remove the piston and the magneto. I just need to disassemble the engine (easier said than done for a first timer) and have the crankshaft inspected and redone by Bert Padua, who (I have been informed) is the definitive machinist for Rotax crankshafts in the Philippines. Thereafter, I will reassemble the engine (now overhauled) and have a second airworthy aircraft. Target completion by end of March 2012.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life Starts Somewhere Between 43 and 44

The often quoted statement “Life starts at 40” didn’t mean much to me. In the first place, I didn’t give it much thought . . . until recently. I retired from employment after I turned 41. Mom was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after that and life switched to suspended animation. It was the most painful time of my life, even though it was Mom who was suffering. After nearly a year, Mom passed away.

She was a presence in our lives, so it had been difficult to resume without her physical presence—although we are certain of her spiritual presence and guidance as we move on today.  And so another year or so has past and life seems to be normalizing; hence, life (for me at least) appears to start somewhere between 43 and 44.

I am fortunate and infinitely grateful that I am not compelled to think of “putting food on the table.”  Instead, I can think of . . . fun stuff.  Like enjoying the company of loved ones, flying and assembling more planes, riding my motorcycle, pursuing new things (like paragliding, scuba diving, growing vegetables and cooking), experimenting at the farm, traveling, among other things. Moreover, I am abundantly blessed in my desire to simplify every aspect of my life . . . in due course.  To simplify until there is nothing more to take away.  And so my journey begins . . . 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Early Days . . . Flights on Video!

Thanks again to Erik.  Without his conscientious record keeping, these videos, which he filmed in December 2006, would have been lost.  In the course of posting the videos on You Tube this afternoon, I learned to convert from one video format to another and trim and edit the same.  Neat stuff.  All for free and within the immediate realm of your computer . . . with internet access of course.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Early Days with my Nephew, Sijbren

Courtesy of my brother-in-law, Erik Kramer, an avid photographer and very organized record keeper, the following are photographs of my nephew, Sijbren, visiting the farm and checking out the microlight.  Photos were taken in December 2006, when I was accumulating my solo flight hours.  Sijbren is twice as big now . . . how time flies!

Sijbren getting comfy at the pilot's seat

Sijbren checking-out the helmet

Sijbren talking shop with Tito Tutu 

Sijbren posing for the shot

Monday, September 12, 2011

My First Cross Country Flight

September 12, 2011, Monday, 6:40 am, I take-off on my first cross country flight to the nearby airstrip of the Angeles Flying Club (AFC)--just shy of 55 kilometers south of Nampicuan as the crow flies.  I have flown farther than that in the past (e.g., Nampicuan to Fort Magsaysay, which is nearly 70 kilometers) but I never actually landed at my destination.  I would simply meander in the air at my destination for a few minutes and then return to my home airstrip in Nampicuan.  This time is different.  I am landing at the AFC and I will fly back to Rancho Caridad the following day--so I thought.

As it happens, I set my alarm clock incorrectly and instead of waking-up at 5 a.m., I open my eyes to see the light of day at about 6:20 am.  So, I rush to the airstrip, where my trusted crew is wondering why I am unusually late, fill-up the tank with gasoline, conduct my pre-flight checks and off I go--immediately banking to the left for a 180 degree turn to the south for Magalang, Pampanga.  There are plenty of low altitude clouds, which can be a bit threatening when it's the first time you are visiting a place and you are entirely dependent on a pocket-size GPS to reach your destination.  I thought about changing the batteries of my GPS for this cross country flight but I didn't.  Murphy's Law got the better of me when the GPS flashed a "low battery" reading about half of the way to AFC.  Turned off the GPS and turned it back on about 5 minutes to my destination.  It should have at least that much juice left for a safe landing.  Distance to destination on the GPS read 755 meters yet I did not have a visual of the AFC airstrip.  For a second, I thought I might have inputted the wrong coordinates in my GPS until I looked straight down and realized I was right on top of my destination.  Whew!  Touched down at about 7:20 am and the staff of the AFC was just about trickling-in for the opening at 8 am.

My friend, Albert Mendoza (who was also my microlight instructor), invited me to come over because GMA (the TV station) was going to feature microlights this morning.  Gordon, a seasoned microlight et al instructor from the United Kingdom with over 2,000 flying hours on a microlight, agreed to perform some microlight competition-type maneuvers, among other things, for the TV crew.  And so, he did and Albert took my trike together with the camera man to take aerial shots of the action.  The TV host was an enthusiastic and brave young lady who came along with Gordon for some of the maneuvers.  "Aha!"  That's the name of the TV show at GMA and it’s suppose to air in a week or so.  We will see.

We all hand lunch at a local carinderia (eatery), which served an exceptional sizzling sisig and pinapaitang kambing.  We filled-up and parted ways.  Albert and Gordon checked-out my wing and concluded that my wing had too much "reflex," proceeded to make some adjustments, which slightly improved its handling.  I will need to secure a copy of the shape of the battens of my wing from the original manufacturer, as these may need to be flattened to correct the performance of my wing.  That's homework for me.

Just after lunch was a downpour of rain.  It lasted for 2 maybe 3 hours and the skies cleared-up with a bit of haze.  With the ground cooled by the seasonal rainfall, I was assured that there would hardly be any thermals for the rest of the afternoon.  It was also evident that the rest of the afternoon would experience relatively calm wind conditions.  And so, I decided to return to Rancho Caridad in the afternoon.  Took off at at around 3:45 pm and arrived in Nampicuan at around 4:45 pm.  The trip was about 1 hour and unusually long for the distance.  This was due to a nearly frontal headwind, though consistent, allowed me to cruise at speeds below 40 kph.  Hence, the long ride back, which is still faster than going by car with all the traffic.  Oh . . . I did remember to change the batteries of my GPS before returning home.  So goes my first cross country flight on September 12, 2011.

There will be more cross-country flights to come as soon as I purchase my airband transceiver--that is a fancy name for a walkie-talkie for aviation purposes--my headset and the push-to-talk switch that goes along with this communication system.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lolo Ego and Lolo Bino

I have the distinction and good fortune (through no merit of my own) of having not one but two distinguished grandfathers, who served the Filipinos in earnest as senior government officials at the relatively early stage of our nation’s quest for self-determination.  I find that the easiest way to brag about this (though, once again, I can’t claim any credit) is to show a picture of a historical plaque at the site of our national monument, the Rizal Monument (the Philippines' equivalent of the Statue of Liberty).

Rizal Monument

The First Cabinet and the First Supreme Court Justices

The plaque, on the upper half, enumerates the first cabinet of the so-called Third Republic of the Philippines (i.e., after the Commonwealth era of the Philippines under the sovereignty of the United States), which includes the Honorable Manuel V. Gallego, then Secretary of Public Instructions (that’s Lolo Ego), and, on the lower half, enumerates the first justices of the Supreme Court, which includes the Honorable Sabino Padilla (that’s Lolo Bino).  They were indeed honorable men at a time when public service in the Philippines was not yet wrought with corruption and incompetence.

The exemplary public service of both my Lolo Ego and my Lolo Bino were remembered on the year of their respective birth centenary through the Great Filipinos series of commemorative stamps issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation.

Lolo Ego

Lolo and Lola Ego

Lolo Bino with Family at Supreme Court

Lolo Bino with Mom before Wedding

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Hazard Wing

Crack of dawn, Saturday, August 13.  I’ve switched from my slow (Gibbogear Butterfly) wing (cruises at about 60 kph without head or tail wind) to my intermediate (Pipistrel Hazard) wing (cruises at about 80 kph without head or tail wind).

It doesn’t look different but it’s a different flying animal.  You’ll be surprised how much more area you can cover with a slightly higher cruising speed.  I did not bring a camera on this flight as I wanted to re-familiarize myself with my intermediate wing, which requires more active handling during flights.  I also did not bring my GPS (global positioning system for navigation) as the sky was quite clear and I had no intention of flying beyond a 30 kilometer radius.

Take-off took a little longer than my slow wing (as expected) and was nice and smooth.  I did not feel like I was gaining altitude quickly enough, so I kept the engine at about 5,000 RPM for a few minutes.  I then tapered to between 4,600 to 4,700 RPM until I felt pretty cold.  Without my GPS, it appeared I was climbing slowly even at 4,600 RPM, so I settled at 4,500 RPM, probably at an altitude of nearly 1,000 meters.  I visited Rosales, Pangasinan to look for another lake (besides Lake Paitan) that was supposed to be nearby.  Meandered through the river along Rosales—no such lake.  Visibility was terrific as I could see Lingayen Gulf—roughly 30 kilometers from Rosales as the crow flies.

My intermediate wing, rightly or wrongly, settles comfortably at the front aluminum post of the trike in the absence of any pilot intervention.  During calm flying conditions (as in most of my flight this morning), I can actually take photographs using a camera on my wrist mount.  I’m really excited to get this going.  Just haven’t gotten around to buying a decent compact digital camera for my wrist mount.  Details, details!

I flew the rest of the way home at around 4,300 RPM leisurely loosing altitude until a smooth landing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It’s reeeal puhrty (pretty) up here!

TPLEX and Low Altitude Clouds

Crack of dawn, Thursday, August 11.  There are plenty of low clouds scattered all over the sky and the sunrise looks promising.  It’s going to melt those clouds in no time—so I thought.

Something exciting (I think) is happening in Nampicuan.  A significant highway extension is finally going to be built that will bring this town, among other economically challenged rural towns, closer to Metro Manila (2 hrs by car, no rush) and other growth centers such as Clark (1 hr by car, no rush) and Subic (1.5 hr by car, no rush).  I say “no rush” because I can achieve these times without the highway extension by driving aggressively.  Anyway, I decided to take some aerial photos of the TPLEX, which is short for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway—particularly the portion that passes alongside the family farm—Rancho Caridad.  While the interchange or the exit coming out of the TPLEX is approximately 3 kilometers from the farm, the TPLEX itself barely misses the westernmost tip of the farm, the tangential distance of which is less than 100 meters from TPLEX—as seen in the photographs, which are taken from a northeast orientation heading southwest.

TPLEX and Rancho Caridad from a distance . . . coming closer . . . closer . . .

TPLEX and Rancho Caridad from a distance . . . coming closer . . . closer . . .

TPLEX and Rancho Caridad from a distance . . . coming closer . . . closer . . .

. . . until you see the gap with a portion of a mango orchard that needs to be chopped away
Rancho Caridad is less than 100 meters to the left of TPLEX

. . . until you see the gap with a portion of a mango orchard that needs to be chopped away
Rancho Caridad is less than 100 meters to the left of TPLEX

It sort of reminds me of a Charles Bronson movie I saw about the Wild West and the excitement that came along when the railroad was built through your town.  In many cases then, US towns sprung-up because of the railroad.  (Although in a more recent context, some would argue that small town USA died because of the interstate highway replacing the old Route 66.)  I’m optimistic that TPLEX is going to be a blessing for Central Luzon.

From Metro Manila, you would pass through NLEX (Northern Luzon Expressway) to SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) going to Tarlac, which connects to the TPLEX that will eventually reach La Union or the base from which to start your climb to Baguio.  See the following W Growth Corridor illustration.

W Growth Corridor of Central Luzon
Rancho Caridad, Nampicuan is at the central tip of the W Growth Corridor
Only 3 kilometers drive from the Anao Interchange or Exit of TPLEX

It’s one of those not so usual days of low altitude clouds and it’s plenty of fun flying above them.  You see this all the time when you hop on any jet plane that usually flies at altitudes of around 30,000 ft.  The clouds are way below during most of the trip—except shortly after take-off and shortly before landing.  When you’re flying recreationally, you decide (within prudent and safe limits, of course) what altitude to fly . . . and I chose to fly not too high above the clouds.  It’s reeeal puhrty (pretty) up here!

Low Altitude Clouds
That mountain on the right foreground, approximately 50 kms north, would be about Baguio

Banking the aircraft into the sunrise

Low Altitude Clouds . . . and the 3 giant monsters beneath
Mt Balungao, Mt Bangkay and Mt Cuyapo

Rancho Caridad was covered in clouds when I returned.  This could be terrifying for a first-timer, even with the GPS on-board.  I had to look for the airstrip before I lined-up my trike for landing.

Low Altitude Clouds Just Above Rancho Caridad
How do I land if I can't see the airstrip?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ready for Some Cross-Country Action!

Wednesday, August 10.  I just had my aircraft mechanic check my carburetion in connection with my uneven EGT (exhaust gas temperature) readings and he gave it the clean bill of health; that is, after we cleaned the gunk (residual resin from my gas tank) we found in the carburetors and replaced the damaged gas filter.  It appears my water temperature gauge, which is working wonderfully registering a cool 65 degrees Celsius at my solo cruising 4,200 RPM, is the more critical instrument.  Apparently, it’s not unusual for dual EGT readings to be different.  As long as any single EGT reading does not exceed 650 degrees Celsius (1,200 degrees Fahrenheit), I should be within acceptable engine parameters.  This also resolves my final technical concern post engine replacement; ergo, we are clear to launch!  That just means I’m finally ready for some cross-country flights as I have been flying short distances since July 1, 2011.

Below is a preview of my initial cross-country destinations, including Angeles Flying Club, Iba, Hermana Minor, Hermana Mayor, Baler, Lingayen, Laokan, San Fernando, Bagabag, among others.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lola Oñang (Gorgonia, wife of Lolo Lucio, holding the basket) with her children
(women wearing indigenous costumes)
Ongsiaco Family Tree (1 of 2)--work-in-progress

Ongsiaco Family Tree (2 of 2)--work-in-progress

Ongsiaco Family History in Nampicuan

Contemporary history has not been favorable to Nampicuan.  Several years ago, I had a conversation with the late P. O. Domingo, former Chairman and CEO of the University of the East.  When I informed him about the family farm in Nampicuan, he said he hailed from Paniqui, Tarlac and recalled, when he was a young man, the reputation of Nampicuan as a haven of cattle thieves.  Another mark of Nampicuan’s infamy was due to the criminal exploits of the late Jose "Pepe" Saclao, Public Enemy No. 1.  Born and raised in Nampicuan, Pepe fancied himself a modern day Robin Hood but was just another gun-wielding lackey of corrupt politicians.

Today, Nampicuan is a quaint and peaceful rural town in Central Luzon that boasts of a pedigreed past known to a few families that were privileged to own what was once known as Hacienda Esperanza.  Covering an area of 39,000 hectares (part of which was the entire Municipality of Nampicuan that did not yet exist), Hacienda Esperanza was the largest tract of land owned by a single individual in the entire history of the Philippines.

The Spanish royal land grants were responsible for two huge haciendas in Central Luzon:  Hacienda Luisita and Hacienda Esperanza.  Hacienda Luisita in the Province of Tarlac, which encompassed territory in the towns of Tarlac, La Paz, Concepcion and Capas was a royal grant given to Tabacalera Company in 1880—acquired with the sugar mill, Central Azucarera de Tarlac, by Jose Cojuangco Sr. in 1957 with the help of the Philippine Government.  Hacienda Esperanza, nearly 40,000 hectares which encompassed territory in four provinces—Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and the Mountain Province—was a royal grant given to a Spaniard in 1863.

Sometime between 1863 and 1893, Francisco Gonzalez, a prominent Spanish mestizo from Baliuag, Bulacan, bought out the original Spanish owner of Hacienda Esperanza.  Then, in 1893, Francisco Gonzalez (allegedly due to substantial gambling debts) sold nearly half of Hacienda Esperanza to Marcelino de Santos and Lucio Ongsiaco.  De Santos and Ongsiaco were not only business partners but also brothers-in-law by virtue of Marcelino’s marriage to Lucio’s sister.  The portion of Hacienda Esperanza they received was located in the Province of Nueva Ecija (including most of Nampicuan and part of Cuyapo) and in the Province of Tarlac (including part of Anao and part of San Manuel).  All in all, what was to be known as the De Santos, Ongsiaco, Lim Estate covered nearly 15,700 hectares of virtually uninhabited land at that time.

In time, the Estate was divided among its owners.  Lim, the industrial partner of De Santos and Ongsiaco, and the encargado or foreman of the Estate, was given approximately 1,500 hectares in the vicinity of San Manuel, Tarlac.  De Santos received more than half the balance of approximately 7,700 hectares, allegedly because he asked for a disproportionately larger area of land due to his having more children than Ongsiaco at the time of the division—to which Ongsiaco obliged.  Ongsiaco received approximately 6,500 hectares, which comprised most of Nampicuan and some parts of Anao and Cuyapo.

Lucio Ongsiaco had nine children with his wife Gorgonia Velasco.  As was the custom in those days, the male heirs typically inherited more than the female heirs.  Hence, Caridad Velasco Ongsiaco (my grandmother), one of the daughters of Lucio and Gorgonia, inherited a disproportionately smaller area of approximately 600 hectares of her father’s rural landholdings—mostly in Nampicuan with a few hectares spilling over to Cuyapo.  Caridad was married to Manuel Viola Gallego, who, in 1953, registered Caridad’s rural landholdings to Gallego Institute of Agriculture and Industry, Inc., a Philippine corporation established for the advancement of agricultural education in Central Luzon (“GIAI”).

The years that followed saw the destruction of rural landowners whose lands were planted to rice.  The burgeoning Philippine democracy saw the rise of the politician who sought the vote of the common man at the expense of landowners.  Forced distribution of land or institutionalized land-grabbing, ostensibly known as agrarian reform, was imposed by the government.

Today, Nampicuan is comprised of small tracts of land owned by many individual farmers, who continue to produce rice, among other agricultural produce, for domestic consumption. GIAI, which we now fondly call Rancho Cardidad (in honor of my grandmother), is the only descendant entity of Hacienda Esperanza that maintains a presence in Nampicuan. In 2011, at the behest of Manuel O. Gallego Jr. (my father), GIAI donated its high school of over 60 years, to the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, which, in turn, has committed to bring to bear its resources to provide quality Catholic education to the youth of Nampicuan.

I have also embarked on an agri-turismo initiative complementing our organic livestock (great steaks!) with recreational aviation.  Among the aircrafts flown in our private airstrip are microlights, ultralights, aircrafts without engines, such as gliders (sailplanes) and, eventually, hangliders and paragliders that will harness the abundant natural thermals found in the vicinity of Nampicuan.

Below are aerial photos of Rancho Caridad:

 Rancho Caridad, Nampicuan
Taken from the northeast side of the airstrip

Rancho Caridad, Nampicuan
Taken from the northeast side of the airstrip

Rancho Caridad, Nampicuan
Taken from the southeast side of the airstrip; Nampicuan Public High School
across the Ranch along the Anao-Nampicuan-Cuyapo provincial road

 Rancho Caridad, Nampicuan
Taken from the southeast side of the airstrip

Diagonal Airstrip (work-in-progress)
Taken from the northeast side of the airstrip

Diagonal Airstrip (work-in-progress)
Taken from the southeast side of the airstrip, along the path of dominant wind direction--
a significant safety feature for microlights

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aerial Photos Up and Around Nampicuan

Sunrise at Nampicuan

Mount Cuyapo--kudos to Cuyapo for all those trees!

Lake Paitan--farmers follow the rise and ebb of rain water to produce rice; Central Luzon's tiny version of Tonle Sap Lake (Cambodia)

Mount Balungao--hot springs are found here; a dormant volcano

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grounded . . . Happy 85th Birthday Dad!

Crack of dawn, Friday, July 29. Typhoon Juaning just passed through Central Luzon and is now headed for Hanoi via the Western Philippine Sea (could also be the South China Sea, depending on who gets the Spratly Islands—those Beijing Bullies!). Typhoon Kabayan is concurrently developing in the Pacific Ocean but it appears to be moving north along the eastern shores of the PhilippinesNampicuan is overcast with dark clouds.  Even at sunrise, there is a breeze with occasional gusts.  See wind sock with Mount Cuyapo in the background.

Air Sock with Mount Cuyapo at the Background
Breeze is unusually strong at sunrise.

Warmed-up my engine but decided not to fly.  Instead, I just took pictures of the airstrip and the microlight.

Muddy Airstrip under Cloudy Skies

Aircraft and Crew
That's Otips, our new Cattle Herder, and Mang Ben, Chief Crew, Forage Expert and Jack of All Trades. 
Mang Ben has been with the family since I was a kid.

Perhaps the most important safety consideration in aviation is deciding whether or not to fly at all, based on the weather conditions.  If you’re flying for fun, then you might as well do it under ideal or near ideal weather conditions.  A few years ago, my near crash experience while landing my microlight was a result of my misreading the afternoon winds.  I thought it was getting calmer, when, in fact, it picked up considerably (and a perfect crosswind across the north-south orientation of the airstrip at that) after I took off.  Casualty: damage to the front end of the aircraft and a sprain on my right foot.  I’d like to give credit to my piloting skills but I was just lucky.

It’s Dad’s 85th birthday and he’s in great shape.  He says he now has the biorhythm of a baby; that is, he sleeps a few hours at a time in between meals and activities, regardless of the hour of day or night.  He still looks good and I mean that literally.  Dad has always been a handsome fellow—damn good looking guy if I may say so myself.  (By the way, I look like my Mom, so I’m quite objective about Dad’s looks.)  These types don’t come along too often.  Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood . . . MOG.  See for yourself below.  Happy Birthday Dad!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Two (2) Part Video of Gliding in Nampicuan
Taken from the southeast side of the airstrip; Nampicuan Public High School across the Ranch along the Anao-Nampicuan-Cuyapo provincial road

Professionally captured and narrated by Erik Kramer.  Be sure to turn-up the volume to hear Erik's informative commentary.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My First Flight (since almost 2 years ago)

Mount Bangkay at the foreground and the Sierra Madre Mountain Range at the background

Crack of dawn, July 1, 2011, I flew my trike (also called a flexwing or a microlight or an ultralight) for the first time in nearly two years. For safety, I used my slow wing. My landings were smooth--as if I had been flying regularly. It's like riding a bike. Once you know it, then you know it for life. I need to adjust the idle and figure out why the EGT (exhaust gas temperature) readings are uneven. Overall, my new Rotax 582 Bluehead engine is performing nicely.

My initial target for first flight was April 1, 2011 or three months ago. There were additional parts I had to import and the electrical wiring seemed to take forever. Then, there was the gasoline tank, which I had fabricated in a fiberglass shop in Banawe, Quezon City. They used the wrong resin, which melted with gasoline. Entirely my fault to rely on the "expertise" of local fabricators that create fiberglass parts for aesthetic purposes. After my research on the subject, I used vinyl-ester resin on the gasoline tank and, voila, we are good to go!