The Walks of Kulot


MASSKARA FESTIVAL
March 10, 2013, 4:38 pm
Filed under: WOK in VISAYAS | Tags: , , , ,

As part of my bucket list of the places to visit and things to do in the Philippines is the chance to attend a festival. I have been to Bacolod twice but I never had the chance to attend the Masskara festival, so last year I made it a point to go back and join the festivity.

The Masskara Festival

The Masskara festival is  a monthlong celebration but the most-awaited street dance parade is usually held during the weekend of the third week of October. The festival which originated almost three decades ago is a commemoration of Bacolod’s triumph after experiencing economic devastation during its early years. From then on, the Masskara festival is celebrated annually as it has evolved into a grand festivity of sort – bursting in colors and smiles – a reminder of the city’s resilience and optimism. True to the theme of the Masskara festival last year, Life is definitely good in Bacolod.

It rained so hard during the first day of the street dance competition (Schools category) but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the students and participants. True to the spirit of the Masskara festival, the show must go on as students danced their way with much enthusiasm wearing their big smiles.

Street parties + Streetdance parade

During the festival, Bacolod becomes a bustling city as parties are literally held on every street. The city’s main thoroughfare, Lacson Street, transforms into a long party avenue as giant speakers are set-up in every block beside makeshift stages offering all night entertainment to party goers. Restaurants along Lacson are almost booked with guests enjoying the company of family and friends over dinner or bottles of beer. You can really feel the vibrant and party atmosphere everywhere. As an added attraction, every night an Electric Masskara parade passes by Lacson street which is a spectacle not to be missed.

But the highlight of the festival is the Masskara streetdance parade, which is divided into two categories: the Schools and Barangay category. Street dancers prep up at the end of Libertad Araneta street as they make their way through the main avenue going to the Bacolod Public Plaza for their main performance. The Masskara festival is characterized by colorful and flamboyant costumes as street dancers gyrate to the beat of the main theme song of the festival. But what makes the festival unique are the big smiling masks worn by the dancers.

Here are some shots during the parade.

A Masskara souvenir being sold in the streets during the festival.

Masskara souvenirs.

A smile within a smile.

One of the colorful ensembles who performed during the festival.

This group is from the barangay category.

Tired but still smiling.

The blue and white group.

Life’s definitely good in Bacolod.

Mother and child.

Spot the smiling face.

All geared up with their props and giant smiles.

Jesters on the loose.

Can’t help but smile too.



I WOK’d (actually ATE) in BACOLOD.

* I WOK’d ATE in Bacolod is part of the author’s 3-day travel journal from his first mini solo backpacking trip in Negros Occidental.

To cap off my first-ever solo backpacking trip in Negros Occidental, I made a quick stop in Bacolod City – a town famous for its annual Masskara festival where dancers wearing colorful smiling masks parade the streets of Bacolod in a festive mood. But I was a few weeks late for the festival, so I just decided to go on a food trip. Afterall, Bacolod City is also known as a gourmet’s paradise because of the wide variety of food choices one can try when you’re in the city – from the original Bacolod Chicken Inasal to sweet and delectable desserts in Calea. So let me take you on a Bacolod food trip, as I revisit some of the restaurants I tried out during my visit in Bacolod. I am getting hungry writing this.

Chicken Inasal at Manokan Country ready to be cooked.

(L) Chicken Inasal and rice with chicken oil (R) Tinae or Isaw (chicken intestines)

Aida's Manukan chicken mascot

1. Manokan Country is a stretch of carinderia-type restaurants in front of SM Bacolod that mainly serves chicken inasal. But aside from chicken inasal, most restaurants also serve grilled foods like barbecue, isaw, betamax and seafood like talaba (oyster). At Manokan Country there’s no need for utensils, because chicken inasal is best eaten using your bare hands! You’ll surely ask for another round of rice.

Which restaurant to try? Check-out Aida’s Manukan, according to my friend Zyla (who is from Bacolod) they serve the best chicken inasal in Manokan Country. Don’t forget to try tinae, sounds unappetizing but if you’re a fan of isaw then you’ll surely love these chicken intestines in skewers.

* An order of chicken inasal (paa) with rice would cost around P80.00. Tinae is around P20-30 per stick. Manokan Country is easy to find because it’s just across SM Bacolod.

Chicken Inasal @ Chicken Deli

2. Chicken Deli is a restaurant in Bacolod also famous for its chicken inasal and most orders come with unlimited rice. An order of chicken inasal (paa) with unlimited rice costs P79.00.

* Chicken Deli is beside the Negros Showroom along Lacson Street.

Muffins at Bob's Pastry Shop

French Apple Pie with vanilla ice cream

3.  Bob’s Pastry Shop and Restaurant. If Manila has Aristocrat, then Bacolod has Bob’s. Bob’s was started by Dr. Homero Sicangco in the year 1965. The restaurant offers American dishes like baby back ribs, triple-decker burger, and barbeque. But today their menu also includes Filipino and Negrense dishes. Their Batchoy is the best in Bacolod. But if you’re in for some dessert, check out their pastry shop which offers cakes, brownies, muffins, silvanas and pies at an affordable price.

Dessert I tried at Bob’s Pastry Shop: French Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream (P70.00)

* Bob’s Pastry Shop and Restaurant is in front of Dr. Pablo O. Torre Memorial Hospital in Bacolod City. To know more about Bob’s Restaurant, please click on this link.

Calea's mouth-watering ice cream cakes

Choco chip ice cream cake - chocolate and coffee ice cream sandwiched between two moist chocolate chip cookies topped with caramel sauce

4.  Calea. They say you haven’t been to Bacolod if you haven’t tried any dessert at Calea. So during my visit in Bacolod, I really made it a point to visit this dessert haven. Their mouth-watering list of desserts includes pies, ice cream cakes, imported chocolate cakes, mousse and cheesecakes. Honestly, I really had a hard time choosing which dessert to order. Good thing, my friend Zyla suggested that I try their Choco Chip Ice Cream cake with caramel sauce. It was the best dessert I tasted ever! For sure I will visit Calea again when I get back to Bacolod.

Dessert I tried at Calea: Choco Chip Ice cream cake with caramel sauce (P90.00)

* Calea is beside L’Fisher Hotel along Lacson Street in Bacolod City. They also have a branch in SM Bacolod.

Namit Gid! ‘Till our next food trip!



I WOK’d in LAKAWON ISLAND.

* I WOK’d in Lakawon Island is part of the author’s 3-day travel journal from his first mini solo backpacking trip in Negros Occidental.

Negros Occidental is known for its vast sugar cane plantations, local cuisines, sweet delicacies and pre-colonial ancestral houses. Reason why I was surprised to know that there is a white-sand beach near Bacolod I can visit. Since I know many of my blog’s readers consider visiting the beach during their trips, I decided to visit this not-so-secret-anymore beach destination near Bacolod which you might also want to include in your itinerary during your upcoming trips to Bacolod or Negros.

Going to Lakawon

From the Ceres Liner north terminal in Bacolod City, it was an hour and a half bus ride going to Cadiz City (6th town north from Bacolod City). I was dropped at the Martesan bus and tricycle terminal where I rode a tricycle going to Barangay Cadiz Viejo. Going to the Lakawon Island Beach Resort, I rode a motor-driven bangka which took me around 20-minutes to reach the island.

The Martesan bus and tricycle terminal in Cadiz.

Tricycle ride going to Brgy. Cadiz Vejio.

Lakawon Rates and Fees table

The walkway leading to the sea where the boats are parked.

*Bus fare to Cadiz City (non-stop): P 80.00. Tricycle fare to Barangay Cadiz Viejo: P 20.00/person. Boat rental going to Lakawon: P 600.00/group of four. Resort entrance fee: P 100.00/person.

Lakawon Island Beach Resort

The private owned island boasts of white-sand beach and shallow waters where visitors can laze and hang-out under nipa-hut or swim into the sea. The name Lakawon was from the cebuano word “lakaw” which means “to walk” because one can actually walk on shallow waters during low-tide. The island resor is popular among local tourists because of its proximity to Bacolod but not as popular compared to other beaches in the country. Nipa huts and cottages can be rented for an overnight stay. Other activities in the island include kayaking, banana boat ride and beach volleyball.

Lakawon Island

A part of an old boat with the name Lakawon written on it.

The nipa huts on the island.

Under the shade.

One of the shades near the sea where you can laze around without being sunburned.

If I were to rate Lakawon compared to other beaches I’ve visited in the country I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5 rating. I am disappointed that aside from the entrance fee, guests have to rent for nipa huts where they can leave their belongings. They also charge a corkage fee if you bring your own food and drinks to the island. Some of the resort’s facilities are not maintained and looks worn-out. I think the island resort has a lot of potential of becoming a famous destination in Negros Oriental if only they will do a little clean-up of the island and improve its facilities. But nevertheless, if you’re in Bacolod and you’re up for a beach bumming trip, Lakawon Island is a destination you may want to consider.

View from the elevated hut on the island.

Lakawon Island has a lot of potential of becoming a famous destination in Negros Occidental, it needs a little clean-up though.



I WOK’d in TALISAY.
November 24, 2010, 9:34 am
Filed under: WOK in VISAYAS | Tags: , , ,

* I WOK’d in Talisay is part of the author’s 3-day travel journal from his first mini solo backpacking trip in Negros Occidental.

A Remnant of the past

After my ancestral house hopping and visiting the sugar cane plantation in Silay, I rode the yellow Ceres Liner Bus to visit The Ruins also known as the Taj Majal of Negros – a famous landmark in Talisay . On the way to The Ruins, we passed by a subdivision and I thought where could the historical place be in the middle of residential houses? Not until I’ve noticed an old structure in the middle of sugar cane fields.

The archway leading to the lawn where the four-tiered fountain is situated.

When I entered the gates of the mansion, I started to marvel at the sight of the Ruins. Standing proudly in the middle of a lush and landscaped garden is a whitewashed architecture in its skeletal form. With its aged structure and nearly dilapidated walls it still exudes elegance and grace – a testament to its glorious past. Known to be the ancestral house of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, the mansion was built in the 1900s. It was burned by guerilla fighters during World War II to avoid Japanese soldiers from occupying it as headquarters. The Ruins’ walls and renaissance-style columns were made from A-grade concrete reason why it strongly stands up to now.

The Ruins' architecture is Italianate inspired.

A lot of Bougainvillea in pots can be seen around the mansion.

The smooth marble-like balustrades made from A-grade cement.

The renaissance-style columns of the Ruins.

Today, the mansion houses a restaurant and café.

At sunset, the mansion suddenly transforms to a new life. Its Italianate architecture illuminates with a golden-yellow hue. It becomes a different person as it dispels a myriad of emotions to its amazed spectators. That moment I knew The Ruins was in its finest. “It’s worth the wait” I told myself.

The grand transformation of The Ruins.

The grand transformation of The Ruins at sunset.

The ornate Italian architecture of the building. Notice the shell details on top of the mansion? They say house designs like these were typical to owners who are ship captains.

Vintage. The Ruins+Cadillac

How to get to the Ruins: (from Talisay via commute) Ride a tricycle from the PEPSI bottling plant in Bata Subdivision towards the mountains. Enter the narrow road leading to Rose Lawn Memorial Garden, then, turn right and navigate the main road of Gold Crest and Octagon Villages. This will lead you all the way to the Ruins. For inquiries, text or call: (0917-8326003/(34) 476-4334) Entrance fee of P50.00.

Tip: It’s best to visit the Ruins during sunset. The Ruins also houses a café and restaurant. For other activities, try out their 18-hole mini-golf course for P50.00 (Children and adults)



I WOK’d in SILAY.

* I WOK’d in Silay is part of the author’s 3-day travel journal from his first mini solo backpacking trip to Negros Occidental.

No turning back.

I arrived at the Silay-Bacolod airport at around 5:30 am just before sunrise. I was quite nervous with my spontaneity as I have not prepared a detailed itinerary for my first ever mini-solo-backpacking trip – just some notes on must-visit historical places and contact numbers of pension houses and hotels in Bacolod. I felt like a soldier geared up for battle without any ammunition. “Oh well, there’s no turning back this time.” I told myself. As they say, having no plans and making spur-of-the-moment decisions make the experience more exciting. After being all psyched up, I went out of the airport gates and rode a tricycle going to the Silay town proper.

El Ideal Bakery in Silay City.

The tricycle driver dropped me in front of an old house quintessential of Silay’s old-world architecture.  A red sign hanging below the house ventanillas says El Ideal – which I later found out to be a famous bakery in Silay selling pastries and bread since the 1920s. Suddenly, I felt I was transported into a different world which reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows as a kid – Bayani — where the two kids in the show are sent to the past on a mission to discover and learn about the lives of Philippine heroes. That moment I felt I was on a quest to discover more of the city.

Originally known as the New City Cafe or the Kapehan Sang Silay is also the ancestral home of Kapitan Marciano Montelibano Lacson.

Vendors at the Silay Public Market selling native kakanin to americanized hambugers and footlong sandwiches.

It was only 6:00 am when I reached the public plaza. The streets were quiet with only a few trucks carrying loads of sugarcane passing by and only the swoosh-y sound of street sweepers can be heard.  At the nearby Silay public market, vendors line up the corridor properly arranging their merchandise in makeshift tables. The variety of their goods was a bit strange – from rice cakes and native kakanin to hamburgers with soggy buns and spaghetti inside ballooned plastic bags, which actually looked like fighting fish inside oxygenated bags.

The San Diego Pro-Cathedral

San Diego Pro-Cathedral

A block away across the Silay Public Market is the Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala also known as the San Diego Pro-Cathedral. Built in the 1920s by architect Lucio Bernasconi, the cathedral’s dome resembles the one in St. Peter’s Basilica. I was just in time for the morning mass when I entered the church. I was listening intently to the priest when I realized the mass was said in Illongo. Though I couldn’t understand and I was just taking my cue to reply, kneel and bow from other parishioners I finished the mass. Afterwards, I offered my silent prayers asking for His guidance as I go on with my trip.

Maria Golez Ancestral House (RCBC Bank)

Meeting a kind-hearted stranger and my tour guide for the day

After hearing mass, I decided to go to the city hall to ask where I can grab a map so I can do a walking tour by myself. I asked a street sweeper in front of the city hall where the tourism office is but she just glanced at me looking perplexed without any word to say. I figured out she was deaf-mute. Just before I left, she made a hand gesture asking me to wait for a while. After a few minutes, she emerged from the back of the building together with a man whom I believed was in his 40s because of his receding hairline. The man approached me with a fatherly smile. “Saan punta mo?” he asked me, maybe he knew I was on a trip with my huge backpack on. I told him I was looking for the tourism office and he pointed across to the civic center. I thanked him as I went ahead. “Ingatan mo gamit mo, baka masalisihan ka” were his last cautious words of advice.

Unfortunately, the tourism office was still closed and will open after an hour. I have no choice but to wait outside their office not until the man with the receding hairline approached me again. “Mag-isa ka lang ba?” he asked. “Gusto mo ako nalang mag-tour sayo, mag-rent nalang tayo ng padyak. Tapos na rin naman duty ko.” I was quite apprehensive at first but after knowing that he was a night shift security guard at the Silay city hall, I agreed with his offer. I found out his name was Kuya Rene. I felt his intentions were pure and I realized that it’s best to tour the town with someone who’s familiar with the streets at the same time gain local insights from him.

The pedicab/padyak I rented to get around Silay. Kuya Rene is the one wearing a cap.

Silay’s Ancestral Houses

Silay City is known for its well-preserved and century-old ancestral houses. It is also known to be a museum city next to Vigan in Illocos Sur because you can actually walk its streets and experience being brought back in time during the affluence of hacienderos or sugar barons centuries ago. Riding the padyak, which Kuya Rene rented, was indeed a sight-seeing trip as we passed by different ancestral houses – most of which still remain intact and some have already gone major repairs to keep it standing. According to Kuya Rene, Silay has around 31 ancestral houses and he brought me to the oldest house owned by Antonio De La Rama Locsin; the ancestral home of national artist for architecture, Leandro Locsin which is estimated to be 150 years old. Most ancestral houses in Silay were named after their owners, but some are more famous because of the house’s unique characteristic and colors – like the white house, the green house, the pink house and twin house.

(TOP) The Manuel Severino Hofileña Ancestral House. Entrance by appointment.

The Red House and the White House.

The Green house (Angel Araneta Ledesma Ancestral House) which also houses Silay City's Culture and Arts office. For more information about the Green House, please read the comment of Ms. Maritel Ledesma in the comments below.

Jose B. Gamboa ancestral house

Alejandro Amechazura ancestral house

The colorful facade of Silay's fire department.

Another landmark in Silay - the Cinco de Noviembre marker.

Jose Ledesma ancestral house built in 1917.

The 150 year-old Antonio dela Rama Locsin ancestral house. Known to be the oldest ancestral house in Silay. Its original balustrades and metal window grills are still intact.

The Twin house.

*Tip: Get a map from the Silay tourism office (Culture and Civic Center) in front of the City hall with a list of ancestral houses to visit. It is a numbered map, so it will be easy to get around. Hire a pedicab/padyak for P100/half day to tour you around the city’s ancestral houses.

The facade of Balay Negrense

Balay Negrense

I asked Kuya Rene if I could actually enter those houses we passed by. He said we have to ask permission from the owners but he told me that I could visit the Balay Negrense and the Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House which is open to the public with an entrance fee of P40.00. Our first stop was the Balay Negrense also known as the Victor Gaston house, one of the largest colonial houses in Silay and according to Kuya Rene is a favorite setting for horror films. I shouldn’t have heard that comment in the first place but the giant balete tree beside the brown house was already giving me the creeps. Kuya Rene decided to be left outside the house so he could look over my belongings as I take pictures inside the house. The caretaker told me that I could take photos inside except for the second floor where it is prohibited because a tourist once made his photos into postcards and sold it. (But since I was alone, I sneaked some shots for my blog with no intentions of selling the photos just to promote Balay Negrense to my blog’s readers.) Though the balay have undergone a major renovation and was finished in the year 1990, its form and structure was preserved from the original house. The house is furnished with different pieces of period furniture and accentuated with old artifacts donated by families from Silay.

The cozy and breezy reception area inside the house.

Notice the piaya? Piaya is a famouse Negrense delicacy made from muscuvado sugar.

A vintage electric fan in one of the rooms inside Balay Negrense.

The grand staircase to the second floor.

*Balay Negrense is open on Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00am – 5:00pm. Entrance Fee: P40.00 (Adults)

The Paris of Negros and the Jalandoni House

After Balay Negrense, I visited the Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House (Pink House) along the national road where I met Mr. Jorge Po, the museum’s curator. I felt I was on a field trip listening to Mr. Po as he toured me around as he gave insights and facts about the town and the Jalandoni house. According to him Silay is also known as the Paris of Negros, because during the Spanish colonial era Silay was the seat of culture and arts in Negros Occidental. The reason for this was the construction of the biggest and longest port in Silay where cultural exchange was made possible.  As for the Jalandoni house, Mr. Po said that it is one of the biggest ancestral houses in Silay next to Balay Negrense. It follows the form of a typical nipa hut and almost 80% of the house’s materials are not replaced from the original. Today, the Jalandoni House is under the preservation of the Silay Heritage Foundation.

The sala on the second floor.

(L) This bed is made by a famouse chinese carver named Ah-Tay, hence the name Ah-Tay bed. (R) A ventanilla, a structural device used for air ventillation.

Since the rooms doesn't have its own comfort room, an arinola is used instead.

The old port of Silay. Known to be the longest and biggest in Asia before.

*The  Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House is open on Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9:00am – 5:00pm. Sundays from 9:00am – 4:00pm. Entrance Fee: P40.00 (Adults), P30.00 (Senior Citizens), P25.00 (Children)

In the middle of a sugar cane plantation

Just in time for lunch, I treated Kuya Rene as gratitude for being kind enough to accompany me around town. I checked my notes where I am headed next so I could ask him for quick directions. I told him I was going to the Hawaiian Philippine Company where vintage locomotives can be found in the middle of sugar plantations. Luck must be really on my side since he told me he was also going there to visit a friend. After having lunch, we hitched a tricycle going to the place and afterwards we found ourselves plying with huge trucks carrying loads of sugar cane in the middle of a dirt road sandwiched by tall sugar cane plants. The sugar plantation in Silay was extremely vast; no wonder Negros Occidental is called the Sugarbowl of the Philippines. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see locomotives but I am glad to experience a road trip in an authentic Negrense way.

Tall sugar cane grass

Trucks carrying loads of sugar cane harvested in Silay.

Sugar canes delivered at the Hawaiian Philippines sugar plantation.

A sugarcane farmer with his son getting ready to harvest.

That was my last stop in Silay. I bid farewell to Kuya Rene but he was persistent to accompany me to Talisay because he was concerned that I might get lost, but I told him I will be fine. Having met a total stranger who offered me kindness, I was confident to go on with my trip and see more of Negros Occidental. I know I was off to a good start.



I WOK’d in CEBU.

Albeit late to the grandiose Sinulog festival, WOK is off to another great adventure down south – to the island known as the Queen City of the south. Cebu is a bustling urban metropolis not different from Manila with malls, a business district, high-rise buildings and an IT park to boot. Indeed, Cebu City is the Metro Manila of the south. But amidst its progressive economy, the island of Cebu is rich in culture and history. Our faith and religious beliefs are deeply rooted with various events that happened in the island centuries ago and remnants of the past are kept intact to tell our history. A stroll in downtown Cebu, will definitely bring out the voyager in you as great stories unfold as you discover some of the firsts, the smallest, and the oldest wonders that can only be seen in Cebu.

Home of the oldest church and relic in the country
Philippine history would tell us, that Christianity was first brought to the Philippines when Ferdinand Magellan first arrived in the island of Sugbo (Zebu) in 1521 and started to baptize the locals to the Christian faith. As a symbol of their allegiance to the Spanish rule, an image of the Sto. Nino was given to Rajah Humabon and wife Hara Amihan who was baptized Carlos and Juana respectively. In the year 1565, the oldest relic of the Sto. Niño was discovered by Spanish explorers and a church was built in honor of the Holy Infant. Today, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, known to be the oldest church in the country is a living testament of the Filipino’s century-old religion which dates back to the early voyages of the Spaniards. People from different walks of life come to visit the basilica everyday and pay homage to the Sto. Niño – the beloved patron of the Cebuanos who saves them from any adversity in life.

The interiors of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño

The exterior of the Basilica at night. Just accross the entrance of the church is the pilgrimage area where the Sinulog festival is held every January.

This image of the Sto. Niño is believed to be the original statue brought by Ferdinand Magellan during his voyage to the Philippines.

A devotee fervently praying after offering candles.

The Cross of Magellan
Just a stone’s throw away from the Basilica of the Sto. Niño is the chapel of the Magellan’s cross. Candle peddlers who are offering to say prayers in your behalf are common in the area, but it’s up to you to give in if you believe that your petitions can be sent in express. A mural is painted on the ceiling of the chapel which depicts the first installation of the cross on the same exact spot. It also believed that the oiginal cross Magellan planted is encased inside the outer cross which is made of Tinadalo Wood. The Magellan’s cross located at the Plaza Sugbo in Cebu is a landmark worth visiting because of its historical significance.

The ceiling inside the Magellan's Cross chapel.

Candle peddlers outside the chapel offering their "prayer services"

A mini-Fort Santiago
One thing I liked about Cebu is that historical places aren’t far from each other. And for adventure seekers like me, I literally walked from one place to another with my trusty backpack and map. My next stop was at the Fuerza de San Pedro (Fort San Pedro). Inside the towering stoned walls is a well maintained garden of lush greens and pink bougainvilleas. Fort San Pedro is a mini-version of Manila’s Fort Santiago and served as a defense fortress against the muslims in the 19th century. A walk inside the fort’s cobble-stoned path brings you back during the hispanic era though majority of the area has been rehabilitated and was transformed into a park.

Fort San Pedro: The oldest and smallest fort in the country.

The oldest street in the Philippines After my historical walk at the Fort San Pedro, I went back downtown and explored the outskirts of the city. I learned that the oldest street in the Philippines can be found in Cebu. Colon street named after Christopher Columbus was known to be the entertainment and fashion hub of the city but today it’s a bit deteriorated though many establishments are still in operation. For bargain hunters and second-hand shopping, shops in Colon Street is the place to go. The place is similar to Manila’s Quiapo or Divisoria. Carbon Public market and the Basilica de Minores de Santo Nino is near this famous street.

Colon Street marker

The intersection at Colon Street.

Another notable landmark in Cebu City is the Fuente Osmeña Circle or rotonda. The park is open to the public and visitors can enjoy watching the fountain change its colors during the night. TRIVIA: The Fuente Osmeña landmark is depicted in the P50.00 currency of the Philippines.

The Fuente Osmeña landmark and the Crown Regency hotel at the background.

Souvenir photo@the Fuente Osmeña landmark

Up north, down south
After our day-trip in Cebu City, we headed up north to the island of Bantayan the next day. From our hotel in Cebu City, we rented a van going to the Hagnaya Port. It is approximately a 3-hour ride from the city proper but we got lost along the way and we arrived at Daanbantayan, which is a different town from Bantayan. But if not for that unexpected detour we would have arrived at the Hagnaya Port in less than 3 hours. From the Hagnaya port we went onboard a shuttle ferry which costs P135/person. In less than an hour we arrived at the Bantayan port.

Hagnaya Port

Hagnaya Port

Island Adventures
From the ferry, I noticed towering coconut trees line up the shore of the island. The cool blue tone of the sky is reflected in its waters a perfect complement to the island’s pristine white shore. From the port we were picked up by a shuttle courtesy of our resort, from there we were transported to Maia’s Beach Resort a 15-minute ride from the port. Maia, the owner and to whom the resort was named after welcomed us with a warm smile and directed us to our villas. We arrived around 4PM, and we had our late lunch and strolled around the vicinity of our resort. The resort doesn’t have a beach front but it has the perfect view to watch the sunset.

Bantayan island from our ferry

The next day, we woke up early for our next activity – Island hopping to the Virgin island! But before breakfast, I noticed that it was low tide in front of our resort. So I grabbed my camera and started to take photos of the sunrise and the daily activities of the people living in the area. Since it was low-tide, I was able to walk on the muddy sea bed and even walked in the middle of the sea.

Sunrise in Bantayan

Seaweed Scavengers

Low-tide catch

Barkadahan sa Bantayan

Tire-ing Game

We also met new friends, Mary Rose and Richard.

Mary Rose and her starfish.

Mary Rose and her starfish.

Mary Rose and Richard with their catch

usa, duha, tulo...ambak! (One, two, three...jump!)

Low-tide bonding

After breakfast, we headed to the Virgin Island just across the Bantayan Port. The beaches of Bantayan are far different from other beaches in the Philippines because it is less commercialized and populated. One can truly enjoy the serenity of pure relaxation while enjoying the sea and basking under the sun.

Virgin Island, Bantayan.

Reason why it's called VIRGIN. No pun intended.

Rock formations

With my Summit officemates @ the Virgin Island, Bantayan

Sea, Sand, Sun, Shade

Under the shady tree

Siesta

Dried Fish and an Old Church
During our last day in Bantayan before going back to Cebu, we had a pitstop at Bantayan’s public market to buy pasalubong. Dangit, the punget-smelling yet delicious salted fish is one of the best pasalubong from Cebu aside from the famous dried mangoes and guitars. Dangit (dried salted fish), dried pusit/squid and other dried sea food can be bought at the Bantayan market for only P120 per pack, but prices may vary depending on the seafood and weight. Near the Bantayan Market was the Simbahan ng Bantayan (Church of Bantayan) also known as the Sts. Peter and Paul Church which was built by the Augustinian priests in the 1500’s.

Dried Fish

Simbahan sa Bantayan (Sts. Peter and Paul Church)

Skywalk-ing in Cebu
After our Bantayan escapade, we headed back to the city to ride and experience the famous Edge Coaster and Skywalk at the Crown Regency Hotel (Both sky rides for P600.00). It was night time when we dared ourselves to try this nerve –wracking attraction. First was the Edge Coaster on the hotel’s 38th floor, where passengers are securely and tightly fastened in the coaster while being tilted 55 degrees. The moment the coaster tilted, I felt that I was about to fall from my sit and was holding for my dear life. But seconds later I got the hang of it and I was in awe with the view of Cebu’s night cityscape. It was like a galaxy, the only difference is you’re looking down. The next attraction was the Skywalk on the 37th floor. Not recommended to those with Acrophobia or fear of heights because you have to walk around the perimeter of the hotel while having a safety line connected to your safety suit. It was really a great experience and I think I am in for a round two.

Edge Coaster @ the Crown Regency Hotel

Skywalk

A bird's eye view of Cebu's cityscape at night. Photo taken from the Crown Regency Hotel.

Foodtrip If you’re on a tight budget but wants to try a variety of grilled and authentic Pinoy dishes, then Neo-Neo Grill House is worth visiting when in Cebu. Prices of food range from P75 toP150 per order and they are good for two persons. Located at Juan Luna Avenue in Cebu City, AS Fortuna Street in Mandaue City and Lapu-lapu City.

Neo-Neo Grill House

As we all know, the Queen is always next to the King and no wonder Cebu was dubbed as the Queen City of the south because it’s the next best city to Metro Manila. Cebu is not only remarkable because of its progressive economy and development but also in the history of the Philippines. A lot of firsts transpired in this island which has been an important part of our culture and heritage – it has been the birthplace of Christianity, the home of the oldest church, the place where the first avenue was built and has been a fortress of defense during the Spanish era. The island of Cebu is also home to the best beaches in the country, and Bantayan island is the up and coming Boracay down south. So next time you think Manila is overrated, then Cebu is definitely a place you can consider to visit. Till then, Cebu!

I WOK'd in Cebu.



I WOK’d in ILO-ILO.
October 6, 2009, 3:43 pm
Filed under: WOK in VISAYAS | Tags: , , , , , ,

Jaro, Ilo-Ilo. A place once featured in a TELECOM TV commercial, wherein a college student calls his Dad in Jaro to tell him that he’s no longer taking up medicine but instead will shift into Fine Arts. “Kung saan ka masaya, Suportahan Taka!” this line instantly became a hit and became a household line everywhere. Anyway, this line was also stuck in my head until I went to Ilo-Ilo.

A view of Ilo-Ilo City

A view of Ilo-Ilo City

An island tucked in the middle of the archipelago, Ilo-Ilo is a progressive community not very different from Metro Manila. With malls, establishments and a couple of high rise buildings, Ilo-Ilo City is a city on its way to becoming an urban hub in the Western Visayas region.

Inside the Ilo-Ilo Airport

Inside the Ilo-Ilo Airport

With its newly opened Airport, the Ilo-Ilo serves as a gateway to neighboring islands in the region such as Bacolod, Catcilan, and Capiz. What’s remarkable about this place is that amidst its progressive economy, the Ilonggos are still able to preserve their heritage and culture. Spanish influences in architecture are apparent in houses and buildings, which are preserved up-to-date.

An Atillan house in Jaro

An Atillan house in Jaro

Old Antillan houses are still preserved and line up the streets in Jaro and other neighboring towns. In addition to this, old churches are well preserved and is flocked by devout Catholics on Sundays–a testament of the Illongos religiosity. One remarkable church in Ilo-Ilo is the San Jose Church (see Footprints) situated in front of Plaza Libertad. For architecture enthusiast this place is worth seeing because of its Spanish-inspired architecture.

A pasture in Ilo-Ilo

A pasture in Ilo-Ilo

Daing: A staple in every Filipino breakfast

Daing: A salty dried fish. Common in Pinoy breakfast.

Hectares of land are kept untouched from commercialism because many of these pastures are used as rice fields and for grazing livestock and ranching. Daing (dried fish), the pungent-smelling yet tasty breakfast viand is also one of the main exports of the island.

The famous Guimaras mangoes.

The famous Guimaras mangoes.

An island in Guimaras

An island in Guimaras

Just accross the San Pedro Port, about an hour boat ride is the Guimaras Island. Known for its sweet mangoes and white sand beaches, Guimaras is indeed a tropical paradise to those who love the sand and the sea. Indeed, Ilo-Ilo offers the best of both worlds–a booming urban metropolis where the luxury of modern living is within your reach at the same time it is a place where one can unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature.

FATHER

But what’s most remarkable about this place is its people. The Illongo’s warm smiles will make you feel that you are indeed welcomed in their place. Definitely, Ilo-Ilo is a place worth coming back to.

• FOOTPRINTS

The interiors of the San Jose Church. The church is flocked by devout Catholics every Sunday.

The interiors of the San Jose Church. The church is flocked by devout Catholics every Sunday.

San Jose Church

Known to be the most historic Church in Ilo-Ilo and is popular because of its Byzantine-Neoclassic architecture similar to the Church of Valencia del Cid in Spain.

The San Pedro Port

The San Pedro Port

San Pedro Port

An image of Christ with His arms outstretched facing the sea (similarto the Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro but only smaller in size) is the landmark of the port. Unfortunately, this landmark needs major rehabilitation because of its dilapidated and vandalized walls.

• FOOD TRIP

Deco’s La Paz Batchoy

I was told that I was not in Ilo-Ilo if I haven’t tasted their famous La Paz Batchoy. Good thing, Deco’s restaurant, known to be the original La Paz batchoy is just across our hotel. This famous noodle soup bowl is mixed with pork meat and liver called batchoy and garnished with small bits of onion stalk and chicharon. Best paired with hot pandesal. Nothing beats the original La Paz batchoy compared to its instant noodle counterpart; it’s definitely worth a try! Namit Gid!

The Biscocho Haus in Jaro

The Biscocho Haus in Jaro

Biscocho

A famous pasalubong from Ilo-Ilo is the Biscocho (toasted bread coated with milk and sugar) and the Original Biscocho Haus in Ilo-Ilo is the place to go to buy this sweet treat. But aside from the Biscocho, other treats such as the Galletas, Barquillos, Piyaya, etc. can be bought there. Their butterscotch is also a must-try! They have stores in Jaro (the original store), SM Ilo-Ilo and near the airport.

• FAVORITES

Illongo is one of my favorite dialects in the Philippines. But I don’t know how to speak in Ilonggo. Why my favorite? Because Illongos sound sweet/soft-spoken (malambing) when they speak. Their accent is soft and makes them sound calm even if they are mad. One of my favorite Illongo word is palangga, which refers to a person you love.

Your smile will be forever remembered.

Your smile will forever be remembered.

Aside from their sweet accent, I think the Illongos are naturally friendly people. This portrait (pictured above) is one of my favorite shots I’ve taken in Ilo-Ilo. It shows how a simple smile can give life to a picture. The old lady in the photo gamely smiled for the camera when I asked if I could take a photo of her. The sincerity and genuineness of her smile is felt in this photo.

WOK

Too bad, my stay in Ilo-Ilo was only for a short period of time. I am sure that there are still many places to see in this region. If you’re a culture buff and would love to know more about the history of a place, then Ilo-Ilo is the place to go. But for the more adventurous traveler, take a trip to Guimaras and enjoy its pristine white sand beaches and indulge its sweet mangoes. If given the chance to be back, I will surely spend more time touring the city and taking shots of its old Antillan houses. Till then, Ilo-Ilo.