Tag Archive: Philippines



A fellow blogger once asked how many countries I have visited. A friend once “humble-bragged” by advising I should start planning to cover all 7 continents to “round up my travels”.  Unfortunately, I don’t keep count. Why do they, I wonder? Nor does it matter to me what others think I missed or should have done. I go where it pleases.  And beyond the sights, my memorable experiences are always characterized by the people I interacted with. That includes the people I traveled with. I have the good fortune of traveling with many, varied circles of friends outside of family. The foodies, the sightseers, the adventurers, the history buffs, the art and culture vultures, the hikers, as well as those who just long for some R & R. Not stuck with any single group, I relish the company of each. That includes a peculiar group I’d call the “losers” — people who don’t care getting LOST, seeing the ”mishap’ as another opportunity to explore! 






In Bhutan, I found a very admirable tour and hiking guide. My friend Beth and I “adopted” Sonam whom we referred to as our godson. We are still in touch, thanks to Facebook. We were updated with Sonam’s adventures from a young man to bridesgroom to young father, moving from Bhutan to Australia. I credit Sonam for making it possible for me to hike up to Taktshang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest. The hike is quite dramatic considering you see the site high up in the mountain from the base where pilgrims and tourists commence the hike or horseback ride for the first 1 hour. I chose the latter to conserve my energy for the hike and met Tring, the old man whose horse is likewise called Tring. Don’t ask why. Meanwhile, I left my friend Beth with our driver who grew years older (again, don’t ask me why 🙄) accompanying my friend up to the Halfway Station. Tashi Delek!





Still on Bhutan, I have to say I’ve been so impressed with how kind and caring their people are. Whenever I stopped for oxygen breaks, there were locals eyeing me as if asking if I need some help. They’d only stop staring and got on with whatever they were doing when I smiled to reassure them I’m still alive 😊 Also, I never found a race so detached from material wealth as these Bhutanese. Sure there were poor people around, but I never once felt that money mattered most to them. I sure hope that didn’t change over the years since I’ve been there. 






Because I run a blog site, one of my followers learned I was staying in Madrid for nearly 3 months back in 2013. He messaged to invite me to a good Cocido de Madrileño lunch plus an afternoon tour of the city’s hidden gems. The best tour I ever had! Under the tourist radar sites included trespassing on strangers’ apartments to view better preserved medieval walls of Madrid. Well not exactly trespassing — Marco actually knocked on strangers’ apartment doors to view the walls from their porches!  And these locals were most accommodating. 




Because I made many solo trips in and around Spain, I met a lot of new friends and interacted with many locals. Before getting off a bus, I’d ask the driver which is the best way to reach the Plaza Mayor. Invariably, the bus driver will advise me he’d be back on that dropoff by a certain time for my ride back. Better than riding a cab! On that New Year’s Eve I was in Madrid, I jumped up and down with the locals,shared drinks with them, and even hugged them as the clock struck 12. My niece and them locals were family 😘




In Mongolia, my friends and I had a chance to visit a ger, eat an authentic lunch, and observe how a typical Mongolian family lead a nomadic lifestyle. I parted with my locally-crafted necklace to give to the “lady of the ger” who cooked and served us some dumplings and tea right inside the ger. We didn’t sleep in a ger. I don’t think I could unless one goes to the gers put up for tourists with modern conveniences 😜 






In Hanoi, I found children playing “sipa” which literally translates to kick. It’s a native game in Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries. I joined those kids for a game in my wedged sandals while carrying my bag. Beat that! Then in India, I strayed from our travel group and found ourselves in the kitchen of a Sikh Temple where they were preparing to feed a long line of devotees. The volunteer cooks looked tired but friendly. And locally? I remember spotting a fellow blogger in a Masskara festival in Bacolod City. I approached Enrico and here’s our photo before the parade started! Listen to the drum roll… 




This is the Church of Saint Anne in Molo, Iloilo. Some coral rocks, some sand, some eggwhites. And then, the statues of 16 women saints. Seek their graces and feel empowered, woman!

 

 

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The church is right across the beautiful district plaza where one finds a domed pavilion with 6 Greek goddesses. Why Greek? I honestly don’t know. Our guide kept harping on the “Athens of the Philippines” bit, but I feel it’s a stretch. The Gothic Church stands on its own, and the plaza….well, let’s just say it’s neat and pretty without any reference to the Athens line.

 

 

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Molo. Say that, and what immediately comes to mind is a clear broth with pork and shrimp dumplings. In olden times, the districts and towns along the shoreline were constantly raided by Moro pirates. The place being Iloilo’s version of Chinatown had many Chinese settlers, who pronounced “Moro” as “Molo”. This also explains the Chinese influence on its famous local dish “Pancit Molo”, one of my favorites.

 

 

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The church interiors made great use of columns, many of which along the main aisle is adorned by a female saint. You may address your prayers for intercession to Saints Cecilia, Teresa, Monica, Mary Magdalene, Clara, Martha, Rose de Lima, and many others. The statues, woodwork, stained glass, carvings and paintings are worth a few seconds’ pause, if you will.

 

 

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Lazi Convent proudly stands across the pink-ish late 19th century church built by Augustinian Recollects in Lazi, Siquijor. The stonewalls echo a deep history of this convent used as “rest and recreation” of the Augustinian friars then. A collection of sorts is housed in the 2nd floor which now serves as a museum that impresses as well as breaks one’s heart.

 

 

 

 

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Lazi Convent. R & R. In late 19th century for men of the clergy.

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Centuries-old acacia trees line the road separating Lazi Convent from the Saint Isidore Church. Siquijor.

 

 

Impressive that the same acacia trees still line the road separating the Saint Isidore Church and the Convent which has since been converted into a school and Museum. That the basic elements of the old structure — pillars, capiz windows and staircase — remain. Heartbreaking that there is no semblance of security and preservation concerns relating to the Museum. In the first place, the use of the ground floor as school premises doesn’t augur well in preserving this historical site.

 

 

 

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The corridors on the 2nd floor of Lazi Convent which now houses the Siquijor Heritage Museum.

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Capiz-framed window slides on the 2nd floor of Lazi Convent cum Siquijor Heritage Museum.

 

 

 

When we came across a tabernacle on display, it broke our hearts to read that the piece is a reproduction, a fake, a switched copy of the genuine piece which was earlier sent for restoration. Only time will tell how the other treasures within the unguarded museum would fare. God forbid.

 

 

 

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The FAKE Tabernacle. Siquijor Heritage Museum. Lazi Convent.

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Historical treasures inside Siquijor Heritage Museum. No glass encasing to protect them. Unguarded. Poorly maintained.

 

 

 

The 2nd floor with capiz-framed window slides reminded me of my grandmother’s house, except that these ones offered a view of the Lazi Church across the road. No wonder men from the clergy chose this convent for R & R. The church is beautiful and this convent equally so, as well as huge in size. A friend reminded me that Siquijor was then center of studies on herbal medicine during the Spanish time and that many scientists from Europe visited the island for research then. I may also add that religious men, many of whom are botanists and pseudo-scientists, may have visited for these same reasons. Rest and Recreation AND RESEARCH!

 

 

 

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Lazi Convent. Rest, recreation and research!

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Saint Isidore Church just across the road from Lazi Convent.


 

The 2 structures in the sleepy town of Lazi are the iconic landmarks of this 3rd smallest island province in the Philippines. It has more to offer but many visitors shy away from spending more time, if not nights, in this province which gained notoriety as the country’s black magic capital. The beach scene here is quiet, even secluded. And the waterfalls and cave sites offer more for the more adventurous. With more tourist arrivals, perhaps local government here will consider a more serious upkeep of the island’s historical treasures.

 

 

 

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The stonewalls on the ground floor. All original. Lazi Convent. Siquijor.

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Lazi Convent. Midday. Siquijor.


I have long postponed this visit to Siquijor. Blame them tales about sorcerers and voodoo magic. Poor Siquijor. The urban legend spun by the locals themselves worked to dispel evil forces represented by pirates then, but somehow the “horror stories” stuck through the years. Obviously, the residents of this tiny island were good storytellers. Good enough to scare off the sea pirates who used to pillage the former Isla de Fuego. The island was then called Isla de Fuego or Island of Fire by the Spaniards in the 16th century because of the glow created by the swarms of fireflies found on the island. Who would have thought it would later earn notoriety as a haven for witchcraft and nest for sorcerers?

 

 

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From Dumaguete Pier at the end of Rizal Boulevard, an Ocean Jet can whisk you in 45 minutes to the tiny island province of Siquijor!

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We left the Dumaguete Wharf just before 8am and our Ocean Jet
reached the “voodoo capital of the country” some 45 minutes later. A hired van fetched us from the pier and we were soon on our way to visit the top island attractions after a brief stop at the 18th century Saint Francis Church. The church doors were adorned with rope curtains to keep the birds off. Ingenious.

 

 

 

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The Saint Francis Church is the first island attraction to welcome you in this island. Nearby is a centuries-old belfry.

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We likewise visited the Capilay Spring Park at the base of another church. Then the ancient balete tree (teeming with more urban legends) where a local vendor has on display various bottles of “herbal medicine”. I bought one not exactly knowing what it was for. Inside the tiny bottles were tree barks soaked in coconut oil which oil can be anointed on any ailing part of the body. Or so I thought. Until my friend read the label : the oil is used to drive away bad elements much like what “evil eyes” in Turkey do for you.

 

 

 

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The Balete Tree of Siquijor. More urban legends here. Listen up!

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The Lovely Saint Isidore Church. Siquijor.


 

Soon we reached the Lazi Church (St. Isidore Church) and Convent, allegedly the biggest convent in Asia. Lovely centuries-old structures facing each other across a road lined with  acacia trees. The church interiors and the 2nd floor Museum in the Convent can do with some repairs, but it’s fascinating to find such treasures in this tiny island of just over 80,000 residents. Browsing through the Museum collections, I was reminded of Baclayon Church. Great treasures. Hardly a museum guard. In great need of repair in the name of preservation for future generations to appreciate. 😦

 

 

 

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Inside the Lazi (Saint Isidore) Church in Siquijor.

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Lazi Convent. R & R of men from clergy then?

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I wonder who painted this Last Supper mural inside Lazi Convent.

 

 

 

My eyes were drawn to a mural of the Last Supper. Painter unknown. Then
to this piece of art that told of a sad story. Sent for restoration, replaced with a fake reproduction. Such crime only thrives where there are unconscionable peddlers and willing, just as dishonest if not outright criminal moneyed buyers disguised as art collectors.  A sob tale. But we know it happens everywhere to a point I wonder over the pleasure of buyers keeping such treasures off-display, hidden, for their personal, exclusive viewing. Sucks, right?

 

 

 

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The FAKE Tabernacle. Siquijor’s Lazi Convent-Museum.

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Cambugahay Falls. 135 Steps. Up and Down. 270 in all.

 

 

 

Cambugahay Falls is just 2 kilometers north of Lazi and is a great prelude to our next stop: Salagdoog Beach Resort where we had lunch. Cambugahay requires a bit of hard work though as one goes down 135 steps, then climbs them back up. As for Salagdoog, some of the areas damaged by Typhoon Sendong were since restored but paved. I’m not a big fan of cemented walkways, but I’m awed by a couple of slides I spotted ending right into the sea!

 

 

 

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Care to slide straight on to the sea? Salagdoong Beach Resort.

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Salagdoong Beach Resort after Typhoon Sendong. Siquijor.

 

 

 

Finally, our meeting with JennyLou. This young shaman got her “gift” from her late grandfather who passed on his “gift” (and stone) to his grandchild. Still under 30, Jennylou typically has busy days when visitors and “patients” drop in for a session of faith healing. Armed only with a black stone dropped into a clear mason jar and a straw-like cylinder, Jennylou promptly went to work. She put water to submerge the black stone in the jar and then moved the jar all over the patient’s body where there are ailments, aches and pain. All that while blowing into the straw-like cylinder to make bubbles. ( Bula Bula or Bulo Bulo? ) Jennylou replaces the water as it turns murky and continues making bubbles, as many times, till the water stays “clear”. Three of us tried it. The first “patient” didn’t find any improvement in her condition. The 2nd felt her body “warm up” but the back pain remained. The 3rd claimed his knee joint pains are completely gone. One out of 3? Not bad. Good score! We left Jennylou to get back to our wharf to take the ferry back to Dumaguete. We spent our time well in Siquijor. Easy circling the whole province in just a few hours. Do it as a daytrip next time you visit Dumaguete!

 

 

 

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Bulo Bulo is a faith healing method where the shaman puts a stone into a jar filled with water and bubbles through the ailing parts of one’s body.

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You can take the 5:30pm RORO (roll on, roll off) ferry if you want to spend more time in this mystical island province. Or take the Ocean Jet!


We hired a boat for whale and dolphin-watching and sailed out of Bais’ Capiñahan Wharf some 45 kilometers north of Dumaguete City. The plan is to have lunch in Manjuyod Sandbar but the boat captain dropped anchor only 15 minutes from the wharf so we can enjoy the sandbar before the tide rises later in the day.

 

 

 

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Capiñahan Wharf in Bais, Negros Oriental. About 45 kms north of Dumaguete City.

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The Sandbar belongs to Manjuyod town, near Bais.

 

 

We found the solar-powered cottages here looking like houses on stilts. The Manjuyod Sandbar stretches for 7 kilometers slicing the blue waters of South Bais Bay. Best during low tide, of course, as this piece of paradise is completely submerged when the tide rises. The first time we dropped anchor the water was knee-deep. Tempting to walk the whole stretch out of sheer curiosity but one never knows how fast the waters rise.

 

 

 

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Just 10-15 minutes from Capiñahan Wharf you’d spot these solar-powered cottages on stilts.

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Like huts floating on water during high tide. Cottages on stilts during low tide.

 

 

Right in the middle of the deep, blue sea. A perfect day to take a dip so long as one observes the “boundaries” left and right of the white sandbar. I can imagine myself setting up a table here with a bottle of wine and some pica-picas. But not today.

 

 

 

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Time your visit when tide is low to enjoy this fine white sandbar.

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Touchdown! Manjuyod Sandbar.

 

 

 

They say some dolphins can be seen this close to the sandbar. There were none. The boat crew said pods and pods of them can be found further along in Tañon Strait. We can wait. For the moment, we frolicked in the sandbar, spotted a starfish, careful to lift it for a closer look and dropping it right back into the water where it belongs.

 

 

 

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Stretching all of 7kms, Manjuyod Sandbar slices right in the middle of the South Bais Bay. Paradise Found!

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Sourced from the Net. A photo of the 7km. sandbar during low tide. Completely submerged when tide rises.

 

 

 

Just before sailing on towards the deeper section of Tañon Strait, we luckily spotted a fisherman with his singular heavy catch of the day. A GIANT SQUID! One can fit his whole arm inside it. How can you pass up this chance? We brought lunch but a grilled giant squid would be a great addition we can share with the boat crew. Everybody happy!

 

 

 

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Spotted a fisherman with his freshly-caught giant squid.

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I wonder how many kilos this giant squid weighed!

 

 

 

We returned to the sandbar for lunch. Happy to have the pleasure of meeting them dolphins in their natural playground. Lunch unpacked. Giant squid on the grill. We enjoyed our lunch even as it started to rain, wind growing stronger, tide rising. All’s well. We’re just 10-15 minutes from the wharf where our van is waiting to drive us back to Dumaguete City. Sandbar. Check. Dolphins. Check. Starfish. A bonus. Giant Squid. An even bigger bonus!

 

 

 

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Lunch! A giant squid off Bais Bay. Enjoyed, grilled, in Manjuyod Sandbar.

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You can’t do this just anywhere! Manjuyod Sandbar. Off Dumaguete City.

 

 

For the rest of our adventure on this day, check out my earlier blog on the Playful Dolphins of Bais / Tañon Strait. Happy travels, everyone.

Life is a celebration.


The gods smiled on us. After some rainshowers the first 2 days in Dumaguete, the bright sun and clear skies looked promising as we sailed from Bais wharf towards that area straddling between Cebu and Negros. Our boat — good for 15 pax — served all 4 of us well. We loved the “space”, allowing us to run up front, to the left or right sides of the boat, even to lie down on the long benches while the boat crew navigate along the Strait searching for pods of playful dolphins.

 

 

 

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Our boat sailed out of Bais Wharf, an hour’s drive north of Dumaguete City.

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If you’re lucky, you’d see dolphins near Manjuyod Sandbar just 10-15 minutes from the wharf.


 

The deep blue waters of Bais Bay and Tañon Strait is home to these intelligent mammals. I shrieked in delight as soon as I spotted some spinner dolphins playfully showing off from a distance. And these dolphins looked just as happy seeing us and swimming alongside our boat. Like children showing off their talents. Or like marine escorts leading us to more of their friends!

 

 

 

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Playful, Intelligent Mammals in their very playground!

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Dolphins, blue waters and blue-polished toenails 😉


 

None of us were fast enough to take a decent shot of those dolphins jumping up and out of the water. But it was still an awesome (pardon the overused word) animal adventure for us. Mimicking dolphin sounds, we enjoyed schools of them in the calm waters of the bay and further along Tañon Strait. Surely, this is their playground!

 

 

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What a show off!

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Swimming alongside of our boat, like marine escorts!

 

 

The strait spans 5 kilometers to as wide as 27 kilometers between Negros Oriental and Cebu provinces. But it was in the deep, wide sections of the Strait where we found more dolphins. No luck with the pygmy sperm whales, but the many show-off dolphins made up for the whales’ absence. What a thrill!

 

 

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Glistening in the blue waters of Tañon Strait.

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Up front, left and right of the boat. They’re everywhere!

 

 

Travel Tips: Go early and catch them dolphins during their feeding time. From Dumaguete, we drove less than an hour to Bais and took a boat. If the tide’s low, best to stop by Manjuyod Sandbar just 10-15 minutes boat ride from the wharf. If you’re lucky, you can already spot some dolphins here. Further on, you’d be literally surrounded by these far-from-shy creatures. As happy as can be. Them and you. Surely, Negros is so blessed with nature’s bounty!

 

 

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Dolphins in the wilds. Far from shy.


That’s how the article was headlined. Packing the Estadio Bernabéu for the Champions for Life Charity Match to raise funds for UNICEF’s Program to help children affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The charity match played between the big football stars of Spain from the Western and Eastern Regions was scheduled last December 30, 2013 and raised 550,000 Euros! That’s about P30 Million.

 

 

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The 80,000 seater Estadio Bernabéu in Madrid.

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The December 30, 2013 Charity Match raised 550,000€ or about 30 million pesos.

 

 

I don’t know anything from Adam when it comes to football. Talks of Sergio Ramos, Álvaro Morata, Iniesta, Quini,  Beñat, Iñigo Martinez, Gabi, Raul Garcia, Iraola, Jesus Fernandez and other football greats didn’t ring a bell for me. But here I am, watching a 7pm match in the stadium that Real Madrid Football club calls home. My only clues that the players are big stars come from this boy behind me who’d invariably call out their names and ask for a “camiseta”. I assumed that’s the equivalent of a fan asking for the player’s jersey.

 

 

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Saved! Just as UNICEF aims to save the children affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines. Muchas Gracias, UNICEF, España, the Football Stars.

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It was a friendly match, but players are players and everyone wants to see a good game played.

 

 

The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu can seat over 80,000 spectators. The stadium is about half full with families watching from grandpa to grandkids in strollers. Seated in front, you are about 3 meters away from the nearest security officer from a security team who have the “ill luck” of watching the crowd rather than the game. They only stand up, presumably to watch the crowd better, everytime a team scores. GOOL! those 4-letter words flash every time a player scores a goal. But not GOAL. Here in España, it’s GOOL.

 

 

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That’s Alvaro Morato wearing the white “camiseta”. He scored an impressive “bicycle” goal to the crowd’s delight.

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This is Sergio Ramos, also from the Real Madrid Team.

 

 

It was a chilly night. The man beside me had a small bottle of wine that he sucks from time to time. He also littered our common space with watermelon seeds. Pepitas, to the locals.  But despite the cold, everyone was in good spirits. For a good 5 minutes, the crowd stood to “wave” around the stadium.  Thought it would never stop! 

 

 

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Sergio Ramos counts many fans among the Spanish football aficionados.

 

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The mood was very festive. At the start of the game, they even played Christmas carols.   Though a friendly match, there were daring runs, impressive saves and goals. Quini and Morata got the loudest cheers for their memorable goals that night. What a thrill! And that’s coming from someone who watched a football game for the very first time!  

 

THANK YOU ESPAÑA! THANK YOU UNICEF!

 

 

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Not this time. It’s a GOOL!

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Three meters away, maybe even less. Hard to watch the game knowing the security officers are missing the thrilling game 😉


Here’s a quick one. We meant to be dropped off in Glorietta when we were pleasantly surprised with the tents being set up and food trucks parked around that tiny park fronting Glorietta and Makati Shangrila Hotel.

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There were burgers, fish & chips, arroz caldo, bbq’s, ice cream, tacos, roast chicken, mac and cheese, kakanin like rice cakes, and so much more!

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How exciting to find these food trucks here. As soon as my apos and I got off the car, we lost no time checking out the many stalls. So many choices. And lots of new food dishes to try. We’re waiting for Truck Bun to get ready — planning on trying the Japa-dog, whatever that is. Also Jasper’s Chicken where we can actually sit inside the van! (The Chicken Karaage with Sour cream and their “wet sauce” was good!) Then finish off with Merry Moo’s ice cream. Or you can cross the street towards Family Mart to buy their P25 green tea soft-serve ice cream in the comforts of an air-conditioned space with tidy restroom. Hmmmm. Nice Thursday afternoon.

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Nayong Pilipino translates to Filipino Village. This theme park near the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport sits in a 45-acre park within the Expo Pilipino Complex. Sorely in need of funding, I lament that it is not as “representative of the best in the country”nor as widely promoted as our other tourist spots.

 

 

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Nayong Pilipino (Filipino Village) in Clark Expo Zone

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The Barasoian Church where sunday masses are held 10 am .

 

 

I couldn’t remember the last time I visited Nayong Pilipino. And I’m referring to the old site near the Manila International Airport. Having a tourist site with replicas and miniatures of famous Philippine landmarks is a good idea. Locating it near an international airport serves travelers well, especially those with an extended layover. I am assuming THAT idea is intended to promote the country and perhaps encourage foreigners to explore more of the Philippines. As for the locals, I remember the old Nayong Pilipino as a must-experience for grade schoolers to introduce them to the beauty, history and geography of our country.

 

 

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Si Malakas at si Maganda (The Strong and the Beautiful)

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The Colonial Plaza includes the Rizal Shrine, Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine and the Apolinario Mabini Shrine.

 

 

I have a circle of visiting foreign bloggers who breeze through Manila on their way to the beach destinations in the Visayas and Palawan, OR to the rice terraces and colonial/heritage towns up North. Cebu and Bohol are popular destinations to view Magellan’s Cross, Tarsiers, and Chocolate Hills. Gaining popularity of late is Donsol for the whale shark adventures and while there, who’d dare miss our majestic Mayon Volcano?

 

 

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Typical Filipino huts line the perimeter towards the Nayong Pilipino .entrance.

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A representative Kalinga Village (Northern Philippines)

 

 

I am not confident this theme park highlights the best our country offers. I understand there’s a shuttle service from nearby SM Clark but if there was, ALL my foreigner-friends who flew in via Clark missed it. A free shuttle from the airport itself would have served the purpose better. (If there is, it should be promoted so as NOT to be missed!) Surely, extended layovers are better spent here rather than in the malls or duty-free shops.

 

 

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Replica of the Rice Terraces of Banaue in Northern Philippines. With real rice planted!

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On a hot and humid day, the shade from these trees are heaven-sent!

 

 

We went on a hot, humid day. Walking around without a hat or umbrella is guaranteed to give one a migraine. Luckily, we came prepared. But there were not enough markers and signs to tell the story, history and culture of the different regions represented here. I am not sure if there is a schedule of guided tours. I wish there is. And I hope they have good guides.

 

 

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An Ifugao House

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An Ifugao Village

 

 

I understand there is the issue of funding. The time I went, there were hardly any visitors. Now, those P100 admission fees from MORE visitors could augment the needed funding. A better-stocked cafeteria may likewise be a good source of revenues. So how about bringing in more visitors by offering free shuttle services on FIXED SCHEDULES from the Clark airport?

 

 

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Barasoian Church replica.

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Ivatan cuisine is as fresh and healthy as it gets. Most visitors would be eager to feast on freshly-caught lobsters and the coconut crabs (called “tatus”) indigenous to the place, but there’s really more beyond these coveted seafoods.

 

 

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coconut crabs are called “tatus”

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lobster galore1

 

 

Priced at 600 pesos a kilo (US$15/kg), I can eat those lobsters daily! As it turned out though, there were more of the other dishes which were repeatedly served during our stay in Batanes. Not that I don’t like them, but a little variety could have helped. Like I would have welcomed fish sinigang, calamares and fish kilawin while I was there. 😉

 

 

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More LOBSTERS!

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AND FISH. Grilled, fried or sweet and sour? I like mine sinigang!

 

 

But I do miss the lumot (seaweed) soup, pako (fiddlehead fern) salad, “Venes” or dried gabi (like “laing” but not really) and Uvud balls (minced banana pith cooked with fish flakes and minced pork). The last one seems to be the national dish of Batanes 😉 along with the luñis — the Ivatan adobo cooked in salt rather than vinegar and soy sauce — as they were served in nearly all buffet meals we’ve had during our stay.

 

 

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Pako Salad. Made from fiddlehead fern.

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uvud ng sarap!

 

 

When we visited the village of Savidug (named after a tree otherwise called “talisay” elsewhere) in Sabtang Island, our guide pointed out a Kabaya (breadfruit) tree to us. The Kabaya leaves are used as plates and may even be folded to scoop soup! Ingenuity at its best. Makes for a great picnic!

 

 

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Now, that’s a spoon!

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Good for scooping!

 

 

I didn’t see any rice paddies in Batanes. Nor fruit trees other than bananas. For sure, there are sweet potatoes and yam. We were served rice with turmeric, freshly harvested coconuts and the sweetest camote (sweet potato). There aren’t too many dessert choices and while I enjoyed the camote cue and “bukayo”, I’d soon grow tired of it if I had it all too often. For sure, I’d know what to bring the next time I visit Batanes!

 

 

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“Lunis” or ivatan adobo.

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Do we have to make a choice?

(Thank you, Chikie and Pinky for some of the food photos!)

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