Featured

BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS

We arrived around 8 in the morning yesterday in Binondo, a destination my husband and I have not gone to for more than 2 decades so this short trip was surely a sentimental one. Click a related post – BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is considered the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila, Philippines, and a hub of Chinese commerce.

We finally found a parking space and made our way to Ling Nam Noodle House at 616 T. Alonzo Street. Even this early, the restaurant was almost full.

Z-2-wall menuwall menu – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Ling Nam still has a limited, yet time-tested, menu consisting of: noodles (asado, beef, chicken, wanton, or combinations of 2 or 3 thereof), lugao (congee or hot rice porridge, with the following variants: bola-bola, chicken, fish, fish-bola, halo-halo, liver, kidney, or plain), siopao (steamed bun, in the following variants: asado, bola-bola, lotus, mongo and taipao – the 4-inch or largest meatball-chorizo siopao) and siomai (steamed Chinese dumpling, with or without soup).

Unfortunately, only siopao, siomai and different kinds of lugao (congee) were available that early (noodles are only available starting 9:30 am). So, we settled for CHICKEN LUGAO (175 pesos), HALO-HALO LUGAO (165 pesos), SIOMAI (2 pieces for 80 pesos) and ASADO SIOPAO (75 pesos).

Lingnam-2
Complimentary Hot Tea – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Complimentary hot tea was served first, followed by our orders.

BeFunky CollageChicken Lugao and Halo Halo Lugao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Both lugaos were served hot, accompanied by fresh calamansi (small, round citrus fruit also known as Calamondin). We squeezed the juice from the calamansi directly to the bowl and seasoned the lugao with patis (fish sauce) and a bit of pepper. This dish hit the spot and is definitely a comfort food for us.

 

Z-3-siomai-siopao2 pieces of siomai and asado siopao – Ling Nam Noodle House, Binondo, Manila

Siomai and siopao were then served. Toyo (soy sauce) and freshly squeezed calamansi juice were mixed as dipping sauce for the two pieces of siomai (per order) to be enjoyed in between spoonfuls of lugao. The siopao did not need any sauce because the tasty filling, along with the soft dough, was just right.

We asked for the bill and gave our senior citizen cards. An employee simply looked at our empty plates on the table and orally enumerated the quantity of the exact items we ate to the cashier who prepared the bill. Now I call that going paperless! So amusing!

Z-4-shanghai fried siopaoShanghai Fried Siopao – Binondo, Manila

We shopped for a while and found ourselves in the corner of Ongpin Street and Bahama Street, the location of (80 year old) Shanghai Fried Siopao. We ordered PORK ASADO fried siopaos, each costing 20 pesos. This hole-in-the-wall stall only has a simple store sign “Shanghai Fried Siopao” and offers takeout dumplings, kikiam (or quekiam, a steamed-deep-fried pork/seafood Chinese delicacy wrapped in bean curd skin), machang (the Filipino version of the pyramid-shaped Chinese steamed sticky rice-meat dish called “zongzi”), siomai and other cooked-food items, displayed on a small counter along the street.

Z-5-fried siopaoFried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

The fried siopao displayed on the counter were not kept warm but you can observe that they were easily gone through the purchases of loyal and curious customers and the stock needed to be replenished regularly. The buns were still hot when it was handed to me. Amazing!

Z-6-fryer (2)Fryers used to make Fried Siopao – Shanghai Fried Siopao, Binondo, Manila

Just to be clear, we ordered FRIED SIOPAO which is steamed then pan-fried so that it has a toasted crispy bottom but still looks like a steamed siopao on top. It is definitely different from Toasted Siopao which is a baked “monay-looking” Bicolano specialty variation of siopao.

Z-7-manosaWe walked a bit more and could not resist to go to (30 year old) Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant.

Z-8-manosa-2

We ordered yummy maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) which was served in a large bowl and can be shared by two seniors. We were still full so we did not order side dishes like kikiam and siomai.

Z-9-manosa-3Maki – Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant, Binondo, Manila

The maki was served hot and its thick, starchy and tasty broth was so satisfying, along with the tender chunks of pork.

Z-10-siopao-bitepoor fried siopao after I have eaten it halfway

We needed to leave Binondo, anticipating traffic going to our next destination. Sure enough, we were caught in traffic and decided to eat the Pork Asado siopaos we got from Shanghai Fried Siopao. They were no longer hot but we still ate them. When I bit into the siopao, I got a bit of a crunchy texture from the bottom, along with the usual soft siopao dough and tasty filling (of pork and leeks, among other ingredients; no need for sauce). We enjoyed the siopaos and I am sure that these would have been more satisfying when eaten hot. Anyway, we didn’t get stressed with the traffic! LOL

Next time, we need to stay longer and eat lunch or dinner in the famous restaurants in Binondo. Dear Seniors, do you have any recommendations?

Did you find this post informative? Do you also go to these places for a quick treat? Do you have your other favorite places to dine in Chinatown for a quick bite?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Don’t forgollow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

Featured

JASMINE: IRRESISTIBLE CHINESE FOOD

Location: Level 2, New World Makati Hotel, Esperanza Street corner Makati Avenue, Ayala Center, Makati City, Philippines

My group of five were in the Greenbelt area and I was craving for Chinese food and salted egg so off we went to New World Makati Hotel’s Jasmine, its dining outlet at Level 2. Jasmine is open for lunch (11:30 am – 2:30 pm) and dinner (6 pm – 10:30 pm).

Z-1-Jasmine-facadeThe entrance to the main dining room was so inviting. We arrived at a little past noon and most of the tables were occupied.

Z-1-Jasmine-interiorThe Chinese Art Deco interior was cozy and simply elegant. It is my second visit to this Chinese restaurant and this will definitely be a “cheat meal”! LOL

Jasmine offers authentic Chinese dishes created by renowned Hong Kong chef Wong Kam On: a wide variety of Cantonese baked, fried, steamed and vegetarian dim sum; chicken, fish and pork century egg congees; rice rolls (served only for lunch); Peking Duck; seafood specialties; barbecued appetizers; soups; live fish and seafood (with your choice of cooking method); poultry and meat dishes; bean curd, noodle, rice, vegetable and vegetarian dishes; desserts; and different kinds of tea (along with Jasmine Tea and Jasmine Chrysanthemum). Set menus, priced per table of ten persons, are also offered.

Z-1-Jasmine-menuOn our round table was a menu for unlimited  yum cha (traditional Cantonese brunch consisting of dim sum and Chinese tea), for 988 pesos per person. It was so tempting but we settled for a la carte orders for the group so we could savor the salted egg dishes which I have been craving for.

Z-2-JasmineWe ordered 4 kinds of dimsum. The BARBECUED PORK PASTRY was a welcome treat because the pastry was so flaky and the pork filling was delicious. The generously-sized PORK XIAO LONG BAO looked so enticing: steaming hot with its delicate folds and thin, white casing. Its yummy mild broth was just right for the well-seasoned pork filling.

Z-2-Jasmine-hargaoThe HAR GAO was served hot, the dough shell was soft and delicate, and the seasoned shrimp filling was tasty and juicy.

Z-3-JasmineThe PORK PASTRY SPRING ROLL was a delightful appetizer as well.

We enjoyed sipping the hot JASMINE TEA while we savored the various dim sum as well as succeeding courses.

SPINACH SOUP was requested by our 5-year old picky-eater-grandson and he finished it all so that says a lot about this soup! This healthy soup was served at the right temperature and was pleasantly seasoned so the kid enjoyed it till the last drop.

Z-4-JasmineWe ordered five main courses. Finally, I will satisfy my salted egg craving! The SOLE OF FISH SALTED EGG YOLK hit the spot! I definitely rave about this dish and, dear Seniors, this is definitely a MUST TRY! The tender fish was fried with just the right amount of yummy salted egg.

Z-5-JasmineThe crispy DEEP FRIED PRAWNS SALTED EGG YOLK was likewise delicious, accentuated by the salted egg coating.

The CHINESE STYLE PAN-FRIED BEEF TENDERLOIN was topped with Chef Wong’s special sauce. The beef was so tender. The flavor and texture of the sauce enhanced the enjoyment of this dish.

Z-6-JasmineOur picky-eater requested BROCCOLI WITH OYSTER SAUCE. The broccoli was cooked just right and the sauce was tasty, but not salty.

Z-7-JasmineThe EGG WHITE SEAFOOD FRIED RICE with conpoy (a type of pungent Cantonese dried scallop) and pine nuts, with its subtle, yet flavorful blend of ingredients and seasonings, aptly complemented our a la carte orders.

Z-8-JasmineMango Pudding, Jasmine, New World Makati Hotel

Finally, we ordered two kinds of desserts: Mango Pudding and Mango Cream-Sago.

Z-9-JasmineMango Cream-Sago, Jasmine, New World Makati Hotel

Both desserts were a refreshing treat after all the dimsum and main courses we enjoyed.

The staff were so accommodating and gave personalized service. They changed the plates as needed, replenished our tea and water, and asked if we enjoyed the meal and what else we needed.

We will definitely come back for more, what with their December promo called “Feast on Festive Treats”: (1) a Yum Cha Buffet Lunch consisting of baked, fried and steamed dumplings, buns, rolls and noodles, at 1,388 pesos per person; and, (2) a choice among three 10-course set menus for December 24, 25, 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018, featuring Chef Wong’s signature dishes like Suckling Pig, Braised Abalone with Black Mushrooms, Pan-fried Lamb with Black Pepper Sauce, Pan-fried Scallop with Egg White and Black Truffle Sauce, at 9,888 pesos for a group of 6 persons.

Private dining rooms are also available for your intimate get-togethers, dear Senior Citizens. You can inquire/book at (02) 811-6888. Visit their website: www.manila.newworldhotels.com. You can view their complete menu at www.zomato.com, just type Jasmine – New World Makati Hotel Menu.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in Jasmine? If so, what were your favorite dim sum and ala carte dishes? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

Featured

BINONDO: A QUICK VISIT

Location: Binondo, District of Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines

My husband and I were already in Metro Manila and decided to go to Binondo early for a quick and early visit since we haven’t been there for more than two decades.

For the benefit of foreigners, Binondo* is the Chinatown of the Philippines, considered the oldest in the world, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It is a district in Manila and a hub of Chinese commerce.

Z-13-BinondoI saw the familiar Welcome Arch and prayed we could get a parking slot.

Z-11-Binondo

Binondo still looks so busy especially during this time of the year.

Z-12-BinondoMemories of our past visits with loved ones and friends crossed my mind while we passed through the last arch.

Parking was full but we were able to find one accessible to the places we wanted to go to. We first ate breakfast in Ling Nam Noodle House. We then went to shop a bit then ordered a couple of  fried siopaos (steamed then fried meatball-chorizo buns) at Shanghai Fried Siopao for takeout. Before we left for lunch elsewhere, we didn’t miss the chance to eat maki (a Chinese soup with a brown, thick, starchy broth, and chunks of tender pork) at Ongpin Mañosa Restaurant. Click a related post – BINONDO: REVISITING 3 FAVORITE QUICK TREATS.

Z-14-BinondoFinally, we wouldn’t leave this place without buying yummy, freshly roasted castañas    (chestnuts). Then off we went for an important errand.

Did you find this post informative? Do you often go to Binondo? Do you also crave for castañas come the holiday season?  I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right part of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*“Binondo,” accessed December 12, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo.

 

 

Featured

GREEN PASTURES: FROM FARM TO TABLE

Location: G/F, Net Park, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

I had a scheduled meeting with someone in the Net Park area and arrived an hour before the designated time so I invited my companion to have a quick but not-so-sinful snack and we chose a casual dining and organic restaurant called Green Pastures, owned by Chef Robby Goco of Cyma, Charlie’s Grind and Grill, and Tequila Joe’s fame. It is located at the ground floor of Net Park and is open from 8 am till 10 pm.

Z-3-GP

For this restaurant, Chef Robbie offers healthy American and European homemade dishes which are made from fresh, organic, gluten-free and probiotic ingredients. Green Pastures also has 2 other branches: Eastwood Mall (in Bagumbayan, Quezon City) and (Level 4, East Wing) Shangri-la Plaza Mall (in Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City).

We opted for outdoor dining despite the modern farm house interiors, ordered their Homemade Burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream), served with toasted bread, and requested it to be served fast so we need not hurry eating it and I won’t be late for my meeting. It came as promised by the waitress and it had a simple yet appealing presentation.

Z-1-GP

The texture of the bread complemented the softness and freshness of the cheese, served with Mt. Atok (in the province of Benguet) organic strawberries, cherry tomatoes and basil oil. It was priced at 430 pesos and was worth it! The cold refreshing drinks, Organic Dalandan Juice (juice of the tangy, Filipino variety of a citrus fruit) and Iced Tea with Organic Honey (small, 120 pesos each), were a welcome treat too!

I paid for this snack and all the comments are based on my dining experience. I will definitely go back to try the other items in the menu!

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining at Green Pastures in any of its branches? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

Featured

A SENTIMENTAL PINOY MERIENDA AT VIA MARE

Location: G/F, Greenbelt 1, Greenbelt Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

My husband and I were accompanied by three relatives when we were in the Greenbelt area for early Christmas shopping. It was the middle of the afternoon when we all became hungry and they agreed to join me in a sentimental Pinoy merienda (snack) at Via Mare in Greenbelt 1 which was one of my favorite casual dining Filipino restaurants when I was single.

Z-1-VMfacade – Via Mare, Greenbelt 1, Makati City

Now, dearest Senior Citizens (SCs), you might ask, why there, Tita S? There is one at Greenbelt 3 and it is newer. I know that, SCs, but this Greenbelt 1 branch is so memorable for me before I got married. Anyway, indulge me, please, ok?

This outlet is open from 8 am till 9:30 pm (M-F), 9 am till 9:30 pm (Sat.-Sun.), and 10 am till 10 pm (during holidays). It is located at the ground floor of Greenbelt 1, opposite National Book Store, my favorite bookstore. Via Mare’s facade and interiors still looked the same and the diners were mostly families or seniors, alone or with a companion.

I can’t help but think that the other seniors also eat there not only for the yummy dishes but recall delightful memories of dining there for years/decades as well. For me, it was way back 1990s.

This outlet offers breakfast, a wide selection of Filipino merienda treats and kakanin (native Filipino rice cakes served mostly for snacks), as well as different soups, main dishes, oyster specialties, vegetables and rice for lunch/dinner.

I was feeling nostalgic when I got hold of the menu and I wanted to order lots of native merienda (snack) treats but stopped myself because of eating out too much when I go to Metro Manila.

Z-Via Mare-2We ordered only four kinds of merienda items First was BIBINGKA VSP (175 pesos), meaning this traditional Filipino rice cake was very special because it had all the toppings possible. It was served warm and soft and its flavor was enhanced by the yummy toppings (butter, cheese and salted egg), accompanied by freshly grated coconut and sugar.

Z-Via-Mare-3PUTO BUMBONG, with two pieces per order, served with muscavado sugar (partially refined sugar with a strong molasses content and flavor), quezo de bola (Edam cheese) and freshly grated coconut (106 pesos), was also ordered. It looked so delicious and we even ordered additional queso de bola for a more delightful combination.

Z-Via-Mare-4The PALITAW (a traditional, sweet, sticky Filipino rice cake), with three pieces per (55 peso) order and a generous topping of freshly grated coconut, sugar and linga (sesame seeds), was served next. It is definitely a MUST TRY, dearest Seniors! This boiled, flattened, small, rectangular, Filipino rice cake was so delicately soft, contrasted by the texture of the freshly grated coconut mixed with sugar and linga. We had to ask for an additional order because we couldn’t have enough of this native delicacy.

Z-Via-Mare-5DINUGUAN AT PUTO (205 pesos), another Filipino favorite, was a satisfying, thick, savory pork-blood stew with pork offals and meat, complemented by the small white putos (traditional, round, soft, Filipino steamed rice cakes).

Bottomline, we enjoyed all our orders but rave about the palitaw! My younger companions learned to appreciate these Filipino treats while I reminisced good times in this restaurant with every bite I took. Happy tummies! Happy memories! Happy meee! Happy weee! We will surely go back for more, perhaps for lunch or dinner!

Prices stated were based on charges when we dined in this outlet; they may change. Visit its official website: www.viamare.com.ph for outlets, catering services, updates, etc. You can also call (02) 815-1918. For a quick look at the menu of this outlet: (1) simply type “via mare greenbelt 1 menu” and click on the www.munchpunch.com option, or (2) type www.zomato.com and type café via mare greenbelt 1. View the menu at the bottom of the page.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

 

 

 

Featured

EL NIDO: Islands and Caves – Part 3

Location: Province of Palawan1, MIMAROPA2 Region, Philippines

In our fourth day in the picturesque town of El Nido3 in the province of Palawan, my husband and I felt that we gained weight after three days here especially with Sea Cocoon’s yummy buffet breakfast, Hello El Nido’s finger-licking grilled buffet lunch during our island hopping, and the seafood dinners we had along the beach! This is paradise, but is not-so-good for our waistlines! But what can I say! When on vacation, NO DIET! Or, we have a SEE-FOOD DIET, i.e., when we see food, we eat! Right?!

Did you see my posts of our first two tours of El Nido? If not, click here for EL NIDO: HEAVEN ON EARTH – Part 1 and click here for EL NIDO: HEAVEN ON EARTH – Part 2.

Anyway, our third tour called TOUR B – WHITE SAND GALORE: ISLANDS AND CAVES, costs 1,300 per person. Just like the first 2 trips, I packed my hard-plastic beach bag with my needs for the day: sun block, bottles of mineral water, comb, towels, sunglasses, cell phone and power bank, snacks, cash, etc. After breakfast, we all met at the lobby, trooped again to the beach and boarded our big “banca” (boat) for the day.

3-El Nido-Snake Island-Gani
Snake Island, El Nido, Palawan – Photo by: Gani

The first stop was SNAKE ISLAND. I enjoyed this unique island because it had a natural S-shaped sandbar visible during low tide. And guess what, it was low tide today, lucky us! My husband and I walked the whole sandbar and we wished we had a drone to video our walk. We finally reached the end of the sandbar which was a mangrove. We stopped a bit and headed back to the starting point where we were ushered to head up and hike to a small gazebo with a spectacular view of the sandbar and the clear water! The bottled water came in handy to hydrate us going up and down this trail. Take your time, dearest Seniors, it is worth the effort!

Next was ENTALULA BEACH, reputed to be the best beach in Bacuit Bay. It can also be reserved for an intimate lunch/dinner.

The CUDUGNON CAVE was the next stop and cash was handy to enjoy fresh buko juice/cold soft drinks. This site was believed to be the burial site during the Neolithic period4 (10,200 – 2000 BC).

7PHIy1521270737

A brief stop at the CATHEDRAL CAVE followed but we did not stay long because the water was a bit rough. However, each passenger was given a chance to have pictures taken with the cave as backdrop.

4-El-Nido-Pinagbuyutan Island-Gani
Pinagbuyutan Island Photo by Gani

The PINAGBUYUTAN ISLAND was the last stop. It is a powdered white sand island ideal for snorkeling, laying at the beach, or swimming with loved ones.

This last packaged tour is good but not as good as the first two … anyway, the sandbar was more than enough to make this a memorable trip! Thanks again, Gani Ricarte of Hello El Nido! Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

My final words re El Nido: This town is indeed a paradise and a precious treasure for all Filipinos and foreign visitors to visit and experience for generations to come! I pray it will not suffer the same fate as Boracay if they just continue to consistently and strictly implement the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA)5.  I hope the local government will be able to continue to plan and successfully implement programs against the threats of high human activities and the booming tourism industry in the these towns such as: pollution from waste and sewage disposal; beach erosion; damage to coral reefs due to snorkeling, diving and illegal collection; and, disturbance of bird nesting and marine sites.

I would love to hear from you, dear Seniors! Did you find this post informative? Have you gone to El Nido? Did you also experience this package tour? What are your observations of the tourism impact to the environment? Just scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1Palawan, according to the Wikipedia page, “Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, s a province in the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA Region of the Philippines, founded in 1818, and is now called the Philippines’ Last Frontier. SOURCE: “Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

2MIMAROPA, according to the Wikipedia page, “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. SOURCE: “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

3El Nido, according to the Wikipedia page, “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, is a first class, highly urbanized city located in the western province of Palawan, the westernmost city in the Philippines, with 66 barangays, and the capital of Palawan. The airport is located in this city and it is also known for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, named one of the New7Wonders of the Nature. SOURCE: “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

4“Neolithic,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic.

5El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) is the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page, “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, It covers 18 barangays in El Nido and 3 barangays of its neighboring town, Taytay, involving more than 900 sq. km, using various forest and marine conservation and protection programs, to protect and develop the livelihoods of the seaside local population, amidst the development of tourist in the area. A very small (50 US cents) daily conservation fee is required per visitor. SOURCE: “El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nido,_Palawan.

 

 

Featured

LAS CASAS FILIPINAS DE ACUZAR: A HERITAGE TREAT

Location: Barangay Pag-asa, town of Bagac, province of Bataan, Central Luzon Region, island of Luzon, Philippines

6-Las Casas

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is an 18th-century heritage park and open-air museum located along Umagol River, in the town of Bagac, Bataan, Philippines. It was created in 2003 by Jose “Gerry” Acuzar, owner of New San Jose Builders, and opened it to the public in 2010. It is managed by Genesis Hotels and Resorts Corporation.

1-Las Casas

It presents a 400-hectare sprawling settlement of 27 Spanish colonial-heritage houses from various cities and provinces of the Philippines (e.g., Biñan, Bulacan, Cagayan, Ilocos, La Union, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Quezon City). Each house or “casa” was dismantled in situ (in its original place), brick by brick, numbered, transported to this site, where they were reassembled and restored. The houses are often made with a stone foundation on the ground level and made of wood on the upper floor. If parts are missing, bricks and woodwork were replaced to resemble the original structure.

19-Las Casas-layout

If you have arthritis, no worries, dear Seniors, the property offers the following transportation facilities to take you around:

  • Bicycle – reserve, for a fee, per hour;

9-Las Casas-jeepney-MarissaDG

  • Jeepney – pick-up starts in front of Casa Mexico and drops off at Casa New Manila;

 

8--Las Casas-kalesa-MarissaDG

  • Kalesa – a horse-drawn carriage; reserve at the Concierge and meet Makisig, the horse, used for this traditional mode of transportation good for 2 to 4 persons;

 

10-Las Casas-A-golf cart-MarissaDG

  • Golf Cart – reserve at Casa Mexico for a fee per hour, whether self-driven (maximum 4 persons) or tour guide-driven (maximum 3 persons); and,

 

7-Las Casas-tram-MarissaDG

  • Tram – a vehicle which goes around the property along a metal railway or track.

 

For Seniors who can afford and who have an architectural, cultural and/or historical interest, this place is for you! You will also have lots of “muni-muni” (reflection) time while strolling from one house to another along the brick pavements or cobblestone streets, or while riding any of the above vehicles and feeling the gentle to strong (depending on the weather/season) wind from the Beach Area, direct from the West Philippine Sea. If you love taking selfies or unique Spanish architecture, more reason to go, just apply lots of sunscreen! If you enjoy spending time walking/strolling with family or “balikbayan friends”, enjoying freshly-baked pandesal from La Panaderia or native delicacies for “merienda” (snacks) at La Parilla/Pica Pica, indulging in local fruity-flavored “sorbetes” (ice cream) peddled by a roving “sorbetero” (ice cream vendor) wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat, swimming, sunbathing and appreciating the beautiful sunset while sipping beer/cocktails by the beach, and without the “noisy” nightlife of the city even for just one night, then check this destination out!

4-Las Casas

Stay at least overnight to enjoy this unique resort and savor its beauty on a leisurely pace, preferably on a weekend, to witness traditional native activities (listed below). I visited this nostalgic property on February 2017, along with my high school buddies as part of our 45th jubilee. There are 217 rooms to choose from; check-in is 2 pm and check-out is 12 noon.

12-Las Casas-Casa-New-Manila-QCWe checked-in at the first “casa” or house upon entering the compound, the Casa de New Manila Quezon City.

3-Las Casas

I stayed with my husband in a Deluxe Room with a “retro ambiance” yet still enjoyed the comforts of air-conditioning, a queen-sized bed, television with cable, an in-room safety deposit box, a bathroom with hot and cold water and a separate bathtub and shower, and breakfast was also included.

Other types of rooms are the:

  1. Executive Suite – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza and gazebo; for 6 adults; with 3 queen beds with 2 extra beds;
  2. Family Suite – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view) or beach front, for 6 adults, with 3 queen beds and 2 extra beds;
  3. Large Superior Deluxe – located at Estero de Binondo with a view of Plaza Marcelino (river view, beach front, or plaza); for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds; and, the
  4. Studio with Loft – located at Paseo de Escolta with a view of the plaza; for 4 adults, with 2 queen beds and 2 extra beds.

Visit its website for prices/availability/more information: www.lascasasfilipinas.com

16-Las Casas

The following tours are offered (but note that schedules/prices may be changed, so inquire beforehand):

  • A WALKING HERITAGE TOUR held about 7 times daily (9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm), subject to weather conditions, for 1,500 pesos. A trained and eloquent tour guide gives the history of each house. Experience this special one-hour tour with your “amigos/amigas” or family.

Here are some tips for you to maximize this tour: choose comfortable footwear that is easy to remove and wear (since you will be required to leave it at the door of each house before entry; wear socks for hygiene, if desired; wear comfortable and light clothes; during summer or hot days, apply sunblock, wear a cap or hat and even bring an umbrella; and, bring water for hydration. If it is windy, bring a shawl or something to keep you warm and, for ladies, apply a lip balm to protect your lips.

Since my husband and I stayed overnight, we availed of this tour and learned to appreciate more of our country’s rich history, architecture and culture. The tour guides were fluent in both English and Tagalog.

  • An ALL-DAY TOUR for a minimum of 5 persons, with 2,000 pesos nett per person, paid in advance, and cannot be combined with other promotions. There are several schedules daily, subject to weather conditions.
  • A RIVER/BALSA TOUR for a minimum of 4 persons per ride, on an “intimate and romantic” cruise around the property using a “balsa” (raft) for 500 pesos each. You can leisurely float along the Umangol River and the glide along surrounding balconies, brick walls, verandas and arched bridges.
  • A HOTEL DE ORIENTE TOUR is a tour of the faithful replica of the first luxury hotel in Binondo during the Spanish colonial era of our country, for 200 pesos. It is the property’s “premier 3-floor convention center” which can accommodate functions for at least 10 persons to banquets of up to 600 persons. Its lobby boasts of wooden sculptures crafted by Betis and Paete carvers, both well-known for wood-carving.
  • A WORKSHOP TOUR is an in-house workshop where woodcarvings and bricks are traditionally made. The tour starts at Casa Mexico and is held Tuesday to Thursday (9 am/3 pm) and Friday to Sunday (9 am/11 am/3 pm).
  • BATAAN TOUR PACKAGE – Please inquire at 09178329361 (Monday-Saturday, 8:30 am – 5:P30 pm) or visit their website mentioned above.
  • An ART TOUR is coming soon.

Dining outlets include: (1) The Beach Bar; (2) Café del Rio – a tapas1 bar at Casa Sta. Rita; (3) Café Marivent at Casa New Manila – a Filipino-Spanish restaurant at the 2nd floor of the said casa; (4) Cusina ni Nanay Maria – a Filipino restaurant located at Casa Unisan;  (5) La Bella Teodora at Basa Biñan – an Italian restaurant located at Casa Biñan; and, (6) La Parilla and Pica Pica – an open Filipino “street food and beverage” outlet located at Plaza de Castro. I enjoyed their turon (fried, sweet banana spring roll), bibingka (Filipino rice cake), puto bumbong (steamed, rectangular, purple rice cake) and salabat (hot ginger tea).

Other activities are (but schedules/prices/venue may be changed, so inquire beforehand):

  1. Carabao Parade and Race – A colorful parade which starts at 4 pm at Gate 2 and extends to the Beach Area every Saturday and Sunday. A carabao (Filipino swamp-type water buffalo) race and a “palosebo2” are also held at the Beach Area.
  2. Center of Filipino Arts and Culture – An exhibit at Casa Candaba, open daily from 9 am till 5 pm.
  3. Cockfighting – A famous Filipino pastime held every Sunday at 10am at the back of Casa Tondo.
  4. Cultural Show/Mini Fiesta – A show of traditional Filipino dances (maglalatik3, singkil4 and tinikling5) held every Saturday at Casa Hagonoy/Paseo de Escolta at 6 pm (sundown).
  5. Entertainment and Game Room – A room located at Casa Lubao, just a few steps away from Tulay ni Lola Basyang which offers billiards, darts and other board games free of charge, open daily, from 7 am till 7 pm. Contact a Game Coordinator for Filipino games like: patintero6, piko7, sipa8 or sungka9. Casa Lubao also offers fish feeding for 50 pesos.
  6. Fotografia de la Escolta – A professional in-house photography studio where you can schedule a photoshoot wearing the traditional baro’t saya10 or barong11.
  7. Music Shop – A guitar and ukulele shop located at Paseo de Escolta (beside Fotografia de la Escolta).
  8. Napiya Spa – The in-house spa and wellness center located at Paseo de Escolta (Room 212) which offers the traditional Filipino massages like “bentosa12”, “dagdagay13” and “hilot14”. It is open from 10 am till 9 pm.
  9. Pocket Performance – A performance held at the Tanghalang Tasulok every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 am/11:30 am/2:30 pm/4:30 pm.
  10. Sunday Mass – A Catholic mass held at the church called Santuario de San Jose every Sunday at 10:30 am.
  11. Swimming Pool and Beach Area – A “batis15”-inspired swimming pool open daily from 7 am till 9 pm; the Beach Area is open from 6 am till 6 pm daily.
  12. Water Activities – Activities such as banana boat, boat ride, island hopping, jet ski, kayaking and wakeboarding16, subject to weather and current conditions. Make it to Yasa Point for a zip line ride, ATV17 ride, mountain biking and wall climbing for the younger members of your family.

 

18-Las Casas-MarissaDG

This property is part of Historic Hotels Worldwide and part of the Conde Nast Jahansens Luxury Global Collection and Peninsula Hotel’s Pencities Luxe Guide. It is also the 2017 Asia Awards of Excellence winner.

17-Las Casas - Copy

Here are three “casas” and their stories:

11-A- Las Casas-Casa-ByzantinaCasa Byzantina, a 3-storey, intricately designed “floral” stone house from Binonda, Manila, built in 1890 by Don Lorenzo del Rosario, using Neo-Byzantine19 and Neo-Mudéjar20 influences with elaborate and delicate embellishments. It was demolished in 2009 and transferred to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

5-Las Casas-Casa Luna

Casa Luna, built in 1850 and owned by Primitivo Novicio, the uncle of the famous Luna brothers: General Antonio Luna (the first Filipino general who fought in the Philippine-American War) and Juan Luna (the renowned Filipino painter, sculptor and political activist). It was originally located in the municipality of Namacpacan (now Luna, in the province of La Union, named after the brothers). The house is symmetrically constructed and reflects the typical Ilocano18 stone house, with a “cochera” (a garage for carriages and “carrozas” as well as a storeroom for farm produce) at the ground floor, an “entresuelo” (a mezzanine for the servants), the main second floor for bedrooms, toilet and bath, the grand living room, kitchen, and an “azotea” (a flat roof/platform on the top of the house) at the back.

 

13-Las Casas-Casa Mexico-Pampanga

Casa Mexico-Pampanga, a stone house from the municipality of Mexico, in the province of Pampanga, salvaged from a junk shop and reconstructed based on an old photograph.

Overall and personally, this cultural escapade was memorable for me and my high school buddies. We had enough quality time to bond with each other amidst our leisurely strolls as well as “kalesa”/tram/jeepney rides. We had so many beautiful pictures to look back to in the years to come!

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced going to this destination site, either just for the day or overnight? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1Tapas are small, savory Spanish dishes.

2Palosebo is a traditional Filipino game for boys during a town fiesta or on special occasions in the provinces using a long, straight, polished and greasy bamboo pole with a small bag or flag tied to the top as a reward to whoever could successfully climb, reach it, and retrieve the bag/flag.

3Maglalatik is a male folk dance from the Philippines where coconut shell halves are secured onto the dancers’ hands and on vests upon which are hung 4 or six more coconut shell halves. The dancers perform the dance by hitting one coconut shell with the other, alternately on the hands, on the shoulders and body, to the beat of a fast drumbeat. NOTE: The dance means “latik-maker”, from “latik”, a syrupy, caramelized coconut cream used as a dessert sauce or garnish, used in Filipino cookery.

4Singkil is a popular folk dance of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao (in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao),  performed during celebrations and other festive occasions, based on the epic legend, Darangen, the pre-Islamic Maranao interpretation of the ancient Hindu Indian epic, the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem which narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife, Sita, from the demon king Rayana. This dance was popularized by the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, the oldest dance company in the Philippines, founded in 1957 by Helena Z. Benitez and debuted at Expo ’58 on May 27, 1958, upon the request of President Ramon Magsaysay. Originally, only royal women danced the singkil, as a conscious or unconscious way of attracting potential suitors. A kulintang (an ancient musical instrument composed of a row of small, horizontally laid metal gong kettles, upon a rack, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums, played by striking the bosses of the gongs with 2 wooden beaters) and agung (an ensemble composed of large hanging, suspended or held, knobbed gongs which act as drones) ensemble always accompanies this dance. The female lead dancer gracefully steps in and out of closing bamboo poles arranged in either parallel, rectangular, or criss-cross fashion, while skillfully manipulating either a fan, scarf or by just artistically waving ones bare hands. NOTE: The name of the dance means “to entangle the feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in ones path.”

5Tinikling is a Filipino folk dance which involves 2 people beating, tapping, and sliding 2 or 4 parallel pairs of bamboo poles on the ground (or on 2 raised pieces of wood) held by 2 or more sitting or kneeling “clappers” or “clickers” as a percussion instrument, and against each other in coordination with two or more female dancers, wearing embroidered baro’t saya19, and male dancers wearing barong20, who step over and in between the poles, weave through the rapidly moving bamboo poles with bare feet and ankles, traditionally danced to rondalla music, an ensemble of stringed instruments (e.g., bandurrias, guitars, laúdes, octavinas or ukuleles). Traditionally, the poles are tapped twice on the ground on the first 2 beats then brought together on the 3rd beat, with the tempo progressing faster and faster. The dancers need to be skillful and agile not only to follow the rhythm but also not to get their ankles/feet caught between the poles as they are snapped closed. The barefoot dancers start with their hands at their hips or clasped behind their backs, but when the tempo becomes faster, they hold hands, then end by letting go of each other’s hands and stepping out of the moving bamboo poles. NOTE: Tinikling means “to perform like a ‘tikling’, a local bird” which walk gracefully and speedily between grass stems and run over tree branches.

6Patintero is a popular, traditional Filipino street game, using 2 teams, an attack and a defense team, with 5 players each. The attack team must try to run along the perpendicular lines from the home base to the back end, and return without being tagged by the defense players, called “it”. The latter must stand on water/fire lines with both feet each time they try to tag attacking players. The player at the center line is called “patotot”. The perpendicular line at the center allows the “it” designated on that line to intersect the lines occupied by the “it” that the parallel line intersects, thus increasing the chances of the runners to be trapped, even only one member of a group is tagged, the whole group will be the “it”.

7Piko is the Filipino version of hopscotch where players stand behind the edge of a rectangular box, and each should throw their “pamato” (cue ball or flat stone). The first to play is determined on the players’ agreement on the placement of the “pamatos” on a designated line/location and whoever throws the “pamato” nearest the agreed place, will play first. The next nearest is second, etc.

8Sipa is a traditional Filipino game where players kick or toss a washer covered with colorful threads using a foot. A player is thrown upwards and the player starts to toss the washer and counts the number of times s/he does it successfully without the washer touching the ground. The player who has the most kicks wins the game. Sipa literally means “kick”.

9Sungka is the Filipino mancala game played in a wooden board and cowrie shells or stones called “sigays”. A boatlike sungka board has 2 rows of 7 small pits called “bahay” (houses), initially with 7 “sigays”, with an additional bigger hole at both end of the board for each player, called an “ulo” (head) or “inay” (mother) or storehouse, for the captured seashells or stones, owned by a player to his/her left. A player empties one of his/her small pits and distributes its contents in a clockwise direction, one by one, into the following pits including his/her own storehouse but passing the opponent’s storehouse. If the last stone falls into a non-empty small pit, its contents are lifted and distributed in another lap. If the last stone falls into the player’s onw store, the player gets a bonus move. However, if the last stone falls into an empty pit, the move ends and the player is “patay” (dead). If the move ends by dropping the last stone into one of your own small pits, you capture the stones in the opponent’s pit directly across the board and your own stone. The captured shells are “subi” (deposited) in your storehouse. However, if the opponent’s pit is empty, nothing is captured. The first move is plated simultaneously, after which the players take turns alternately. The game ends when no stones are left in the small pits. The player who captures the most shells wins the game.

10Baro’t saya is the national dress of the Philippines traditionally made of piña (pineapple fiber); the feminine equivalent of the barong20. This conservative attire is composed of a blouse is called “baro”, with butterfly sleeves, and the skirt is called “saya”, generally fashioned out of opaque plaid or striped cotton and sinamay varieties. An “alampay” is a square kerchief usually made of the same fabric as the saya, worn over the “baro” to cover the breasts which also doubles as a veil, later called the “panuelo”. An overskirt made of a darker and thicker material called a “tapis” is wrapped around the lower half of the woman’s body and tied at the waist or below the breasts. It is the pre-colonial clothing of the Tagalogs and Visayans made of silk in matching colors, exclusively worn by women from the upper class; those belonging to the lower caste wore a “baro” made from pounded white bark fiber.

 

11Barong is the short term for barong Tagalog, the traditional, lightweight, long-sleeved, embroidered, formal shirt for Filipino males. It is worn untucked over an undershirt. It is considered the national dress of the Philippines.

12Bentosa is an ancient Chinese method used to remove aches and pains and improve the circulation by cupping. It is also spelled “ventosa”. It has 2 types: fire cupping and dry cupping. Fire cupping uses a cup or glass to suction the cold parts at the back of the body which lack blood circulation and have blockages so that they will have normal energy flow. It is executed with a glass cup, candle and oil. Massage oil is applied on the back to create a better seal on the cups, then a candle is lighted with a cotton candle ball on the top. Once the candle is lighted, the cup is placed over the candle so the oxygen is removed and the suction will appear when the skin bloats or puffs. The red marks that will appear after the cupping will disappear after 1-2 days. Dry cupping uses a glass/plastic cup on the skin using a pump so the air is removed by suction.

13Dagdagay is a traditional Filipino acupressure treatment for the legs and feet, originally from the Mountain Province of the Philippines, a way of accessing the body’s entire immune system through the soles of the feet. It begins with a soothing foot soak on healing herbs in a huge clay vessel and capped with a relaxing herbal foot wrap and massage. The therapist uses 2 bamboo or rattan sticks, in pack of finger pressure, to stimulate the soles and cleanse/purify the feet.

14Hilot is the ancient Filipino art of healing in rural areas where, originally, a “manghihilot” uses chiropractic manipulation and massage techniques to treat musculoskeletal ailments, to reset dislocated and sprained joints (ankle, fingers, knee and metacarpal bones). Modern spas use this technique to relieve stress and promote rejuvenation and balance the harmony of the body, emotion and mind, using warm strips of (naturally ionized) banana leaves laved with virgin coconut oil applied on the body before and after a session. The therapist identifies areas of energy imbalance in the body through touch diagnosis. A full body massage involves a combination of slow moving fingers and hand pressure over various pressure points throughout the back and legs, and relaxing the tension in the head and neck.

15A batis is the Tagalog term for a small stream, river or brook.

16Wakeboarding is a surface water sport which involves riding a wakeboard21 over the surface of a body of water. It is a combination of snowboarding, surfing and water skiing. The wakeboard is usually towed behind a motorboat or personal water craft at a speed of 30-40 km/hr, depending on the board size, weight, and type of tricks.

17ATV, or All-Terrain Vehicle, is a vehicle that is designed to handle a wide variety of terrain and travels on 3-4 low-pressure tires with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control. The rider sits and operates it like a motorcycle and is stable at slower speeds. It is used in some destinations for a thrilling ride.

18Ilocano is a term which refers to the ethnolinguistic people who live, or come from, the Ilocos Region in the northwestern part of the island of Luzon7, in the Philippines.

19Neo-Byzantine is an architectural revival movement in the 1840s in Western Europe, prevalent among public and religious buildings, especially in Germany and Russia. It combines the Byzantine style with Eastern and Orthodox Christian architecture from the 5th till 11th centuries.

20Neo-Mudéjar is a type of Moorish Revival architecture which started in Madrid, Spain, in the late 19th century, and spread to the rest of that country. It is characterized by abstract-shaped brick ornaments for facades, arabesque tiles and horseshoe arches.

21A wakeboard is a small, mostly rectangular, buoyant and thin board with the core usually made of foam, honeycomb or wood, mixed with resin and coated with fiberglass. It has very little displacement and shoe-like bindings are mounted to it. Metal screws are inserted to attach bindings and fins.

 

 

 

Featured

EL NIDO: Heaven on Earth – Part 1

Location: Province of Palawan, MIMAROPA1 Region, Philippines

My husband and I visited Puerto Princesa2, Palawan3 years ago. The former is a first class, highly urbanized city located in the western province of Palawan, the westernmost city in the Philippines, with 66 barangays, and the capital of Palawan. The airport is located in this city and it is also known for the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, named one of the New7Wonders of the Nature. Palawan is a province in the Philippines located in the MIMAROPA Region of the Philippines, founded in 1818, and is now called the Philippines’ Last Frontier.

We were invited by my high school buddies and their families to El Nido (a first-class municipality in the northernmost tip of mainland Palawan), from February 19 to 22, 2017. It was our first time to visit this wonderful destination known for its awesome coral reefs, white-sand beaches, unique lagoons and limestone cliffs.

We were likewise curious how tourism can thrive amidst the so-called El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA)4, the largest marine sanctuary in the Philippines, covering 18 barangays in El Nido and 3 barangays of its neighboring town, Taytay, involving more than 900 sq. km, using various forest and marine conservation and protection programs, to protect and develop the livelihoods of the seaside local population, amidst the development of tourist in the area. A very small (50 US cents) daily conservation fee is required per visitor.

We heard so much about El Nido’s beauty so we did not hesitate to join the group to discover this new destination which was part of our bucket list.

21-El-Nido

Everything was pre-arranged by my very dependable and travel-savvy friend from the US so my husband and I just paid for our share. Here is the first part of our unforgettable adventure!

Our group arrived at the Puerto Princesa Airport and two vans were waiting for us provided by Daytripper Palawan. The mini-packs of banana chips, bottled water and, of course, the professional driving skills of our drivers were very much appreciated. It was about a 6-hour trip from the airport to El Nido, and we stopped a couple of times for the “call of nature”, to stretch a bit, as well as have our lunch. Some of us appreciated the view while some slept along the way.

We finally arrived at Sea Cocoon, our hotel, and we all checked-in. We used the remaining time to explore the town, its market and retail stalls, the beach, and savored its local and fresh seafood for dinner along a seaside restaurant. We slept early the previous night because this will be the first of our 3 day-tour that will take us around this awesome destination.

We had a good night’s rest after a hot shower and slept soundly on a comfortable bed in our air-conditioned room. We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and the hotel’s sumptuous buffet breakfast was so good!

I am also lucky to have a well-organized friend who even provided durable hard-plastic beach bags where I could place all my (and my husband’s) needs for the day: sun block, bottles of mineral water for hydration, comb, towels, sunglasses, well-protected cell phone and power bank, snacks, cash, etc. Photos were taken after breakfast, all met at the lobby, trooped to the beach (which was just about 3 minute-walk from our hotel) and before we knew it, we were all aboard our big banca (boat) for the day.

My friend contracted Hello El Nido for the 3 packaged tours and may I say that my husband and I were very satisfied with the services of the management and all the boatmen/crew. Just search for his website: www.helloelnido.com

It also seemed that the local government has standardized the packaged tours of El Nido which is beneficial for us, first-time tourists. Our tour that day is marketed as TOUR C – SECRET ISLANDS AND BEACHES, costing 1,400 pesos each person.

We wore our safety vests and enjoyed the natural beauty – 360 degrees! Worried that you cannot swim? Don’t be! You can stay in the banca but I do not recommend that and I am so sure you will not because of the beauty of all the stops. All destinations are safe for all ages and all stops are worth the trip! So, listen up, it’s our first packaged tour of El Nido and I know you will be excited with me as I recall our tour.

The first stop was SECRET BEACH which can only be accessed by swimming and going through a small crevice in a rock wall. No worries, dearest seniors, I gained weight and still fitted LOL! Besides, the kind boatmen will always be ready to assist you: seniors, kids, and whoever else needs assistance. Once inside, you will be awed by this pristine beach and its beauty and thus, a secret no more!

Next was HIDDEN BEACH, surrounded by fantastic limestone rock formations. You can just float with your life vest or swim, just be careful not to be near sharp corals.

The STAR OF TALISAY BEACH was the next stop. It is a snorkeling site and was also our lunch stop. Now, I am sure you are curious to know about the buffet lunch. Let me tell you that all such meals for our 3 package tours were soooo good, thanks to Hello El Nido! The freshly cooked “inihaw” (grilled) pork and seafood (shrimps/fish/squids), along with fresh vegetables/seaweed salad, hot steamed rice, and fresh fruits were always a welcome feast for our group! Burp! Drinking water was also provided. Happy tummies always! My best advice is for you to bring cash for fresh buko (young coconut) or cold softdrinks sold in island stops.

1-El-Nido- lunch buffet

The MATINLOC SHRINE or the SHRINE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN, is located in an island maintained by the descendants of the original owner. Be prepared for a 100 peso-entrance fee. The shrine is serene and satisfies the religious among us seniors. The big old house seemed abandoned but you can imagine its splendor when it was new and operational. Our group went up a cemented area with steps leading to the peak where we had an unforgettable view for miles and miles!

Last was HELICOPTER ISLAND, a helicopter-shaped island when viewed from afar, ideal for snorkeling and diving.

This first packaged tour was indeed wonderful! Thanks, Gani Ricarte of http://www.helloelnido.com! Your kind boatmen returned us to our shores early so we can enjoy the majestic sunset in this picturesque island! We felt so lucky to have another dinner along the shore for us to breathe in all the good vibes while we savored the fresh seafood treats we ordered!

Did you find this post informative? Have you experienced this package tour? I would like to hear from you. Just scroll to the bottom of this post and type your comment in the designated box. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you.

Watch out for my next post and discover the other beautiful islands of El Nido!

Do visit my El Nido posts:

EL NIDO: Blue Lagoons – Part 2

and

EL NIDO: Islands and Caves – Part 3

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1MIMAROPA, according to the Wikipedia page, “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, is an administrative region of the Philippines which is an acronym for its constituent provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan. It was designated as Region IV-B until 2016. It is now also called the Southwestern Tagalog Region. SOURCE: “Mimaropa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimaropa.

2“Puerto Princesa,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puerto Princesa.

3“Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palawan.

 4“El Nido, Palawan,” accessed November 29, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El Nido,_Palawan.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

TAO YUAN RESTAURANT: YUMMY CHINESE-SINGAPOREAN TREATS

Location: 2/F Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City, Philippines

A niece of ours brought us to Resorts World Manila (an integrated resort*) in Pasay City and since it was almost lunch time and we were already hungry, she suggested we try this Chinese-Singaporean seafood restaurant at the second floor of Newport Mall. We said we were willing to try it and here is our dining experience for four.

The dining area was spacious, the air conditioning gave a comfortable ambiance and the head receptionist was very accommodating who led us to a table and graciously took our orders. I appreciated coming early for lunch because I heard that this place is popular and crowded during lunch and dinner.

1-Tao Yuan
Singaporean Fried Fish Skin

Our appetizer was Singaporean Fried Fish Skin and this is to die for!  The salted egg taste along with the crispy fish skin was so yummy so I told myself, this is definitely a Cheat Day for me due its generous portion and this was just for starters! It was worth 328 peso. We were not able to finish it so we asked this to be wrapped and we continued to enjoy it at home after being heated in the microwave, and was still so yummy!

2-Tao Yuan
Scallops with Minced Vegetable Soup

We just had a small order of Scallops with Minced Vegetable Soup and it was served at the right temperature, subtle yet delicious. The texture and delicate taste made this dish a delectable treat at 498 pesos.

3-Tao Yuan
Hainanese Chicken

We had half an order of their Singaporean Boneless Hainanese Chicken, a favorite among its customers. Now I know why! It is so tender and its delicate taste, along with the accompanying dips, makes you want to dig in for more. The 750 price was worth it.

4-Tao Yuan
Salted Fish and Diced Chicken

The Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Diced Chicken was tasty yet complemented the dishes we ordered so I enjoyed them all together or even just the fried rice alone! A small order costs 398 pesos.

5-Tao Yuan
Roasted Crispy Pork Belly

The Roasted Crispy Pork Belly was a winner! The crispy skin yet tender meat with its dip was just right for meat lovers. It costs 428 pesos.

6-Tao Yuan
Scallops with Broccoli Flowers

Scallops with Broccoli Flowers was ordered for someone craving for vegetables. Even the kid with us enjoyed this dish. The contrasting texture of the broccoli along with the smooth and the pleasantly-flavored scallops was a great combination. A small order costs 980 pesos.

We were given a complimentary dessert of almond lychee and it was refreshing with just the right sweetness, after all the dishes we enjoyed!

I just want to say that I paid for our meal and these are my personal comments based on the orders we made. It is a bit pricey but we had value for money and we were very satisfied! Happy tummies!

We will definitely come back to this restaurant and try their other dishes. I was told that dimsum is served in their other branch and would like to try it too.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced dining in this restaurant or in any of its other branches? Do you know other Chinese restaurants you want me to feature? I would like to hear from you. Do scroll to the upper right corner of this post and click “Leave a comment”. Follow me by clicking the “Follow” bar at the bottom right corner of your gadget. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*An integrated resort is a type of resort which features lodging, gaming, convention failities, entertainment shows, fine dining outlets, high-end retail outlets, and theme parks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short and Simple: WHAT IS A NATIONAL CULTURAL TREASURE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

A National Cultural Treasure (NCT) of the Philippines is a tangible (movable and immovable) or intangible heritage property declared by the National Commission for Culture and Arts1 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines2, National Library of the Philippines3, and National Archives of the Philippines4. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 20095 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines6 by the Philippine government.

l-r: Jose Rizal National Monument (Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila), Las Piñas Bamboo Organ (St. Joseph Parish Church, Las Piñas, Metro Manila), Parish Church of San Gregorio Magno (Majayjay, Laguna), Basilica Menor de San Sebastian or San Sebastian Church (Plaza del Carmen, Quiapo, Manila)

The title of NCT is the highest designation given to a “unique cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation.”7?

2 out of the 4 components of the University of Santo Tomas NCT: The Main Building and the Arch of the Century (no pictures available for the Central Seminary and the Open Spaces for the 4 papal visits); location: España, Manila

As of May 2018, 85 NCTs are immovable heritage, classified into 7 categories:

  1. Church complexes and colonial fortifications;
  2. Mosque complexes and temple complexes;
  3. Indigenous place of worship or dambana8 complexes;
  4. Modern and historical residences;
  5. Structures related to industry, transportation and public works;
  6. Archeological sites; and,
  7. Miscellaneous structures and sites.

3 out of the 4 murals, or Sacred Art, of the Parish Church of Saint James the Apostle, Paete, Laguna, by Luciano Dans, a Paeteño, using natural color pigments mixed with volcanic ash and brushes made from cat’s hair (l-r: Saint Christopher wall painting; Heaven, Earth and Hell; another Saint Christopher wall painting being restored due to termite infestation); no picture for the Last Judgment, or Juicio Final (1720), the oldest painted wooden panel-mural located near the church altar)

As of May 2018, there are 18 NCTs classified as movable heritage, although one contains more than 20 heritage objects under “artifacts and ecofacts in the National Museum in Manila”. Movable heritage is further divided into 7 categories:

  1. Ancient documents or artifacts with pre-colonial writings;
  2. Archeological materials;
  3. Ethnic crafts;
  4. Historical materials owned by historical persons, families, or organizations;
  5. Paintings;
  6. Sculptures; and,
  7. Writings and other literary works.

As of May 2018, there are 3 NCTs classified as intangible heritage, inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: the Darangen epic of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao, Hudhud chants of the Ifugao, and Punnuk tugging rituals and games, according to the Wikipedia page “Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines”.9 Intangible heritage is divided into 5 categories:

  1. Oral traditions and expressions including language;
  2. Performing arts;
  3. Social practices, rituals and festive events;
  4. Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and,
  5. Traditional craftsmanship or the tradition of making crafts, not the craft itself.

There is a total of 106 NCTs, 3 of which are intangible: 75 are housed in Luzon, 6 are in Mimaropa, 19 are in the Visayas, and 6 in Mindanao. The Sulu Archipelago does not have any such treasures.

Different NCTs originally from the Mimaropa Region, Visayas and Mindanao are now housed in the National Museum in Manila (Luzon), such as the Qu’ran of Bayang11.10

Any Filipino institution or person can nominate a cultural property for a National Cultural Treasure declaration, whether the property is private or public. If the property is private, the ownership of the property is retained by the private owner and shall not be transferred to the government.

Are you now curious to see the complete list of the National Cultural Treasures of the Philippines? Simply visit the Wikipedia page “List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines”.10

Include these awesome 106 NCTs in your domestic travel bucket list, and tick them off one by one. Be proud of our heritage, Filipinos!

Almost all information were accessed from the Wikipedia page “List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines”.10

Did you find this post informative? How many NCTs have you visited? What are your favorites? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”.  Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1The National Commission for Culture and Arts is the official government agency for culture in the Philippines, formed in 1987, with headquarters in General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila. It is the overall policy making body, coordinating, and grants-giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture. Its parent department is the Office of the President of the Philippines and its sub-agencies are the: National Archives of the Philippines4, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines3, National Museum of the Philippines2, Commission on the Filipino Language, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Commission for Culture and Arts”.12 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph

2The National Museum of the Philippines is a government institution in the Philippines which serves as the educational, scientific and cultural institution in preserving the various permanent national collections featuring the ethnographic, anthropological, archaeological and visual artistry of the Philippines. It was formed on October 29, 1901, with headquarters in Padre Burgos Avenue, in Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila. Since 1998, it has been the regulatory and enforcement agency of the national government in restoring and safeguarding important cultural properties, sites and reservations throughout the Philippines. It is under the Department of Education and the National Commission for Culture and Arts1. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.13 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

3The National Library of the Philippinesis the official national library of the Philippines, with over 1.6 million pieces in its collections. It is notably called the home of the original copies of the defining works of Jose Rizal (Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo and Mi Ultimo Adios). It was established in 1901 and located in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.14 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph

4The National Archives of the Philippinesis an agency of the Philippines which is mandated to collect, store, preserve and make available, archival records of the government and other primary sources pertaining to the history and development of the country, as a result of the passage of Republic Act 9470 on May 21, 2007. It is the primary records management agency, tasked to formulate and implement the records schedule and vital records protection programs for the government. Its headquarters is in the National Library of the Philippines, in Rizal Park, at T. M. Kalaw Avenue, Ermita, Manila. Information is from the Wikipedia page “National Archives of the Philippines”.15 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph

5The National Cultural Heritage Act is a law of the Republic of the Philippines which created the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property and took other steps to preserve historic buildings that are over 50 years old, signed into law on March 25, 2009, according to the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Heritage Act”.16

6The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Museum of the Philippines through the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), the official cultural property list of the country. Now, where did they get the names of such properties? Listen up, dearest Seniors! This raised my eyebrows to the max! All local government units (LGUs) are mandated to submit a partial/full list of their cultural properties, however, only 39 out of the 1,934 cities/municipalities in the country have submitted such as list as of November 2017! Information is from Wikipedia page “Cultural properties of the Philippines”.17 Talk about being proud of these properties – only 2% of LGUs complied!

7www.primer.com.ph

8Dambana, in modern times, refers to a shrine of indigenous religions in the Philippines (mainly in the Tagalog areas), altar of Philippine churches, or monuments erected to remember Philippine history, according to the Wikipedia page “Dambana”.18

 9“Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines,”

10”List of National Cultural Treasures in the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Cultural_Treasures_in_the_Philippines.

11The Qu’ran of Bayang, according to oral history, is Lanao’s oldest Koran which belonged to the Sultan of Bayang in Lanao del Sur and was copied by Saidna, one of the earliest hajji (one who successfully completed the pilgrimage to Mecca during Islam’s early days in the Philippines). It is one of the few copies translated into a non-Arabic language, i.e., using a language in the Malay family and handwritten in Arabic calligraphy.19

12“National Commission for Culture and Arts,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Commission_for_Culture_and_Arts.

13“National Museum of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Museum_of_the_Philippines.

14“National Library of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Library_of_the_Philippines.

15“National Archives of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_National_Archives_of_the_Philippines.

16“National Cultural Heritage Act,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cultural_Heritage_Act.

17“List of Cultural properties of the Philippines,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cultural_properties_of_the_Philippines.

18“Dambana,” accessed January 11, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambana.

19www.gmanetwork.com

AMBON-AMBON FALLS: The Sweet Reward of Trekking

Location: Panguil River Eco-Park, Barangay Natividad, Town of Pangil, Province of Laguna, Region IV-A, Philippines

1-entrance-name

Dear Seniors, let me ask you these questions first:

  1. Do you reside in Metro Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon, or nearby areas, and just want to spend the whole day with your family far away from work, school, the traffic and pollution of the city?
  2. Do you love nature-tripping but do not want to go too far from your home?

 

1-nature-collage-ok

3. Are you fond of picnicking? Do you love to bring your signature adobo, steamed rice, vegetables with sweet/spicy bagoong, marinated chicken/pork to be barbecued on-site, fresh fruits, junk food, and whatever else you fancy? Or, are you the type who does not cook at all and who is willing to try native “lutong bahay”, i.e., home-cooked dishes; not gourmet but decent enough dishes, and pay accordingly? If you belong to the latter, no worries, there is a small kitchen in this destination with a local cook. Just tell them when you arrive so they can do the marketing. Seniors, do not forget to inform them of your dietary restrictions (like low salt, low fat, etc.).13-food-collage      some dishes you can order in-house (Adobong Baboy, Fried Tilapia and Pinakbet)

  1. Are you willing to trek 15 minutes for a River Tubing adventure? Or are you game to trek all the way to Ambon-Ambon Falls, i.e., 30 minutes one way, then 15 minutes going back for the River Tubing? Are you out of shape or not sure if you can make it all the way but would like to see and be near the falls? No worries, you can stop and rest anytime/anywhere along the path; trek/walk at your own pace; the guides are very helpful. Seeing the falls is worth the trek!
  1. Is it okay for you to walk and get wet along the side of the river, climb a couple of rocks (sometimes with flowing water), cross the river about 3 times through a bamboo bridge, and ride 3 bamboo rafts along the way?
  2. Do you want to personally witness an awesome falls and have a “back-massage” from its thundering water? Or do you just want to soak in the sun, swim/wade in shallow waters with your “apos” (grandchildren) and loved ones?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, then I have a suggested place for you – the AMBON-AMBON FALLS in the Panguil1 River Eco-Park, in Pangil1, Laguna. It would only take about 2 – 2 1/2 hours once you exit Calamba from the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), depending on the traffic in Calamba and Los Baños.

Interested families or groups can go to the Eco-Park any month of the year but, personally, the best months to enjoy this adventure is from October till February, when the water is right for River Tubing, except when there is a typhoon.

Use the Waze app in your cell phone to tell you where to pass. Less techie? No problem, I always advise my visitors going to this destination to just follow the national road and look for directional and feeder signs. Your destination: Pangil1, Laguna!

I suggest you all wear your swimming/trekking attire before you ride your vehicle so it would be easy to start your adventure once you reach the place. Fully charge your cell phones and power banks but designate just one or two cell phones to be brought to the River Tubing/Ambon Ambon Falls. Make sure to place each cell phone in a water-proof container that you can then bring during your trek and waterfall moment/s. You can ask your guide to take pictures while you/your group are under the falls. Do not worry, they are used to doing this, and know the right places to take the shots, as well as how to take care of your device/s. I also recommend applying sun block 30 minutes beforehand to take effect. A pair of reliable, non-slippery footwear that can get wet and still be good for trekking along the set path, walking along the river, and crossing bamboo bridges is recommended. Eat breakfast and finish your morning “ceremonies/rituals”. You can actually stop along SLEX for breakfast and/or clean public rest rooms. Bring bottled water for trekking, if necessary.

Tell your designated driver to just follow the slotted/solid white lines or solid yellow lines (solid lines for no overtaking; better observe traffic rules to be safe) painted at the middle of the road –that’s an indication that you are cruising along the national highway. You will pass through the following towns from SLEX (Calamba exit coming from Makati/Paranaque): Calamba, Los Baños, Bay, Calauan, Victoria, Pila, Sta. Cruz, Pagsanjan, Lumban, Kalayaan, Paete and Pakil. “Marami ba?” (Do you find it too many?) Do not be turned off; you will only be passing through these towns and not going inside any town proper. And, once you exit Los Baños, it’s the end of traffic.

Along the way, just enjoy the view that includes lots of rice fields (stare at the greenery – that is good for your eyes), coconut trees, and even some stands offering local and seasonal fruits. You can stop, bargain some, and maybe buy the fresh fruits you want to munch on the road. You can also buy native delicacies (puto, kuchinta, buko pie, espasol, etc.) in Los Baños. (Note: remember your doctor’s advice, if any, regarding your restricted dietary intake.) Moderation always; nothing in excess, ok?

The road leading to Panguil River Eco-Park — from where you can access Ambon Ambon Falls — does not have a sign ever since the national highway of the said town was widened. But the General Manager told me that a directional sign will be installed soon. In the meantime, just remember that when you reach the town of Pangil (there are directional signs for this along the way), watch out for a short bridge followed by the barangay hall of Brgy. Natividad to your right. Turn right on that small road and just drive straight till you hit the end of the road – that’s it! You have reached your destination!

1-entrance-1                                Entrance – Panguil River Eco-Park, Pangil, Laguna

If you have a big group, or are the type of traveler who is “sigurista” (a person who wants to be sure that all aspects of his/her trip are well organized) like me, I suggest you reserve a cottage or even an air-conditioned room (contact information at the end of this post) to ensure you have the kind of accommodation you and your family could enjoy for the whole day or even overnight (although I have not tried doing the latter).

For smaller groups, you can rent a native hut for eating/resting for day use only. I suggest you designate one person in your group to watch over your belongings in the hut while the others swim/wade, go to the falls, or experience the River Tubing.

There are separate structures for public shower-cum-rest rooms for males and females. Bring plastic bags for your wet clothes/toiletries for easy packing if you will use the public shower rooms. Unfortunately, dearest Seniors, there is no hot water for showers, neither in the public shower rooms nor in the rented rooms. (For me, these are just minor details that will not spoil your adventure of the refreshing and awesome Ambon-Ambon Falls.)

Are you still interested? Then, read on.

You have now parked your vehicle in the designated paid parking space. It is safe, I assure you, just lock your vehicle/s and keep your valuables safe with a designated person/watcher. Better still, do not bring any jewelry.3-enter-parking-2

One person from your group must go inside the Admin. office to pay the required fees. Beforehand, you need to count how many you are in your group (separate the count for adults and children, 5-10 years old).1-register-1                                       Entrance, Admin Office, Panguil River Eco-Park

2-admin-office-inside-1                                      Interior of Admin Office, Panguil River Eco-Park

2-staff                              The hospitable staff, Amin Office, Panguil River Eco-Park

The breakdown of fees is shown below. Once payments are made, guides will be assigned to you, depending on how many you are in your group and your desired activity/activities.

1-Rates-2

You must now carry your things to your rented cottage/room (for overnight) or native hut (for day use). I am sure the guide/s will help to transport your stuff.

3-enter-walk-1                                       Turn right and proceed to the Hanging Bridge

3-enter-walk-2-stalls                                          Mini-stores for snacks and basic necessities

4-hanging bridgeYou then cross a Hanging Bridge. You can start your selfie/group poses here. For those with vertigo, those who easily get dizzy, or those who are afraid of heights, go slow on this bridge and just look straight ahead; do not look down or sideways.

4-hanging bridge-2

4-hanging bridge-3-huts                                          Left view from the hanging bridge

9-huts                                       Huts, viewed from the hanging bridge

4-hanging bridge-3                                                    The end of the hanging bridge

At the end of the bridge is a round cemented area with the name of the eco-park – another group shot here, for sure! All persons who will go to the falls are required to wear the safety vests. Ask assistance from the guide/s if you have difficulty attaching all clasps, especially the one that goes around the bottom.

5-oval-2-pasalubong center                       The Pasalubong Center to the left of the central round cemented area

5-oval-3-rt side                                 More huts to the right of the round cemented area

4-hanging bridge-3-huts-2                        More huts for rent at the right side of the end of the hanging bridge

5-oval-3-other huts              Another hut overlooking the cool stream from the Ambon-Ambon Falls

For the not-so-adventurous Seniors, you may opt to just wade in the shallow waters near the rented native huts. Enjoy your “blue space”2 with your “apos” (grandchildren) and other companions. Breathe in the clean air. Savor the cooling effect of the running water, coming all the way from the falls.

2-steps                               Trekking? Gear up! This is how the trail surface looks like

For the more adventuresome Seniors, you’re now geared up to start your trek. Just relax, breathe normally, do not hold your breath. The path goes up and down along the side of the river and you can rest whenever you need to, dear Seniors. The guides will adjust to your pace. Do not forget to take pictures along the way. The guides are more than willing to patiently take as many pictures as you want. Just do not forget to give them a tip later, ok?

You may opt to just walk for about 15 minutes and ask for the River Tubing adventure. It is about a 5-minute thrill of riding on connected inflated rubber tubes.

You can ask your guide to take pictures of your group as you glide downstream to the lower part of this park, near the rented native huts for the day.

Or, you may opt to ask a member of your group to stay on the hanging bridge and to click away as you glide towards the end point of the ride. Then, you can just join the wading people of your group, grab a snack, and share your brief ride downstream. Why don’t you convince them to experience River Tubing too?

For the more fit and “game” Seniors, bring water (to quench your thirst) and a towel (to be used after your “falls experience” just in case “ginawin ka” (you easily feel cold). Well then, brave Seniors, trek onwards, for a total of about 30 minutes towards the Ambon-Ambon Falls.

At certain points, you will cross the river three times over a bamboo bridge, climb a couple of rocks (with or without flowing water, depending on the season), and ride a total of three bamboo rafts till you reach the falls. Ask the tour guide to take pictures of each interesting point of your trek.

12-bamboo raft                                        You will ride a bamboo raft three times

What’s this, you tell me you can’t swim? Or are you not confident in your swimming skills for the slightly deep part, right before the falls? No worries! Just float facing the sky and your guide will pull you towards the falls through your safety vest. Do not forget to leave your cell phone with the guide so he can take pictures in strategic locations. This way, your group will have memorable shots near/under the falls.

When your group is now complete near/under the falls, pose in unison and tell the designated guide-photographer to wait for your wacky poses, and then some! Keep smiling! Achieve!

13-falls-1-ok

You have all reached your final destination – the Ambon Ambon Falls!

You are allowed to stay as long as you want near/under the falls. I dare you to try a hard back massage under the falls (depending on the pressure of the water). This “blue space2” experience will surely be a big hit when you talk about it with your “amigos/amigas” (male/female friends) the next time you see each other back home.

Once you signal your guide that you want to return, he will again pull the safety vests of floating persons who do not want to swim the deep water till they reach the first raft going back. You will go back the same way until you reach the River Tubing spot, after about 15 minutes of trekking. Refer to the same guidelines I gave earlier.

The River Tubing is the last time you will see your guides so I am sure you want to thank them. Please do not forget to give a tip to your guides when you land, ok?

After the River Tubing experience, you can then go back and join the rest of your group in your rented private room (for those staying overnight) or native hut (for day use only). Some may decide to snack, have brunch, or opt to shower/take a bath and change clothes.

9-rooms                                                           Cottages for rent

8-restrooms-1                                      Separate male and female shower/rest rooms

8-restrooms-2                                             Interior of female shower/rest room

9-camping site                                           Camping Site – tents are available for rent

12-swimming pool-ok                                                                Swimming Pool

10-pavilion                                                 the Pavilion for large get-togethers

I have been entertaining family members and friends through the years in this destination but have not experienced staying overnight. Who knows, I might do it next time so I can share the experience with you as well.

By the way, I always pay for my visits and all comments are based on my repeated experience in this Eco-Park.

I was also told by General Manager (GM) Raymund Diaz about the following additional offerings of the Eco-Park:

1. Massage-Therapy, i.e., Hilot-Wellness Full Body Massage at PHP300 per hour, starting April. This is good news for interested seniors! They have five massage beds and about 20 trained massage-therapists on call. I need to try this!9-Massage-3

2. A 200-meter trail leading to a point where one can have a panoramic view of the town of Pangil and Laguna de Bay, along with a bambusetum, a garden with a collection of bamboo plants. This, I’ve got to see during my next visit!9-new walk

3. An extension of the River Tubing to double the length of the ride so that means double the fun, fun, fun for all to enjoy going downstream! Watch out for it; it is coming soon!

Special thanks to the following for the information shared: GM Diaz, Assistant GM Richmond Samson and Cashiers: Mafeh, Rose Ann and Dhang!

Bottomline, this is an exciting and reasonably-priced day trip for you and your family/friends. This “blue space2” is just about 3 hours (or less, depending on the traffic) from the Calamba exit of SLEX. The air is fresh, so you can declog your urban-polluted lungs. Only basic facilities are offered, thus, do not expect five-star facilities/services. You will definitely feel a bit tired, but fulfilled, from this experience.

Did you find this post informative? Have you also experienced going to the Panguil River Eco-Park, either just for the day or overnight? I would like to hear from you. Do post your comment/s below. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device. Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1Panguil is the original spelling of Pangil, the town in Laguna, where the Ambon Ambon Falls is located.

2Blue space is the term for visible water needed to improve the quality of life.1 Examples of blue spaces are beaches, canals, fountains, harbors, islands, islets, lakes, marinas, ponds, ports, rivers, streams, and waterfront parks.  To know more about blue space, see my post: Short and Simple: WHAT IS BLUE SPACE?

Pinoy Delight: SAVORING SALTED EGGS OF ITLOG NI KUYA

It is rainy season in the Philippines so lunch or dinner with hot soup, smoked or fried fish, and a side dish of chopped tomatoes and salted egg is a welcome treat, to be enjoyed with the whole family. Such a simple pleasure yet so satisfying!

2-collage-2      take your pick of fried fish (tinapa, galunggong or tulingan) with salted egg salad

And talking about salted eggs, I recall with fondness Ang Tindahan ng Itlog ni Kuya at Iba Pa, located at Barangay Banca-Banca, along the National Highway of Victoria, Laguna. I buy salted eggs as “pasalubong1” for family and friends in Metro Manila during my visits.1-Antipolo-San Pedro-6             from the Facebook account, ItlogniKuya – Antipolo and San Pedro Laguna

Now, when those who are not familiar with the store ask me where I bought the eggs, they smile at my answer, and ask me again because they thought I was joking, knowing my sense of humor!

2-collage-1

Anyway, for those who are not familiar with this store and have not seen its feature in various television/radio shows (Agribusiness Talk Show, Everybody Happy, GoNegosyo, Kusina Master, My Puhunan, PinasSarap News TV, Radio Negosyo, Rated K, Something to Chew On, Umagang Kay Ganda, and Unang Hirit), read on. It was even awarded the Golden Globe Annual Award for Business Excellence on September 19, 2015.2

There is indeed a store called Itlog ni Kuya, for short, and the salted egg they sell is so delightful!

interior of Victoria, Laguna Store

2-orderboard                                        Items offered by the Victoria, Laguna Store

2-pasalubongOther goodies offered by the Victoria, Laguna store, open from 8:00 am till 8:00 pm daily

Personally, there are four reasons why I like its salted egg. First, the egg is processed more hygienically in a common traditional method and the egg shell is not colored (unlike what has been the widespread practice in early times using a dark pink or red dye). I appreciate this feature as my hands will not be stained when I cut the egg in half.

1-Lucena branch-1                     from the Facebook account, Tindahan ng ItlogniKuyaLucena branch

The resulting salted egg has a plain white shell with a small sticker printed with the Itlog ni Kuya logo. Do not be misled by its simple exterior marking; the egg inside has a high quality which will definitely satisfy you.

Second, this salted egg is organic. The ducks are fed with rice bran, fishes, sweet potatoes, and fresh water shells (called “tulya”).2 Natural products like probiotics are used; no antibiotics are used.

Third, the egg yolk has a very desirable dark orange color with a pleasing grainy texture and the much sought after characteristic, the oily portion.

Fourth, the flavor is just right, it is agreeably salty and the yolk’s grainy texture and oiliness are so enjoyable.

Personally, I mix chopped salted eggs with chopped ripe tomatoes but when I find pako3 in the wet market, I see to it that I make Pako Salad (blanched pako, chopped salted eggs, tomatoes and onions, served with a vinegar dressing or one made from calamansi, honey and fish sauce).2-Pako Salad

At this point, allow me to tell you how this store started. Victoria, Laguna, is the town between Calauan and Pila (when you are cruising southward along the National Highway, coming from SLEX-Calamba exit), about 90 km south of Manila. It is known as the Duck Raising Capital of the Philippines, according to the Wikipedia page “Victoria, Laguna”.4 Thus, it is no surprise that Itlog ni Kuya started in this town.2-location

The duck products of Itlog ni Kuya come from the Leo Dator Duck Farm of Victoria, Laguna, owned by Napoleon “Leo” Dator, Jr. and Josephine Dator. The farm started in 1983 with 1,000 birds, and, in 2006, the Peking Duck Farm was added. Together, these two farms comprise what is considered as one of the largest leading duck raisers in the Philippines.2

In the mid-2003, Leo began to use cassava as his sole basal feed. Today, his dry feed ratio is made of 70% cassava, 15% fish meal, and 15% rice bran (which serves as a binder), mixed and consumed daily. He also adds amino acids as well as vitamin-and-mineral premixes. The ducks are dry fed three times a day.2 Supplementing the cassava-based dry feed, Leo mixes fish meal with pond snails (suso) to produce wet feeds that are given to the ducks four times a day.2

Itlog ni Kuya also sells fresh and dressed US-breed, locally grown, Peking ducks.2-live peking

Breeds include: Cherry Valley of London, Long Island, Philippine Mallard, Dumalaga, and native duck.2

The ducks are not grown free-range; since 1984, they are sheltered in elevated buildings, called “houses,” that have slatted plastic flooring, in order to keep their feeding consistent and eventual production consistent as well, even during the rainy season.2

Each “house” has about 2,000 birds, or a density of five birds per square meter. The floor is covered with rice hull.2

The female-male ratio is 10:1 and the females remain productive for two years, with selective culling as the practice to keep only productive ducks. Unlike in layer chickens, duck eggs should be fertilized because they are used primarily for balut5 and salted egg processing.2

Leo has ready-to-lay birds in different areas, including the provinces of Bulacan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Quezon, Quirino and Tarlac.2

So here some of the duck products offered by Itlog ni Kuya2, depending on the outlet/branch:

  1. Organic salted egg – different sizes1-Antipolo-San Pedro-7-ok

2. Balut5 and penoy61-Tarlac Branch-2                            from the Facebook account, Tindahan ng ItlogniKuya –Tarlac branch

3. Dressed duck

4. Fresh and Dressed Peking Duck – the duck is grown within 50-60 days for meat, with an average live weight of 3.3 kilos

5. Crispy Fried Kinulob Peking Duck – the duck is cooked in ten herbs and spices for three hours until tender, roasted then deep-fried1-Antipolo-San Pedro-5                      from the Facebook account, ItlogniKuya – Antipolo and San Pedro Laguna

6. One-day old duckling, ordered in advance

7. Duck Ham (November till the Christmas season)

8. Organic Salted Egg Potato Chips

Have I convinced you to try its salted egg? Are you craving for it now? Here are some of its outlets:

  1. Purok 3, Barangay Banca Banca, Victoria, Laguna – 09173701158, 09156468134 (orders), 09172424547 (for dealership)
  2. Barangay Bacnotan, Calamba City, Laguna – 09362044767, 09062011823
  3. National Highway, Real, Calamba City, Laguna – 09998354711, 09556888354
  4. By Pass Road, Barangay Lamesa, Calamba City, Laguna – 09953141747
  5. Pansol, Calamba, Laguna
  6. Maharlika Highway, San Pablo City – 09175640714
  7. White Plains, along (former) Katipunan Avenue (beside Libalib’s Garden), Quezon City
  8. ADB Triangle, Sta. Rosa Road, Barangay Francisco, Tagaytay City – 09276092758
  9. Francis Square, Doña Julia Vargas Avenue corner Bank Drive, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City – 09168763028
  10. Block 1, Villa Carolina 1 National Highway (beside St. Pedro across Petron Gas Station), Tunasan, Muntinlupa City
  11. Daleon Street corner Merchan Street, Barangay XI, Lucena City
  12. Unit 3, Ground Floor, Citadel Building, Fairlane Subdivision corner By Pass Road, San Vicente, Tarlac City, Tarlac, Tarlac – 09664668854
  13. Lipa, Batangas (in front of Flowers and Greens and Jake’s BBQ)
  14. Unit 3, Citadel Building, Bypass Road corner Fairlane Subdivision, San Vicente, Tarlac City

1-Tarlac Branch                       from the Facebook account, Tindahan ng ItlogniKuya –Tarlac branch

I have only visited the main outlet, the one located in Victoria, Laguna. It also offers other goodies and even pasalubong1 items. Just zoom the pictures below to see them.

The restaurant, adjacent to the store, is being renovated. I will update this information when I have time to go back. Otherwise, just contact them through the information mentioned.

Visit its official website: www.itlognikuya.com; Facebook: Ang Tindahan ng Itlog ni Kuya

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all my purchases in this store.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Do leave a comment, either by clicking “Leave a comment” on the upper right corner of this post, or type/enter your comment on the “Leave a Reply” box. Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab, and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1Pasalubong is the Filipino tradition of travelers bringing gifts/souvenirs from a destination they visited to people back home. The term is also used to refer to the gift/s purchased as such. Information is from the Wikipedia page “Pasalubong”.7

 2www.itlognikuya.com

3Fiddlehead fern (Athyrium Esculentum)8, called pako in the Philippines, is grown along the banks of streams or rivers. This vegetable fern is commonly sold in bundles at a very affordable price, about 3 bundles for a hundred Philippine pesos. It is abundant during the rainy season and can be eaten raw (but it is best to blanch it before using it as a fresh salad ingredient) or cooked.

4“Victoria, Laguna,” accessed June 27, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria,_Laguna.

5Balut, or balot, is a popular Filipino delicacy, often sold as street food through vendors during nightfall, typically repeated shouting on a low-high tone: “Baluuuut, Penoy, Baluuuut”. It is a boiled or steamed (14-21 day-old, ideally 17 day-old) fertilized duck egg with a developing embryo inside. The contents are eaten directly from the shell, with salt, or a chili-garlic-vinegar mixture. The rounded end of the balut is opened just enough for the person to place a pinch of salt and sip the precious broth surrounding the embryo. The shell is then peeled to enjoy the yolk and young chick. The partially-developed embryo bones are soft enough to chew and swallow as a whole. The white albumen may be consumed, depending on the incubating period, but when it is tough and rubbery in texture, it is not eaten. Information is from Wikipedia page “Balut”.9

6Penoy is another Filipino street delicacy, like balut5, but the duck’s egg is unfertilized or not properly developed after 9-12 days, even after undergoing the incubation period, according to the Wikipedia page “Balut (food)”.9 Penoy is only semi-developed and is sold, along with balut, through vendors at night. Bottomline, penoy is an unfertilized balut. There are two kinds of penoy: a soupy kind called “masabaw” and the other is dry, called “tuyo”. The latter looks, smells and tastes like a regular hard-boiled egg. Both can be eaten just like balut, with salt or vinegar mix. Vendors use a pencil to place a mark on the shell of the two kinds of penoy, like a horizontal dark line and a vertical line for the other.

7“Pasalubong,” accessed June 27, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasalubong.

8www.atbp.com

9“Balut (food),” accessed June 27, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balut_(food).

Schatz, these are the labelsfor the pictures. Pls ignore; do not delete:

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Dear Senior Citizen (SC), did you know that there are 145 cities1 in the Philippines? Do you know what they are and their locations? Here’s a table which alphabetically presents the cities, along with their years of ratification, legal class*, province2 and region3.

This post is also for foreigners who would like to know more about the Philippines.

  CITY

Year of Ratifi-cation as a City

 LEGAL  CLASS*   PROVINCE   REGION
Alaminos 2001 CC Pangasinan I – Ilocos
Angeles 1964 HUC Pampanga III – Central Luzon
Antipolo 1998 CC Rizal 4-A – CALABARZON
Bacolod 1938 HUC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Bacoor 2012 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Bago 1966 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Baguio 1909 HUC Benguet CAR – Cordillera Administrative Region
Bais 1968 CC Negros Oriental VII – Central Visayas
Balanga 2000 CC Bataan III – Central Luzon
Batac 2007 CC Ilocos Norte I – Ilocos
Batangas City 1969 CC Batangas 4-A – CALABARZON
Bayawan 2000 CC Negros Oriental VII – Central Visayas
Baybay 2007 CC Leyte VIII – Eastern Visayas
Bayugan 2007 CC Agusan del Sur XIII – Caraga
Biñan 2010 CC Laguna 4-A – CALABARZON
Bislig 2000 CC Surigao del Sur XIII – Caraga
Bogo 2007 CC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Borongan 2007 CC Eastern Samar VIII – Eastern Visayas
Butuan 1950 HUC Agusan del Norte XIII – Caraga
Cabadbaran 2007 CC Agusan del Norte XIII – Caraga
Cabanatuan 1950 CC Nueva Ecija III – Central Luzon
Cabuyao 2012 CC Laguna 4-A – CALABARZON
Cadiz 1967 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Cagayan de Oro 1950 HUC Misamis Oriental X – Northern Mindanao
Calamba 2001 CC Laguna 4-A – CALABARZON
Calapan 1998 CC Oriental Mindoro XVII – Southwestern Tagalog
Calbayog 1948 CC Samar VIII – Eastern Visayas
Caloocan 1962 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Candon 2001 CC Ilocos Sur I – Ilocos
Canlaon 1961 CC Negros Oriental VII – Central Visayas
Carcar 2007 CC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Catbalogan 2007 CC Samar VIII – Eastern Visayas
Cauayan 2001 CC Isabela II – Cagayan Valley
Cavite City 1940 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Cebu City 1937 HUC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Cotabato City 1959 ICC Maguindanao XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
Dagupan 1947 ICC Pangasinan I – Ilocos
Danao 1961 CC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Dapitan 1963 CC Zamboanga

del Norte

IX – Zamboanga Peninsula
Dasmariñas 2009 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Davao City 1937 HUC Davao Del Sur XI – Davao
Digos 2000 CC Davao Del Sur XI – Davao
Dipolog 1970 CC Zamboanga

del Norte

IX – Zamboanga Peninsula
Dumaguete 1948 CC Negros Oriental VII – Central Visayas
El Salvador 2007 CC Misamis Oriental X – Northern Mindanao
Escalante 2001 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Gapan 2001 CC Nueva Ecija III – Central Luzon
General Santos 1968 HUC South Cotabato XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
General Trias 2015 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Ginggog 1960 CC Misamis Oriental X – Northern Mindanao
Guihulngan 2007 CC Negros Oriental VII – Central Visayas
Himamaylan 2001 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Ilagan 2012 CC Isabela II – Cagayan Valley
Iligan 1950 HUC Lanao del Norte X – Northern Mindanao
Iloilo City 1937 HUC Iloilo VI – Western Visayas
Imus 2012 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Iriga 1968 CC Camarines Sur V – Bicol
Isabela 2001 CC Basilan IX – Zamboanga Peninsula
Kabankalan 1997 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Kidapawan 1998 CC (North) Cotabato XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
Koronadal 2000 CC South Cotabato XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
La Carlota 1966 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Lamitan 2007 CC Basilan ARMM
Laoag 1966 CC Ilocos Norte I – Ilocos
Lapu-Lapu 1961 HUC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Las Piñas 1997 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Legazpi 1959 CC Albay V – Bicol
Ligao 2001 CC Albay V – Bicol
Lipa 1947 CC Batangas 4-A – CALABARZON
Lucena 1962 HUC Quezon 4-A – CALABARZON
Maasin 2000 CC Southern Leyte VIII – Eastern Visayas
Mabalacat 2012 CC Pampanga III – Central Luzon
Makati 1995 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Malabon 2001 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Malaybalay 1998 CC Bukidnon X – Northern Mindanao
Malolos 1999 CC Bulacan III – Central Luzon
Mandaluyong 1994 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Mandaue 1969 HUC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Manila 1901 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Marawi 1950 CC Lanao del Sur ARMM
Marikina 1996 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Masbate City 2000 CC Masbate V – Bicol
Mati 2007 CC Davao Oriental XI – Davao
Meycauayan 2006 CC Bulacan III – Central Luzon
Muñoz 2000 CC Nueva Ecija III – Central Luzon
Muntinlupa 1995 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Naga 1948 ICC Camarines Sur V – Bicol
Naga 2007 CC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Navotas 2007 HUC NCR
Olongapo 1966 HUC Zambales III – Central Luzon
Ormoc 1947 ICC Leyte VIII – Eastern Visayas
Oroquieta 1970 CC Misamis Occidental X – Northern Mindanao
Ozamiz 1948 CC Misamis Occidental X – Northern Mindanao
Pagadian 1969 CC Zamboanga del Sur IX – Zamboanga Peninsula
Palayan 1965 CC Nueva Ecija III – Central Luzon
Panabo 2001 CC Davao del Norte XI – Davao
Parañaque 1998 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Pasay 1947 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Pasig 1995 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Passi 1998 CC Iloilo VI – Western Visayas
Puerto Princesa 1970 HUC Palawan XVII – Southwestern Tagalog
Quezon City 1939 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Roxas 1951 CC Capiz VI – Western Visayas
Sagay 1996 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Samal 1998 CC Davao del Norte XI – Davao
San Carlos 1960 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
San Carlos 1966 CC Pangasinan I – Ilocos
San Fernando 1998 CC La Union I – Ilocos
San Fernando 2001 CC Pampanga III – Central Luzon
San Jose 1969 CC Nueva Ecija III – Central Luzon
San Jose del Monte 2000 CC Bulacan III – Central Luzon
San Juan 2007 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
San Pablo 1941 CC Laguna 4-A – CALABARZON
San Pedro 2013 CC Laguna 4-A – CALABARZON
Santa Rosa 2004 CC Laguna 4-A – CALABARZON
Santiago 1994 ICC Isabela II – Cagayan Valley
Silay 1957 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Sipalay 2001 CC  Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Sorsogon City 2000 CC Sorsogon V – Bicol
Surigao City 1970 CC Surigao del Norte XIII – Caraga
Tabaco 2001 CC Albay V – Bicol
Tabuk 2007 CC Kalinga CAR – Cordillera Administrative Region
Tacloban 1953 HUC Leyte VIII – Eastern Visayas
Tacurong 2000 CC Sultan Kudarat XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
Tagaytay 1938 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Tagbilaran 1966 CC Bohol VII – Central Visayas
Taguig 2004 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Tagum 1998 CC Davao del Norte XI – Davao
Talisay 2000 CC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Talisay 1998 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Tanauan 2001 CC Batangas 4-A – CALABARZON
Tandag 2007 CC Surigao del Sur XIII – Caraga
Tangub 1968 CC Misamis Occidental X – Northern Mindanao
Tanjay 2001 CC Negros Oriental VII – Central Visayas
Tarlac City 1998 CC Tarlac III – Central Luzon
Tayabas 2007 CC Quezon 4-A – CALABARZON
Toledo 1960 CC Cebu VII – Central Visayas
Trece Martires 1956 CC Cavite 4-A – CALABARZON
Tuguegarao 1999 CC Cagayan II – Cagayan Valley
Urdaneta 1998 CC Pangasinan I – Ilocos
Valencia 2000 CC Bukidnon X – Northern Mindanao
Valenzuela 1998 HUC NCR – National Capital Region
Victorias 1998 CC Negros Occidental VI – Western Visayas
Vigan 2001 CC Ilocos Sur I – Ilocos
Zamboanga City 1937 HUC Zamboanga del Sur IX – Zamboanga Peninsula

Legend: Legal Classes – CC –Component City4; ICC – Independent Component City5;HUC – Highly Urbanized City6

See my related posts – simply click the links below, so you will know more about the regions3 and provinces2 of the Philippines.

Well, dear Senior Citizens (SCs), how many of these cities have you visited? I have computed that if we visit one city per week, it would take us 3 years and 1 week to visit all our cities. Let’s start soon, ok?

Do visit related posts: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES? and Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Did you find this post informative? Filipino SC, from what city do you come from? Please share the wonderful destinations, sites, or events that you recommend for SCs like us to enjoy when we visit your city. I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1A city is the local government unit in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), which serves as the city’s legislative body. Congress is the only legislative entity that can incorporate a city in the country. All Philippine cities are chartered cities7,generally are more autonomous and are given a bigger share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) compared to regular municipalities8. Upon receiving its charter, a city also receives a full complement of executive departments to best serve its constituents. A city is governed by both the Local Government Code of 1991 and its own municipal charter9, under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines. There are 145 cities, as of 2016, in the country: 33 are highly urbanized6; 5 areindependent component5 and 107 are component cities4 of the provinces2 in which they are geographically located. NOTE: If the population of a city reaches 250,000, a city is entitled to at least one representative in the Philippine House of Representatives. The income classes for cities, based on average annual income for a 4-year period, are: first class city (400 million pesos or more); second class city (320 million but less than 400 million pesos); third class city (240 million but less than 320 million pesos); fourth class city (160 million but less than 240 million pesos); fifth class city (80 million but less than 160 million pesos); and, sixth class city (below 80 million pesos). All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”10

2A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region3. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. NOTE: A province in thePhilippines is divided into cities and municipalities8 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”12

3A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 18 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. NOTE: It is further subdivided in provinces2, composed of cities and municipalities8 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”13

4A component city (CC) is a type of city1 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city6. It is under the jurisdiction of a province2. If such a city is located along the boundaries of 2 or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality8. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”10

5An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city1 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province in which it is geographically located and has a charter that explicitly prohibits its residents to vote for provincial officials (unless allowed to do so). It does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city6. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”10

6A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city1 in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and with the latest annual income of at least 50 million pesos. There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see table). All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”10

7A chartered city is a type of city1 in the Philippines which exists as an administrative and a corporate entity governed by its own specific municipal charter9, along with the Local Government Code of 1991 which specifies its administrative structure and powers. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”10

8A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU), in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province2, subdivided into barangays11, and is locally called “bayan”. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws. There are almost 1,500 municipalities in the Philippines and there are 6 income classes of municipalities in the country, based on annual income: first class municipality (with at least 400 million pesos); second class municipality (between 320 million -less than 400 million); third class municipality (between 240 million -less than 320 million pesos); fourth class municipality (between 160 million -less than 240 million pesos); fifth class municipality (between 80 million -less than 160 million pesos); and, sixth class municipality (below 80 million). All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”14

9A municipal charter is a legal document (charter) establishing a city1 in the Philippines. The Philippine Congress has established cities since 1946 with majority holding a plebiscite among the city’s voting population to ratify city charters.

10“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines.

11A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner city neighborhood, a suburb or a suburban neighborhood. NOTE: The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”15

12“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines.

13“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Phjilippines.

14“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

15“Barangay,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay.

I will provide links for my posts: 17 Regions of the Philippines

and 81 Provinces of the Philippines

 

Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

A province1 is a primary administrative and political division in the Philippines and is called “lalawigan” in Filipino2.

Now, you might ask again, dear Senior Citizens (SCs), why does Tita S need to list the 81 provinces of the Philippines? Well, I just want to suggest that you include the provinces1 you want to visit in your domestic travel bucket list (perhaps a short list per region3, depending on your interest, health and budget) and hopefully, tick them off one by one.

For the remaining half of 2018, why not enjoy a road trip with your high school or college/former work buddies or organize a long weekend with your family? Better yet, get away from your regular routine and just leave for a new province1 with your partner/loved one. See our beautiful country first before going overseas. Read my related posts: 2018 LONG WEEKENDS … “Byahe Na”! (Travel Now!) to guide you to plan your domestic trips and Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES? to see the regions and provinces therein.

There are 81 provinces1 in the Philippines to choose from, and I have listed them alphabetically below, along with their capitals, and the region3 where they belong, according to Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines”.4

PROVINCE CAPITAL REGION
1.      Abra Bangued Cordillera Administration Region
2.      Agusan del Norte Cabadbaran Region XIII – Caraga Region
3.      Agusan del Sur Prosperidad Region XIII – Caraga Region
4.      Aklan Kalibo Region VI – Western Visayas
5.      Albay Legazpi Region V – Bicol Region
6.      Antique San Jose Region VI – Western Visayas
7.      Apayao Kabugao Cordillera Administration Region
8.      Aurora Baler Region III – Central Luzon
9.      Basilan Lamitan Autonomous Region in

Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

10.  Bataan Balanga Region III – Central Luzon
11.  Batanes Basco Region II –Cagayan Valley
12.  Batangas Batangas City Region IV-A – CALABARZON
13.  Benguet La Trinidad Cordillera Administration Region
14.  Biliran Naval Region VIII – Eastern Visayas
15.  Bohol Tagbilaran Region VII – Central Visayas
16.  Bukidnon Malaybalay Region X – Northern Mindanao
17.  Bulacan Malolos Region III – Central Luzon
18.  Cagayan Tuguegarao Region II –Cagayan Valley
19.  Camarines Norte Daet Region V – Bicol Region
20.  Camarines Sur Pili Region V – Bicol Region
21.  Camiguin Manbajao Region X – Northern Mindanao
22.  Capiz Roxas Region VI – Western Visayas
23.  Catanduanes Virac Region V – Bicol Region
24.  Cavite Imus City Region IV-A – CALABARZON
25.  Cebu Cebu City Region VII – Central Visayas
26.  Compostela Valley Nabunturan Region XI – Davao Region
27.  Cotabato (North Cotabato) Kidapawan Region XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
28.  Davao del Norte Tagum Region XI – Davao Region
29.  Davao del Sur Digos Region XI – Davao Region
30.  Davao Occidental Malita Region XI – Davao Region
31.  Davao Oriental Mati Region XI – Davao Region
32.  Dinagat Islands San Jose Region XIII – Caraga Region
33.  Eastern Samar Borongan Region VIII – Eastern Visayas
34.  Guimaras Jordan Region VI – Western Visayas
35.  Ifugao Lagawe Cordillera Administration Region
36.  Ilocos Norte Laoag Region I – Ilocos Region
37.  Ilocos Sur Vigan Region I – Ilocos Region
38.  Iloilo Iloilo City Region VI – Western Visayas
39.  Isabela Ilagan Region II –Cagayan Valley
40.  Kalinga Tabuk Cordillera Administration Region
41.  Laguna Santa Cruz Region IV-A – CALABARZON
42.  Lanao del Norte Tubod Region X – Northern Mindanao
43.  Lanao del Sur Marawi Autonomous Region in

Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

44.  La Union San Fernando Region I – Ilocos Region
45.  Leyte Tacloban Region VIII – Eastern Visayas
46.  Maguindanao Shariff Aguak Autonomous Region in

Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

47.  Marinduque Boac MIMAROPA
48.  Masbate Masbate City Region V – Bicol Region
49.  Misamis Occidental Oroquieta Region X – Northern Mindanao
50.  Misamis Oriental Cagayan de Oro Region X – Northern Mindanao
51.  Mountain Province Bontoc Cordillera Administration Region
52.  Negros Occidental Bacolod Region VI – Western Visayas
53.  Negros Oriental Dumaguete Region VII – Central Visayas
54.  Northern Samar Catarman Region VIII – Eastern Visayas
55.  Nueva Ecija Palayan Region III – Central Luzon
56.  Nueva Viscaya Bayombong Region II –Cagayan Valley
57.  Occidental Mindoro Mamburao MIMAROPA
58.  Oriental Mindoro Calapan MIMAROPA
59.  Palawan Puerto Princesa MIMAROPA
60.  Pampanga San Fernando Region III – Central Luzon
61.  Pangasinan Lingayen Region I –Ilocos Region
62.  Quezon Lucena Region IV-A – CALABARZON
63.  Quirino Cabarroguis Region II –Cagayan Valley
64.  Rizal Antipolo Region IV-A – CALABARZON
65.  Romblon Romblon MIMAROPA
66.  Samar (Western Samar) Catbalogan Region VIII – Eastern Visayas
67.  Sarangani Alabel Region XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
68.  Siquijor Siquijor Region VII – Central Visayas
69.  Sorsogon Sorsogon City Region V – Bicol Region
70.  South Cotabato Koronadal Region XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
71.  Southern Leyte Maasin Region VIII – Eastern Visayas
72.  Sultan Kudarat Isulan Region XII – SOCCSKSARGEN
73.  Sulu Jolo Autonomous Region in

Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

74.  Surigao del Norte Surigao City Region XIII – Caraga Region
75.  Surigao del Sur Tandag Region XIII – Caraga Region
76.  Tarlac Tarlac City Region III – Central Luzon
77.  Tawi-Tawi Bongao Autonomous Region in

Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

78.  Zambales Iba Region III – Central Luzon
79.  Zamboanga del Norte Dipolog Region IX- Zamboanga Peninsula
80.  Zamboanga del Sur Pagadian Region IX- Zamboanga Peninsula
81.  Zamboanga Sibugay Ipil Region IX- Zamboanga Peninsula

Visit www.nap.psa.gov.ph for the official list of provinces1 in the Philippines. You can also click on a province in the list of the website for more details.

Well, how many provinces have you visited to-date? It’s never too late, dear SCs. Just plan your trips ahead of time with your partner, family, or friends.

I personally computed that if I visit one province per week, it would take me: 1 year, 8 months and 1 week. If I visit one province per month, it would take me: 6 years, 2 months and 1 week.

Rates are way cheaper when you book way ahead of time. So, can you tell me where your next domestic trip will be?

Do visit related posts: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES? and Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

Did you find this post informative? Filipino SC, from what province do you come from? Please share the wonderful destinations, sites, or events that you recommend for SCs like us to enjoy when we visit your province. I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region3. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. Remember, a province in the Philippines is divided into cities5 and municipalities6 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays6, formerly called barrios. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”4

2Filipino is the national language (or “pambansang wika”) and one of the official languages of the Philippines. The Filipino language is largely the Tagalog dialect with additional words and letters from other existing Philippine languages, according to the Wikipedia page “Filipino language”.8

3A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 18 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. A region is further subdivided in provinces1, composed of cities and municipalities6 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays7, formerly called barrios. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”9

4“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines.

5A city is the local government unit in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), which serves as the city’s legislative body. Congress is the only legislative entity that can incorporate a city in the country. Upon receiving its charter, a city also receives a full complement of executive departments to best serve its constituents. There are 145 cities, as of 2016, in the country. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”10

6A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU), in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province1, subdivided into barangays3, and is locally called “bayan”. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws. There are almost 1,500 municipalities in the Philippines. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”11

7A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner city neighborhood, a suburb or a suburban neighborhood. NOTE: The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”12

8“Filipino language,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filipino_language.

9“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Phjilippines.

10“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines.

11“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

12“Barangay,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay.

I will provide a link to my post:  The 145 Cities of the Philippines

Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

The Philippines is an archipelago1 and is divided into regions2 since 1972.A region is an administrative division based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. Each region is further subdivided in provinces3, composed of cities4 and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays6, formerly called barrios, according to Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines”.7

Filipino Senior Citizens (SCs), you might ask: “Tita S, why write about this?” I’ll answer you with a question too, “Well, do you know all 17 regions of our beloved country and how many have you visited?” Besides, this post is also for the SCs and non-SCs from other countries who are curious to know more about our country, and as a Filipino, I am proud to share this information. Recall as well that I plan to travel as much as I can and explore the various regions of our beautiful country, ok? Besides, we can all be tourism ambassadors of our beloved country so we need to know this information if a foreigner asks.

This post can also help us make our SC bucket list. We can tick off our trips by region2. Or, if you like, you can also make your Philippine bucket list by province3 or by city4/town, depending on your state of health, interest and budget. Be wowed by our country before going abroad! I just wish that it will less expensive and more SC-friendly to travel domestically.

There are 17 regions in the Philippines, 16 are administrative regions8, and one is an autonomous region9, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) – see Region XV below. Allow me to briefly describe each region2, based on Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines”:

Region I, called the Ilocos Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon10, with San Fernando (La Union) as its regional center. It has 5 local government units11 (LGUs): Dagupan, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan.

Region II, called the Cagayan Valley Region, is a Philippine region located in the island groupof Luzon10, with Tuguegarao as its regional center. It has 6 local government units11 (LGUs): Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, and Santiago.

Region III, called the Central Luzon Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon10, with San Fernando (Pampanga) as its regional center. It has 9 local government units11 (LGUs): Angeles, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Olongapo, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Zambales.

Region IV-A, called the CALABARZON Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon10, with Calamba as its regional center. It has 6 local government units11 (LGUs): Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Lucena, Quezon, and Rizal. NOTE: CALABARZON is an acronym for this region’s provinces: CAvite, LAguna, BAtangas, Rizal, QueZON.

Region V, called the Bicol Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Visayas12, with Legazpi as its regional center. It has 7 local government units11 (LGUs): Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Naga, and Sorsogon.

Region VI, called the Western Visayas Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Visayas12, with Iloilo City as its regional center. It has 8 local government units11 (LGUs): Aklan, Antique, Bacolod, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Iloilo City, and Negros Occidental.

Region VII, called the Central Visayas Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Visayas12, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units11 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.

Region VIII, called the Eastern Visayas Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Visayas12, with Tacloban as its regional center. It has 8 local government units11 (LGUs): Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc, Samar, Southern Leyte, and Tacloban.

Region IX, or the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao13, with Pagadian as its regional center. It has 5 local government units11 (LGUs): Isabela City, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga de Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Region X, or the Northern Mindanao Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao13, with Cagayan de Oro as its regional center. It has 7 local government units11 (LGUs): Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Iligan, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Misamis Oriental.

Region XI, or the Davao Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao13, with Davao City as its regional center. It has 6 local government units11 (LGUs): Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Davao Occidental.

Region XII,or the SOCCSKSARGEN Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao13, with Koronadal as its regional center. It has 6 local government units11 (LGUs): Cotabato, Cotabato City, General Santos, Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat. NOTE: SOCCSKSARGEN is an acronym for this region’s provinces: SOuthCotabato, Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, SARangani, GENeral Santos.

Region XIII, or the Caraga Region, is a Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao13, with Butuan as its regional center. It has 6 local government units11 (LGUs):  Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Butuan, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.

Region XIV, or the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon10, with Baguio as its regional center. It has 7 local government units11 (LGUs): Abra, Apayao, Baguio, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

Region XV, or theAutonomous Region9 in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), isa Philippine region located in the island group of Mindanao13, with Cotabato City as its regional center. It has 5 local government units11 (LGUs): Basilan (excluding Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

The latest news regarding Region XV was on July 17, 2018 when the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or the Bangsamoro Organic Law, was approved by the 28-member bicameral conference committee (House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines combined). It was ratified by both the Senate and House of Representatives on July 23 and 24, respectively, and was signed into law by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on July 26, 2018, according to the Wikipedia page “Bangsamoro Organic Law”.29 The law will then be ratified through a plebiscite in November 2018. If it is ratified, the ARMM will be replaced by this new region. If not, ARMM will stay.30 Let us wait and see if there will be changes regarding this region, which might affect the composition of the other existing Mindanao regions.

The National Capital Region (NCR) is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon10,with Manila as its regional center. It is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975 through Presidential Decree No. 824. It is the capital region of the Philippines, the seat of government, and is officially called Metro Manila, composed of 16 cities4 (Caloocan, Las Piñas, Malabon, Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Novotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, San Juan, Taguig, Valenzuela) and the municipality5 of Pateros. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines.

MIMAROPA, or the Southwestern Tagalog Region (as of 2016), is a Philippine region located in the island group of Luzon10, with Calapan as its regional center. MIMAROPA is an acronym for this region’s provinces: MIndoro (Occidental and Oriental), MArinduque, ROmblon, PAlawan. It has 6 local government units11 (LGUs): Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Puerto Princesa (a city in Palawan), and Romblon. This region was formerly called Region IV-B (2002-2016).

Now, Senior Citizens, can you add one milestone to your travel list? Why don’t you visit even just one province3 per region2? Then, you can say that you visited all the regions of our country, right? Achieve!

Visit other related posts: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES? and Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Did you find this post informative? Dear Filipino SC, from what Philippine region do you come from? Please tell me and my followers the wonderful destinations, sites, or events that you recommend for SCs like us to enjoy when we visit your region. I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1An archipelago is a chain or cluster of islands or an island group. It is isolated, surrounded by bodies of water, and often volcanic, according to Wikipedia page “Archipelago”.14 Examples are the Philippines, Greece, Hawaii, Indonesia, Japan and New Zealand, to name a few.

2A region is the first-order administrative division inthe Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces3, composed of cities and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays6. The aforementioned Philippine regions were initially identified in 1972, through Presidential Decree No. 1 of President Ferdinand Marcos. Since then, other regions have been created and some provinces have been “transferred” to another region. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”7

3A provinceis the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region2. There are 81 provinces (called “lalawigan”) in the Philippines. Each province is governed by an elected legislature called the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and by an elected governor. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”15

4A city is the local government unit in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice mayor serves as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod16 (city council), which acts as the city’s legislative body. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”17

5A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU), in the Philippines which has corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by law. It is a unit under a province3, subdivided into barangays6, and is called town, or “bayan”. In the Philippines, a municipality is headed by a mayor, a vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (legislative branch). It can enact local policies and laws, enforce them, and govern its jurisdictions. It can enter into contracts and other transactions through its elected and appointed officials, and can tax as well. It enforces all local and national laws. There are almost 1,500 municipalities in the Philippines and there are 6 income classes of municipalities in the country (based on annual income): first class municipality (with at least 400 million pesos); second class municipality (between 320,000,000-less than 400 million pesos); third class municipality (between 240 million-less than 320 million pesos); fourth class municipality (between 160 million-less than 240 million pesos); fifth class municipality (between 80 million-less than 160 million pesos); and, sixth class municipality (below 80 million). All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”18

6A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines, headed by a barangay captain, aided by a Sangguniang Barangay (Barangay Council). It is the native Filipino term for a district or village. It was formerly called a barrio. In a metropolitan area, a barangay is an inner city neighborhood, a suburb, or a suburban neighborhood. The word barangay originated from the term “balangay”, a kind of boat used by a group of Austronesian people who migrated to the Philippines.A number of barangays grouped together is called a district. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”19

7“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines.

8An administrative region in the Philippines is an administrative grouping of provinces in the Philippines, except the National Capital Region which is composed of cities4 and municipalities5, according to Wikipedia page “Administrative divisions of the Philippines”.20

9An autonomous region in the Philippines is an administrative grouping of provinces3 in the Philippines which has the authority to control the region’s culture and economy. This region2 is a minority entity that has a higher population of a particular minority ethnic group, according to Wikipedia page “Administrative divisions of the Philippines”.20

10Luzon is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It is the country’s largest (ranked 15th largest in the world) and most populated island, as well as its economical and political center. Luzon is composed of 8 regions2: Bicol, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Ilocos, MIMAROPA and the National Capital Region. The 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Visayas12 and Mindanao13.

11A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces3 and independent cities21; component cities22 and municipalities5; and, barangays6, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.23

12Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Panay and Samar) mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.24 See the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines: Luzon10 and Mindanao13.

13Mindanao is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It is the second largest island of the country and covers 6 administrative regions: CARAGA Region, Davao Region, Northern Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN, Zamboanga Peninsula, and ARMM.It is composed of 22 provinces and 33 cities. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Mindanao.”25 See the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines: Luzon10 and Visayas12.

14“Archipelago,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archipelago.

15“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines.

16Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) is the legislature of cities in the Philippines, with legislative and quasi-judicial powers and functions. The vice mayor of the municipality, or city, serves as the presiding officer, with councilors as members. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Sangguniang Panlungsod”26

 17“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines.

18“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

19“Barangay,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay.

20“Administrative Divisions of the Philippines,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_Divisions_of_the_Philippines.

21An independent city is a type of city4 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province3 so it does not share its tax revenues with any province. The national government and its agencies serve such a city through sub-offices of the region2 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city27 or independent component city28. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”17

22A component city is a type of city4 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city27. It is under the jurisdiction of a province3. If such a city is located along the boundaries of 2 or more provinces, it shall be considered part of the province of which it used to be a municipality5.

23“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines.

24“Visayas,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas.

25“Mindanao,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindanao.

26“Sangguniang Panlungsod,” accessed August 2, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangguniang_Panlungsod.

27A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city4 in the Philippines with a minimum population of 200,000 as certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), and with the latest annual income of at least 50 million pesos, according to Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”.17 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link below).

28An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city4 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province in which it is geographically located and has a charter that explicitly prohibits its residents to vote for provincial officials (unless allowed to do so). It does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city27. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. All these were obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”17

29“Bangsamoro Organic Law.” accessed August 8, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangsamoro_Organic_Law

30www.newsinfo.inquirer.net

 

 

Laguna, Philippines: TWO TALLEST RIZAL MONUMENTS IN THE WORLD

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust (French novelist, essayist and critic, 1871-1922)

I am based in the province of Laguna and, since my travels depend on the health status of my soon-to-be 96-year-old mother, I have time to look around this province and marvel at its uniqueness and beauty. Here is one such record/beauty: did you know that the province of Laguna, in the Philippines, has two of the tallest Rizal monuments in the world? Yes, you read it right, not only in the Philippines but in the world! Bet you did not know that! Well then, read on to know more about it and be proud of such man-made attractions in our very own country!

Dr. Jose Rizal is generally regarded as the (unofficial) national hero of the Philippines (this statement will be tackled in another blog), and there are almost 120 monuments to honor him in the Philippines, to name a few: Cagayan de Oro City (Cagayan de Oro), Calamba (Laguna), Catbalogan (Samar), Daet (Camarines Norte), Dapitan City (Zamboanga del Norte), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Jolo (Sulu), Luneta/Rizal Park (Manila), Sta. Cruz (Laguna), Tacloban (Leyte), and Villasis (Pangasinan).1, 2

While there is no law in the Philippines that orders every town to build a monument for Rizal, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) requires that, if at all, such monuments are to be built in front of a prominent building, plaza, or park, and the statue has to be life size.3

There are also various sculptures, statues, monuments of Rizal found worldwide that recognize his intelligence, heroism, and significant scientific and literary contributions in Andorra2, Bern (Switzerland), Brussels and Ghent (Belgium), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Heidelberg (Germany), Hong Kong, Jinjiang, Fujian (China), Lima (Peru), Litomerice (Czech Republic), London (England), Madrid (Spain), Mexico City (Mexico), New South Wales (Australia), Paris (France), Rome (Italy), Singapore, Tokyo (Japan), Toronto, Ontario (Canada), Alaska, California, Chicago, Florida, New Jersey, Seattle, Texas, Washington (USA), Wilhelmsfeld (Germany), and Vienna (Austria), to name a few.4

To-date, the tallest monument of Dr. Jose Rizal in the world is in the Laguna Sports Complex, Barangay Bubukal, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, Philippines. Erected during the term of Laguna Governor Jeorge Ejercito Estregan,it is unique because it depicts Rizal as a sportsman, the only one of its kind in the world!4

1-Sta-Cruz-Rizal-statue                                 The tallest Rizal monument in the world  (2014-present)                                             Laguna Sports Complex, Barangay Bubukal, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, Philippines

For foreigners, it is worth knowing that Rizal was a polymath, a person who is an expert in different areas/fields.2, 14 He was an agriculturist, architect, cartographer, educator, economist, engineer, ethnologist, farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, musician, mythologist, nationalist/patriot, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmologist, painter, philanthropist, playwright, poet, polyglot6, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, theologian, writer, woodcarver, but he was also inclined to sports. In fact, he played six sports: arnis7, boxing, fencing, (pistol) firing, judo and jujitsu8.He was so talented for a Filipino even during the Spanish period!

This statue shows Rizal wearing a fencing uniform and holding an épée9 in his right hand. The statue is located atop a flight of stairs that serves as the 1,000-square-meter wide pedestal. This monument was erected within the Laguna Sports Complex to inspire the Filipino youth to excel in sports.

This 7.9-meter high statue was built at a cost of PHP6 million and was unveiled in time for the opening of the Palarong Pambansa (National Games) on May 10-16, 2014, the first time said event was hosted by the province of Laguna.4

Sculptor Toym Imao, son of national Artist for Sculpture Andulmari Asia Imao, designed the monument.10

The hollow space underneath the stairs will be made into a museum and a library about Laguna and Rizal’s history.4

The second tallest monument of Rizal in the world is located in The Plaza of Calamba City, Laguna, Philippines, in front of the city’s City Hall Complex, along Bacnotan Road, in the barangay of Real. Recall that Calamba is the birthplace of our national hero. This monument was the tallest in the world from 2011 till 2014, until the other Laguna monument was erected.11

1-Calamba-Riza-monument                                    The second tallest Rizal monument in the world                                                        The Plaza of Calamba City, Laguna, Philippines (the tallest, 2011-2014)

This one is a 6.7-meter (22 feet) bronze statue atop a 2.8-meter podium, and shows Rizal holding a book in his right hand. It also has a 7.87 feet granite pedestal and a 13.12 feet circular stairway base. Including the podium, the base, and the pedestal, the monument has a total height of 13 meters or 43 feet (about a four-storey building) and weighs 2 tons. It has two markers – one from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and another from the City Government of Calamba. It was unveiled by President Benigno Aquino III on June 19, 2011,4 in celebration of Rizal’s sesquicentennial (150th) birth anniversary, according to Wikipedia page “Rizal Monument (Calamba)”.12

Mayor Joaquin Chipeco came up with the idea of building this monument as a gift to the people of Calamba and as a tribute to Rizal in his own hometown. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), along with the local government unit of Calamba, initially funded the construction of this monument. A 35-year old sculptor from Marikina City, Jose Dionas F. Roces, was commissioned to build the monument. Construction started in December 2010 and was completed on April 2011, according to Wikipedia page “Rizal Monument (Calamba)”.12

Do you know that this monument has two important symbolisms? Here they are: (1) The statue stands 22 feet, symbolizing the 22 languages and dialects Rizal mastered as a polyglot6 (languages – Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Swedish; dialects: Cebuano, Chavacano, Ilocano, Subanon, according to Wikipedia page “List of polygots”).13 (2) A 15-step stairway leads to the 2.8 meter podium. Each step represents one decade, from the time Rizal was born in 1861, up till the monument’s unveiling on 2011, for a total of 150 years or 15 steps. All these according to Wikipedia page “Rizal Monument (Calamba)”.12 The number 15 is also significant because it was unveiled by the 15th President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III!5

Filipinos, be proud and love our country! Be inspired by our heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal!

Look around your town or city. What are its unique natural and man-made attractions? Please share and tell me about them.

Did you find this post informative? Do you have pictures of Rizal statues/monuments elsewhere in the Philippines and/or other countries? Please share! I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1www.joserizal.com

2www.gmanetwork.com

3www.news/abs-cbn.com

4www.lifestyle.inquirer.net

5www.newsinfo.inquirer.net

6A polyglot is a person who has mastered multiple languages.

 7Arnis, kali or eskrima, is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines. It uses weapon-based fighting with bladed weapons, knives, sticks, or other improvised weapons. It also uses “open hand”, or techniques without weapons, such as hand-to-hand combat, joint locks, grappling and weapon disarming techniques.

8Jujitsu is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses either a short weapon or none at all, according to the Wikipedia page “Jujitsu”.15

9Épée refers to the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in the sport called fencing, according to the Wikipedia page “Epée”. The two other weapons are foil and sabre.16

10www.balita.ph

11www.joserizal.com

12“Rizal Monument (Calamba),” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizal_Monument_(Calamba).

13“List of polygots,” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_polygots.

14www.pop.inquirer.net

15“Jujitsu,” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujitsu.

16“Épée,” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Épée.

Say, Say, Say: ISN’T IT ABOUT TIME TO HAVE A SEA TRAVELLER BILL OF RIGHTS AND A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR LAND TRANSPORT COMMUTERS IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Hello there, Wandering Filipino Senior Citizens (SCs)! I hope you have read and know more about the Bill of Rights for Air Passengers and Carrier Obligations in a previous post. Remember, we have the right to travel, as stated in our constitution1.

RIGHT TO TRAVEL

 The right to travel is a basic human right encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within a territory of a country and to leave the country and return to it, according to the Wikipedia page “Freedom of Movement”.2 However, visas and other related requirements could restrict people from entering some countries but as long as these are met, they can visit such destinations.

RIGHT OF FILIPINOS TO TRAVEL

Section 6, Article III (Bill of Rights), of the 1987 Philippine constitution states that “… Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.”3

FILIPINO SEA TRAVELER BILL OF RIGHTS

Your 12 rights as an air passenger are all in “black and white” and I am sure all airlines will follow all provisions therein and we are all protected of such rights. See a related post: Smart Senior: THE AIR PASSENGER BILL OF RIGHTS OF THE PHILIPPINES

But how about our rights as sea travelers? Unfortunately there is still no Bill of Rights for the Filipino Sea Travelers to protect the latter from bad practices of shipping companies.

Let’s face it – most domestic maritime passengers belong to the less-privileged class who cannot afford to use an airplane. Whenever I watch the daily news, my heart goes out to all such passengers who sleep in the terminals, stranded due to delayed or cancelled trips (especially during typhoon season, Christmas, Holy Week and All Saints’ Day), and who barely have food to eat due to their limited budgets. They have no choice when trips are cancelled by the Philippine Coast Guard when travelers are already in seaports. They just have to be patient and wait for the storm to leave and for ships to eventually be allowed to sail – this could take days or even a week!

Worst, for sea mishaps, what are the rights of the survivors and families of passengers who perished? We have heard of their need for monetary assistance and the inadequacy of shipping companies to meet their needs on time.

It’s a nightmare to think that the bill of rights have not been made by authorities and stakeholders. I have heard of this bill was supposed to have been drafted on 20124 – that was six years ago!

Remember, our beloved country is an archipelago, with 7,641 islands (yes, we have more islands now, no longer 7,100 islands, please refer my post: Short and Simple: EXACTLY HOW MANY ISLANDS ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?). Obviously, the easiest and most reasonable inter-island transport is still public water transportation. Traveling by sea especially during “ber” months amidst rough seas is indeed a badge of courage!

I know there is a Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rightsfor passengers of an oceangoing cruise on any CLIA6-member cruise liner worldwide. The people responsible for setting the Bill of Rights for the Filipino Sea Travelers could benchmark from this international bill of rights but must add other provisions, e.g., for cancelled trips due to the bad weather to make the stranded sea passengers comfortable and safe in ports/nearby accommodations.

Wake up, wake up, major industry stakeholders: the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and domestic shipping companies. Please get your act together! Perhaps even PAGASA7 could be requested to join the stakeholders for timely weather forecasts/advisories, amidst climate change. It has been 6 years since these rights were raised! It is rainy season now and domestic sea travelers are still not protected!

FILIPINO LAND TRANSPORT COMMUTER BILL OF RIGHTS

And, while I am at it, how about a Bill of Rights for Land Transport Commuters for those riding jeepneys, buses, taxis, Grab, LRT/MRT and other forms of public land transportation?

I pity the bus commuters who, eager to go back to the province during long weekend holidays and important holidays of the year, get stranded in bus terminals, and do not have extra money for an unanticipated stay due to countless reasons for delayed trips. They are victims of abusive operators and drivers, etc. Sigh …

BOTTOMLINE:

The Philippine land transport commuter/sea passenger has rights and all these must be encapsulated in appropriate Bill of Rights!

I am also calling on Senator Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares (Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services), Congressman Cesar V. Sarmiento (District Representative, Lone District of Catanduanes, the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation), and Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Arthur P. Tugade, to help fast track the Bill of Rights for the Filipino Sea Travelers which could be based on the CLIA’s 10-point Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights5 and Bill of Rights for Air Passengers and Carrier Obligations.

Dearest Senior Citizens, let us pray that these bills of rights will be passed during our lifetime. Harsh words to say on my end but perhaps this post will be a small voice appealing to all government authorities and stakeholders concerned.

Do you have your own inputs regarding the bill of rights of passengers by land, water or air? I would love to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”.

Follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device and do not forget to click the “Like” tab and “Facebook” to share this post. Thank you.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1www.senate.gov.ph

2“Freedom of Movement”, accessed July 10, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Movement.

3www.dotr.gov.ph

4www.news.abs-cbn.com

5TheCruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rightsis a set of 10-passenger rights developed by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)6, adopted by all member-oceangoing cruise liners: (1) The right to disembark a docked ship if essential provisions such as food, water, restroom facilities and access to medical care cannot adequately be provided onboard, subject only to the Master’s concern for passenger safety and security and customs and immigration requirements of the port. (2) The right to a full refund for a trip that is cancelled due to mechanical failures, or a partial refund for voyages that are terminated early due to those failures. (3) The right to have available on board ships operating beyond rivers or coastal waters full-time, professional emergency medical attention, as needed until shore side medical care becomes available. (4) The right to timely information updates as to any adjustments in the itinerary of the ship in the event of a mechanical failure or emergency, as well as timely updates of the status of efforts to address mechanical failures. (5) The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures. (6) The right to an emergency power source in the case of a main generator failure. (7) The right to transportation to the ship’s scheduled port of disembarkation or the passenger’s home city, in the event a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures. (8) The right to lodging if disembarkation and an overnight stay in an unscheduled port are required when a cruise is terminated early due to mechanical failures. (9)The right to have included on each cruise line’s website a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information concerning any aspect of shipboard operations. (10) The right to have this Cruise Line Passenger Bill of Rights published on each line’s website.6

6CLIA is the abbreviation for Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association worldwide, with members like Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean, among others. It supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment and is dedicated to promoting the cruise travel experience. Visit its website: www.cruising/org.

7Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is the government agency responsible not only for weather forecasting and advisories in the Philippines but also promotes national progress as well as protects against natural calamities and insure the safety, well-being and economic security of all Filipinos through scientific and technological services in meteorology, hydrology, climatology, astronomy and other geophysical sciences. Visit its website: www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph.

Pinoy Delight: THE SEASONAL SINIGUELAS

Another favorite fruit is siniguelas (Spondias purpurea), from the flowering plant family in the cashew family called Anacardiaceae. It is a seasonal, ovoid drupe1 fruit, 3-5 cm long and 2-3.5 cm broad, ripening red, sometimes yellow, and contains a single large seed, according to the Wikipedia page “Spondias purpurea”.2

Alas, it is only available in the Philippines during summer, and is becoming less and less abundant as the years go by, unlike when we, Seniors, were younger, when it wassold even by traveling vendors.

Most commonly known as jocote, this tropical fruit is also called ciriguela, cirigüela, cirguela, ciruela, ciruelahuesito (in Venezuela), hog plum, java plum, jobito (in Ecuador), purple mombin,2 purple plum3, red mombin3, red plum3, siwèl (Haiti), Spanish plum3, and wild plum3. It is commonly called “food of the gods” in the Philippines.4

It is native to tropical regions of the Americas and can be found from Mexico through Central America and down to Brazil. It is also very common in most of the Caribbean Islands.

The first time I saw a siniguelas tree with fruits, I was so delighted. It has a stout trunk and branches. It loses all its leaves during fruiting season, and what a site to see! The individual fruits are attached to the branches through a short thick stem, almost side by side.

The raw, firm, semi-ripe fruit is quite pleasing to the eye, even with its yellow-green skin and large patches of red. The smooth thin skin is firm but easily gives in to every bite. The flesh is very juicy and sweet. The texture of the mesocarp, or flesh, is firm, yet has the right softness to be chewed away from the seed. I do not like it when it is very green and unripe, or when it is very ripe and the flesh is very soft or soggy.

1-siniguelas-1         I enjoy it washed as is, or chilled in the refrigerator, and dipped in rock salt.

Others prefer eating it unripe, along with vinegar and salt.4 The single large lethal3 seed is not eaten. Remember, dear Seniors, our elders always advised us to eat this fruit in moderation because excessive amounts can lead to indigestion and hyperacidity, especially if taken on an empty stomach.3 Looking back, I always ate a lot at one sitting, and have not experienced a single tummyache to-date!

The ripe fruit is also popular for its medicinal uses and health benefits. It is high in ascorbic acid (good for boosting the immune system, controlling cholesterol, and acting as an antioxidant), amino acids (like lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan), calcium, phosphorus3 and dietary fiber.

It is used as diuretic (for the production of urine for cleansing the body) and antispasmodic (for preventing muscle spasms). The fruit is boiled and used as antiseptic for preventing infection of wounds and healing mouth sores. It is commonly used to clean wounds, burns and cuts. Its liquid extract has antibacterial capabilities. The fruit’s syrup is used to remedy chronic diarrhea or for preventing loose bowel movement.3

Siniguelas is also made into a tart or green sauce, jelly, vinegar or wine.3

I cannot wait for summer 2019 to savor this yummy fruit once more!

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post.  Thank you!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1A drupaceous fruit is a stone fruit with an outer fleshy part (exocarp or skin and mesocarp or flesh) surrounding a single shell (pit or stone) of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside, according to the Wikipedia page “Drupe”.5 Examples are apricot, cherry, duhat, peach, plum and siniguelas.

2“Spondias purpurea,” accessed February 18, 2018,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spondias_purpurea

3 www.allaboutdiabetes.net

4 www.wattalyf.com

5“Drupe,” accessed February 18, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drupe.

ARABELA: Awesome Coffee Shop at the Foot of Mount Banahaw

Location: 503 Rizal Street (the street parallel to Gat Tayaw Street with all the footwear shops), Liliw, Laguna, Philippines

I have been a frequent diner of this coffeeshop-restaurant for about a decade. I remember sneaking out with my graduate school buddies in between classes when I was taking my Doctorate degree in Education in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, just to savor its various treats and then to return, obviously late, for our afternoon classes.

BeFunky Collage-1                                 Arabela, 503 Rizal Street, Liliw, Laguna, Philippines

Arabela (Camello’s Bakehaus & Coffee Shop) is a cozy, casual restaurant located in the small highland town of Liliw1, at the foot of Mount Banahaw2. Liliw is known as the Flip-flops Capital of the Philippines, with one long main street full of footwear shops.

Arabela offers delightful dishes, sweets and drinks, all of which make me feel like I am dining in Metro Manila, even if I am about 100 kilometers away. The food selection is good for kids too. Happy tummies for all!

It is located at the lower portion of a renovated 20th century house. It has a low-ceiling since it was originally intended as a storeroom. So, tall persons need to stoop a bit while walking to a designated table – a small inconvenience for an enjoyable dining experience. The long cue of wannabe-diners patiently waiting, or opting to just dine on tables set up on the side street outside the restaurant, attests to its popularity.

It opened on 2002, with two tables used to sell cakes and pastries within the neighborhood. It is owned by Bobby and Antonette “Tonet” Camello who named the restaurant after their two daughters – Ara and Bela. They started with cakes and brownies, and then re-launched on October 23, 2003 as a coffeeshop-restaurant with five tables. Eventually, they maximized their seating capacity to 50, and offered an Italian menu that included appetizers through desserts, along with hot and cold beverages, and now, even wines.

First time diners will definitely feel good knowing that after hours of walking along the main street of the town buying different footwear and pasalubongs, they have a place to finally rest from shopping and to satisfy their palates with the food and drinks offered by Arabela.

 

The interior is a mixture of cool and refreshing yellow painted walls filled with paintings and photos. The air-conditioning provides a comfortable dining temperature even during sizzling summer days, and the staff skillfully escorts you to an available and appropriate table. Tables are cramped, yet diners do not mind this layout at all because of the quality of the menu selection.

Arabela-in-1

Once you enter, you will immediately realize the low ceiling. Up ahead from the entrance is a tempting, refrigerated display of different cheesecakes and pastries to make you crave for a sweet ending to your meal.

Arabela-in-2

Arabela-in-3

Arabela-in-5

Various wines are also displayed on a small table to the right, suggesting the appropriate libation companion for your orders, before you turn left for more tables.

Arabela-in-4

Arabela-in-6

Straight ahead, thereafter,are the hand-washing area and restrooms — with an even lower ceiling — but these are well-maintained, and are much appreciated features in such a simple town.

The finishing touches of the dishes/desserts as well as the beverage preparation are seen by diners since the pantry area is open, along with the cashier’s section, the latter surrounded by inviting “pasalubongs3” of different chocolate, assorted nuts, and local goodies.

Arabela-in-7

Arabela-in-8

Arabela-in-9

Seniors, get your fill from the following:

StartersFresh Salads (Caesar, House, Insalata Mare, Pecan Crusted Chicken, Sicilian Chicken, and Walnut – PHP 300-320), Salads (Macaroni, and Potato – PHP 100/120), Appetizers (Chicken Fingers, French Fries, Mojos, and Onion Rings – PHP 70-110), Soups (Asparagus, Chicken, Mushroom, and Squash – PHP 100-120), and Bread (Garlic, and Stuffed Pizza – PHP 10/40)

Arabela-1-menu

Arabela-1-menu-2

Arabela-food-11

Pizzas – Bacon-Chicken-Mushroom Melt, BBQ Chicken, De Luxe, Garden Veggie, Four Cheese, Hawaiian, Kesong Puti3, Margherita, Meat Supreme, Mediterranean, Pepperoni, Prosciutto – Large (PHP320), XL (PHP360) and Thick (PHP420-430)

Arabela-1-menu-3

PastaBaked (Baked Macaroni, Baked Ziti4, and Beef Lasagna – PHP120-130); Pasta in White Sauce (Alfredo, Carbonara, and Fettuccine – PHP 120-130); Pasta in Red Sauce (Eggplant, Italian Style, Marinara, Pinoy Style, Pomodoro, and Puttanesca – PHP120-140); House SpecialtiesOlive Oil (Fish in White Wine; Fortulana; Fusili; Pancetta Magreta; Spaghettini with Aglio de Olio; Spaghettini with Anchovies, Black Olives and Tomato; Spaghettini with Italian Sausage, and Vongole – PHP 270-300); Pesto (Plain, Grilled Chicken Pesto, Penne in Creamy Pesto Sauce, Salmon in Creamy Pesto, Seafood in Creamy Pesto Sauce, Seafood Pesto, and Shrimp Pesto – PHP280-320); Tomato-Based (Chicken Parmigiano, Eggplant Parmigiano, Grilled Chicken in Marinara Sauce, Mediterranean Grilled Fish, Penne Arrabiata, Pescatora, Ratatouille, Seafood in Marinara Sauce, Seafood Puttanesca, Shrimp Pomodoro – PHP 270-320); Creamy Tomato (Baked Penne Florentine, Penne Al Telepono, Pink Salmon Pasta – PHP280-300); and Cream-Based (Grilled Chicken in Alfredo Sauce, Fettucine in Alfredo Sauce with Prosciutto, Seafood in Alfredo Sauce, Sirloin Fettucine, Veneziana – PHP290-300)

Arabela-1-menu-4

Arabela-1-menu-5

Arabela-1-menu-6

Arabela-1-menu-7

Arabela-1-menu-8

oIsuj1532348435

Seafood – Blue Marlin, Boneless Bangus4 Belly, Cartoccio, Grilled Fish in Caponata Sauce, Mixed Seafoods, Pan Grilled John Dory, Parmesan Crusted Fish, Pink Salmon, Sinaing na Bangus4, Tanigue5, and Tortilla Wrapped Fish – PHP240-320, mostly with vegetables/salad and rice/mashed potato

Arabela-1-menu-9

 

Arabela-1-menu-10

Pork – Grilled (Country Style Pork, Korean Pork BBQ, Pork BBQ on Stick, Pork Chop – PHP 160-240) and Baby Back Ribs (Baby Back Beef -2 pieces, ¼ slab, PHP250/300); Baby Back Pork ¼ slab – PHP250

Arabela-1-menu-11

BeFunky Collage-2

Desserts – Bread Pudding, Brownies (Plain, Fudge Walnut Brownie, Ghirardelli6 – PHP17-60) and Cheesecakes (Affogato7, Black Velvet, Blueberry, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Chips, Choco Lava, Choco Mousse, Dulce de Leche, Oreo, Red Velvet, Strawberry & Mango, Tiramisu – PHP120-145)

Waffles – Plain, Blueberry, Cheese, Chocolate, Mango, Nutella and Strawberry – with cream (PHP70-90) or ala mode (PHP85-110)

Arabela-1-menu-12

Coffee– Café Americano, Café Latte, Café Mocha, Cappuccino, Crème Brulee Latte, Espresso, Hazelnut Cream, Irish Cream, Long Coffee, Macchiato, Mocha Chocomint, Peppermint Mocha, Turtle Latte, White Choco Peppermint Mocha, White Mint Cappuccino (PHP80-130)

Arabela-1-menu-15

Specialty DrinksHot (Café Mocha, Cinnamon Mocha, Hot Chocolate Float, Real Hot Chocolate, White Heat – PHP120), Ice Coffee (Cappuccino, Dark Arabica, Latte Arabica, Mocha Arabica – PHP100), and Other Cold Drinks (Chocolate & Almond Float, Cold Chocolate Drink, Frappuccino, Green Tea Matcha, Irish Mocha, Milky Way, Mocha Cream, Mocha Float, Strawberry Frappe, White Rabbit – PHP 130-140)

Other DrinksItalian Soda (Blue Mojito, Green Apple, Green Apple Mint, Green Soda, Green Soda Mint, Kiwi, Kiwi Mint – PHP120), Juices (Apple Nectar, Grape Nectar, Lemon, Mango, Orange Nectar, Peach Nectar, Pineapple – PHP85), Fresh Fruits Shakes (Avocado, Celery, Green Mango, Lemon, Mango-Grape-Strawberry, Ripe Mango, Strawberry, Watermelon, and Watermelon-Mango-Grape – PHP130-140), Sodas (Coke, Coke Light, Coke Zero, Mountain Dew, Mug, Sprite, 7Up), and Lemon Iced Tea (PHP70)

Arabela-1-menu-14

Arabela-food-13

So, when you get tired walking from one footwear stall to another in Liliw, Laguna, do visit Arabela. Be aware that it has a limited capacity (for 50 people only) and easily gets packed, but is totally worth the eventual wait.

Arabela-in-10

This restaurant opens daily at 11:15 AM, after the team prays together, and closes at 7 PM. Yes, you read it right, 7 PM, so come early for dinner since last orders are taken at 6:45 PM!

I have witnessed and honestly appreciate improvements in this restaurant through the years yet somehow yearn for the early days when portions and ingredients were quite generous. Nonetheless, current presentations and portions are just fine with me.

Here are my favorites, over the years: Walnut Salad, Seafood Puttanesca, Seafood in Alfredo Sauce, Baby Back Ribs, assorted cheesecakes, and Watermelon Shake.

Arabela-food-3                                                            Walnut Salad, yum!

 

Arabela-food-12                                     Assorted cheesecakes for my sweet tooth!

Some consider the prices of menu items as high but I consider the food/drinks worth it and still go to this restaurant to-date, entertaining visiting family and friends.

The staff are efficient, attentive and friendly. Service is relatively fast, even during peak hours.

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all my visits in this restaurant.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you. Do leave a comment, either on the upper right corner of this post by clicking “Leave a comment”, or type/enter your comment on the “Leave a Reply” box. Please scroll below and click the “Like” tab, and “Facebook” to share this post. Do not forget to follow me by clicking “Follow” on the lower right corner of your device.

Contact information: Telephone: (049) 5632495; Mobile Numbers: 0917-2041447 and 0927-3860639; Facebook: Arabela

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1Liliw is a small highland town in Laguna, located at District 4. It is bounded on the northwest by the town of Sta. Cruz, west by Nagcarlan, northeast by Magdalena, east by Majayjay, and on the south by Dolores, Quezon. The One Town One Product (OTOP8) of this fourth class municipality9 is footwear which is like Marikina City10, in Metro Manila. It is also known for its cold-water spring resorts, native homemade sweets, and its Baroque11-style parish church, all to be featured in future posts. Information derived from Wikipedia page “Liliw”.12

2Mount Banahaw is an active, three-peaked volcano located between the provinces of Laguna and Quezon, in the island of Luzon, in the Philippines. It is the tallest mountain in the CALABARZON13 region, with an elevation of 2,170 meters, so it is a favorite among mountain climbers. It is also considered a “sacred mountain” and pilgrims visit its sacred springs, caves, streams and boulders. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Mount Banahaw”.14

3Kesong Puti, literally “white cheese” in Tagalog, is a soft, unaged, white cheese made from unskimmed carabao’s milk, rennet15 (or vinegar) and salt. It is similar to cottage cheese, with its soft texture and slightly salty taste. It is a popular breakfast item, eaten with pan de sal16 in the Philippines. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Kesong puti”.17

4Bangus, or milkfish, is the local term for the (unofficial yet commonly considered) national fish of the Philippines. This elongated fish is the sole living species in the family of Chanidae, with the binomial name of ChanosChanos. It usually measures no more than 1 meter (39 inches) in length, but can grow to 1.80 meters (5 ft. 11 inches) in length. It has an almost compressed body, with a generally symmetrical and streamlined appearance, one dorsal fin, falcate pectoral fins and a sizeable forked caudal fin. Its body is colored olive green, with silvery flanks and dark bordered fins. Its mouth is small and toothless. It feeds on algae, cyanobacteria and small invertebrates. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Milkfish”.18

5Tanigue, or tangigue, refers to the following fishes in the Philippines: Indo-Pacific king mackerel (Scomberomorusguttatus), narrow-barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomoruscommerson), striped bonito (Sardaorientalis), Wahoo (Acanthocybiumsolandri), Scomberaustraliscus, Scomber japonicus, Scomberomorusqueensladicus, and Scomberomorus semifasciatus.19 It is commonly cut crosswise into thick “steaks” and then fried or grilled, dipped in soy sauce with calamansi, and served with steamed rice in the Philippines.

6Ghirardelli refers to the chocolate product line of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, the United States division of Swiss confectioner Lindt &Sprüngli. It was founded by, and named after, Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli who settled in California, according to Wikipedia page “Ghirardelli Chocolate Company”.20

7Affogato is an Italian coffee-based dessert, usually consisting of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream, topped with a shot of hot espresso. Amaretto, Bicerin, or other liqueurs may be used instead of espresso, according to Wikipidea page “Affogato”.21

8OTOP stands for One Town, One Product, a promotional program of the Philippine government that aims to promote the best goods and products of Filipino towns, cities, and regions, and provides funding for micro, small and medium-scale businesses. Said program is administered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and was launched in 2004. It covers tangible products and skills-based services: agri-based products, arts and crafts (e.g., bamboo, coco coir, paper artistry, weaves, and wood), home and fashion/creative artisanal (e.g., décor, fabrics, furniture, garments, houseware, gifts, souvenir items, textiles and toys), processed food, and skills-based services (e.g., hilot, sculpting, personal care and wellness products).22

9A fourth-class municipality is the fourth income classification (out of six) of a municipality or town in the Philippines, and has an annual income of PHP25,000,000-34,999.999 during the previous four calendar years. NOTE: The highest level is a first-class municipality with at least PHP55 million, followed by, in descending order, a second-class municipality with PHP45 million-54,999,999, a third-class municipality with PHP35 million-44,999,999, a fifth-class municipality with15 million-24,999,999, and the lowest level is a sixth-class municipality with at most PHP15 million. Information is according to Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines”.23

10Marikina City is a highly urbanized city in Metro Manila known as the Shoe Capital of the Philippines, producing almost 70% of the shoes manufactured in the country, according to Wikipedia page “Marikina”.24

11Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the late 18th century, following the Renaissance style, and preceding the Neoclassical style. Baroque churches were designed with a large central space where the churchgoers could be close to the altar with a dome or cupola overhead, allowing light to illuminate the church below. A Baroque-style church also features, among others, the quadrature with lavish paintings of saints and angels on the ceiling, connected by architectural details with the balustrades and consoles, giving an impression of real figures as if one looks up to heaven, according to Wikipedia page “Baroque”.25

12Liliw”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliw.

13The CALABARZON region, Southern Tagalog Mainland, or Region IV-A, is an administrative region in the Philippines, named after the acronym of its five provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

14“Mount Banahaw”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Banahaw.

15Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals such as cattle, antelope, deer, goats, kangaroo, sheep and yaks26, which acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through microbial actions.27

16Pan de sal is the popular and common bread served for breakfast in the Philippines made of flour, eggs, salt, sugar, and yeast. It literally means “salt bread” in Spanish.

17“Kesong puti”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kesong_puti.

18“Milkfish”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milkfish.

19www.aboutfilipinofood.com

20“Ghirradelli Chocolate Company”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghirardelli_Chocolate_Company.

21”Affogato”,accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/affogato.

22www.dti.gov.ph

23“Municipalities of the Philippines”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines.

24“Marikina”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marikina.

25“Baroque”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baroque.

26“Rennet”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennet.

27“Ruminant”, accessed June 1, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruminant.