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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).

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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.

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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!

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

 

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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!

 

 

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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!

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

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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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).

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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!

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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.

 

 

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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!

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to El Nido and your Tour C experience. 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.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

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!

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*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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PALITON BEACH: THE LITTLE BORACAY OF SIQUIJOR

Paliton Beach is a small beach in the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines.

Paliton_Beach-wikiChecawey, 18 February 2012, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paliton_Beach,_Siquijor,_Philippines.JPG

It is located on the northeastern part of the municipality5 of San Juan, on the western part of Siquijor2.

 

Here is my experience in Paliton Beach:

We rented an air-conditioned van owned by Yane’s Adventures Van Services6 after we arrived at the port of Siquijor. We were lucky to have a very friendly, cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.2-parking-Jimmy-cropped

This beach was my group’s first major stop during our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour, right after the “I love Siquijor” sign where we just had a couple of pictures taken.Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

Perhaps, you can schedule this beach as your last stop for the spectacular sunset. However, this beach was part of our morning schedule in our day trip, so we could not do so. Maybe, the next time we visit Siquijor and stay overnight, we will schedule this place in time for sunset.

From the main highway, our van entered a narrow unpaved, cleared pathway and Jimmy still drove for a little over a kilometer before we reached this beach. There is no entrance fee but the parking fee is PHP10; swimming is free in this beach.

Jimmy, our driver, parked the van under a coconut tree for shade. There were several small stalls nearby selling refreshments and snack items. It was still early in the morning so we did not buy anything from these stalls. I must say that the area near the beach is not developed nor organized.

The easement was lined with coconut trees. The narrow beach has sand that is white and powdery so this place is called “The Little Boracay7 of Siquijor”. It also has clear and calm blue waters. The scenery was very peaceful that March 2019 morning, perhaps because there were very few tourists when we were there.

We decided not to swim this early in the morning and will just do so after lunch in the last two stops.

People sunbathe, swim and snorkel in this beach but I was told that the best time would be at high tide and during summer months. It gets crowded with locals during sunsets and weekends.

A marine sanctuary is somewhere near and there is a charge to swim or snorkel there. I was told it had a coral garden and small fish,and covers more than 6 hectares.

We just looked around and took pictures. We did not swim here and only briefly stayed on this beach, mostly admiring its fine white sand and coconut tree-lined shore and clear water.1-Paliton Beach - right

We did not get to explore this destination since we only set a day tour of the whole island-province of Siquijor.

I was attracted to a particular coconut tree that was leaning very low towards the water. I was told that you can take a picture on this tree and just give a donation, but no one from my group wanted to do so.1-Paliton Beach - left

We noticed that there were a couple of bancas2 docked on the shore.

We contented ourselves taking pictures and videos of this “Little Boracay3 of Siquijor” because of its fine, white sand and calm blue waters. 

We only stayed about 15 minutes on this beach. We had to proceed to the other sites to see more of this island province1.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province1.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORTAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORSERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR, and Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to this beautiful beach. 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.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region8. 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. In the Philippines, a province is divided into cities9 and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays10, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”11 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality5 which is also called Siquijor. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, and mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.12

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions8: Central Visayas4, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.13 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region8 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units14 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”15

5A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)14, 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 barangays10, 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”16

6Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade Jumawan Pestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

7Boracay is a small island at the northwestern tip of Panay Island, in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It is administered by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the provincial government of Aklan. It is known the world over for its fine white sand beaches, and was repeatedly chosen and awarded as one of the top destinations in the world for relaxation. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Boracay.”17

8A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces1, composed of cities and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays10. The 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”15 Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

9A city is the local government unit14 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city’s legislative body – the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”18 Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

10A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”19

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

12“Siquijor,”accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

13“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

14A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities20; component cities21 and municipalities5; and, barangays10, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.22

15“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

16“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

17“Boracay,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boracay

18“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

19“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

20An independent city is a type of city9 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province1 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 region8 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city23 or independent component city24. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”18

21A component city is a type of city9 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city23. It is under the jurisdiction of a province1. 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”18

22“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

23A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city9 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”.18 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

24An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city9 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province1 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 city23. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”18

GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR

Hapitanan is a welcome stop between destinations in Siquijor1. It is located along the Circumferential Road, in the town of Lazi2, in the island province3 of Siquijor, in the Central Visayas4 Region (Region VII)5 of the Philippines.

1-map-Siquijor-HAPITANAN

I was told by one of its staff that hapitanan means “stop-over place”.

This place was my group’s third stop (out of six) during our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour. We rented an air-conditioned van owned by Yane’s Adventures Van Services6 after we arrived at the port of Siquijor1. Jimmy Bueno was our very friendly, accommodating and cheerful van driver.

2-parking-Jimmy-cropped

There is a cleared area beside this establishment for parking, regardless of your vehicle.

You can briefly stop here for something refreshing, something sweet, something quick and tasty, something silog7, or something to wake you up. So, for those who did not take their breakfast, or are hungry at this stop, indulge! Because we were still full, we did not order anything from the menu. 1-menu-Hapitanan-labelled

1-right-Hapitanan

You can use the monoblock tables and chairs to the right of the counter.

1-middle-Hapitanan

This is what you see as you enter Hapitanan. I suggest you give your order and while waiting, you can do other things. Read on!

But wait, there’s more! You can also do the following:

  1. Take the Broomstick Challenge! Just give a donation, ask one of your companions or a staff member there to take your picture while you position yourself like you are flying with a broom, and jump as high as you can, with both feet folded. You can have several shots taken, with different poses, along with the broom.

1-Broomstick ChallengeDo not waste any time! Take the Broomstick Challenge, just go up these steps, to your right, upon entry. Do not forget to give your donation.

FB-Hapitanan Grill and RestobarHave a companion or someone from Hapitanan take your picture from below, and voila, achieve! You have passed the Broomstick Challenge! (Picture taken from the Facebook account of Hapitanan Grill and Restobar)

2. Walk a bit further outside the store and you can have a beautiful view of the town              of Lazi2.1-view

3. Have your picture taken on the wooden swing and tire swing too, with the beautiful          view as background.1-swings

4. Buy fresh buko8, sip using a metal straw (yes, they do not use plastic straws here) and you can even buy a set for yourself and/or for someone else as a gift. This is exactly what my group did; we also ordered a buko each. The buko I tasted was so sweet and refreshing! After you have sipped all the water, you can request the buko to be halved and you can then scoop the soft meat. The person-in-charge was so creative chopping a small scoop-shaped piece from the shell so you will not need a spoon to do so.

1-bukoRefreshing fresh buko sold to the left, upon your entry. I think it costs PHP50 per buko.

1-buko-2Kudos, Hapitanan, for the metal straws but please be sure to soap, use a long, narrow bristled brush, and wash them well after every use. Thank you very much.

5. Look around at the other items for sale, like Siquijor souvenirs (e.g., wooden carved refrigerator magnets, herbal wine, key chains, voodoo dolls, love potions), and snacks (for you to bring to your next destinations).

1-goods sold

We only stayed less than 30 minutes in Hapitanan so we can proceed to the other sites of Siquijor.

At this point, I must say that all the people in Hapitanan were very hospitable, cheerful and made our brief stop very memorable.

For more pictures and information, see its Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/pg/wherehappytanan/photos/?ref=page_internal

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are personal, based on my personal experience in this province3.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORTAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR and Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS.

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your flying broom experience and brief stay in Hapitanan. 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.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Siquijor is an island province3 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas Region (Region VII)5. Its capital is the municipality9 which is also called Siquijor. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, and mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.10

2Lazi, formerly called Tigbawan, is a coastal municipality9 in the island province3 of Siquijor1, with 18 barangays11.It is located in the southeastern side of the island, between the towns of San Juan in the west and Maria from the east. It is known for its Roman Catholic church called San Isidro Labrador Parish Church (a National Historical Landmark12, a National Cultural Treasure13, and included in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites14 under the Baroque15 Churches of the Philippines-Extension), the Convent in front of it (one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era16), the 400-yo enchanting balete tree with fish spa, and Cambugahay Falls (where you can accept the Tarzan Swing-Dive Challenge). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lazi, Siquijor”17and “Siquijor”10. See related posts: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR and TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR! Visit this site for more information: http://www.phtourguide.com/municipality-of-lazi-in-siquijor/

3A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region18. 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 cities19 and municipalities9 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”20 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

4Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas26, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces3, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.21 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

5Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region18 located in the island group of Visayas4, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units22 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor1. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”23

6Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade JumawanPestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

7Silog is the abbreviated fusion of the Tagalog words sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg, usually, sunny-side up). It is used as a suffix in combination with a prefix pertaining to the main dish for a set breakfast meal. An example is tosilog: to (short for tocino24) + silog = fried rice with tocino (sliced, cured, fried pork) and fried egg.

8Buko is the Filipino term for young coconut, sold in the Philippines especially in the countryside. The peddler can usually open the coconut for you, and even skillfully carve off the whole meat for you, with the water intact inside. Alternatively, it could be cut and enjoyed the way I described above.

9A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)22, 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 barangays11, 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”25

10“Siquijor,”accessed March 2, 2019, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

11A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”26

12A National Historical Landmark of the Philippines is a place or object that is associated with an event, achievement, characteristics or modification that presents a turning point or stage in history. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Category: National Historical Landmarks of the Philippines”.27

13A 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 Arts28 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines29, National Library of the Philippines30, and National Archives of the Philippines31. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 200932 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines33 by the Philippine government. 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”.34 The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Treasure”.35

14A UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) is a unique landmark, or geographically and historically identifiable place, which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, physical or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. The list is maintained by the International World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 state parties which are elected by the General Assembly. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “World Heritage Site”.36

15Baroque architecture began in Rome, Italy, in the late 16th century, which conveys grandeur and drama, most often used in palaces and churches. It includes curving forms, oval shapes, and a combination of concave and convex forms that make walls seem to undulate, or appear wavy, with a strong sense of motion. It groups things together like columns and decorative flourishes on building surfaces. Architectural elements are repeated across a surface. It uses distortion to make figures elongated, broken, or manipulated in some manner to make them stand out. Buildings have columns, sometimes topped with capitals and large volutes, scroll, or spiral forms. Sculptural wall elements will often project from the surface which is full of forms to increase the interplay of light and shadow across them. Inside, Baroque structures will often have ceilings painted in bright colors, made to fool one’s eye into believing one is looking at the sky. Buildings also have very rich surface treatments, including interiors with stucco37, various colored marbles, and gold gilt or thin sheets of gold applied to surfaces. Most Baroque churches have vaulted ceilings, supported by a series of interconnected arches.38

16The Spanish colonial era was the historical part of the Philippines from 1521, when European explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the country, and ended in 1898, with the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution39. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898”.40

17“Lazi, Siquijor,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazi,_Suquijor

18A region is the first-order administrative division in the 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 municipalities9 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11. The 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”23 Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

19A city is the local government unit22 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city’s legislative body – the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”41 Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

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

21“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

22A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces3 and independent cities42; component cities43 and municipalities9; and, barangays11, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.44

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

24Tocino is the Philippine variant of the Spanish bacon. A popular fried breakfast treat made from thinly sliced strips of pork belly, it is traditionally marinated using saltpeter, salt and sugar, although pineapple juice may be added for a slightly tart flavor. It can now be prepared by mixing the meat with anise wine, annatto, water, sugar and salt. The meat strips are stacked in a container, then covered and kept refrigerated for about three days to cure. Prior to serving, it is fried in oil until the fat is rendered. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tocino.”45

25“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

26“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

27“Category: National Historical Landmarks of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:_National_Historical_Landmarks_of_the_Philippines

28The 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 Philippines31, National Historical Commission of the Philippines46, National Library of the Philippines30, National Museum of the Philippines29, Commission on the Filipino Language, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Commission for Culture and Arts”.47 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph

29The 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 Arts28. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.48 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

30The National Library of the Philippines is 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.49 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph

31The National Archives of the Philippines is 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Archives of the Philippines”.50 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph

32The 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”.51

33The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts28, National Historical Commission of the Philippines46, and the National Museum of the Philippines29 through the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), the official cultural property list of the country. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cultural properties of the Philippines”.52

 34www.primer.com.ph

35“National Cultural Treasure,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cultural_Treasure

36“World Heritage Site,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heritage_Site

37Stucco refers to the cement-based plaster used for coating wall surfaces or molding into architectural decorations. It hardens into a highly durable material that requires little maintenance and can be used to obtain different textures and finishes.53

38https://study.com/academy/lesson/italian-baroque-architecture-characteristics-examples.html

39The Philippine Revolution is the revolution that started on August 23, 1896 when the Spaniards discovered the Katipunan54, and ended in August 13, 1898. The Filipinos were victorious and resulted in the expulsion of the Spanish colonial government, as well as the: signing of the Pack of Biak-na-Bato55 in 1897; resumption of hostilities during the Spanish-American War56 in 1898; the establishment of the First Philippine Republic57; and, the outbreak of the Philippine-American War58 in 1899. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine Revolution”.59

40“History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Philippines

41“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

42An independent city is a type of city19 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 region18 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city60 or independent component city61. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”41

43A component city is a type of city19 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city60. 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 municipality9. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”41

44“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

45“Tocino,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocino

46The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is a government agency of the Philippines which promotes Philippine history and cultural heritage through research, dissemination, conservation, sites management, and heraldry works, thereby inculcating awareness and appreciation of the noble deeds and ideals of our heroes and other illustrious Filipinos, instilling pride in the Filipino people, and rekindling the Filipino spirit through the lessons of history. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Historical Commission of the Philippines”.62

47“National Commission for Culture and Arts,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Commission_for_Culture_and_Arts

48“National Museum of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_the_Philippines

49“National Library of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Library_of_the_Philippines

50“National Archives of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Archives_of_the_Philippines

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

52“Cultural properties of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_properties_of_the_Philippines

53https://www.thebalancesmb.com/choose-right-stucco-mix-844655

54The Katipunan was the Philippine revolutionary secret society founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892 that aimed to gain independence from Spain through a revolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Katipunan”.63

55The Pact of Biak-na-Bato was a truce between Spanish colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera and the revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo to end the Philippine Revolution39, signed on December 14, 1897, in the house of Pablo Tecson (a Philippine revolutionary captain who served as Brigadier General under General Gregorio del Pilar) in San Miguel, Bulacan. Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries were given amnesty and monetary indemnity by the Spanish government, in return for which the revolutionary government would go on exile in Hong Kong. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Pact of Biak-na- Bato”.64

56The Spanish-American War was fought between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor, in Cuba, leading to US intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The Americans won and it resulted in the Treaty of Paris65, signed on December 10, 1898, and came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged, with Spain relinquishing all claims of sovereignty over and title to Cuba, and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the US. The cession of the Philippines involved a compensation of $20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from Wikipedia pages “Spanish-American War”66 and “Treaty of Paris of 1898”67.

57The First Philippine Republic, or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines, established after the Philippine Revolution39 against the Spanish Empire (1896-1897) and the Spanish-American War56, and was the first constitutional republic in Asia, with a comprehensive constitution duly approved by a partially elected congress. It was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan, and endured until the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, in Palanan, Isabela. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “First Philippine Republic”.68

58The Philippine-American War, the Philippine War, the Philippine Insurrection, or the Tagalog Insurgency, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic57 and the USA that lasted from February 4, 1899 to July 2, 1902. The conflict arose when the former objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris65, under which the US took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish-American War56. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Philippine-American War”.69

59“Philippine Revolution,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Revolution

60A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city19 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”.41 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines. See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

61An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city19 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province3 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 city60. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”41

62“National Historical Commission of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Historical_Commission_of_the_Philippines

63“Katipunan,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katipunan

64“Pact of Biak-na-Bato,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Biak-na-Bato

65The Treaty of Paris was an agreement, signed on December 10, 1898, that involved Spain relinquishing nearly all the remaining Spanish Empire, especially Cuba, and ceding Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the US, thus ending the Spanish-American War56. It came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. The cessation of the Philippines involved a payment of US$20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Treaty of Paris (1898)”.67

66“Spanish-American War,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish-American_War

67“Treaty of Paris,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of-Paris.

 68“First Philippine Republic,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Philippine_Republic

69 “Philippine-American War,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War

Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS

Siquijor is an island province1 located in the Central Visayas2 Region (Region VII)of the Philippines. It has 6 municipalities4: Enrique Villanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, San Juan, and Siquijor (the capital, and yes, the same name as the province).

It is the smallest province1 among the provinces of the said region5, and the third smallest province in the Philippines, next to Camiguin6 and Batanes7 (the smallest).

THE LEGEND OF SIQUIJOR

Legend tells of a King (or Datu) Kihod as the source of the island’s name. Before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, this island was the home to the Kingdom of Katugasan, from the word tugas (the local name for the Molave trees that covered the hills found all over the island). The early Siquijodnons used tugas to make posts for their homes because of its strength and durability. It was also used for making wooden plows to cultivate the rocky soil for farming.

Archeological proof – in the form of pottery and old tools excavated in the island’s caves, as well as Chinese ceramics and other objects – substantiate the supposition that, prior to the discovery of using tugas as housing material, the island’s natives lived in caves, and, that they were already in contact with Chinese traders during the pre-colonial era. The art of traditional healing and witchcraft belief systems also developed during this time.

This island province1 is indeed mysterious! First is the origin of the island. They say the island surfaced from the depths of the ocean during a great storm which once engulfed the region5. This storm was followed by a strong earthquake that shook the earth and sea. Amidst the lightning and thunder, an island rose from the depths of the ocean and became Siquijor island. In fact, how can you explain that during modern times, farmers have unraveled giant shell casings under farm plots?

Siquijor is commonly associated with mystic traditions. It is widely believed since the olden times that the natives of this island were men of mystery and magic who can conjure and control spirits. There are folk healers whose practices include spiritualism, along with the preparation of brews and herbal concoctions for love and health problems. See traditions and beliefs below.

BRIEF HISTORY

This island was discovered by Esteban Rodriguez and Juan Aguirre of the Legaspi8 expedition in 1565.

During the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, the Spaniards called Siquijor Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire) because the island gave off an eerie glow at night from the great swarms of fireflies that lived in the branches of the abundant tugas or molave trees.

Siquijor was founded in 1783 and was under the province1 of Bohol9, part of Negros Oriental10 (1854-1892), then a sub-province of Negros Oriental (1901), and eventually, an independent province on September 17, 1971 by RA 6396, with the municipality4 of Larena as the capital. A year after, the capital was transferred to Siquijor town, by Proclamation 1975.

The municipality4 of Siquijor was the first parish, established in 1783, under the administration of secular clergymen. In the years that followed until 1877, the parishes of Canoan (Larena), Tigbawan (Lazi), Makapilay (San Juan), and Cangmenlac (Maria) were founded by Augustinian and Recollect11 priests.

TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS

The Siquijodnons are predominantly Roman Catholic yet their island province1 is still known as the Mystical Island. Healers and herbalists all over the country annually come together in this island during Holy Week to perform healing, and to participate in the preparation of concoctions made from a variety of tree barks, roots, herbs, insects and other ingredients. These are gathered from the forests, sea, caves, and cemeteries during the 7 Fridays of the Lenten season. The resulting brews are deemed to have healing powers.

The Festival starts on Holy Wednesday with the gathering of the final ingredients. This day is known as pang-alap. Activity on Maundy Thursday is called pang-adlip, or the chopping of different tree barks and other ingredients, said to be more than 200 kinds. On Good Friday, healers and herbalists concoct amalgams for black magic or occult practices. This is part of the villages’ secret knowledge, and no outsiders allowed to observe.

In contrast, the Black Saturday activity is open to spectators. This time, the herbalists, healers, and spectators gather together in a circle, taking turns to produce mixtures that also include herbal potions. When the brews are ready, they are bottled and sold. This village tradition started before the 1930s, according to the people of San Antonio and Cantabon, and has been handed down from the predecessors of some famous healers.

Siquijor partly owes its famous mystique to its “traditional doctors” and their variety of folk healing and divination rituals, with the bolo-bolo as the most popular form. Bolo-bolo is performed with the use of a glass of water, a (magical black) stone, and a (bamboo) straw.

bolo-bolo session begins with the healer feeling the pulse of the patient to determine if the ailment is brought about by evil spirits or by natural causes. Some healers treat only patients whose illnesses are deemed due to supernatural elements, while others treat illnesses of both origins.

Notwithstanding popular belief in the curative powers of the bolo-bolo and other folk healing practices in Siquijor, these same practices have fanned so much speculation to the extent of becoming, in fact, the subject of several scholarly studies. Whether you believe it or not, one thing is certain, it has become one of the Siquijor’s major attractions.

The information was obtained from https://pia.gov.ph/provinces/siquijor and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

Please read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORTAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR and GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region5. 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. In the Philippines, a province is divided into cities12 and municipalities4 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays13, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”14 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas3, Eastern Visayas15 and Western Visayas16. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol9, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.17 See the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines: Luzon18 and Mindanao19.

3Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Visayas2, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units20 (LGUs): Bohol9, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental10, and Siquijor. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

4A municipality, or town, is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)20, 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 barangays13. A town 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”22

5A region in the Philippines is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces1, composed of cities12 and municipalities5 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays13. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

6Camiguin is the second smallest province1 in the Philippines, both in population and land area, after Batanes7. This island province is located in the Bohol Sea, geographically part of the Northern Mindanao Region (Region X)23, and formerly part of Misamis Oriental province. The provincial capital is Mambajao, also the province’s largest municipality4 in area and population. It is famous for its sweet lanzones (see related post – Savoring Pinoy Delights: THE LUSCIOUS LANZONES) to which the annual week-long Lanzones Festival is dedicated, held every third week of October. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Camiguin.”24

7Batanes is the smallest province1 in the Philippines, both in population and land area. This archipelago25 province is the northernmost province of the country, and is located in the Cagayan Valley Region (Region II)26. Its capital is Basco, located in the island of Batan. The entire province is listed in the UNESCO tentative list for inscription in the list of World Heritage Sites27 (see a related post – Seniors, Now You Know: WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?). Seven intangible heritage elements of the Ivatan28 are undergoing a process to be included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists29 between 2018-2025. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Batanes.”30

8Miguel Lopez de Legazpi (1502-August 20, 1572), also known as El Adelantado and El Viejo (The Elder), was a Spanish navigator and governor who established the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies when his expedition crossed the Pacific Ocean, from the Viceroyalty of New Spain, in modern-day Mexico, and arrived in Cebu, in the Philippines. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Miguel Lopez de Ligazpi.”31

9Bohol is a province1 located in the Central Visayas Region (Region 7)3, consisting of the island itself and 75 minor surrounding islands, and considered the 10th largest island in the Philippines. Its capital is Tagbilaran. To the west of Bohol is Cebu, to the northeast is the island of Leyte, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao19. It is known for the Chocolate Hills, its beaches and resorts, and the smallest primate in the world called tarsier (see a related post – Short and Simple: THE PHILIPPINE TARSIER). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Bohol.”32

10Negros Oriental, Oriental Negros or Eastern Negros, is a province1 located in the Central Visayas Region (Region 7)3 of the Philippines. It occupies the southeastern half of the large island of Negros, and borders Negros Occidental, which comprises the northwestern half. It also includes Apo Island, a popular dive site for both local and foreign tourists. Its capital is Dumaguete City, the seat of government and the most populous city of the province. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Negros Oriental”.33

11The Recollects were a French reform branch of the Order of Friars Minor created at the end of the 15th century, commonly known today as the Franciscans, best known for their presence as missionaries in various parts of the world. They wore gray habits and pointed hoods, took vows of poverty, and devoted their lives to prayer, penance, and spiritual reflection. In 1897, Pope Leo XIII officially dissolved the Recollects order and integrated it as a part of the Franciscan order, officially changing their name to Friars Minor. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Recollects”.34

12A city in the Philippines is the local government unit20 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city’s legislative body – the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council). 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.”35See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

13A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”36

14“Provinces of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_the_Philippines

15Eastern Visayas Region (Region VIII) is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Visayas2, with Tacloban as its regional center. It has 8 local government units20 (LGUs): Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar, Ormoc, Samar, Southern Leyte, and Tacloban. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

16The Western Visayas Region (Region VI) is a Philippine region located in the island group of Visayas2, with Iloilo City as its regional center. It has 8 local government units20 (LGUs): Aklan, Antique, Bacolod, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Iloilo City, and Negros Occidental. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

17“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

18Luzon 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 regions5: Bicol, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Ilocos, MIMAROPA and the National Capital Region. The 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Visayas2 and Mindanao19. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Luzon.”37

19Mindanao 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 the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). It is composed of 22 provinces1 and 33 cities12 (27 provinces and 33 cities, if associated islands are included). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Mindanao.”38 See the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines: Luzon18 and Visayas2.

20A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities39; component cities40 and municipalities4; and, barangays13, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”41

21“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

22 “Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

23Northern Mindanao Region (Region X) is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Mindanao19, with Cagayan de Oro as its regional center. It has 7 local government units20 (LGUs): Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Iligan, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental and Misamis Oriental. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

24“Camiguin,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camiguin

25An archipelago, island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collection of islands, or sometimes, a sea containing a small number of scattered islands, according to the Wikipedia page “Archipelago”.42

26The Cagayan Valley Region (Region II) is a Philippine region5 located in the island group of Luzon18, with Tuguegarao as its regional center. It has 6 local government units20 (LGUs): Batanes7, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”21

27 A World Heritage Site (WHS) is a unique landmark, or geographically and historically identifiable place, which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, physical or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO mandates a nomination process. It starts when a country lists its significant cultural and natural sites to form a Tentative List. It can then place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File which is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union. These bodies then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. The Committee meets once a year to determine whether or not to inscribe each nominated property on the World Heritage List, and sometimes defers or refers the decision to request more information from the country that nominated the site. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of World Heritage Sites in the Philippines”.43 See a related post: Seniors, Now You Know: WHAT ARE THE WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

28The Ivatans are a Filipino ethnolinguistic group predominant in the islands of Batanes7 of the Philippines, known for their stone houses of coral and limestone, designed to protect against the hostile climate in Batanes7. Their origins remain untraced among scholars, but they are known to be an Austronesian group, i.e., a group of various peoples in Southeast Asia, Oceania and east Africa that speak Austronesian languages. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Ivatan people”.44

29The UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists consists of important intangible cultural heritages45 worldwide, established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to ensure better protection for these treasures and the awareness of their significance. The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists”.46

30“Batanes,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batanes

31“Miguel Lopez de Legazpi,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Lopez_de_Legazpi

32“Bohol,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohol

33“Negros Oriental,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negros_Oriental

34“Recollects,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recollects

35“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

36“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

37“Luzon,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luzon

38“Mindanao,” accessed January 29, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindanao

39An independent city is a type of city12 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province1 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 region5 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city47 or independent component city48. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”35

40A component city is a type of city12 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city47. It is under the jurisdiction of a province1. 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 municipality4. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”35

41“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

42“Archipelago,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archipelago

43“List of World Heritage Sites in the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_Heritage_Sites_in_the_Philippines

44“Ivatan people,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivatan_people

45An international cultural heritage (ICH) is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill, as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts, and cultural spaces that are considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage. The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was drafted in 2003 for its protection and promotion. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Intangible cultural heritage”.49

46“UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO_Intangible_Cultural_Heritage_Lists

47A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city12 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”.35 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?).

48An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city12 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province1 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 city47. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”35

49“Intangible Cultural Heritage,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intangible_Cultural_Heritage

ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR

The famous and majestic 400-year old Balete tree is located in Barangay1 Campalanas, in the town of Lazi, in the island province2 of Siquijor3, in the Central Visayas Region (Region VII)of the Philippines. It is reputed to be the oldest and biggest tree in this province.

Some people believe that balete5 trees are mystical, possess spiritual powers, and are dwelling places for supernatural beings called “anito”6, like diwata7, kapre8 or tikbalang9. Local folklore reveals that sorcery rituals are performed inside the chambers formed by these sacred trees. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balete tree”.10

For what it is worth, just in case you believe in such beings and feel uneasy about a particular new place you visit, elders used to tell me not to point my fingers or hands, especially towards old houses for fear that beings there might play tricks on me and/or join me when I leave the place. If by chance you feel odd thereafter, and you realize that you are going in circles and cannot leave a particular town or place, just remove your shirt/blouse and wear it, inside out. For severe cases, sprinkle salt on your vehicle and do not go straight to your house. Make “pagpag”11 by stopping anywhere, like a store, to leave such beings behind.

I recall my childhood days in New Manila, Quezon City, where we resided on a major street perpendicular to, and near, the famous street called Balete Drive, named after a huge balete5 tree that used to stand in the middle of that street. Since the 1950s, the tale of a white lady who hailed taxis at night further added to the haunted image of this street and was the subject of so many hair-raising stories. Well, come to think of it, I spent 30 years of my life there, and did not see any kind of “anito”6 or white lady.

My group did not go to Siquijor4 to experience the so-called sorcery side. We wanted to discover and appreciate its natural beauty all in one day, so all my posts regarding this island are about nature-tripping (its flora, beaches, etc.), a cultural stop (the Lazi Church), and the cheerful and hospitable Siquijodnons.

Now for my experience at Siquijor’s old enchanted balete5 tree and fish spa:

My group left Dumaguete City12 port early and took a ferry ride aboard Ocean Jet13, to the town of Larena, where the Siquijor3 port is located. We arrived after an hour, disembarked, walked to the main gate of the port, and negotiated the rental of an air-conditioned van for a day trip called Siquijor Coastal Tour for PHP3,500.

We chose Yane’s Adventures Van Services14 and were lucky to get a very cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.

Alternatively, you can hire a multicab15, tricycle16, or motorcycle to do the same service as a “special trip”, depending on your budget and the number of people with you. You can also opt to ride along with the locals, and pay the regular rate, but I guess this might be difficult at some stops and might create delays. Our group consisted of seven people, including a 7-year-old kid, so it was more convenient to hire a van.

Our driver, Jimmy, handed us a laminated map of Siquijor, showing all the possible destinations to be squeezed into our day tour. We opted to see only 6 major destinations of the island province, and this 400-year old tree cum fish spa was our second stop.

The property where this imposing, majestic tree is located is clean and well-maintained. It also has an open parking area fronting the main street of Siquijor3. Our driver parked in front of the souvenir shop.

1-entrance

2-parking-JimmyJimmy Bueno, our cheerful and expert driver in Siquijor (Yane’s Adventures Van Services)

3-facadeA restaurant is located at the 2nd level and assorted items are for sale at the ground floor

The shop offered a wide variety of pasalubong17 and goodies, from snacks and cold refreshments to ease your immediate hunger and thirst, to assorted local products like Siquijor3 t-shirts, key chains, bracelets, love potions, miniature voodoo dolls, mystic herbal wine, as well as other products like native bags and delicacies from nearby places.1-store-collage-ok

5-siquior-goodies-collage-okTake your pick – Love Potions, Voodoo Dolls, and Mystic Herbal Wine

To the right of the shop is the table with local government representatives, where the entrance fee of PHP10 is collected.6-entrance-fee-ok

When one walks further on, the huge quadricentennial tree can be accessed to the left; the nearby man-made fish spa area stands to its right.7-tree-fish-spa

It is quite surprising that this enchanting and enthralling tree did not look scary at all to me. People take turns taking pictures under this tree, and we patiently waited for our turn to do so. After seeing your solo or group pictures taken under this tree, you will realize how small you are in comparison. But you feel one with it. It is definitely not creepy at all!

I took several shots of the different parts of this captivating tree and, in my crazy and imaginative mind, I wondered what this old tree could possibly tell me, if it could talk. I just felt contented holding the tree’s trunk and other parts I could reach. I thanked it for giving me fresh oxygen, the same way it has given to the people of the barangayfor centuries. I thanked it too for allowing the spring water to flow beneath it – the water being essential to the relaxation tourists felt during their fish spa experience.8-tree collage

9-tree-collage-ok

Dearest city-dwelling and stressed Senior Citizens (SCs), you do not have to hug a tree. Trees are good for our health, and you just have to be near them to breathe the pure and fresh oxygen they emit and be energized with their presence as well.

Can you recall any of the following people-tree connections: Buddha’s enlightenment under a fig tree; Plato teaching his students under an olive tree; and, Isaac Newton forming his theory of gravity after observing an apple fall to the ground?

Well, what are you waiting for? Go to Siquijor3 and see this gigantic and enchanting balete5 tree!

Admittedly, I spent a longer time in the souvenir shop, so I was late in reaching the fish spa area. By that time, my companions were comfortably seated on the edge of the pool, enjoying the fish spa.

It was interesting to observe that a spring emanates from the base, or roots, of the baletetree, and flows into a cemented man-made pool, turned into a fish spa area, where willing tourists can remove their footwear and soak their feet in the flowing spring water, and where eager (and I guess, hungry) fish of different sizes take turns nibbling on their dead skin.

The design of the cemented pool was convenient for people to converse and sit side-by-side along the edges, with Dr. Fish nibbling on their feet. The pool is well-maintained, so you need not worry where to sit or place your footwear.

Is the practice of fish spa sanitary? I researched a bit worldwide, and found out that some countries ban them while others do not. The local Siquijor3 government is maintaining the area, and nothing happened to my companions,so I guess it is safe. Perhaps, this could be a future topic for my “Say, Say, Say” section in this blog.

I am no scientist, but I surmise that the small Dr. Fish are called garra rufa18 or nibble fish. These fish have no teeth, so they just suck the dead skin from submerged feet. However, I was surprised to see large tilapias19attacking the feet of my companions and decided not to soak my feet in the water. Why? Because tilapias have teeth. But I guess it was fine since they only felt a very gentle scratching on their feet. Talk about natural feet exfoliation!

10-fish-spa-tilapia

I was content taking pictures and videos of my companions’ dangling legs and soaked feet during their fish “pedicure”. My companions were so relaxed, and I zoomed in on the numerous fish nibbling on their feet to remove dead skin.

The large number of people relaxing and enjoying the fish spa only proves that the superstition about balete5 trees is not applicable in this case. And you know what? This is good for the tourism industry of this beautiful island province2.

The location of the enchanting balete5 tree and fish spa along the main street did not diminish the peace and relaxation of our stay.

By the way, there is a small stall that sells fresh coconut at the rightmost part of the fish spa area. A coconut was priced at PHP30. That would have been so refreshing indeed, but we had a hearty breakfast and still felt full!12-buko for sale

We only stayed for barely an hour – shopping for souvenirs and t-shirts, taking pictures with the old balete5 tree, and my companions soaking their feet for a fish spa. Besides, the place was getting a bit crowded, it was almost late morning, and we wanted to explore the other destinations of this island.

13-comfort roomThere is a a comfort room for males and females

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are personal and based on my experience in this province2.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!GET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORNow You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS, and SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR

Writing this post reminded me of Thich Nhat Hanh (October 11, 1926, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist), reflecting on a leaf:

“One autumn day, I was in a park, absorbed in the contemplation of a very small but beautiful leaf, in the shape of a heart. Its color was almost red, and it was barely hanging on the branch, nearly ready to fall down. I spent a long time with it, and I asked the leaf a lot of questions …

I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, ‘No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely alive. I worked hard and to help nourish the tree, and now much of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue to nourish the tree. So I do not worry at all.’ As I leave this branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell her, ‘I will see you again very soon.’

… That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf because it is not afraid – it knew nothing can be born and nothing can die.”20, 21

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to this enchanting balete tree and fish spa. 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.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”22

2A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of aregion23. 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.  In the Philippines, a province is divided into cities24 andmunicipalities25 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays1, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”26  Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

3Siquijor is an island province2 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas27 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality25 which is also called Siquijor. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao28. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, and mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”29

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region23 located in the island group of Visayas27, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units30 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor3. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”31

5A balete tree, balite or baliti, refers to several species of the trees endemic to the Philippines, from the genus Ficus (with large, thick, or stiff leaves), of the family Moraceae. Members of this genus are characterized by a white to yellowish latex, a unique inflorescence, and a distinctive pollination system, i.e., involving a specific wasp species (i.e., fig wasp of the family Agaonidaeas pollinators). Its aerial roots, which reach the soil, grow into it and thicken into additional trunks. The growing roots encircle the host tree and appear to strangle the latter. The host tree eventually dies and rots, leaving a hollow cylinder of roots, which have now become the trunks of the balete tree.32

6An anito,or anitu, refers to ancestor spirits (veneration of guardian spirits of a family or ancestors), nature spirits (deities in charge of the forces of nature), and deities in the indigenous animistic religions of pre-colonial Philippines (900-1521), used in Luzon33. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Anito.”34

7diwata, in Philippine mythology, is the term for a deity or spirit, traditionally used in the Visayas24, Palawan, and Mindanao28 regions, the counterpart of the anito6, the term used in Luzon33. These spirits reside in large trees, such as acacia or balete5, and were understood as the guardian spirits of nature, casting blessings or curses upon those who brought benefits or harm to the forests and mountains. In modern times, the term “diwata” is sometimes loosely used to refer to a generic type of beings, like elves or fairies. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Diwata.”35

8kapre is a Philippine mythical creature that could be characterized as a 7-9 feet, black, hairy, muscular tree male giant or demon, wearing a bahag (loin cloth) and smoking a cigar or tobacco pipe. It is said to dwell in big trees like acacias, balete5, bamboo, and mango, usually seen sitting under those trees, with a strong smell that attracts human attention. It often wears a belt which makes it invisible to humans. It is believed that the kapre holds a magical white stone, a little smaller in size than a quail egg, and should any person happen to obtain this stone, the kapre could grant wishes. It is believed to be nocturnal and omnivorous but not necessarily evil. Kapres may be seen with big, red, glaring eyes at night, and may turn vengeful when the tree that it inhabits is cut down. A kapre can make contact with people to offer friendship, or if it is attracted to a woman. It can also play pranks on people, frequently making travelers become disoriented and lose their way in the mountains or woods, or even in their own familiar surroundings. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Kapre.”36

9tikbalang, or werehorse, is a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in dark, sparsely populated, foliage-overgrown areas in forests and mountains of the Philippines. It is a tall, bony humanoid creature with the head and hooves of a horse, and disproportionately long limbs, to the point that its knees reach above its head when it squats down.  It can be a ghost which assumes a variety of forms. In some versions, it is a transformation of an aborted fetus, sent to earth from limbo, or it can transform itself into human form or turn invisible for humans. It scares travelers, leads them astray, and plays tricks on them, such as making them return to an arbitrary path no matter how far they go or turn, counteracted by wearing one’s shirt inside out, or asking permission out loud to pass by or, not to produce too much noise while in the woods, in order not to offend, or disturb it. It is usually found standing at the foot of large trees, beneath bridges, in bamboo clumps or banana groves, and atop balete5 trees, looking around for anyone who dares to bestow malignancy on its kingdom’s territory. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tikbalang.”37

10 “Balete tree,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balete_tree

11Pagpag is a Filipino term with different meanings. For this post, it refers to the superstitious practice of never going directly to one’s home after attending a wake or funeral, to avoid the possibility of the soul of the deceased tagging home. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Pagpag.”38

12Dumaguete City is the capital and most populous city24 of the province2 of Negros Oriental39. It is nicknamed The City of Gentle People because of the hospitality of the locals. It is also called a University City because of the presence of 4 universities and a number of colleges, prominent of which is Siliman University, the first Protestant and American university in the country and Asia. It is also known for its beach resorts and dive sites, dolphin watching, and Apo Island’s giant turtles and awesome corals. It was also named The Best Place to Retire in the Philippines for 2018 by the Philippine Retirement Authority. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Dumaguete.”40

13Ocean Jet is the term for the high-speed water craft, owned and operated by Ocean Fast Ferries, Inc., a wholly owned Filipino corporation, offering ferry services to 10 destinationsin the Philippines – Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Camotes Island and Cebu City (Cebu), Dumaguete10 (Negros Oriental), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Ormoc (Leyte), Larena (Siquijor2) and Tagbilaran (Bohol), Batangas City (Batangas), and another in Calapan (Oriental Mindoro), with a fleet of 17 vessels. It was founded in 1995, then called Socor Shipping Lines (till 2001), with headquarters in Cebu City. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Ocean Fast Ferries.”41 Visit its website: www.oceanjet.net/

14Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade Jumawan Pestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

15A multicab is a small, lightweight and narrow truck in the Philippines that is usually used as public transport, with a fixed route, or hired for a special trip, ideal to navigate through narrow streets. It has a seating capacity for 11 to 13 persons. Smaller versions can seat less than 11 and typically have three-cylinder engines. It is similar to a jeepney42 but has a cleaner and less noisy engine. It is typically assembled in a factory in the Philippines, with surplus parts from Japan and South Korea.The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Multicab.”43

16A tricycle, or motorized tricycle, is an indigenous form of the auto rickshaw, and is a common means of public or private transportation, especially in small towns and cities in the rural areas of the Philippines. It can ply a set route, or be for-hire like a taxi, and can be painted colorfully like a jeepney42. It is built in a variety of styles, which differ from city to city, and usually made locally by building a sidecar, and affixing it to an imported motorcycle. Usually, both the motorcycle and sidecar are covered, but not always by the same roof, and can be completely enclosed in heavy plastic covering in rainy weather. A passenger tricycle can accommodate 4 to 6 passengers, or more, excluding the driver. Goods can be placed at the back or on the roof. One or two passengers can sit behind the driver, while several more can sit in the sidecar, depending on the design. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Tricycle.”44

17 Pasalubong is the Filipino term for the tradition of giving gifts or souvenirs, from a destination visited by a Filipino, to family and friends upon one’s return home.

18Garra rufa, red garra, doctor fish or nibble fish, is a small species of cyprinid fish that is native to rivers, streams, ponds and lakes in Anatolia and the West Asian regions. When this fish forages sloughed dead skin, they seek food, which in the wild consists of periphyton, a complex mixture of algae, cyanobacteria, heterotropic microbes, and detritus that is attached to submerged surfaces in most aquatic ecosystems. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Garra rufa.”45

19Tilapia is a freshwater fish which inhabits shallow streams, ponds, riversand lakes. The Nile tilapia (O. niloticus) was one of the first fish species cultured. Today, all commercially important tilapia outside of Africa belong to the genus Oreochromis, and more than 90% of all commercially farmed tilapia outside of Africa are Nile tilapia. The scientific names of tilapia species have been revised a lot in the last 30 years, creating some confusion. The scientific name of the Nile tilapia has been given as Tilapia nilotica, Sarotherodonniloticus, and currently as Oreochromis niloticus. It is shaped much like a sunfish or crappie, but can easily be identified by an interrupted lateral line characteristic of the Cichlid family of fishes. It is laterally compressed and deep-bodied with long dorsal fins. The forward portion of the dorsal fin is heavily spined. Spines are also found in the pelvis and anal fins. There are usually vertical bars down the sides of fry, fingerlings, and sometimes, adults.46

20https://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2015/10/thich-nhat-hanh-on-an-autumn-leaf-life-death-continuation.html

21https://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/2015/09/09/people-and-trees-intimately-connected-through-ages#

22A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”47

23A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces2, composed of cities and municipalities25 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays1. The 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”  See a r4elated post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

24A city is the local government unit30 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 acts as the city’s legislative body. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”48 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

25A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)30, 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 barangays1, 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”49

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

27Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas4, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar) mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces2, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.50 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

28Mindanao 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 the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). It is composed of 22 provinces2 and 33 cities24 (27 provinces and 33 cities, if associated islands are included). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Mindanao.”12 Mindanao is located in the southern part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Visayas (the middle part).

29“Siquijor,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

30A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces2 and independent cities52; component cities53 and municipalities25; and, barangays1, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.54

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

32https://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Balete

33Luzon 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 regions23: Bicol, Cagayan Valley, CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Cordillera, Ilocos, MIMAROPA and the National Capital Region. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Luzon.”55 Luzon is located in the northern part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Visayas (the middle part) and Mindanao (the southern part of the country).

34“Anito,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anito

35“Diwata,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwata

36“Kapre,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapre

37“Tikbalang,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikbalang

38“Pagpag,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagpag

39Negros Oriental, Oriental Negros or Eastern Negros, is a province2 located in the Central Visayas Region (Region 7)4 of the Philippines. It occupies the southeastern half of the large island of Negros, and borders Negros Occidental, which comprises the northwestern half. It also includes Apo Island, a popular dive site for both local and foreign tourists. Its capital is Dumaguete City12, the seat of government and the most populous city of the province. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Negros Oriental”.56

40“Dumaguete,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumaguete

41“Ocean Fast Ferries,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Fast_Ferries

42A jeepney, or jeep, is the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines, a symbol of the country’s culture and art because of its colorful decorations. It was originally made from US military jeeps, left over from World War II. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Jeepney”.57

43“Multicab,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multicab

44“Tricycle,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricycle

45“Garra rufa,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garra_rufa

46https://thefishsite.com/articles/tilapia-life-history-and-biology

47“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

48“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

49“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

50“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

51“Mindanao,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindanao

52An independent city is a type of city24 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a provinceso 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 region23 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city54 or independent component city59. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”48

53A component city is a type of city24 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city54. 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 municipality25. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”48

54“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

55“Luzon,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luzon

56“Negros Oriental,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negros_Oriental

57“Jeepney,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeepney

58A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city24 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”.48 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines. See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

59An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city24 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province2 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 city58. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”48

TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR!

Cambugahay Falls is a famous tourist destination in the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines. It is a three-tiered waterfall that flows naturally into a lake. Said lake, I was told, apparently has healing powers.

This is the fifth stop (out of six) of our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour. At the port of Siquijor2, we rented an air-conditioned van owned by Yane’s Adventures Van Services5. We had a very friendly, cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.

And now, for my experience in this destination:

Cambugahay Falls can be accessed from the Siquijor Circumferential Road, in the town of Lazi6. It would be best to visit this place during weekdays and to go early to avoid the large number of people.

The parking area is on the opposite side of the street. The parking fee is PHP30 per vehicle.

Just cross the street from the parking area and you cannot miss the sign announcing Cambugahay Falls.

1-entrance-okEntrance, Cambugahay Falls – I hope the local tourism officials can improve its appearance and the local police can monitor groups to prevent the vandalism of signages

And guess what? There is no entrance fee to use this facility! You will then be offered the services of a guide or lifeguard, and it is up to you how much to give him as service fee. We opted to have one guide since we had a 7-year-old child with us. If you and your companions can swim, then you may not need avail of this service.

Thereafter, simply go down around 140 cemented steps made with large smooth stones. The downward trek is approximately 10 minutes, depending, dearest Senior Citizens, on the pacing of your steps. Be careful when you go down since there are no handrails. Hold on to a younger companion while going down the steps, just to be sure, dearest Seniors!2-stepsI strongly recommend that handrails be installed along the steps so that children, elders, and other persons who have difficulty going up and down these uneven steps can safely do so.

Your brief journey downwards will be rewarded by a captivating view of the third (bottom) level of the waterfalls, the biggest and deepest of all three levels.3-view-3rd levelThe third tier of Cambugahay Falls, with three diving spots (left of picture, middle with green slope, and right, with man seated)

These three swinging areas offer different heights to fall from, and you start to wonder, after seeing so many tourists doing a Tarzan-like jump, if you could also be brave enough to do so. If I were younger, I guess I would have jumped too!

This is where you will be amazed with the daring jumps of local and foreign tourists swinging from a long rope in three different parts of the falls.

6-cross bamboo-okYou just need to cross this narrow wooden bridgelike structure over the shallow, flowing water to get to the area where you can stay and later, decide to swim, Tarzan-dive, and/or proceed to the two other levels of this falls.

Then, live your best life at Cambugahay Falls, swing, swing some more, let go, and prepare for your splash! 

 

Most tourists just stay on this level of the falls. Some younger tourists repeatedly do the jump challenge, using different techniques of jumping. Some simply swim and enjoy the cool water.5-swim-ok

So, adventurous, younger, and more fit Seniors, why not take the Tarzan-Swing-Dive Challenge? My two younger male companions took the challenge, used different styles of jumps from the rope to the water, and made wonderful splashes on the cool, refreshing waters. I was told that if you pay PHP20, you can have unlimited jumps. Should you prefer not to jump, then, enjoy the view, swim, breathe in the fresh air, and take lots of pictures, just like what I did!7-3rd level

Of course, your best option, dearest Seniors, is to swim and enjoy the bluish, and oh so cool, spring water. For non-swimmers, you can rent a life vest for PHP50. We rented a life vest for the 7-year-old, and for the hesitant non-swimmer in our group. Bottomline: do not miss the chance to try the refreshing water.8-rental-life-vest-ok

There are makeshift bamboo tables, free of charge, where you can leave your belongings while you swim. It would be best to designate someone from your group to watch over your things.

9A-wooden tables-pls crop-okNotice the bamboo tablelike structures to the right of the life vest rental where people are seated? Those are the makeshift tables I mentioned which you could use to place your things while you swim or Tarzan-dive. Remember to place sunblock 30 minutes before sun exposure.

I noticed that there are no food stalls but saw a group of tourists being served food and drinks, delivered to their bamboo table. So, inquire about such services, if needed. However, I suggest you just bring your own snacks, since you will probably stay here for only 1-2 hours anyway, and then to find a decent restaurant in between stops.

Seniors, if you feel energetic and adventurous, why not proceed to the two higher tiers? These levels are more serene because fewer tourists go there. You can also swim in these two levels and I was told that the water is shallower in these two basins. It just so happened that I was not feeling well that day so I did not venture to see these two higher levels. If you did during your Siquijor tour, please tell me about it, ok?

There is no washroom, restroom, nor changing room in this place so some of us changed quickly behind a large bath towel (held by companions), while some opted to just exit the area without changing.

We only stayed here for about an hour, since it was also starting to get crowded and we had to proceed to our last, and final, destination – a beach called Salagdoong Beach7 – where we intended, anyway, to swim again.

A word of caution, dearest Seniors: leaving Cambugahay Falls entails that you climb all the way up to the entrance, about 10-15 minutes, on the same steps you used going down to the falls. Remember, there are no handrails, so pace yourself, or better still, hold on to a younger person. Take your time; you just swam for an hour so just rest after several steps. Accidents occur when you are in a hurry. Just tell you younger companions to be a bit patient and I am sure they will wait for you at the top.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province1.

You can read a related post about my Siquijor tour – SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJORGET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJORNow You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS and ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJOR

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you regarding your visit to captivating Cambugahay Falls. Did you take the Tarzan-Swing-Dive Challenge? 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.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region8. 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. In the Philippines, a province is divided into cities9 and municipalities10 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”12 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province1 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality10 which is also called Siquijor. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, and mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.13

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions: Central Visayas4, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.14 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region8 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units15 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”16

5Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade Jumawan Pestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

6Lazi, formerly called Tigbawan, is a coastal municipality10 in the island province1 of Siquijor2, with 18 barangays11. It is located in the southeastern side of the island, between the towns of San Juan in the west and Maria from the east. It is known for its Roman Catholic church called San Isidro Labrador Parish Church (a National Historical Landmark17, a National Cultural Treasure18, and included in the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Sites19 under the Baroque20 Churches of the Philippines-Extension), the Convent in front of it (one of the largest convents built during the Spanish colonial era21), the 400-year-old enchanting balete tree with fish spa, and Cambugahay Falls (see above). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lazi, Siquijor”22 and “Siquijor”13. Visit this site for more information: http://www.phtourguide.com/municipality-of-lazi-in-siquijor/

7Salagdoong Beach is a popular tourist destination in the town of Maria, on the southeastern side of the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines. This beach is known for swimming and cliff diving. It has crystal clear waters and white sand shores.

8A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided into provinces1, composed of cities9 and municipalities10 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays11. The 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”16   See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

9A city is the local government unit15 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city’s legislative body – the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”23 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

10A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)15, 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 barangays11, 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”24

11A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”25

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

13“Siquijor,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

14“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

15A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities26; component cities27 and municipalities10; and, barangays11, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.28

16“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

17A National Historical Landmark of the Philippines is a place or an object that is associated with an event, achievement, characteristics or modification that presents a turning point or stage in history. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Category: National Historical Landmarks of the Philippines”.29

18A 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 Arts30 and other cultural agencies such as the National Museum of the Philippines31, National Library of the Philippines32, and National Archives of the Philippines33. Such declarations are authorized under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 200934 and recognized within the Cultural Properties of the Philippines35 by the Philippine government. 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”.36 The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Cultural Treasure”.37

19A UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) is a unique landmark, or geographically and historically identifiable place, which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific, physical or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. The list is maintained by the International World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 state parties which are elected by the General Assembly. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “World Heritage Site”.38

20Baroque architecture began in Rome, Italy, in the late 16th century, which conveys grandeur and drama, most often used in palaces and churches. It includes curving forms, oval shapes, and a combination of concave and convex forms that make walls seem to undulate, or appear wavy, with a strong sense of motion. It groups things together like columns and decorative flourishes on building surfaces. Architectural elements are repeated across a surface. It uses distortion to make figures elongated, broken, or manipulated in some manner to make them stand out. Buildings have columns, sometimes topped with capitals and large volutes, scroll, or spiral forms. Sculptural wall elements will often project from the surface which is full of forms to increase the interplay of light and shadow across them. Inside, Baroque structures will often have ceilings painted in bright colors, made to fool one’s eye into believing one is looking at the sky. Buildings also have very rich surface treatments, including interiors with stucco39, various colored marbles, and gold gilt or thin sheets of gold applied to surfaces. Most Baroque churches have vaulted ceilings, supported by a series of interconnected arches.40

21The Spanish colonial era was the historical part of the Philippines from 1521, when European explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the country, and ended in 1898, with the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution41. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898”.42

22“Lazi, Siquijor,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazi,_Siquijor

23“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

24“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

25“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

26An independent city is a type of city9 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a provinceso 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 region8 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city43 or independent component city44. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”23

27A component city is a type of city9 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city43. It is under the jurisdiction of a province1. 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 municipality10. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”23

28“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

29“Category: National Historical Landmarks of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:_National_Historical_Landmarks_of_the_Philippines

30The 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 Philippines33, National Historical Commission of the Philippines45, National Library of the Philippines32, National Museum of the Philippines31, Commission on the Filipino Language, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Commission for Culture and Arts”.46 Visit its website: www.ncca.gov.ph

31The 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 Arts30. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Museum of the Philippines”.47 Visit its website: www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph

32The National Library of the Philippines is 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Library of the Philippines”.48 Visit its website: www.web.nlp.gov.ph

33The National Archives of the Philippines is 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. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Archives of the Philippines”.49 Visit its website: www.nationalarchives.gov.ph

34The 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”.50

35The Cultural Properties of the Philippines refers to the cultural properties listed by the National Commission for Culture and Arts30, National Historical Commission of the Philippines45, and the National Museum of the Philippines31 through the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP), the official cultural property list of the country. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cultural properties of the Philippines”.51

 36www.primer.com.ph

37“National Cultural Treasure,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cultural_Treasure

38“World Heritage Site,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heritage_Site

39Stucco refers to the cement-based and fine plaster used for coating wall surfaces or molding into architectural decorations. It hardens into a highly durable material that requires little maintenance and can be used to obtain different textures and finishes.52

40https://study.com/academy/lesson/italian-baroque-architecture-characteristics-examples.html

41The Philippine Revolution is the revolution that started on August 23, 1896, when the Spaniards discovered the Katipunan53, and ended on August 13, 1898. The Filipinos were victorious and this resulted in the expulsion of the Spanish colonial government, as well as: the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato54 in 1897; the resumption of hostilities during the Spanish-American War55 in 1898; the establishment of the First Philippine Republic56; and, the outbreak of the Philippine-American War57 in 1899. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Philippine Revolution”.58

42“History of the Philippines from 1521 to 1898,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Philippines

43A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city9 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”.23 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – I will place a link here).

44An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city9 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province1 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 city43. There are 5 such cities in the country: Cotabato, Dagupan, Naga, Ormoc, and Santiago. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”23

45The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is a government agency of the Philippines which promotes Philippine history and cultural heritage through research, dissemination, conservation, sites management, and heraldry works, thereby inculcating awareness and appreciation of the noble deeds and ideals of our heroes and other illustrious Filipinos, instilling pride in the Filipino people, and rekindling the Filipino spirit through the lessons of history. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “National Historical Commission of the Philippines”.59

46 “National Commission for Culture and Arts,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Commission_for_Culture_and_Arts

47“National Museum of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_the_Philippines

48“National Library of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Library_of_the_Philippines

49“National Archives of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Archives_of_the_Philippines

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

51“Cultural properties of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_properties_of_the_Philippines

52https://www.thebalancesmb.com/choose-right-stucco-mix-844655

53The Katipunan was the Philippine revolutionary secret society founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892 which aimed to gain independence from Spain through a revolution, according to the Wikipedia page “Katipunan”.60

54Pact of Biak-na-Bato was a truce between Spanish colonial Governor-General Fernando Primo de Rivera and the revolutionary leader Emilio Aguinaldo to end the Philippine Revolution34, signed on December 14, 1897, in the house of Pablo Tecson (a Philippine revolutionary captain who served as Brigadier General under General Gregorio del Pilar) in San Miguel, Bulacan. Aguinaldo and his fellow revolutionaries were given amnesty and monetary indemnity by the Spanish government, in return for which the revolutionary government would go on exile in Hong Kong. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Pact of Biak-na-Bato”.61

55The Spanish-American War was fought between Spain and the United States in 1898. Hostilities began in the aftermath of the internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor, in Cuba, leading to US intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. The Americans won and it resulted in the Treaty of Paris62, signed on December 10, 1898. Said treaty came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged, with Spain relinquishing all claims of sovereignty over and title to Cuba, and ceded Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the US. The cession of the Philippines involved a compensation of $20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from Wikipedia pages “Spanish-American War”63 and “Treaty of Paris of 1898”64.

56The First Philippine Republic, or the Malolos Republic, was a nascent revolutionary government in the Philippines, established after the Philippine Revolution41 against the Spanish Empire (1896-1897) and the Spanish-American War55, and was the first constitutional republic in Asia, with a comprehensive constitution duly approved by a partially elected congress. It was formally established with the proclamation of the Malolos Constitution on January 21, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan, and endured until the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo by the American forces on March 23, 1901, in Palanan, Isabela. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “First Philippine Republic”.65

57The Philippine-American War, the Philippine War, the Philippine Insurrection, or the Tagalog Insurgency, was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic56 and the USA that lasted from February 4, 1899 to July 2, 1902. The conflict arose when the former objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris62, under which the US took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish-American War55. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Philippine-American War”.66

58“Philippine Revolution,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Revolution

59“National Historical Commission of the Philippines,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Historical_Commission_of_the_Philippines

60“Katipunan,” accessed October 16, 2018,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katipunan

61“Pact of Biak-na-Bato,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Biak-na-Bato

62The Treaty of Paris was an agreement, signed on December 10, 1898, that involved Spain relinquishing nearly all the remaining Spanish Empire, especially Cuba, and ceding Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the US, thus ending the Spanish-American War55. It came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. The cessation of the Philippines involved a payment of US$20 million from the US to Spain. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Treaty of Paris (1898)”.64

63“Spanish-American War,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_American_War

64“Treaty of Paris,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Paris.

65“First Philippine Republic,” accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Philippine_Republic

66“Philippine-Amercian War,” accessed November 2, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine-American_War

SERENE AND SPONTANEOUS SALAGDOONG BEACH, SIQUIJOR

Salagdoong Beach is a public beach located in the town of Maria, on the southeastern side of the island province1 of Siquijor2, in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4 of the Philippines, known for cliff diving and swimming. I was told that the beach is part of a government-owned resort and managed by the Provincial Tourism Office.

It is easy to reach this destination because there is a sign along the main road that will lead you to it. It is best, and more practical, to avail of an island tour and negotiate the places you want to visit, like this beach. You also get to see a manmade molave5 forest before you reach this beach.

This beach was my group’s last stop during our one-day Siquijor Coastal Tour (post to follow). We rented an air-conditioned van owned by Yane’s Adventures Van Services6 after we arrived at the port of Siquijor. We were lucky to have a very cheerful and accommodating driver, Jimmy Bueno.

And now, for my personal experience in Salagdoong Beach:

1BeFunky-1-collage-entrance                                Entrance of Salagdoong Beach from access road

The entrance fee is PHP25 per person (inclusive of a PHP10 environmental fee and PHP5 Red Cross fee) and the parking fee is PHP25.

1-BeFunky-2-collage-parking

Our driver, Jimmy, parked the van in a designated area near the individually-roofed tables lining the edge of the paved area by the easement leading to the beach below.1-BeFunky-collage-jimmy-ok

The well-maintained beach offers fine white sand shores and clear blue waters.1-BeFunky-collage-waters-ok

You can see several large inflated plastic objects, which, I guess, could be rented and enjoyed by you and your group.1-H-inflated-labelled-ok

I was also told that the resort offers rooms and cottages with complete amenities to interested guests.1-BeFunky-collage-housing-ok

If you walk onwards from the parking area, following the cemented border to the left, you will immediately see a blue painted slide at the far left, but during our visit (March 2019), it was under renovation and cannot be used.1-BeFunky-collage-slide-ok

You can head up the cemented steps near the slide till you reach a gazebo-like structure.1-BeFunky-collage-steps-ok

X-L-gazebo-1-ok

The cliff-diving area is to the far left. You will see two diving boards at different heights, with the left one placed several feet lower than the right one, more than 65 meters in height.1-BeFunky-collage-slides-ok

If you are brave enough, you dive and have your picture and video taken by your companion. As for me, I am not that brave, so I just took a picture of the white sand beach from that elevation.1-N-elevated pic-beach-1-ok

I was also told that there was a tourist who got a minor scratch at the lower cliff-diving area. He hit the rocks at the bottom because his jump was not far enough. So, if you, or one of your companions, decide to cliff-dive, ask if it is high tide, and be sure to jump as far as possible from the board since the water directly below is not that deep. Perhaps, start with the left board, and for more excitement, try the right board too!

For smokers, the rear part of the gazebo is the smoking area.

As you get down from the gazebo, you will see a restaurant-dining area, at about your 11 o’clock position. It was very hot afternoon, and I found my way to the restaurant, went over their menu, and decided to order shakes, a couple of clubhouse sandwiches, and popsicles for the young and young-at-hearts.1-BeFunky-collage-resto-ok

The service was slow because of the large volume of tourists, but the helpful and hospitable staff more than compensated for the delay. I was allowed to bring the orders to our shaded table overlooking the secluded beach. The fresh breeze was so nice to enjoy with our light snack. I saw to it that I returned the china and silverware we used.1-P-tables-labelled

A secluded, partially-shaded beach beckons near the cliff area. This is where local and foreign tourists sit on the sand to sunbathe, or wade in the shallow, clear waters.1-BeFunky-collage-beaches-ok

By the way, always secure your belongings by assigning a companion to watch over them while the rest of the group swim, sunbathe, snorkel, or cliff dive. A tourist lost her belongings during our visit.

We only stayed about an hour on this beach. We had to proceed back to the pier for our trip back to Dumaguete7 through Oceanjet8.

We paid for our Siquijor Coastal Tour and all comments are based on my personal experience in this province1.

You can read related posts about my Siquijor tour: ENCHANTING 400-YEAR-OLD BALETE TREE AND FISH SPA, SIQUIJORGET BEWITCHED AT HAPITANAN, SIQUIJOR, TAKE A TARZAN-LIKE DIVE AT CAMBUGAHAY FALLS, SIQUIJOR! and Now You Know – SIQUIJOR: ITS LEGEND, HISTORY, TRADITIONS, AND BELIEFS

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your visit to this beautiful beach. 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.

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1A province is the primary administrative and political division in the Philippines. It is the second-level administrative sub-division of a region9. 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. In the Philippines, a province is divided into cities10 and municipalities11 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays12, formerly called barrios. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Provinces of the Philippines.”13 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE PROVINCES IN THE PHILIPPINES?

2Siquijor is an island province1 of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas3 Region (Region VII)4. Its capital is the municipality11 which is also called Siquijor. This coralline island is predominantly hilly, and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. Geographically, Cebu is to the north, Negros to the west, Bohol to the northeast, and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao. It has a long-time reputation as a place of magic, sorcery, and mystical traditions. It is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals.The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Siquijor”.14

3Visayas is one of the 3 major geographical divisions of the Philippines. It covers 3 administrative regions9: Central Visayas4, Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas. It consists of 6 major islands (Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay and Samar), mostly surrounded by the Visayan Sea, and is composed of 16 provinces1, according to Wikipedia page “Visayas”.15 Visayas is located at the middle part of the country; the 2 other geographical divisions of the Philippines are Luzon (in the northern part) and Mindanao (in the southern part).

4Central Visayas (Region VII) of the Philippines is a Philippine region9 located in the island group of Visayas3, with Cebu City as its regional center. It has 7 local government units16 (LGUs): Bohol, Cebu, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor2. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”17

5Molave is a large Philippine timber tree (Vitex parviflora), known for its dense, durable, yellow wood. It was once used extensively in furniture, boats, etc. as a valuable construction material, but due to habitat loss and overharvesting, it is now classified as endangered by the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Vitex parviflora.”18

6Yane’s Adventures Van Services information – Address: Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor; Contact numbers: 09052133123, 09069732330 and 09183124461, look for Jade Jumawan Pestillos, and request for our very accommodating and cheerful driver, Jimmy Bueno.

7Dumaguete is the capital city10 and main port of Negros Oriental, a province1 in Central Visayas (Region VII)4, of the Philippines. This laid-back university town is called the “City of Gentle People”. It has a charming sea-front boulevard, the most popular destination in the Philippines for retiring abroad, and among the top 10 tourist destinations in the country. The information was obtained from the Wikivoyage page “Dumaguete”.19

8Ocean Jet is the term for the high-speed water craft, owned and operated by Ocean Fast Ferries, Inc., a wholly owned Filipino corporation, offering ferry services to 10 destinations in the Philippines – Bacolod (Negros Occidental), Camotes Island and Cebu City (Cebu), Dumaguete7 (Negros Oriental), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Ormoc (Leyte), Larena (Siquijor2) and Tagbilaran (Bohol), Batangas City (Batangas), and another in Calapan (Oriental Mindoro), with a fleet of 17 vessels. It was founded in 1995, then called Socor Shipping Lines (till 2001), with headquarters in Cebu City. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Ocean Fast Ferries.”20 Visit its website: www.oceanjet.net/

9A region is the first-order administrative division in the Philippines. There are 17 regions in the Philippines, based on geographical, cultural and ethnological characteristics. It is further subdivided in provinces1, composed of cities and municipalities11 (or towns), which in turn, are divided into barangays12. The 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Regions of the Philippines.”17 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: WHAT ARE THE REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES?

10A city is the local government unit16 in the Philippines headed by a mayor elected by popular vote. A vice-mayor serves as the presiding officer of the city’s legislative body – the Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council). The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines.”21 See a related post: Foreign Seniors Ask: HOW MANY CITIES ARE THERE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

11A municipality is a small, single urban administrative division, or local government unit (LGU)16, 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 barangays12, 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Municipalities of the Philippines.”22

12A barangay in the Philippines 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Barangay.”23

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

14“Siquijor,”accessed October 16, 2018, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siquijor

15“Visayas,” accessed January 29, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visayas

16A local government unit (LGU) in the Philippines is divided into 3 levels: provinces1 and independent cities24; component cities25 and municipalities11; and, barangays12, according to Wikipedia page “Local government in the Philippines”.26

17“Regions of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regions_of_the_Philippines

18“Vitex parviflora,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Vitex_parviflora

19“Dumaguete,” accessed March 8, 2019,https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Dumaguete

20“Ocean Fast Ferries,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Fast-Ferries

21“Cities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_of_the_Philippines

22“Municipalities of the Philippines,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipalities_of_the_Philippines

23“Barangay,” accessed January 29, 2019,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barangay

24An independent city is a type of city10 in the Philippines which is administratively and legally not subject to a province1so 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 region9 it belongs to. It is subdivided into 2: highly urbanized city27or independent component city28. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”21

25A component city is a type of city10 in the Philippines which does not meet the requirements of a highly urbanized city27. It is under the jurisdiction of a province1. 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 municipality11. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”21

26“Local government in the Philippines,” accessed July 17, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_government_in_the_Philippines

27A highly urbanized city (HUC) is a type of city10 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”.21 There are currently 33 such cities in the Philippines (see link – I will place a link here).

28An independent component city (ICC) is a type of city10 in the Philippines which is autonomous from the province1 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. The information was obtained from Wikipedia page “Cities of the Philippines”21

THE GREAT BUDDHA CAFÉ: A Great Dining Experience

LOCATION: 2nd Floor UBE Tower, 628 Ongpin Street, Binondo1, Manila 1006 Metro Manila2

The Great Buddha Café is a casual Chinese restaurant located in a three-storey building at the heart of Binondo1. Its menu is inspired by Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine and it is a good option for dining with family (including kids) and friends.

It is called Great Buddha because the (Eng Bee Tin) owners want guests to feel happy and contented – feelings that are embodied by the golden Buddha statue sitting inside the restaurant’s premises. Their use of quality ingredients ensures that customers get value for money.

Do you know what Eng Bee Tin means? Eng stands for “forever”, Bee stands for “beautiful” and Tin stands for “precious”. Eng Bee Tin in Hokkien literally means “ever beauty precious”.

Eng Bee Tin popularized ube3 hopia4 and eventually ventured into other pastries and other related products.

The company making this favorite and iconic hopia brand is helmed by Mr. Ube himself, Mr. Gerry Chua, a third- generation Chinese entrepreneur, whose grandfather, Chua Chiu Hong, came to the Philippines from Xiamen, China, and established a small stall on Nueva Street in 1912.5

Gerry always wears a violet t-shirt and matching eyeglasses. He is also known to have formed an active volunteer community firefighting organization.

A trial opening of The Great Buddha Café was held on from February 10 to 20, 2019, in time for the Chinese New Year. It then closed on February 21 for the finishing touches and reopened thereafter.

The Great Buddha Café is open 8am till 10pm daily, but, sorry, no reservations are accepted. It easily gets packed and parking is a problem so, either have a driver drop you off, come early to get a parking space, or just use Grab6 service to get there without any stress.

1-ground flIt offers Chinese dishes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. But wait! There’s more! Imagine stepping into a one-stop-shop building where the ground floor offers all your favorites Eng Bee Tin goodies – mooncakes7, hopias4, tikoy8, Chinese deli and bakery products, mochi9, noodles, etc.

1-eng bee tin goodies-ok

There is also an escalator which easily brings you to the second floor.1-2nd-fl-1-ok

1-2nd-fl-shop-okOn this floor, you not only feast your eyes on Chinese charms and decorations but also on native bags, fans, etc. in an open-style souvenir-shop display. I bought a beautiful rattan bag and a couple of lucky charms. Of course, this floor is also where you can dine and enjoy Chinese cuisine.

1-2nd-fl-buddha-okThe café looks so spacious and what will attract your attention on one side of the dining area is the huge golden buddha statue with two intricately carved wooden chairs on each side. Guests may take turns posing with the buddha and/or seated on the chair/s. This is indeed a welcome feeling of space compared to other restaurants in the area.There is also free wi-fi.

Coming soon would be the Eng Bee Tin museum on the third floor. I guess they will feature the history of this brand and the process of making their famous hopia4.

I read somewhere that this building has a wheelchair-accessible lift. I will check it out next time I visit.

Here is the menu:

1-menu-1-dimsum-ok                                                                          Dimsum10 

1-menu-2-claypot rice-ok                                                                         Claypot Rice 

1-menu-3-roastings-ok                                                                          Roastings 

1-menu-4-side orders-ok                                                                           Short Orders 

1-menu-5-noodles=congee-ok                                                              Noodles and Congee11 

1-menu-7-squids-ok                                           You can also order squids dishes

1-menu-8-siomai-frice-okFried Shrimp Wonton, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Chicken with Anchovies and Black Pepper Beef are also available

1-menu-6-desserts-drinks-ok.jpg                                                            Desserts and Drinks 

Sorry, no alcoholic beverages are offered.

And now, for my dining experience in this restaurant:

The senior citizens in my group, including myself, appreciated the automatic glass door and the Chinese deli and goodies shop on the ground floor (a must stop before leaving this building for “pasalubongs12”); the escalator to bring us to the second floor; the souvenir shop on the second floor, a few steps away from the escalator; and of course, the very spacious, well-lit, and air-conditioned dining area complete with its smiling and friendly service staff.

1-2nd-fl-dining-okI had lunch here with four other family members. The air-conditioning temperature was just right even when the dining area was full.

We ordered: Hainanese Chicken, Salt and Pepper Fried Squid, Pork Ribs Glazed with Honey Garlic Sauce, Beef Tendon Claypot Rice, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Xiao Long Bao13, Pork and Shrimp Siomai14, and Sun Cake ala Mode.

1-order-1-hainanese chixThe Hainanese Chicken (PHP600 for a whole chicken) was served hot. The chicken was so tender and flavorful and I really enjoyed it along with the Ginger Sauce, made of ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chicken broth. I like the idea that the sauce was portioned per person so we do not have to take turns getting from one large container.

1-order-2-squid-okThe Salt and Pepper Fried Squid (PHP340) was fried and seasoned just right. The chopped red and green pepper not only improved its appearance, but its overall taste as well.

1-order-3-pork ribsThe Pork Ribs Glazed with Honey Garlic Sauce (PHP320) was delightfully savory. The pork was very tender and crispy, and the flavorful honey-garlic glaze was so magical to my taste buds.

1-order-4-claypot riceThe Beef Tendon Claypot Rice (PHP260) was good for one generous serving. The tendon was very tender and the sauce tasted just right with the beef tendon and plain rice.

1-order-5-fried rice-okThe Yang Chow Fried Rice (PHP240) was served hot and the rice was pleasantly mixed with shrimps, meat, bits of scrambled egg and other colorful and flavorful ingredients. This was a welcome accompaniment for the main dishes we ordered.

1-order-6-xlb-okTheXiao Long Bao (XLB for short, PHP248 for 10 pieces) was served hot in a bamboo steamer basket. The skin is just right (not too thick, not too thin) and did not easily tear when lifted onto the Chinese soup spoon. The soup inside the dimsum10 was tasty and the meat filling was tender. We appreciated the portioned dipping sauce made of black vinegar and fresh ginger slivers.

The Pork and Shrimp Siomai14 (PHP128 for 4 pieces) was likewise served hot in a bamboo steamer basket. It was tender and very tasty, and we enjoyed it with a soy sauce-calamansi15-chili-garlic dip.

1-order-7-dessert-okI ordered the HK-Style Flaky Egg Tart (PHP58) but was told it was already sold out. Next time, I will come earlier and try it. Anyway, I settled for Sun Cake16 ala Mode. It was served with chocolate ice cream on top with chocolate syrup. I found it too sweet, so next time, I will request them not to place the chocolate syrup.

1-2nd-fl-dining-crew-okThe dining room employees were all very accommodating and efficient. Dishes were served at the right temperature and pace.

You can also request the waiter to buy your favorite milk tea17 at a nearby store. Now that is what I call SERVICE!

1-order-sauces-dips-okAccompanying sauces/dips were given to each person which we really appreciated. Oh, you can also ask for more, just in case you are partial to them, like the ginger sauce for the Hainanese Chicken.

Cash is the only form of payment accepted.

The restrooms are on the third floor, a bit far from the second-floor dining area, especially for senior citizens, but are very well maintained. Both the men’s and ladies’ restrooms smell good and are very clean, with automatic faucets and well-supplied soap and toilet paper.

The escalator from the second floor to the ground floor was much appreciated after our meal, and prior to a much-awaited stop to shop at the ground floor to buy “pasalubongs”12.

We will definitely come back for more and even try other food/beverage items.

Contact information: Telephone Numbers (02) 288 8888, 288 8881 local 129, and 241 9999; Instagram @greatbuddhacafe and @loveengbeetin

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

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. 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.  Tohsiah! (“Many thanks!” in Hokkien)

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Binondo 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 the hub of Chinese commerce, according to the Wikipedia page “Binondo”.18

2Metro Manila is the official and administrative urban area in the southwestern portion of Luzon surrounding Manila, established in 1975. It is the center of culture, economy, education and government of the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Metro Manila”.19

3Ube is the Filipino term for purple yam (Dioscoreaalata). It is a kind of vividly violet to bright lavender colored yam or tuberous root vegetable, with origins in the Asian tropics. It is also called greater yam. It is used in a variety of desserts as well as a flavoring for ice cream, milk, and a variety of pastries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dioscorea alata”.20

4Hopia is the Filipino term for bakpia, a popular, inexpensive, Philippine and Indonesian bean-filled mooncake7-like pastry, originally introduced by Fujianese immigrants in these countries’ urban centers during the turn of the 20th century. It is also a favored gift for families, relatives and friends. The flaky type uses Chinese puff pastry while the cake-dough type uses a soft cookie-dough similar to Japanese bean cakes. There are four traditional and popular fillings: mung bean (called “mongo” in Filipino), azuki (red mongo), purple yam (called “ube” in Filipino), and pork. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bakpia”.21

5https://www.manilatimes.net/mr-ubes-quest-sweet-success/346473/

6Grab is a private car for hire service provider.

7A mooncake is a Chinese baked pastry, traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, held late September to early October, with a full moon. It is typically round, with a rich thick filling, usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste, surrounded by a 2-3 mm thin crust, and may contain 1-2 yolks from salted duck eggs in its center, according to Wikipedia page “List of Chinese bakery products”.22 It is usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. It is offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. It is also customary for businessmen or families to give mooncakes to clients or relatives as presents. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mooncake”.23

8Tikoy is the Filipino term for niangao or Chinese New Year’s cake, originally from China, and widely consumed in the Philippines. It is eaten all year round but is considered good luck to eat it during Chinese New Year (on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, i.e., between January 21 and February 20) and traditionally during Duanwu Festival (held on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, i..e, between the end of May till mid-June). This sticky rice cake is usually sliced, dipped or coated with beaten egg, fried until crispy but chewy inside, and enjoyed among all members of the family for closeness or unity, due to its sticky nature since it is made from glutinous rice flour. It is sweetened with brown sugar, giving it a dark yellow to light brown color, often prepared with different flavors. It also means “raising oneself taller in each coming year,” symbolizing a higher position, higher income, the growth of children, and generally, the promise of a better year. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Nian gao”.24

9Mochi is a chewy Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grained japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. It is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year (held December 31/January 1 till January 4), and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. In Japan, it is traditionally made in a ceremony called mochitsuki. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mochi”.25

10Dimsum refers to fully cooked, ready-to-serve, small bite-sized portions of food served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. The term literally means “heart’s delight” or “touch heart”. They are usually served with tea and together, form a full tea brunch. In some Cantonese teahouses, carts with dimsum are served around the restaurant. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Dimsum”.26

11Congee, or conjee, is a type of thick, Chinese rice porridge or gruel, popular in many Asian countries. It can be eaten plain, served with side dishes. Meat, fish and flavorings can be added. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation. Culture also often dictates the way congee is cooked and eaten. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Congee”.27

12 Pasalubong is the Filipino term for the tradition of giving gifts or souvenirs, from a destination visited by a Filipino, to family and friends upon one’s return home.

13Xiao long bao (XLB), literally “small basket buns”, are steamed dumplings or buns, named after Xiaolong, the small bamboo steaming baskets they were traditionally steamed in. It is a kind of tang bao (“soup bun”) or guantang bao (“soup-filled bun”). This soup dumpling is served piping hot and has a delicate skin that encases a pork-based filling and a gelatinized meat broth created by wrapping solid meat aspic inside the skin. During steaming, the broth liquefies, poaching the pork in a rich, savory soup. As the dumpling cools, the broth solidifies and the skin hardens, so eat this quickly but carefully. How? Place your Chinese soup spoon close to the dumpling. Grab the dumpling close to the knot with your chopsticks, and gently lift it from the steamer. If the dumpling sticks to the bottom of the steamer, peel it off slowly; do not tug so as not to rupture the skin. Remember, you want to savor the soup intact and inside the skin. Do not put the whole, hot dumpling in your mouth because it might be too hot, scald you, and cause you pain. You need to let the steam out and let it cool for a few seconds. In a fine dining restaurant, you could be given a big spoon so you can take a smaller bite along the side. The broth then drains into the spoon and you can decently sip it. In regular Chinese restaurants, you can nip off the top of the dumpling, or nibble off a piece of the skin on the side of the dough ring using your front teeth, pause to give it a few moments to cool, and savor the rich broth by sucking the juice directly out of the skin. You can then easily devour the rest of the dumpling in one slurp. You just need a little amount of the dipping sauce made of black vinegar and fresh ginger slivers. You have 4 options: you can put the sauce in your empty spoon before scooping up the dumpling; you can dip the dumpling in the sauce before putting it in your spoon; you can place the dumpling in your spoon then drizzle the vinegar over it; or, you can add the sauce to the drained dumpling after you have slurped all the broth out.28, 29, 30

14Siomai is a traditional Chinese dumpling, usually served hot as a popular snack item in the Philippines. It is usually made of seasoned ground pork with bits of shrimp, mushrooms, and other preferred ingredients/seasonings.

15Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient for siomai14 and lugao31.

16Sun Cake is a round Taiwanese dessert with a flaky crust and filled with condensed malt sugar. It is usually sold in special gift boxes as souvenirs for visitors. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Suncake (Taiwan)”.32

17Milk tea is a Hong Kong-style tea drink made of black tea, sweetened with sweet evaporated milk21 or condensed milk, usually part of lunch in Hong Kong tea culture, according to the Wikipedia page “Hong Kong-style milk tea”.33

18“Binondo,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binondo

19“Metro Manila,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Manila

20“Dioscorea alata,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_alata

21“Bakpia,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakpia

22“List of Chinese bakery products,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_bakery_products

23“Mooncake,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mooncake

24“Nian gao,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nian_gao

25“Mochi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochi

26“Dimsum,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimsum

27“Congee,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congee

28https://thetakeout.com

29https://www.thrillist.com

30“Xiaolongbao,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao

31Lugao is the Tagalog term for a slightly thick congee11, seasoned, and boiled with ginger, onion and garlic. The stock depends on the desired taste/topping: ground pork, chicken, fish, liver, kidney, tripe, with a hard-boiled egg, or just served plain. It could be garnished with chopped green onions and toasted garlic, and served with fresh calamansi15, fish sauce and pepper.

32“Suncake (Taiwan),” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suncake_(Taiwan)

33“Hong Kong-style milk tea,” accessed January 4, 2019,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong-style_milk_tea.

Revisiting CAFÉ MEDITERRANEAN: Flavors of the Sun

LOCATION: Lower Ground Floor, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Drive corner Estrella Street, Makati, Metro Manila 1210

I had a sentimental lunch here with close family while at the Power Plant, remembering my sister-in-law who passed away because this was one of her favorite dining places in the metro.

Café Mediterranean is a cozy, casual Mediterranean1 restaurant that offers “the Mediterranean lifestyle … through fresh, healthy meals with family and friends, finding a balance between work, relaxation, and experiencing the pleasures of an active life.”2 It believes that “sharing meals with friends and family, pausing to taste, smell and enjoy, rather than simply refuel, is one of the most valued foundations of traditional Mediterranean culture!”2

1-dining                                Cafe Med Power Plant dining area, upon entry, to the right

1-dining-1                                 Cafe Med Power Plant, upon entry, to the left

1-fx rm                                            Cafe Med Power Plant function room

Here is a brief history of this restaurant before I share my recent senti-dining experience with you, dearest readers/followers. In 1994, siblings Gonzalo and Giovanna Mabanta, along with Gonzalo’s then sister-in-law Marla Moran, opened the first branch of this restaurant in Greenbelt Mall, and it became an instant hit among the corporate crowd in Makati. The name was derived from Caffe Mediterraneum, a long defunct early 1960’s beatnik hangout in Berkeley, California.2

Café Mediterranean features “fresh, light, yet flavorful, and slightly unusual and interesting menu offerings … the traditional cooking of the 14 or so countries located within the Mediterranean… keeping the key ingredients (olive oil, garlic and tomato) as unifying elements”2. Employees and loyal customers are treated as extended family, thereby exuding a sense of family tradition in the restaurant.2

The menu is customer-friendly, indicating if dishes are vegetarian/vegan, with appropriate descriptions.

Here is the menu:

  1. Appetizers and Little Plates
  2. Soups and Salads

1-menu-1

 

  1. Sandwiches
  2. Pastas
  3. Pizzas

1-fd-2

  1. Gyros3
  2. Gyro Plates
  3. Gyro Platters
  4. Döner Kebabs4

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  1. Large Plates
  2. Kebabs5
  3. Kebab Platters

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  1. Side Orders
  2. Desserts
  3. Beverages

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Prices are inclusive of government taxes, and subject to 10% service charge.

You can also ask your server about the creamy, low calorie, and genuine Gelato Italiano. Perhaps I will try it next time.

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Now here is my dining experience in this restaurant:

We were only four that lunchtime and we ordered the following: a Kebab5 Platter with Pita6, Tabbouleh7 (served with grilled chicken), and Roti8 (with dip). There were three in my group who had the Zomato9 Gold app but only opted for the 1+1 drink promo so we ordered the Mango Banana Lassi10 and the Lemon Cucumber Shake, with syrup/Splenda11 on the side (to minimize/avoid using sugar).

1-order-1-aThe Kebab5 Platter with Pita6 was very satisfying with a mix of chicken and beef kebabs, fish kebabs and kofta12, with small portions of hummus13, moutabal14, and tabbouleh7. The 5 large pitas6 were served warm and best savored dipped in these accompaniments/dips. We dipped the pieces of grilled chicken, beef, fish and kofta in our individual dipping ware with the sauce served in a bowl. The grilled onions and tomatoes were enjoyed with every bite of the grilled meat/fish and dips, along with the pita. Happy tummies! My favorites were the fish and chicken kebabs since they were very savory, tender and juicy. I found the beef kebab a bit tough and the kofta savory, but too strong for my taste.

We enjoyed dipping pita6 bread and rotiin the accompanying sauces/dips.

1-order-2The Tabbouleh7 (served with grilled chicken) was served chilled. We enjoyed this very refreshing vegetarian salad with the grilled items ordered.

The Mango Banana Lassi10and Lemon Cucumber Shake were both served well chilled and were refreshing. They were good combinations of the major ingredients used for each beverage, and were not too sweet.

1-fd-hummus-bowlsIt was late when I saw a separate menu for Hummus13 Bowls, which are served with two pieces of pita6 bread. I could have ordered one had I seen this menu earlier. I wanted to support Café Mediterranean which is partnering with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. All proceeds of these orders go to Syrians displaced by the Syrian War. So, what are you waiting for? You not only get to enjoy a freshly made, hearty and healthy hummus bowl, but you get to help displaced Syrians too.

Contact details: Tel Nos.: (02) 898-1301 or (02) 765-5010; Mario Gutierez (Manager); mario.gutierez@thecafemediterranean.com;    website: https://thecafemediterranean.com/

If you cannot go to Power Plant Mall, here are the other branches of Café Mediterranean in Metro Manila, Laguna, and Davao:

  1. 3rd Floor, 1 Bonifacio High Street (Phil.Stock Exchange), 5th and 28th Streets, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (coming soon)
  2. 2nd Floor, Corte de las Palmas, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  3. Unit 45 & 46, Basement 1, Estancia Mail, Capitol Commons, Pasig City
  4. 1st Level, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Paseo de Roxas corner Legaspi Street, Makati City,
  5. Ground Floor, Entertainment Center, SM Mall of Asia, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
  6. 5th Floor, The Podium, Ortigas Center, ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City
  7. GFF-8 Ground Floor, Solenand 3, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna
  8. Chimes Mall, Davao City

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

Did you find this post informative? I would like to hear from you re your dining experience in this restaurant. 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!

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by these key ingredients – olive oil, garlic, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, fish, chicken, whole unprocessed grains, seeds and nuts, with moderate amounts of dairy, wine and red meat15, prepared by people of the Mediterranean region16. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mediterranean cuisine”.17

2www.thecafemediterranean.com

3Gyro, or gyros, is a Greek dish made from meat (pork, chicken, ground beef, mutton, or veal), cooked on a vertical rotisserie, similar to shawarma18 (of the Middle East19). The roasted meat is sliced vertically in thin, crisp shavings when done. It is generally served wrapped or stuffed in a lightly grilled flatbread (like pita6), and rolled up with sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, tzatziki20 sauce, and sometimes, French fries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Gyro (food)”.21

4Döner Kebab is a type of Turkish kebab5 made of seasoned meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The outer layer is sliced into thin shavings as it cooks. The sliced meat may be served on a plate with various accompaniments, stuffed into a pita6 or other type of bread as a sandwich, or wrapped in a thin flatbread such as lavash22 or yufka23. It inspired similar dishes like the Arab shawarma18, Greek gyros3, and the Mexican al pastor24. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Döner Kebab”.25

5Kebabs are various cooked, skewered or not skewered, (cut up or ground) meat (or seafood) dishes, sometimes with fruits and vegetables, with origins in Middle Eastern19 cuisine, with variants throughout Asia and even worldwide. In the Muslim world, a kebab is any of a wide variety of grilled (cooked on a skewer over fire) meat dishes. It can also be grilled, baked in a pan in an oven, or as a stew, and served with various accompaniments. It is traditionally made of mutton, but regional variations use beef, goat, chicken, or fish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kebab”.26

6Pita is a Middle Eastern19 family of yeast-leavened round flatbreads baked from wheat flour, also common in neighboring areas. It is used to scoop sauces or dips, such as hummus13, or to wrap kebabs5, gyros3, or falafel27, in the manner of sandwiches. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Pita”.28

7Tabbouleh is a Lebanese and Syrian vegetarian salad made mostly of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, onion, mint, (soaked, not cooked) bulgur29, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Some variations add garlic or lettuce, or use couscous30, instead of bulgur. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tabbouleh”.31

8Roti, or chapatti, is a round, unleavened, flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent32, made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally called atta, and water that is combined into a dough. It is also consumed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and parts of Africa, Fiji, Mauritius and the Caribbean. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Roti”.33

9Zomato is an Indian restaurant search and discovery service, founded in 2008 by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah, and now operating in 24 countries, including the Philippines. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Zomato”.34 

10Lassi, lacchi, chaas, or taak, is a popular, traditional dahi (yogurt)-based drink that originated in the Indian subcontinent32. It is a blend of yogurt, water, spices, and sometimes, fruit. It is traditionally a sweet, savory drink, sometimes flavored with ground and roasted cumin, and served chilled. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lassi”.35

11Splenda is the commercial name and registered trademark of a sucralose-based artificial sweetener, owned by the American company Heartland Food Products Group, and manufactured by the British company, Tate & Lyle. It is available in both granular and dissolvable tablet forms. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Splenda”.36

12Kofta is a family of savory meatball or meatloaf dishes found in the Indian subcontinent32, South Caucasian37, Middle Eastern19, Balkan38, and Central Asian39 cuisines. It is made of minced or ground meat, usually beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish or shrimps, mixed with spices and/or onions. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kofta”.40

13Hummus is the classic Middle Eastern19 chickpea and sesame dip or spread. Cooked or mashed chickpeas or other beans are blended with tahini41, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is also popular in the Mediterranean16. It is rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals like manganese. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Hummus”.42

14Moutabal is a smoked eggplant and tahini41 dip, and sometimes has cumin.43 It is similar to baba ghanoush14, a Levantine44 appetizer of mashed, baked or broiled eggplant, mixed with tahini, olive oil, and various seasonings. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Baba ganoush”.45

15www.eatingwell.com

16The Mediterranean countries are those that surround the Mediterranean Sea. Southern Europe46, the Levant47 and North Africa48 regions border the Mediterranean, in addition to two island nations – Cyprus and Malta. Here are the countries and territories bordering the Mediterranean Sea: (1) Southern European coast: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey; (2) Levantine coast: Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine (Gaza Strip), and Syria; (3) Northern African coast: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “List of Mediterranean countries”.49

17 “Mediterranean cuisine,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_cuisine

18 Shawarma is a Middle Eastern19 meat preparation based on the Turkish döner kebab4, originally made of seasoned mutton. Modern versions are also made of beef, chicken, turkey or veal, cut into thin slices, and stacked in a cone-like shape on a vertical rotisserie. Thin slices are shaved off the cooked surface as it continuously rotates. Spices added include cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, paprika and turmeric. It is commonly served as a sandwich or wrap, in a flatbread such as pita6 or laffa50, often garnished with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, pickled vegetables, and tahini41 sauce or amba51 mango sauce. Some restaurants may offer additional toppings like grilled peppers, eggplant, or French fries. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Shawarma”.52

19Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia53, Turkey and Egypt. It consists of the following countries: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Middle East”.54

20Tzatziki, cacik, or tarator, is a dip, soup, or sauce found in the cuisines of Southeast Europe46 and the Middle East19. It is made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yogurt, mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs such as dill, mint, parsley and thyme. It is generally served as a cold appetizer (meze55) or a side dish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tzatziki”.56

21“Gyro (food),” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyro_(food)

22Lavash is a soft, thin, Armenian unleavened flatbread made in a tandoor (a cylindrical metal oven) and also eaten all over Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. It is made with flour, water and salt. The thickness of the bread varies, depending on how thin it was rolled out. Toasted sesame seeds and poppy seeds are sometimes sprinkled before baking. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Lavash”.57

23Yufka is a thin, round and unleavened flatbread in Turkish cuisine, similar to lavash22, usually made from wheat flour, water and salt. It is about 18 inches (40-50 cm) in diameter. The sheets of yufka dough are baked on a heated iron plate called a sac for about 2-3 minutes, turned over once to brown the other side. Before consumption, dry yufka bread is sprayed with warm water. The moistened bread is covered with a cotton cloth and is rested for 10-12 minutes before serving. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Yufka”.58

24Al pastor, or tacos al pastor, is the Mexican version of Turkish döner kebab4 and the Greek gyros3. It is a pork dish developed in central Mexico that is based on shawarma18 spit-grilled meat, brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Al pastor literally means “shepherd style” in Spanish. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Al pastor”.59

25“Döner Kebab,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Döner_kebab

26“Kebab,”accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kebab

27Falafel is a Levantine44 and Egyptian deep-fried ball, or a flat or doughnut-shaped patty, made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both, commonly eaten inWestern Asia53, most likely originated in Egypt. Herbs, spices, and onion relatives are commonly added to the dough of this vegetarian dish, considered a street food. The balls are commonly served in a pita6, laid over a bed of salad or pickled vegetables, and drizzled with hot sauce or a tahini41-based sauce. It can also be wrapped in a flatbread called a taboon. It can be eaten alone as a snack, or served as part of an assortment of appetizers called meze55. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Falafel”.60

28“Pita,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pita

29Bulgur is a cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often with durum wheat, with a light, nutty flavor. It originated in Middle Eastern19 cuisine. It is a common ingredient in cuisines of many countries of the Middle East and Mediterranean16. It does not require cooking, although it can be included in cooked dishes; soaking in water is all that is needed. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Bulgur”.61

30Couscous is a Maghrebi62 dish made of (3 mm or 0.12 in.) small steamed balls from crushed durum wheat semonila, traditionally served with a stew spooned on top. It is a staple food throughout the North African48 cuisines of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Couscous”.63

31“Tabbouleh,”accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabbouleh

32The Indian subcontinent is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush64 in the west, and the Arakanese65 in the east. Politically, it includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Indian subcontinent”.66

33“Roti,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roti

34“Zomato,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zomato

35“Lassi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lassi

36“Splenda,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splenda

37The South Caucasus is a geographical region in the southern Caucasus Mountains on the border of Eastern Europe67 and Western Asia53. It roughly corresponds to modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “South Causasus”.68

38The Balkans is a term used more generally for the region, including states in the region, which may extend beyond the peninsula, and is not defined by the geography of the peninsula itself. The Balkans are usually said to comprise Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Balkans”.69

39Central Asia is a region which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north. It consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is also colloquially referred to as “The Stans” as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix “-stan”, meaning “land of”. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Central Asia”.70

40“Kofta,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kofta

41 Tahini is a condiment made from toasted, ground, hulled sesame seeds. It is served by itself as a dip, or as a major ingredient in baba ghanoush14, halva71, and hummus13. Tahini-based sauces are common in Middle Eastern19 restaurants as a side dish or as a garnish, usually including lemon juice, salt and garlic, and thinned with water. The sauce is also a popular topping for meat and vegetables in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is used in cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean72, the South Caucasus68, as well as parts of North Africa48. It is also used in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Tahini”.73

42“Hummus,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hummus

43https://maninio.com/2017/11/the-original-arabic-moutabal-baba-ganoush-middle-east-vegan/

44 Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant47 which covers a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean72. The most distinctive aspect of Levantine cuisine is meze55, including baba ghanoush14, hummus13 and tabblouleh7. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Levantine cuisine”.74

45“Baba ganoush,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_ganoush

46Southern Europe, or Mediterranean Europe, is the southern region of the European continent, consisting of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Corsica, Croatia, Cyprus, Gibraltar, the East Thrace of European Turkey, Greece, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Spain. Andorra, North Macedonia, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, and the Vatican City are also often included, despite not having a coast in the Mediterranean. It can also include mainland Southern France and Monaco, which are otherwise considered parts of Western Europe. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Southern Europe”.75

47The Levant refers to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean72, primarily in Western Asia53. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Levant”.76

48North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, but the most commonly accepted coverage includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “North Africa”.77

49 “List of Mediterranean countries,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mediterranean_countries

50Laffa, or taboon bread, is a Middle Eastern19 flatbread, traditionally baked in a taboon oven or a tannur, and is similar to the various tandoor breads in many parts of Asia. It is of medium thickness, slightly chewy, and does not tear easily. It is used as a base or wrap in many cuisines, and eaten with different accompaniments. It is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine worldwide. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Taboon bread”.78

51Amba, or anba, is a tangy mango pickle condiment popular in Indian and Middle Eastern19 cuisine, particularly Iraqi, Israeli and Saudi cuisines. It is typically made of mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chilli and fenugreek, similar to mango chutney. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Amba (condiment)”.79

52“Shawarma,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma

53Western Asia includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Western Asia”.80

54“Middle East,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East

55A meze, or mezza, is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East19 (as a multi-course meal), the Balkans38 and Greece (as snacks while drinking or talking), and North Africa48. It is generally accompanied by distilled drinks like arak, mastika, ouzo, raki, rakia, or tsipouro. It may also be consumed with beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Meze”.81

56“Tzatziki,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzatziki

57“Lavash,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavash

58“Yufka,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yufka

59“Al pastor,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_pastor

60“Falafel,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falafel

61“Bulgur,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgur

62The Maghrebi is a major region of North Africa48 that consists primarily of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia. It is also called Northwest Africa, Northern Africa, Greater Arab Maghreb, Arab Maghreb, Greater Maghreb, the Berber world, Barbary, or Berberry. It additionally includes the disputed territories of Western Sahara (mostly controlled by Morocco), and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla (both controlled by Spain and claimed by Morocco). The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Maghrebi”.82

63“Couscous,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couscous

64Hindu Kush is an 800-km-long mountain range that stretches near the Afghan-Pakistan border, from central Afghanistan to northern Pakistan, according to the Wikipedia page “Hindu Kush”.83

65The Arakan Mountains, or the Rakhine Mountains, are a mountain range in western Myanmar, according to the Wikipedia page “Arakan Mountains”.84

66“Indian subcontinent,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_subcontinent

67Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent, and although there is no common definition of its coverage, the United Nations’ Statistics Division included the following countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia, as well as the republics of Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.85

68“South Caucasus,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Caucasus

69“Balkans,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans

70“Central Asia,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Asia

71Halva, halvah, or halwa, is any of various dense, sweet confections, mostly made in the Middle East19, Central Asia39, and the Indian subcontinent32. It could be flour-based, made by frying flour (such as semolina, cornstarch, and rice flour) on oil (like clarified butter or ghee), mixing it into a roux, and cooking it with a sugary syrup, very popular in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, India, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey. It could also be crumbly and nut butter-based, usually made from tahini41 or other nut butters such as sesame and sunflower, and sugar. Halva can also be based on other ingredients like beans, lentils and vegetables, like carrots, pumpkins, squashes, and yams. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Halva”.86

72Eastern Mediterranean countries are geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea, and includes Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Eastern Mediterranean”.87

73“Tahini,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahini

74“Levantine cuisine,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levantine_cuisine

75“Southern Europe,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southen_Europe

76“Levant,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant

77“North Africa,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Africa

78“Taboon bread,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taboon_bread

79“Amba (condiment),” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amba_(condiment)

80http://worldpopulationreview.com/continents/western-asia-population/

81“Mezze,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezze

82“Maghrebi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maghrebi

83“Hindu Kush,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_Kush

84“Arakan Mountains,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arakan_Mountains

85http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Eastern_Europe

86“Halva,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva

87“Eastern Mediterranean,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Mediterranean

CEV: Ceviche Heaven in Siargao

LOCATION: Loose Keys Moto Culture, Tourism Road, municipality of General Luna, Siargao Island, province of Surigao del Norte

Picture this: You are in Siargao Island and staying in General Luna and it is your first night, or your next night/s after surfing or island hopping. Do you want to go to a bar yet try something different to eat? Well, why not go to Cev?

0-cev-1Loose Keys-Cev, located along Tourism Road, municipality of General Luna, Siargao

Loose Keys, the bar part of this establishment, opened sometime mid-2018, while the kitchen part, called Cev, opened on November 2018.

You cannot miss this cevicheria-bar, owned by David del Rosario, a surfer with a culinary course from the USA, who claims to be “living his best life” in Siargao.

Cev is along Tourism Road, the main road of the municipality of General Luna. It is near a popular restaurant called Bravo.

The open-air atmosphere in Loose Keys-Cev is cozy and perfect for relaxation after surfing or island-hopping. What’s that? You don’t drive, and have not rented a motorcycle? No worries. Just ride a tricycle. Pay PHP20 per person, and the driver will drop you right in front of this place.

Operating hours are 11:00 am till 9 pm daily.

0-cev-2

0-cev-3

0-cev-4Take three steps up the entrance, and to your left are the items for sale (shirts, surfing boards, etc.).

0-cev-7To your right is a billiard table and high stools with the wooden frame of the restaurant’s border where you can place your cold beer or cocktail while playing billiards, or when just chilling and enjoying a drink while facing the main road, watching people and vehicles pass by.

0-cev-5A little further to the left are two small dining tables for four, then a bar, where customers can sit, order drinks and chill.

To the inner right are longer tables for bigger groups to gather, eat ceviche1 and kinilaw2 dishes, drink, and enjoy each other’s company.

51724465_809269626098180_2493690086873366528_oCev is busy at night, so come early! (Photo from http://www.facebook.com/cevsiargao)

0-cev-9-ok                                          Wall Menu, Loose Keys-Cev, Siargao

BeFunky-collageDave del Rosario with the catch of the day (l-r): Mahi-mahi3 (the favorite fish),  Cobia (delicate, plump, almost sweet; 21 kilos in pic), Talakitok or Bigeye Jack (8.5 kilos in pic), all for Cev’s ceviche dishes and kinilaw rice bowls.  (Photos from http://www.facebook.com/cevsiargao)

0-cev-10-ok                                                    Menu Card, Loose Keys-Cev, Siargao

Serving portions of two colorful and eye-appealing ceviche1 dishes, PACIFICO and SANTA FE (at PHP320 each), are big enough to be shared by two to three persons.

0-cev-16-pacifico-okWe enjoyed Pacifico: fresh fish prepared with calamansi4 juice, cilantro5, and red onions, made creamy with coconut milk,and complemented in texture and taste by soft boiled sweet potatoes and soft sweet corn kernels, as well as the crisp fried sweet potato strings and tortilla chips. I surmise that the leche de tigre6 added a certain appeal to the dish among male customers (see the footnote below). You must try this ceviche1 creation!

0-cev-13-santa fe-okWe also ordered Santa Fe. This ceviche1 is very interesting! The fresh fish is prepared with calamansi4 juice, and flavored with red onions, and cilantro5, along with tomato puree. The tortilla chips and cucumber slices gave a contrasting texture and added flavor, and the fried bananas and popcorn offered an added treat for this dish.

Colorful and visually attractive kinilaw2 rice bowls (at PHP280 each), good enough for sharing between two seniors, are available: General Luna (named after the town it is located), Daku, Guyam, and Naked (named after three popular islands in Siargao). Mix all the ingredients well so you get a bit of everything per spoonful. See their descriptions in the menu above.

0-cev-14-guyamWe only ordered two kinilaw2 dishes. The Guyam kinilaw2 rice bowl, made of garlic rice, grilled pork belly strips, along with the fresh fish, made tangy with sweet calamansi4 and coconut vinegar, was very satisfying. The ginger, pickled papaya, red and green onions gave enough spiciness, while the crunchy cucumber slices and roasted corn provided added texture plus an element of surprise to this dish.

0-cev-15-gen lunaThe General Luna kinilaw-garlic rice bowl features grilled eggplant, made creamy with coconut milk, and the fresh fish is combined with coco vinegar, ginger and red onions. The surprise was the combination of spiced mango cubes, fried sweet potatoes and black beans.

0-cev-11The alcoholic beverages offered are: Signature Cocktails (Drunken Monkey, Open Water, Sunken Sailor, and Treasure Chest), Classic Cocktails (Amaretto Sour, Margarita, Mojito, and Piña Colada), House Specials (Bacardi & Coke, Gin & Tonic, Jack Daniel & Coke, Rum & Coke/Sprite, Vodka Cranberry, and Vodka Soda), and Beers (San Miguel Light, San Miguel Pale Pilsen, Beer na Beer, Brew Kettle, Red Horse, and General Luna Ale7).

Our male companions ordered beer, which was served well chilled.

0-cev-12Non-alcoholic beverages include: hot or iced coffee (americano, cappuccino, espresso, latté, mocha), hot or iced signature drinks (almond, chocolate, salted caramel, toffee), juices and smoothies (banana, calamansi4, cranberry, mango, watermelon), and soft drinks (Coke and Sprite).

0-cev-17-drinksI ordered a watermelon smoothie. It was served in a highball glass with a bamboo straw, which I appreciated because of their non-plastic policy. This drink was just right: it was refreshing, creamy and not that sweet. Duirng our next visit, I ordered a Margarita. This cocktail was balanced, with the right amount of tequila, sourness, bitterness and sweetness. I definitely enjoyed this drink.

So, when in Siargao, why not stop by at Cev to drink a cold beer/cocktail along with Pacifico Ceviche (PHP320) while playing billiards, and/or order our favorite Guyam kinilaw rice bowl (PHP280) for lunch/dinner? Besides, you can get to meet the most friendly, hospitable, good-looking, and hands-on restaurant owner in Siargao, just ask for Dave!

Contact information: Instagram: @cevsiargao;  @loosekeysmotoculture;  http://www.facebook.com/cevsiargao

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

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The following terms are defined for interested readers, especially non-Filipinos, those with “Senior-Moments”, and those too busy or lazy to Google such terms:

1Ceviche is a popular Latin American dish where the raw cubed fish or shrimp is diced and “cooked” in citrus juice, then mixed with other ingredients like red onions, cilantro5 and chilis, according to the Wikipedia page “Ceviche”.8

2Kinilaw is the Filipino term which literally means “eaten raw”. It usually refers to a raw fish or seafood dish, native to the Philippines, similar to ceviche1, although lightly grilled meat and vegetables may also be used. It basically relies on (coconut or cane) vinegar to denature the ingredients, and has a souring agent like calamansi4, balimbing9, dayap10, green mangoes and kamias11. It is flavored with salt and spices like black pepper, chili peppers, ginger and onions. The dish could be served as an appetizer, as a finger food (pulutan in Tagalog) with alcoholic beverages. There are many Filipino regional variations. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Kinilaw”.12

3The mahi-mahi, or common dolphinfish, is a surface-dwelling ray-finned, compressed-bodied fish with a single, long-based dorsal fin extending from the head almost to the tail, found in off-shore, temperate, tropical, and subtropical waters worldwide. Males have a prominent forehead protruding well above the body proper while the smaller females have a rounded head. This colorful fish has a golden side, bright blues and greens on the sides and back, and an iridescent blue pectoral fin. Its color fades to a muted yellow-grey upon death. The name comes from the Hawaiian language which means “very strong”, through the process of reduplication. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Mahi-mahi”.13

4Calamansi is a small (about 30-mm in diameter), tangy-sour citrus fruit with a thin, green skin (which turns yellow-orange when ripe), with a yellow/orange pulp. The juice is used in various food and beverages as a major/minor ingredient, seasoning or dipping ingredient.

5Cilantro, coriander, or Chinese parsley, is an annual herb where the leaves, with citrus overtones, and dried seeds, with a warm, nutty, spicy, lemony-orange flavor when crushed, are the parts most traditionally used in cooking worldwide. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Coriander”.14

6Leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) is the citrus-based spicy marinade used to cure the fish in classic Peruvian ceviche1. Thus, it is the leftover juices of a ceviche, which usually contains a bit of fish juice, fresh lime juice, sliced onions, cilantro5 leaves, chilis, chopped celery ribs, thinly sliced garlic cloves, finely grated ginger, kosher salt and pepper.15, 16, 17 It is said to be the Peruvian version of Viagra and has aphrodisiac properties.18

7subject to availability

8“Ceviche,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceviche.

9Balimbing, carambola, or star fruit, is an edible fruit with the scientific name Averrhoa carambola, native to the Philippines and Indonesia. The oval fruit is about 5-15 cm (2-6 in.) in length, has (usually 5) distinctive ridges running down its sides, and commonly eaten out of hand. It has a smooth, thin, slightly waxy skin. The flesh is crunchy, firm, and very juicy. It does not contain fiber, and has a texture similar in consistency to that of grapes. The small type is sour/tart while the larger type is sweet. It is best consumed shortly after it ripens, just after all traces of green have disappeared, with brown ridges at the edges, and still fells firm. If you cut this fruit crosswise, each slice is shaped like a star. It can also be used in cooking, and can be made into juice drinks, preserves and relishes. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Carambola”.19

10Dayap is the Philippine variety of key lime (Citrus x aurantiifolia), a citrus hybrid (C. micrantha x C. medina). This spherical fruit is 2.5-5 cm (1-2 in.) in diameter. It is usually picked while it is still green and turns yellow, when ripe. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Key lime”.20

11Kamias is the Filipino term for Averrhoa bilimbi, an ellipsoidal, elongated fruit, measuring 4-10 cm, and sometimes faintly angled. The smooth to slightly bumpy skin is thin and waxy, turning from light green, to yellowish-green when ripe. The flesh is crisp and the juice is sour and extremely acidic, and therefore not typically consumed as fresh fruit itself. In the Philippines, it is often planted in backyards, and the fruits eaten raw or dipped in rock salt. It can also be sun-dried then preserved, used as a souring agent for Filipino dishes, or used to make salad, mixed with tomatoes and chopped onions, with soy sauce as dressing. The information was obtained from the Wikipedia page “Averrhoa bilimbi”.21

12“Kinilaw,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinilaw.

13“Mahi-mahi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahi-mahi.

14“Coriander,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander.

15www.bonappetit.com

16www.popsugar.com

17www.saveur.com

18www.miamiculinarytours.com

19“Carambola,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carambola.

20“Key lime,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_lime.

21“Averrhoa bilimbi,” accessed January 4, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averrhoa_bilimbi.

Seniors, Now You Know: S.E.A. MOVEMENT – FIGHTING TO PRESERVE SIARGAO!

S.E.A. stands for Siargao Environmental Awareness Movement, a non-profit organization that is “a collaborative effort to help preserve the natural resources and beauty of the island which the local and the travelling community rely on for a simple, yet beautiful, life. It acts as a hub to connect networks of people with unique skills – surfers, artists, writers, journalists, IT experts, policy-makers – to contribute in solving the island’s environmental problems.”

The Movement wants to instill in everyone a sense of responsibility and ownership of the growing environmental problems, starting with young surfers.

BeFunky-collage-2               All photos were obtained from the Facebook account SEA Movement

A Brief History of S.E.A. Movement

The surfers behind the Siargao-born surf brand, Kudo Surf, started this movement as their “answer to the pressing issue in climate change, increasing tourism, and the need to educate local communities about the importance of ecological diversity. Protecting the environment is protecting their livelihood and their future.” Starting the brand allowed them to merge their passions – surf traveling, environmentalism and commerce – together.

“We are grateful to Mother Earth for giving us great waves and the raw materials to make our products. We just gotta do our business and live our lifestyle responsibly. We believe that businesses should be more eco-conscious and we do our part by contributing to the improvement of environmental issues in Siargao, where our headquarters is.”

Projects of S.E.A. Movement

1. Monthly Beach Clean-Up and Placard Posting – This project started on October 2015. Volunteers are asked to clean up the beach.This shows the locals how much garbage is thrown carelessly all over the island. The local municipal office helps in the monthly beach clean up by providing a garbage collection truck.

The Movement also makes placards set up in public areas where people can be reminded: “Ayaw Paglabog Ug Basura” (Don’t Litter), “Barura Dili Marajaw” (Garbage is Not Good), and “Plastic is Not Fantastic”.

2. Plastic Bottle Campaign – S.E.A. encourages Siargao business owners to provide water stations and re-usable water bottles to reduce, and eventually, eliminate the use of single-plastic bottles in the island.

3. Her Planet Earth for the Women of Siargao – This is an environmentally-conscious program which “aims to train and equip underprivileged women with the tools and skills to sell bags and other fashionable items made with recyclable materials gathered from the sea”.

“This project simultaneously provides the community with a livelihood opportunity and reduces plastic waste and pollution in the oceans, thus, empowering the community of warm and friendly people by creating awareness around gender equality and visibility of men and women’s contributions to society and teaching responsibility towards environmental preservation.”

This program is the collaborative effort of S.E.A. Movement, Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), the local government of General Luna, Siargao Masaya, and other partner agencies and NGOs.

4. Solid Waste Management Localized Videos – S.E.A. has created, and will create, videos aiming to help educate and teach people, especially children about Solid Waste Management (SWM) and how important it is to segregate wastes.

So, for the techie readers of this post, why not volunteer to create fun/animated and educational videos!

5. S.E.A. Movement Awareness Campaign – It would be awesome to help spread the word about this Movement and the campaigns they are working on. Calling on experienced marketing professionals or social media experts, your help or advice would be very welcome.

6. Other Projects
a. Read-Aloud – In 2016, a US-based NGO, Bagong Kulturang Pinoy, donated eco-awareness-specific children’s books so volunteers read aloud to groups of children in their classrooms, or at the beach, for the latter to learn about the environment, how to love reading, and how to have more meaningful relationships with buddy volunteers.

b. Segregation and Recycling Stations – A big project of the Movement so there will be a proper waste disposal system in the island, leading to zero-waste management.

c. SEA and Public Schools – General Luna public schools have opened their libraries to house the SEA Movement’s eco-books. They also initiated tree-planting and a clean-up drive with the students.

d. Short Film on Eco-Awareness – The Movement plans to make an entertaining and educational short film that will inform the local community of Siargao and its business and government sectors about the importance of eco-consciousness.

e. Fund Raising – The Movement is a non-profit organization so it needs to generate funds for their projects. Some activities are: SEA Movement Shirts and Canvass Shopping Bags to help spread the Movement’s agenda and reduce the usage of plastic bags; Let’s Get it OM! (Benefit Yoga), a by-donation yoga session led by volunteer yoga teachers; and Crowd Funding, i.e., the acceptance of donations of any kind from kindred souls.

I hope I did my small share by writing this post in my blog.

Let us all help to preserve the natural resources and beauty of Siargao Island!

The information was obtained from http://www.seamovement.ph and http://www.mylifeonboard.net.

Contact information: Facebook account: SEA Movement; Tel. No. 0945-837-9202; Instagram: @s.e.a.movement

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